Township officials in East Vincent sat down for a morning workshop meeting on Wednesday to discuss the zoning requests for Pennhurst by owner Richard Chakejian and his lawyer, Michael B. Murray.
Officials on hand for the meeting included the township's three supervisors: John Funk, Mark Dunphy and Christine McNeil; Township Manager Mary Flagg; planning commission committee-persons: Jason Herron, Bruce Weinsteiger, Elaine Milito and Jane Peronteau; Township Planning Consultant Ray Ott; Solicitor Stu Cohen.
At the meeting, Murray and Chakejian heard out concerns from the township team - most spefically the desire for some sort of plan for the property (ie. a master plan or a concept plan), which would require a traffic study for the access roads surrounding the property.
"The way we look at it is, no master plan, no vision," said Weinsteiger.
Chakejian and Murray are asking for a zoning change of the property, which is currently zoned as Low Residential. The proposed change is for Professional Office [PO] and General Industrial [GI], with exceptions to make some GI uses "by right" instead of "by special exception" as they currently stand.
Officials compared the situation to what happened at the Jones Motor property, where the owner came up with a marketing plan and with it, provided a master plan so that both the township and potential developers would know all of the necessary details. However, officials also made it clear that a full master plan is not necessary in this situation since Pennhurst ownership "does not know" what they will do with the property until they know exactly how it will be zoned.
Therefore, it was proposed that a concept plan be arranged, where an overview of the property is displayed with "bubble charts" explaining potential uses in certain areas of the property.
One argument that Murray put out there is that the property does not make sense to be Low Density Residential any longer.
"It's basically been sitting fallow for nearly 30 years," Murray explained. "It is not economically viable - take my client out of the mix - it's not doing anything for the township in the condition it is. I guess the way my client's been discussing with the township is: 'Let's make this a valuable property for the township as well.'"
Funk retorted Murray's statement by reminding him of the residents' role in all of this, as well.
"Mike, it's not just the township and you guys in all of this," Funk said. "It's also the residents that live there. We don't want to make a complete mess out of things. That's why, to me, the access to it is really key. It has to do with how it's going to be developed."
Overall, the township decided that Chakejian and his lawyer needed to come up with a master or concept plan with real ideas for the proposed uses under PO/GI zoning and come back to zoning and the planning commission for approval. Murray said he and his client would work with Ott and the commission to come up with something.
"There's three issues: You're looking at this bubble plan, you're looking at the uses that we talked about, but the key here is the master plan," Dunphy concluded. "You get the by-right uses, then there's this master planning component that requires conditional use. The master planning component can be as detailed as Jones Motor or as lenient as a bubble study. The point is, that's where it is and that's really where the negotiation begins and ends."
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