Lower Providence Township
Borough of Phoenixville
East Whiteland Township
Upper Providence Township
Lower Providence Township
Borough of Phoenixville
East Whiteland Township
Upper Providence Township
For full meeting minutes go to: http://www.schuylkilltwp.com/Minutes/bos/January5_2015_bos_minutes.htm
Board Discussion Items
Mr. Brennan reported that the Intervention Papers for the DePolo matter are to be filed next week.
Mr. Parry asked Mr. Morrisson if he had an update on the drafting of a Noise Ordinance for the Township. Mr. Morrisson replied that he would have a report for the Board at the February meeting.
Cell Tower – PECO Right-of-Way Agreement
Mr. Morrisson explained that a cell tower is in place on the municipal complex grounds and that this installation was deemed to be necessary to ensure that the cell coverage gap for the Schuylkill Elementary School, the YMCA, the Township municipal complex, and the surrounding areas would be resolved.
On a motion by Mrs. Cohen, seconded by Mr. Morrisson, and passed unanimously, the Board of Supervisors approved and accepted the December 16, 2014 PECO Energy Company (“PECO”) Right-of-Way Agreement (the “Agreement”) on P/O UPI: 27-6-49.2, sited at 111 Valley Park Road (“Site”) in the Township of Schuylkill, and agreed to grant to PECO for the sum of one dollar ($1.00) the full, free and uninterrupted right, liberty, privilege and authority to locate, relocate, install, renew, remove, replace, add to, operate, and maintain within the premises transmission and distribution facilities as stated in the Agreement to provide power to the cell tower on the Site.
Resolutions / Ordinances
Advertisement of Proposed Ordinance #2015-01: Participation in the PSATS Unemployment Compensation Group Trust
Mrs. Bird explained that the PSATS UC Trust was a municipal cooperative which allowed townships to pool resources and leverage buying power for unemployment insurance coverage. Mrs. Bird further explained that the Trust Agreement had been recently updated and it was necessary to formally agree to the revamped Agreement in the form of an enacted ordinance.
On a motion by Mrs. Majewski, seconded by Mr. Handforth, and passed unanimously, the Board approved the advertising of proposed Ordinance #2015-01 authorizing the participation of Schuylkill Township in the PSATS Unemployment Compensation Group Trust pursuant to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Law.
Subdivision / Land Development
Valley Forge Meadows Company Inc. (Nolen) Waiver Request from Section 504.A to Provide Sidewalks along Pawling Road
Motion. Mr. Parry moved to approve a waiver request from Valley Forge Meadows Company, Inc. (Nolen) from Section 504.A to provide sidewalks along Pawling Road for his land development plan for a seventy-two unit apartment complex. Mr. Handforth seconded the motion and Mr. Parry called for discussion from Board members.
Mr. Morrisson explained that the Valley Forge Meadows Company, Inc. has a preliminary land development plan for seventy-two apartments filed with the Township for which the developer/ owner had requested eleven (11) waivers. Mr. Morrisson went onto say that ten of the eleven waivers had been granted by the Board and the final waiver on sidewalks was being considered tonight.
Mrs. Cohen said that in lieu of a sidewalk along Pawling Road, she would like Mr. Nolen to provide a walking path on the Valley Forge Meadows, Inc. property for residents. Mrs. Cohen stated that trails were an asset to any community. Mr. Morrisson added that installation of a sidewalk along Pawling road would be very costly but a walking path parallel to Pawling Road is a feasible alternative. Further discussion ensued regarding connectivity to Valley Forge National Historic Park and integration of the proposed walking path into the Township’s Sidewalk Feasibility Study. Mr. Brennan advised that a suggestion for an on-site trail is ambiguous; the Board will be considering preliminary plan approval as the next agenda item and if the trail is not shown on the plan, Mr. Nolen does not have to install it. Mr. Brennan stated that the Board could discuss 1) granting the waiver for no sidewalk, 2) deny the waiver thereby requiring a sidewalk along Pawling Road, or 3) grant the waiver with conditions. Mr. Mauch addressed the Board with the comment that they could be talking about two separate transactions; the first being the land development plan and the second the possible conservation easement on a portion of the Nolen property with the trail being a component of the easement. Mr. Jim Nolen stated that he was completely confused at this point. He said that he thought he had made it clear he did not want a trail or path because of privacy considerations and neither did the neighboring community of The Meadows at Valley Forge (the “Meadows”) for the same reasons. Mr. Nolen went on to say that it appears that Mr. Morrisson wants a connection between the five miles of sidewalks in the Meadows to the front entrance of the proposed apartments. Mr. Nolen advised that he, Mr. Morrisson, Mr. Sartor, and Mr. Mauch spent a day walking the area for the proposed walking path, which has been put on a sketch plan, and he assumed all parties were in agreement; now it seems the Township is back to requesting a paved trail. Mr. Brennan advised the Board that the waiver from Section 504.A might be granted with the condition that a walking path be installed from the driveway of the apartment complex to Revolutionary Boulevard.
There being no further questions from the Board, Mr. Parry called for a vote on the motion to approve the requested waiver from Section 504.A. The motion was denied 3 to 2.
Motion. Mrs. Cohen moved to grant the waiver from Section 504.A to provide sidewalk(s) along Pawling Road with the condition that a paved walking path five feet (5’) wide be installed parallel to Pawling Road from the entrance of the proposed apartment complex to Revolutionary Boulevard as depicted and described on the exhibit titled Proposed Trail Location Plan (“Trail Plan”) presented to the Board of Supervisors on January 5, 2015. Mr. Morrisson seconded the motion.
Mr. Nolen said he was concerned about the safety and liability of a paved walking path; citing the dangers of all terrain vehicles and bicycles mixing with pedestrians. He stated he wants some kind of indemnification if he is required to install a paved path. Discussion followed on whether the proposed trail would be public or private.
Mrs. Majewski questioned the positioning of the trail on the Trail Plan and why it did not extend to Revolutionary Boulevard. Mr. John Diemer of Wilkinson & Associates, engineer for Mr. Nolen, explained that in order to extend to Revolutionary Boulevard, the trail would have to cross wetlands. Mrs. Majewski commented that the motion states the trail will extend to Revolutionary Boulevard but the Trail Plan does not show this terminating at that point. Mr. Brennan advised that the motion should be clarified or withdrawn.
Mr. Morrisson questioned the Township Engineer on whether the trail could be connected to Revolutionary Boulevard. Mr. Sartor said it could be connected by crossing a waterway and wetlands, which would entail permitting from DEP, or by terminating the trail at the deceleration lane for Revolutionary Boulevard. Mr. Handforth objected to having people use the deceleration lane as part of a walking path stating that it would put pedestrians at risk from traffic turning onto Revolutionary Boulevard. Mr. Sartor added that he did not think that PennDOT would approve a trail ending at a deceleration lane.
Mr. Parry called for a vote on the motion before the Board. Mr. Brennan advised the Board that he was uncertain about the trail length being proposed in the motion. Mrs. Majewski questioned whether the length of the proposed walking path/trail in the current motion was feasible.
Mrs. Cohen withdrew her motion.
Motion. Mrs. Cohen moved to grant the waiver from Section 504.A to provide sidewalk(s) along Pawling Road with the condition that a walk-able resource be provided by Valley Forge Meadows, Inc. to the residents of the proposed apartment community. Mr. Handforth asked to where this walk-able amenity would lead; Mrs. Cohen responded that at this point it could not be determined. The motion was not seconded.
Mrs. Bird suggested that the trail as shown on the exhibit Trail Plan could work if it looped back on itself at the western end.
Mrs. Majewski questioned the Solicitor on how specific the motion to grant the waiver must be; Mr. Brennan advised that a motion dealing with preliminary plan approval should be as specific and precise as possible. Mr. Morrisson asked if it could be refined during the final plan approval process; Mr. Brennan responded that if something is not written in the preliminary plan at this stage, the Township may not get it at a later date; once a preliminary plan is approved, the Township cannot, without cause, ask for major changes in the final plan.
Motion. Mrs. Majewski moved to grant the waiver requested by Valley Forge Meadows Company, Inc. from Section 504.A to provide sidewalk(s) along Pawling Road said waiver being conditioned upon the installation by the owner/developer of a walking path as described and shown on the Exhibit entitled Proposed Trail Location Plan dated December 6, 2014 depicting said walking path beginning at the western side of the proposed Conservation Drive and running westward generally paralleling Pawling Road and ultimately terminating with a loop turn-around located outside of the Pawling Road right-of-way just east of the cross culvert under Pawling Road where the watercourse begins. Mrs. Cohen seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Valley Forge Meadows Company Inc. (Nolen) Preliminary Land Development Plan Approval – Resolution No. 2015-05
At the request of the Chair, Mr. Brennan summarized Resolution #2015-05 which grants conditional preliminary land development approval for a proposed 72-unit apartment complex owned by Valley Forge Meadows Company, Inc. for the property identified as Chester County UPI # 27-6-1217.
On a motion by Mr. Parry, seconded by Mr. Handforth and passed, with Mrs. Cohen abstaining due to her concerns about the architectural design of the buildings, the Board of Supervisors approved and adopted Resolution No. 2015-05 granting conditional preliminary land development plan approval for a proposed 72-unit apartment complex on the property known as Chester County Uniform Parcel Identifier No. 27-6-1217 owned by Valley Forge Meadows Company, Inc. including a waiver from SALDO Section 504.1-concerning a sidewalk along Pawling Road; said waiver being conditioned upon the installation by the owner/developer of a walking path as described and shown on the Exhibit entitled Proposed Trail Location Plan dated December 6, 2014 depicting said walking path beginning at the western side of the proposed Conservation Drive and running westward generally paralleling Pawling Road and ultimately terminating with a loop turn-around located outside of the Pawling Road right-of-way just east of the cross culvert under Pawling Road where the watercourse begins.
Phoenixville Area School District (“PASD”) Early Learning Center/Elementary School Preliminary Plan – Resolution No. 2015-06
At the Chair’s invitation, Mr. Andrew Bellwoar, Special Counsel, Phoenixville Area School District, summarized the path taken by the PASD in seeking approval for the Early Learning Center preliminary land development plan (the “Plan”). Mr. Bellwoar said on December 17, 2014, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the Plan, the Plan complies with Township Zoning Ordinance, the Township Engineer, Gilmore & Associates, Inc., has recommended the Planning Commission move forward with sending the plan to the Board of Supervisors for action subject to the matters in the Gilmore & Associates, Inc. review letter of December 12, 2014. Mr. Bellwoar went on to say the Planning Commission recommended approval of 10 of 11 requested Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (“SALDO”) waivers, the Township Engineer recommended approval of 10 of 11 waivers. The PASD agrees and has withdrawn the waiver request for 310-311.C(14). Mr. Bellwoar requested the Board consider taking action on the Plan this evening.
Mr. Handforth questioned whether the waiver for 320-38.d(3), the requirement that there be no grading within 5 feet of a property line, extended all the way around the property. The PASD engineer responded that the waiver is applicable to areas between parcels owned by the PASD and along Pothouse Road.
Mr. Parry opened the floor to the audience for comments.
Ms. Donna Moetsch, 16 Meadowbrook Lane, addressed the Board on comments made at the Board of Supervisors meeting on December 3, 2014 regarding the ability of residents of Meadowbrook Lane to address issues which might come under conditional approval of the Plan. Ms. Moetsch brought the Board’s attention to the presentation given to the Planning Commission by the residents of Meadowbrook Lane and spoke to the points raised in the presentation. Ms. Moetsch requested that before making a decision on the Plan, the Board consider these points; specifically stormwater management, light and sound pollution and the number of athletic fields.
Mr. John Mraz, 24 Meadowbrook Lane, reiterated that the Meadowbrook Lane residents are not opposed to the school, but to what they perceive as a mega-campus with an estimated cost to taxpayers growing from about $50 million to about $100 million. Mr. Mraz expressed his and other Meadowbrook Lane residents’ dissatisfaction with the PASD plan approval process; stating that they were told there would be a time for residents to make suggestions but he and his neighbors do not feel that any of their suggested compromises have or will be taken into consideration. Mr. Mraz went on to say that he has questions regarding added cost of emergency services and/or evacuation plans for the proposed campus and questioned whether the PASD is paying any impact fees to the Township. Mr. Mraz said he felt there had been a lack of communication and residents were not given credibility. He restated that the issue is not the school but the playing fields.
Mr. Howard Brown, Esq., attorney for Pickering Glen Homeowners Association, requested the Board to consider his letter of January 5, 2015 in which he served notice of his entry of appearance in the matter of the PASD Early Learning Center/Elementary School land development plan on behalf of the Pickering Glen Homeowners Association. Mr. Brown said there had been a productive meeting with the PASD but he wanted to ensure that the issues raised in his letter are recognized and addressed with any preliminary plan approval, specifically traffic impact, stormwater management, and walking trail maintenance for the Pickering Glen Homeowners Association.
Mrs. Cohen commented that the response of January 5, 2015 from Siana, Bellwoar & McAndrews, PASD counsel, addressed the issues raised in Mr. Brown’s letter of the same date.
Mr. Peter Mercuri, President Pickering Glen HOA, commented it was his opinion that PASD was not listening to residents’ concerns. Mrs. Cohen responded that the school district has been responsible and responsive in this matter.
Mrs. Majewski asked the Township Solicitor if the resolution under consideration was the correct vehicle for addressing residents’ concerns and questions.
Mr. Brennan responded that by law, the Township must consider its Zoning Ordinance, Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance and the Municipal Planning Code when reviewing plans for approval, and relies on its Township Engineer to evaluate plans against these criteria. If a plan meets code and follows ordinance, the Township must approve the plan; if it doesn’t, the Township must deny the plan. The role of local government is to ensure plans are properly reviewed and approved, not to broker concessions between residents and builders. The question to be considered by the Board of Supervisors is does the PASD preliminary plan meet Township ordinance and code.
Bob Erb, 1214 S. Evergreen Drive, stated his support of the athletic fields included in PASD Early Learning Center/Elementary School plan and his opinion that the new school was needed because of the current overcrowding.
A resident of Pickering Glen commented that, in his opinion, the new school is not the issue but rather the six fields being proposed; specifically parking for events, lights, and public address systems.
Mrs. Kathleen Mraz, 24 Meadowbrook Lane stated that the issue for Meadowbrook Lane residents is the fields, not the school. She said compromises have been requested but not heard. Mrs. Mraz also mentioned safety concerns about walking trails mixed with sports fields.
Ms. Bernadine Clayton, 8 Meadowbrook Lane, asked the Board to consider approving the school and postpone inclusion of the fields in the preliminary plan approval. Mrs. Cohen responded that the plan should not be looked at in a piecemeal fashion; that the PASD plan was a better use of the land than a commercial development. Ms. Clayton stated her opinion that in passing the Public Facilities Zoning amendment, the Township gave the school district carte blanche in developing this plan.
Mr. Michael Smith, 102 Trotters Drive, expressed his concern that the dialogue between the PASD and residents of Meadowbrook Lane and Pickering Glen have not, from the residents’ perspective, sufficiently progressed, and it appears that residents’ concerns are not being sufficiently addressed by the PASD nor fully reviewed by the Board. Mr. Smith stated that it was within the discretion of the Board to postpone the preliminary plan approval in order to continue the dialogue between the Meadowbrook Lane and Pickering Glen residents and the PASD. Mr. Smith said that it is no one’s intention to scuttle the school project but rather that the project be completed with full and adequate consideration of all the issues in a measured fashion. Mr. Smith touched on the matter of the maintenance of the Pickering Glen trail; stating that the new school would increase foot traffic and, subsequently, maintenance cost. Mr. Smith then questioned whether the Township police force and the fire department have sufficient resources to handle the number of children expected to occupy the new school. Mr. Smith then asked if approval of the PASD plan might be premature at this stage.
Mrs. Cohen advised Mr. Smith that maintenance of the Pickering Glen trail is a separate issue from the PASD land development plan and should be addressed at a later date.
Mrs. Majewski said she was in agreement with Mr. Smith and that she was in favor of tabling plan approval to the next Board meeting.
Ms. Tessa Kahley, 1340 Veronica Lane, commented that residents feel their concerns are not being addressed; the issues are not just about whether ordinance requirements are met but whether residents, as stakeholders, have a part in decision making. Ms. Kahley stated that residents are trying to protect their quality of life and requested that the Board not act in haste. Ms. Kahley asked if the Board would consider approving just the school and postpone a decision regarding the playing fields.
Mr. Bellwoar responded generally by stating that the PASD could have proceeded with plans for the new school without the re-zoning of the property but that it was the opinion of the PASD, the Township, and the Chester County Planning Commission that the property should be a Public Facility Zone. Mr. Bellwoar further commented that the PASD has held numerous public meetings for residents. Mr. Bellwoar said the issue before the Board is does the Plan comply with Township Ordinances.
Several additional residents voiced their concerns about traffic, fields, and noise. Mrs. Majewski advised that residents should continue to work with the PASD. Mr. Brennan advised the Board that any concessions or deals the PASD may or may not agree to are not part of the plan approval.
Mrs. Cohen read out loud the conditions to be imposed upon the PASD preliminary plan approval under proposed Resolution No. 2015-06.
On a motion by Mrs. Cohen, seconded by Mrs. Majewski, and passed, with Mr. Handforth dissenting, the Board of Supervisors approved and adopted Resolution No. 2015-06 granting Conditional Preliminary Plan Approval for a Proposed Early Learning Center owned by the Phoenixville Area School District.