The Schuylkill Township Planning Commission held their regularly scheduled meeting at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at the Township hall. Members of the Planning Commission present were Mr. Morris Quigg, Mr. Eric Rahe, Mr. Michael Bauer, Mr. Curt English and Mr. Mark Donovan. Mr. Reading was absent from the meeting. Mr. Quigg chaired the meeting. Mr. Fred Parry and Mr. Jim Morrisson from the Board of Supervisors were present at the meeting as well as Mr. Bob Cooney from the Open Space Commission.
On motion by Mr. Rahe and seconded by Mr. English, and passed, the Planning Commission approved the minutes of July 19, 2017. There was no meeting in August.
Valley Forge Crossing - Valley Forge Conference Center-Senior Residences – Mr. Peter Monaghan of the Endeavor Property Group (EPG) came before the Planning Commission with a concept plan presentation for the former approximately 50 acre National Christian Conference Center now owned by the University of Valley Forge (UVF). The property is currently zoned Residential – R-1.
Mr. Lou Colagreco, representing EPG, advised that the development of the property would be a continuing care retirement community that would include independent, assisted living and personal care type living along with townhomes, carriage homes and apartment “villages” located on the property. No retail is proposed for the site. Mr. Colagreco stated that the concept plan has not substantially changed since EPG presentation to the commission in July 2016. He stated however that this concept plan shows 22 acres of open space. The previous concept plan only showed 13 acres as conserved.
Mr. Colagreco stated that there is a total of 345 living units which is 80 units less than the plan presented in 2016. There are proposed trails within the open space area that will provide access to the Schuylkill River Trail. He advised that the current 20’ wide entrance for the property will be maintained for emergency purposes. A new entrance is planned to the west of the current entrance. A signalized entrance is not proposed. There will be no access through Flintlock Lane.
The green space shown on the concept plan near the Flintlock Lane cul-de-sac between townhome buildings is due to the fact that there is an underground water/sewer utility easement. Stormwater management may be contained in the developable area of the site. Mr. Colagreco stated that the townhomes are similar to the Pulte development “Traditions@ Longwood”.
Traffic Planning and Design (TPD), the developer’s traffic engineer, has engaged PennDOT early on with a scoping application that outlines preliminarily what the developer wishes to do. TPD will develop a traffic study that will incorporate the Township Engineer’s comments and PennDOT’s comments to the scoping application. The developer will need to provide right and left turn lanes to the site. The traffic study will include the following intersections: Country Club/Route 23; Flintlock Lane/Route 23; Eastgate Drive/Route 23 and Valley Park Road/Route 23.
Mr. Colagreco advised that discussion this evening concerned whether a development of this type fits and is there a demand for such a development. He stated that with a zoning change application there will be a financial analysis. He advised that the Township could see a tax gain of $29,000 with this type of development.
Mr. Quigg questioned where the medical facilities would be. Mr. Monaghan stated that the facilities would be in the existing buildings. He stated that there will be 85-100 full care and assisted living residents. Mr. Rahe commented that there seemed to be an abundance of parking. Mr. Colagreco stated that parking may be able to be reduced. Mr. Donovan questioned the height of the townhomes. Mr. Colagreco stated that they would not be higher than the 35’ as allowed by ordinance. Mr. Quigg questioned if the trails would be paved. Mr. Colagreco stated that it is an open issue but that it may make sense to pave a trail in this type of community. Mr. Monaghan advised that he would prefer paved trails. Mr. English questioned travel times with employees of the medical facility versus peak hours. Mr. Colagreco stated that with a community of this type, there is less impact on peak hour traffic and less traffic in general than what a single-family development would generate.
Mr. Colagreco stated that the developer has over the past year analyzed the financial implication of dropping 80 units. He advised that the Township has very strict environmental ordinances and the environmental features of the site needed to be analyzed as well. Mr. Colagreco stated that they are hoping that the road improvements may help with traffic on Route 23.
A resident of Flintlock Lane was concerned that the proposed townhomes are too close to the backyards of Flintlock Lane residents. Another resident of Flintlock Lane was concerned with property values. Mr. Cooney of Lockview Lane stated that not one person in the area likes this plan or a zoning change to allow this type of development. He questioned if the developer was trying to maximize the value of the property. Mr. Colagreco advised that the developer is a for-profit entity. Mr. Cooney stated that this is not a property that is appropriate for a zoning change. Mr. Colagreco stated that it is a legislative process. He advised that the law encourages applicants to discuss with individual Board and commission members the possible development of a property outside of a public process.
Mr. Keith Wickstrom of Flintlock Lane stated that moving the access to the proposed development closer to Flintlock Lane exacerbates the existing ingress/egress problem with Flintlock Lane that occurs during rush hour. He stated that there is no buffer that could hide the wall of townhomes from Flintlock Lane residents. Another resident of Flintlock Lane stated that this was not a good plan – traffic, lighting and 24/7 facility – does not fit with the surrounding developments. A resident stated that there is a lot of stormwater that drains from the UVF property down Flintlock Lane. The developer’s engineer stated that stormwater management should not be a contributing factor since when development occurs stormwater must remain on the site.
Mr. Monaghan stated that the development is designed as a rental community except for the townhomes. He advised that the townhomes would be marketed at around $450,000. Mr. Bauer questioned what the density would be if the property were to be developed under the current R-1 zoning and asked if the Township Engineer could provide that information.
Mr. Colagreco advised that the next steps are: 1) submit official application for zoning change; 2) application goes to the Planning Commission and Chester County Planning Commission for review; and 3) ask for a hearing before the Board of Supervisors.
Amateur Radio Support Structures Ordinance – A draft of a “ham” radio structures ordinance was introduced to the Planning Commission. The ordinance is modeled after an ordinance that was adopted by Tredyffrin Township. Mr. Parry stated that the ordinance is too strict specifically with the historic resource protection standards. The ordinance will be discussed at the next Planning Commission meeting.
Land Planning Consultant – Mr. Morrisson stated that he feels the Township needs the assistance of a land planner in trying to protect open space. He stated that if the Open Space Commission is unable to get property owners of sizeable lots to place a conservation easement for open space on their properties, the Township could conserve open space through an ordinance that would provide for open space should a property owner want to develop that property. Mr. Morrisson stated that the ordinance would incentivizes the developer/landowner to conserve acreage. He advised that the current ordinance that only conserves a portion of properties that are over 100 acres is weak. The proposed ordinance would be an overlay cluster-type development ordinance that would allow for density but also achieve the provision for open space.
Mr. Morrisson stated that an interview committee consisting of Board members Mrs. Majewski and himself, and the Township Manager need a volunteer for this temporary committee from the Planning Commission and the Open Space Commission. Mr. Rahe volunteered. Mr. Bauer questioned if the developer would be subsidized for the open space. Mr. Morrisson stated that they would not since the trade-off is higher density development in the developable area.
There being no business for discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m.
Mary R. Bird
Next Meeting: September 20, 2017.