Wednesday, November 16 2011
HLRA - HORSHAM TOWNSHIP AUTHORITY
FOR NAS-JRB WILLOW GROVE
WEDNESDAY • NOVEMBER 16, 2011 • 7:00 PM
W. William Whiteside, III, Chairman
Joanna M. Furia, Vice Chair
William Donnelly (absent)
Michael J. McGee
Mary Eberle, Esquire (absent)
George Schlossberg, Esquire
Chairman Whiteside called the meeting to order at 7:06 p.m. in the Horsham Township Community Center at 1025 Horsham Road, Horsham PA 19044 and led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.
Mr. Whiteside thanked everyone for coming and explained that the next step in the process was to review the preferred redevelopment plan based on the recommendations from the HLRA Board and subcommittees, Township Council and the Horsham Planning Commission. Mr. Whiteside turned the meeting over to Russ Archambault, Vice President of RKG Associates, Inc. who started the “Preferred Reuse Alternative – Option D” presentation (copy attached).
Mr. Archambault provided a summary of the October 19, 2011 meeting directives that were given to RKG. Mr. Yogesh Saiji, of Wallace, Roberts & Todd (WRT), joined Mr. Archambault to review the entire Option D plan in detail.
Conceptually, the northern portion of the site contains a residential area for homes with views of Commonwealth Golf Course and protected backyards. Small lot singles family homes act as the transition from the ¼ acre lots and townhomes. A middle school, playing fields/open space and a regional recreation facility are also shown. Mr. Archambault acknowledged that the school site was not big enough to meet the school district’s needs but the concept is to use open space for the school and the public to get the most out of the land. The Aviation Museum is shown next to the recreation center. Mr. Archambault stated the site does not meet the vision of the Delaware Valley Historic Aviation Association (DVHAA) and RKG will continue to discuss their needs with them.
The southern portion of the site is devoted to employment generating uses such as offices, retail and a hotel/conference center. Mr. Archambault explained that a par 3 golf course was added in the middle of one of the office parks as a selling feature and to provide recreation to the public. He added that the hotel /conference center was placed next to the Town Center as it is a complimentary use to the office park and the Town Center.
The middle of the site contains a Critical Care Retirement Community (CCRC) that could include independent living as well as assisted living facilities. Next to the CCRC are townhomes and apartments/condos that the Town Center needs to keep it active. The Town Center location was moved to the center of the site for visibility from both roads. Mr. Archambault commented that the Town Center had a lot of potential, from mom and pop stores to an ice skating rink on the Plaza. There are two activated places for people to spend time; at the Plaza and Festival Park. Horsham Resident Gary Connors asked where the parking was for the Town Center. Mr. Whiteside replied that, using The Glen Town Center in Glenview Illinois as an example, parking decks and parking could be integrated into the Town Center; it is just not shown yet on the map.
Open space of the entire area is larger on this plan and there are different types of open space. Festival Park, Town Square, neighborhood parks, playing fields, pedestrian trails and stormwater management areas make up the 35% of site open space. Mr. Whiteside asked how much more open space would be added through private development. Mr. Archambault indicated that the total was not calculated yet but he thought that 50% of the site will be open land. Mr. Connors asked why the old Horsham School on Easton Road was being shown as open land when it is considered prime real estate. Mr. McGee indicated that it was a former public amenity and the township had purchased the rear of the property as a park. He added that the area on the east side of Route 611 is under- served as far as open space in comparison to the rest of the Township.
Mr. Archambault reviewed the Concept Plan to show the building footprints versus parking. He then explained that all NOI’s approved by the Board in July are accommodated in the plan. RKG is currently in discussions with Bucks County Housing Group/Genesis/TRF and DVHAAA on their NOI requests.
Mr. Archambault asked Jay Etzel of Urban Engineers to discuss traffic impacts and mitigation. Mr. Etzel explained that there will be traffic impacts relating to the redevelopment but there are ways to deal with the traffic. He presented several potential intersection improvements that can help mitigate effects of new development including Norristown Road, Easton/Meetinghouse Road, Easton/Maple Avenue, Easton/Main Gate, Easton/Moreland Road and Horsham Road/Dresher Road. A resident questioned if PennDOT had agreed to all of the improvements. Mr. Etzel answered that they had not been contacted yet but the suggested improvements would require the involvement of PennDOT and other agencies.
Mr. Archambault introduced Kurt Frederick of Weston Solutions to review the Infrastructure needs for the proposed land use. He indicated that the plan showed over 94,000 linear feet of streets which were a combination of local streets, collector roads and major arteries Water and Sewer lines would have to be installed with the main lines installed alongside the new roads. Mr. Frederick noted the existing runways, taxiways and parking aprons covered 85 acres of asphalt and 75 acres of concrete. Mr. Archambault added that these materials could be crushed and recycled for aggregate/base material for new roads. He indicated it is critical to reclaim the materials to keep the cost down. He offered as an example that at The Glen (former NAS Glenview, Il), it cost $28 million to remove the runways but the overall cost was reduced to $5.5 million as they were able to use the recycled material for the new roads and in other structures. Mr. Frederick stated, based on review of historical drawings, the runway is 3 inches asphalt with 18 inches stone base. The concrete ends of the runway are 10 inches of reinforced concrete and the aprons are 9-14 inches of unreinforced concrete.
Mr. Archambault reviewed the Economic and Fiscal Impacts portion of the presentation. He indicated that the entire build-out could take decades and yield more than 5,000 permanent jobs. The net fiscal impact to the community would be positive. A question from the Board last month on the Town Center Retail Demand was answered by Mr. Archambault. He stated that 1,747 new residential units are needed in order to balance revenues versus expenditures. Mr. Archambault finished his presentation and turned the meeting back over to the Board for questions and comments.
Mr. McGee noted that a recent visit to The Glen Town Center in Glenview, Illinois yielded several good examples of how a successful redevelopment can be implemented. He pointed out that it was important to learn from their experiences. He urged the Board to not get bogged down in the details of roads and parking at this point in the process. He noted that the redevelopment could be guided by acquiring the property through an economic development conveyance (EDC). Mr. Archambault indicated he also visited The Glen with the HLRA staff and shared how they took control of the project and set standards that they wanted followed with a developer working next to them. Mr. McGee added that there are many qualities of The Glen that resemble Horsham.
Mr. Nelson questioned how many new signalized intersections were included in the plan and their costs. Mr. Etzel answered two; the cost would be approximately $250,000 per intersection and if you need to buy right of ways the cost would be higher. Mr. Nelson inquired if any contact had been made with Commonwealth Corporate Center regarding the road through Tournament Drive. Mr. Archambault indicated no conversation has happened as of yet, the drawing is more conceptual in order for Urban Engineers to complete their transportation study.
A question from Mr. Nelson on all NOI’s being accommodated was answered by Mr. Archambault. He stated that he had met today with BCHG/Genesis/TRF and the DVHAA to discuss their requests. Mr. Nelson also wanted to get a sense of how far from the ¼ acre lots the Town Center was. Mr. Frederick indicated 2 miles. Mr. Nelson asked if 17 acres was typical acreage for a hotel and if there was a market for it. Mr. Archambault answered that acreage could accommodate 175 rooms, 30-40,000 sq. ft. of conference area and the remainder would be offices. He added that the need may arise as the base starts to mature.
Mr. Nelson inquired if anyone had been contacted yet in regard to the need for a Recreation Center. Mr. Archambault responded that it was added to the plan based on comments from the Board. Mr. Nelson questioned where we are in environmental cleanup and does the Navy clean the site up to the quality of the approved plan. Mr. Archambault answered that some LRA’s have decided they cannot wait for the Navy and have started clean up themselves and the costs offset during the property conveyance negotiations. Mr. Schlossberg, BRAC Special Counsel, indicated that current DoD policy to is to remediate any contamination to levels consistent to “like-use”. If additional cleanup was necessary to implement the redevelopment, those costs would be considered a project cost.
Mr. Nelson asked Mr. Griffin if 14 acres was enough for a school site and was the school district planning for an elementary school or middle school. Mr. Griffin indicated that 14 acres was not enough to meet state Department of Education guidelines for a middle school. The base level for a middle school is 20 acres plus one acre for each 100 full-time equivalent students in projected enrollment. He added that the districts smallest school, Crooked Billet Elementary, is built on 14 acres and Keith Valley on 36 acres so clearly a middle school would not fit. Mr. Griffin stated he was concerned about not just the land on the base but other areas that will be building in the community.
Mr. Theurer questioned what the current acreage was of the DVHAA Museum. A DVHAA representative thought it was around seven acres. Mr. McGee indicated he would look at the lease agreement for clarification on the exact acreage and send it to the Board. A question from Mr. Theurer on the need for an additional movie theater when one was on County Line Road was answered by Mr. Archambault. He stated that the Town Center would be a dynamic region and there may be a need for another facility.
Mr. Bissig questioned if there were any thoughts to partner with Commonwealth Golf Course for the par 3 golf course. Mr. Archambault indicated that they viewed the golf course as more of a recreational amenity with public access. He stated it would be lit at night for a nighttime amenity. Mr. McGee added that the driving range and miniature golf would be closing on Route 611 as the property had been sold. The township could own the proposed par 3 golf course and lease out the property for this use as it could be a great recreational amenity.
Mr. Whiteside inquired if there was any reason why the ¼ acre lots could not be ½ acre lots too for variation. Mr. Archambault answered that it would be a possibility. Mr. McGee submitted to the Board to ask RKG for less yield in the plan. He has also asked RKG to provide examples of the similar housing developments in the Delaware Valley which have the same density as those shown on the plan. He also asked how the plan could be successful with fewer units Mr. Archambault indicated that the current plan was still conceptual and detailed analysis is not currently available.
Mr. Whiteside asked if Mr. McGee had any thoughts or recommendations. Mr. McGee responded that the Board needed to review Option D and provide comments and/or questions to RKG in the next couple of weeks. The current deadline for submission of the plan is December 18, 2011 and he recommended the Board to approve an action to request an extension of time to allow sufficient time for review and for any subsequent revisions. This will also give us time to work with the NOI applicants.
With no further questions from the Board, Mr. Whiteside invited the public to provide comments and/or ask questions. Several community members made the following comments:
Tom Johnson of Horsham asked about the need for delaying the submission. Mr. Archambault explained that the redevelopment plan has to be a plan that the Horsham community endorses. Mr. McGee added that the government needs to know that the plan is viable which will allow them to determine the value of the property. Mr. Whiteside indicated it has to be a plan we like and one that is going to work. The plan has to be viable in order to establish value.
Gary Connors of Horsham indicated he thought the 14 acres for the school was too small considering they asked for 60 acres. Mr. Archambault indicated they would rethink the school property. Mary Dare of Horsham stated not enough money was spent on the middle school age kids and accepting any less than 60 acres was doing a disservice to the kids.
Ed Dudlick, member of the DVHAA Board, stated he had concerns about the existing large structures and the need to demolish them. He indicated the DVHAA could use those structures. Robert Winokur of Horsham asked what the purpose was of sending traffic to Keith Valley Road. Mr. Archambault responded that it is practical to have a center roadway network spine to move people in and out of site. John Kresky asked if at The Glen the $600,000 homes were built on a similar boulevard. Mr. Archambault responded that the homes at The Glen were built on a major road but not a boulevard. Mr. Kresky then asked if the hotel was going to block the view of the Town Center. Mr. Archambault indicated you can see the Town Center across the proposed Festival Park. Mr. Kresky followed up by asking about the NOI for the homeless and where they would be located. Mr. Archambault responded that the discussions with the homeless service providers were still on-going.
Paul Gallagher of Horsham asked about off-site road improvements for traffic such as the intersection improvements needed at Blair Mill and Easton Roads. Mr. Etzel responded that Urban Engineers was looking possible improvements along the Route 611 corridor. He noted that PennDOT has not reviewed nor approved any of the concepts.
Paula Winokur of Horsham stated that, in his opinion, the proposed plan was too dense, compared to the current atmosphere in Horsham, which is really open. Mark Zlotnick of Horsham indicated that he felt the plan was missing a “wow” factor. Barbara Zlotnick of Horsham commented that she thought kids would not walk to school.
After public comment, the Board continued with the remaining items on the agenda.
Mr. Whiteside asked for the will of the Board regarding the minutes of the HLRA meeting on October 19, 2011. It was moved by Ms. Furia, second by Mr. Bissig to approve the minutes of the October 19, 2011 HLRA meeting. Mr. Nelson commented that on page three of the minutes his concern was not in regard to the density of the plan but the size of the development. Ms. Furia moved to approve the Meeting Minutes for October 19, 2011 with the change as indicated. Mr. Bissig seconded the motion. All voted in favor, motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Whiteside asked Mr. McGee to provide the Executive Director’s Report. Mr. McGee recommended that the Board take action ratifying the request for a three month extension for submission of the redevelopment plan. It was moved by Mr. Nelson, second by Mr. Burns to approve the extension request. All in favor, motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Whiteside asked for the Solicitor’s Report. Mr. McGee indicated that Ms. Eberle was not in attendance at the meeting but she had advised him that she had no report at this time.
Mr. Whiteside asked for the will of the Board regarding the list of checks. Mr. Nelson questioned if the travel reimbursement checks to Tom Ames, Mike McGee and William Whiteside were for their trip to The Glen. Mr. McGee indicated that was correct. It was moved by Mr. Bissig, second by Ms. Furia to approve the list of checks in the amount of $25,023.19. All in favor, motion passed unanimously.
Under additional business, Mr. McGee asked the Board if they would like to keep the December 21, 2011 meeting an afternoon meeting as was currently scheduled. The main purpose of the meeting would be to firm up direction to RKG (who was not expected to be in attendance). The board was in general agreement that the meeting would remain scheduled for 3:00 PM. Ms. Furia questioned if the Board would be asked to approve the plan on December 21, 2011. Mr. McGee stated the plan needed further refinement and the meeting could be used to establish the schedule for the next three (3) months. Mr. Nelson inquired when any additional review meetings would be arranged. Mr. McGee indicated he would like to start as early as the following week and would be in touch with the Board. He noted that it may be difficult to get a quorum of the board given the holiday season and the end of the fiscal year.
Mr. Whiteside announced the next HLRA meeting would be on December 21 at 3:00 p.m. in the Horsham Township Municipal Building. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:27 p.m.
William T. Walker