November 21, 2006
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING
(7:30 – 8:15 PM)
Attended by Watson Fisher and Ted Robertson. Reported by Ted Robertson.
No items of significant interest to SWAN.
December 5, 2006
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING
(7:30 – 9:30 PM)
Attended by Eric Epstein, Mark Levine & Ted Robertson. Reported by Ted Robertson.
(Additional report & comments by Mark Levine to follow…)
Under public comment, Mark Levine stressed the need for road improvement in the township, and asked the Supervisors to retain the road width specifications mandated in the new zoning ordinance, particularly in new developments. Eric Epstein noted that the 5 radiation monitors have been delivered, and that 5 LP Twp. emergency personnel have been trained in their use.
Under old business, the Supervisors voted 5 – 0 to reject the low bid for facilities at Thomas B. George, Jr. Park. The bid was $200,000 over the engineers estimate. New bids will be solicited in 2007.
Under new business, the preliminary/final subdivision plan for Homestead at Colonial was very contentious. The Supervisors heard comments from staff and the developer, and were proceeding to a vote without public comment. Eric intervened, and after a brief discussion regarding legality, he was allowed to proceed. Eric presented SWAN’s valid objections to the project, which included lack of green space, and unenforceable 80/20% split on the age restriction, narrow roadways, inadequate overflow parking throughout the area, and general traffic safety concerns. For his efforts, Eric was called a “liar” by the part owner of the property. When the situation cooled, the Supervisors voted 3 -2 to pass the plan.
Comment: It is the writer’s opinion that the plan would have passed 5 – 0 before Eric’s comments. The plan presented tonight was different than the plan the Planning Commission approved, different from the plan presented at the prior workshop, and obviously still in a state of flux. It is extremely difficult to understand how three public entities, elected and appointed to look out for the public’s interest, could pass on such a plan. The plan presented tonight had 8 waivers, 4 site-specific comments, 6 general comments and 3 staff comments. Enough said.
The preliminary/final plan for Candlewood Suites involved significant changes with respect to traffic at the intersection of Lockwillow Road and North Mountain Road. PA DOT has ordered a dedicated, protected left turn lane on North Mountain Road to Lockwillow Road, and repositioning the yield sign to the south bound exit ramp from Mountain Road to Lockwillow Road. Mark Levine was successful in having a dumpster, located near residences at the rear of this property to a better location, at the northeast corner of the property.
The preliminary/final plan for Rosewood was passed 5 – 0. Eric presented SWAN’s reason for backing this plan. Ms. Molinari and Ms. Greenberg thanked Eric and SWAN for their support.
December 5, 2006
LOWER PAXTON BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING
(Additional report & comments by Mark Levine.)
I spoke addressed the Board, regarding that in the last 8 months, all subdivisions, presented to the Board and/or approved by the Board, to the best of my recollection, contained townhouses, with only three exceptions, one of which was an additional Phase of an approved overall development. I questioned the Board as to where we are heading is a community of townhouses, which is not what the tradition of the Township and reminded them that the R-1 zoning is one house per half acre and that this requirement is being thrown out the window and ignored. I also pointed out that under the Comprehensive Plan, the township will have aprox. two thousand more homes in the next ten years and that will obviously result in increased in traffic on our major streets. It was urged that consideration be made to encourage more through streets in developments, rather than looping streets and cul-de-sacs, since the standard street width in a development is 36 feet which is wider than most of our main arteries.
***The ‘Open Space’ provision under R-1 provides for denser housing.
(Personal comment: That is why I feel the formula for calculating acreage should include a deduction of land for wetlands, existing roadways, steep slopes and other land unsuitable for development. Additionally, we need the four houses per three acres zoning adopted).
***Narrow roadways slow down traffic.
(Personal note: Traffic control is an enforcement issue and should not detract from the quality of our streets).
***It’s very expensive to widen streets.
(Personal note: The point presented to the Board was for the Developer to install the through streets in the plan of the development, shifting the expense from the taxpayer to the Developer, creating new through streets and taking the traffic burden off of the existing narrow streets).
Under New Business:
The Board discussed the Preliminary/Final subdivision and land development plan for Homestead at Colonial, formerly Colonial Village (06-10). My notes consist of Wow and Double Wow (talk to Eric).
This measure passes, but with, I believe, two Nays (Bill Hornung and Bill Hawke).
(Personal note: Good for those two to have the foresight. Streets 8 ft narrower than Spec.; Sidewalks on only one side of the street; Streets that the developers representative testified that ’emergency vehicles could get around MOST streets’; The developer testified the housing will be 80 percent age restricted and 20 percent unrestricted age without explaining how this is to be enforced; Clustering permitted without any open space; A committal by the developer to install MORE off street parking spaces for overflow but not having the placement or committing to a number, therefore the plan did not reflect the final layout.)
(Additional personal note: I cannot continue without commenting on the diligence shown by Township Supervisor, Mr. Bill Seeds who went to several developments and physically measured the paved width of the streets, from curb to curb, noting the impact that the street widths had and that relationship to safe travel through those neighborhoods. He concluded that 32 ft street width was probably optimal. The meeting does not allow public comment after the initial place in the meeting schedule, but he certainly went the extra mile It should not go unrecognized.)
(Additional personal note: There was no provision for a thoroughfare easement to the property to the rear, west, of the property. With the developer owning the next property to the south and planning on purchasing the next property beyond that to the south, which abuts the new strip mall, He can effectively land-lock the property(s) to the west from access to Colonial Road, both in thoroughfares and utilities.)
Candlewood Suites (06-22) The Developer of this 93-room hotel suite will contribute $17,000.00 for installation of a left hand arrow for traffic going north on North Mountain Rd. to make the turn a controlled turn. Also the Yield sign will be relocated from the westbound entrance to Lockwillow Rd. from North Mountain Rd. to the southbound turn lane from North Mountain Rd. onto Lockwillow Rd. In addition, the timing of the lights for the cross traffic from Bluebird Ave to Lockwillow Rd will be changed from ‘G’ to ‘F’ to improve traffic flow.
I commented that the garbage dumpster location was discussed privately with the developers representative after the last meeting and that it’s location was agreed to be moved from near the neighboring residential side of the lot to the neighboring commercial side of the lot to move any foul odors and critters such as yellow jackets away from the back yards of the neighboring residents. I also stated that there were no objections by SWAN membership and it should be an asset to the township. The representative agreed to the move and the plan was approved unanimously.
Rosewood (06-26) was the next development discussed for Preliminary/Final Subdivision. Eric explained the close cooperation with SWAN and that we support them. The measure passed unanimously.
December 5, 2006
GREENWAY PLAN – LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP
Public Meeting No. 1
Attended & reported by Watson Fisher.
Almost five years ago a group consisting of township citizens and representatives from the township staff began to consider the possibility of developing a comprehensive plan to eventually provide greenways including hiking and bicycling trails throughout the township. Recently a decision was made to hire a consultant familiar with this type of project to do the necessary research and develop a township wide plan. Firms were interviewed and the Landscape Architectural Firm of Simone Collins was hired.
At this first meeting representatives of this firm were on hand to describe the steps they will be taking as the project develops. They also were able to gain input from the citizens and to answer questions. The first step will be a month long effort to gather as much information as they can about the township, its recreational facilities and needs, the existing parks, schools, green areas, road system, proposed developments, township zoning ordinance, provisions of the existing comprehensive plan, etc. As this “site reconnaissance” phase is going on opportunities can be identified for the possible locations of trails connecting existing parks and green spaces and for connections to trail systems in adjoining municipalities. An examination will be made regarding possible sources for funding for the different segments of the project.
Public Meeting No. 2 is scheduled for February 6, 2007 at which time the site reconnaissance phase will have been completed. A report will be made by the consultant, further input from the citizens and the township can be gathered, and the actual planning work can proceed. Further public meetings will be held as the planning work progresses. It is expected that about July 1, 2007, the greenway plan will be finalized including estimated costs for each segment of the project. After that funding sources will need to be finalized and a phased construction schedule established.
The consulting firm made a good presentation showing the various kinds of hiking, biking, and multi-use trails that can be constructed and discussed relative costs, safety features, concerns for wildlife habitats and natural corridors, environmental protection, possible handicapped accessibility requirements, etc. It was stated that the funding would need to include government grants, contributions from developers and other private sources, etc., and the project phasing would depend on the availability of funds, recognizing that some grants come with restrictions on how the funds are used.
It is the intent that the Greenway Plan will be a valuable tool for the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors in the overall planning process and may identify the need for possible changes or additions to the existing ordinances.
A group of about thirty citizens attended the meeting and most had an obvious interest in this project. The commitment has been made to do the planning but the next step of implementing the plan may be difficult and at best will be a long-range effort. It certainly falls within the areas of interest of SWAN.
December 12, 2006
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP SESSION
Attended & reported by Watson Fisher.
The meeting started with SWAN’s Mark Levine delivering a statement of concern to the supervisors regarding the importance of the direction the township will be taking during the next decades as the remaining open areas in the township are developed. He also stated that SWAN will continue to monitor and be involved in the ongoing development process.
The main order of business was a presentation by Mark and John DiSanto and their engineers regarding improvements Triple Crown, Inc. promised to make to Colonial Road as part of the Stray Winds Farm subdivision plan. They presented a detailed plan showing the slight widening of Colonial Road at the intersection with McIntosh Road to provide easier turning in all directions, the lowering of Colonial Road by approximately seven feet north of the intersection to achieve proper sight distances, the resultant required regrading of the driveways of three or four homes north of the intersection, the regrading of banks in front of up to ten homes north of the intersection, and the repaving of Colonial Road from McIntosh Road to Valley View Road.
Triple Crown hired HRG to develop this plan, which was the result of a traffic study, a speed study, and highway design parameters. The goal of the design was to provide a safe intersection with the minimum impact on the homes along Colonial Road. To do this, the design does provide adequate sight distances but does not include building dedicated turn lanes, which would require much greater encroachment onto the private property of the homeowners on both sides of Colonial Road. Triple Crown will be presenting the plan to PennDot shortly with the hopes that it will receive their approval. It was stated that the plan shown could be constructed with temporary grading easements but if PennDot should require turn lanes a revised plan would require additional more involved easements.
Triple Crown stated that they are standing by their previous commitment to rebuild this intersection. They will pay for the design work, the permitting, and all the construction except for the actual road paving, which they asked the township to pick up, and the relocation of underground and aboveground utilities in the public right-of-way, which it is understood will be done without charge by the utility companies. It was agreed that the township will prepare a resolution covering the mutual understanding regarding these financial responsibilities.
It was expected that the work would be done in 2008 or 2009, about a year after work was started on the Stray Winds Farm development. Penndot has on its schedule to do work on the Colonial Road Bridge over I-81 and it is possible that the two projects could be done at the same time to minimize the periods of road closure. It was recognized that detouring Colonial Road traffic will be a problem whenever any work is done.
Village of Linglestown
Township manager George Wolfe reported that finalization of the Linglestown Route 39 project plan is underway. The exact location of the new bypass connection to Blue Mountain Parkway is still being discussed with both the township and PennDot stating the more northerly option is preferred. Two adjacent homeowners continue to be at odds over the proposed road location. Some minor changes to on street and off street parking have been made after discussions with property owners on Linglestown Road. There is a desire to include more alley improvements in the project if possible. The design phase is almost complete except for an ongoing and seemingly unresolvable dispute with the Eagle Hotel on the square. There is apparently no forthcoming solution to this problem and litigation is expected.
In spite of the fact that the federal government authorized funding for this project, it appears that the funding might not be forthcoming if no formal appropriation legislation is passed. This of course would doom the entire project. It was stated that no matter what is promised without the actual appropriation measure funds will not be made available. It is hoped that the possibility of this happening is remote.
Mr. Wolfe reported that projections of the township’s General Fund balance indicate that there could be a shortfall in the 2009 time period. He indicated that available funds for the immediate future look good. Mr. Hawk reminded the board that the township has the lowest property tax rate of the “developed” townships in the county.
Dauphin County Comprehensive Plan
Mr. Hawk reported that he is on a committee to survey all forty municipalities in the county to see if each can state that their comprehensive plan is in general agreement with the county’s comp plan. This survey is just now underway.
A request had been made by Weis Markets to discuss at the workshop session zoning regulations as they may impact a proposed expansion of its facility on Linglestown Road. The request was withdrawn before the meeting. It appears existing site problems will make any expansion of this building very difficult.
PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP
December 13, 2006
Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.
4800 LINGLESTOWN ROAD – Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan #06-28 for a new 2 story office building on a 4.3 acre site on the north side of Linglestown Road across from the entrance to Colonial Country Club. There is an existing 3-story office building on the site with parking behind the building. The new 10,200 square foot building will be toward the rear of the site with the addition of 75 new parking spaces. An adequate landscaping buffer will screen the rear of the site from the adjacent residential area. All staff, county, and HRG comments have been addressed. The commission recommended approval of the plan and the requested waivers subject to the agreed to comments.
SCHIAVONI, LTD – Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan #06-36 for 36 town homes on a 5.1 acre tract zoned R-3 located on the west side of Crums Mill Road between the south side of I-81 and the Williamsburg Estates apartment complex. The parcel is narrow and steep which has made planning difficult. The plan has been revised since the last submission and was considered by the commissioners to be an improvement. All staff, county, and HRG comments have been addressed. The road into the development from Crums Mill Road is on the edge of the identified flood plain but there was no knowledge of the area ever actually being subject to flooding. The commission recommended approval of the plan and the 5 requested waivers subject to the agreed to comments.
SHEETZ CONVENIENCE STORE – Preliminary/Final Subdivision & Land Development Plan #06-38 for a new store, fueling station, and carwash on a 5.4 acre site at 6290 Allentown Blvd. which is on the north side of Allentown Blvd. just east of the Holy Name church and school on the corner of Blue Ribbon Avenue. The lot will be subdivided into a 2.5 acre lot for the store at the front and a 2.9 acre lot behind for the gas station and carwash. All staff, county, and HRG comments have been addressed. The commission recommended approval of the plan and the requested waivers subject to the agreed to comments.
SHADEBROOK – Master Plan #06-41 for a Traditional Neighborhood Development on an 86.8 acre parcel on the north side of Union Deposit Road, west of Nyes Road, and south of the Springford Village development which fronts on Locust Lane to the north, and adjacent on the northwest to the Dauphin County Vo-Tech School. Shadebrook will contain 354 housing units including apartments, town homes, duplexes, and single-family homes, and five commercial areas. Existing streets leading into and through the complex are Fairmont Drive, Cider Press Road, and Wheatfield Drive. The design team made a thorough power point presentation showing the overall plan, details of portions of the plan, renderings of various areas of the plan, and photographs of similar completed projects to show the proposed architecture of the development.
The master plan has been developed in conformance with the TND provisions in the new township ordinance. The commercial area with shops, offices, apartments, and parking will be at the center of the complex along Fairmont Drive and there will be an adjacent 5 plus acre park area, which will include the existing pond. Surrounding the town center will be town homes and duplexes with the large less dense areas of single-family homes toward the perimeter of the complex. There will be some linear open space areas between the homes and the edges of the development. Small “pocket” parks are shown interspersed throughout the development. It was stated that the plan contains 30% open space as required by the ordinance. There will be no surface detention ponds. Storm water runoff will be controlled underground.
The residential areas will feature tree lined streets, small front yards, front porches, and garages either in the rear of the houses accessible from alleys or from the street but set back from the fronts of the houses. The intent is to create a small town atmosphere with a neighborhood feel and to encourage pedestrian movement. Some of the houses front on green areas instead of streets. The street layout is intended to try to eliminate the appearance of long straight streets often found in residential developments and to keep vehicular speeds down. The streets and alleys have some turns that appear tight but the designers stated that the largest pieces of fire equipment can get to all areas.
The commercial buildings on Fairmont Drive will be two and three stories with shops on the first floor and offices and apartments above. Large parking areas will be located behind the buildings with only limited parking along the main street. Parking for residents of the apartments will be in designated areas in the lots.
The applicant submitted a packet outlining a review of their compliance with the applicable ordinances. They stated there were 7 waivers from the ordinance they felt they would need to request and listed them so they could receive a preliminary review by the commission as follows:
~ minimum street centerline radius
~ perpendicular or radial lot lines
~ maximum street grade 10 degrees – they need 14 degrees due to existing site conditions
~ minimum block length – they need the definition of a block, centerline or property line
~ alley alignment
~ dead end alleys
~ clear sight triangles – reduced due to low speeds and houses located closer to streets
The commissioners expressed general satisfaction with the master plan. They asked the design team if they felt the provisions in the new ordinance were reasonable and they said they did. The design team was asked who would maintain the parks and open areas and they said it would be done by the one or more homeowners’ associations. The commission was concerned about the phasing of the actual construction. The design team said it would be partly dependent on the installation of utilities but would begin with some residential areas near Union Deposit Road before work is started in the commercial areas. The commission requested that a preliminary phasing schedule be developed for the next submission.
The commission recommended approval of the master plan to be forwarded to the supervisors for their review at their meeting on January 16, 2007. With their approval preliminary plans should then be completed in two or three months.
December 14, 2006
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETING
Attended & reported by Watson Fisher.
There was only one item of business at this meeting that is of interest to SWAN. Preliminary plans will be formally presented to the township in the upcoming months for the Stray Winds Farm development and the Shadebrook development. When these plans are available they will be given to the township’s fire chiefs for their review to insure that these projects are designed to allow for adequate access by all emergency vehicles.