Su­per­vi­sors hire Bucks Plan­ning Com­mis­sion to up­date master plan

The Advance of Bucks County - - YARDLEY-MORRISVILLE AREA - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

LOWER jAhEFIELD - The board of su­per­vi­sors unan­i­mously voted to hire the Bucks County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion to help the town­ship up­date its 10-year master plan and out­line its goals for devel­op­ment and growth in the coming decade.

In a 5-0 vote at its jarch 6 meet­ing, the su­per­vi­sors agreed to spend no more than $20,000 set aside in Lower jake­field’s 2013 bud­get for the project.

Lynn Bush, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Bucks County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, told the su­per­vi­sors that the master plan “is a use­ful doc­u­ment to look at the town­ship in a com­pre­hen­sive way and where it will be in 10 years.”

Lower jake­field is 18.3 square miles and has a pop­u­la­tion of 32,559, ac­cord­ing to the 2010 U.S. Cen­sus.

The last time the master plan was up­dated was in 2003, at which time the town­ship sent a sur­vey to its res­i­dents.

“We got some good re­sponses then,” said Su­per­vi­sor Chair­man Pete Stainthorpe, who noted that this time the master plan just needs some tweak­ing, and will not re­quire as much work to com­pile as it did 10 years ago.

Although Stainthorpe ac­knowl­edged that “things have changed dras­ti­cally since 2003,” such as the down­turn in the U.S. econ­omy and the build out of Lower jake­field.

Ac­cord­ing to Bush, the master plan will cover emerg­ing is­sues, such as the ag­ing of both the town­ship’s pop­u­la­tion and hous­ing de­vel­op­ments, as well pend­ing trans­porta­tion is­sues, such as the I-95 Scud­der Falls Bridge project.

“It will also help the com­mu­nity work on eco­nomic is­sues,” Bush ex­plained, not­ing that the cost of com­pil­ing the eco­nomic devel­op­ment por­tion of the plan will be borne by the county.

“We’ll also look at the com­mon con­cerns of neigh­bor­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties,” she added.

Bush asked that all of Lower jake­field’s boards and com­mis­sion, not only the su­per­vi­sors, take part in the “brain­storm­ing.”

Su­per­vi­sor geff Benedetto said that he also wanted out­side groups pro­vid­ing in­put as well, such as the Penns­bury Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion (PAA) and the jake­field Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion (jWA), which have not been part of the master plan process in the past.

Zon­ing Hear­ing Board mem­ber gerry Gruen asked the su­per­vi­sors to also look at zon­ing is­sues, such as the in­stal­la­tion of so­lar pan­els and the cell phone providers use of so called “cell poles,” those minia­ture cell phone tow­ers which are placed on street lights and tele­phone poles which have caused con­tro­versy in neigh­bor­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Stainthorpe as­sured Gruen that the town­ship is al­ready look­ing into th­ese zon­ing is­sues.

Bush said that if all goes well, a new master plan could be fin­ished by the end of the year.

“This is an up­date ... T0 to 80 per­cent of the master plan is go­ing to re­main the same,” said Su­per­vi­sor hristin Tyler. “There’s not as much work and changes as in 2003.”

In zon­ing is­sues, the su­per­vi­sors ap­proved a con­tro­ver­sial sub­di­vi­sion at 110 Ov­ing­ton Road in the town­ship’s Westover sec­tion, an older devel­op­ment which was built in the 1940s along the Delaware Canal and lo­cated off of vard­ley-jor­risville Road.

In a 4-1 vote, with Su­per­vi­sor Benedetto ob­ject­ing, the board ap­proved six land-use vari­ances so that a home could be built on the sub­di­vided par­cel on the dead-end street.

Sev­eral neigh­bors had ob­jected to the pro­posed sub­di­vi­sion, ar­gu­ing that it would af­fect the area’s open space and de­crease their prop­erty val­ues.

Although vot­ing to ap­prove the land devel­op­ment, Chair­man Stainthorpe said that he was dis­pleased by the way the sit­u­a­tion was han­dled over the last sev­eral years.

“I do feel that there has been de­cep­tion,” he said, “and I don’t agree with the way the house is be­ing shoe­horned into the prop­erty.”

But he ac­knowl­edged that the ap­pli­cant has fol­lowed all the town­ship’s or­di­nances in seek­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate waivers.

“There are pri­vate prop­erty rights in this coun­try,” Stainthorpe re­minded the au­di­ence, “and peo­ple have a right to use their prop­erty.”

Su­per­vi­sor Dan jcLaugh­lin agreed, say­ing, “I can’t see my­self not ap­prov­ing this be­cause peo­ple don’t like aes­thet­ics.”

“We have a right to de­velop our prop­erty,” he said.

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