Board of Supervisors Meeting on Monday, March 15 to Include Announcement of Sidewalk Subcommittee Members

The February 22 Board of Supervisors motion to reverse the St. Davids Golf Club decision included the creation of a  joint sidewalk subcommittee; members to come from the Board, Planning Commission and Sidewalks, Trails and Paths (STAP) Committee.  This subcommittee is to re-examine where the residents want sidewalks in the township and then create a formal process and procedure to design, develop and construct sidewalks and paths in Tredyffrin.  The agenda for the Monday, March 15 Board of Supervisors meeting includes an announcement of the sidewalk subcommittee members.  I am curious which members of the 3 organizations will be on the sidewalk subcommittee.  Personally, I would have liked the sidewalk subcommittee to include a couple of  residents (non-Tredyffrin board/committee members) to bring a different perspective.  Just a thought.

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28 Responses

  1. I agree Pattye. I think someone posted previously — with the 3 groups, you have the Planning Commission (who already refused the SDGC request for a waiver), the STAP (who presumably have already reviewed and endorsed these paths), and the BOS — who approved the existing plan but now are on record as calling the plan “visionary” and have indicated an interest in taking back power from the planning commission.
    So — you have two powerless factions and one overpowering faction. Outside voices would at least provide observations of the dynamics — but I’m guessing Chairman Lammina wants it the way he wants it — why consider alternatives? Let’s see who is ON the committee from the BOS? Olson? Lamina? Kampf? Rubber Stamp Richter? Is Lamina picking the reps from the other two components? So could Bruce Parkinsen come from STAP? Or are those two groups identifying their own representatives?

    No win situation. We at least need a foreman for this jury!

    • I could not agree more. As a starting point, I assume that there is no way there could be a St. Davids GC member on the subcommittee (Bruce Parkinson is a Rep Committeeperson, St. Davids GC and STAP committeeperson). I do not think any other STAP committee people are SDGC members nor are there any current BOS members who are SDGC members. Planning Commissioners . . . I know 3 that are not STGC members but unsure about the rest. I think that the only BOS members who should be on the subcommittee are the 3 who voted against the original sidewalkd motion which would be JD, Michelle and Phil. Another interesting dynamic will be whether there are 2/3 from each group or will the BOS have the 3 members and the other groups have 2. Although I guess it really doesn’t matter because the BOS can trump everyone anyways . . . we have at least learned that much from past history. I like your idea of a foreman — my vote would have been Judy DiFilippo, she would bring a return to civility.

      • Really? You think the only people from the BOS that should sit on the sidewalk committee are the ones who agree with you about sidewalks. Who then would represent those of us who don’t want sidewalks in our neighborhood?

        With the exception of Parkinson the entire STAP committee are zealots for sidewalks. As I understand it all or almost the entire PC voted to require the sidewalks in the first place, so I am sure they will be objective.

        The BOS are the only ones who represent and are accountable to the voters. They should be represented by people who voted on both sides of the SDGC debacle. I fear we are going to get stuck with a sidewalk most of us don’t want.

        • Fox Chapel Res — Frankly, for me the debate was never about ‘sidewalks’ – it was about the land development contract which was signed between Tredyffrin Township and St. Davids Golf Club. The land development contract required the construction of sidewalks. For me, the sidewalk represents precedent for the future. Based on this decision, any developer working in the township with a contract can decide they don’t want to put in the sidewalk, curbing, streetlights, or whatever was required in the land development contract simply because they don’t want to — and can use St. Davids GC as the precedent. The ‘sidewalk’ was just a symbol — could have been anything. I appreciate that there may be people who don’t want the sidewalk — that discussion should have all occurred before the contract was signed by the township and the applicant, not after the contract was signed. STAP committee members are by no means ‘zealots for sidewalks’; they are simply following the approved comprehensive plan and the planning commissioner’s decision.

          Interesting that you think that you will have a sidewalk that you don’t want. I don’t think there’s much chance of that happening — if I was a betting person (based on how this process has worked so far) I’d bet there is little chance that St. Davids will ever build the sidewalks. The estimated savings of $80-100K to St. Davids by not building the sidewalks will also never find its way in to the township bank account. I believe that I suggested that there be a couple of ‘regular’ residents who were not supervisors, STAP or Planning members to be part of the sidewalk subcommittee — that was my suggestion to level the playing field for both sides. This is just my opinion, that’s all.

        • You are both being somewhat disingenuous when you talk about the contract and following the rules. I am sure you both know Planning Commission had no right to require the sidewalk. SD raised the issue before the PC and was effectively told that the only way they would get their approvals was build the sidewalk or litigate.

          The Planning Commission effectively extorted $25,000 to go to their pet project. (Or if you want to use Pattye’s numbers $80k-$100k. SD decided it was cheaper to pay the $25k then litigate. Unfortunately, the Twp’s estimate was way off. The PC has done this same shake down several times and it was wrong for all of them.

          If you care about rules then you should both be incensed by what the Planning Commission has done to SD and elsewhere. Where the PC has extorted improvements (required improvements outside of the code) the developers should be relieved of the obligation. Where those improvements have been made, the Twp should be sued to recover the cost. There is no point to having a code if the commissions feel they can ignore them and just shake people down when they are making improvements to the community. The BOS has a responsibility to reign these folks in.

          I too have a problem with the BOS action but only on procedure. The outcome was correct.

          • This comment really confuses me. I confess that I know virtually noting about the negotiations between the PC and SD leading to the contract at issue and would be happy to learn more, but the suggestion that the PC “require[d] the sidewalk” and the idea that the BOS should “reign in” the PC makes no sense. First, the PC has no right to require ANYTHING, let alone sidewalks. Here is the authority vested in the PC by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (http://mpc.landuselawinpa.com/mpc_full2.html):

            “Section 209.1. Powers and Duties of Planning Agency.

            (a) The planning agency shall at the request of the governing body have the power and shall be required to:

            (1) Prepare the comprehensive plan for the development of the municipality as set forth in this act, and present it for the consideration of the governing body.

            (2) Maintain and keep on file records of its action. All records and files of the planning agency shall be in the possession of the governing body.

            (b) The planning agency at the request of the governing body may:

            (1) Make recommendations to the governing body concerning the adoption or amendment of an official map.

            (2) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality a zoning ordinance, and make recommendations to the governing body on proposed amendments to it as set forth in this act.

            (3) Prepare, recommend and administer subdivision and land development and planned residential development regulations, as set forth in this act.

            (4) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality a building code and a housing code and make recommendations concerning proposed amendments thereto.

            (5) Do such other acts or make such studies as may be necessary to fulfill the duties and obligations imposed by this act.

            (6) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality an environmental study.

            (7) Submit to the governing body of a municipality a recommended capital improvements program.

            (7.1) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality a water survey, which shall consistent with the State Water Plan and any applicable water resources plan adopted by a river basin commission. The water survey shall be conducted in consultation with any public water supplier in the area to be surveyed.

            (8) Promote public interest in, and understanding of, the comprehensive plan and planning.

            (9) Make recommendations to governmental, civic and private agencies and individuals as to the effectiveness of the proposals of such agencies and individuals.

            (10) Hold public hearings and meetings.

            (10.1) Present testimony before any board.

            (11) Require from other departments and agencies of the municipality such available information as relates to the work of the planning agency.

            (12) In the performance of its functions, enter upon any land to make examinations and surveys with the consent of the owner.

            (13) Prepare and present to the governing body of the municipality a study regarding the feasibility and practicability of using renewable energy sources in specific areas within the municipality.

            (14) Review the zoning ordinance, subdivision and land development ordinance, official map, provisions for planned residential development, and such other ordinances and regulations governing the development of land no less frequently than it reviews the comprehensive plan.”

            So, as the MPC makes clear, the PC cannot require any action by a landowner or developer, it only can make recommendations (about a broad range of topics) to the BOS. The BOS has to vote to approve any proposal by the PC.

            If the PC negotiated a contract with SD that required the construction of sidewalks, the BOS had to vote to approve that contract before it could become effective. SD had the right to make its case to the BOS before that happened. If the BOS voted to approve the SD contract (which I assume it did), then wasn’t it complicit in the alleged “extortion”?

            The time for the BOS to “reign in” the PC is when the PC presents a contract or other recommendation to the BOS that the BOS believes is inappropriate, not months or years later after the BOS approves the proposal.

            What am I missing?

            • First, I am not a member of SDGC. Sorry, I was not clear. I live in Saint Davids and am a golfer who someday would love to belong to SDGC.

              In this township the Planning Commission has final land development authority. I believe they are appealed to Common Pleas Court but I will leave that to one of the lawyers. I think it is highly likely that if SDGC had to litigate for their approvals, they would have had a significant delay in construction and probably lost a lot of money from the inability to book banquets.

              To John- the only ones who are making this a Republican/Democrat thing are the wing nuts.

              • “In this township the Planning Commission has final land development authority.”

                Do you know where it says that? Don’t get me wrong — I am not questioning the veracity of your statement. I just want to know from where the Tredyffrin PC derives its authority so I can better understand this issue.

                • Thanks, Pattye. I did some digging to find the legal documents that actually provide this authority to the Planning Commission and wanted to pass along the results of that research:

                  The authority is contained in the Tredyffrin Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance. Here is a link to it: http://www.tredyffrin.org/pdf/community/subdivision-and-land-development-ordinance.pdf.

                  Section 181-5(C) of the Ordinance (p. 2-3) vests the following authority in the Planning Commission with respect to land development plans: “[T]he Board of Supervisors hereby decrees that the Planning Commission of Tredyffrin Township shall have the responsibility and the authority to perform the following functions . . . (3) the Planning Commission, after review of land development plans, shall approve or deny approval of such plans in accordance with Article V, Land Development Procedures, hereof.”

                  Article 5 of the Ordinance (starting on p. 27) addresses land development plan procedures. Section 181-24(B) (p. 29) gives the Planning Commission the following authority: “In its decision on [a] preliminary [land development] plan, the Planning Commission may specify conditions, changes, modifications, or additions to the application which the Commission deems necessary and may make a decision to grant preliminary approval subject to such conditions, changes, modifications, or additions, citing appropriate ordinance provisions.”

                  Section 181-26(E) of the Ordinance (p. 32), provides that: “Every final plan approval shall be subject to these further conditions: (1) The applicant shall execute a subdivisions and land development agreement in accordance with Article VII hereof.”

                  Article VII of the Ordinance, in Section 181-33 (p. 35), provides that: “The applicant shall execute an agreement, in form and substance acceptable to the Board of Supervisors and Township Solicitor, before a final plan for either a subdivision or land development is released by the Board of Supervisors and filed with the County Recorder of Deeds.”

                  The township provides a form Subdivision/Land Development Agreement on its webpage: http://www.tredyffrin.org/pdf/subdivision/subdivision-and-land-development-agreement.pdf. Note that the agreement must be signed by the Chairman of Board of Supervisors on behalf of the Township, not by the Planning Commission.

                  I do not know what authority, if any, the Chairman has to refuse to sign an Agreement with which he disagrees. But, I do know that the agreement would need to be signed at a public meeting in order to be effective, so the applicant would have the opportunity to address any issues it had with the agreement at that meeting.

                • JudgeNJury- You are the best. Thank you for all the research you do and the elevation of the dialogue. I am sure the SDGC could have appealed to the BOS, but I imagine the approval of the land development contract at that point is largely perfunctory.

                  I would think that an appeal to Common Pleas Court would be extremely time consuming and probably expensive. A $25k payment to get rid of the problem seems prudent. I would value your thoughts on if the land development code calls for sidewalks in SDGC case. My reading is not, but I think it is sufficiently vague as to what constitutes unusual prospective traffic.

                  Thanks again for great points, research and tone.

                • SD Golfer — Thank you for the kind words. What section of the land development code are you analyzing? I’d like to take a look at it.

                • Subdivision and Land Development – Section M page 64-65

                  1) Sidewalks shall be required in every subdivision or land development in order to continue sidewalks that are existing in adjacent developments or to provide access to community facilities (schools, shopping areas, recreation area, etc.) or to ensure safety of pedestrians in unusual or peculiar conditions with respect to prosepctive traffic.

                  If I were on the PC, I would say they were required because of the to “ensure safety” language. However it does not seem to me that there was anything unusual or perculiar in respect to prospective traffic. If it had been a major subdivision or office development or something else that would greatly increase traffic I would be with them 100%.

                  Thanks for checking it out.

                • I agree that Section 181-46(M)(1) is not a model of clarity. It talks about “unusual or peculiar conditions with respect to prospective traffic” but the Ordinance does not define what any of those terms mean. One reasonable reading is yours — that “prospective traffic” refers to new traffic patterns that will emerge as a result of the subdivision or land development at issue. But the Ordinance does not actually say that, so one could just as easily argue that prospective traffic means “future traffic,” regardless of whether it relates to the development project at hand. So if, for instance, there are traffic studies showing that the traffic on Upper Gulph Road is expected to increase in future years (having nothing to do with the golf club), perhaps that qualifies as “prospective traffic.” And, if so, what is an “unusual or peculiar condition” with respect to that traffic? The Ordinance does not say, which means full employment for us lawyers, but confusion for everyone else.

                  Adding to the confusion, Section 181-46(M)(1) defines when sidewalks are required (“Sidewalks shall be required when . . .”). In other words, the Township MUST require sidewalks if the conditions in (M)(1) are met. One could, I think, fairly read a negative implication into that language — i.e., if the conditions are not met, the Township cannot require sidewalks. But, again, the Ordinance does not actually say that (it says “Sidewalks shall be required when . . .” but does not say “Sidewalks ONLY may be required when . . .”). So one could easily argue that just because sidewalks are not required under (M)(1) as part of a given development plan does not mean that the Township is prohibited from requiring them if it so chooses.

                  Add to this the fact that other sections of Article IX appear to give the Township a great deal of discretion to impose conditions on development. For instance, Section 181-42(A) says that “The standards and requirements specified in this chapter shall be considered minimum standards and requirements for the protection and promotion of public health, safety and general welfare, and the township reserves the right to increase the same when and if conditions warrant.”

                  And Section 181-46(M)(10) says: “At the discretion of the Planning Commission, in conjunction with an application for land development, a system of bicycle, equestrian and/or pedestrian paths for public use generally unrelated to and separate from streets may be required and secured by dedication or easement. Such paths shall be consistent with any existing plans specified by the township so as to encourage the formation of an interconnecting trail network both within and beyond the Township . . . .”

                  Years ago, back in law school, they taught us that the answer to almost every legal question starts with “it depends.” This issue seems to follow that general rule.

                • I agree with your assessment. I hope this new committee takes a serious look at tightening up the language related to sidewalks. My earlier commentary was probably too aggressive and I regret my contribution to the decline in civility which should not be exhibited by those who really believe Community Matters. I still remain concerned about government agencies requiring infrastructure improvements simply because someone wants to make a general improvement in the township.

                  I would guess that SDGC would have eventually gone under if they could not compete for the banquet business that is critical to the financial health of a club; and then we would be looking at a monstrous subdivision. As a township we should want to see capital investment by property owners and be as minimal an impediment as possible.

                • Just playing devil’s advocate, wouldn’t a giant subdivision generate much larger revenues in RE taxes as well as a large, one-time transfer tax revenue? As a general policy, I can’t disagree but whether the township would benefit from St. David’s vs. a subdivision – that isn’t so cut and dry. Unless of course St. David’s wants to offer me some free golf!

                • You may have a point. I would suppose it would depend on the density of the subdivision. I would expects they would get a lot houses and those houses would likely bring kids. Most houses with kids don’t cover their cost. I don’t know how close to capacity we are currently running in the schools, but we sure don’t want to be building new ones in this market. (I would think we have had an uptick in enrollment just from those who can no longer pay for private school.

                • >>
                  I know of at least one case that was argued to the BOS and the BOS struck down the one provision form the planning commission.
                  <<

                  John — Was this a land development plan (as opposed to a subdivision plan)? If so, I don't understand how the BOS can, on the one hand, purport to delegate authority over land development plans to the PC and then, on the other hand, claim to overrule the PC's "final" decisions. Seems rather inconsistent. All I know is, whatever they are paying the Township Solicitor, it cannot be enough!

                • John Petersen says:
                  “The other is about dishonesty, elitism, backdoor dealing and political favoritism”

                  Ha. The pot calling the kettle black. Did you copy that line off your resume?

                  When Kampf wins the primary and the 157th seat, what are you going to do then? How about blaming the electorate, all those stupid pee-on voters who are, unfortunately, not brilliant like you and can’t seem to piece all the conspiracies together.

                  After seeing all your crazy ranting posts all over this blog, it makes me wonder – If you are so much better than Kampf (and all the other various people who serve/have served the township that you constantly lambaste), why don’t you run for office? Sounds like you have all the answers, right?

            • You are missing nothing. The extortion comment
              is nothing more than Lamina, Olson, Kampf and
              Ricthter talking points. They actually managed to
              get some guy named Terry to speak up at the last
              meeting.

              It never ceases to amaze me how many lemmings
              are in this community.

            • For the record, and as I explained in detail below (scroll down in the comments), Tredyffrin Township has by ordinance expanded the rights of the PC beyond the default rights vested in it by the MPC, so my original statement that the PC has no right to require conduct was not correct.

      • She has my vote, for the reason you mentioned.

  2. Again, a lawyer advocating ligitation if you have an issue. No doubt you could have done that for less than $25K….as the retainer. And again, no information from JP — just a smack and another nasty nickname offered.

    SD Golfer — planning commissions in this community are perhaps the least demanding of any place I have ever lived. (I’ve lived here all my life but spent college years in Illinois and Michigan) Any kind of development usually requires some kind of “ante” into the system. Tredyffrin itself gets 1% transfer tax — others get just 1/2% of sales. I lived in Illinois and developers building a street of homes put in street lights, sidewalks, sewers and paid fees that cover the costs of every inspection (and other inspections of non profits as well). So the $25K might seem onerous around here — and I don’t know the ordinances you reference, but if this township is to get sidewalks built where we can all agree they should be, then every project needs to be assessed for the pot. If you don’t have to build it next to you, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be built someplace else…and if the money only comes from the adjacent property owner (as it traditionally was here), you will end up with ZERO sidewalks.

    • I wasn’t advocating litigation. Rather, I was questioning why the SD folks didn’t choose to avail themselves of other remedies. At no time did anybody from the St. Golf Club address the BOS at a public meeting. that would have been a great start.

      The sidewalks area core part of the comprehensive plan. As you point out correctly, the only way you achieve the planning goals is to bootstrap onto development. I can tell you that all of the time, much is agreed to in the development process that technically speaking, developers are not required to do under the ordinance. As you also correctly point out, it is cheaper than litigation. As a cost of business, things like sidewalks get built. The University of PA appears to be OK with it re: their new building.

      I served for about 2 years on the ZHB. I am quite familiar with how the system works.

      Personally, I don’t like litigation as a way to solve problems. That said, it is a device that can be helpful. It certainly worked re: the BOS and the St. David’s decision….

  3. I don’t want to hijack this thread, but since we have someone from the Golf Club posting (SD Golfer), I have a few thoughts.

    With the arguments I have seen to date, I don’t see the need for the sidewalk. However, SDGC signed a contract. SG Golfer, why can’t you honor the contract?

    If you truly want to get out of the contract, what else can you offer the community? I am curious what SDGC has done for the community it is in? Have you ever sponsored activities for the neighborhood, contributed to any township needs (library, parks, etc), or participated in any events?

    Going back to procedure: say the new sidewalk committee decides that we don’t need the sidewalk. Then what? The contract is still in force. If the township decides that they will not enforce it, it seems that someone from the community could sue to make them build it anyway – not sure who would have standing to do it, but there is probably someone.

    Finally, we seem to still be in the same rut of no one thinking long term strategy. I think the new sidewalk committee could be a good thing – a logical next step to refining the Comprehensive Plan. The Plan identified vision, the committee could refine it into actionable strategy.

  4. John – not even going to take the time to read your comments. I hope things get better for you.

    All the best.

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