7:30 PM
December 8, 2009

A Regular Meeting of the Planning Commission of the Township of Salisbury was held on the above date at the Township Municipal Building located at 2900 South Pike Avenue, Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Present were Commissioners Beck, McKitish, Hebelka, Schreiter, Hassick, Licht and Snyder. Also present were Mr. Tettemer, Township Engineer; Attorney Ashley, Township Solicitor; Mr. Soriano, Township Manager and Ms. Sopka, Director of Planning & Zoning.

Mr. Beck called the meeting to order.

On motion of Mr. McKitish, seconded by Mr. Shreiter, the Planning Commission voted 7-0 to approve the November 10, 2009 Planning Commission Meeting Minutes as submitted.

3350 Devonshire Road
Consideration of the Conditional Use Application for seasonal attractions – Halloween, 2010 and Christmas, 2010. (Previous Conditional Use approved for Halloween, 2009.)

Present were Steve Goudsouzian, Esq., Counsel; and Dominic Giles, owner.  Attorney Goudsouzian advised that Mr. Giles would like to continue his Halloween Barn for 2010 and expand to a Christmas Barn in the 2010 season.

Attorney Goudsouzian stated that they are requesting the same conditions apply as previously approved for 2009. They will be addressing the parking with the schools for their approval. He noted that there was no impact to school parking during the Halloween season of 2009.
Mr. Hebelka inquired if any reports or concerns happened during the Halloween activity. Ms. Sopka advised that she did not have any negative feedback from the Chief of Police or Mr. Nicolo, the Code Enforcement Officer, whom visited the site. Mr. Giles stated he hired security and two firefighters that remained on site during the hours of operation. Mr. Snyder noted that it was a good event that was well organized.

Mr. Giles stated that for the Christmas season, it will be an adult/children’s walk through; the same type of walk through as the Halloween season. The barn will be decorated inside and outside. There will be no retail items sold, but the children will be given a small gift after visiting the Christmas barn.

Mr. Hebelka requested clarification of the hours of operation for each season use. Mr. Giles stated for Halloween all conditions would remain the same as the current 2009 agreement conditional use for a weekend operation.  The Christmas season operation hours would be seven (7) days a week, 4pm to 9pm Monday through Friday, and 9am to 9pm Saturday and Sunday starting on 12/1/2010 through 01/05/2011. The operation hours are based on the approval of the School Board due to the utilization of the parking lot.

Mr. Hebelka inquired if the school has any evening activities occurring at the same time of the Christmas season operation. Attorney Goudsouzian stated the reason for the request of the entire month, seven days a week, is because there may be a conflict which will not allow them to open. They understand that this will be a condition they must follow.

Mr. Beck stated that if lighted signs will be posted, this will require a permit.

On motion of Mr. Snyder, seconded by Mr. McKitish, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval to the Board of Commissioners for the 2010 Holiday barn use for both Halloween and Christmas with the conditions previously stated for the 2009 Halloween operation and the discussion that ensued for the Christmas event operation hours. These conditions will be contingent upon School Board approval for the times of utilization of the parking area would be approved.

1200 South Cedar Crest Blvd.
Consideration of a Land Development Plan to construct a Family Support & Lodge Center within the R-2 Zoning District of the Lehigh Valley Hospital Campus. Section allows applicant to request the Planning Commission to recommend upgrading the Preliminary Plan to Preliminary/Final Plan.

Present were Maxwell Davidson, Esq., Counsel and Scott Pidcock, Engineer on behalf of the applicant.

Mr. Tettemer highlighted the Township Engineer’s review letter dated December 1, 2009.

Ms. Sopka highlighted her comment review and concurred with the Township Engineer. She clarified that the project was addressed to the Zoning Hearing Board for Special Exception on December 1, 2009, which received approval for the use and further interpretation for the applicability of certain requirements affiliated with hospital use such as berm regulations. The Zoning Hearing Board indicated that this section of the Ordinance is not applicable to a family support and lodge facility.

Documentation was provided for increased sanitary sewer usage and application of increased water is pending.

Ms. Sopka discussed additional landscaping to separate the hospital lot and the residential district, primarily along Caroline Road and Pleasant Avenue, and indicated it is being addressed.

Mr. Beck inquired about Jenn’s House and the location. Mr. Pidcock stated that Jenn’s House is not located on hospital property and can accommodate five people. He is unaware of the level of use but knows there is more than sufficient demand for the 22 rooms the proposed family center will facilitate.  

Mr. Pidcock summarized the project, stating that it is a two-story building, totaling 15,000 square feet with 22 rooms for the purpose of a family support and lodge center with parking.

Mr. Pidock reviewed three areas of Mr. Tettemer’s review letter:  
1. The Zoning Hearing Board unanimously approved the project.
2. The plan has been prepared to final plan standards and the developer requests Preliminary/Final Plan standing under SALDO Section 3.2.A.3.
3. The note for the hospital’s relocation of the walking path and stone path will be removed from the plan as it is not part of this project.

Mr. McKitish inquired where the liquid oxygen tank is located due to deliveries. This was made available by view of the project presentation.

Mr. Pidcock indicated the facility would be using a grinder pump for the sanitary sewage. The hospital also owns and maintains an additional sanitary sewer pump on the north side of the original building which was originally owned by the Township. 

Mr. Beck inquired if they received a resident’s letter of concern about the use of the building. Mr. Pidcock validated use for lodging and not doctor’s offices or resident physician housing.

A discussion ensued regarding all the changes that are continuously being made to the Hospital campus. Attorney Davidson stated that all the projects that have been done were approved by the Township. Mr. Schreiter expressed his concern for the surrounding residents and discussed their disapproval due to past construction blasting and work. It is alleged that surrounding homes incurred damages and unfortunately the residents were never compensated by the Hospital. Attorney Davidson indicated the damage reports were investigated addressed, and the Judge ruled in favor of the hospital.

A discussion continued for the proposed use of this building. Mr. McKitish inquired if the Hospital would commit that the lodge would remain in the use as proposed for lodging and never be converted from this use. Attorney Davidson did not see any reason why they would not commit, but believed there would be a contingency that the use would not change without consent of the Township.

Mr. McKitish inquired about the amount of landscaping being removed and a landscaping plan showing replacement. Mr. Pidcock advised the current plan removes very little landscaping. The building is being positioned in an area that is essentially open; however, they are providing additional landscaping and are in agreement with the Zoning Officer’s recommendations and guidance for the placement of additional trees. Mr. Tettemer indicated that 14 trees will be removed but they are proposing 14 additional trees plus the parking lot trees. Mr. Tettemer requested notation be placed on the landscaping plans indicating the location of tree replacement. Ms. Sopka stated that she believes additional trees will be needed to shield some of the residents primarily on Caroline and Pleasant Avenue. She stated that she visited the neighborhood area and clearly viewed activity taking place at the Hospital due to the lack of tree foliage.

Mr. Beck inquired that the building will be used only for lodging. Mr. Pidcock advised that there is a living room but no kitchen or food preparation area. It is only for individuals with relatives admitted to the hospital.

Mr. Hebelka inquired if the lodging residents will be charged a fee. Mr. Pidcock stated that procedures are being evaluted for funding/payments. For example, donations will be accepted, but if a person is unable to pay, he/she is still welcome to stay.

Mr. Chuck Siuciak from 1215 Caroline Road stated he and several of his neighbors have a few inquires regarding this project. He believes it is a humanitarian project and supports of it, but the neighborhood objects to any hospital buildings in the R2 zone.

Mr. Siuciak wanted more clarification in reference to the lodging fees. Mr. Davidson reiterated that a nominal donation would be requested, but if a person is unable to pay then he/she may stay for free.  Mr. Siuciak expressed his concern for expansion of new buildings and his concern of encroachment into the R2 zone and the impact to the neighborhood. Mr. Siuciak was advised that any proposed building plans or plans for future change would entail a new application and go through the process. Mr. Beck clarified that the Zoning Hearing Board granted the hospital a waiver for the R2 zone area. Attorney Davidson clarified that the Zoning Hearing Board approved the use of the family lodging and center in the R2 zoning district. Attorney Davidson further clarified that the Zoning Hearing Board determined that this use is a permitted use as Special Exception.

Additional discussion continued in regard to the trees, landscape screening and the concern of the outside lighting where the future building will be placed. Mr. Tettemer stated they do have a proposed lighting plan for the parking lot. Mr. Pidcock stated that they exceed the Ordinance requirement for lighting.

Mr. Hebelka inquired if any activity will be taking place in the back of the building and was informed that nothing will take place since there is no access except for an exit door.

On motion of Mr. Hebelka, seconded by Mr. McKitish, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend granting the waiver request  to SALDO 3.2.A.3. from a Preliminary Land Development to a Final/Preliminary Land Development Plan.

On motion of Mr. McKitish, seconded by Mr. Schreiter, the Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend approval contingent upon successful resolution of the landscape screening the Zoning Officer is requesting from the applicant and that it is emphasized that the applicant not go forward to the Board of Commissioners until such point in time, as it is agreed upon by both parties,  contingent upon successful resolution of the Engineers comments, the Zoning Officer comments, and Conditions put forth by the Solicitor.  

1600 Riverside Drive – Lehigh County Treatment Center Expansion
Continuation of the November 10, 2009 Conditional Use review and Preliminary/Final Site Plan review.
Present were Edward J. Andres, Esq., Counsel; Amit Mukherjee of Base Engineering; and Edward Sweeney, Director of Lehigh County Corrections.

Mr. Tettemer highlighted the Township Engineer’s review letter dated December 1, 2009.

Ms. Sopka highlighted her comment review and concurred with the Township Engineer’s letter.

Ms. Sopka indicated the Conditional Use for the Treatment Center will be heard by the Board of Commissioners December 22, 2009.

She provided a brief history about the Conditions referenced in Keystone’s letter dated January 25, 1996 pertaining to Agreements in keeping the gates locked between 10 p.m. through 7 a.m. daily. She believed this is a concern because the facility is located adjacent to a regional park, referenced as the Lehigh Mountain Park. The safety of potential visitors to the park needs to be addressed and implemented, especially in the spring and summer hours.

Ms. Sopka clarified that the facility is being built for 400 inmates. According to the Zoning Ordinance Chapter 27 Section 402.CCC for a treatment center, the applicant must provide in a written description of all types of residents and uses intended over the life of the permit.

Also, supervision security measures for public safety need to be addressed to the Board of Commissioners.

Ms. Sopka referenced several items such as improvements for Riverside Drive and the $100 emergency response payment. Further, discussion should be made with the Police Department, Department of Public Works, and ultimately the Board of Commissioners.

Ms. Sopka requested specifying the difference between a treatment facility and a minimum security prison to the Board of Commissioners. Attorney Andreas described the differences and stated that this plan has not been characterized as a prison, although the facility itself has been a treatment center since 1996. The Township Ordinance of 1995 was amended to include a treatment center. The Zoning Hearing Board made the determination that the facility proposed in 1996 was not a prison, it was a treatment center, referencing appeal #11739.

The decision by Salisbury Township’s Zoning Hearing Board has a legal binding effect. Attorney Andreas stated that the proposed treatment center has one exception; it is an expansion of a Conditional Use. The changes included resident increases from 300 to 400 residents, the addition of female residents, and residents will originate from Lehigh or Northampton Correctional Facilities.

Ms. Sopka inquired what the actual treatment would be. Attorney Andreas stated that the work release is the treatment but also offer additional programs such as drug and alcohol. Mr. Sweeney described the evaluation and treatment process for the residents.

Mr. Hebelka inquired if a Judge sentenced the individual to the treatment center or a situation in which an incarcerated person is coming to the end of his sentence would be transferred to the treatment center prior to his/her release. Mr. Sweeney advised that it is a possibility, that the Judge is the person that makes the determination if a person should go into work release or incarcerated. Mr. Sweeney stated that a large part of the population is domestic/non-criminal cases.

Discussion continued in reference to the parking lot. A traffic analysis was submitted showing a maximum number of parking spaces needed. The proposal of the condition of parking would be for 47 spaces with a range for the limited visitors. If there are greater than 10 facility residents permitted driving privileges, the County would be obligated to advise the Township.

Ms. Sopka inquired if the previous Conditions related to Lehigh County inmates only. Mr. Sweeney advised that it was not expressed that it was limited to Lehigh County but the written language could be misconstrued. Therefore, they clarified their intention is to accept Northampton County residents. Attorney Andreas stated the sentencing Judge has to be from either Lehigh County or Northampton County.

A discussion continued in regards to the acceptance of residents, male and female, and their places of employment. There are work time frames for each resident and they should return when their work day is complete. They are not permitted to cross state lines.

Mr. Sweeney noted that the County would continue to maintain the gravel road around the perimeter of the facility in satisfactory condition for use by emergency or other vehicles, as well as, for the safety of the Police Officers patrolling and/or observing the property in case of an emergency. Mr. Sweeney stated that they have their own security guards and there is no obligation on the Police Department to patrol the property with any regularity. Mr. Tettemer suggested scheduling an appointment with the Chief of Police to observe the property at night and confirm that all items have been addressed for his approval.

Ms. Sopka inquired if the previously requested detailed wetland delineation information was being addressed. Mr. Mukherjee indicated it was being worked on.   

Ms. Sopka inquired if the developer would consider entering into a legally binding agreement specifying who would be responsible for the improvement and maintenance of Riverside Drive since it is considered a private road. Mr. Tettemer stated that Norfolk Southern owns the road and it has use agreements.

Mr. McKitish inquired as to snow removal maintenance of the road. Mr. Sweeney stated that they have a contract in place for ongoing maintenance and since it is a publicly traveled road, they must accommodate public transportation. He stated that Lanta provides bus service and requires the facility to have a maintenance contract.

Mr. McKitish inquired about the 47 parking spaces and the residents’ driving privileges. He believes that the documentation seems to be fluctuating because the Judge grants driving privileges on a periodic basis. These privileges could only be done to the extent of parking spaces available. Mr. Sweeney stated that the parking spaces will restrict the number of vehicles. Mr. Tettemer stated that as part of the previous Conditional Use approval and possible current use, they prepared a plan that shows they could provide additional parking spaces. At this time it is not being built, but if the use is slightly changed, the prepared plan shows they can get additional parking on this site and meet the zoning criteria.  

On motion of Mr. Snyder, seconded Mr. Hassick, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to make recommendation to the Board of Commissioners to grant Conditional Use for the Lehigh County Work Release Treatment Facility with the conditions previously imposed and additional conditions of the December 4, 2009 correspondence of Attorney Edward Andreas with the modification of 450 residents to 400 residents.

On motion of Mr. McKitish, seconded by Mr. Hebelka, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to table the Land Development Plan until the next regular scheduled meeting.


On motion of Mr. Hebelka, seconded by Mr. McKitish, the Planning Commission voted to adjourn the meeting.
Meeting adjourned.