Planning Commission: Bill Westhafer, Chair, Michael Allen, Michael Churchill, Wendy Leland, Andy Motel, and Michael Richter. Andre von Hoyer, Vice Chairman, was absent.

Consultants: Daniel Wright, P.E., Tom Comitta arrived at 7:50 p.m.

Staff: Linda Csete, Township Manager, Lisa Gardner, Recording Secretary

Public: John and Debbie Horstmann, Anita LaBarge

Call to Order:

7:35 p.m.


Mr. Churchill stated the Rails-To-Trails study is progressing.

Mr. Allen announced that he got a call from a developer representing a grocery chain owner located in England. He was interested in putting a 30,000 sq. ft. store into the TND2 area, but the Ordinance would only allow 15,000 sq. ft.


Mrs. Leland called for nominations for the position of Chairman of the Planning Commission for 2015. Mrs. Leland nominated Bill Westhafer for Chairman and Mr. Allen seconded. There being none further, the nominations were closed. Mrs. Leland called the vote, all were in favor.

Mr. Westhafer called for nominations for the position of Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission for 2015. Mrs. Leland nominated Andre von Hoyer for Vice Chairman and Mr. Churchill seconded. There being none further, Mr. Westhafer closed the nominations. Mr. Westhafer called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote, and all were in favor.

The Planning Commission members thanked Mrs. Leland for her tremendous job as Chairperson of the Planning Commission with a round of applause.

The 2015 Planning Commission meetings were suggested again, to be held on the second Tuesday of each month. The fourth Tuesday will be held in reserve and scheduled as needed. All meetings will be held at the Great Valley Middle School, Room 154, at 7:30 P.M. An alternate date for December may be proposed closer to the end of the year.

Approval December 9, 2014 Minutes

Mrs. Leland moved to approve the December 9, 2014 minutes with minor changes, and Mr. Allen seconded. Mr. Westhafer called for discussion, there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.


Horstmann Sketch Plan

John and Debbie Horstmann were present to discuss their sketch plan for 315 Buckwalter Road. They propose to acquire a 50 foot strip of the Elter’s property that separates two nearby large properties, and would prevent future connection and development. This is consistent with the Township Open Space goals. Mrs. Csete indicated that the abutting property owners were notified per the Township’s policy.

The Horstmann’s currently own 2.3 acres and would buy one acre from the Elters (of 325 Buckwalter Road). The Elters will be left with 2.1 acres after the sale. The plan is a lot line change but falls under minor subdivision rules.

Adding the strip of land to the Horstmann’s property would not make their land developable. After netting out a stream and the steep slopes of both owners, it would be impossible to meet the minimum net lot area requirements for the newly created lots.

Mr. Wright explained that the Horstmann’s are seeking relief from the Zoning Hearing Board for the requirement to net out the steep slope areas. They are also prepared to deed restrict their property from any further subdivision.

The Horstmanns were looking for the Planning Commission’s recommendation of support to the Board of Supervisors. Then they will apply for the Zoning Hearing, and then attempt a position on the February agenda for the Board of Supervisors Meeting.

Mr. Horstmann was advised by Mr. Motel to:

  1. File a Variance Application
  2. Go to the Zoning Board and ask for a Variance
  3. Hire an engineer for subdivision plans on the new and old lots
  4. Request waivers

Mr. Churchill moved to recommend the Horstmanns not be required to provide net lot area calculations for the Elters soon-to-be diminished lot, and encourages the Board to grant the waivers required. Mrs. Leland seconded. Mr. Westhafer called for discussion, there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Strategic Planning Session scheduled for February 7th

Mr. Comitta circulated the agenda for the meeting at the Chester County Historical Building from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in West Chester. He asked Members to suggest via email, additional topics or speakers.

Mr. Churchill suggested circulating updated material or discussions on the 2014 “Take-Aways” such as the Comprehensive Plan. He also suggested Mr. Bender visit to discuss the Conditional Use process and its recent state law revisions. Mr. Wright agreed, since Conditional Use is arguably “By Right” and Township standards are rather general. After the Strategic Planning Session, a joint meeting with the Board will be scheduled, perhaps for the spring. Mr. Westhafer will contact Mr. Bender.

Other Business

Mr. Wright stated that a DEP check list for the Hotel project’s Planning Module had a minor error and needed to receive a new signature from the Chairman on Component 4-A so the applicant could proceed. Mr. Westhafer signed the document.

Mr. Wright suggested a discussion to establish formal steps for the informal sketch plan option, like the Horstmanns used tonight. Their project was not in need of an exhaustive review and official review letter. But in this instance, Mr. Wright said he acquainted himself with the sketch and came to the meeting with questions or comments to discuss when viewed against the Ordinance. Discussion followed regarding residents needing guidance for minor projects, the Commission needing rules that flush out inconsistencies with the Ordinance, and a breakdown of fees.

Mr. Comitta offered to ask the County for examples of Pre-Application Sketch Plan Processes, so the Township can more easily draft a sketch plan review process ordinance with minimum requirements.


Mr. Westhafer adjourned the meeting at 8:37 p.m. The Planning Commission’s next scheduled meeting is February 7, 2015 at the Chester County Historical Society.

Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Gardner,
Recording Secretary