June 9, 2020 Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER – Chairman Battis called the June 9, 2020 Planning Commission Meeting to order at 7:00 P.M.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE – Chairman Battis led the Pledge of Allegiance.

PRESENT VIA ZOOM – Chairman Battis, Member Farnen, Member McMenamin, Borough Engineer Goff, Borough Planner Kennedy, County Planner Mohr, Borough Solicitor Geiser, Manager Hegele, Assistant Borough Secretary DeRenzis (zoom host), Secretary Bollendorf, Victorian Village Solicitor Chris Mahoney, Engineer Stoneback, Landscape architect Jeff Faber, Architect Lance Kraemer, Vitorian Village Property Manager Melissa Hagerty.

ABSENT – Vice Chair Kline and Member Shaeffer were absent.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Member McMenamin made a motion to approve the May 12, 2020 Planning Commission Meeting Minutes. Motion was seconded by Member Farnen, all ayes. Motion carried 3-0.

Chairman Battis stated that before the meeting began, he asked Solicitor Geiser to explain the difference between a waiver and a variance. Solicitor Geiser stated that a waiver can be granted by Council without any sort of hearing and that during the land development process, Council will be presented with different stages of land development, Planning Commissioner’s letter, County Planning Commission letter and Engineering report, and they can accept a waiver or not.

Chairman Battis stated that he wanted to know if the Planning Commission were to vote on the waiver’s in groups or individually. Solicitor Geiser stated that it can be done either way. Borough Planner Kennedy suggested that he recommends handling the waivers separately for any kind of Land Development or Conditional Use. He stated that if all are agreed upon you can vote on them as a whole or the PC can go through them and put them in two groups and that he has seen it done both ways.

Planner Mohr stated that she wrote a letter on April 2, 2020 reviewing the Land Development and subdivision. She stated that the first item she identified was a need for a summary table that included pieces of information that were missing form the plan. She stated that some items that may need to be added are as follows:

  • The need for a Conditional Use
  • Impervious coverage
  • Building Height
  • Ground level floor area
  • Total floor area
  • Natural features (waterways, wetlands, tree cover etcetera)
  • Buildable area
  • Net and gross acreage
  • Buildings, swimming pools, and other features within 100 feet of property line on adjacent parcels

Planner Mohr also stated that the initial plan did not have a list of waiver requests therefore she noted the need for anything that needed a waiver to be officially requested in writing.

Chairman Battis asked Solicitor Mahoney, Victorian Village attorney, if he would comply with A and B on the County letter. Solicitor Mahoney stated that Engineer Stoneback would be able to answer any questions regarding this throughout the meeting.

Engineer Stoneback stated that he has no pushback on any of the comments in Planner Mohr’s letter, except for the waivers, and stated that they will absolutely comply with A and B in her letter.

Planner Mohr stated that to obtain the conditional use, the applicant will need to submit additional materials to demonstrate compliance with the requirements under Active Adult Communities. She also stated that these include demonstrating to Council’s satisfaction that the development will include the following:

  • Victorian, Federal, or Colonial architecture
  • Façade breaks every 50 feet
  • Site features such as paving, fencing, and lighting are compatible with the chosen architectural style
  • Natural building materials will be used where possible
  • Compliance with the roof pitch requirements
  • Other standards in the Active Adult Community Development section of the zoning code

Lance Kramer stated that the building is very similar to the original Victorian Village and it follows the same Victorian approach. He also stated that they have a considerable amount of changes in the façade and have also incorporated into it is the existing Historical building in which they have gone through great lengths to make a feature on the site therefore, they would have no problem complying.

Solicitor Geiser stated that a letter was submitted to Council last month with regards to the conditional use hearing and the letter was drafted by Borough Planner Kennedy and it reviews all the elements of Hatboro’s Conditional Use Ordinance as well as the standards for the Adult Living Community. She also stated that she would suggest that the Planning Commission review that letter.

Chairman Battis stated that he felt that the letter Council received was more general than the letter the Planning Commission received.

Planer Mohr stated that there is sidewalk that is not proposed in a couple of locations that was required by ordinance. She stated that one is along Crooked Billet Road to the property line and a section that requires sidewalk along the entrance of certain driveways, and they need to be provided or a waiver needs to be requested.

Member McMenamin stated that he doesn’t see why we would not require it and asked if there is a specific reason that it would be more difficult to add sidewalks or a reason why the Planning Commission would waive it.
Engineer Stoneback stated that the sidewalks are included in as a partial waiver. He stated that relative to Crooked Billet Road, there are no sidewalks and no curb for the whole extent of it and allowing stormwater to flow across grass, it improves water quality. He also stated that if there are going to be improvements to Crooked Billet

Chairman Battis asked County Mohr what The County’s thoughts were on sidewalks and Planner Mohr that she would recommend not granting a waiver for the sidewalk along Crooked Billet Road because if you do not require a home owner to put in sidewalk, then it is really hard to get sidewalk in the future especially because this connects to the sidewalk on York Road and would add safety for pedestrians in this area. She also stated that specifically as a pedestrian, if you are walking down a quiet street you are fine but if you approach a busy road there is not great visibility so therefore you do not want to be a pedestrian in the street close to York Road. She stated that she recommends the sidewalks.

Chairman Battis asked Planner Mohr to continue with landscaping and she stated that there were some waiver requests included with the original plans and the Borough ordinance requires that any tree that measures at least 3 inches in diameter that is being removed must be replaced. She stated that the applicant is requesting a waiver to move that number to 6 inches. Planner Mohr stated that she recommends replacing the small to medium trees and that the goal is to maintain overall tree coverage in the Borough because it helps keep the air cleaner, the stormwater is better managed and there is more shade. She also stated that the overall coverage should be maintained, and she recommends granting waivers to plant trees somewhere else.

Chairman Battis asked Member Farnen if she had any comments since she is the landscaping and tree expert. Member Farnen stated that she agreed with Planner Mohr and as many trees as possible should be included and that if they do not fit on the property, then we can add them to one of the Borough’s parks.

Jeff Faber stated that a survey was completed for 6-inch trees and larger and that covers 95% of the property and the small trees are bad along the west side of the property. He asked if they can go against the 178 tree preservation credits and offered 85 replacement trees. Planner Mohr stated that she has no problems with the replacements that the applicant proposed.

Manager Hegele stated that a lot of trees were planted during Phase I and the matured ones were removed and moved to Miller Meadow. She also stated that the Planning Commission must make a recommendation, and that can be taken back to Council so that they can make a recommendation on what they would like to do regarding trees. Chris Mahoney, attorney for the applicant, stated that if it is not on the waiver list, the applicant will comply.

Chairman Battis asked to move forward to the Landscape Buffer and Planner Mohr stated there is a landscaping buffer at least 25 feet which is required by Borough ordinance and some areas of development encroach into that required buffer in certain locations. Planner Mohr also stated that she recommends including stream as a site feature rather than covering it over and include appropriate plantings around it because it would enhance that area. She also stated the Borough ordinance requires that any water stream shall remain open in its natural state.

Engineer Stoneback, Victorian Villages engineer, stated that this area was evaluated with the environmental consultant that they work with and they came to the conclusion that it is not a stream

and it is not regulated by DEP and categorized it as a man made channel and she knows that the borough maintains the bottom of it on the lawn. He stated that they had hoped to develop a rain garden at the bottom of this section that they’re keeping and replace the chain link fence with a decorative one. (Waiver #8) The applicant will maintain all storm sewers on site.

Chairman Battis asked Chloe to discuss solid waste containers. Planner Mohr stated that there is a requirement in the code that trash containers be set back 50 feet from the property lines according to zoning and the requirement is that traffic not be blocked while containers are being emptied. He also he will comply with 50 feet set back requirement, so a variance is not needed. He also stated that two other driveways are not affected when the truck is there for that brief time period.

Chairman Battis stated that he wanted Borough Planner Kennedy to review his 5/14/20 letter to Council. Planner Kennedy stated that a Conditional Use is a use that is allowed by right, provided that certain conditions outlined in the ordinance are met and that it also means that Borough Council can impose conditions if they are reasonable. Borough Planner Kennedy also stated that his recommendation is to recommend the approval of Conditional use and Council can do as they see fit, but in his opinion, the application fulfills all the requirements of the Conditional use part of the ordinance and he recommends that they take a vote.

Member McMenamin stated that as far as conditional use, he has no problems with this.

Member Farnen questioned what they were planning to use the old YMCA for, and Kraemer stated that the old part will be used for a meeting area, library, and any other entities needed for residents. Member Farnen stated that she has no problem with this use for the property.

Borough Planner Kennedy stated that his first letter dated 3/30/20 to the Planning Commission had many similarities to Planner Mohr’s letter, however the statistics are a little confusing and he suggested to create existing, proposed, and total so that in the future the Planning Commission has an easier time sorting out what is what. He also stated that he thinks two parking spaces per unit is a lot of parking to hold in reserve. He also stated regarding staff parking, the code allows for non-residential uses that cannot exceed 5% of the total building area and if you combine both buildings, it will not be close to that.

Melissa Haggerty stated that two out of three employees currently live in Victorian Village, so they already have numbered spots for their cars. Planner Kennedy asked the PC how they felt about reserved parking and stated that it could be added in the future. Chairman Battis stated that if we had parking in reserve and a resident has a party when four or five more cars come, he is afraid they will be parking on the grass so he would like to see it built out. He stated that for the Toll Brothers project, the Borough and PC let them have parking and it turned out to be needed and they have a reserve lot as well. Chairman Battis stated that he is not asking for a reserve lot but would like to see it built out. Member Farnen stated that she disagreed and would like to see a reduced number of parking.

Chairman Battis asked Engineer Goff to review her letter. Engineer Goff stated the applicant is going to comply with most of her comments. She also stated that her first comment was for the applicant to provide a blanket storm water easement in lieu of a specific easement in which there was no objection to that per the applicant. She also stated that a blanket easement will allow the Borough to inspect and maintain stormwater facilities if needed so they are not required to maintain them but if the owner does not then the Borough can and charge a fee.

Engineer Goff stated to allow for storm sewer pipes that are smaller than 15 inches to reduce chances of clogging in the pipe. Engineer Stoneback stated they would go down to ten or twelve inches.

Jeff Faber stated that regarding waiver #14 the ordinance calls for full cut off light fixtures and the current Victorian Village and proposed VV has cut off luminaries and would like to provide some light fixture. Member McMenamin stated that he has no problem with this. Chairman Battis asked how close to the neighbors are they and Jeff Faber stated that there are internal shields which means that no lighting goes off the property line onto residential areas.

Chairman Battis stated that he had a few questions:

  • Will there be a fence when the demolition takes place?
    • Melissa Haggerty stated that there will be a construction fence.
  • Will the trailers be inside of the construction fence?
    • Engineer Stoneback said yes, they will be inside the fence.
  • Will the site be locked at night
    • Melissa Haggerty stated that yes, the site will be locked overnight.
  • What is the plan for loading and unloading heavy equipment on Crooked Billet Road?
    • Engineer Stoneback stated that this can be maintained during construction and Chairman Battis stated he wants to limit construction traffic as much as possible on Crooked Billet Road past the construction site and would also like to see a street cleaner there more than once a day.

Chairman Battis asked about the Fire Department approval and if a letter was received from the Fire Marshal and Fire Chief. Manager Hegele stated that the Fire Marshal and Fire Chief are reviewing the plans and will provide a letter ASAP and she also stated that right now a ladder truck cannot access but will be able to.

Chairman Battis asked if sort and tear on the premises or haul it off and have it done somewhere else and he stated that there is not a lot of room to sort and there will be a lot more dirt if you sort on the premises. Proposals are being reviewed for this.

Solicitor Geiser stated that she would suggest that if there are conditions Chairman Battis would like to see attached to Conditional Use that they can be added to the Planning Commission recommendations for Council to approve. Planner Kennedy stated that he recommends voting only on Conditional Use this evening because there are some things that need to be shown on the resubmitted plans even though they are going to comply with many things in Engineer Goff’s letter and he suggests waiting for the revised set of plans to vote on anything. Planner Mohr agreed.

Chairman Battis wanted to cast a vote on wavers #1 and #2 but Solicitor Geiser suggested to wait until the plans are resubmitted and vote on all at once.

PLANNING COMMISSION APPROVES THAT BOROUGH COUNCIL WOULD APPROVE THE CONDITIONAL USE FOR AN ACTIVE ADULT COMMUNITY – Member Farnen made a motion to approve that Borough Council approves the Conditional Use for an Active Adult Community. Motion was seconded by Member McMenamin, all ayes. Motion carried 3-0.

OLD BUSINESS – There was no old business.

NEW BUSINESS – There was no new business.

PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR – There was no comment from the public.

MEETING DATE – Manager Hegele announced that the next meeting date will be Tuesday July 14, 2020 at 7:00 P.M and Tuesday August 11, 2020 at 7:00 P.M.

ADJOURNMENT – Member McMenamin made a motion to adjourn the June 9, 2020 Planning Commission Meeting at 9:10 P.M. Motion was seconded by Member Farnen, all ayes. Motion carried 3-0. Chairman Battis adjourned the June 9, 2020 Planning Commission Meeting at 9:10 P.M.

Respectfully submitted by
Cindy Bollendorf
Transcribed by Cindy Bollendorf