Westfall Township, Matamoras, PA
March 5, 2014
The Westfall Township Board of Supervisors held a Special Meeting on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 7:00 pm. The meeting was held at the Westfall Township Municipal Building on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane.
Those present were Chairman, Larry Flansburg; Vice-Chairman, Robert Melvin; Supervisors, Lester J. Buchanan and Jerry Dotey; Solicitor Robert Bernathy; Secretary, Jodi Hulse and one member of the general public. Supervisor Raymond Banach was not present. Also present were Nate Oiler, Jonah Mandelbaum, Matthew Osterberg, Michael Rendleman, Bill Schneider and Robert D. Olmstead.
Chairman Flansburg called the meeting to order at 7:02 pm.
PUBLIC COMMENT: NONE
AGENDA: Chairman Flansburg removed the PCCD Dirt and Gravel Low Volume Road Maintenance Program from the Agenda since the meeting notice did not include “Other Township Business”.
A motion was made by Supervisor Dotey to approve the agenda. The motion was seconded by Vice Chairman Melvin and carried with all in favor.
OLD BUSINESS: NONE
Chairman Flansburg stated the order of New Business would be switched around since Mr. Olmstead would like to stay for the meeting and Warwick Properties will be moved forward.
Chairman Flansburg stated before the meeting starts there is something he would like to say. He said he is speaking for himself regarding this matter and he is pretty offended that the applicant, Warwick Properties, Inc., did not come to the Board of Supervisors first with their request. He said we bent over backwards the first time around to accommodate. Chairman Flansburg referenced a letter which he received from the Commissioner’s Office which had ten points on it to say what was done wrong. Mr. Osterberg questioned the letter and said the letter did not come from him. Solicitor Bernathy said he thinks the letter came from either the Conservation District or Pike County Planning. Chairman Flansburg said he was pretty sure it came from the Commissioner’s Office and that he was pretty upset about it. He said he would look into where the letter came from. Nate Oiler said he thought it came from the Pike County Planning Commission. Chairman Flansburg said the point he would like to make ultimately comes back to the Board anyway. He said to Mr. Osterberg, that fact that he would communicate to someone else something that he wants to happen here bothers him. He said Supervisor Buchanan and Supervisor Dotey are available every day and that he is available by phone every day. Chairman Flansburg said that he is going to make it his policy from now on if the request does not come to the Board first he is not going to listen. He said he has been on the Board for three years and he has not seen one time where the Commissioners tell him what to do. They should have come to the Board and said there is something that needs to be worked out and is there something that can be given in return. He said our tax payers are unduly burdened and he could use a little help from the Commissioners from time to time. Mr. Osterberg said again he does not know as to what letter Chairman Flansburg is referring. Chairman Flansburg said he feels that they should have come to the Board first. He feels that we have a sharp Board at this point in time. He said he feels like no one respected the Board and that the idea which will be brought before the board tonight is the idea which he came up with.
He also added that none of the expenses that have been incurred for this Special Meeting are being covered by the Township including lawyer and advertising. Mr. Mandelbaum said absolutely and that is not the Township’s burden.
Supervisor Dotey said that he would like to think that two of the Commissioners, who he knows very well, would have contacted him. Mr. Osterberg said that the only thing the Commissioners have ever said is that they support the Senior Housing and that the Supervisors have never received a letter from the Commissioners. Chairman Flansburg said this came to the Supervisors through Solicitor Bernathy and that is not the correct channel. Mr. Osterberg said that Mr. Mandelbaum will explain exactly how this happened. They went to Harrisburg and Harrisburg said it is a great project but there are only two that are awarded funding in the state. They considered it to be two projects since the project consisted of two buildings. He said they are requiring the project to be cut in half and the property to be subdivided. This happened very fast and the application is due by March 14, 2014. Chairman Flansburg said that the communication was poor. He said he speaks to our Secretary on a daily basis and if something needed to be done they should have called. He feels we were left out of the loop but at the last minute we all have to jump to accommodate. He asked what the county has in store for helping the Township. Mr. Mandelbaum said he had a meeting in Milford last week and he asked if the Solicitor could come and look at it since this all happened so fast. He said he has spent a very large amount of money just on reports. He said they are only giving two projects per cycle for state wide senior housing. He suggested to Mr. Osterberg to call the Township Attorney so that he could look at the plan quickly to decide what to do. Chairman Flansburg said we are a team and we function as a team. Mr. Mandelbaum said the Township has been extremely supportive. Vice Chairman Melvin said we need to have better lines of communication. Chairman Flansburg said he would like for the applicant to come back to our next regularly scheduled meeting which is on March 17, 2014 so that the public is totally aware of what is going on and so that the Township is not blamed for something being passed without the public knowing all of the details. Mr. Mandelbaum said the deadline is before the next meeting and that is the only reason the Special Meeting was needed. Chairman Melvin said we want to be open with the community and that it is a good idea for the applicant to be present at the next meeting.
Solicitor Bernathy stated we are here informally and the applicant is not to rely on any representations that are made by the Supervisors. We are here, as we have advertised, for the purposes of reviewing the previous approved land development plan and possibly making some suggested amendments or changes in addition to proposing a subdivision. He said the applicant will have to go through the formal subdivision approval process in addition to a possible land development amendment.
Nate Oiler said we went into this with the idea that we would be just about “shovel ready” which would be a big benefit when we went for the funding application. The way the funding is set up they would only have a chance to get forty nine units. He said we had a building of forty four units and a building of forty nine units so we need to split the project in half in terms of phasing. It also needs to have two separate parcels (lots) for the funding program requirements. Mr. Mandelbaum’s whole objective was to have the project done as one but we need to split in half to have a chance to receive the funding. He said we are trying to make this work after the fact and it is difficult when we did not know this throughout the whole project. Mr. Oiler explained to the Board on the map the proposed plan for subdivision to meet all requirements.
Mr. Mandelbaum explained to Supervisor Buchanan the type of apartments which are proposed.
Solicitor Bernathy said this proposal depicts an irregularly configured lot. He said he is hesitant to suggest or recommend approval on flag lots. He said this lot is even more irregular than a flag lot. He said he has given a lot of thought to this and understanding this needs to be developed in phases he thinks making the plan with two lots (with an even line down the middle) and developing the lot closest to the river first would be best. He said if the applicant does it this way, they would likely comply with all of the development criteria for the ordinance with easements that would be going along with cross easements for parking and drainage. He said if the lot on the left were isolated and developed first there would be legal issues. It is way too small of a lot to put that large of a building. He said he cannot recommend isolating a lot that is otherwise substandard to the proposed development. He said if the lot to the right were developed the issues would not pertain. It could be a standalone lot with the understanding that if the subdivision is approved those lots by the way of a restrictive covenant could not be sold separately. Solicitor Bernathy explained that if they were to get the subdivision approval and then develop Lot 1 (which is the big lot) and the building is built on that lot with cross easements over Lot 2 for drainage, parking etc. There would be five years from the date of development to develop the second lot. If the lot is developed it can be done so in accordance with the previously approved plans. If it is not developed the approval for that lot lapses and the applicant would be at risk since they would need to start the approval process over. He said this irregularly configured lot does not seem like it will “fly”.
Mr. Mandelbaum stated he may need to obtain a variance. Solicitor Bernathy said variances cannot be self-created. A hardship cannot be created.
Mr. Mandelbaum said he closed on the parcel and already owns the parcel. Solicitor Bernathy asked Mr. Mandelbaum the reason for not being able to develop the larger piece first. Mr. Mandelbaum said everything. He has the office and the Superintendents apartment which is required is on the smaller piece. The state will not let them switch the plan. He said every report for the project was done for the development on the smaller piece. The footprints are also different. Additional conversation followed. Solicitor Bernathy said he understands the issue but he is not sure how we can get around the ordinance provisions without the applicant asking for many variances and relief from the Township’s Land Development Ordinance. Solicitor Bernathy said this is something that he cannot recommend that we consider due to the shape of the lot. He understands it is creative and he understands what the applicant is trying to work with but the proposed subdivision is not something that he can recommend be approved. Mr. Oiler said that Mr. Hudak has reviewed the plan. Solicitor Bernathy asked if Mr. Hudak stated this plan complied with the ordinance. Mr. Oiler said that Mr. Hudak suggested the strip on the side to make the lots equal in size. We came up with this plan to balance the property. The required area is there and required densities, required impervious area and building coverage. Solicitor Bernathy said that is what he is concerned about. He said it just would not meet the five acre minimum but he thought that when they tie into a development agreement that they would be able to obtain a variance. Solicitor Bernathy asked if the applicant thought that the only variance they would need is minimum lot size. Mr. Oiler said that the other discussion was that they could, through the development agreement, in the event that the second phase does not get built the lots will be combined. Vice Chairman Melvin said if they do not get funding and approval for Phase Two then Phase One and Two will become one project and one property. Mr. Mandelbaum said yes. Solicitor Bernathy asked Mr. Mandelbaum if is willing to have Lot 2 at total risk for future development. Mr. Mandelbaum said he does not have a problem with that. Solicitor Bernathy said there would be covenants that run with the land. Mr. Mandelbaum said that would be no problem. He said if he does not build within five years he will combine the properties. Chairman Flansburg said he has a problem with cross easements and neighboring property owners will expect the same. Solicitor Bernathy explained to Chairman Flansburg that the lot is one by itself. Chairman Melvin said he does not think the neighboring property has access to any other property. Chairman Flansburg said his concern is solely for the Township and what is coming back to the Township. Mr. Mandelbaum showed the Board a plan of a previous project he managed. Discussion followed regarding that plan. Solicitor Bernathy said the lots on the plan are not even close to being irregularly configured lots. Mr. Oiler said that most of the development is being done in Phase One.
Solicitor Bernathy said the applicant will need Subdivision approval. Mr. Oiler explained the plan to Chairman Flansburg. Additional Conversation followed. Mr. Mandelbaum said that if the funding does not go through he would fund the project next year. Solicitor Bernathy said he appreciates that but there is nothing legally he can do to hold him to that. Solicitor Bernathy asked again if our engineer indicated that there is no prohibition in our subdivision ordinance for creating such a lot. Mr. Oiler said that the engineer suggested it. Solicitor Bernathy said he knows that he suggested it but he wants to know if the plan is compliant with the ordinance. Mr. Oiler said there are no violations to the ordinance that he is aware of. Chairman Flansburg said that does not make him feel comfortable. Mr. Oiler said they have to go through the formal subdivision application process.
Solicitor Bernathy said the property will be owned by the same person and the lots cannot be sold separately. Mr. Mandelbaum said he has no problem with that. Solicitor Bernathy’s said that if the second phase funding does not come through and they do not build the second phase within five years the lot would become one lot and it could not be developed or subdivided without township approval. Mr. Mandelbaum and Mr. Oiler both agreed.
Solicitor Bernathy asked Mr. Rendleman his thought on the matter. Mr. Rendleman reviewed the proposed plan and did not have a comment.
Solicitor Bernathy said we will fix this with a Developers Agreement with the Township and covenants and restrictions in the deeds. Mr. Mandelbaum said if he does not build Phase II the lots will merge. Solicitor Bernathy confirmed with Mr. Mandelbaum that he will not be able to sell the second lot. It needs to remain under his ownership and will merge in five years if Phase II is not built. He wants covenants and restrictions in the deed to reflect this. Solicitor Bernathy said he can sell the whole parcel after the five years if he wishes.
Solicitor Bernathy read the form letter which the applicant requests from the Township to the State.
A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to provide the letter to the applicant. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Dotey and carried with all in favor.
Mr. Mandelbaum thanked the Board. Vice Chairman Melvin thanked Mr. Mandelbaum for attending the meeting personally.
An Executive Session was called at 7:51 pm for the purpose of Personnel. The meeting was back in session at 8:15 pm.
ADJOURNMENT: A motion was made by Supervisor Buchanan to adjourn the meeting at 8:15. The motion was seconded by Vice Chairman Melvin and carried with all in favor.