11 General Warren Blvd, Suite 1
Malvern, PA 19355
Tuesday, June 13, 2023


Planning Commission:
Mike Richter, Chairman, Matt Rogers, Vice Chairman, Michael Churchill, Daniel Ghosh, Dan Walker, and Andre von Hoyer II. Andy Motel and Bill Westhafer were absent.
Wendy McLean, Esq., Randy Patry, P.E., and Thomas Comitta
Chris Heleniak, Township Manager, Mike Allen, Staff Planner.

Call to Order:

7:00 p.m.


There were no announcements.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Walker moved to approve the May 8, 2023, meeting minutes and Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mr. Richter called for discussion and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Plan Reviews

Dougherty Conditional Use Application for Equestrian Academy

Kara Dougherty presented her conditional use application for an Equestrian Academy at 69 Hillsover Lane. The 90-acre property has been used as a commercial horse farm for 60-70 years by the previous owner, Richard McDevitt. The existing barn, which is not in good condition, has 17 stalls. They propose to demolish the barn and replace it with a 20-stall barn and indoor ring. The indoor ring will be in the same area as the current outdoor ring. They intend to continue the current activities of training and teaching riders, and boarding horses, which is allowed by the conservation easement with the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust placed on the property circa 2006.

Mr. Churchill asked if they plan to hold equestrian events at the farm, and Ms. Dougherty responded they have no plans to do so. Mr. Richter asked about current parking arrangements, and Ms. Dougherty said there are no designated spaces; visitors tend to park in the back or front of the barn.

Mr. Churchill asked for the largest number of visitors and workers parked there at one time. Ms. Dougherty said the current tenant has 15 horses and the new tenant will have 20-24. The new tenant has an existing business, and she would expect about 10 people at one time since activities are spaced throughout the day. She estimated the peak number of visitors as 10 cars and up to 20 people.

Mr. Churchill asked how the Township can be assured this usage continues as presented. Ms. Dougherty said she’s not interested in doing anything else. The number of horses on the property is limited by the acreage, albeit large, but it’s further limited by the number of stalls and the size of the riding ring.

Mr. Churchill said his main concerns were parking and water handling. The old outdoor ring absorbs some of the water that will now be an area of impervious coverage from the roof over the indoor ring. He asked if there’s a problem with water handling, is the enlargement of the barn to accommodate the additional stalls necessary? Ms. Dougherty said that given the size of the property it is important. The largest part of the barn is the indoor ring. She said there is sufficient space for parking at various points on the property and along the jump field. The water handling will be improved from the present condition where there is some run off into a tributary of the creek.

Ms. Jill Green asked if the number of horses is being restricted, and Mr. Richter responded it’s only restricted per the zoning ordinance; they are not further restricting the number.

Mr. Richter said the Planning Commission is considering both the use of the property as well as the engineering aspects of the plan for the conditional use application. Ms. Dougherty’s engineer, John Smirga, addressed the review comments on Dan Wright’s letter dated 6/9/23 as follows:

Item #1: The Zoning Table has been added to show compliance with the 10% building coverage and maximum 20% impervious surface coverage.

Item #2: Mr. Smirga discussed the setbacks with Mr. Wright and confirmed the front setback is the same as the right of way line for Route 401, which is shown on the plans and is in compliance. For the side yard setback requirements of 150 feet, the barn section complies but the riding ring does not and will have to be shifted about 3 feet. He’ll add a note to the plan that a field survey of that corner should be conducted prior to building construction. The manure crib will also need to be shifted to meet the 250-foot setback, currently at 230 feet.

Item #3: Ms. Dougherty said she’ll provide a lighting plan, noting that the only outdoor lights would be above the front and side doors of the barn. The barn itself is typically closed after 8 p.m. Mr. Churchill asked that they be on motion sensors since they will have only occasional use.

Item #4: Mr. Smirga confirmed there will be 17 parking spaces total, with room for 5 additional areas for trailers to park temporarily in the Jump Paddock. Fifteen spaces will be along the driveway and two will be in front of the barn. Parking spaces will be stone and will not require regrading. Two potential spaces for ADA parking have been identified at the front of the barn as meeting the slope restriction and one will be selected as required.

Item #9: Mr. Smirga indicated that the stormwater management plan for the new building is under review with Mr. Wright’s office and will address up to a 100-year storm. New cross pipes are proposed that will also handle some of the uphill runoff. Mr. Walker asked if the system would be all underground, and Mr. Smirga said yes. Mr. von Hoyer asked if there should be rip rap at the end of the piping, and Mr. Patry said yes. Mr. Smirga said there is 20-30” angular rip rap shown on the plan.

Item #5: Mr. Smirga said the applicant agrees that no event will permit attendance in excess of the available on-site parking, and Ms. Dougherty said she provided a letter stating this as requested.

Item #6: Mr. Smirga indicated that the County Health Department has approved the septic system and the septic tank has been replaced. Per Mr. Wright’s request, the septic system will be staked out in the field and the drainage field is shown on the plans.

Mr. Patry noted that the applicant has submitted a zoning & E & S permit application for this project as a precursor to the building permit application, and these are under review. Some of the comments this evening relate specifically to this concurrent application process.

Ms. McLean said the conditional use application focuses on the use only, which appears to be a continuation of a long-established business, and she had no specific comments on the use, which is allowed via established PA state law. Mr. Smirga acknowledged he showed a drain in a steep slope area that is being moved so no further conditional use approval will be necessary for construction in steep slopes.

Mr. Comitta referenced his Review Memorandum dated 6/6/23 and noted the following:

Item #1: He requested that elevations be added to the architectural plans along with a Materials & Color Key and Legend for the siding, roof, cupulas, doors, and windows.

Item #2: Proposed landscaping is to be added to the Development Plan. Mr. Smirga said they’ll generally be replacing the existing grass, with no landscaping beyond the existing tree line.

Item #3: Ms. Dougherty said any signage would comply with the zoning ordinance, and she expects no more than one small sign for the tenant.

Mr. Allen asked about the lack of windows or ventilation shown. Ms. Dougherty said there are three very large doors that provide cross ventilation and a see-through panel below the roof line that lets light in. This is typical of horse barns and riding rings particularly don’t have windows that can distract the horses. Mr. Churchill asked if there was a roof fan, and Ms. Dougherty responded no. Mr. Smirga added there are ridge vents. Ms. Dougherty said the cupolas are also vented.

Mr. Allen asked about the view of the new barn from Rt. 401. Ms. Dougherty said it would be similar to the view today where the front of the barn would be visible from the road.

Mr. Rogers moved to recommend that the conditional use application be approved, subject to the consultants’ review letters. Mr. von Hoyer seconded. Mr. Richter called for discussion, and there being none, called the vote. All were in favor.

Hoops Sketch Plan – Tyrone Road

Mr. Richter indicated that the applicant requested the matter be removed from the agenda.

Ms. Green asked for the reason, and Mr. Churchill said the Township determined that there had been a restriction placed on the property against further subdivision, so the application was withdrawn.

Greene-Marks Final Subdivision Plan

Mr. Greg Adelman, Esq., and Mr. Brynn Schaffer, PE, PLS, presented the final subdivision plan for the Greene-Marks subdivision at 4219 Howell Road. Mr. Adelman stated there was one change since the approval of the preliminary plan, which was adding the reforestation area back on the plan. The conditional use application associated with this 3-lot subdivision has been approved. He addressed items on the consultants’ review letters as follows, noting that everything has been resolved.

Thomas Comitta Associates Inc., memorandum dated 5/2/23

Mr. Comitta said the plan has been revised to include all required trees, totaling 95, sealing of the plans by a registered landscape architect, and adding bare root seedlings in tree shelters at the rate of 250 per acre.

Additional comments that were administrative in nature will be complied with and included:

Item 5.1 Changing the number of New Trees under 7.1 of the Improvements Estimate from 92 to 95 and changing the cost from $46,000 to $47,000.
Item 5.2 Adding a cost estimate for the Bare Root Trees.
Montrose Review letter

Mr. Adelman went through the Montrose review letter dated 5/30/23, indicating that these items have been resolved:

Item #2: Conditional Use order has been added to the plans
Item #3: Waivers regarding the driveway approved 2/6/23 were added to the plans
Item #7: Applicant will provide draft covenant or restriction documents prior to plan recordation.
Item #10: Waiver to allow a 5% grade of the driveway at the intersection has been granted.
Item #13: Waiver to allow a 50-foot sight triangle has been granted.
Item #19: Waiver to allow runoff to comply with state requirements rather than the Township’s Stormwater Management Ordinance has been granted.
Item #23: Waiver to allow surface basins has been granted.

Mr. Adelman noted that the two new comments have been resolved, including:

Item #45: Changing the sequence of construction notes to indicate that Infiltration testing for stormwater facility 1.B shall be performed prior to earth moving, and construction must stop if the testing doesn’t meet the requirements of the stormwater design.
Item #46: Reconciling the .3 difference in calculations for the bottom of the bed.

Mr. Allen asked if the on-lot infiltration systems are all subsurface, and Mr. Adelman responded yes.

Questions from the audience

Ms. Green asked if the plans still show the rock gully running to the plunge pool along the eastern fence line. Mr. Schaeffer said yes and showed her the location and where it drains to piping. Mr. Adelman added all the water will be handled on the applicant’s property.

Mr. Richter noted at this time that the plans being discussed tonight have already been approved, with Mr. Adelman adding nothing has been changed from the approved preliminary plans other than adding the reforestation plan.

Ms. Green asked if that reforestation is what was required in the 1996 plan. Mr. Adelman said the ordinance was not for reforestation but for tree replacement, which is the same today as what was required in 1996.

Ms. Green asked what happens to the seedlings in a drought? Mr. Adelman said there is improvement security to ensure the plants are maintained for a period of time. Ms. Green asked who is responsible and whether there would be a homeowners’ association. Mr. Adelman responded there would be no HOA; the building contractor and ultimately the homeowner would be responsible.

Ms. Green read a list of questions prepared by her professional consultants regarding soil classification.

Ms. Green stated she and her husband are directly impacted by this application and have filed an appeal against the preliminary plan approval. She said she should have been provided the final plan documents prior to the meeting, and only recently learned they had been submitted for review. Mr. Richter responded that it’s not the Planning Commission’s responsibility to do so.

Ms. Green asked the Planning Commission to defer action on the application until (1) she and her consultants have had a chance to review the submission, (2) a decision has been rendered on their appeal of the preliminary plan, and (3) the subdivision plans comply.

Ms. Green expressed her frustration that erosion problems had been identified early last year by her engineer and then subsequently brought those issues to the Township and nothing has been done. She attempted to contact Ms. Greene and Mr. Marks without success and has suffered costly damages to her property. When she had a project she was required to take stormwater management and erosion measures, but now she thinks no one cares.

Mr. Rogers moved to recommend approval of the Final Plan for the Green-Marks Subdivision Application subject to the consultant review comments. Mr. Richter seconded then called for discussion, and there were none at this time. Mr. Richter called the vote, and all were in favor.

Mr. Churchill said he was against the preliminary plan approval, but the issues he was concerned with have been resolved by the Board of Supervisors, further noting that all of Mr. Wright’s comments have been resolved. Mr. Rogers said the only change to the plans since preliminary approval was the addition of the reforestation plan, which will have beneficial effects on stormwater management.

Mr. von Hoyer said the Planning Commission relies heavily on its professionals due to the complexity of the issues under review, and when their comments are resolved they generally don’t discount their efforts by voting against them.

Planning Matters

Small Wireless Facilities

Mr. Richter indicated this matter was tabled until the July 11, 2023 meeting.


There being no further business, Mr. Richter adjourned the meeting at 8:20 p.m. The next meeting will be held on July 11, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. at 11 General Warren Blvd., Suite 1, Malvern, PA.

Respectfully submitted,

Linda M. Csete
sheet, 6/13/2023