HAMPDEN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
January 8, 2015 7:30 p.m.
Planning Commission Members
Chairman Ronald Stephens
Vice Chairman Craig Mellott
Member Tracey Vernon
Member Claudia Williams
Member Phil Klotz
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
Mr. Klotz led the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. Klotz recognized Tracey Vernon as a new member of the Planning Commission and said he looked forward to her input.
Call to Order by Chairman Klotz
Chairman Klotz called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m., and stated Proof of Publication was available for public inspection.
Reorganization of Planning Commission
MOTION by Ms. Williams to appoint Ronald Stephens as Chairman and Craig Mellott as Vice Chairman. Chairman Klotz asked if there were any other nominations, there were none. The motion carried unanimously.
Approval of the Minutes
MOTION by Mr. Klotz to approve the Planning Commission Meeting Minutes of
December 11, 2014. The motion, seconded by Mr. Mellott, carried unanimously.
Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for The Woods at Creekview (formerly Sleepy Hollow), located at the intersection of Havenwood Court and Grandon Way, 1 lot, 1.34 acres, zoned Residential Towne, owned by Jean and James Grandon, Jr., submitted by H. Edward Black & Associates.
Christine Hunter, H. Edward Black and Associates, was present to speak concerning the land development plan. She said the plan was presented before the Planning Commission the previous month.
Ms. Hunter said there were three major comments from that previous meeting and would describe how those issues were addressed. She said they had additional visitor parking, moved the location of the dumpster, and allowed access to second story windows by adjusting grading for emergency personnel.
Ms. Hunter said there was a meeting with Township staff to discuss emergency access to the property. Mr. Miller said maybe there should be a note on the plan that the applicant will provide a window to the back room for the areas where it might be hard to provide a ladder. Ms. Hunter said they provided a floor plan profile sheet depicting how the ladder would access that window.
Manager Metts asked if the applicant had followed up with the Grandon Farms Homeowners Association. Ms. Hunter replied that they had regarding the dumpster and crosswalk. She said she did not have architectural elevations to provide them at this time.
Mr. Miller said there is a stormwater easement that goes under the balconies in the rear; he said that easement needs to be cleared of any obstruction.
Manager Metts asked when the plan is presented to the Board of Commissioners that the crosswalk be depicted on the plan and how it relates to the sidewalks in the area.
Manager Metts asked about the emergency access in Grandon Farms Phase 6. Ms. Hunter said that her office was not the design consultants for that project, but would look into it with the owner.
Vice Chairman Mellott asked how many waivers were requested. Mr. Miller said there were three requested, but the traffic study waiver was not required.
Commissioner Silcox thanked the applicant for changing the name of the development.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners the approval of the waivers Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for The Woods at Creekview. The motion, seconded by Mr. Klotz, carried unanimously.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend to the Board of Commissioners approval of the Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for The Woods at Creekview (formerly Sleepy Hollow), located at the intersection of Havenwood Court and Grandon Way, 1 lot, 1.34 acres, zoned Residential Towne, owned by Jean and James Grandon, Jr., submitted by H. Edward Black & Associates, PCFile#14-12-02, Time Limit Deadline of March 11, 2015, subject to the favorable resolutions of Township and County comments. The motion, seconded by Mr. Klotz, carried unanimously.
Discussion regarding proposed text amendment to Hampden Township Zoning Ordinance Chapter 27, Part 2, Section 203 adding a new definition for Contractors’/Lawn and Garden Equipment Sales and Service, and Part 14, Section 1404 as Subsequently Amended, Permitting Contractors’/Lawn and Garden Equipment Sales and Service in the C-PL, Commercial- Park Limited District.
John Andrews from McNees, Wallace, Nurick, was present on behalf of the proposed text amendment for 4417 Valley Road.
Mr. Andrews said this is the former site of the Herre Brothers business and the property has been vacant for several years. He said it is zoned Commercial Park Limited and the amendment would add the use to this zoning district. He said they have a specific occupant in mind, Sunbelt Rentals, which would use the front of the building as a retail sales space and store equipment for rent in the back of the building.
Mr. Andrews said one of the changes of the text amendment was to make the use permitted by conditional use. He said the other change is in Section 3 of the amendment, which incorporates proposed use standards.
Mr. Andrews said he received from Township staff proposed objective criteria and he incorporated that information into the amendment provided during this evening’s meeting, but for a couple of minor changes.
Mr. Andrews said the one change is to the type of equipment that would be stored at this location. He said they looked at the Township comment with regards to not storing heavy equipment as defined by the construction industry. He said they were unsure what that meant, therefore he went back to the client to find out what they intend to keep in the storage yard. He said Sunbelt has a website that shows a menu of items that sometimes could be available at some locations. He said his conversation with the client was that this is not the type of site that is going to store heavy excavation equipment for rent. He said those types of heavy equipment would require a trailer and a permit from PennDOT in order to transport. He said they proposed to maintain language Township staff provided for the amendment, but add the caveat, which requires a permit for transportation on public roads. He said that helps define heavy construction equipment.
Mr. McMillan asked how many pieces of heavy equipment Sunbelt Rentals has. Mr. Andrews replied, to his knowledge the weight threshold is 42,000 pounds, but he does not know which items they are. Manager Metts said that information would be helpful to know.
Chairman Stephens asked if weight was the only definition of heavy construction equipment. Mr. Andrews said the weight is the trigger for the permitting process. He said that is the tool they used to define heavy equipment for this ordinance provision.
Mr. McMillan said the Township came up with the term heavy equipment as defined by the construction industry, but that does not just mean the weight of the equipment. He said it could also mean the bigger and larger pieces of machinery that are used for bigger jobs. He said the Township has not had sufficient time to come up with its own definition.
Manager Metts asked if this particular Sun Belt Rentals would market itself or rent all of the types of equipment shown on their website. Mr. Andrews replied it is not the intent to store or rent some of the larger pieces of equipment.
Manager Metts said in the interest of moving the ball forward, if this is simply the proposed text for the conditional use permit, when the actual application is submitted, this issue could be narrowed down even further on what Sunbelt’s intention would be. Mr. Andrews agreed with that statement.
Chairman Stephens asked if this discussion is only related to the text amendment. Manager Metts said that was correct. He said the applicant at some future date of their choosing would need to come back before the Planning Commission for the Conditional Use review. He said there are stipulations where, in addition to the ordinance requirements, that the Conditional Use could be denied if the applicant did not accept all the conditions recommended by the Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners.
Mr. McMillan said in Chapter 27, Part 19, Section 1903 states, “In granting a conditional use, the Board of Commissioners may attach such reasonable conditions and safe¬guards, in addition to those expressed in this Chapter, as it may deem necessary to implement the purposes of this Chapter and of the Municipalities Planning Code”. Mr. Andrews said if the record supports the imposition of conditions, so be it, and the Board of Commissioners is certainly within its power to impose its conditions on any Conditional Use approval. Mr. Andrews said he understands and it is in the client’s interest to move this forward.
Mr. Klotz said he is not as familiar with PennDOT classifications in this realm. He said this business is an ideal use for the property. He said that given surrounding land uses and the context of the zoning district to make this as tight as reasonable for the text amendment would be ideal. Mr. Andrews said that was what he was attempting to do with the changes to the text amendment he brought to the meeting.
Vice Chairman Mellott said he would prefer there be a more concrete definition than just “defined by the construction industry”.
Manager Metts said the Board of Commissioners granted the scheduling of the public hearing, which is to occur on February 26, 2015 for this text amendment and for the Conditional Use application. He said the applicant would have to make final advertisement at least 45 days prior to that public hearing.
Assistant Manager Blechertas asked what the C-PL zoning front yard setback is. Mr. McMillan replied fifty feet.
Assistant Manager Blechertas asked where the equipment would be stored on the lot. Mr. Andrews said to the rear of the property.
Ms. Williams said there needs to be a definition of equipment that is something Township defined.
Mr. Andrews said the language that was added is a good first “gatekeeper” to further define what would be permitted. He said the conditional use process itself and the Board of Commissioners’ ability to impose conditions would be a second level of check and balances.
Manager Metts said when the original request was submitted it was a permitted use by right and the suggestion of the Planning Commission was that it becomes a conditional use. He said there are a couple choices to be made, leave it open ended as a Conditional Use and establish conditions under each application or at least try to establish some baseline conditions that create some uniform standards.
Manager Metts said it is a challenge to come up with a definition. He said if the applicant is agreeable to the idea of those additional conditions and restrictions, they could be applied and considered by the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners during the Conditional Use hearing, for this particular use. Mr. Andrews said he could not agree to additional conditions before the hearing, but acknolwledged that there may be more conditions imposed at hearing as part of the Conditional Use process.
Ms. Williams said the definition should not be meant to include heavy equipment which requires a permit for transportation on public roads and as may be defined by the Township. She said it would remove the language “as defined by the construction industry”.
Mr. Mellott asked if Ms. Williams’ statement was workable in the text amendment. Mr. Andrews replied yes.
Assistant Manager Blechertas said, “As defined by the Township”, may not be fair to an applicant and asked that the Township have more consistency with the definition.
Ms. Vernon asked if any pieces of the equipment would need a special transportation permit. Mr. Andrews said he did not know the answer.
Manager Metts said the wording “defined by the construction industry” was an attempt by the Township to create some talking points and base line criteria.
Manager Metts said 25, 0000 pounds or less and subject to approval by Township might move this forward. Mr. Mellott asked if the weight limit could be taken out of the definition and added in during the Conditional Use hearing. Manager Metts said not for this purpose because of the time deadline for the public hearing. Mr. Andrews said he would be more comfortable with the language suggested by Ms. Williams and rely on the Conditional Use process.
Ms. Williams said under the use restrictions, the definition of contractors’ equipment shall not be meant to include heavy equipment, which requires a permit for transportation on public roads and as may be defined by the Township. Manager Metts said if the Planning Commission chooses to make a recommendation, once the applicant finalizes the draft language, it would be presented to the Township Solicitor for review. He said that part of the condition should be upon his approval.
Manager Metts said the initial proposal as presented by staff includes fencing and a screen planting. Mr. McMillan said some of the language comes from Section 1702.
Vice Chairman Mellott asked if the applicant has a six-foot privacy fence, what would be the purpose of the additional plant screening. Manager Metts said the idea of the vegetative screening would help soften the fence. He said if the requirement was only a vegetative screening, it could become an enforcement issue down the road.
Mr. McMillan said the fence would buffer the equipment and the plantings would give it a good look from the outside that surrounds the property.
Commissioner Silcox asked what type of fencing is typical at a Sunbelt Rentals. Mr. Andrews said a fence that is gated.
Mr. Andrews said in the fence section of the ordinance, 1708.8 subsection storage states, “All yards used for the storage of any material needed for the operation or conduct of a manufacturing or a commercial enterprise shall be enclosed by a solid wall, uniformly painted board fence or screen planting on all sides which face upon a lot in a more restricted zone”. He said in that case generally speaking the storage yards do not need to double screen.
Commissioner Silcox asked if the applicant would install a solid fence. Mr. Andrews said they would be open to that suggestion.
Mr. Klotz said any fence installation should be aesthetically pleasing.
Mr. Klotz said with regards to storage in the back of the property, it could be an eyesore to have lift equipment or other types of equipment stored in an operational manner. He said the display of that type of equipment should be no higher than the top of the fence. Ms. Williams asked if there would be equipment that the base would be taller than the installed fence. Mr. Klotz replied that could be possible. Ms. Vernon asked if that could be part of the Conditional Use application; Ms. Williams replied that would be a good time to discuss it. Mr. Andrews said it is possible to add language to the ordinance that stated no equipment would be stored in an extended manner.
Manager Metts said at the time of the Conditional Use application, there may be fifty or more pieces or equipment, but two years later, there could be new equipment on the market that the Township is not regulating. He said storage of equipment by a manner of how the equipment is to be transported may be the best solution.
Mr. Klotz asked if there needed to be a discussion about restricting display equipment also to the side yard setback. Mr. McMillan said he would prefer the ordinance to state no storage or display of contractor’s equipment other than in the rear yard.
Chairman Stephens asked if there would be a motion with the changes that were discussed during the meeting to Section 3, C, D subsection 2 and 3. Vice Chairman Mellott said whatever the applicant agreed to during the meeting is what he would recommend for approval.
MOTION by Vice Chairman Mellott to recommend approval to the Board of Commissioners the proposed text amendment to Hampden Township Zoning Ordinance Chapter 27, Part 2, Section 203 adding a new definition for Contractors’/Lawn and Garden Equipment Sales and Service, and Part 14, Section 1404 as Subsequently Amended, Permitting Contractors’/Lawn and Garden Equipment Sales and Service in the C-PL, Commercial- Park Limited District, based on the additions and modifications as discussed. The motion was seconded by Ms. Williams.
Discussion on the motion:
Manager Metts asked Mr. Andrews to reiterate the changes and additions for purposes of the motion.
Mr. Andrews said in what would be in Section 1914 C. of the Zoning Ordinance, Use restrictions: The definition of contractor equipment shall not be meant to include heavy equipment, which requires a permit for transportation on public road and as may be defined by the Township.
Mr. Andrews said the second change would be to Section 1914, D. (2) of the Zoning Ordinance: The entire outside storage area shall be screened and enclosed with a minimum 6-foot high privacy fence of durable material.
Mr. Andrews said it would state in Section 1914 D. (3) of the Zoning Ordinance: No storage or display of contractor’s equipment within the front yard setback. No piece of equipment shall be stored in a manner other than in which it would be transported.
Mr. Klotz asked if language could be added to allow Zoning Officer approval of the fence. Mr. Andrews said he would add the additional language.
The motion, carried unanimously.
Request consideration from Chris Land, LLC for a Conditional Use Application
Manager Metts said the Conditional Use Application has not yet been submitted to the Township for review.
Good & Welfare
Assistant Manager Blechertas said the Township consultants, Simone Collins, has essentially completed the draft of the Comprehensive Plan. He said he anticipates delivering that to the Planning Commission at the February 12, 2015 meeting and possible recommendation at the March meeting.
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 9:00 p.m.
Rita Finkboner, Recording Secretary