HAMPDEN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
December 10, 2015 7:30 p.m.
Planning Commission Members
Chairman Ronald Stephens
Vice Chairman Craig Mellott – Absent
Member Tracey Vernon
Member Claudia Williams
Member Bobbye Gregory
County Planning Commission
Manager Keith Metts
Assistant Manager David Blechertas
Assistant Zoning Officer Darrell McMillan
Assistant 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 7:30 p.m. and stated Proof of Publication was available for public inspection.
Approval of the Minutes
MOTION by Ms. Vernon to approve the Planning Commission Meeting Minutes of
November 11, 2015. The motion, seconded by Ms. Williams, carried unanimously.
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
Chairman Stephens noted that the application has been tabled by the applicant.
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
Derek Dissinger and Caroline Hoffer of Barley Snyder Attorneys at Law, along with Ed Black and Christine Hunter of H. Edward Black & Associates, and Len Hohmann of Sunrise Consulting Services, were present to speak concerning the rezoning request.
Mr. Dissinger said Radha Krishna, LLC is under contract to purchase two tracts located at 5165 Wertzville Road, Enola; however, the legal owners are John and Susan Pelusio. He said the two tracts collectively are 1.06 acres located along Good Hope Road and Wertzville Road. The property is currently zoned Residential Country and the request is to rezone the lots to Commercial General.
Mr. Dissinger provided maps that show the two tracts are directly across the street from a Commercial General Zone. He described the businesses that operated in the Commercial General zone in that area. He said north of the tracts across to Wertzville Road is zoned Residential Country, but is vacant and below to the south are residential homes.
Mr. Dissinger said the zoning that is being sought is to allow a Dunkin Donuts franchise with a drive though.
Ms. Hoffer said both the Hampden Township and Cumberland County future land use maps, as part of the its Comprehensive Plans, show the general commercial district extending to include the lots subject to this rezoning application along with some additional property. She said the Township went through a comprehensive process that was vetted through many public meetings and adopted by the Board of Commissioners.
Ms. Hoffer said they have a specific plan to review with the Township that carries forth the concept of commercial use of this site that would be a support use to the local community but also the traveling public and office areas in close proximity.
Ms. Hunter said the proposed Dunkin Donuts is about a 2,000 square foot building with just over 600 square feet of public space that requires 18 parking spaces. She said they are aware that Good Hope Road and Wertzville Road are States roads and would work with PennDOT regarding the ingress and egress to the property. She said they would provide the required buffer yard on the west and south property lines, which is adjacent to residential zoning. She said they believe it is a good use at this location and makes a good use of that property.
Commissioner Silcox asked if this building size was comparable to the one located off the Camp Hill Bypass in Camp Hill. Mr. Hofmann said he is not familiar with that store but that the building would be a good fit along with the color palate for the site. Ms. Hunter said if the rezoning were approved, they would go through the Township with a land development plan submission.
Norman Haueisen, Foxtail Court, Enola, PA, said this endeavor does not add value to the area. He said the Turkey Hill serves coffee and does the same function as Dunkin Donuts. He said this commercial property is the first domino and once this happens commercial development will proceed throughout the area. He said he could have purchased in any development but chose Pinehurst Hills because he did not want be near commercial properties. He said he did not buy in the Wentworth development due to that very reason.
Mr. Haueisen said traffic is already a nightmare in this area. He said there will be nowhere for people to turn safely without adding a stop sign or even a traffic signal. He said there are multiple commercial properties still available in the area in Hampden Township to occupy. He said he is dead set against this proposal. He said the only reason some people knew about this was due to an informational letter regarding another upcoming commercial project.
Barbara Behler, Greenwood Circle, Enola, PA, stated that she is against this proposal for all the reasons
Mr. Haueisen stated.
Douglas Auster, Greenwood Circle, Enola, PA, stated that a number of his neighbors have been discussing the master plan. He said the six acres area that is planned to be rezoned is the only parcel west of the Good Hope Road corridor that has been designated commercial. He said none of them were consulted about that change. He said there may have been public meetings but they were not aware of it. He said they would have raised these issues if they knew. He concurred with the statement that the area is already dangerous for pedestrians and there are many traffic accidents at that corner. He said there are plenty of other commercial areas where this project could go.
Randy Donovan, Greenwood Circle, Enola, PA, said the difference between where he lives and the Wentworth development is the fact that the people of Wentworth knew there was a potential for commercial development. He said they bought their property based on the surrounding zoning. He said he understands that things can change, but is strictly against this proposal moving forward.
Gayle Kohr, Greenwood Circle, Enola, PA, said she is vehemently against this rezoning request. She said there is ample opportunity to use the space in the Giant plaza.
Saritha Ravella, Greenwood Circle, Enola, PA, said there are many safety issues with traffic. She said there are many traffic issues on Interstate 81 near this area and everyday it is getting worse. She said they do not want a traffic signal bogging down traffic even more. She said she strongly agrees that this will become a domino effect for more commercial uses. She said she has spoken to some of the other neighbors in her development and even though they would not list names, they are against this proposal. She said there is already enough commercial properties in the area and she is happy with what is already out there for their shopping needs.
Mr. Donovan said there are many accidents on 581 and 81, which causes people to get off at the Wertzville Road exit. He said traffic is so slow that it feels like he lives in a major city. He said this is more than they just do not want a Dunkin Donuts, he said this is a quality of daily life issue.
Ms. Behler said she wanted to expand on what Mr. Donovan said that with inserting more commercial businesses, more non-local people will be traveling in unfamiliar terrain. She said she has almost been rear ended trying to pull onto Greenwood Circle. She said people are unfamiliar with trying to pull into the Turkey Hill because that is confusing to them. She said this is a quality of life issue and there other locations that would be more appropriate for this type of use.
Manager Metts said the recent Comprehensive Plan update took at least eighteen or more months, which included future outlook of development in the Township for a ten-year snapshot. He said those meetings were publicly advertised numerous times, both with direct mailing, Township newsletters, through the Township website and through the Patriot News. He said everyone was invited to patriate in those meetings.
Manager Metts said this evening there is a particular applicant that is interested in requesting of the Board of Commissioners the opportunity to rezone those properties. He said the Planning Commission is a recommending body only. He said no one can force the Commissioners into accepting a Public Hearing for the rezoning request. He said tonight’s meeting is to give the opportunity of the Planning Commission to get input from the prospective developer and the applicant and then entertain the comments that the public has provided.
Mr. Kelly said the County has provided draft comments and it is consistent with the County Comprehensive Plan. He said the reason for that is because it seemed that corner was a logical place to put commercial uses and that lot is not appropriate for residential use. He said the County Planning Commission has not made any recommendation on this yet.
Manager Metts said relative to a notice about another outreach meeting that is scheduled December 17, 2015 at 1200 Good Hope Road. He said to be clear this particular proposal and the applicant is not directly related to that particular outreach meeting that is being offered to the community. He said it is his understanding, without having an official application from that person, that they would also like to develop that corner lot into some type of commercial use.
Ms. Gregory asked if there were any market studies Dunkin Donuts could provide with how they decided on that location and what kind of sales were they projecting. Mr. Hofman said he does not work for Dunkin Donuts, so he could not speak to that. He said Dunkin Donuts does do a lot of market studies that identify trade areas where they believe that business can support a facility. He said if there was a representative from Dunkin Donuts present, by law they cannot project sales, it is a violation of the Federal Trade Commission, but they identify trade areas based on retail, traffic, and other generators in the area.
Ms. Gregory said most residential homes in the area would have coffee at their residence. She asked if this location would be most beneficial to transient traffic. Mr. Hofman said that is not accurate, he said yes there would be some transient traffic, but they look for a dynamic of a residential population, daytime employment, and traffic generators to where they want to put a location.
Ms. Williams said she appreciated the traffic congestion concern and asked if any traffic studies had been conducted for that area in relation to the Township’s Comprehensive Plan. She said there is also a childcare facility in that area which raises an additional safety concern. She said she was concerned about timing, safety, and how will the traffic congestion be addressed.
Ms. Behler asked if the proposed Dunkin Donuts would be a 24/7 facility. Mr. Hohmann said some are, but this particular one has had no determination and he would not be able to answer that at this time.
Ms. Behler said that would be another concern for her.
Mr. Donovan asked why this area was proposed to jump from Residential County to the Township’s highest commercial zone, Commercial General. He said it would be more appropriate to have it step up to a light commercial use rather than this large leap. Mr. Kelly said Countywide they usually try to “step up, step down” regarding zoning. He said a lot of municipalities have those steps. He said in Hampden Township there is not another commercial zoning district that would allow a drive through restaurant. He said small retail beside residential does work. Mr. McMillan said the Hampden Township Zoning Ordinance shows the existing zoning as Residential Country and there quite a few districts between that and Commercial General. He said what Mr. Kelly was describing is typically called transition zoning. He said a Dunkin Donut would be allowed in Commercial Limited, but the drive though would not be. He said across the street is a Turkey Hill and Microtel Motel was zoned Commercial General and has been for a very long time.
Mr. Auster said he was not aware of the Comprehensive Plan change showing the area as commercial. He said there would be a value of revisiting that as to why that was done. He would like to access records and discussions about why that was done. He believes that was an error and the projected zoning shown on the map should not have happened. He said the proposed area for the Dunkin Donuts is not walkable.
Manager Metts said he needs to clarify a few things on what has been done with the Future Land Use Map from the Township Comprehensive Plan use evaluation. He said records of meetings are available to anyone that would like to have them. He said the pink shaded area on what they are discussing this evening is marked as a “C”, which does not change the Township’s Zoning Map and is simply a future land use map that says the possibility is there for someone to request a rezoning. He said no one can force the Commissioners to accept a public hearing or to change the zoning regulations and ordinances within the Township.
Ms. Hoffer said they appreciated the opportunity to bring this proposal to the Township and they have heard the concerns of the neighbors. She said should a property be rezoned, the plan would have to submit to a full land development plan submission in order to proceed. She said as part of that a fairly extensive traffic study would be required. She said PennDOT would not only look at this location but would also pick a series of intersections in the area to see what the affect would be. She said the Township does get to participate in that process.
Ms. Hoffer said it was mentioned earlier that this intersection is no longer residential. She said some of the neighbors that are nearby already recognized that. She said although Mr. and Ms. Paluscio were not present at the meeting they believe that the property is no longer suited for residential uses.
Chairman Stephens said he can see both sides but wanted to point out that this corridor of 81 is the worst accident area from Maryland up to this. He said there are plans to try to improve on it, but the fact is the traffic is there and is only going to get worse. He said what this property owner is faced with is not very good for single family and asked what is the owner’s alternative. He said the Township has to consider that as well.
Chairman Stephens said that corner property is probably better suited commercial than residential. He said it was brought up about the domino effect and he does agree that it would probably happen.
Manager Mett said he wanted to bring to the Planning Commission’s attention that during the Board of Commissioners meeting when this particular applicant had presented their request there was another developer who also has the intent of coming with a similar request. He said to his knowledge it would include the surrounding properties contiguous to these two parcels. He said at that time the individual felt there should be some consideration for both applications at the same time and how that best fit into the community and design of the intersection. He said it is possible in a month or two to hear another concept to rezone to some type of commercial use.
Mr. Auster said the potential applicant is an L shape 4-5 acres of property around the proposed Dunkin Donut’s location owned by Bony Dawood that would abut Greenwood Circle.
Mr. Donovan said that he and his neighbors understand that the property in the rezoning request is no longer suited for residential use but that rezoning it Commercial General is too high and there must be something more appropriate in the middle.
Joy Ruff, Dawood Engineering, said there have been references to Mr. Dawood’s plans. She said there was an informational letter sent to residents about an upcoming community meeting next week. She said the intent for the Good Hope Commons development, which has not been formally submitted, is to really understand the community needs. She said one meeting was held the previous month, but they felt they needed more input from the community and would be holding a second one. She said they are a separate applicant from what is being discussed at this Planning Commission meeting this evening.
Chairman Stephens and Ms. Williams stated they were not ready to make a recommendation for the application to move forward to the Board of Commissioner that evening.
Ms. Hoffer said the applicant would prefer to have the recommendation of support, however, if it is tabled this evening, they would like an opportunity to come back to the January Planning Commission meeting with any additional information relevant.
Manager Metts said the meeting held on December 17, 2015 at 1200 Good Hope Road is not a Hampden Township meeting, nor would staff or the Commissioners attend that meeting.
MOTION by Ms. Williams to recommend to the Board of Commissioners to table the 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 until the January 14, 2016 Planning Commission Agenda Meeting. The motion, seconded by Ms. Vernon, carried unanimously.
Good and Welfare
Peter Simone of Simone Collins was present to speak on the Official Map process. Mr. Simone said the Planning Commission members should have received a memorandum outlining the items under consideration for the Official Map. He briefly reviewed what an Official Map is and what it does and does not do. He said an Official Map is a combined map and ordinance that is designed to implement goals that are set for the Comprehensive Plan. He said the Map shows the locations of planned future public lands and facilities, and expresses a municipality’s interest in acquiring these lands for public purposes at some future time. He said it does not obligate the municipality, it just expresses an interest.
Mr. Simone said the Map could show public streets, watercourses, public grounds, including widening, narrowing or extensions of streets. He said it can show proposed public parks and open space reservations, proposed pedestrian trails and easements. He said it could also include railroad and transit rights-of-ways. He said very importantly, it can show flood control areas, floodways and stormwater management areas and drainage easements. He said you could show support facilities for public properties.
Mr. Simone said the basic step is that the Township needs to have a Comprehensive Plan, which has just been updated. He said the Official Map could affect the entire Township or parts of it. He said it is sort of a living document that can be updated over time.
Mr. Simone said like the Zoning Ordinance, the Township needs to provide a forty-five day public review and at least one public hearing.
Mr. Simone said once a developer notifies the municipality of their intention to subdivide or build that has something shown on the Official Map, the municipality has a year to confirm its acquisition interest or negotiate to acquire the land or build that improvement. He said typically that is how that process works. He said the acquisition could include dedication by the owner or purchase of land.
Mr. Simone said the difficult thing with the Map is there are many misconceptions. He said often the public would assume if there is an Official Map that there has to be action, and that is not true. He said the second misconception is that having the Map means you automatically go to eminent domain and condemn the property. He said that very rarely ever happens and is a last resort.
Mr. Simone said he sent an electronic copy to staff and the Planning Commission of the Official Map Handbook, which is really a great document and reference tool.
Mr. Simone said some of the benefits of the Map is that it helps a municipality focus resources on projects that meet or advance community goals. He said there would probably be a prioritization of some of the Official Map additions. He said it helps make improvements to the streets and preserving stormwater management areas to help with the MS-4 plan to function more efficiently. He said it is important that the Official Map be listed in both the Land Development and Zoning Ordinances. He said another advantage of the Map is that it can help with securing grants.
Ms. Vernon asked if someone could request a variance from the Official Map. Mr. Simone responded that it is both an ordinance and a map, which you do not seek a variance from. He went over the different scenarios of trying to negotiate with the developer to come to an agreement.
Manager Metts said for clarification that this would be an adopted ordinance but not incorporated into the Zoning Ordinance. Mr. Simone said that was correct.
Mr. Simone said the clock starts ticking; however, he would need to check with the Township Solicitor and a few others he works with about when the clock starts ticking. He said the latest case law is when an applicant submits a letter of intent that may start the clock ticking. Mr. Kelly said that was his understanding.
Mr. Miller asked if the Official Map gave the Township a year to make a decision. He said the Municipalities Planning Code gives 90 days from the submission for the Township to approve or disapprove the application. Mr. Miller said it could slow down the developer in that sense. Mr. Simone agreed with Mr. Miller.
Mr. Simone said if an item on the Map is on a property, the landowner may not understand the implications, it just gives the municipality the right of first refusal and/or possibly negotiate with that owner.
Commissioner Silcox asked if the Township were to adopt the Official Map, how it would handle the purchasing of land. He said there may be a time that land comes up for sale and the Township is being made to decide to purchase land without budgeting for it. He asked Mr. Simone to provide how other municipalities have gone about budgeting for acquiring land. He said one idea is on Good Hope Road, along the creek the Township would acquire the land over time and create a bike park. Mr. Simone said in that case because those properties are in a flood plain it probably would not be able to be redeveloped and they would sit there for a very long time.
Chairman Stephens said on Sheet 2 of the memo it discusses Bali Hai Road and Lamb’s Gap Road signalization. He said he has a letter to sign to send support to Cumberland Valley School District multimodal transportation fund, which is for the Bali Hai Road relocation. He asked if this gives us any advantage to that situation. Manager Metts said the timeline for the Official Map at this point is for a public hearing at the earliest would be June 2016. He said it is very likely that the school district would be submitting their land development plan well before that. He said as it relates to the requirements of the traffic study, he is not sure those have been completed. He said he is not sure that it would require signalization of Bali Hai Road and Lamb’s Gap Road. Mr. Miller said the preliminary traffic counts do not warrant a traffic signal.
Manager Metts said he does not believe that the Township could state in the Official Map that development such as the school district would be required to install a traffic signal. He said rather what they would be looking for is the designation of additional right-of-way outside of the existing roadway in order for future improvements and turning movements to be added. He said you would have to know what the future intersection would look like in order to secure that in the first place.
Chairman Stephens said he was not implying that the school put the signal in. He asked if it gives the Township any leverage to right-of-way or a contribution due to the amount of traffic it will generate.
Mr. Simone said in that type of instance it will be on the school district to acquire the additional right-of-way to accommodate the intersection improvements that would be required. He said he was not sure that it helps the Township in this particular instance because of the timing.
Mr. Simone said in a future situation if there were intersection improvements to accommodate a new signal and turning movements and that was on the Official Map, then it could help the Township. He said the more detail that can be worked into this document the better and the Township may improve that over time. He said on that, the Township could show that they want an intersection enlargement in certain areas. He said there could be an addendum to the Map if there are any details from Township’s traffic consultant that shows what the intersection looks like it could help. He said the Township may not be able to show that on the Map initially for every improvement.
Mr. Simone said if the Township shows a new road going through the left side of a property and the developer agrees with the road but wants it on the right side of the property, those types of changes are normal throughout this process. Mr. Miller asked if Mr. Simone suggested that if the Township was thinking an additional turning lane is needed that they should show an additional thirty feet of right-of-way on the Map. Mr. Simone said that was correct and that the Township could always back off from that. He said it is important to have it on the Map so the Township has some negotiating power with an applicant as they go through the land development process. Mr. Kelly said he has seen text along with the Map that will describe in generalities of what the municipality wants done with an intersection. Mr. Simone said the more detail that can be provided, either through staff or the traffic engineer with the transportation improvements, the better.
Mr. Miller said he thought the school did have additional turn lanes being proposed for the new school development but not to be signalized.
Chairman Stephens said an item of discussion on the memo provided was for Orr’s Bridge Road to be realigned to eliminate the offset of the intersection. Manager Metts said there was a sketch that an engineering firm presented a number of years ago to the Board of Commissioners that relocates Central Boulevard to align with the existing Orr’s Bridge Road. He said it would require redevelopment of that corner property and the opportunity for the road to be placed in that position.
Chairman Stephens asked about the widening of Interstate 81. Mr. Simone said the widening of a portion of 81 would depend on how much right-of way would be required. He said it could be assistance to PennDOT.
Mr. Simone said if the Official Map improvement touches another municipality, the other municipality must be notified during the review period.
Mr. Simone said on the first page, 6.34 from the Comprehensive Plan it is stated to provide convenient safe pedestrian vehicular connections within and between developments. He said he would interpret that to give the Township flexibility with the Official Map to suggest sidewalk connections where they presently do not exist.
Mr. Simone said the schedule calls for another presentation to the Planning Commission in March 2016. He said the Planning Commission would get information before that. He said if everything goes along as scheduled, the Township may be ready to adopt the Official Map in June.
Ms. Gregory asked for clarification of designation of bike roads. Mr. Simone said a couple years ago Tri-County Planning Commission funded a multi municipal study where they looked at trails. He said they would have to review that again to have a better understanding of Township roads. He said some of these may stay on the list, some would be suggested for bike lanes, others may be designated as what was known as “Share the Road” and now it is called “Useful Lane” by PennDOT.
Ms. Vernon asked who would be the point of contact for thoughts or suggestions. Manager Metts said the Planning Commission members could contact him and he would relay that to Simone Collins.
Planning Commission Meeting Start Time
Commissioner Silcox brought up an item to share from Vice Chairman Mellott regarding the start time of the Planning Commission meeting. Discussion followed regarding changing the time from 7:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Planning Commission and staff were all agreeable to the new start time of 7:00 p.m.
MOTION by Ms. Williams to adjourn the Planning Commission Meeting. The motion, seconded by Ms. Vernon, carried unanimously.
Chairman Stephens adjourned the meeting at approximately 9:20 p.m.
Rita Finkboner, Recording Secretary