Zoning Hearing Board to consider Satterthwaite House variance request
LOWER MAKEFIELD — The board of supervisors voted 5-0 on Feb. 20 to send the township solicitor to the March 5 Zoning Hearing Board meeting at which the two veterinarians who have purchased the township-owned Satterthwaite House will appear to advocate for their zoning variance requests.
“In a matter of importance we want to participate,” Supervisor Chairman Pete Stainthorpe said in explaining the reason for having the township solicitor present.
In October, the supervisors voted 4-1 to accept the lone bid of $255,000 for the 5.14acre property on Mirror Lake Road. The buyers, Drs. Amy Bentz and Brad Holmsten, plan to renovate the run-down historic house, part of which dates to the 1730s, as well as the nearby barn.
The proposed large-animal veterinary clinic would be located within the 233-acre Patterson Farm along Newtown-Yardley Road (Route 332) and Mirror Lake Road,
which the township purchased in 1998 for $7.2-million.
The husband-and-wife couple also intends to build an adjoining house to live with their two children. Because the property is currently zoned R-1 residential, numerous zoning variances would be required.
Despite the majority of supervisors supporting the sale, the board still decided to have the solicitor present to observe the proceedings.
The Satterthwaite sale has sparked community concerns, ZLWh QHLJhERULQJ UHVLGHQWV YRZLQJ WR fiJhW WhH SURSRVHG SURMect. Some opponents have claimed that that allowing a commercial venture on the Satterthwaite property would affect adjoining home values.
Resident Donna Doan has launched an online petition drive against the zoning variances and in favor of preservation of the farm. So far, she has collected more than 300 signatures. The SHWLWLRQ FDQ EH DFFHVVHG DW ZZZ.FhDQJH.RUJ/SHWLWLRQV/WHll-RIfiFLDlV-RI-lRZHU-PDNHfiHlG-WRZQVhLS-EuFNV-FRuQWy-SD-SUHVHUYHpatterson-farm-now
Doan argues that “proposed zoning changes will forever alter Patterson Farm and threaten its use for growing food. The historic homes and barns,” she said, “should not be parceled off for sale, or be demolished, but should be restored as they are essential to the farm’s continuing use for farming.”
The sale had been held up for several months because the veterinarians wanted to have more leeway in restoring the property than the strict township guidelines which are based on the U.S. Department of the Interior requirements. These include using designated materials to repair and renovate historic structures.
The wording of the façade easement on the historic structure had also been an issue with the township.
An independent appraisal of the Satterthwaite parcel in 2010 had projected that at least $265,000 would be needed for “basic repairs,” while another $400,000 to $600,000 would be required to bring the farmhouse and barn up to “living standards.” The March 5 Zoning Hearing Board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the township building on Edgewood Road.
In other action at the Feb. 20 supervisors meeting, at the urging of Jim Bray, chairman of the township’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), the supervisors unanimously approved DSSlyLQJ IRU D VRlDU JUDQW IURP WhH QRQ-SURfiW RUJDQLzDWLRQ 3HQQ Future.
If awarded, the money would be used to help Lower MakefiHlG SUHSDUH DQ RUGLQDQFH FRYHULQJ WhH LQVWDllDWLRQ RI VRlDU panels on residences and businesses.
While several neighboring municipalities have or are conVLGHULQJ VuFh lDZV, LRZHU 0DNHfiHlG GRHV QRW hDYH RQH ZhLFh would govern required setbacks, heights and placement of solar panels.
“You don’t want to have someone putting a 50-foot solar panel in their front yard,” township solicitor Jeffrey Garton explained.
“This hasn’t had an impact on the township yet,” said Chairman Stainthorpe, “but this is something that we have to do in due time.”
In a 5-0 vote Feb. 20 the board also approved applying for 3HQQD27’V SHUPLVVLRQ WR LQVWDll WZR flDVhLQJ VFhRRl zRQH signs on Quarry Hill Road near the Quarry Hill and Afton Elementary Schools.
At the same time, the supervisors instructed the township manager to see if the Pennsbury School District would share the $15,000 cost of the signs.
The supervisors also approved spending $4,300 a year for the next four years to host a county-sponsored household hazardous waste and electronics drop-off.
The annual event, which has been extremely successful in the past, allows residents to discard items such as: paints, solvents pesticides, household cleaners, auto products and car batteries; as well as electronic equipment, including computers and TVs.
This year’s drop-off will be held in May, with a date to be announced at a later time.
The Satterthwaite house off of Mirror Lake Road.