Supervisors deny development plan due to several issues
PEEKS: Open space in question
When the Planned Residen- tial Development (PRD) at the Preserve at Blue Ridge development plan finally came before the Dorrance Twp. supervisors last month, there was no discussion prior to the unanimous vote to turn down the plan.
However, the township’s 12-page written decision on the plan, as well as comments from the township’s engineer, the county planning commission and its engineer, have plenty to say about problems they identified in the plan.
On Aug. 7, 2018, the Preserve at Blue Ridge LLC filed an application for approval of its plan to construct a PRD on 451 acres of land in a C-1 (Conservation) district located primarily in Dorrance Twp. and partially in Rice Twp. The firm, headed by Robert Tamburro, wants to build 134 residential units in four phases.
The supervisors’ decision at their Dec. 10, 2018 meeting came after public hearings were held on the tentative plan on Oct. l, 2018 and Nov. 12, 2018 and the township’s planning commission recommendation
that supervisors deny approval.
A follow-up written decision compiled by township solicitor Donald Karpowich identified several problems, including the planned development’s water supply, sewer system, open space requirements and lack of a detailed plan design.
The decision also noted that the property includes a public 27-hole golf course with clubhouse. Supervisors said the developer plans to develop the PRD as part of that public golf course, a violation of the zoning ordinance.
“The Board concludes that the public golf course and the housing units are two principal permitted uses and the Applicant’s mixing of these
two-principal permitted uses violates section 1602 of the Zoning Ordinance,” the written decision stated. “In addition, commercial facilities intended to serve the public at large are not permitted in a PRD,” they added.
In his report to the county planning commission after reviewing the development plan, Daniel J. Wilusz, senior project manager for Barry Isett and Associates, also pointed out the conflict with the ordinance. “The golf course appears to be included as part of the PRD lot but does not appear to be an allowed use within a PRD,” Wilusz wrote.
Township supervisors stated in their decision that the plan lacks designs and specifications for streets, curbs, sidewalks, stormwater detention facilities, drainage facilities, water supply facilities, sewage disposal, street lighting, tree lawns, etc. to show compliance with the SALDO (Subdivision and Land Development
Ordinance). “Without such information the Board is unable to conclude whether the Plan complies with the SALDO requirements,” supervisors stated.
In his report, Wilusz noted improvements are only indicated graphically on the plan and have not been shown to be designed to any standard. “The final plan submission should include and address all necessary design calculations, site geometry, grading, infrastructure improvements, details, impact studies, utility improvement conditions and all other items necessary for the complete design and construction of the site improvements,” he wrote.
The developer’s plan to construct streets within wetlands also came under fire from the board of supervisors. “The Board concludes that the wetlands located on the Property are critical areas intended to
protect plants and animals, prevent flooding, and thereby must be maintained and sustained,” Karpowich wrote. “The Applicant’s proposal to construct public streets in wetlands violates the 100 feet wetland setback requirement of Section 1604(C) (of the SALDO).”
A critical area is defined in the township’s land development ordinance as an area which includes such things as stream corridors, streams, flood plain areas, wetlands, slopes, which equal or exceed 15 percent, mature stands of native vegetation and aquifer recharge and discharge area.
The PRD plan indicates the sewage disposal system will be connected to the Mountaintop Area Joint Sanitary Authority (MAJSA) which has confirmed it has the capacity to serve the project. However, the supervisors noted in their decision that a 25-foot easement between the
project and the actual sewer manhole located within the Interstate 81 right-of-way has not yet been obtained.
Additionally, a report from township engineer Chad M. Lello points out the submitted plans do not contain layout or design on how the sewage will be conveyed to the MAJSA system.
“The Board concludes that the sewage disposal system fails to conform to the design standards of the SALDO because the Applicant failed to design the system,” the decision stated.
Supervisors also pointed out that an Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Reilly Associates on behalf of the developer indicates a new central water system is proposed for the PRD and the water system will be shared between the PRD and the golf course.
It is the township engineer’s opinion that the location of the well on a designated “well lot” is considered an on-site supply and fails to conform to the zoning ordinance.
The issue of whether the common open space proposed by the developer meets the requirements of the ordinance was raised by Wilusz, the county planning commission’s engineer.
“The common open space area should be integrated into the design of the site and made readily accessible and usable to the residents,” Wilusz wrote. He said the
proposed common open space areas shown on the plans “seem remote and, for the most part, inaccessible as they are separated from the housing by the golf course, wetlands and stream.” He said the open space areas appear to be more residual areas than an integral part of the design. “The Township should determine if the proposed open space areas meet the intent of the PRD requirements,” the county planning commission engineer wrote.
Heath Eddy, executive director of the county planning commission raised several questions in his report
to the supervisors following review of the proposed PRD. He asked if a traffic impact study has been performed and whether creek crossing permits be required.
Eddy also recommended that the plan show proposed location of all utilities, including fire hydrants; provide letters with the application and to the township from the police and fire departments stating they can provide protection; and provide a letter from the school district stating that it will provide education for proposed new students and bus stop locations on the private roads.