March 13, 2017 Committee Meeting Minutes

President Tompkins, Councilpersons Forgeng, Harbaugh, Hegele, McElroy & Palmer; Manager Zollers, Assistant Secretary Hegele, Chief Gardner, Solicitor Pionzio, & Engineer Walsh.

Vice President Rich, Mayor Hawkes & Treasurer Kalnjas were all absent

President Tompkins called to order the March Committee meeting of Council to order at 7:00 P.M.

Councilman Palmer stated Council was in receipt of the February 2017 Expenditure List.  This item was moved to the March 27th, 2017 Council agenda for approval.

Chief Gardner announced that a snow emergency has been declared at 9PM, he stated the Commonwealth declared a State of Emergency and he is asking residents to shelter in place if they can, less people on the roads makes it easier for clean up

Councilman Harbaugh announced there will be a capital budget workshop on Monday March 27th at 6:00 PM

Councilwoman McElroy stated she had nothing for the agenda this evening.

Councilman Hegele stated he had nothing for the agenda this evening.  Councilman Hegele asked Manager Zollers is he had anything to report.  Manager Zollers asked residents to stay home and off the roads, to park in driveway and to remove portable bb nets from right of way.  He stated trash and recycling will be collected.  He reviewed how to shovel so not to be plowed in.  Councilman Forgeng asked for an update on PECO, he stated he is still waiting on Peco to respond.

Assistant Secretary Hegele announced the Borough is still in need of volunteers.  She asked anyone interested to please send over a letter of interest.   This item was moved to the March 27th, 2017 Council agenda for approval.

Assistant Secretary Hegele announced she has a list of suggestions, if there are any other to get them to her so Council can decide.  This item was moved to the March 27th, 2017 Council agenda for approval.

Chief Gardner reported that the U&O has been issued.  He stated a punch list was presented, it is 4 pages, which is good for the size of this project.  He stated they are on target for a 3/27 move.

Manager Zollers stated that he has met with the consultant for the Borough Hall project and this is progressing.

President Tompkins announced that the Borough is in receipt of an application for the property at York/Horsham to go to the Zoning Hearing Board.  The hearing is on 4/12 at 7PM.  The applicant is asking for 5 variances.  He stated the zoning hearing board is a judicial body who will review evidence based on the law and either will grant or deny the variances.  Council cannot weigh in on this process.

Virginia Hart, Earl Lane stated that Upper Gwynedd Wawa was approved by the Zoning Hearing Board but the supervisors are taking it to court to appeal their decision.  President Tompkins stated the appeals are through the court system.   She stated that there are 4 Wawa’s in their township which are owned by the developer, Wawa pays rent.  President Tompkins stated that if the ZHB grants the variances then they go to the Borough for the Land Development process which will look at traffic, etc.  He stated that there are several businesses that operate in the Borough under variances, he named the Old Mill, Bernie’s, Kleo’s and Nourishing Storm.  Solicitor Pionzio stated that Council can express an opinion but this Borough under her has never interfered, the Board is respectful of the ZHB, they have their own attorney and they will do their job.

Katrina Nuss, 113 Academy Road asked who the members of the ZHB were and why would council not represent the residents.  Solicitor Pionzio stated the ZHB is a quazi judicial board, it is a very formal process, it is up to the applicant to show burden of proof and they are permitted due process.  She stated Council does not vote, she stated Council makes the legislative decisions only.  She reminded everyone that residents can participate in the process.

Marianne Schaeffer, Crooked Billet Road, asked if the project includes residential homes.  President Tompkins responded yes, there are 3 properties, 2 commercial, one residential.  He stated the variance request is to allow a use does not change the zoning.

Ed Henry, 238 Bonair Avenue asked who is requesting.  Solicitor Pionzio stated it is the same applicant for all three parcels, they have 3 properties under agreement of sale.  They would like to put all three together and create one parcel.  He asked if Borough Council can make a recommendation for or against or send attorney to voice their concerns.

Christina Giovinazzo, 28 Horsham road, currently the zoning is R-1 and RC-2, can a gas station operate in these uses.  Manager Zollers responded no, only in Highway Business.  He stated the current gas stations at York/County Line, York/Byberry and McMackins at York/Moreland are all HB.  He stated the current years ago where Silvio’s is and the old Wawa where gas stations, they are currently zoned RC-2 but he does not know what they were zoned back when they were operational.  Ms. Giovinazzo stated she does not want to see the neighborhood overrun by gas stations.  Solicitor Pionzio responded that a property owner/developer can file an application to anything including an amusement park, they are entitled to their due process as are the residents, they can come out and be in favor or opposed.

Nancy Guenst, 206 Academy Road asked how each Council member feels about this application, she stated Council can send a representative to the ZHB, she reminded Council they serve the people and that the ZHB will listen to Council.  She does not want to see Welcome to Hatboro here is your Wawa.  She stated there will be noise at night, gas tanks in a flood prone area.  She has concerns about the Borough EOC.  She asked each Council person how they feel and stated it would affect how she would vote in November.

Councilperson McElroy stated she is taking everything under advisement and listening to the people, because of this she wishes to reserve her comments.

Councilman Forgeng stated he stood up before, he wanted the Borough to purchase the property.  Mrs. Guenst asked if he has considered grants, he stated there are no grants out there to purchase property.  President Tompkins stated the County Open Space Program does not have funding.

President Tompkins stated something must go in this empty space.  He stated he has not heard Wawa yet.  He is opposed to Council interfering in the ZHB matter, the process needs to be based on the law or there could be a costly appeal/lawsuit.  Mrs. Guenst stated President Tompkins is the head of zoning.  He stated yes and he personally feels the R-4 change to RC-2 was a good move for this corner.  He had concerns over the density.

Councilman Harbaugh stated it was too soon to say, he wanted to see what the building would look like, he does not want it to block Loller, he wants to see what the canopies over the gas would look like in his opinion it was way too soon.  He would like to see something at the corner.

Councilman Hegele asked Mrs. Guenst if she was running for a political office.  Mrs. Guenst responded yes she was.  He stated he is open to all right now, he also too wants to hear more information.  He stated he has spoken to residents who want a new Wawa as the current one lease is ending and people do not want to see them leave.

Councilman Palmer stated his Councilmembers have good points, he stated we have a Wawa in town, one is enough for the Borough, he would like to see a nice building, he reminded everyone to be careful what you hope for.    He too would like more information.

Councilman Forgeng asked if a new Wawa would have the Victorian look like surrounding buildings.  Solicitor Pionzio stated there is a deed restriction for the property, so whatever goes there needs to follow this.

Leslie Jones, 207 Crooked Billet Road stated zoning is a judiciary board can the Borough appeal.  Solicitor Pionzio stated if the ZHB says yes, there is not a lot of recourse.  She stated residents can hire lawyers and sue.  She stated the Borough does have a right to appeal, the Upper Gwynedd case is rare, she has not seen elected officials fighting with their appointed ZHB, that is rare.   President Tompkins stated Council needs to see what occurs at the ZHB level.  Solicitor Pionzio remined everyone that she cannot give legal advice to residents, she is here with Council to listen to the people, and she needs to provide legal counsel to Borough Council.  The people must go to the ZHB and speak.

Marianne Schaeffer, Crooked Billet asked if the plans are available.  Manager Zollers stated they are in Borough Hall.  She asked what happened to Rite Aid, it was a nice storefront.  She is concerned about multiple stores, then they do out of business and the Borough must look at empty storefronts.  She asked how Council can control what comes in.  Solicitor Pionzio stated the zoning code, if it meets requirements than Council has no say.  Persons can go to the ZHB and ask for relief, the ZHB can attach conditions where council cannot.  Conditions can include egress/stormwater, road improvements, etc.  these are attached to the relief if granted.

Ed Henry, Bonair Avenue asked if the properties are combined, he thought during the Rite Aid process they were combined.  President Tompkins stated they are not, 2 of the parcels are zoned the same, he stated there are costs involved in making it one parcel.  Solicitor Pionzio stated the residential home is a new component.  This was not part of the Rite Aid submission.

Dave Stockton, 237 Jacksonville Road asked how the revitalization plan was to the ZHB.  Solicitor Pionzio stated no nothing.  The ZHB is a statue mandatory judicial board.  He asked where the revitalization plan comes into this.  She responded that is a goal oriented plan, they are goals that give incentives, it is a planning tool that is not legally binding and in this case, cannot hold a developer to this.

Katrina Nuss, Academy Road stated we seem complacent and waiting for ideas, why can’t we seek out people/ideas.  She stated the Old Mill has reopened, now a Wawa with gas pumps next to Borough Hall. She feels Wawa belongs on a highway, it is an in/out convenience, people support Wawa not the town.  She would like to know what Wawa does for the town, what groups they support.  She stated she was calling them to find out.  She feels they just come here and take.  Solicitor Pionzio stated it was a great idea to call Wawa.  She stated Council cannot tell landlords what to put or do with their buildings.

President Tompkins stated that the Borough funds the Main Street Program and they have a manager.  Steve Barth has told Council he has met with 20 different developers for this corner, it is a tough property.  In his opinion the Mill and the Spa were overpriced so the property owner split them and sold off separately, that is the property owners option as was the option to take down the buildings on the property.  The property owner has rights.

Virginia Hart, Earl Lane stated she heard Rite Aid had too many too close together.  President Tompkins stated he heard a Fred’s Drug Store purchased and the buyer stopped expansion.  Solicitor Pionzio stated that has happened in the past where developers spend money get the fully developed plans and then the client walks away.

Natalie Forbes, 32 Horsham Road stated she feels the ordinance influences zoning, the ordinance change benefit safety, health and wellbeing.  Who determines what is our safety and health and how is that determined.  Solicitor Pionzio responded the property was R-4 then changed to RC-2 because of Borough staff, local planners looking at ordinance and doing housekeeping.   She stated this process is expensive but it makes things more uniform.  This corner was looked at due to density, active adult use, number of units, parking, etc.  all this could result in something being built that would overshadow Loller.  She stated her office along with staff discusses these issues and then makes recommendations to Council to correct.  The R-4 zoning which was in place for a long time housed the White Billet Nursing Home, which is permitted in R-4.

Rich Seeds, 40 Horsham Road thanked Council for listening, he feels their opinion was genuine and heartfelt opinions.  He is bothered about changing the gateway to Hatboro and the view of Loller.  He said tonight he did not hear anything about how the residents felt.  He is opposed to rezoning the property for a convenience store with gas.  He was not happy with the lack of concern from the Solicitor, and he wants to see more concern from Council about the residents.

Councilwoman McElroy stated she was sorry if she was not clear, she has concerns about flooding, she cares what people think.  Her husband almost died in a flood saving people and she cares very much.   She reiterated she wants facts, to be informed and educated before deciding, but do not say she does not care because she does.

Nancy Guenst, Academy Road asked President Tompkins to not scare people by saying a 6-story building could be put there.  President Tompkins stated it could be under the previous zoning of R-4 but not currently under RC-2.  If it was active adult there is less parking requirements, as far as 30 townhomes, no but maybe 28.

Nicole Benjamin, 28 W. Lehman asked about the Environmental impact.  Solicitor Pionzio responded we do not know that the applicant will present now at the ZHB.  This will be discussed during the Land Development process.

Marianne Schaeffer, Crooked Billet Road asked if residents can look at plans on line, can they be posted on website.  Solicitor Pionzio stated due to copyright laws they cannot be posted.  She stated we can ask them to send.

Tina Giovinazzo, Horsham Road asked about the floodplain conservation district and if this impacts this project.  She asked also how to see the maps.  Solicitor Pionzio stated the map is on our website, and on the FEMA website. She stated if the developer intends to do work in the floodplain then there are a different set of requirements that must be followed.  If the improvements are out of the district that they do not need.  She stated if they ask for relief for work and the Borough or its agents find out they missed something they must go back through the entire process again.

Ed Henry Bonair Avenue asked if the variance is to have the gas and if Wawa needs the residential property, they did not have that before.  Solicitor Pionzio stated they never filled out an application 5 years ago so we did not know.  We do not know what they would do without gas.

Councilman Hegele asked if the taxes are paid on this property.  Assistant Secretary Hegele stated not on the two vacant properties.

Colleen Seeds, 40 Horsham Road asked who the others were that were asked to develop the property.  President Tompkins stated this was information from the Main Street Manager you would need to contact him.  He is not a Borough employee he works for Main Street; they would have that information.

Ed Henry, Bonair Avenue asked if the old CVS has been purchased, he has observed a lot of activity there.  Manager Zollers stated it has not been sold, they are just fixing code violations.   He asked if the property at York/Horsham has been surveyed.  President Tompkins stated he did not know.

Marianne Schaeffer, Crooked Billet asked if the plans could be displayed publicly.  Solicitor Pionzio stated the Borough must be careful not to appear to be treating an applicant differently.  She stated there are no specific rules for Wawa it is the same process for all.  She stated we will display them on 3/27 on an easel in the hallway before the meeting.

President Tompkins thanked everyone for coming out.  This is a contentious issue.

Manager Zollers announced the project is complete and we now have a living ordinance.  The new ordinances have been updated on Borough website.  Solicitor Pionzio thanked Council for completing this project.

Vice President Rich stated Council is in receipt of payment request #9 in the amount of $280,214.93. This item was moved to the March 27th, 2017 Council agenda for approval.

Vice President Rich stated Council is in receipt of payment request #9 in the amount of $8,169.65.  This item was moved to the March 27th, 2017 Council agenda for approval.

President Tompkins adjourned the March 13th, 2017 Committee meeting of Borough Council at 8:17 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Alfred Zollers
Borough Manager/Secretary

Transcribed by Assistant Borough Secretary Diane Hegele