Sellersville sends draft or­di­nances to county

News-Herald (Perkasie, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Thomas Celona

Sellersville plan­ners have been hard at work to elim­i­nate loop­holes and erase ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties for years, and their ef­forts are now one ma­jor step closer to pay­ing off.

Sellersville Bor­ough Coun­cil ap­proved send­ing draft amend­ments to both the bor­ough’s zon­ing and sub­di­vi­sion and land de­vel­op­ment or­di­nances to the Bucks County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion for re­view at its Aug. 13 meet­ing.

The pro­posed changes to the bor­ough’s or­di­nances are the re­sult of years of dis­cus­sion at the plan­ning com­mis­sion level.

“For sev­eral years, the plan­ning com­mis­sion has been look­ing at a num­ber of dif­fer­ent is­sues,” bor­ough So­lic­i­tor Ran­dall White said, not­ing the con­ver­sa­tion be­gan when the bor­ough en­coun­tered an is­sue with its park­ing re­quire­ments on a par­tic­u­lar de­vel­op­ment.

“What started off as park­ing spa­ces turned into many other dis­cus­sions along the way,” Bor­ough Man­ager David Rivet said.

The re­vi­sions pri­mar­ily cover re­quire­ments for pro­vid­ing notice to

res­i­dents, park­ing and trans­porta­tion im­pact stud­ies, which White and Ch­eryleen Strothers, of Cowan As­so­ci­ates, the bor­ough’s en­gi­neerLQJ fiUP, GLVFUVVHG DW WKH meet­ing.

7KH fiUVW PDMRU SURSRVHG change would be to re­quire de­vel­op­ers to give notice to neigh­bor­ing res­i­dents about pro­posed sub­di­vi­sion or land de­vel­op­ment plans.

While this is com­mon pro­ce­dure in many mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, it’s not on the books cur­rently in Sellersville, ac­cord­ing to White.

“There’s been no pro­ce­dure for that,” he said. “The plan­ning com­mis­sion felt it would be bet­ter to hear those voices ear­lier in the process.”

An­other pro­posed change cov­ers the is­sue that ini­tially prompted the plan­ning com­mis­sion’s re­view: park­ing re­quire­ments.

Cur­rently, bor­ough or­di­nances re­quire res­i­den­tial ar­eas to have at least two spa­ces per dwelling unit, ac­cord­ing to White. Un­der the pro­posed amend­ments, the park­ing re­quire­ment would re­main at two spots per unit in the zon­ing or­di­nance, but DQ DGGLWLRQDO RVHUflRW VSDFH would be re­quired per dwelling unit for sub­di­vi­sion and land de­vel­op­ment plans.

“It only ap­plies to ma­jor developments,” Strothers said of the re­quire­ment for a third park­ing spot, not­ing LQ-fiOO ORWV DOUHDGY ZRQHG DV res­i­den­tial would only have to have two.

The draft amend­ment also VSHFL­fiHV WKHUH WKH RVHUflRW park­ing can be in res­i­den­tial developments, along with es­tab­lish­ing di­men­sions for D JDUDJH WKDW TUDOL­fiHV DV D park­ing space, ac­cord­ing to Strothers.

By putting the re­quire­ment for the third spot in the sub­di­vi­sion and land devel- op­ment or­di­nance and not the zon­ing or­di­nance, the bor­ough leaves it open for the plan­ning com­mis­sion to rec­om­mend a waiver, which would have to be ap­proved by coun­cil, ac­cord­ing to White.

7KH fiQDO PDMRU FKDQJH would be the re­quire­ment for a trans­porta­tion im­pact study for all sub­di­vi­sion and land de­vel­op­ment plans.

“Sellersville Bor­ough has had a no­tice­able ab­sence of D UHTULUHPHQW IRU D WUDI­fiF study,” White said, not­ing the draft or­di­nance not only re­quires one but sets the cri­te­ria for what must be stud­ied.

An­other part of the pro­posed amend­ments is the adGLWLRQ RI D GH­fiQLWLRQ IRU FRQ­do­minium, which is lack­ing in the cur­rent or­di­nances.

“It’s a sub­tle change to close up a loop­hole we had there,” Strothers said.

The law re­quires the draft amend­ments to now go be­fore the Bucks County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion for re- view. The com­mis­sion will then send them back to the bor­ough with any com­ments and coun­cil must hold a pub­lic hear­ing on the amend­ments be­fore po­ten­tial adoption.

White said the bor­ough is hop­ing to get the amend­ments ap­proved be­fore the end of the year.

In other busi­ness, coun­cil ap­proved a deal that looks to yield $9,000 for lit­tle to no work on the bor­ough’s part.

The coun­cil ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion to al­low Black Oaks Prop­er­ties to bor­row $3.8 mil­lion through the Sellersville In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Author­ity.

The IDA, which the bor­ough formed ap­prox­i­mately eight years ago, “acts as a ve­hi­cle to lower bor­row­ing costs in cer­tain ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly man­u­fac­tur­ing,” White said.

A bank en­ters into an agree­ment with the IDA, which in turn en­ters into an agree­ment with the man­u­fac­turer, ac­cord­ing to White. By of­fer­ing the loan to a gov­ern­ment en­tity, the bank saves money on taxes and is able to of­fer a lower in­ter­est rate, which the IDA passes on to the com­pany.

In this case, the IDA is work­ing on a loan from Univest for Black Oak Prop­er­ties, which owns the Chant Engi­neer­ing build­ing in New Bri­tain Bor­ough, ac­cord­ing to White.

“7KHY DUH UH­fiQDQFLQJ D cou­ple mil­lion dol­lars of debt from a cou­ple years ago,” he said, not­ing they also are bor­row­ing $1.6 mil­lion to con­struct an ad­di­tion to the build­ing, with the hopes of gen­er­at­ing eight more jobs.

White said the bor­ough is not lend­ing money and has no li­a­bil­ity, but the IDA will earn $9,000 from the trans­ac­tion. While the IDA can­not spend its funds on the bor­ough’s gen­eral obli­ga­tions, it can pay for cap­i­tal projects. The IDA ul­ti­mately de­cides where to di­rect the money, but bor­ough coun­cil can sug­gest projects.

“So we get $9,000 for ac­tu­ally do­ing noth­ing,” coun­cil mem­ber hath­leen Hallman said.

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