HAMPDEN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
March 10, 2016 7:00 p.m.
Planning Commission Members Chairman Ronald Stephens
Vice Chairman Craig Mellott
Member Tracey Vernon
Member Claudia Williams
Member Edric Fetter
Commissioner Liaison Nathan Silcox
County Planning Commission Jeffrey Kelly
Township Staff Manager Keith Metts
Assistant Manager David Blechertas
Assistant Zoning Officer Darrell McMillan
Director of Public Works Jeremy Miller
Pledge of Allegiance
Chairman Stephens led the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Call to Order by Chairman Stephens
Chairman Stephens called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and stated Proof of Publication was available for public inspection.
Approval of the Minutes
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to approve the Planning Commission Meeting Minutes of
February 11, 2016. The motion, seconded by Ms. Williams, carried unanimously.
Peter Simone, Simone Collins, said he has been working with staff the last few months to develop an Official Map. He said the Map lays out intersection improvements, trails, sidewalks, stormwater management areas, and future areas for parks. He said it would deal with looking at property that the Township may want to acquire in the future or work with property owners to implement those improvements.
Mr. Simone said the Township is at the midpoint of the process and went over the dates for presentations to the Board of Commissioners and tentatively for the Public Hearing. He said he has received suggestions from the Planning Commission and staff.
Mr. Simone asked the Cumberland County Planning Department to preliminarily review the Map.
Commissioner Silcox asked about the realignment of Orr’s Bridge Road and Central Boulevard. Mr. Simone said many of these improvements have exhibits listed with them and they are mainly from the Borough of Camp Hill/Lower Allen/Shiremanstown/Hampden Township (CLASH) Circulation Study that was a regional traffic study done a few years ago. He said these intersection improvements would improve the level of service at those intersections and speed traffic through.
Manager Metts said staff completed a comprehensive review of the points discussed previously, as well as some other items that came to mind. He said he could confirm that Mr. Simone incorporated those into the presentation.
Mr. Simone said the plan is on the Township website.
There was a question from the audience regarding what the magenta colored lines on the Map represented.
Mr. Simone responded that the magenta line shows possible on-road trails, which may take the form of an improved shoulder.
Requests for Zoning Text Amendments to Hampden Township Zoning Ordinance Chapter 27, Part 17, Section 1721 adding new definitions for Interchange Commercial Park and New Regulations for Signs within an Interchange Commercial Park
Charles Courtney, McNees Wallace Nurick, along with various individuals from J.C. Barr and Strickler Signs, was present to speak concerning the text amendment requests.
Mr. Courtney said this amendment was presented a little more than a year ago. He said since that time the amendment has been updated to some extent. He said the two amendments break out the signs; one is only the sign along a limited access highway and the other describes ground pole, wall, and directional signs. He thought it may be beneficial to have alternatives.
Mr. Courtney presented to the Planning Commission late 2014, there was substantial public comment, and a lot of those comments dealt with the visibility of the signs. He said following that 2014 Planning Commission meeting, in January 2015, they worked with Strickler Signs, brought a crane to the site and did some crane and balloon testing. He said they placed a crane along Interstate 81 (I-81) at the proposed location of the pylon sign. He said the crane was placed at a height of 80 feet and the purpose was to drive around to take lines of sight. He said balloon test for the sign that would be located along Wertzville Road was also performed.
Mr. Courtney said there is a demonstrated need for identification of tenant and prospective tenants. He said this project has been a long time in the works. He said if you look at Hampden Marketplace that is the only Commercial Park District in the Township. He said it is a great site that is at an interchange, where you want commercial development to be and where commercial parks are planned to be. He said the developers had partnered with the Township to improve Wertzville Road and Valley Road. He said the drawback is visibility and identification. He said if you look back, the preference for retail layout has shifted to open air shopping centers and identification has become a critical part of tenant requirements for sites. He said it was a problem before 2008 and the market crash; however, now it is an even more critical factor today.
Justin Shoemaker, J.C. Barr, said he is the commercial leasing agent that is responsible for taking calls from and making calls to regional, local, and national tenants. He said the major reservation is ability to be seen from Wertzville Road and I-81. He said the site is attractive for many reasons, however, after 2008, this signage emphasized the problem.
Mr. Courtney said both the Harrisburg Mall and the Capital City Mall have large freestanding signs. He said the sign at the Capital City is 80 feet high; it was ultimately permitted because closed malls are at a disadvantage because not every tenant can have visibility from the street front with a wall sign.
Mr. Courtney said there is an existing sign for Hampden Marketplace. He said there is a 17-acre piece of the site that has been dedicated to the Township for the Veterans Memorial Park. He said there is considerable tree growth and a stream that bisects the area. He said there are wetlands on the site and part of the wetlands disturbance was getting a joint permit from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and required a conservation easement along the stream. The easement requires preservation of all trees that are along that stream. Mr. Courtney said when people drive on Valley Road there is zero visibility within the site. He said there is perhaps a window of visibility along I-81.
Mr. Courtney said the proposed sign along I-81 has a height of 60 feet and an area of approximately 932 square feet. He said the edge of the sign is facing I-81 and the residential areas to the west. The sign face itself is not facing I-81; it is the edge of the sign and that edge is about four feet wide. He said the edge is not illuminated. He said the proposed sign depiction that they provided staff and the Planning Commission is to scale.
Mr. Courtney said when discussing the area of the sign, travel speeds along the road at that sign need to be visible from. He said they provided a calculation that is typical in the sign industry. Ray Wenger, Strickler Signs, said the rule of thumb is a conservative method of the way they determine size and character height for rate of speed for distances of being traveled. He said this is not uncommon and takes the account for the cone of vision that their signs are generally out of. He said studies on complex highways; he takes the rate of speed, goes back five seconds, and from that distance is about 600 feet of viewing distance. He said he determines the character height from 600 feet when a person first starts seeing the sign within that five-second span. He said this same formula has been picked up by the American Planning Association, in the way of calculating signs.
Mr. Courtney said both signs on I-81 and Wertzville Road are to be internally illuminated. He said there would not be external illumination, and from a light impact, it would not encroach beyond any lot lines. He said a person would be able to see the sign much like you could see a star in the sky, but it does not provide any light encroachment.
Mr. Courtney said the Wertzville Road sign has a height of 56 feet measured from the top of the sign to the base of the sign, or to the grade. He said the realized perceived height of that sign from Wertzville Road is 45 feet. He said the area of the proposed of the sign is about 434 square feet. He said the bottom of the sign is just above the guardrail on Wertzville Road. He said that has been one of the challenges with the height of that sign. He said they could not lower it any further because the sign panel would fall below the guardrail and would not be visible.
Manager Metts had a question regarding the I-81 sign; he said the proposed text amendment, as he reads it, indicated that the elevation shows the sign 60 feet above the grade at the base of the sign, as he reads it he interpreted that as the bottom of the sign face. Mr. Courtney said the intent is that it is measured at the grade, so it is not the sign face itself. Manager Metts asked if the base of the sign is the bottom of the pylon. Mr. Courtney said that is correct or bottom of the pole at ground level. Manager Metts said to confirm that the top of the sign face is 60 feet; Mr. Courtney said that is correct.
Mr. Courtney said when they did the crane and balloon test, they took some photographs to establish some lines of sight at various locations. He provided different photographs from the various locations showing what the proposed sign would look like from those different points, including summer and winter photos.
Mr. Courtney said it is difficult to replicate a sign lighting for a sign that it is not there. He said they do not have any images at night. He said what he indicated earlier is that the sign is an internally illuminated sign that would not cause any glare beyond the property line. He said the residential neighborhoods to the west of the site predominately are facing the edge of the sign. He said it is the edge of the sign that is not illuminated.
Mr. Courtney said they reviewed other municipal sign ordinances and went over some other large signs from those places, as provided in a handout. He said most ordinances recognize and permit freestanding signs with multiple street frontages. He said the Township’s current ordinance for the shopping center allows for one freestanding sign. He said most ordinances recognize the value of having identification along multiple street frontages.
Mr. Courtney showed a short video portraying the scaled proposed sign along Wertzville Road and I-81 as a person would be driving by it. He said they took video driving down the road and imposed the sign into the video.
Mr. McMillan said in the proposed text it says that the sign would be 60 feet up road grade. Mr. Courtney said they probably did that to keep it simple. Mr. McMillan said the video and the text amendment do not match. Mr. Courtney said what is in the video is what they are proposing.
Mr. Courtney said this is the only property within the Commercial Park Limited District. He said this amendment is limited to an interchange commercial park, which must be within the Commercial Park Limited District at a grade-separated highway.
Mr. Courtney said the first amendment permits everything but the I-81 sign. He said the second amendment would allow one additional ground pole sign along a limited access highway with a maximum area of 950 square feet per face.
Mr. Courtney said the intent of the directional signs is when a person drives on Marketplace Way, they would have along Marketplace Way smaller signs with a maximum height of five feet, a maximum area of 12 square feet per side, and each tenant could have a directional sign. He said what the amendment addresses, and what is more likely, is to have directional signs that have multiple tenants on it. He said the directional sign size with two or three tenants’ names, the amendment allows a maximum area of 24 square feet per side.
Lynda Gilfert, Pellingham Circle, Enola, PA, said her home is represented in photos 8, 9, and 10. She said she is opposed to the proposed text amendment. She said although the photographs were taken in the spring and winter, they were not taken from her backyard, only from the front of her home. She said her family does not hang out in the front of her home. She said when she is in the rear of her home there is no question that she can see the sign.
Ms. Gilfert said in photo No. 8, it is not the same vantage point from the top photo to the bottom. She said where the sign is circled could clearly be seen from her back yard. She said she does not want to see this in her back yard.
Ms. Gilfert said she and her husband have been living here for nine years and they have paid for certain luxuries in the neighborhood that they are in.
Ms. Gilfert asked if the sign is approved, what is to stop Weis Markets or any other developer from making their own sign text amendment request. She asked if the Township was going to allow everything in the Township to be lit up. Ms. Gilfert said she has a neighbor that has been very confrontational stating that he does want the sign to go through and he made it clear that it is going to go through one way or another. She said she wonders if something underhanded is going on.
Ms. Gilfert said the zoning was obvious when Giant bought the property, and asked why they are going backwards. She said Giant clearly wants to make money.
Commissioner Silcox asked Mr. Courtney if the sign test was done just for I-81. Mr. Courtney said they had a balloon test for the Wertzville Road sign and the crane test for the I-81 sign. He said the balloon on Wertzville Road was not very visible from the residential areas. He said he wanted to point out that the crane test in the photographs provided were based upon a sign at 80 feet, but they are only proposing a sign at 60 feet.
Ms. Gilfert said she was referring to the sign on I-81, but said she is opposed to both sign text amendments.
Charlie O’Neil, Elk Court, Mechanicsburg, PA, said he knows Mr. Courtney from working with him on the Hampden Township Veterans Recognition Committee. He said they were really helpful in getting them the Veterans Park. He said as much as people want to say bad things about Giant moving from Enola to Hampden Township, they have helped Hampden Township when they donated that land for the park. He said originally he was very concerned about the sign proposal and that the sign was going to take away from the park. He said after looking through everything, he is no longer concerned. He said from driving by the site he said the parking lot of Giant is pretty well lit he and does not know what two more signs are going to do as far as light pollution. He said if a sign is going to bring more people into the Township, he is all for it. He said it is going to drive folks right past that Veterans Park that they are trying to build. He said he could not see the sign from his backyard. He said anything we can do to help bring tax dollars in, which is what keeps the taxes low.
Mr. Caba asked when the donation of the land for the Veterans Park was done and recorded at the Courthouse. Manager Metts said he would defer to Mr. Courtney since he represented Giant. Manager Metts said the land was offered for dedication to the Township in accordance with the Township’s ordinances and regulations. He said a property owner would need to provide and afford the community with open space or in lieu of that they may make a financial contribution at a cost per acre in accordance with Township ordinance. He said that offer and acceptance for the dedication of land occurred at the same time the plan was accepted and approved and eventually recorded. Mr. Courtney said the recording of that was done 2013 or early 2014.
Mr. Caba said that there would be two sides to the Wertzville Road sign totaling 868 square feet of light pollution. He said this is a topic that pulled a great number of people out, but there was no copy available of the sign amendment revisions that took place for anyone of the public to pick up and review it. He said in regards to advertising, there was no mention of people that live here; those people do not necessarily need to see that sign because they know where the Giant is. He said there should be more utilization of newspaper advertisement and coupons in order to pull people into that particular location. He said if the text amendment deals with interstates, the Township has other interstates in other areas, this type of signage would be applicable to various interstates. He asked what is to stop someone from putting a similar sign on the other side of the road. He said the Township has medical facilities that are close by that should be fully advertised with 60 or 80-foot signs. He said what is good for one has to be applied equally under the law.
Mr. Caba said he offered many years ago for free to build the monument for the Veterans Committee. He said he never heard a response. Commissioner Silcox stated that there was follow up on their end and there are regular public meetings held every month at the Township.
Patrick Howard, Pellingham Circle, Enola, PA, said he would clearly be able to see the sign from his backyard. He said they were told this was going to be a shopping center supporting the local community and now they are looking to attract transients not neighbors. He was unaware of this intent until tonight’s meeting. He asked if the plan would have ever been approved if that was the plan. He said the developer made a deal and they do not want to commit to it. He asked if it was always the applicant’s plan to change the ordinance after the fact. He said the local community knows where this shopping center is and the developer is trying to attract a different type of person.
Mr. Howard said Best Practices say signs are no longer needed and he said Williamsburg, VA, changed its zoning regulations around billboards. He said since that time sales have doubled between 1988 and 1992. He asked if we should really be negotiating from an 80-foot sign down. He said there would be more crime; recent development of Wertzville Road has turned Enola into a crime nightmare. He said when you pull people from outside the community; crime is only going to increase. He said when people look at signs for five seconds, while driving on the highway, they have accidents. He said there would be diminished property values if the sign goes up and people pay a premium for the Blue Mountain view. He said this is the beginning and everyone will be asking for an exception. He asked the Planning Commission to say no because the Township does not need this.
Gayle Kohr, Greenwood Circle, Enola, PA, asked Mr. Wenger about the calculations for sight for the I-81 sign. She said if someone is driving down the road and trying to visualize each individual panel for the sign how would they process any of that in the five seconds to make a decision to get off the highway.
Mr. Wenger said it is just a rule of thumb how they calculate a sign readable area within five seconds.
Ms. Kohr asked if the sign is going to be an effective way to advertise when people would not be able to internalize what they are looking at. She said they do not want transient traffic being brought to the area.
Ms. Kohr asked the Planning Commission if the Commission asks for proof of anything. She said it feels that the residents constantly have to prove that something should not happen or a negative thing. She said regardless of the topic, she does not see where an applicant has to prove they have need. She said the Township residents are not seeing any proof that the developers have any true need for it besides just taking their word for it. Manager Metts said this would be the opportunity for the applicant to provide that type of information or respond to the question, as this would be the first time the Planning Commission is seeing the presentation. Mr. Courtney said as in handing over notes, part of this process is testimony that is provided and representations are made and that is what they have done. He said they have been working on this site pre 2008; this site was acquired in 2002/2003, before the real estate market changed. He said they have been working in earnest for several years and the best evidence is the fact that they have lots of land and no tenants. He said it is not in the developer’s interest to have pads sitting. Ms. Kohr said that still does not prove to her that putting up the sign will work.
Ms. Williams said to answer Ms. Kohr’s earlier question directly, was information from interested or potential tenants submitted with the packet, the answer was nothing in writing. She said the Planning Commission has in the past asked questions along the lines of what companies have shown an interest, but they have not gotten to that part of tonight’s meeting.
Vice Chairman Mellott said part of the Planning Commission’s charge is to determine if this or any proposal is reasonable. He said there is a multitude of factors that the Planning Commission is charged with looking from a planning prospective. He said the Commission makes a recommendation based on those factors and more, but ultimately the Board of Commissioners makes the final determination.
Ms. Kohr asked if any new buildings built in the shopping center would also have signs on the building itself. Mr. McMillan said wall signs on the building would be permitted, but could not say if those would be visible from I-81.
Crystal Newcomer, Dusty Lane, Enola, PA, said she is opposed to both signs for the reasons that have been articulated at the last meeting. She said nothing that she has heard has addressed the concerns that she had before.
Michelle Pologruto, Pellingham Circle, Enola, PA, said she would not be able to see the proposed sign from her backyard. She said when they built their house they reviewed the zoning map because they were concerned about the highway. She said she does not want a McDonald’s drive through in her backyard. She said with regards to Mr. Howard’s comments, certain environments do bring in higher crime, more loitering, and they already have some very accident prone intersections as it is. She said they were concerned about having an overdeveloped area. She said they are not opposed to having some shopping near them. She said when people indicate there is a need; it is a matter of perspective. She said if the signage component was not there, maybe the developer fell prey to the build it and they will come philosophy. She said she is opposed to both sign proposals. She suggested separating the internal Marketplace Way signage from the other signage because it is something that she could support.
Ms. Pologruto said if signs would be constructed of this size; there should be a deconstruction strategy if the plaza becomes a ghost town when businesses leave.
Rick Abele, Laurel Valley Lane, Enola, PA, said he was present to lend his support to the developers to get the sign approved. He does understand that retailers may be hesitant to move in due to the visibility issue. He asked if any thought had been given to the edge of the sign, to put a lip maybe 4-6 inches on the side, which would block any visibility on the side of Wentworth.
Manager Metts said for informationally purposes there were written letters from residents in the Planning Commission packets that were unable to attend the meeting.
Mr. McMillan read the nine Township Staff Review Notes from the Community Development Department.
Mr. Courtney responded that the first three comments have been addressed earlier in the meeting. He said regarding Comment No. 4, the only ground pole signs in their view that would be permitted with this amendment would be the sign along I-81, one along Wertzville Road, and the existing sign along Valley Road.
Regarding Comment No. 5, Mr. Courtney said the existing Valley Road sign would remain. He said for Comment No. 6, they have confirmed the height of the signs.
Mr. Courtney said regarding Comment No. 7, this amendment deals with what they call the interchange commercial parks in the Commercial Park Limited District. He said they have not gone back and looked at the sign ordinance as it applies to the whole Township, because that was not part of their charge.
Mr. Courtney said regarding Comment No. 8, they did not create a separate use term. They are not changing the use, and the shopping center that is there now will continue to be there. They created the term interchange commercial park for sign purposes only.
Mr. Courtney said concerning Comment No. 9, they anticipate wall signs for the tenants and the directional signs along Marketplace Way.
Mr. Kelly said he liked that the applicant brought the height of the I-81 sign down from 80 to 60 feet, however it still seemed high in context of what is currently permitted. He said the area of the sign is larger than what was proposed before.
Mr. Kelly said as far as the number of ground pole signs, he does not really have any concerns. He said most of the other municipalities do allow more than one ground pole sign, usually two.
Mr. Kelly noted that Silver Spring and East Pennsboro Townships’ sign heights are about 25-35 feet tall. He said East Pennsboro’s maximum sign square footage is 150 feet and Silver Spring Township’s is 400 feet.
Mr. Kelly said he did not have much issue with the wall signs and the directional signs; however, the directional signs are a little large. He said some of the language regarding direction signs was a little vague.
Vice Chairman Mellott asked if Marketplace Way would be a Township road. Mr. Miller said on the plan it shows it is proposed for dedication.
Mr. Fetter asked if there would be any use variances or special exceptions needed on the out lots.
Mr. Courtney said they do not know that at this time.
Mr. Fetter asked the residents that had spoken if they had gotten a professional appraiser given any kind of input as to property devaluation because of this sign. Mr. Howard said he could not say for sure, but one home facing the proposed sign on Pellingham Circle has been on the real estate market for several months, which virtually never happens. He said he could not say for sure if the house has not sold for other reasons but that was the only data point he had.
Ms. Vernon said her first question was regarding the need for the signage. She said when she travels on the highway she always looks for the little blue directional signs that tell her what is coming up. She said she finds the tall signs very distracting from a driver’s perspective. Mr. Courtney said if you are traveling on the Carlisle Pike, for example, there are not any travel signs. He said what those pole signs provide is tenant visibility. He said he does not disagree that the travel signs help, but when these tenants are looking at spaces, property identification is key.
Ms. Vernon said the I-81 sign appears to be clearly visible in the summer.
Ms. Vernon said the area of the Township near I-81 was pretty pristine before the Patriot News was built. She said it is a nice and rural area. That is her greatest concern from a planning perspective. She said she would not want to see that rural nature change.
Ms. Vernon asked about The Shoppes at Susquehanna Marketplace, where you can see the signage but it is not a tall sign that is going up on the interstate. Mr. Courtney and Mr. Shoemaker explained how the Shoppes of Susquehanna were different from the Giant Plaza as it is a lifestyle destination center.
Mr. Shoemaker said Giant is taking the key anchor position and is largely dictating where this tenant mix is going. He said there are a certain number of tenants that follow Giant around.
Mr. Shoemaker said in response to a question that was raised earlier about proof of tenant interest, he could come with a spreadsheet ten pages long with three hundred names on it. He said it is not really what people want to see or hear, commercial leasing is not all that different from any other sales. He said the contacts he made have raised serious issues about the residences and people traveling on Wertzville Road being aware of them.
Ms. Vernon said if you get people off I-81 onto Wertzville Road that may be where a small sign might be helpful. She said once you are on Wertzville Road it is somewhat hard to know that you have to turn onto Valley Road. She said using the blue directional signs on the side of the highway would be able to get people into the shopping center. Mr. Courtney said yes it could get people there, but that is not the issue that they are trying to address. He said they are trying to address identification requirements that are not going to change.
Ms. Vernon asked about the sign on the West Shore Hospital. Mr. McMillan said the ground pole sign at the hospital is 125 square feet per face.
Vice Chairman Mellott said for disclosure he lives in the Laurel Ridge Estates development and he guessed that his development was the closest to the sign. He said he might be able to look out his back deck and see the proposed I-81 sign.
Vice Chairman Mellott asked staff in the comparison they did, if the elevations were different and the applicant had access to Wertzville Road would they be eligible to get a sign by the Township’s current ordinance. Mr. McMillan responded that was correct.
Vice Chairman Mellott said in his community they received an email about a public meeting regarding the signs. Mr. Courtney said in advance of coming to the Planning Commission, they arranged a meeting that was held last Monday at the PSATS building. He said they had disseminated information via some mailings and emails to HOAs, as an effort to provide an update.
Vice Chairman Mellott asked about interstate designation and Commercial Park Limited, if 581 is considered an interstate in the ordinance. Mr. Courtney said the proposed sign amendment is just where the Commercial Park Limited district at an interchange with a limited access highway with more than 75,000 square feet of commercial retail type.
Vice Chairman Mellott said some of the feedback concerning the I-81 sign is regarding the height. He asked if the developer would take a look at the height of that sign. Mr. Courtney said they have reduced it and if it gets too low then it is not serving a purpose. He said maybe they could lower it ten feet.
Ms. Williams stated for the record that her business has a professional relationship with McNees, Wallace, & Nurick. After some discussion, she recused herself from the discussion and recommendation.
Commissioner Silcox said it is certainly possible that someone or Weis could come before the Planning Commission with their own text amendment request. He said Giant had an opportunity to provide a signage proposal in conjunction with its land development, but ultimately decided to go forth with the land development plan when they did, and come back for the signs.
Commissioner Silcox said to his knowledge there was never any agreement by any Commissioner on the signage. He said as to what the Planning Commission would recommend he could not tell.
Commissioner Silcox said there has not been an advertisement for a Public Hearing on this subject. He said nothing has been locked in as term for the text. He said if and when the Board of Commissioners would schedule a public hearing that the text or language would be locked in at that point and it would be a yes or no vote by the Board of Commissioners. Manager Metts said if the plan is presented to the Board of Commissioners for consideration and it chooses to schedule a Public Hearing, there would be an advertisement for the purposed amendment to the ordnance and then as advertised, the applicant would need to speak to the merits of the text amendment at that Public Hearing. He said the vote would be in front of the Commissioners for approval as written, presented, and advertised or to deny it.
Commissioner Silcox said he did not really hear much opposition concerning the directional signage that was brought up within the complex. Mr. Courtney said they could discuss breaking the directional signage into a third text amendment.
Commissioner Silcox said another audience member brought up lippage in terms of the sign on I-81.
Mr. Courtney said they talked about that after Monday’s meeting with the neighbors. He said the sign contractor is sketching out baffles on the edge of the sign.
Chairman Stephens said he has helped write, rewrite, and amend sign ordinances, and he now is in a position where he is actually enforcing the ordinances. He said it is tough because they are subjective. He said there are two sides and no one is going to convince the other one. He asked if the Township has an ordinance that is fair to both sides, the citizens and business. He asked if the ordinance was intended from day one to be a work in progress. He said what is proposed is a major revision.
Vice Chairman Mellott said, to Chairman Stephens’ point, the test for reasonableness is by what other municipalities allow relative to what the Township allows. He said he thinks it has been widely established that Hampden Township’s signage ordinance is probably the most conservative anywhere.
Chairman Stephens said the Township has put thought into what was done before. He said he thought that the ordinance was made on what the Township thought was fair with what we want in Hampden Township.
Ms. Vernon asked if the sign on I-81, which is not in PennDOT’s right-of-way, would PennDOT get to comment on the sign. Mr. Courtney said the sign is going to be an on premise sign and not in the right-of-way.
Manager Metts said that the Board of Commissioners may appreciate any suggestions from the Planning Commission.
Manager Metts said the applicant has discussed the need for the signs and the ability to attract tenants. He said Giant is already a tenant and was wondering if anyone in the audience could speak to what Giant’s market radius is and how far out they are looking to attract business to a particular store. Mr. Courtney said there was no one present from Giant.
Manager Metts said if the sign is intended to bring additional tenants, Giant is already there, and if the height of the sign is a concern, there is approximately nine feet of height with that potion of the sign that relates a tenant or anchor that is already at that location.
Manager Metts said if the applicant is looking for a larger sign to advertise for tenants at that location, clearly the bottom of that sign is above the tree row along I-81. He asked if it would be possible to consider turning the sign on its side, keeping the same sign face and the same marketing advertising area and visibility. He said that would further reduce the height of the sign, which may or not may not be something that the residents would be interested in considering. He added that the same could be true for the Wertzville Road sign.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners Request for Zoning Text Amendment to Hampden Township Zoning Ordinance Chapter 27, Part 17, Section 1721 adding new definitions for Interchange Commercial Park and New Regulations for Signs within an Interchange Commercial Park, General Requirements for Ground Pole, Wall, and Directional Signs, contingent upon the satisfaction of Township staff review notes. The motion, seconded by Ms. Vernon.
Discussion on motion:
Gentleman in the audience asked if this motion was exactly what goes to the Board of Commissioners. He said speaking of turning the sign sideways from the residents’ point of view and asked why not put that in the motion now instead of adding at a later point. Vice Chairman Mellott said he did not think it made sense to have it turned that way unless the argument is compelling.
The motion carried, with Ms. Williams abstaining.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners Request for Zoning Text Amendment to Hampden Township Zoning Ordinance Chapter 27, Part 17, Section 1721 adding new definitions for Interchange Commercial Park and New Regulations for Signs within an Interchange Commercial Park, for the Ground Pole Sign along Interstate 81, contingent upon the applicant evaluating reduction of sign size, reorienting of the sign, and satisfaction of staff review notes.
Discussion on the motion:
Gentleman in the audience asked if the motion was contingent on the applicant thinking about it or contingent upon them doing it. Vice Chairman Mellott said it is ultimately the Board of Commissioners’ decision. He said the motion is to see if it is feasible for a smaller sign and possibly to reorient the sign.
The motion, seconded by Mr. Fetter, carried with Ms. Williams abstained and Ms. Vernon voted against.
Chairman Stephens stated for the recorded that a five-minute recess was held. The meeting reconvened at 9:45.
Request consideration for a Zoning Ordinance Map Amendment by Radha-Krishna, LLC for
5165 Wertzville Road from Residential Country to Commercial General amending Chapter 27 of the Hampden Township Zoning Ordinance
Chairman Stephens noted that the application had been tabled by the applicant.
Final Subdivision Plan for Tax Parcel 10-15-1279-022, located on Lamb’s Gap Road, 2 existing and
2 proposed lots, 44.66 acres zoned Residential Suburban, owned by Richard H. Ceckovich,
submitted by Alpha Consulting Engineers, Inc.
John Murphy, Alpha Consulting Engineers, was present to speak concerning the plan. He said it is two lots on about 45 acres and they would create one, one-acre lot on Lamb’s Gap Road and combining the residual lots. He said they are in receipt of staff comments and would comply with those comments. He said they are requesting waivers and went over those.
Mr. Miller said staff had some key comments to address. He said the applicant should provide a way out for the remaining tracts. Mr. Murphy said they would prefer not to; he said the owner is just creating one lot and has no plans to sell the rest of the remaining tract. Mr. Miller said they are concerned about a future road and where it might intersect with Lamb’s Gap Road. Mr. Murphy said he would like to request a sketch plan requirement waiver.
Mr. Miller said a Highway Occupancy Permit (HOP) would be required for the driveway access and a turnaround area for the driveway. Mr. Murphy said they would comply.
Mr. McMillan went over the Community Development comments. Mr. Murphy said they would comply with the comments.
Chairman Stephens said he wanted to discuss the Public Works Department comments No. 2 and 17. He said this plan is putting a single-family lot on a collector street. He said if the Township approves that lot then PennDOT is forced to approve the entrance and they will put stipulations on it. He said the Township would have to enforce it. He said that is not good planning.
Chairman Stephens said any future subdivision has to have a sketch plan. He said it needs to show the best place to put a street. He said they are going to use the site distance and it would force the Township to accept an inferior area to put a street. Mr. Murphy said he respectfully disagreed. He said the HOP is contingent on plan approval. Chairman Stephens said PennDOT has to issue a permit with conditions if there is a lot there. Mr. Murphy said the property owner is losing a residence across the street due to the Cumberland Valley School project. He said the owner should be able to create a lot on 45 acres. Chairman Stephens said a sketch plan needs to be provided to show why the house needs to front on Lamb’s Gap Road. Mr. Murphy asked if Chairman Stephens was suggesting that they put a street in for one lot. Chairman Stephens said Mr. Murphy was correct, that is what they might have to do. Mr. Murphy said the driveway has appropriate site distance by PennDOT standards at that location. Mr. Murphy said he would withdraw his request for a sketch plan waiver and they would provide it to staff.
Vice Chairman Mellott asked what street the current residence exits. Mr. Murphy said the property comes off Bali Hai Road.
Mr. Kelly said the tract appears to be enrolled in the County’s Clean and Green Program and may be subject to roll back taxes.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners the waivers of preliminary plan, plan scale of no smaller than 50 feet to the inch, showing the location of wells and septic systems on adjacent tracts, perform wetland investigation on residual tract (Lot 2), and exemption from Stormwater Management Plan preparation for the Final Subdivision Plan for Tax Parcel 10-15-1279-022. The motion, seconded by Ms. Williams.
Discussion on the Motion:
Chairman Stephens asked what staff thought about the exemption for stormwater management. Mr. Miller said the new impervious area is just over 1,000 square feet and compared to the overall tract there should not be an issue with the exemption.
The motion carried unanimously.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners the Final Subdivision Plan for Tax Parcel 10-15-1279-022, located on Lamb’s Gap Road, 2 existing and 2 proposed lots, 44.66 acres zoned Residential Suburban, owned by Richard H. Ceckovich, submitted by Alpha Consulting Engineers, Inc., PC File # 16-03-01, Time Limit Deadline of May 11, 2016, subject to the favorable resolution of Township and County comments, submission of a sketch plan that identifies access to Lamb’s Gap Road, and acquisition of any outside agency permits. The motion, seconded by Ms. Vernon, carried with Chairman Stephens being opposed.
Final Subdivision Plan for Mark W. Crandy and Elizabeth and John D. Kohr, III, located at 6445 and 6475 Wertzville Road, 2 lots, 3.48 acres total, zoned Residential Country, owned by
Mark W. Crandy and Elizabeth and John D. Kohr, III, submitted by Clark Engineering/Surveying
John Clark, Clark Engineering/Surveying, was present to speak concerning the Planning Commission submission. He said this tract is located on the south side of Wertzville Road just west of Lamb’s Gap Road. He said Mr. Kohr is planning to subdivide 1.1 acres in the rear of his property to Mr. Crandy. He said they are asking for five waivers and reviewed those with the Planning Commission.
Mr. Clark said he is in receipt of County and staff comments and he would be able to comply with those.
Mr. Miller said the plain is pretty straightforward with minor housekeeping comments.
Mr. McMillan said staff met with Mr. Clark and who has applied for the Certificates of Non-Conformance for the existing conditions on the property; he said those certificates would be issued once the plan has been recorded.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners approval of the waivers for payment of recreation fees, PA Department of Environmental Protection planning module approval, dedication of additional right-of-way along Wertzville Road, and placement of monuments along the right-of-way for the Final Minor Subdivision Plan for Mark W. Crandy and Elizabeth and John D. Kohr, III. The motion, seconded by
Ms. Williams carried unanimously.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners approval of the Final Subdivision Plan for Mark W. Crandy and Elizabeth and John D. Kohr, III, located at 6445 and 6475 Wertzville Road, 2 lots, 3.48 acres total, zoned Residential Country, owned by Mark W. Crandy and Elizabeth and John D. Kohr, III, submitted by Clark Engineering/Surveying, PC File #16-03-04, Time Limit Deadline of June 8, 2016, subject to the favorable resolution of all Township and County comments. The motion, seconded by Ms. Williams, carried unanimously.
Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries – Carlisle Pike, Hampden Township, located at 6390 Carlisle Pike, 1 lot, 2 acres, zoned Commercial General, owned by Silver Creek Development Company, submitted by J. Michael Brill & Associates, Inc.
Aaron Navarro, J. Michael Brill & Associates, Inc., was present to speak concerning the Planning Commission submission. He said La-Z-Boy is looking to develop the vacant property located at 6390 Carlisle Pike to construct a 15,000 square foot facility with associated parking, stormwater facilities, and other public utilities. He said the property has the utilization of the emergency access easement for Trindle Spring Heights located to the rear of the property.
Mr. Navarro said he is in receipt of staff comments and would be able to comply with those. He said they are requesting four waivers and one deferral.
Mr. Miller said there are numerous outside agency approvals needed. He said discussion points would be regarding the sidewalks as it is in the Mixed Use Overlay Zoning District. He stated the property is on the edge of the Township and asked for an easement for a Welcome to Hampden Township gateway sign.
Mr. Miller said staff supports the requested waivers except for plan size and noted staff prefers copies of smaller sized plans due to storage issues.
Mr. Kelly asked if the sidewalk requirement could be deferred. Mr. Miller said he was unsure if it would be a deferment or a waiver. He said he believes the ordinance requires it at this point because of the Overlay District. Mr. Navarro said there are not looking to not install the sidewalks, just to a time when other sidewalks are being installed throughout the area.
Mr. Kelly said the back of the property is residential and asked if the proposed fence was appropriate.
Mr. Navarro said the Township requires vegetation, solid screening, or a mix. Mr. McMillan said staff did take a look at that and in this location, staff might ask for a mix. Mr. Navarro said they would take a look at that.
Mr. Kelly said there was a note the plan about the wetlands and asked if that had been mitigated.
Mr. Navarro said they are in the process of getting those permits.
Ms. Vernon asked if another project has come up since the Mixed Use Overlay District was enacted.
Mr. Miller said the Gilligan’s project came to mind and they would install sidewalks. He said the Kmart site only had fifty feet of frontage, which was primarily the access road, and he believed the applicant deferred in that case.
Doug Gosik, J. Michael Brill & Associates Inc., said the site has a fairly decent slope from the back down. He said there will be substantial cut of the site and some fill to create the pad and parking.
Vice Chairman Mellott recused himself due to his employer’s involvement with the La-Z-Boy submission.
Ms. Williams asked if the Township was okay with a deferral of sidewalks. Mr. Miller replied that it is a Board of Commissioners’ decision.
Commissioner Silcox said the gateway signage would be nice to have. Mr. Navarro said he has not had a chance to discuss gateway signage with his client.
In response to Commissioner Silcox’s question, Mr. Navarro said they have not contacted the neighboring residential properties. Commissioner Silcox asked if they could contract the residential properties before the Board of Commissioners’ next meeting, it would be greatly appreciated.
MOTION by Ms. Williams to recommend approval to the Board of Commissioners the waivers for preliminary plan submission, 18 x 24” plan size, three foot grading setback, stormwater volume control, and a deferral from the requirement of sidewalk until such time as the Township directs applicant to construct sidewalks for the Preliminary /Final Subdivision and Land Development Plan for La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries. The motion, seconded by Ms. Vernon, carried with Vice Chairman Mellott abstaining.
MOTION by Ms. Williams to recommend approval to the Board of Commissioners the Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries – Carlisle Pike, Hampden Township, located at 6390 Carlisle Pike, 1 lot, 2 acres, zoned Commercial General, owned by Silver Creek Development Company, submitted by J. Michael Brill & Associates, Inc., PC File # 16-03-03, Time Limit Deadline of June 8, 2016, subject to the favorable resolutions of Township and County comments, review of the request for gateway signage, and contact neighboring residential properties. The motion, seconded by Ms. Vernon, carried with Vice Chairman Mellott abstaining.
Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for Triple Crown Corporation – Shiremanstown Site, located at 484 Railroad Avenue, 1 leased lot, .13 acres, zoned Industrial General, owned by QB Limited Partnership, submitted by RETTEW Associates
Robert Lauriello, RETTEW Associates, along with Mark DiSanto and Matt Hoover from Triple Crown, were present to speak concerning the Planning Commission submission. He said this is a relocation of existing antennas from the former Quaker Oats building to the proposed facility. He said Triple Crown has some developers interested in redeveloping the Quaker Oats site and in order for that to happen the antennas need to be relocated.
Mr. Lauriello said they are proposing a new facility adjacent to the Quaker Oaks site on a 2.73-acre lot located at 484 Railroad Avenue. He said it would be a 75 x75 square foot lease area and within that area, there would be a 50 x 50 square foot compound that would hold the tower itself and the ground equipment. He said just outside of the fence there would be a row of evergreen trees, 6 to 8 foot tall plantings, to act as a buffer. He said they are proposing a 120-foot tower initial build height with the possibility to extend the height to 150 feet.
Mr. Lauriello said they were requesting two waivers, which he reviewed with the Planning Commission.
Mr. Lauriello said there is an ordinance requirement to look within a quarter mile radius around the tower for any locations that are feasible for colocations meaning that the tower would not need to be constructed. He said they did a search and have submitted that narrative to the Township. He said the only facility that would be adequate to house the antennae would be the Purina site just next door to the Quaker Oats facility. He said they looked at that site and approached the property owner and received notification back from them that they are not interested in the antennas on the property. He said he also provided that documentation to the Township.
Mr. Lauriello said another ordinance requirement was that if there is an occupied structure within 200 feet of the tower those owners would need to consent. He said they received the consent earlier that day and would provide it to the Township.
Mr. Miller said staff has some minor administrative comments. Mr. Lauriello said he would address all comments.
Mr. McMillan said staff met with the applicant and went over the outstanding comments.
Mr. Kelly asked about the height of the fence. Mr. Lauriello said he would take care of that.
Mr. Kelly questioned the status of the variance request. Mr. Lauriello said they are no longer requesting a variance.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners approval of the waivers for preliminary plan and payment of recreation contribution for the Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for Triple Crown Corporation. The motion, seconded by Ms. Williams, carried unanimously.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners approval of the Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for Triple Crown Corporation – Shiremanstown Site, located at 484 Railroad Avenue, 1 leased lot, .13 acres, zoned Industrial General, owned by QB Limited Partnership, submitted by RETTEW Associates, PC File # 16-03-02, Time Limit Deadline of June 8, 2016, subject to the favorable resolution of Township and County comments. The motion, seconded by Ms. Williams, carried unanimously.
Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan for The Meadows at Lamb’s Gap, located off Lamb’s Gap Road; abuts Heatherwood Court cul-de-sac, 2 existing lots, 13.778 acres, zoned Planned Residential Development and Residential Country, owned by Golf Enterprises, Inc., submitted by Mellott Engineering, Inc.
Chairman Stephens noted that the application had been tabled by the applicant.
Good and Welfare
Chairman Stephens asked if the two rezoning requests on the agenda are together. Manager Metts said no they were not at this time and both applicants indicated that they have not come to a mutual understanding. Manager Metts said both rezoning requests on the agenda have been referred to the Planning Commission for review, but both requests had been tabled by the applicants.
Chairman Stephens asked if the Planning Commission could tell the Board of Commissioners that the rezoning requests must be together. Manager Metts said that they could make a recommendation for the requests to not move forward unless the plans are combined.
Mr. McMillan said Mr. Dawood presented a rezoning request several years ago, however, he withdrew it.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to adjourn the Planning Commission Meeting. The motion, seconded by Ms. Williams, carried unanimously.
Chairman Stephens adjourned the meeting at approximately 10:45 p.m.
Rita Finkboner, Recording Secretary