May 12, 2020 Planning Commission Meeting Minutes

CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Battis called the May 12th, 2020 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 Shaeffer, Member McMenamin, Manger Hegele, County Planner Mohr, Trails & Open Space Planner Ellen Miramontes, Assistant Borough Secretary DeRenzis, Secretary Bollendorf

ABSENT: Vice Chair Kline was absent.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Member McMenamin made a motion to approve the February 11th, 2020 meeting minutes. Motion was seconded by Member Shaeffer, all ayes. Motion carried 4-0.

Planner Mohr gave a slide presentation on the Hatboro Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Plan. The following was presented:

  1. Overall Plan Goals
  2. Planning Process
  3. Plan Organization
  4. Administrative, Personnel, and Financial Analysis
  5. Organizational Chart
  6. Park Decision Making and Management
  7. Management Recommendations
  8. Park Operations and Maintenance
  9. Recommendations for Operations
  10. Parks Inventory and Analysis
  11. Miler Meadow Description and Recommendations
  12. Eaton Park Description and Recommendations
  13. Memorial Park and Pool Description and Recommendations
  14. Tanner Park Description and Recommendations
  15. Hatboro Little League Complex Description and Recommendations
  16. Celano Park Description and Recommendations
  17. General Park Recommendations
  18. Other Open Space – Union Library, Hatboro Station Townhomes, Elementary Schools (Pennypack and Crooked), Hatboro Cemetery
  19. General Greening Recommendations
  20. Hatboro Horsham School District Recommendations
  21. Trails – possible future trail connections
  22. Recreation Analysis
  23. Recreation Recommendations

Member Farnen asked if there was a timeline as far as prioritizing what will be done and when.

County Planner Mohr stated that in the back of the plan, pages 89 – 96, lists all the recommendations that are mentioned throughout the plan and they include a priority level as well as a timeline. Planner Mohr also stated that an estimated cost is included for many of them as well.

Member McMenamin asked if there is any additional insurance required when it comes to off leash dog parks.

Manager Hegele stated that Hatboro has a leash law and there is no area where you can let your dog run loose and if we were to do that then we would have an increase in our insurance.

Member McMenamin said the plan looks great and is very thorough.

Planner Mohr stated that the fenced in off leash dog park and band shell for Eaton park were included as options based on the enthusiastic public feedback.

Member Shaeffer asked if there was anything that could be planted behind the Union Library that could be made into a children’s trail or is this area protected by the Borough for rainwater runoff.

Planner Mohr stated that this was previously discussed at a Steering Committee Meeting and that she thinks there is a possibility that something could be planted there.

Manager Hegele stated that the property behind there is owned by the Library and there is stormwater management in place there that was done with a grant several years ago.

Chairman Battis stated he wanted to amend a section in the recommendations for Miller Meadow and have it state to acquire adjacent Crestbrook House property. All members agreed that this should be added since it is a twenty-year plan.

Chairman Battis stated that we have had some problems regarding lands that the Borough has had to use for projects, and they have not been completely surveyed. He stated he thinks that all Borough parks should be surveyed and that should be a high priority.

Manager Hegele stated that since herself and Council have taken over in 2018, the Borough has already started the process for surveying our properties as it is important that the Borough knows where and what we own as well as what we do not own.

Member McMenamin stated he agreed because if we know exactly where our property lines are, the Borough can make better decisions.

Member Shaeffer stated that since the Borough is already handling the surveying, the priority level doesn’t need to be changed in the plan. Member McMenamin agreed it could be left as is with the understanding that it is currently being handled.

Chairman Battis stated he wanted to discuss the lighting in Eaton Park. He stated that years ago there were lights around the park, and they were damaged and then had to be replaced. He stated that since parks are closed at dusk, he wondered if the lights were necessary. He stated he felt that people would possibly think the park was open even though it is dark if lights are on.

Member Shaeffer stated that lighting may be necessary especially if a band shell is to be placed there.

Planner Mohr suggested consulting the police chief regarding the lighting because he would have a better idea if the lighting would improve safety or if it would encourage people to use the park when they shouldn’t be there.

Manager Hegele stated that Chief Gardner is an advocate for lighting on all trails for a public safety issue and stated he will have a recommendation for Council on Monday night.

Chairman Battis stated that we have had a tree stump problem in all our parks especially Eaton and Memorial. He stated that diseased trees had to be removed however the stumps were left in almost all cases. He stated he thinks it’s necessary that present stumps should be removed, and stumps should be removed shortly after a tree is taken down in the future.

Member Farnen stated that she thinks that stump removal should be in the maintenance budget and not part of the plan.

Member McMenamin agreed that it could be problematic if there are a lot of stumps and agreed that maybe it could be part of the maintenance budget. Chairman Battis stated that currently there are 13 tree stumps in Memorial Park alone.

Manager Hegele stated that she will speak with Superintendent Sine to see what we could do to try to mitigate that now and going forward, when we do have to remove a tree, to make sure that we completely remove stump and everything.

Chairman Battis stated that he wanted to add a goal to the plan which is to purchase available land to be used for open space as it becomes available. He stated that it doesn’t mention in the plan about requiring more land, but it does mention as far as acreage is concerned, for a town our size, we are short 26.75 acres. He also stated that we do however have one or two more parks than the average town. He stated that he thought it would be a good idea for us to obtain Pennypack Elementary School track, which is 9.5 acres, has plenty of fields, a trail, bridge and some buildings and he thinks he would be a great addition to our parks and suggested it could possibly connect to Miller Meadow with a trail in the future. He stated it would give us enough space for athletic events that we do not have right now.
He also stated that the property located at 500 S. Warminster Road is currently for sale and could also be used as open space as it is also nine acres. He also stated that he would like to add to the plan that if available look into adding additional land as it becomes available. He stated that he had two suggestions of how it could be worded in the Plan.
1) When available, existing open space should be considered for purchase to add to the Borough Open Space Plan such as Pennypack School or 500 S. Warminster Road.
2) When available, properties featuring open space should be considered for addition to the Borough Parks Program.

Member Shaeffer agreed that it should be added to the Plan and liked the second statement best but would single Pennypack elementary out.

Member McMenamin agreed that it should be added to the Plan and liked the second statement best.

Member Farnen agreed that it should be added to the Plan and liked the second statement best. She also agreed with Member Shaeffer that Pennypack School should be clarified because of its significance and location.

Chairman Battis reworded his statement and is as follows: When available, properties featuring open space should be considered for addition to the Borough Parks Program. For example, Pennypack Elementary School. All members agreed with his statement to be added to the Plan.

Planner Mohr stated that the plan focused on the parks and improvements that are currently needed but we can strengthen the language regarding acquisition of land.

Manager Hegele stated that we need to reiterate to everyone that this is a conceptual plan and what is being discussed are recommendations. She also stated that this is basically a guideline for the future of Hatboro.

Chairman Battis stated that since we are trying to save 9 acres of land that is not developed, it should be not be buried in a paragraph on page 52 of the plan. He stated that it’s an important piece of land that could be of great use to the residents of the town. He stated that he would Like Chloe to put it in a more prominent place in the plan.

All members agreed but felt we should trust Planner Mohr as far as where this fits in the plan and makes most sense regarding the project.

Ray Burns asked if the Corinthian Trail was going to be discussed in the plan.

Chairman Battis stated that he did not believe it was in the plan. Planner Mohr stated it was mentioned briefly in the Comprehensive Plan but it was not in this plan. She stated that this trail was in the plan for possible future trail connections and this is the only place it is mentioned.
Jennifer Hartigan asked is the proposed bandshell for Eaton Park included in the plan.

Chairman Battis stated that it is included but it is a low priority. Member Shaeffer stated that there were some residents that wanted the bandshell and therefore it was included.

HATBORO PLANNING COMMISSION SUPPORTS THE ADOPTION OF THE HATBORO 2040 PARKS, RECREATION, AND OPEN SPACE PARK PLAN WITH AMENDMENTS -Member McMenamin made a motion that the Hatboro Planning Commission supports the adoption of the Hatboro 2040 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan with amendments. Motion was seconded by Member Farnen, all ayes. Motion carried 4-0.

OLD BUSINESS – There was no old business.

NEW BUSINESS – There was no new business.

The next meeting date of the Planning Commission will be Tuesday, June 9, 2020 at 7:00 P.M.

Chairman Battis adjourned the May 12, 2020 meeting of the Planning Commission at 8:44 P.M.

Respectfully Submitted,

Cynthia Bollendorf

Transcribed by Cindy Bollendorf