June 6, 2017 - Regular Meeting

Chairman Linda Woodward called the June 6, 2017 Regular Meeting of the Montour Township Planning Commission to order at 6:30pm in the municipal building, Rupert, PA.

The pledge of allegiance was recited.

Members present:  Chairman Linda Woodward, Vice-Chairman Forrest Bennett, and Secretary Robert Weber.  Absent: Josh Turner and Paul Kreisher.  Also present: Jerry Walls, Professional Planner.

MOTION Forrest Bennett, second Robert Webber, to approve the agenda as drafted.  Motion Carried.

MOTION Forrest Bennett, second Linda Woodward, to approve the minutes of the May 2, 2017 meeting as drafted.  Motion Carried.

Comprehensive Plan

MOTION Robert Webber, second Linda Woodward, to recommend approval, by the Board of Supervisors, of the revised Montour Township Comprehensive Plan.  Motion Carried.

Ordinance Update

Professional Planner Jerry Walls answered questions concerning zoning ordinance development provisions raised ty the Planning Commission:

  1. Can land for a large residential development be reclassified from Agriculture to Residential?  This necessitates consideration of the legally protected status for those farms enrolled in an Ag Security Area.  Solicitor Rich Roberts noted the PA Ag Security Act is preemptory and overrides any Township Ordinance.  Rezoning of those parcels cannot occur until after the landowners remove their farms from the Ag Security Area.  Any mention of that potential land use classification in the Comprehensive Plan needs to be qualified by wording that specifically lists the governing PA statutes and process which must be followed to make such a change.  Does your Comprehensive Plan address that?  (Mr. Walls will work with Solicitor Roberts to prepare language to address such future development)
  2. Would approval of a major residential land development plan constitute an automatic change from Agriculture zoning to Village Residential or Suburban Residential?  No.  Two separate processes are needed.  First, the zoning Classification needs to be changed and second, the residential land development plan can then be considered. 
  3. Would the change for Golden Valley Estates to Suburban Residential constitute spot zoning?  No, because of the large number of acres in the development.
  4. Should the minimum lot size for land zoned Agricultural be changed from 1 acre to 2 acres unless public water and sewer services are available?  This question entails several factors.  Some farmers need to offer a home site for their family or tenant workers to help on the farm.  They may not want to carve off a large lot to do that.  Perhaps a more logical approach might be to allow 1 acre lot size unless soil conditions and drainage patterns make it a necessity to require a larger lot size for the septic system to have adequate separation from the water well.  Presumably, land zoned Agriculture would NOT have public water and sewer services so therefore smaller lots under one acre would not be advisable.
  5. Should Single-family detached dwellings be changed in the Village Residential District to Conditional Use or Special Exception? The planning logic embodied in your proposed Comprehensive Plan is to encourage more investment in the VR district.   It makes sense to intensify land uses in the VR zone so detached dwelling proposals in the VR district should NOT be encouraged and therefore should be required to justify their approach based on site-specific conditions.  Accordingly, it makes sense to employ the Special Exception level of plan review and justification for SF detached uses.  In general more justification is needed to secure approval for a use that is classified as a Conditional Use so that is overkill for a SF detached Dwelling use when located in the VR district.
  6. Explain why single-family attached dwellings are permitted in VR district but mentioned in note 4 as Conditional Use.  This is inconsistent and should be clarified to be allowed as Permitted in a VR district.  It does make sense to keep single-family attached dwellings a Conditional Use in the SR district in order to discourage that type of development location in SR areas unless it is part of a cluster development.
  7. Should Montour Township permit Rooming Houses?  In order to assure such facilities are operated safely and cleanly it is better to allow that use but utilize zoning permit conditions to accomplish reasonable off-street parking, sewage, public safety and health safeguards and require appropriate environmental protection measures.  Large preexisting houses can be maintained better when there is an income generating use than if it is vacant.  This will be further discussed with Zoning Officer Tim Mauk.
  8. Are student rental units allowed in the group home / group care facility section?  While not specifically intended it is possible that a zoning permit applicant could argue that such use is not specifically prohibited by Section 402.F.  If the Township prefers, a new section can be drafted to specifically address student housing.
  9. When a farm in Agriculture Security is sold to build a residence, can the property be zoned to VR or SR?  No, need clarity between State Law and Township Zoning.
  10. Change zoning from Conservation and Agriculture along the Route 11 Corridor?  I would not encourage a large area to be zoned this way.  It would be better to concentrate on a specific HC area to direct development that is not scattered.

Jerry Walls will work with Tim Mauk to address rooming houses, multifamily dwellings, and the conditions in Section 605.1 and 605.2 maintenance plan requirements,

Jerry Walls will work with Solicitor Roberts to draft AirBnb Provisions, changes relating to residential treatment facility, definition of cluster development, definition for Business Park, high density residential provisions, definition to add Commercial Amusement Business to the zoning ordinance, a zoning concept to allow VR individual units or common area multiple units with small scale support services attractive to professionals establishing it in a compact area to start.

There was no public comment.

The meeting adjourned at 9:15pm

Respectfully submitted,
Robert Webber, Secretary