SWAN Newsletter #11
February 27, 2007
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP AUTHORITY BOARD MEETING
Attended by Bill Oakland and Shelly Kunkel. Reported by Shelly Kunkel.
Aside from the formalities and a decision to levy a $15 fee per settlement for establishing new account ownership (!) when RE is transferred by sale within the township, the following were the highlights:
1. An easement agreement has been brokered with the Vartan Group to secure a sewer easement at the Oakhurst interceptor. The fee paid by LP to Vartan for the easement was $131,625.
2. In Devon Manor, a “Research and Development” project is ongoing whereby LP is replacing sewer traps and sump pumps in selected homes. 2 have been completed and a 3rd is being negotiated. LP had previously identified that approx. 20 homes in Devon Manor each were contributing 3,000 gallons /house I&I during flood times, with 10 homes being the worst offenders. Discussion was held about keeping the townships costs as low as possible for the work.
3. Paxton Creek update – There was lengthy discussion about the status of the 2007 June deadline for LP to satisfy their DEP consent order. LP must come up with a proposed solution to the I&I problems and has been considering 3 options: Reaching agreement with Harrisburg to pass more flow down to the city for treatment, storage of LP’s overflow somewhere within the township, and treatment within the township. The latter option has been tagged by CET engineering as the most expensive. Previously LP and Susquehanna had been working in tandem on this goal b/c the sewer flows from LP to Susquehanna and then on to the City of Harrisburg. In a series of events called “bizarre” by the CET engineer in attendance (discussion of newspaper article), Susquehanna has elected to pursue an independent parallel inquiry about their sewer options with another engineering firm (HRG/Bob Grubic). Susquehanna will now independently commission a 537 Plan to determine their options, just as Lower Paxton is doing with its own engineers. Ideally, HRG will present Susquehanna with the same options that LP has already determined to be available. And HRG may even suggest the Commerce Park site to Susquehanna Authority as the optimal place to locate a storage facility. If Susquehanna is given the same answer from their engineers as LP has been given, hopes are high that the Commerce Park solution will prevail. (LP is further advanced in this process b/c they have been working under a June 07 deadline for several years, Susquehanna will have to “get up to speed on the issues.”). Discussion among Authority members indicates that the Susquehanna Authority board members are sympathetic to the LP issues and the preference to “work together”, however there is a political overlay with the Susq. Commissioners that cannot be ignored. LP Authority consensus was Susq.Commissioners will be politically able to endorse/embrace a joint venture if HRG comes back with the same findings as CET has for LP. A duplicate report (albeit at duplicate costs to taxpayers) would take the politicians off the hook for an unpopular decision.
4. Alternately, if Susquehanna and LP engineers differ on their recommendations, then LP is faced with a “go it alone” strategy. Discussion was had about the wisdom of the $600,000 purchase of the lot in Commerce Park, and Norm Hoffer opined that it is a good investment and that the township will not regret the purchase. That purchase was intended to accommodate I&I for BOTH townships. IF LP pursues an independent solution, less land would be necessary for the project. Bill Weaver, Authority Manager, suggested the township look at the last remaining lot in Commerce Park – opposite Kunkel driveway – as a possible site for the LP only storage facility.
5. With the June 07 deadline looming, DEP has indicated that it will accept a “plan of intent” from LP in June – and DEP will hold off on the approval process, giving an additional 90 days for Susquehanna’s 537 Plan to be completed. So it appears that the June deadline is soft.
6. Randy Hearst (?), Esq. has been retained as “special counsel” to assist Steve Stine in the Lower Paxton Creek issue.
7. LP is arranging a meeting with Lee MacDonald (?) of the Hbg. Sewer Authority – to be preceded by a letter drafted by CET engineering and signed by Bill Hawk arguing the complexities of sewer flow from LP through Susquehanna to the City.
Next Authority meeting is on 4/27.
March 6, 2007
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
(7:40 -7:55 PM)
Reported & attended by Ted Robertson.
Under the Manager’s report, George Wolfe announced that breakfast with the Easter Bunny would take place Saturday, March 31, 2007. Reservations are required. On Saturday, April 7, 2007, the Easter egg hunt and extravaganza will take place at 1:00 PM. Call Parks & Recreation for details.
Under old business, five appointments were made to the Parks & Recreation Board.
Under new business, the preliminary/final subdivision plan for 1525 Blue Mountain Parkway was approved unanimously. This involved four lots on 10.29 acres. The Planning Module for 4000 Linglestown Road, Autumn View, which involves 18 town homes, was approved unanimously.
David Blain announced that all but one of the 70+/- entities involved with the Capital Tax collection had filed to have the Bureau explain the apparent deficiency in distributions in taxes collected by the Bureau.
March 8, 2007
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETING (7:00 -8:05 PM)
Reported and attended by Ted Robertson.
Under old business much of the discussion concerned the approval of the Capital Funding Plan Phase III. This was discussed in an earlier Township Supervisor’s meeting. It was interesting to note that from the time of approval by the Supervisors until the vehicles will be put in service will be 18 months to 2 years.
The March 13 workshop meeting will be delayed in order to allow more time for preparation.
The discussion of fire apparatus access roads raised some interesting points. This involves any road, cul-de-sac, turnaround, or dead end primarily in developments, and other than main thoro-fares. There are specifications in the national fire code concerning the above. It became obvious, during this discussion that the fire-chiefs were not happy with the variances granted by Staff and the Planning Commission over their objections to violations of the code specifications proposed by the developers/builders. It was felt, by those attending, that the Supervisors would “rubber stamp” any variances proposed by the Staff and Planning Commission.
Another point that needs clarification: When, in the process of a project development, is the Public Safety Committee supposed to see the plans for the project? Is there anything in the Township Code that defines this? I raised this question in a Public Safety Committee meeting almost a year ago, and didn’t receive a clear answer. In fact, one of the fire chiefs has stopped submitting comments to Staff because he felt they were being ignored.
In my opinion, the above issue requires the following:
1.) A clear definition of responsibility for actions at definite time frames during the course of development of a project.
2.) If any objections are raised with respect to code or township ordinances, those objections should be made a matter of record. And the reasons for granting variances over these objections should also be made a matter of record.
3.) I believe the national fire code also requires that a certified fire department official must sign off on every development plan.
4.) This further strengthens the need for a professional planner in the township.
March 13, 2007
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP MEETING
(7:30 – 9:35 PM)
Attended by Watson Fisher, Mark Levine & Ted Robertson. Reported by Ted Robertson.
Much of the workshop session involved various items under the jurisdiction of Parks and Recreation. Supervisor Bill Hornung suggested at an earlier meeting that the township try to get local participation in the development of the skate board facility in George Park. The goal is to have 1/2 of the total funds ($250,000) be provided by the public. This project should be successful as a result of an excellent presentation on the part of those involved.
Another item of interest suggested by the Arts Council, was the creation of an LP Twp variety band. The retired director of the C.D. High School Band has expressed an interest in leading such an endeavor.
Under Item 5, it was suggested that the property at 6500 Union Deposit Road (19 acres), zoned AR under the new zoning ordinance be covered by a green space overlay. The present Act 537 sanitary sewer plan does not allow for sanitary sewer on land zoned AR. An amendment to Act 537 would have to be submitted. The Supervisors seemed somewhat agreeable to this idea since the sewer system is in the adjacent development.
Under Item 7 the Paxtonia area was suggested as a possible area for the Business Improvements District. This would extend eastward from Route 22, Old Jonestown Road split roughly to Mountain Road.
March 14, 2007
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
(7:00 – 9:20 PM)
Attended by Eric Epstein, Watson Fisher, Mark Levine, Loren Barisch, Ben Chotiner, Eileen Hurley, Betty Miller, Darwin Aurand & Ted Robertson. Reported by Ted Robertson.
The Planning Commission approved the preliminary subdivision and land development plan for Stray Winds Farm at the previously agreed to 449 units, with all the other conditions SWAN negotiated with Triple Crown Corporation. Eric Epstein thanked the representatives of Triple Crown for their good faith efforts in arriving at a development plan believed to be in the best interests for all parties.
The rezoning request for Lawrence C. Conjar’s property at 6500 Union Deposit Road was approved by a 4-3 vote. Some details of this property are covered in the previous Supervisors Workshop session of March 13, 2007. The plan would include 18 units on 19+ acres. Mark Levine indicated to the Planning Commission that the Supervisors were somewhat favorable to the green space overlay to the AR zoning with an amendment to the Act 537 sanitary sewer plan.
The preliminary/final subdivision plan #06-46 was approved unanimously for this same property. This was simply a request to join the two lots presently making up this property into one.
The final subdivision plan 07-03 for phase 2 of Chelsey Falls was approved with two additional lots acquired since the preliminary plan was approved.
The resubmission of the preliminary/final land development plan 07-04 was approved. This resubmission was made necessary by the developer/builder’s failure to respond within the 15-day time limit from the initial approval of the plan.
March 14, 2007
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
Attended by Eric Epstein, Ted Robertson, Mark Levine, Eileen Hurley, Darwin Aurand, Betty Miller, Ben Chotiner, Loren Barisch and Watson Fisher. Reported by Watson Fisher.
GREENWAY COMMTTEE REPORT – Mr. Chris Johnson gave a brief update on the continuing activities of the township’s Greenway Committee. Mr. Johnson reported that the committee and the consultants are working together to develop a Master Plan to guide the township in the creation of a network of green spaces and hiking and biking trails. The plan will identify existing corridors that could become trails, green spaces that can be preserved, and other opportunities for recreational spaces in the township. It will also address possible new township ordinances that could assist in the creation of these facilities. The plan is intended to be realistic in its scope and to recognize the need to minimize any impact on private property. It will become a guide for planning groups including the Planning Commission in the creation and preservation of green spaces as development continues in the township. The next public meeting on this project is scheduled for 7:30 PM, Tuesday April 3, 2007, at the township building.
STRAY WINDS FARM – Preliminary Subdivision & Land development Plan #06-42 This project was presented and tabled at the January commission meeting. The site for this project encompasses the large open area surrounding the intersection of Crums Mill Road and McIntosh Road. It contains 243 acres in Lower Paxton Township zoned R-C Residential Cluster and has been approved for 449 housing units. With the addition of the portion in Susquehanna Township it contains 303 acres and is planned to have 523 housing units. There is a legal challenge to the Zoning Hearing Board’s approval of 449 units in Lower Paxton Township and that legal matter remains unresolved. Any township action on this plan is of course contingent on the successful resolution of the legal action.
Engineer Bob Fisher reported that the staff, HRG, and county comments have been or are being addressed and resolved. Staff engineer Jim Snyder said he recommended approval of the ten waivers that were requested by the developer. Mr. Fisher noted that the project will be reviewed by the Susquehanna Township officials at their meeting in April. SWAN’s chairman Eric Epstein spoke to thank Triple Crown, the developer, for their cooperation with SWAN over the course of the design process in order to incorporate a variety of significant plan changes and improvements that had been suggested including open space, buffers, and road improvements.
Plans for Crums Mill Road and McIntosh Road, which traverse the development, were discussed. Mr. Fisher stated that because of the existing slopes of the shoulders and the proximity of trees to the roads it would be difficult to widen them more than a few feet on each side. They will be reconfiguring the dangerous intersection of Crums Mill and McIntosh and correcting the oververtical condition on Crums Mill Road as well as revamping the intersection at McIntosh and Colonial Roads. The need to widen Paxton Church Road was also mentioned.
The commission requested that curbing be installed at the Crums Mill McIntosh Road intersection and at the new intersections in the development to better define them for safety reasons. It was agreed that planting areas would be allowed in cul-de-sacs and at entrance drives if their maintenance was clearly stated to be the responsibility of a homeowners’ association. The suggestion was made that now is the time to consider the incorporation of greenway trails in the development before the planning process gets too far along.
The commission recommended approval of this plan including the ten waiver requests and all the comments but is contingent upon the resolution of the outstanding legal appeal.
LAWRENCE W. CONJAR – Rezoning Request. This request was to rezone two adjacent parcels of land totaling 19 acres at 6500 Union Deposit Road from AR Agricultural Residential to Open Space Overly District. The plan, with the requested rezoning, is for 18 half-acre residential lots with the balance of the acreage remaining open space owned by a homeowners’ association. This plan would result in the preservation of much of the existing woodlands. The overlay district would require the lots to be served by public sewers involving an amendment to the Act 537 plan. Without this rezoning the resultant plan would consist of approximately 7 large building lots with on site sewerage treatment. SWAN’s Mark Levine spoke in favor of the zoning change stating that the supervisors indicated a preference for sewer connections over on site sewage disposal. The builder reviewed the parcel’s history, it having been previously zoned R-1 and it being adjacent to a development zoned R-1. It is the desire of the owner to maintain the wooded areas as much as possible.
The commission by a 4-3 vote recommended approval of the zoning change subject to the necessary amendment to Act 537 and a legally enforceable provision to preserve the unused woodlands in common ownership.
LAWRENCE W. CONJAR – Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan #06-46 With the recommended approval of the above zoning request for the two adjacent parcels at 6500 Union Deposit Road, this submission is to combine the two properties into a single parcel totaling 19 acres. The applicant had no objections to the staff, HRG, and county comments. The waiver request to eliminate the requirement for sidewalks and curbs was amended to require curbing along Union Deposit Road.
The commission recommended approval of the lot consolidation plan subject to the comments.
TNP CARWASH – Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan #07-02 This project is located on a 2 acre lot at the intersection of Briarsdale Road and Peiffers Lane which is zoned CG General Commercial. All comments had been received but there had not been enough time for the engineer to review them in detail. As a result the plan was tabled until next month’s meeting.
CHELSEY FALLS, PHASE 2 – Final Subdivision plan #07-03 This project consists of 19 single family dwellings on a 14.5 acre tract on the south side of Goose Valley Road at the intersection of Fairway Lane. There are 6 waiver requests and these were approved at the time of the preliminary submission. Concern was raised for an existing storm water problem and a dangerous drop off along the road near this intersection, both of which remain from the Phase 1 construction of this development.
The commission recommended approval of this submission contingent upon the resolution of the remaining Phase 1 issues.
4800 LINGLESTOWN ROAD – Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan #07-04 This project for a new 2 story office building on a 4.3 acre site on the north side of Linglestown Road was approved by the Planning Commission at their December 13, 2006 meeting. After notification of the approval the applicant did not acknowledge same within the required 15 days necessitating this resubmission.
The commission recommended approval of this resubmission.
March 20, 2007
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING
(7:30 -8:20 PM)
Attended by Watson Fisher & Ted Robertson. Reported by Ted Robertson. (Chairman Hawke was absent.)
Under old business, a letter of understanding between the Township and the Freedom Group for the development of a skate park in Thomas B. George Park was approved unanimously. Details of this project were covered in the report on the prior workshop meeting of March 13, 2007.
Under new business contracts for cleaning services at the Municipal Center, the Friendship Center, and the Public Works & Sewer operations buildings were approved.
The preliminary/final subdivision plan for Russell J. Cluk Enterprises was approved unanimously. This involves 4 lots on 18.1 acres south of Commerce Drive and west of Crums Mill Road. This is zoned business campus under the new zoning ordinance. No immediate development is anticipated.
The preliminary/final land development plan for additions and renovations to the Dauphin County Technical School was approved unanimously. It was stated that an increase of only 25 students is expected since only one new program is being added. There was a concern expressed about increased traffic on Locust Lane and the intersection at Fairmount Drive and Nyes Road.
The preliminary/final land development plan for 4800 Linglestown Road was approved unanimously. This project was covered in the report on the Planning Commission Meeting of March 14, 2007.
The preliminary/final land development for 5710 Union Deposit Road was approved unanimously. This involves 8 lots on 4.68 acres north of Union Deposit Road.
The planning module for the Blue Mountain Parkway subdivision plan was approved unanimously.
March 22, 2007
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD
(7:00 -8:45 PM)
Attended and reported by Ted Robertson.
Docket #1227 – The application for a free standing sign by Members 1st Federal Credit Union at 1021 Briarsdale Road (South of Union Deposit Road, near Route 83) was denied. The requested sign exceeded the height specified for this commercially zoned district. The no vote was unanimous.
Docket #1228 – The variance request for the freestanding sign for Hartman Motorcars was tabled for a future meeting. The variance request for the directional signs and the wall signs was approved.
March 26, 2007
SUSQUEHANNA WATER GAP COALITION MEETING
Attended and reported by Darwin Aurand.
Background: The Susquehanna Water Gap Coalition is a newly organized group of local residents and affected environmental groups that have mutual interest in local development activities, and in protecting the natural resources of the Susquehanna River Gap (parameters yet to be defined). Since this group has only met twice, has no incorporation status or officers; the group is attempting to establish goals and related mission statement and objectives as part of their agenda. At present it is a loose confederation of people with like minded environmental objectives that seem willing to help others as they deal with development activities absent a formal organization structure.
March 26, 2007 Meeting:
Two individuals, Paul Zeph (DEP), and Cliff Dillman have voluntarily agreed to “co-chair” meetings until such time as the group becomes more formally organized. While many meeting participants have affiliations with such groups as Audubon, Sierra, and DEP, these individuals were not officially representing these organizations. Debra Bowman, who provided the group with status on many development related activities, officially represented the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy. Also present were several individuals representing Cove Mountain Partnership (similar SWAN interests), Cindy Stein of the Paxton Creek Watershed, Penn Twp. Zoning Hearing Board, Marysville Boro Planning Board, Keystone Trails Assn., and the Susquehanna Trails Assn. There was also individual representation from Greg Burgdorf, a professional geologist. My list might not be all-inclusive since many individuals were attending their first meeting.
Meeting participants: Cliff Dillman, Paul Zeph, David Ertel, Ben Reed, Michael and Donna Lomma, Debra Bowman, Greg Burgdorf, Brian Foster, Darwin Aurand, Cindy Stein, and others not yet published in the meeting minutes.
Pinpointed areas of Focus:
1.Cove Mountain proposed development (a planning grant has been applied for
through DEP & DCNR to assess Cove Mtn. hydrology)
2.Marysville deadline to conduct engineering/development proposal
3.Rockville Mountain proposed development
4.Second Mountain proposed development
5.Stony Mountain proposed development impacts from Pa. Guard proposal
6.Peters Mountain (Hbg. Authority Wind Energy Project) environmental
7.McCormick’s Island sale and potential development. (Mayor Reed is entertaining bids from a myriad of potential buyers that might involve casino development, a developer with background in staging archery hunts for wild game on the island, and then conservation groups, whose interest is to preserve the island as is). The group is presently evaluating all deeds and prior owners to ascertain possible legal strategies for the ultimate owner.
Informal objectives/working goals (these are not in any prioritized order):
1. One of the key objectives for the group will be environmental advocacy and education.
2. Some participants have had some experience in activists roles, and it was discussed that ideas to help influence development approaches could/would be discussed to develop strategy.
3. Various liaison outreach groups could be contacted to provide communications with external environmental organizations and groups.
4. Endeavor to try to upgrade local ordinances
5. Protection of natural resources, rivers, and valley lands localized to the Susquehanna River within Dauphin County (precise scope not yet defined)
6. Serve as a clearinghouse and network for developments and other threats
7. Unite or coordinate groups’ efforts to protect or save key environment
8. Help citizens take appropriate action to protect resources of the Susquehanna Gap.
Overall, this is a group of very interested and environmentally active participants that has not yet gotten structured and organized, but are very committed to trying to develop some strategies and resources to help review and oversee local development.
Next meeting tentatively scheduled for April 23, 2007, 6 p.m.
March 27, 2007
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS/PLANNING COMMISSION WORKSHOP MEETING
(5:30 – 7:50 PM)
Attended and reported by Ted Robertson.
The Greenway Committee gave a brief review of the current status of the work of the group. The last public meeting will be held April 3, 2007. The committee expects a final draft of the plans to be presented to the Supervisors in late June.
Under old business, amendments to the new zoning ordinance and to the new zoning maps were discussed. Since the Supervisors, and members of the Planning Commission, and the developers/builders involved were the only ones having copies of those amendments making it to his point, members of the public (SWAN) could offer no input at this stage.
The same was true of the proposed subdivision and land development ordinance (SALDO). After pointed questions by the public in attendance, Mr. Wolfe assured everyone that once a final draft is agreed to, copies of the final draft will be made available to the public, hopefully before the mandated 30 day notice is printed in the local newspaper. Another meeting concerning SALDO is planned for April 24, 2007 at 5:30 PM.
The Supervisors requested the Planning Commission to look into the need for the designation of business improvement districts within the Township. The Planning Commission agreed to do this.
SWAN will have to be on the lookout for any public notification concerning the above subject.