PLANNING COMMISSION LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP
REGULAR MEETING JULY 21, 2020
The following were in ATTENDANCE:
|PLANNING COMMISSION:||TOWNSHIP PERSONNEL:|
|Brett McCreary, Chairman
|Daniel Flint, P.E., Township Engineer
John Eby, Building and Zoning Coordinator
Steve Hoffman, Cumberland County Planning
Thomas Kutz, Commissioner
Tina Thomas, Recording Secretary
Mr. McCreary, Chairman, called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm. He announced that Proof of Publication was available.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Mr. BASHORE moved to approve the minutes from the June 16, 2020 regular meeting. Mr. CLOVSKY seconded the motion. Motion carried 6-0.
SLD Docket No. 2020-10: Land Development Plan for McDonald’s Remodel Proposed construction of a 297 square foot addition to McDonald’s, located at 1014 Wesley Drive. Mr. Flint provided an orientation on the overhead projector of where the McDonald’s restaurant is located. He noted that although it has a Wesley Drive address, it faces Woodland Street. They are proposing a remodel/ renovation.
Mr. Tom Schlegel, an attorney with Fitzpatrick, Lentz, & Bubba introduced himself and Joe Sparone, project engineer with Dynamic Engineering. Mr. Sparone talked about how McDonald’s restaurants are all being remodeled nationwide with interior and exterior updates. Mr. Sparone said there will be façade improvements as well as renovations to the customer areas and new kiosks planned for self-service. The renovation to the dining area will include a 297 square foot addition on the south side of the building. It will go from 36 to 42 seats. Mr. Sparone said that café style seating will be included as well as the layout accommodating current ADA requirements and building codes. Another change noted is that the drive thru will become a side by side style with a double order point. Mr. Sparone noted that this will require expansion of the rear parking area to the north to make room for the double drive thru. He said that curb lines stay the same and parking remains at 32 spaces.
Mr. Flint noted that the parking calculations required approval from the Zoning Hearing Board which was granted. He said that most comments relating to the Land Development plan were minor in nature and have been addressed with the exception of the requirement for a sidewalk along the Wesley Drive frontage. There is currently sidewalk along Woodland Street but not Wesley which was pointed out during the Ped/Bike Committee connectivity studies as being desirable to have.
Mr. Steve Hoffman said that the Cumberland County Planning Department did not have any major comments. He pointed out that the parking requirements are said to be approved by variance in one place and then by special exception in another. This was done by special exception.
Applicant Response to Sidewalk Requirement
Mr. Sparone spoke about requesting a waiver for the sidewalk requirement. He noted that the existing sidewalk along Woodland Street connects to sidewalk at the rear of the property. He said that putting in a sidewalk along Wesley Drive would be difficult due to the existence of a wide detention basin between the parking and the right-of-way. Road signs are also a factor there. Mr. Sparone said that since this is state owned right-of-way, different permits would be required. There are no other roadway improvements planned in that area with this project.
Commission Member Questions and Comments
Mr. McCreary reminded the applicant that as part of the waiver, the Township can come back and require the applicant to install a sidewalk or curbs later. He sees people walking on the street in that area because there are no sidewalks to use. There is also a bus stop located there. Mr. Wickenheiser asked if the detention basin is part of stormwater management but he was told it is a swale owned by PennDOT. Mr. Clovsky asked if the project will affect truck travel to Century Drive. Mr. Flint said that this is not anticipated as there is a wide shoulder in that location.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant the waiver from the requirement to install sidewalk along street frontage. Mr. CLOVSKY seconded it. Motion carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant approval for the Land Development Plan for the McDonald’s at 1014 Wesley Drive. Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion and the motion carried 6-0.
SLD Docket No. 2020-05: Subdivision Plan for Arcona Phase 8.1 Proposed development of a new phase in the Arcona Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) consisting of 130 dwelling units: 35 single-family detached units and 95 single-family attached units.
Mr. Flint pointed out the sections of Arcona that were going to be discussed at tonight’s meeting as being north and west of the railroad, and south and west of Rossmoyne Road. He said there has been a change on the plan from last month from 125 dwelling units to 130 total dwelling units. This is proposed to be made up of 35 single-family detached units and 95 single-family attached homes.
Anthony Faranda-Diedrich from Charter Homes introduced himself as well as Charlie Courtney, Dave Kegerize, and Craig Mellott. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said that they have been working through the comments provided to them by the Township relating to emergency access and street configurations. He said there is not much change to the layout except for in the center of the plan. Two public Township streets are planned to go through the neighborhood down to the southern end. Alleys were eliminated where there were tight turns which made room for an additional townhouse building and the additional five units. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said that the open space area plan has not changed.
Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said he would address two items received yesterday in a comment letter from Mr. Flint.
- First is the comment that has to do with deferred improvements that have not yet been completed. He said that in the Highpoint Phase, curbing along Arcona and Lisburn Roads has not yet been installed. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said that some curbing was installed with the roundabout projects but they need to work out stormwater impacts from continuing the curbing with the Township. Once this is resolved, the curbing will be completed.
- Second is the walking distance to the core neighborhood within the TND. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said that most of the homes in Phase 8 are within a 2,000 foot walking distance if a person walked on a path across the railroad and walked down to where Spring Gate is located. On the western end of the neighborhood, it is more than a 2,000 foot walking distance. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said that core neighborhoods will be developed closer to this section on the other side of the railroad.
Mr. Flint said the deferred improvements in the Highpoint phases were to be done within five years. The five year period expired in 2019. Another year has gone by since this was brought to the attention of Charter Homes. The Township wants to see that the curbing is done. As for the 2,000 feet walking distance, Mr. Flint said that any part of the core neighborhood must be built as part of the phase to be counted, and planning a core neighborhood doesn’t equal building one. Mr. Flint said that as far as comments relating to emergency vehicle access and street layout, he has met with the fire department and reviewed the turning templates with them. He is satisfied that they know the layout now. Mr. Flint said that hardscape next to street was mentioned as this is used for vehicle access. He mentioned that the access from Rossmoyne Road is still unknown since permit applications and plans have not been submitted to PennDOT. He anticipates only one full access point being permitted by PennDOT, and possibly a second emergency access. This is important as it determines the layout of streets in relation to Rossmoyne Road. Mr. Flint noted that the Park and Recreation Board did review the plan at their June meeting and will be formalizing comments.
Mr. Hoffman commented that the County only sees the original plans, not any revisions. He said he feels that his previous concerns have been addressed.
Commission Member Questions and Comments
Mr. McCreary asked Mr. Faranda-Diedrich about Mr. Flint’s comment that Charter Homes has not submitted information to PennDOT regarding the access from Rossmoyne Road. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said that they had a scoping meeting with PennDOT about the access and intersections that would be created. He said that the access furthest west would be an emergency access only; PennDOT wants to limit the number of driveways onto Rossmoyne Road. Mr. McCreary asked Mr. Faranda-Diedrich about the deferred curbing project. He said that Charter will finish adding the curbing to Arcona and Lisburn Roads this year, as soon as they can get clarification regarding stormwater. He noted that the Township is holding the Financial Security for the curbing.
Craig Mellott introduced himself and said he is with Traffic Planning and Design, who is doing the transportation impact study for the project. He said they have begun the PennDOT process with the scoping and PennDOT had no issues with the proposed primary entrance. The western entrance will most likely be granted as an emergency only gated entrance. Mr. Mellott said that a formal traffic study will be completed next, then design plans prepared, and a Highway Occupancy Permit obtained.
Mr. Logan asked if the final wearing course will be applied to the roads in previous phases this year including fixing the crumbling inlets. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said that Charter is preparing a list of repairs that need to be made in anticipation of paving this year.
Mr. Logan also asked how many off-street parking spaces will be created with the proposed 130 housing units. Mr. Flint said that 63 additional spaces will be created, although some will be on-street parking. This is above the minimum required. This works out to approximately one space for every two units, in addition to the two-car garages.
Mr. Clovsky asked if an ambulance can get through with on street parking. Mr. Flint said that if vehicles are parked legally, there is room. He also said that the alleys are being created with more width than in the Highpoint phase. Mr. Clovsky also expressed his concerns that vehicles will park in the streets by the new businesses and cause emergency vehicles to have trouble getting in.
Mr. Faranda-Diedrich stated that quantitatively, there is not a parking problem in Arcona. The issue is getting people to places where they can park. He said this has been a problem in the past as things have been built. Charter is planning a comprehensive signage and wayfinding program to inform people where to park. The neighborhood association is responsible for enforcement of the rules. Mr. Clovsky asked what authority the HOA would have for parking enforcement. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich replied that since these are private streets, the association maintains them and enforces the rules. They can have a vehicle towed if it is parked where it is not supposed to be. Mr. Clovsky asked what the Township’s responsibility is. Mr. Flint said that police can ticket vehicles parked illegally on the public streets or on the private streets if they are signed as fire lanes. Mr. Logan commented that there are currently no homeowners on the HOA, just members of Charter Homes. This is typical while neighborhoods are still being built. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich responded that the HOA currently uses a management company to manage the area.
Mr. Wickenheiser asked Mr. Flint about potential impact from the change in percentage of grade increases. Mr. Flint said that this is part of the ordinance due to winter driving and 4% is specified. The request is for 5% grade and this would not make much of a difference.
Mr. Kutz asked if there will be parking allowed at the farmhouse and barn. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said that the farm is on its own 6 acre parcel. Currently the plan is not to develop around the barn or farmstead. It is primarily going to be a walking destination.
Mr. Clovsky inquired about the 3rd roundabout. Mr. Mellott said that it is anticipated to be at Strong Road when conditions warrant it being built. The level of traffic delay on Strong and Rossmoyne Roads is still way below the threshold for needing a roundabout.
Sarah Lewis, 3208 Shultz Place, asked Mr. Faranda-Diedrich about the 2,000 foot extension he had mentioned. He replied that as the neighborhood builds out toward Rossmoyne Road and the Turnpike, it will consist of more office and retail spaces. He explained that this is considered Core Neighborhood.
Mr. Clovsky asked if the modifications could be tabled until the curbing is completed. Mr. Courtney, of McNees, Wallace, & Nurick, said that the plan and waivers go together. He said that the curbing issue will be done and that issue will be resolved.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant the waiver from the requirement to submit a preliminary plan. Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion and it carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant the waiver from the requirement that all lots have street frontage and access to a street. Mr. Flint explained that they can have frontage in an alley as long as it is 22 feet in width. Mr. BASHORE seconded the motion and it carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to approve the modification of the requirement to provide sidewalks along street frontage, to allow pedestrian access to be provided as shown on the plan. Mr. CLOVSKY seconded the motion and it carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant the waiver from the requirement that the PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit (HOP) be issued prior to recording the plan, contingent upon review and concurrence with the scope of improvements and the location and type of access by PennDOT. Mr. CLOVSKY seconded the motion and it carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant modification of the requirement that street grades not exceed 4% within 60 feet of an intersection, to allow:
- A grade of 5.50% on Wayland Road at Rossmoyne Road and at Eckford Park.
- A grade of 5.19% on Wayland Road at Lesher Drive.
- A grade of 5.00% on Parade Street at Eckford Park.
- A grade of 5.63% on Eckford Park at Wayland Road, Parade Street and Eckford Park.
Mr. BASHORE seconded the motion and it carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant modification of the requirement that intersections of local streets be offset by a minimum of 150 feet, to allow an offset distance of 90 feet for the intersections of:
- Eckford Park and Parade Street with Eckford Park.
- Egreton Road and Revival Drive with Parade Street.
Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion and it carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant modification of curb construction requirements to allow construction of Belgian block curb in lieu of concrete. Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion and the motion carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant modification of the Fee in Lieu of Recreation Land ordinance requirements to allow payment of fees at the time that construction permits are issued, rather than prior to plan recording. Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion and the motion carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to grant approval for the Subdivision and Land Development Plan for Arcona Phase 8.1, contingent upon satisfaction of County and Township comments. Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion and the motion carried 6-0.
Mr. Eby commented to the audience that the Planning Commission is a recommending body and the actions that were just made will be presented to the Board of Commissioners. They approve the waivers and plans.
Proposed Revision of Parking Requirements within the TND
Mr. Courtney explained that proposed amendment to the parking requirements has three main parts: an adjustment to the required parking for apartments within TND’s, or Traditional Neighborhood Developments, changes to commercial parking to create a shopping center, and then a change to allow for parking to be provided within 1000 feet (the ordinance specifies 600 feet.). Mr. Courtney said that when the apartments were built, 600 parking spaces were required and built: 564 based on the zoning ordinance and 36 for the club house. The ordinance includes a phrase that says the minimum requirement for any building is two spaces per residential unit; even if one bedroom apartments are only counted as one parking space. There is a 112 space parking lot beside Spring Gate and the coffeehouse. Mr. Courtney said that there are many spaces at the apartment complex that will never be used. He referred to parking counts which were performed during peak hours of restaurant operation which came to 1.09 spaces per unit, and at the apartments at night which showed a parking rate of 1.3 The Institute of Transportations Engineers (ITE) parking manual says 1.3 spaces per unit is acceptable. Mr. Courtney said that the amendment would allow Charter Homes to use the extra apartment parking spaces as overflow for Spring Gate and the pizza shop.
Mr. Faranda-Diedrich provided an example on the overhead of the five kinds of signs that are planned: Directional signs will direct guests from the restaurant to the overflow parking in Arcona Strand. Strong Road will also have a sign directing people to parking for the restaurants. Another sign will restrict the onstreet parking that is around the green to residents and their guests only. The other two signs relate to parking in residential areas; no parking in alleys, and homeowner and guest parking only in available spaces.
Mr. Courtney said that the biggest change is that in a TND, a one bedroom apartment gets one space and two bedrooms get two spaces. This brings the required number of required parking from 654 spaces to 507 spaces.
As for the commercial space parking, Mr. Courtney said in the ordinance, parking is based on square foot of floor area in the shopping center. This makes changing tenants easier because everyone is subject to the same parking requirements. Currently, there is no uniformity and parking requirements change with the tenants. Mr. Courtney is proposing a more uniform parking standard for the TND Commercial Core Center. He said that Spring Gate is based on the number of seats.
Thirdly, Mr. Courtney proposed changing the 600 foot distance requirement to 1000 feet. He mentioned that adequate signage is planned.
Zoning Officer Comments
Mr. John Eby, Building and Zoning Coordinator, offered his comments on the amendment. He said that the 112 space parking lot is currently enough for Spring Gate and the coffee and pizza shops. He added that, if approved, 64 spaces would be freed up for use in the Strand Apartments. Mr. Eby said that Spring Gate would like to move from 174 seats to 300 seats, or 126 more seats. This would use all of the extra spaces in the Strand Apartments. He pointed out that this leaves no buffer for an event. Mr. Courtney said that the extra parking is intended to accommodate peak use at Spring Gate such as for an event. Mr. Eby said that if Spring Gate were to expand in the future, there would be no extra parking available for an event. Mr. Eby said that basing the parking spaces on the commercial floor space makes sense for the Core Neighborhood. Restaurants tend to be more heavily used by vehicles as non-residents come in for them. Mr. Eby spoke about his memo that highlighted seven items of change. Mr. Courtney said that the numbers that parking spaces on based on are conservative. Mr. Eby spoke about the current code requirement being one space per 200 square feet of commercial space. Changing the requirement to 1/250 would be equal to the requirement for small shopping centers.
Mr. Steven Hoffman explained how he checked the numbers for the proposed one parking space per 66 square feet by estimating the areas of various restaurants and dividing by 66. He then counted the number of parking spaces for these buildings. He found most municipalities in the County area based on one spot for 50 square feet. He feels that 1 space for 66 square feet is reasonable.
Commission Member Questions and Comments
Mr. McCreary asked when Spring Gate is anticipated to be open and Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said by the end of summer. Mr. McCreary asked if Spring Gate could provide parking attendants on weekends as this is probably going to be the busiest time. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said this has been discussed with Spring Gate.
Mr. Eby spoke about the proposed pathway from the parking area to the restaurant and that it would be maintained by the HOA. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich said that there is an 8 foot wide path along Strong Road and it will be maintained by the HOA. Mr. Logan asked if people will be permitted to park on Strong Road and he was told that they will not be able to. He also asked if the current parking spaces along Ruth Way along the green space will be dedicated to residents. Mr. Courtney said that currently they are allocated to Highpoint 1.4 to meet parking requirements, but with approval of the amendment they can be designated for residents.
Mr. Logan asked about the new development ratio of one excess parking space per two units. He said that currently in Chelsea there are 42 units and 6 extra spaces, which is a ratio of 1:7. He said that residents were led to believe they could park places that they are now being ticketed for parking in.
Rachita Agarwal, 3223 Ruth Way, asked if the pathway to the excess parking area would be lighted. She was told that it would be.
Susan McVie, 1437 Woolford Way, spoke about being in favor of the signs. She said that parking is dismal and she cannot have company due to lack of parking. She is concerned that with Spring Gate opening up, people will park in the neighborhood to get to the restaurant.
Deb Henson, 1435 Woolford Way, also expressed frustration with the parking situation. She said the extra six spaces are never available. She had been told it was okay to park parallel to her garage but now that it is not okay. She had not received the information that parking in the alleys is prohibited. She asked about the peak parking counts and if they were done on weekdays or weekends.
Courtney Castle, 3220 Dunlap Lane, spoke about living in Arcona Strand apartments. She does not feel a one bedroom apartment should be allocated one spot and wondered if the spots are going to be numbered. She is afraid that she will lose her parking spot to traffic from Spring Gate and asked Charter not to build the additional townhomes that are proposed behind the coffee shop.
Heidi Roeder, 1431 Woolford Way, said that the six extra spaces for 42 units in Chelsea is not adequate for extra parking.
Adin Kenes, 1423 Woolford Way, spoke about the failure of Charter Homes to provide parking for Chelsea and to communicate with the residents. He does not feel that he can trust their plans for future phases.
Sara Lewis, 3208 Shultz Place, expressed displeasure about parking on Strong Road being taken away and their overflow parking becoming required parking if Spring Gate enlarges. She said that the people selling the homes do not provide an honest portrayal of the parking situation and that she does not receive communication from the HOA. Ms. Lewis suggested that residents could use window tags but someone would have to monitor who is parking where.
Mr. Eby said that if the amendment revision is approved for Spring Gate, more parking places will be required. He said that his opinion to the Planning Commission is that there is a failure to sign things properly at Arcona and a failure to communicate with the residents. Approving the amendment will not solve the problems. He also told the audience that Monday 7/27, there will be a public hearing on this matter with the Board of Commissioners. Recommendations from the Planning Commission and County will be provided at that time.
Mr. Blackwell requested a formal drawing of the signs that will be proposed as well as details regarding the lighting on the access pathway. He was told that could be provided.
Mr. Eby noted that the Development Authority has already voted in favor of changing the parking requirement for restaurants from one space per 30 square feet of Gross Floor Area (GFA) to one spot per 66 square feet GFA. He provided a letter stating such.
Mr. McCreary spoke about Mr. Courtney and Mr. Faranda-Diedrich, and said they will listen and try to work with the residents. Mr. Wickenheiser feels that there is a disconnect between the development side and the operations side. Mr. Faranda-Diedrich agreed that it is a struggle and he plans to get in touch with the residents.
Mr. Logan asked if there is a way to change the rule about guests of residents not parking in front of garages.
Mr. Eby said that the Planning Commission should render a decision before the public hearing.
Additional discussion ensued among the Commission members and Mr. Eby.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to add the definition of a TND Commercial Core Center. Mr. BASHORE seconded the motion and the motion carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to approve expanding the distance limit for required parking spaces from the principal use generating the parking need from the general 600’ limit to 1000’ if in a TND, and if 3 conditions are met for alerting the public about the availability and location of the additional parking spaces, and providing an adequate pedestrian walking route.
Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion and it carried 6-0. Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to change the existing fast food establishment parking requirement from 1 space per 30 square feet Gross Floor Area to 1/66 sq. ft. GFA. Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion and it carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved not to approve the elimination of the default parking space requirement of two parking spaces per dwelling unit if an apartment complex is located in a TND. Mr. CLOVSKY seconded the motion and the motion carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to add a parking requirement for an apartment complex rental office and Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion. The motion carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to add a clubhouse parking requirement and Mr. BLACKWELL seconded the motion. The motion carried 6-0.
Mr. WICKENHEISER moved to provide new minimum parking standards that apply only to a TND Commercial Core Center. Mr. BASHORE seconded the motion and the motion carried 6-0. Mr. Flint noted that no new plans have been submitted for next month’s meeting.
The regular meeting of the Planning Commission adjourned at 9:15 pm.