Andy Motel, Chairman, Mike Allen, Vice Chairman, June Gorman, Sarah Peck, Wendy Leland (arrived later), Rick Reis, Surender Kohli, P.E., Tom Comitta, Linda Csete, and those on the attached list.

Call to Order:

7:30 P.M..



Citizens Forum

No matters were brought forward at this time.

Approval of Minutes

November 30, 2009 Minutes

Mrs. Gorman called for a clarification on p. 3, 2nd paragraph, 4th sentence to insert the word “alleys” so the sentence will read, “Mr. Comitta said he hasn’t seen post lighting in most TND alleys in the Mid-Atlantic States…”

Mr. Reis moved to approve the November 30, 2009 minutes and Mr. Motel seconded. Mr. Allen called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. Five were in favor.

Review of Applications

Zantzinger Minor Subdivision Plan – Sketch

Andrew DeFonzo, P.E., Megan King, Esq., Donald Schmidt and William LaPointe were present to discuss the sketch plan for the Zantzinger property. Mr. Motel explained that the Board of Supervisors heard from the applicants last evening and found the sketch plan acceptable subject to the Planning Commission’s review. Mr. Motel said it was the applicant’s time constraint that caused them to go to the Supervisors first.

Ms. King provided an overview of the sketch plan to re-subdivide the Zantzinger property. She explained that last year, a small piece of the large Zantzinger tract was subdivided with the intention of selling the small .5 acre parcel before the end of the year to help finance the remainder of the estate. There is another separate parcel of approximately 1.9 acres they expect to sell in 2010. The reasoning behind this is that because the property is under Act 319, only a conveyance of less than two acres can be done per year without tax implications. Now, for 2010, the Zantzinger Estate would like to add a small piece to the 1.9 acre lot to square it up, and then split the entire land area into two pieces and sell one to the Schmidts and the other to the LaPointes, both of whom are the adjacent owners.

Mr. Motel said the applicant is looking for feedback on the new sketch plan before moving ahead with the formal submission next year. He said the large Zantzinger parcel is under a conservation easement with the North American Land Trust, and although the smaller parcels are not under easement, he understands that both the Schmidts and LaPointes want to maintain the parcel between them as open space. This parcel is a buildable lot as it now exists, and if half of it is conveyed to the LaPointes, their lot would then likely be sub-dividable. Ms. King said the LaPointe house is situated so that a subdivision is unlikely since a flag lot would have to be created, and any new house would be located in front of the existing one. Mr. Motel expressed his personal opinion that since there was a building lot before this proposed subdivision, the fact that there would be a potential building lot sub-dividable off the LaPointe property has no net effect. He feels this is a better solution than the joint tenancy of the 1.9 lot by the LaPointes and Schmidts proposed by Mr. LaPointe.

Ms. Peck asked if there was an update on the Township’s request to locate the Horse-Shoe Trail on the Zantzinger property. Ms. King said no and that relocation won’t be part of this application. Daniel Zantzinger continues to have reservations about a trail on his property due to an incident years ago. He was likewise not interested in allowing the trail if it was fenced from his home. She said the Township is welcome to continue discussing the matter with him. Mr. Motel said he spoke to George Asimos, Esq. about the possibility of a trial period with a revocable license. He said he understands Ms. King’s client’s position but noted he hasn’t closed off discussions on the possibility either and will speak to Daniel when the time is right.

Ms. Peck asked Mr. LaPointe if he intends to subdivide after the conveyance is made. Mr. LaPointe responded no, he wants to maintain the area as the open space they’ve enjoyed in the past. He pointed out that if he wanted a building lot he would simply buy the entire 1.9 acre parcel himself.

Mr. Kohli said he’ll speak to the applicant’s engineer about clarifying what is needed to obtain various waivers permitted with a minor subdivision plan.

Mr. Allen moved to recommend approval of the sketch plan concept for the re-subdivision of the Zantzinger, LaPointe and Schmidt properties, and Mr. Motel seconded. Mr. Motel called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. Five were in favor.

Exeter Preliminary Land Development Plan

Neal Camens, P.E., Michael B. Murray, Esq. and Jason Honesty of Exeter 3222 Phoenixville LLC were present to discuss the preliminary land development plan for Exeter.

Mr. Murray explained that they’ve submitted a phasing plan to illustrate how Exeter would implement the parking expansion. He said the building is a true flex building with some tractor trailer movement that causes concerns over the landscaped islands that are required by the ordinance for the parking areas. Therefore, Exeter wants to consolidate some of the islands so that instead of one every 10 spaces, some are doubled in size but have more than 10 spaces between them. They want to avoid the need to put islands in and have to remove them to accommodate changes in use alternating between office and warehouse space.

He explained they resubmitted the plan after a miscommunication earlier this year where the plan was denied due to timing on the decision deadline, but they are now interested in moving forward.

Mr. Murray referred to item #5 on Mr. Kohli’s review letter dated 11/30/09 that indicates a variance will be required to provide parking rows with greater than 10 stalls. The plan proposes up to 21 stalls per row. Mr. Murray said the Township solicitor should make the determination of whether a variance is needed or if the Board of Supervisors can waive the requirement.

Mr. Motel asked if any conditional use approvals will be needed, and Mr. Murray said none are anticipated.

Mr. Murray then addressed the lighting requirements for the parking areas, referring to Stan Stubbe’s review letter dated 11/30/09. Mr. Camens said he and Mr. Honesty met with Mr. Stubbe, who was in agreement that it isn’t practical to replace the 20 foot high poles with 16 foot poles when the spillage can be managed by use of the proposed “shoebox” luminaries. He clarified that the lighting fixtures in the back of the building are not wall-mounted fixtures but will have an arm extending from the building. They’ll also include the new shoeboxes. He said Mr. Stubbe wants them to clarify that they’ll meet the ordinance in the new areas but re-use the lighting poles where they presently exist. He said they need clarification on whether this is another variance issue or if this is a requirement that can be waived by the Supervisors.

Mr. Motel asked how many fixtures will need relief, and Mr. Camens estimated 20. Mr. Honesty said the poles in the front areas are 18 feet high. Mr. Allen asked where the nearest neighbor is to the site, and Mr. Honesty named a precast concrete company adjacent to the property. Mr. Camens added there are no residences nearby.

At this time the applicant turned in the proofs of notification to the abutting landowners. None of them were present this evening.

Mr. Allen asked if the existing lights would cause less spillage when the new shoebox fixtures are added. Mr. Camens said he’s not sure, because the existing lights are quite old and they may have darkened through the years. He noted, however, that their intention is that the lighting levels will meet the code.

Ms. Peck asked Mr. Murray why he thought the landscaping issues were ones that could be waived by the Supervisors. Mr. Murray read from a section of the Zoning Ordinance, which referenced landscaping under the MPC, which in turn references the SLDO, from which the Supervisors have discretion to waive requirements. He didn’t find a similar reference relating to lighting, and said he spoke to the Township’s solicitor, Mark Thompson. He said Mr. Thompson wasn’t prepared to respond and will have to advise them.

Mr. Motel said that the covenants created upon a 1985 approval granted a previous applicant/owner of the parcel require Board approval of any changes in the types of use (office vs. warehouse) or increase in needed parking. Mr. Honesty said the restriction was never recorded, but Mr. Motel responded that the Solicitor advised the Township it nevertheless is applicable.

(Mrs. Leland arrived at this time.)

Mr. Motel asked for clarification that the existing lighting fixtures are considered an existing non-conforming use, and Mr. Kohli said yes since none of the use has been abandoned.

Mr. Allen agreed that whether these landscaping and lighting matters have to be addressed by the Supervisors or the Zoning Hearing Board is for the solicitor to determine. Mr. Kohli said he’ll speak to Mr. Thompson and provide his opinion as Zoning Officer.

Mr. Motel asked how the proposed land development will enhance the environment and aesthetics of the property. Mr. Camens said they’ll put in islands as required every 10 stalls where they don’t interfere with loading docks, with striping to come later in those areas if and when they convert to office use. He said a standard island is the same as a parking space, 9 x 20 feet. The larger ones are between 15 and 19 feet wide by 20 feet. Mr. Motel noted the Planning Commission agreed with the reduced parking lot space of 9 x 20 feet the last time this project was discussed. Mr. Camens agreed, noting this is clearly at the discretion of the Supervisors.

Mr. Motel asked if the proposed parking lot reconfiguration will allow the applicant more marketing options, and Mr. Honesty said yes, since office uses typically demand 5 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space. Mr. Motel asked how many parking spots the plan proposes, and Mr. Camens said a total of 943 spaces. If the current spaces are striped, the count would be 507. Mr. Allen asked if the new parking areas would be added in 1 or 2 phases. Mr. Honesty said they only want to build what’s warranted, and a new office tenant would have to be under agreement before they built additional parking space. He said if current tenant Aegeon left, they could stripe their parking area for a total of 740 spaces. The last lot would only come into play if Aegeon left.

Mr. Motel said traffic studies will be required and asked if the applicant has performed them yet. Mr. Camens said no, stating that that requirement is triggered by the size of the building. Mr. Kohli disagreed, stating that since the use is expanding the study will be required. Ms. Peck added that the deed restriction language suggests that the Supervisors will need proof that more spaces are needed before they can approve the plan. She said it’s to the applicants' advantage to satisfy themselves that the traffic counts work. Mr. Honesty said that if all 42 tractor trailer spaces were taken out, there wouldn’t be a huge difference.

Mr. Motel asked if the applicant was fairly confident they can address the consultants’ review comments the next time they meet with the Planning Commission. Mr. Camens said they’re comfortable with most of the comments other than the answers they need on the potential variance issues. He said they can work with lighting consultant Stan Stubbe and with Mr. Theurkauf on the landscaping. He said they need to look into relocating a sewer easement that is presently not in use. Mr. Kohli said it exists to provide access to Phoenixville Pike.

Ms. Peck said two other issues to discuss that have been raised in the past are the water ponding problem on Phoenixville Pike in front of the property, and J. Loew and Associates’ concern over runoff onto the adjacent Commons @ Great Valley complex. Mr. Camens indicated they haven’t received a response from PennDOT about the first issue.

Mr. Allen asked that the applicant provide a list of questions they need to have addressed to make their proposal work. Mr. Honesty asked for feedback on whether the Planning Commission found the landscape island plan acceptable conceptually, and several members indicated that they were.

The applicant will return to the Planning Commission after the plans have been revised.

TND Ordinance Review

The Planning Commission reviewed proposed changes to the TND Ordinance partially prompted by discussions with the developers for Spring Oak and Tyler Griffin. Eric Schrock and John Mosteller of Dewey Homes were present for the discussion.

Mr. Comitta provided an overview of the changes, noting that three items not included are to be addressed later. They include: lighting criteria to be provided by Stan Stubbe, further amendments to Exhibit H, and issues relating to housing types that he needs to review with the Solicitor.

The proposed changes ranged from clarifications, wordsmithing and minor additions to a few more extensive changes and additions. He said about half of the changes were generated by the Township and a quarter each by the developers for Tyler Griffin and Spring Oak as they move through the design review process.

Ms. Peck asked if all the changes are necessary or if they can be waived by the Supervisors as needed. Mr. Allen said the TND ordinance is part of the Zoning Ordinance. They can waive some items that are related to the SLDO but not others. He said the Design Review Committee has been keeping a record of changes needed all year. Mr. Comitta said some of the changes were made to allow leeway for future applicants. For example, since TND Area 1 consists only of Spring Oak and a parcel owned by Tom Fillippo, the changes requested by Spring Oak were drafted so they would likely meet the needs of any future Fillippo development. He said that the Chester County Planning Commission in the past has flagged sections of the TND ordinance where authority was given to the Board of Supervisors that must instead go through the Zoning Hearing Board. He referenced language in the MPC under TND ordinance provisions for which areas allow more latitude.

Mr. Allen suggested they walk through all the changes proposed in Mr. Comitta’s prepared draft dated 12/1/09. Mr. Comitta circulated selected pages with further revisions dated 12/8/09 that can be substituted for the older version of those pages. The review took approximately two hours. Some of the items addressed are as follows:

Page Remarks
i. Distinctions between active and passive recreation space were now found to contain enough distinction.
ii. Mr. Comitta will check with Mr. Thompson on whether ownership options should be considered in addition to the condominium form of ownership.
iv. Further detail may be needed in the definitions for types of dwelling units.
v. Clarification on “lot area equivalent”.
9 Mr. Comitta will insert a new #6, changing #6 to #7, to indicate that landscaping design should allow for plantings in the perimeter setback at the discretion of the Board.
10 2202.N.e: change “Such signage shall not exceed four square feet per sign” to six square feet per sign.
10 2202.O: Discussion on whether landscaping should be included in the five foot setback to the alleys in this section or whether it’s addressed elsewhere.
12 2204.B.2: Remove reference to stacked flats.
13 2205.A & B: Mr. Shrock circulated a handout demonstrating why larger square footage is needed for lots located along curves. Also, eliminate reference to stacked flats.
17 2209: Clarification is needed with regard to context sensitive design; heading will be expanded.
27 2219.B: Ms. Peck suggested a diagram to demonstrate lot area equivalents.
27 2219.E: Clarify that the minimum setbacks are from the right of way line.
Exhibit B – page 9.2 Items 9.11 and 9.12 can be combined.
Exhibit B – page 17 Adjustments needed to title, showing a Twin titled as a Duplex.
Exhibit E-1 Include proposed sidewalks and Horse-Shoe Trail.
Exhibit E-1 Change reference to “Exhibit E”.

Mr. Schrock circulated a handout showing the proposed bike path along Whitehorse Road. He said PennDOT requires a bike path on both sides, which is problematic on the west side of the road. The diagram shows a path on the Spring Oak side, which runs parallel to the road but is not placed as far into the site as was shown previously. He said he just wanted to make the Planning Commission aware of the situation at this time.

Mr. Motel thanked everyone for their efforts and particularly for the great effort by the Design Review Committee. Mr. Motel said he’ll send out all revisions by January 5th for review at the January 12th meeting. Mr. Motel said he expects a recommendation to the Board can be made after that review.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:40 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
Planning Commission Secretary