SWAN Newsletter #27
July 8, 2008
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS SPECIAL BUSINESS MEETING AND WORKSHOP SESSION
Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.
SPECIAL BUSINESS MEETING
The only item of business was action on construction bids for a group of street paving projects. The contract will include paving of the entrance drive and parking lots at George Park, roadway work at Blue Meadow Farms, and street paving at the Quail Hollow and Stoney Brook developments. The low bidder was Handwerk Site Contractors and they were awarded the contract in the amount of $999,042. This project cost was well below the township engineer’s estimate.
Bond Refunding Helen Billak, the township’s financial advisor, gave an update on the current bond market. She said that she was continuing to keep on top of any refunding opportunities and with present problems in the financial markets this was not the time to consider any changes. She stated that the township remains in good shape at this time. She has recently begun working with the firm of Raymond James and requested that the township consider appointing them as financial advisors. The board seemed agreeable to doing this and will vote on a necessary resolution at the next business meeting.
Arts Council Stan Smith from the Lower Paxton Township Arts Council outlined the council’s strategic plan for the near future. Ongoing events and activities include arts programs at the Friendship Center kids’ camp and with scout and church groups, the Variety Band, and art displays such as the recent one at the Chocolate Café. They are looking at other possible display locations such as the East Shore Library, and at other programs featuring township artists.
Paxtonia Fire Company Representatives of the fire company presented plans for an addition and alteration project at their building. The building is over thirty years old and the company needs more space. The township has given low interest loans to fire companies in the past for building projects and agreed to do the same for Paxtonia. The project is estimated to cost about $420,000. The company has no debt and has a growing membership.
Sportsman’s Golf Course Rezoning The previous extended effort to expand the Institutional Zone portion of this tract was unsuccessful but the supervisors had agreed to consider changing the portion of the property currently zoned Agricultural Residential to Low Density Residential. The property owner, Union Deposit Corporation, through Paul Mahoney and attorney Charles Zwally, has now stated that they would agree to this change but that they were not interested in again sponsoring any rezoning request and would not attend any more meetings on the matter. After discussion the majority of the Supervisors agreed that the township should sponsor such an amendment. They felt this would result in zoning for the portion of the parcel involved that would be more uniform with the present zoning of the adjacent developments in the area.
Residential Retirement Zoning Recent rezoning requests have highlighted the apparent problem that arises because the Institutional Zone is the only zone where a Residential Retirement Development project can be located. It was acknowledged that there is a fear factor when a necessary rezoning request is made that the resulting Institutional Zone could be a location for one of any number of allowed nonresidential uses.
During the promised discussion of this matter it was suggested that the zoning ordinance could be amended to allow RR developments as an overlay in all zones that now allow any residential use with allowable densities slightly higher than those for the underlying zone. Another suggestion was to create a new separate zone just for RR but that would require rezoning for any parcel not in the Institutional Zone and that would constitute spot zoning. The overlay approach appeared to be the better one. The main concern in amending the zoning ordinance seems to be to control resulting allowable densities. It was agreed that this matter would be discussed further at the next workshop meeting.
Paxtonia Township Manager George Wolfe made a presentation prepared by township staff concerning zoning in Paxtonia and the potential to encourage revitalization of the area through zoning amendments. The area under consideration is both sides of Jonestown Road from Route 22 east to the top of the hill beyond Nyes Road. The goal would be to improve the streetscape and encourage the upgrading of some of the properties and the development of others. Creating an entrance to George Park from Jonestown Road would be another important improvement. Without something been done he is concerned that the area could decline. The intent would be for improvements to be made without the use of any tax dollars. To do that there would probably need to be some zoning changes and some incentives created to encourage developers.
It was discussed that the Planning Commission is preparing a similar study of the Route 22 corridor as a possible Business Improvement District. Commissioners will be at the next Supervisors Workshop Meeting to review and discuss the two different efforts.
Emergency Services Mr. Wolfe reported that a recent amendment to the 2nd Class Township Code stated that the township shall be responsible to insure that emergency services are provided to the residents as the township deems necessary. This language is stronger than that which it replaced. Mr. Wolfe observed that we are moving closer to the requirement that fire and emergency medical services be provided directly by the municipality.
July 9, 2008
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.
4220 Linglestown Road – Preliminary/Final Subivision Plan #08-11 This subdivision request involves a 12.7 acre parcel of land to the north and west of the existing Sheetz store which is on the northwest corner of the intersection of Linglestown Road and Colonial Road. The plan shows the division of the tract into a 2.0 acre lot on the northeast corner of the tract facing Colonial Road and a 10.7 acre lot that is the remainder of the parcel.
A portion of the total tract is shown on the official map to be in the 100 year flood plane. The map has not been updated and is now incorrect so when this request was reviewed at the January meeting of the commission it was tabled until correct flood plane information could be shown. This is now in hand and the commissioners recommended approval of the request contingent upon the receipt of an official letter of flood plane map revision.
Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) of Dauphin County – Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan #08-11 This building is on a quarter acre lot at 16 South Mountain Road and the plan is to build a 1000 square foot one story office addition. In May 2008 the Zoning Hearing Board approved a hardship request for a number of variances related to parking requirements for this small office property. The commissioners expressed concern that if the building was sold a new business operation might suffer with inadequate parking but acknowledging the recent ZHB decision they recommended approval of the plan.
Southcentral EMS – Special Exception #08-02 This request is to locate an Emergency Services Station in a portion of the Evanoff Nicholas Company building at 1001 Peiffers Lane. The EMS’ closest station is on Poplar Street near the Paxtonia Fire House and they need a location near the interstate highway. The leased space will house two employees and one ambulance. The commissioners recommended that the Zoning Hearing Board approve this special exception.
4300 Devonshire Road Daycare – Special Exception #08-03 This building at the northeast corner of Colonial Road and Devonshire Road until recently was a medical office building which was a nonconforming use in the R-1 low density residential zone. The owner wants to use the building as a Child Day Care Center and is requesting a special exception to change the preexisting nonconforming use to accommodate this new use. By code this can be done if a Special Exception is approved by the Zoning Hearing Board. There will be no exterior construction at the site except for a fence around a new playground.
The center would handle 55 to 60 children and the primary concern is how the drop off and pick up traffic would be handled at this very busy and tight intersection. The owner stated that he expects that there will be less traffic than there was at the doctors’ office but that it would be mostly around the rush hours. The commissioners recommended that access to the site should be restricted to right in and right out on both Colonial Road and Devonshire Road. The commission voted to advise the Zoning Hearing Board that they found the change in use unobjectionable if the right in and right out traffic circulation was stipulated and was shown on the site plan that will be presented to the ZHB.
Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment The proposed text amendment involves the location of freestanding communication towers. Currently freestanding towers are only allowed in the conservation District and in the Industrial Districts and to provide adequate coverage to the township at least one additional tower is needed.
The amendment proposes to include them as a permitted use by Special Exception in the Low Density Residential District when they are part of a Public Utility Substation. There are currently five such substations in R-1 districts in the township and not all of them are large enough to meet the setback requirements in order to accommodate a freestanding tower.
The commissioners discussed whether or not all residential districts should be included and whether the approval should be by a Special Exception approved by the Zoning Hearing Board or by a Conditional Use approved by the Board of Supervisors. They felt that for now it should be limited to the R-1 Low Density Residential Zone and should be by a Special Exception. They voted to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the text amendment as presented.
July 15, 2008
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING
Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.
Arts Council Strategic Plan – Resolution #08-31 The Lower Paxton Township Arts Council has prepared a Strategy Plan for the years 2008 through 2010 outlining their plans and goals. Stan Smith representing the council presented a review of the plan to the supervisors at their June workshop session. The council’s activities include a wide variety of programs and displays throughout the year and they sponsor the summer concert series. The supervisors complemented the council for their ongoing work in the township and voted to adopt the plan as presented.
Public Works Department Strategic Plan – Resolution #08-32 The plan for organizational development prepared by employees within the township’s Public Works Department was discussed in its preliminary form at the May workshop session. The supervisors were impressed with its content at that time. It is similar in scope to plans developed by other township departments and includes a mission statement, a vision statement, and departmental procedures and goals. It has now been finalized and the supervisors voted to accept it.
Sale of Material at the Compost Facility – Resolution #08-33 Under the new trash hauling contract with Waste Management now in effect, which includes pick up of leaf waste from all residents, the quantity of material that will be delivered to the township’s compost facility will increase. This material is ground into “single grind woody waste” which, in addition to being available to residents at no cost, can now be sold to companies which will further processes it into mulch. The supervisors voted to authorize the sale of this material.
Huntleigh Development – Resolution #08-30 When this development was planned the developer set aside a 4.62 acre long narrow parcel of land along Nyes Run that was not suitable for residential use and was to be dedicated to the township. This resolution is for the township to formally accept that parcel to add to the park inventory. It could become a link in the Greenway Plan, which shows a possible nature trail along the run in this area.
July 21, 2008
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION WORKSHOP MEETING
Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.
This was the fourth and last in the series of meetings at which the commissioners worked to develop a presentation for the supervisors on the possibility of creating a Business Development District (BID) in the township. The purpose of such a district would be to make improvements within a designated area for the benefit of the businesses in that area. It would be created and operated as set forth in the state law and paid for by assessments of the businesses.
Previously the commissioners established the boundaries of the proposed district. The area consists of both sides of Route 22 from Colonial Road east to just beyond Mountain Road. This they considered to be the most promising location in the township for such a project because of the concentration of large and small retail outlets and businesses. They identify it as the “main street” of the township. They carefully reviewed the area property by property and established a detailed map showing every parcel of land to be included in the district. The law states that the district can contain only properties zoned commercial and “used for any for-profit activity involving trade and traffic, or commerce in general.”
At this meeting they reviewed the final map of the proposed district and formally approved it. They then formulated an outline of the power point presentation they will be making to the supervisors at a future workshop session. The Planning Commission was originally directed by the supervisors to prepare a study of a possible Business Development District in the township and this entire effort has gone into reporting their findings and recommendations to the supervisors. If the supervisors vote to proceed, the Planning Commission will proceed to the next steps which are to contact all property owners and lessees of property owners in the district, hold a public hearing, and prepare the very detailed preliminary plan as required by the law.
July 24, 2008
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD
Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.
Sears Express/Valvoline Sign – Docket No. 1247 This request is to be permitted to add a wall sign on the Sears Auto Center building next to the Sears store at the Colonial Park Mall. The sign ordinance allows only two wall signs on a single tenant building and restricts the size of each sign to 32 square feet. The proposal is to add a third sign that would be 45 square feet in size. This sign would replace the one identifying Jiffy Lube with one identifying Valvoline as the oil Sears now uses.
On review of the submission it was unclear how many wall signs are presently on the building. From the photos submitted it appears that there could be as many as six. The board members had no problem with the addition of the Valvoline sign if some of the other signs were removed. The township does not have a record of the existing signs. The board voted to continue the application until Sears provided an inventory of the size and location of the existing wall signs.
South Central Emergency Medical Services, Inc. – Special Exception #08-02 The request is to be allowed to open an Emergency Service Station for South Central EMS at 1001 Peiffers Lane in a portion of a building owned by Nicholas Evanoff Company. This use is allowed by Special Exception in the CG Commercial General district.
South Central EMS has their present station on Poplar Street but they want one at this location to provide faster response time in the southwestern part of the township, which is currently producing high call volume. The station would be manned by two people and would house one ambulance. There is adequate parking at this location and this operation would not have any negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood. The Planning Commission had previously recommended that the Zoning Hearing Board approve this Special Exception and they voted to do so.
4300 Devonshire Road – Special Exception #08-03 This building is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Devonshire and Colonial Roads. It was used as a medical office building, which was a non-conforming use in the R-1 Low Density Residential district. The request for a special exception is for it to be used to house a Day Care Center, which is not permitted in the R-1 zone and would also become a non-conforming use. The Planning Commission had recently voted to advise the Zoning Hearing Board that they found the traffic situation to be a serious problem but with the stipulation that traffic to and from the site be restricted to right in and right out they did not find the change in use objectionable.
The Zoning Hearing Board also expressed a major concern about the traffic situation at this very difficult intersection. Mr. Gary Grove, the applicant, who has had experience with other day care centers, stated that he thought this use would generate less traffic than the medical center had. The board felt strongly that this proposed use was not appropriate for this site and voted to deny the request.