The Moore Township Planning Commission met on Monday, May 23, but were unable to officially vote on any agenda items due to a lack of members in attendance for a quorum.
Representatives from the Jason Kocher minor subdivision went forward with their presentation, which they were hoping could’ve been passed at the meeting under a conditional approval. Since they will also need to present their review to the Moore Township Board of Supervisors, an extension will need to be submitted for the record through August.
Township Engineer Kevin Horvath expressed that he would have recommended a conditional approval for this property at the meeting, but since there were not enough members, Vice Chairman Richard Gable stated that he would pass the recommendation along for the Board of Supervisors to approve the minor subdivision at their meeting on Tuesday, June 7.
Township Solicitor David Backenstoe recommended the same procedure for HMB Real Estate’s special exception for the Zoning Hearing Board due to the property being changed as one nonconforming use to another nonconforming use, which happens to be a nonconforming use with less impact on the community.
Backenstoe stated, “Let the minutes reflect, although not a quorum, that the members of the commission that were here did not have any objections to the Zoning Hearing Board granting the special exception as long as they meet the criteria for the Zoning Hearing Board.”
The next agenda item that the commission discussed involved the ongoing agritainment/agritourism zoning ordinance for farms. Solicitor Backenstoe prepared a draft for simple discussion purposes only based on North Whitehall’s current zoning ordinance in place for agritainment and agritourism. The draft also included comments from the supervisor’s Vice Chairman David Shaffer.
The primary purpose for adopting the agritainment/agritourism zoning ordinance would be to regulate and reduce problems with traffic patterns, parking, noise, and hours of operation. The township will look over the proposed draft and discuss next month with other members of the commission present, so that all opinions can be heard.
The commission also discussed the Site Plans Reviewing agenda item to update the current ordinance to include the added step of having the Environmental Advisory Council make recommendations or voice concerns regarding the environmental impact of subdivisions that are present to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
Land and Environmental Protection Board Chairman Robert Romano voiced that there is no downside to this extra review process and that it would be an asset to the township because the EAC would be looking at site plans strictly from an environmental standpoint. Romano added that this step would not slow the process down or provide an additional financial burden to the township.
Last, the commission discussed updating the township’s warehouse ordinance to include solar roof panels on warehouses, which was brought up at the last supervisor’s meeting. Romano presented the idea to alleviate the strain or minimize the impact that possible new commercial warehouses would impose on the area’s power grid and infrastructure.
Solicitor Backenstoe pointed out that he has never seen this done before where a township would require an entity to use solar panels as opposed to other residents, which could create an infringement on civil rights. Instead, Backenstoe suggested, the township could consider providing an incentive for future commercial warehouses being built to use solar panels by reducing their recreational fees or another financial incentive along those lines.
Township Secretary and Zoning and Building Officer Jason Harhart suggested that Romano discuss this with Northampton County Farmland Preservation Administrator Maria Bentzoni to see if anything similar has been done at the county level.
Harhart also brought up that the township should have a policy in place to prevent the Planning Commission from not having a quorum again, since the members that did attend were unable to officially vote on agenda items.
The next Moore Township Planning Commission meeting will be on Monday, June 27 at 7 p.m. in the municipal building, located at 2491 Community Dr.
The Moore Township Zoning Hearing Board will also be holding a special public meeting on Wednesday, June 15 at 6 p.m. at Moore Elementary School to specifically address variances requested about the Water’s Edge at Wind Gap/Southmoore Business Center warehouses.