The Moore Township Zoning Hearing Board met Thursday, December 8 to continue the Water’s Edge at Wind Gap warehouse development proposal appeal of the zoning officer’s determinations. The ongoing appeal that began in June challenges the substantive validity of various sections of the township’s zoning ordinances and zoning officer determinations. The applicant is now also requesting relief from various ordinances as well.
To begin, Township Solicitor David M. Backenstoe responded to questions from Zoning Hearing Board Chairman Jeffrey Ayers. Backenstoe shared that after the late submission of plan “alternatives” at the previous meeting, the township did not have adequate time to review the additions. Backenstoe also objected to the submission of a new concept plan in the middle of a hearing because a new submission should be presented as a new plan.
Additionally, Backenstoe expressed that procedurally, he felt unsure of what the applicant’s intention was regarding whether they were withdrawing their current appeal, amending their appeal, or amending their plan, especially since the submission of the concept plan or alternative did not go before the Planning Commission prior to the hearing.
Attorney Marc B. Kaplin (representing Water’s Edge at Wind Gap) provided two cases that similarly submitted revised concept plans. However, one of the cases outlined that whether amendments require a new hearing should be decided on a case-by-case basis.
Kaplin went on to explain that the revised concept plan addresses some of the revisions they filed an appeal for and is more compliant with the determinations made by the township engineer and zoning officer.
“We don’t believe we can put the berm behind the trees, so we challenged the zoning officer’s interpretation. We are willing to move the berm if we get the other relief regarding steep slopes,” said Kaplin.
However, Board Solicitor Chad DiFelice explained that the applicant did not request a variance on the original plan for steep slopes. “These issues have to be narrowed down to clarify what you are asking for,” DiFelice added.
Kaplin retorted that the problem with asking for a variance for steep slopes is that there is no defined minimum relief, and therefore, he believes that the ordinance is either applicable or non-applicable.
Kaplin also argued that if the applicant does not have to improve Jones Road past the curve in the road, they will not have to cut down the trees that are currently there. Kaplin added that although it is not ideal for the applicant, the berm can be placed behind the trees on the property as suggested by the township engineer.
Due to advertisement obligations, Solicitor DiFelice felt it was necessary to publicly advertise the amendments to the application before moving forward. The board also decided the amendments should go before the Planning Commission at their Monday, January 23 meeting before reconvening.
Solicitor DiFelice requested that Kaplin provide a comprehensive list of the specific requests for relief that the applicant is looking for.
Kaplin expressed that he would provide the list of issues within the next 10 days, however, the lengthy document Kaplin provided exceeded that timeframe.
As it stands, the applicant is withdrawing their challenge of the berm requirement and expressed that they are willing to take some of the other issues off the table in order to be more compliant, which is what the board requested.
The comprehensive list of challenges and requests for variances that was provided identifies five challenges to the substantive validity of the determinations made by the zoning officer. These challenges include: the proposed numbers of off-street parking spaces; proposed use of the property; man-made slopes and steep slopes within previously disturbed areas not being exempt from preservation requirements; revisions that include the total proposed area of disturbance of regulated woodlands, regardless of whether the disturbance is attributable to the construction of the buffer berm yard or other site improvements; and the identification on the plan of all existing steep slopes and subsequent restrictions related to lot area, width, density, and coverage ratios due to the presence of steep slopes.
Additionally, the list identifies eight requests for variance relief based on the zoning officer’s determinations. These variance requests include: the determination that man-made steep slopes and steep slopes within previously disturbed areas are not exempt from preservation requirements; the off-street parking space requirements; the dedication of 2,000 square feet of open space or contribute $2,000 to the Township in lieu of dedication of land per “potential” residential building lot; the improvements (realignment and widening) of Jones Road to current standards along the entire frontage of the subject property and the dedication of an additional right-of-way in the northwesterly corner of the realigned intersection of Jones Road and Moorestown Drive as necessary to accommodate required road improvements or a monetary contribution to the Township Road Improvement Fund, at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors; the minimum centerline radii for a local street shall be 150 feet for grades less than eight percent and 200 feet for grades eight percent and greater, whereas the centerline radii for Jones Road along adjacent tax parcel J6-5-18C is significantly less than required at approximately 73 feet; the maximum longitudinal grade of a local road shall be 11 percent, whereas the grade toward the westerly end of the proposed improved portion of Jones Road ranges from 11.3 to 13.4 percent; locate and label on the plans required traffic control signs along the proposed improved portion of Jones Road including stop and speed limit signs and others as applicable including curve and road narrows warning signs and advisory speed limit plaques; and delineate and label on the plans required pavement striping along the proposed improved portion of Jones Road in accordance with this section including tapered white edge lines at 8:1 along both sides of the road at the transition between the improved and the existing segments of Jones Road.
The Water’s Edge at Wind Gap warehouse development proposal appeal will reconvene on Wednesday, February 1 at 6 p.m. at the Klecknersville Rangers Volunteer Fire Company, located at 2718 Mountain View Dr.