Sunday, May 14, 2006

PC - A Wedge! - 5/11/06

Planner Dean Turner grabbed a Morning Call headline with his quote "Once we open the door, there's going to be a wedge opening it even more." Please read the rest of Morning Call reporter Joe Nixon’s article.

Turner discussed the huge traffic impact that the new industrial park just a littler further down Uhler Road will have. Fort James III is expected to bring 4000 trips per day to the Uhler/Braden intersection. He asked SamCar’s representatives if they had considered this in their traffic study. They said "no."

Solicitor Karl Kline presented the PC with the ordinance that he prepared (and reviewed with Charlie Schmehl of Urban Research and Development.) Kline told the PC that he had been instructed by the Board to remove any provisions for drive-throughs (pharmacy and bank). The planners agreed with that edit too noting that it’s to be a grocery store. Kline said that he will change the wording to read "no drive-through" allowed.

Kline also reminded the PC that what they had to consider was whether or not this change to the zoning would be in the best interest of the Township in the long run. He noted too that since this would be a conditional use, the Township has the right to ask for whatever improvements it deems necessary. PennDot has the authority too to make requirements for gaining access to the property (because the property is on State roads.) He added that the Township will be getting money from the developer in the form of capital improvement fees based on the size of the building and that it would not be a small amount of money since its not a small building.

Planner Erik Chuss described a recent drive that he took going north on Sullivan Trail and how many iterations of traffic lights it took him to get there. He said it was a mess and that what’s jamming it up are trucks making left hand turns. He expressed his concern too that if the grocery goes in and is successful, someone will buy the bank and storage facility on the opposite corner, bulldoze them and build another commercial center - bringing even more traffic.

Planner Jim Wideman said that he thought that the grocery as a single use on the three lots would bring less traffic than three different businesses and would be much harder to control. The developer said that there were a number of permitted things that could go there that would be more intense uses of the property than a grocery store. Chairman Vito Tamborrino said that he is in favor of the project and agrees that traffic is a big issue.

Turner cited the empty Laneco property as something that can go wrong. He expressed concern that should the grocery fail and no other grocer want the property that there will be yet another big (empty) box in the Township. He also made it clear that he did not think the grocery store was a bad idea for the Township just a bad idea for that intersection.

The PC voted 5:2 (Dean Turner and Erik Chuss cast the nay votes) to recommend changing the zoning ordinance to allow a grocery store in the EC district.

The zoning change is expected to be on the Board of Supervisors agenda at their next meeting on May 18th.

Other projects were discussed and acted on by the Planning Commission. They have all been updated on the FAC Newpage project list.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

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