Mrs. Csete announced that a link has been circulated and also posted on the Township website and Facebook page of the virtual open house for the Devault Trail on June 15th at 7 pm.
Mr. Richter asked Mrs. Csete if she knew why there are new poles installed on the turnpike. Mr. Walker explained they are temporary until the expansion is finished to expand their communication network.
Mr. Westhafer moved to approve the minutes of April 13, 2021, and Mr. Rogers seconded. Mr. Richter called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Richter moved to approve the minutes of April 19, 2021, and Mr. Rogers seconded. Mr. Richter called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.
Mr. Davison gave a PowerPoint presentation for a proposed flex building at 3250 Phoenixville Pike, parcel 35-4-98.1. A brief background on the property was given by Mr. Davison while he displayed an aerial view and pointed out surrounding uses. Mr. Davison said the parcel is .79 acres and was part of the approved subdivision plan for the Commons @ Great Valley as a non-conforming lot and was originally combined with an adjacent .80 parcel now separately owned by the Township. A spur of train tracks separates his parcel from a second parcel he owns and is proposed for a bike trail.
He noted that the properties on the north side of Phoenixville Pike are zoned Industrial (I). Mr. Davison stated he made an error in his statement at the previous meeting by saying this is zoned NC-2. Mr. Wright explained in his comment letter this parcel is zoned NC-1. Mr. Davison said the NC-1 zoning is a problem on many levels, the primary one being that it doesn’t allow for a flex building use for which he would have to seek a variance. Since the last meeting he reviewed commercial uses permitted for NC-1 and none would fit on this property due to the required setbacks and the requirement that all parking be located in the side and rear, which disallows corporate use. This led him to conclude that a flex space is the best use for the property with the least impact. He said this use is lighter than those surrounding the property and is consistent with the Commons @ Great Valley uses.
Mr. Davison said his revised plan reduces the parking from 6,000 sq. ft. to 5,100 sq. ft. He would need variances for the use and from the front yard setback. What relief from the rear setback is needed is unknown until he can determine if he has ownership of the ground beneath the railroad tracks.
Mr. Richter asked what type of flex use did he envision, and Mr. Davison gave an example of a tenant he has in Phoenixville that sells hospital supplies. He said this property wouldn’t accommodate tractor trailers but would receive deliveries from UPS, FedEx, the postal service, and possibly box trucks at a 4-foot-high loading dock with overhead doors. Mr. Westhafer doesn’t see how this would work for box trucks to maneuver. Mr. Davison feels it can be done and they can make it work by using some of the unused parking area as he doesn’t anticipate it would all be needed.
Mr. Richter asked when they would get confirmation for ownership of the tracks, and Mr. Davison said he has legal work to do and expects to know by the fall.
Mr. Rogers said he should consider seeking a re-zoning of his parcel as a solution to comply to a greater extent, noting that the burden of proof to obtain variances would be very challenging.
Mr. Patry stated this area is also zoned residential, but Mr. Davison was opposed to this usage. He used the example of Spring Oak which is located next to Beyond Meat creating numerous complaints from the residents. Mr. Davison didn’t think anyone would want to live with tow trucks across the street coming and going at all hours of the day.
Mr. Davison said Dan Wright would like to see the driveway to this parcel be aligned with Abel’s driveway and he could adjust what is shown on his sketch to improve this alignment, though a variance would be needed from the 20 foot accessory structure setback.
Mr. Westhafer said the parking lot would be a concern if the flex space was all offices, but Mr. Davison said the ratio of office to warehouse is limited to 30%/70%
Mr. Richter asked the consultants to weigh in on the proposed project.
Mr. Comitta said that procedurally, Mr. Davison isn’t required to obtain approval of the Board or the Planning Commission prior to going to the Zoning Hearing Board and he has come to the Planning Commission more as a courtesy to seek feedback. He reiterated Mr. Rogers’ suggestion that he consider seeking a zoning change rather than variances. The Zoning Hearing Board would want to examine which uses could be done without relief, and they’d have to weigh the hardship aspect for the applicant.
Mr. Richter said he’s not opposed to the project but does have concern about getting trucks in and out of the property safely. Mr. Westhafer agreed with the flex use concept but thinks this site is too small to accommodate it. Mr. Churchill agreed the use is reasonable, but the real problem is the fit. Mr. Rogers said a zoning change is the better path.
Mr. Davison thanked the Commissioners for their feedback and concluded by saying he will be taking his application to the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Westhafer asked if the issue of wind turbine requirements would be discussed further since it was brought up at the joint session in April. Mrs. Csete thought this had been addressed at the last meeting although Mr. Westhafer thought there was still the matter of turbine height relative to setbacks and the size of property. Mr. Richter will work with Mr. von Hoyer to determine if this matter and others discussed at the joint session need to be scheduled on a future agenda.
Mr. Richter asked if there were any questions regarding the Devault Village at Spring Oak development that was approved at the June 7 Board of Supervisors meeting. Basically there will be no structure changes but there will be garage location changes. The backs of some lots will be enhanced that face the turnpike. Mr. Westhafer asked about the Design Manual update. Mr. Richter said that will be completed when the development is finished but specific changes to lots will be tracked on an ongoing basis. Addresses will be used to identify units as opposed to lot numbers so subsequent property owners are better aware of their restrictions. Homeowners will be told about issues with Beyond Meat, etc. Mr. Richter said there are moving parts to this and they will need to be addressed.
Any documents referred to in the minutes are available to the public upon request to the Township office.
There being no further business, Mr. Richter adjourned the meeting at 8:20 p.m.