Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Planning Commission:
Andre von Hoyer, Chairman, Michael Richter, Vice Chairman, Andy Motel, Michael Churchill, Wendy Leland, Matt Rogers, Dan Walker, and Bill Westhafer
Daniel Wright, P.E., Mark P. Thompson, Esq. and Dan Mallach
Michael Allen, Staff Planner, Lisa Gardner, Recording Secretary and Marie Stone, Asst. Township Secretary

Call to Order:

7:30 p.m.

Announcements –


Approval of Minutes

October 8, 2019 Minutes

Mr. von Hoyer moved to approve the edited minutes of October 8, 2019, and Mr. Rogers seconded. Mr. von Hoyer called for discussion, and there being none, called for a vote. All were in favor.

Plan Review

George Meyer Preliminary Final Subdivision Plan

Mr. Nick Vastardis, P.E., and Mr. George Meyer were present with a revised minor subdivision plan for 6 lots on 23.8 acres at 2227 Bodine Road. Mr. Wright told Mr. Vastardis that his focus should be on the new intersection at Foster Road and PennDOT requirements, plus septic/NPDES approvals. Mr. Wright said minimal engineering items are outstanding.

Mr. Vastardis referred to Mr. Wright’s review letter dated November 5, 2019.

Mr. Mallach referred to TCA’s review letter dated November 7, 2019.

Mr. Allen’s comments:

Although Mr. Vastardis was hoping for Preliminary/Final approval, with the NPDES and PennDOT permits yet to be obtained, Members were not ready to recommend approval.

Mine Road Partners Conditional Use Application

Mr. Jim Bruder and Mr. John Snyder Esq. were present for a review of Mr. Bruder’s Conditional Use Application proposing to develop his Mine Road property as a private club for recreation. It was originally designed to consist of an indoor multi-purpose turf field approximately 75,000 sq. ft. in size, to be used by ≈10 organized sports teams on a membership basis for practices only. Outer buildings would remain on the property. There has not been any stormwater testing done.

However, tonight Mr. Bruder said the members/teams were now limited to no more than 5 teams (≈40 children each) and the new drawing had reduced the size of the building to 60,000 square feet. The field size was reduced to ≈55,000 square feet. The hours of operation had also been reduced to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. No tournaments or games were planned, and this stipulation would be put into the bylaws.

Mr. Bruder lives next to this property and said that he estimated no increase in the driveway traffic in comparison with the current tenant. This tenant would be discontinued. He said it is very well screened and the lighting and parking are in the rear, less visible from the road. He estimated have one space per player. There is no suggested amount of parking for this type of facility in the Zoning Ordinance. A neighbor in the audience was a sports league owner and said that there is not much parking needed, most drivers are dropping off. There are no plans for seating (for spectators). The PC assured the Applicant traffic would increase.

Discussion followed regarding the danger of adding more traffic, especially turning left, at the entrance and Ashenfelter Road. Ms. Leland shared her concerns and Members agreed for a need to plan on the traffic in the near and far future. Mr. von Hoyer shared his concerns about practices turning into scrimmages, games, and tournaments, if not with this owner, with the next. Discussion followed regarding occupant load vs parking. Mr. Churchill suggested looking at other facilities with similar uses for data on parking. Mr. Bruder said capping occupants was not a problem.

Mr. von Hoyer was more concerned with the circulation and in and out rather than the number of parking spots. A wider shoulder, something like a turn lane, repositioning the building on the property, changing the driveway/circulation, realigning the entrance, and a three-way stop sign were discussed. Mr. Adam Brower, a representative of the project said the driveway is currently at the optimal position. The site distance is in compliance for PennDOT but Township zoning doesn’t agree and therefore it is not in full compliance. Members suggested they talk to a traffic advisor and Schuylkill Township.

Mr. Thompson reminded the Members that the teams were school age so the entering and exiting traffic would be after school and during the weekends. This began a discussion about impact to neighboring properties. Many new homes are being built nearby and a few residents from New Whitehorse Way were in attendance.

A few neighbors spoke up with comments about privacy in their backyards, especially since it would operate until 10 p.m. Also, the glare of headlights at night, and noise were mentioned. Ms. Starr, from New Whitehorse Way, said she lived near a facility like this in Sparta, NJ. She did not want it in her back yard. Many school buses were coming to drop off players, and there was traffic noise. She also commented on the dangerous intersection and says what she hears from her home right now is traffic, but nothing from the existing facility.

Mr. Mallach wondered why they didn’t move the structure back to lower the impact. He discussed the steep slope. But the rep stated that the sewer would limit the placement to within 30-40 feet. The audience that spoke up preferred the current design with the parking lot lights in the rear. The estimated building height would be 35’.

Mr. Kuhn suggested the Bruder team approach Schuylkill Township again. There needs to be a stop sign traffic study and PennDOT will weigh in. Mr. Kuhn did not feel the increase in traffic was an issue, but the safety of the intersection was important. Twice tonight the Applicant said that Schuylkill Township was not responding. Mr. Bruder and Mr. Snyder met with the Schuylkill Manager and Zoning Officer and cannot get any further response.

Mr. Snyder stated that the Conditional Use narrative will contain the parking, traffic count, and flow, and visual buffering. The Uses will limit and handle the future situations or “morphing” that the Members are presenting for discussion. They will return to discuss proposed Conditions with the PC.

Members appreciated Mr. Bruder’s project and thought the rendering was helpful. The last thing requested by the Township was for the Applicant to coordinate all their documents for easier review when they return.

Itinerary for Bus Tour January 18th (snow date January 25th)

Members discussed a draft itinerary for the joint Supervisors-Planning Commission bus tour of Township properties scheduled for January 18, 2020, and asked for any additions or changes. Mr. Richter requested a map of the Park and Mr. Westhafer requested a map of the Swiss Pine area.

35-2-1 Charlestown Park to see what belongs to Charlestown vs. Schuylkill.
The University of Valley Forge may be added if permission can be obtained.
35-2-85.1 Swiss Pines tour estimated to take one hour.
35-3-4 Meyer property
35-4-123 Devault Foods although the Members aren’t sure if they can get in.
35-4-126 Spring Oak & DVSO estimated to take close to an hour.
35-4-49 Pickering Crossing

If time allows, they will drive by the Turnpike sound walls zone and see where the Matsiras/Turnpike trade property would be.

From this discussion, Mr. Kuhn requested the PC review the institutional zoning and R1 sections of the Ordinance.

Gateway Signage

The Planning Commission discussed how to develop entrance signage for various roads coming into the Township, and a larger entrance sign to be placed along Route 29 entering the Devault area. Mr. Comitta sent examples for the Members to review. Most of the signs would need to be in the FR district and to not be limited by size.

Mr. von Hoyer was in favor of a sign or clock tower suggested by the former owners of The Office Bar and Grill, for the center of the intersection.

Mr. Richter mentioned the abundance of real estate signage at a few intersections of the Township to Mr. Wright.

Administrative Note

Any documents referred to in the minutes are available to the public upon request to the Township office.


There being no further business, Mr. von Hoyer adjourned the meeting at 9:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner
Recording Secretary