Mike Allen, Vice Chairman, June Gorman, Sarah Peck, Wendy Leland, Rick Reis, Michael Churchill, Surender Kohli, P.E., Tom Comitta, Dale Frens, Linda Csete, and those on the attached list.

Call to Order:

7:30 P.M..


Mr. Allen announced he would chair the meeting in Mr. Motel’s absence.

Citizens Forum

No matters were brought forward at this time.

Approval of Minutes

November 10, 2009 Minutes

Mrs. Csete read the following corrections emailed to her by Mr. Reis yesterday:

With these changes, Ms. Peck moved to approve the November 10, 2009 minutes and Mr. Reis/Mrs. Gorman seconded. Mr. Allen called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


TND Lighting

Mr. Comitta introduced Kent Lazor of Independence Lighting representing Spring City Manufacturing, which is the approved manufacturer for all the street lighting in the TND District. Mr. Lazor brought in a sample of the model “Washington”, the approved luminaire, which uses LEDs as a light source. The meeting room lights were turned off so the planning commission members could gauge the brightness and directional qualities of the sample street lamp. Mr. Lazor pointed out that the cover on the light stops the light from shining upward. The light is directed downward toward the street, with the sidewalk side at less intensity. Ms. Peck said there’s a bright area where the cover meets the glass. Mr. Lazor agreed but said it’s not evident over distance.

Mr. Churchill asked for the wattage, and Mr. Lazor said the lights are 74 watts, which is equivalent to 185 watts for a halide or high pressure sodium lamp.

Ms. Peck asked if there could be a shield to protect homes from the light. Mr. Lazor said yes, but it probably wouldn’t be necessary. He showed how the sidewalk side of the light is significantly dimmer than the street side.

Mr. Lazor described the LED lights as a solid state component, not individual bulbs. The color is approximately 3,000K in color, which is a warm white tone. Ms. Peck asked if the lights could be programmed to dim, and Mr. Lazor said yes, adding that dimming the lights doesn’t change the tone.

Mr. Lazor said benefits of LED lighting include greater efficiency due to directional quality, utilization of less energy, and less frequent maintenance. Downsides include their need to be kept dry and cool. Ms. Peck asked about the replacement cost. Mr. Lazor said they cost $600-800 more than other lighting types, but there’s a 7 year warranty on them, and no maintenance should be needed for the first 10-12 years. He also noted that the price of LED lights is expected to drop as more are manufactured and put into use, similar to the drop in price experienced by CFL lights.

Mr. Townes asked about the cost for electric for each light. Mr. Lazor said PECO charges a flat rate per fixture, but this is expected to change soon when deregulation takes effect.

Mr. Allen asked if there are price breaks for quantity, as two developers are working on plans in Charlestown’s TND district concurrently and may wish to pool resources. Mr. Lazor said some parts are mass produced while others are not. He said the prices for the light poles vary more than the lighting itself.

Mr. Frens said a question that arose in the DRC meetings was whether the lights could be programmed to dim after a certain hour, for example, midnight. Mr. Lazor said it’s fairly easy to alter the regulator in the fixtures to do this by providing an additional set of wires to each one, but presently, electric costs don’t provide an incentive to do so. He noted that in California, light reduction of 50% is required. He referred to the Dali system in Europe, which provides this option by remote control.

Mr. Comitta asked lighting consultant Stan Stubbe what information he needs in order to determine how far apart the fixtures should be. Mr. Stubbe said the TND ordinance doesn’t specify a minimum lighting level, just an average level of 0.4 - 0.6 foot-candles. He said Mr. Kent will send him the photometrics, and he’ll use that data to determine the distance.

Mr. Churchill asked what the industry standards are for minimum lighting and how it compares to peoples’ comfort level. Mr. Stubbe said he’s comfortable with the ordinance’s average levels and would recommend a minimum of 0.2 ft-c for a minimum, which is similar to the darker part of a lighted parking lot. 0.4 ft-c is considered acceptable for low activity areas, 0.6 for medium activity and 0.9 for high activity, such as a Wawa parking lot. He said the average to minimum ratio should be 4:1. Ms. Peck asked if the poles would be staggered along the roads for more consistent lighting, and Mr. Lazor said yes.

Mr. Mosteller asked if there were any examples of these average lighting levels nearby. Mr. Lazor named Ursinus College and a development in Ambler borough.

Doug Olson of Barton Associates, said he discussed lighting with a consultant who recommended focusing on curves, intersections, and areas with changes in elevation. Mr. Olson said he produced a sketch following this advice, and displayed it for the Planning Commission. Some fixtures were removed for this sketch. He said he’d have to work with Mr. Lazor and Mr. Stubbe to ensure the revised lighting plan meets minimum levels. Mr. Allen and Mr. Churchill both thought this could be something to consider, provided a safe level of lighting is maintained.

Ms. Peck asked what recommendations they have for the alleys. Mr. Olson said they had planned minimal lighting, depending instead on ambient lighting from the homes. Mr. Mosteller noted the homes will have lights above the rear garages. Mr. Comitta said he hasn’t seen post lighting in most TND alleys in the Mid-Atlantic States and as far south as South Carolina. Ms. Peck said nevertheless, they should determine whether lighting is appropriate for this development. Mr. Allen agreed it should be considered, since the intention of the alley design is to encourage their use for parking and access to the homes, and people need to feel comfortable using them. Mrs. Leland was also in agreement there should be more lighting for the alleys. Mr. Stubbe said there are different philosophies for how much lighting is required, ranging from regularly spaced lighting throughout a development, to more rural designs that are only lighted at the intersections, entrances and cul de sacs. Mr. Comitta said in West Chester borough, every street has an alley, and there is only pole lighting where the two intersect unless the alley is very long. In those instances there may be a pole at the mid point.

Mr. Allen said the consensus from the discussion this evening seems to be to focus lighting on the critical areas, yet avoiding hot spots. He suggests the consultants meet to work on the lighting plan further, noting that the style of the fixture itself looks great.

Mr. Frens asked the manufacturer if he has a second level of fixture for alleys, and Mr. Lazor said he thought they could come up with something.

Mr. Allen thanked Mr. Lazor for his presentation this evening.

Review of Applications

Spring Oak Conditional Use Plan

John Mosteller and Eric Schrock from Dewey Homes, Doug Olsen from Barton Partners, and Jason Engelhardt, P.E., from Langan Engineers were present to review the conditional use application and preliminary plan for Spring Oak. Mr. Allen said final review and recommendations re: steep slopes and high groundwater are needed for the conditional use application before the Supervisors’ hearing opens on December 7th.

With regard to the subdivision plan, Mr. Allen asked Mr. Mosteller if he will provide a response to the Township on the County Planning Commission’s review letter and recommendations, and Mr. Mosteller said yes. Mr. Allen then referred to a worksheet prepared by Mr. Schrock that will track the issues for Spring Oak under discussion and the approvals pending and granted. He said some pending items include the stormwater management plan, environmental assessment report, traffic study, and design manual. Mr. Mosteller said they’ll have the design manual ready for review at the DRC meeting on December 7th, and that their goal is to finalize it by the end of December. Mr. Allen then noted that since the drawings are so voluminous, they propose not distributing full sets until the plan moves into the Preliminary/Final stage. He noted, however, that any plans in the interim would be available to the Planning Commission members upon request.

Mr. Engelhardt displayed a copy of the 2 steep slope areas, Areas 2 and 4, still under discussion for a recommendation for conditional use approval. Review of Areas 1 and 3 was completed at the November 10th meeting.

For Area 2, the houses on Lots 5 & 6 have been reduced in size to provide larger back yards. The homes previously had a depth of 65 feet and are now shown at 54 feet. Mr. Mosteller said this still allows for homes with a footprint of 2,000 – 2,100 sq. ft. Previously, the home on Lot 5 was 25 feet from the swale. Now there’s additional room for a future patio and for general use of the yard.

Ms. Peck asked if the grading plan remains the same, and Mr. Mosteller said they pulled the grade up a foot or so and moved the swale further from the building. He said if they go beyond the building envelope shown, they would have to provide a retaining wall. Mr. Shrock said they wouldn’t be opposed to doing so if the homeowner wished it. Mr. Reis suggested moving the side yard line out. Mr. Engelhardt said the adjacent land is part of the development’s open space area and he’d have to check to see if they had sufficient open space if some area was taken from it here. Mr. Mosteller said it’s critical that this open space area above the drainage pipe be maintained regularly because otherwise it could clog the drainage system.

For Area 4, Mr. Engelhardt showed that they reduced the disturbed area by nearly 50% by reducing the depth of the units in the area. This preserves more of the wooded area and takes the drainage pipe out of steep slopes. Mr. Reis was concerned with the cross slope on the adjacent trail. Mr. Engelhardt said he’d like to grade across the trail to provide a more even cross slope. Mr. Mosteller said Mr. Comitta suggested a railing in his review letter.

Ms. Peck moved to recommend approval of the conditional use requests for steep slope disturbance shown on the revised plans with measures taken to adjust the cross slope on the adjacent section of the trail. Mr. Reis seconded. Mr. Allen called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Mr. Engelhardt moved on to display plans showing the conditional use approval needed for disturbance in the areas mapped as high groundwater areas as evidenced by mottling. He noted they’ll provide external access to the basements on the homes in these areas as well as throughout the plan as required. They will also provide foundation drains and water tight joints on all stormwater and sewer piping in the area. Per Mr. Kohli’s review comment #2.a.i., under drains will be utilized for all roadways within this area and clay plugs will be used in all utility trenches. Mr. Engelhardt said they’ll perform additional soil borings before the hearing on December 7th and he doesn’t anticipate any problem. Mr. Allen asked Mr. Kohli if he was comfortable with what is being proposed, and he responded yes. Mr. Allen asked if only these two houses will have sump pumps, and Mr. Mosteller said others may have them if they encounter a need for it. Mr. Reis asked if there were any issues with Mr. Comitta’s review letter. Mr. Schrock said no, as they deferred to Mr. Kohli’s recommendation on the under drains rather than Mr. Comitta’s suggestion to provide more stone. Mr. Comitta agreed to defer this item to Mr. Kohli.

Mrs. Leland moved to recommend approval of the conditional use requests for disturbance of high ground water areas subject to Mr. Kohli’s review comments in his letter dated 11/25/09, and Ms. Peck seconded. Mr. Allen called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Mr. Allen said Mr. Comitta will be circulating a proposed revision to the TND Ordinance for the Planning Commission’s review at the December 8th meeting. The revision will include all the items under consideration for amendment or waiver relating to the Spring Oak and Tyler Griffin developments. He circulated a portion of this revision, which was a markup of section 2202.F.1 through 2219.E. Mr. Allen said he’ll coordinate with Mr. Motel to see how he wants to proceed with the review.

Andrew Motel – Variance Plan

Mr. Allen stated that the Planning Commission has been requested to review Mr. Motel’s plan for improvements to his property, including an addition and a detached garage. Because both improvements encroach on the minimum setbacks, Mr. Motel has made application to the Zoning Hearing Board to request a variance. In addition to that relief, Mr. Motel needs to obtain approval from the Board of Supervisors to permit the location of the detached garage in the side and front yard in accordance with Zoning Ordinance Section 1607.3. This section indicates that this determination is made by the Board of Supervisors upon the recommendation of the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission reviewed plans provided by Mr. Kohli, and noted the long, narrow configuration of the lot and the heavily wooded areas on the property. After some discussion, the Planning Commission didn’t have an objection to the location of the garage in the front yard but felt they needed more information to evaluate the proper placement of it.

Mrs. Csete noted that Mr. Motel communicated that the abutting neighbors, the Bruders and McGowans, had seen the plans and had no objections.

Ms. Peck moved that the Planning Commission provide no comment on either the zoning hearing board application or the request for approval for the garage in the front yard, citing the need for additional information. Mrs. Leland seconded. Mr. Allen called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Planning Commission Secretary