Planning Division

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Mission

The Township's Planning Department provides a high level of service and maintains absolute integrity and honesty assuring customers of the Department's commitment to safety, sound planning, promotion of economic development opportunities and the quality of life issues. Promote and protect the public health, safety and welfare throughout the coordinated and practical development of the Township as outlined in the Zoning Code. partner with Township residents and the development and commercial business community to encourage development that protects the aestetic character of the community and balances the changing needs in a comprehensive manner that culminates in the safe and timely completion of construction and development projects.

Responsibilities:

(include but are not limited to)

  • Implementing comprehensive building & planning goals and land use policies by preparing recommendations for amendments to Township Codes.
  • Developing and overseeing long range comprensive planning efforts. Evaluating and developing Township land use policies for recommendation to the Board of Commissioners.
  • Reviewing subdivision, land development and Conditional Use applications according to Township Codes within legal time limits. Facilitating coordination with Commissioners, Township Engineer, staff applicants and their representatives, and neighborhood groups. Negotiating  solutions to development issues and providing recommendations to the various advisory boards and the Board of Commissioners.
  • Ensuring that Conditions of Approval imposed on zoning, subdivision, land development and Conditional Use applications are met.
  • Coordinating with the Township Engineer's office to review traffic and transportation proposals for subdivisions and land development proposals.
  • Maintaining and analyzing demographic, census, and land use statistics.
  • Preserving community character through open space, streetscape and historic preservation efforts.
  • Implementing and managing Township approved redevelopment plans including the Ardmore Transit Center Plan, the Bryn Mawr Master Plan, Bala avenue and City Avenue Streetscape Plans, Rock Hill Road/Belmont Avenue Transportation Service Area (TSA) and City Avenue TSA.

Categories

Building & Planning Committee (Special)

Co-Chairs: Commissioners Elizabeth S. Rogan & Philip S. Rosenzweig
Vice-Chairs: Commissioners George T. Manos & Daniel S. Bernheim

PRELIMINERY SPECIAL AGENDA

This is a continuation of the December 9th Special B&P dealing with the Comprehensive Plan.
Note: If you have a copy of the Executive Summary of the Comprehensive Plan, please bring it to this meeting.

  1. HISTORICAL COMMISSION

    1. Consider for recommendation to the Board a proposal at 111 Bryn Mawr Avenue, Class 2, Bala Cynwyd, 2015-R-22 to construct a three story addition to the rear of the existing home.

    2. THE HISTORICAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION WILL BE PROVIDED ON THE FINAL AGENDA

      PUBLIC COMMENT

    3. Consider for recommendation to the Board a proposal at 250 Old Gulph Road, Friends Central School, Lower Campus, Class 2, Wynnewood, 2015-R-24 to convert an existing carriage house into educational space including the removal of an existing addition on the interior courtyard, the construction of a paved courtyard, the repair and repointing of existing masonry, restoration of existing wood windows and the repair of existing rafter tails. Existing non-wood windows will be replaced with clad wood windows.

    4. THE HISTORICAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION WILL BE PROVIDED ON THE FINAL AGENDA

      PUBLIC COMMENT

    5. Consider for recommendation to the Board a proposal at 1400 Waverly Road, Waverly Heights, Class 2, Gladwyne, 2015-LD-29 to construct a 10 unit apartment building and construct an addition onto the Carlton Commons Building. The applicant requests a waiver to not provide an updated Historic Resource Impact Study.

    6. THE HISTORICAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION WILL BE PROVIDED ON THE FINAL AGENDA

      PUBLIC COMMENT

    7. Consider for recommendation to the Board a proposal at 719 New Gulph Road, Perry House, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, 2015-D-30, to demolish the building.

    8. THE HISTORICAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION WILL BE PROVIDED ON THE FINAL AGENDA

      PUBLIC COMMENT

    9. Consider for recommendation to the Board a proposal at 75 St. James Place, Suburban Square, Class 2, Ardmore, 2015-LD-31, to demolish the existing train shed behind Trader Joes.

    10. THE HISTORICAL COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION WILL BE PROVIDED ON THE FINAL AGENDA

      PUBLIC COMMENT

  2. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENTS: LAND USE ELEMENT

  3. Consider for recommendation to the Board the following proposed amendments to the Land Use Element of A Comprehensive Plan for the Preservation, Infill, and Redevelopment of Lower Merion Township as discussed at the public hearing on October 28, 2015, and on Monday, November 16, 2015.

    Residential Land Use:

    Note: The Residential Land Use chapter was discussed at length at the 12/9/15 B&P meeting. The suggested amendments to this chapter are included below in the highlighted text.

    Residential Land Use:

    LR1.a Consider alternatives, including but not limited to increasing the minimum lot width or the minimum lot size, to discourage manage further subdivision in the low density residence residential districts.

    LR5.a Consider establishing a requirement that large scale residential development provide an economic impact study to demonstrate the impact of the development on, among other things, infrastructure, and services and other aspects of the community.

    LR5.b Consider establishing a procedure for applicants proposing large scale residential development, and subdivisions creating more than three (3) lots from one (1) lot, offer to present their development plans at a meeting of a recognized community organization with jurisdiction over the subject property (if any), with boundaries that include the applicant’s property and if the community organization desires to hold a meeting, it must be completed before Township action on the applications. (New Recommendation)

    LR8 Refine Review and revise as appropriate the Mixed-Use Special Transportation District (MUST) and the Rock Hill Overlay District (ROHO) to ensure that additional residential development is all allowed uses are fully integrated with commercial uses and achieves the desired goals of the districts.

    LR9 Evaluate parking standards and incentives to ensure that new proposed development accommodates parking needs for the new use development and does not lead to parking in residential neighborhoods or take away from business parking.

    Institutional Land Use:

    Note: The Institutional Land Use chapter was discussed at length at the 12/9/15 B&P meeting. The suggested amendments to this chapter are included below in the highlighted text.

    Table 5.21: Private Schools in Lower Merion Township – Add a note to indicate that the Sisters of Mercy are also located on the Waldron Mercy-Merion Mercy campus.

    Table 5.25: Cultural, Religious and Other Private Educational Institutions – Add a row to include the Sisters of Mercy, and a row to include the Jesuit Community at Saint Joseph’s University in the chart.

    LI1.a Develop and r Require ‘concept visualization tools’ to promote improved public understanding of complex land development projects over five-acres in size in all zoning districts.

    LI2 Establish specific regulations for institutional uses five-acres and larger, particularly private educational uses to ensure that future growth is compatible with surrounding uses. sympathetic to its surroundingscompatible with its surroundings.

    LI3 Review and refine special exception standards governing small scale institutional uses under five-acres in size to ensure that future growth is compatible with surrounding uses. sympathetic to is surroundingscompatible with its surroundings.

    LI4.d Encourage institutions to list eligible properties on the Historic Resources Inventory to preserve historic resources throughout the Township. Continue refining township codes to permit neighborhood oriented institutional properties under five-acres to convert to residential or potentially other low-intensity uses.

    LI6 Discourage Manage the external impacts of the commercialization intensification of institutional properties by developing policies and specific requirements to establish limit unreasonable use of institutional facilities. and place appropriate limits, to addressThis includes managing the increasing demand for outside use, which include accessory camps.Manage the external impacts of activities occurring on institutional properties, particularly when the frequency and/or intensity of use is proposed to increase. Develop general policies, clear guidelines and specific requirements for controlling the increased use by outside groups such as other public or private institutions or camps.

    Commercial Land Use:

    LC5 Place maximum sizes on commercial footprints along Traditional Main Streets to retain local commercial environment and ensure new development is scaled to fit existing conditions. Relocate this recommendation beneath the Traditional Main Streets heading. Renumber subsequent recommendations as needed.

    LC6 Develop appropriate bulk and setback controls to achieve desired form for each commercial area typology (Table 5.36).

    LC11 The Township should continue to coordinate work with civic associations and local business owners to improve village streetscape. Particular emphasis should be placed on screening/greening existing parking lots. The Executive Summary will include an explanation that the Township should continue its current practice of partnering with business and civic associations.

    LC14 Consider establishing a requirement that applicants proposing large scale commercial development offer to present their development plans at a meeting of a recognized community organization with jurisdiction over the subject property (if any), and if the community organization desires to hold a meeting, it must be completed before Township action on the applications. (New Recommendation) Renumber subsequent recommendations as needed.

    LC18 Ensure that any revised village scale zoning is consistent with and preserves the Gladwyne Historic District.

    Heading: Neighborhood Main Street – City Avenue (South) Recommendations: From Bala Avenue to Orchard Road along City Avenue - Revise the heading in the Executive Summary as shown (page 34).

    LC43 Coordinate land use with adjacent municipalities to ensure consistent development and design standards consistent with those developed for Lower Merion Township are used for both sides of City Avenue. (OR)

    Continue to refine the Bala Avenue District provisions as necessary to ensure that future development is consistent with the established intent of the ordinance and desired land use and form of the district. (The Board directed staff to modify or clarify language.)

    LC44 Coordinate with Saint Joseph's University to enhance the commercial potential of corridor by providing complementary uses that serve both the University and local residents.

    LC45 Develop consistent architectural and streetscape standards for commercial districts with similar characteristics. Incorporate urban design standards such as designating important intersections for prominent buildings of higher intensity and higher design to create a sense of place. Promote connected building where appropriate and incorporate design standards to visually and functionally integrate freestanding buildings. (The Board directed staff to modify or clarify language.)

    LC57 Continue to explore creation of additional structured public parking through redevelopment of the public parking lot at Lancaster and Bryn Mawr Avenue, and the Central Avenue area, as identified in the Bryn Mawr Master Plan. The Executive Summary will include an explanation that the results of the parking study to be completed in 2015 will be incorporated.

    LC58 Promote commercial area greening by Ccontinueing to recognize exceptional local businesse commercial landscape projects.s with exceptionally green commercial properties and contribute to civic fabric.

    LC60 Explore creation of a business improvement district to provide supplemental streetscape enhancements and district programming promotion.

    LC61 Explore preservation strategies for the upper section of Bala Avenue, including historic district designation. If historic district designation is not practical, develop strategies for preservation of key historic resources assets, such as preservation of architectural elements the Bala Theatre.

    Historic Preservation

    LH1 Consider strategies to A add all properties eligible for Class I status to the local Historic Resource Inventory (HRI). and promote the designation of eligible historic districts. (OR)

    Encourage the addition of properties eligible for Class I status to the local Historic Resource Inventory (HRI).

    LH2 Consider the designation of eligible historic districts. (New Recommendation) Renumber subsequent recommendations as needed.

    LH2 Routinely update the Historic Resource Inventory (HRI) to ensure that it adequately protects identifies the community’s valued historic resources. (OR)

    Routinely update the Historic Resource Inventory (HRI).

    LH3 Broaden the scope of the HRI to include resources, such as objects and and historic sites landscapes, which contribute to the Township’s heritage. (The Board directed staff to modify or clarify language.)

    LH5.c Utilize Evaluate the use of the transfer of development rights (TDR) as enabled by the Municipalities Planning Code to provide a means to compensate property owners for the development potential of their historic property thereby enhancing the appeal of historic designation.

    LH6.a Delineate clear and reasonable criteria related to the burden of proof required by applicants to justify the demolition of an historic property.

    LH8.a Direct Establish a process for the Building and Planning Department, the Historical Architectural Review Board, and the Historical Commission to annually update the Board of Commissioners regarding state and federal historic preservation policy issues. Work with Pennsylvania and federal legislators to shape historic preservation policies important to the Township.

    PUBLIC COMMENT

  4. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENTS: HOUSING ELEMENT
    Consider for recommendation to the Board the following proposed amendments to the Housing Element of A Comprehensive Plan for the Preservation, Infill, and Redevelopment of Lower Merion Township as discussed at the public hearing on October 28, 2015, and on Monday, November 16, 2015.

    Table 6.8: Lower Merion Township Median Household Income & Poverty – Add a footnote explaining data changes from 2010, and the Margin of Error associated with ACS data.

    H4.b Evaluate the staffing levels required to Improve enforcement and the Code requirements and identify potential coordination between the Building & Planning Department, Fire Department, and Solicitor’s office to address properties with ongoing outstanding code violations.

    H9.a Modify zoning provisions leading to speculative land assembly and demolition of existing housing stock in order to construct higher density housing inconsistent with the form, scale and character in identified low and moderate income neighborhoods.

    H11.b Establishing Evaluate effectiveness of the an Affordable Housing Trust Fund and providing inclusionary housing provisions through a fee-in-lieu option.

    PUBLIC COMMENT

  5. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN AMENDMENTS: COMMUNITY FACILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE ELEMENT:
    Consider for recommendation to the Board the following proposed amendments to the Community Facilities and Infrastructure Element of A Comprehensive Plan for the Preservation, Infill, and Redevelopment of Lower Merion Township as discussed at the public hearing on October 28, 2015, and on Monday, November 16, 2015.

    F1.a Train staff to Improve utilization of more effectively utilize the tools provided by the GIS system to track maintenance and update the road conditions.

    F12.h Establish Evaluate the need for a Volunteer Coordinator position to serve as a focal point of an aggressive volunteer recruitment and retention program. (OR)

    Establish a more effective volunteer recruitment and retention program.

    The Executive Summary will include a note in the explanation that the recommendation is from the 2007 Fire Services Study and that similar recommendation are also included in Open Space Plan and Parks and Recreation Plan.

    F13.c Maintain Evaluate the current locations of fire stations in Lower Merion., if the active volunteer membership of the fire companies is maintained.

    F14 Develop funding mechanisms Consider utilizing existing Township services to assist in the existing capital contribution campaign to sustain Fire and EMS services to Township residents. (OR)

    Assess financial concerns to sustain Fire and EMS services to Township residents. (The Board directed staff to modify or clarify language.)

    F16.a Undertake a facilities assessment of all facilities utilized by the Lower Merion Police Department to identify opportunities to improve the Public Safety Building to address the needs of the department. Continue to invest in new technological devices to assist with daily operations and public outreach. This recommendation will be removed. Subsequent recommendations will be renumbered.

    F18.b Assess the current conditions of the libraries and identify opportunities for improvement. This recommendation will be removed. Subsequent recommendations will be renumbered.

    F19.a Routinely Prepare a long range study to evaluate future library needs and to develop strategies to maintain appropriate size of facilities/staffing and technological infrastructure to meet changing technologies, customer desires and customer use patterns. The long range library study should evaluate potential operational and cost efficiencies through ‘right sizing’ in comparison to the current benefits that a neighborhood-oriented system presents regarding community character and civic needs of the Township. (The Board directed staff to modify or clarify language.)

    F19.h Provide adequate staffing levels to provide Evaluate desired levels of service and hours of operation. (OR)

    Delete this recommendation entirely.

    F21 Establish an intergovernmental structure to coordinate long range planning and budgeting between the Lower Merion School District and Lower Merion Township.

    F21.b Work with the LMSD to understand land use implications resulting from increased enrollment public school facilities needs. Develop options permitting public schools to evolve to meet the community’s needs while balancing larger municipal needs as well as land use concerns of neighbors resulting from expanded public school facilities. Evaluate current public school Zoning Code provisions against various future enrollment scenarios.

    F24 Continue conscientious stewardship of public properties by dedicating funding to ongoing facilities improvements, identifying opportunities for public private partnerships and seeing innovative cost recovery methods.

    F25.c Evaluate the future use and identify potential opportunities for the Levering Mill House, if existing ownership/leasing model continues.

    F28 Identify a succession plan for departments that will be affected by a high number of employees retiring. This recommendation will be removed.

    F28a F27.d Establish a training program for government officials, staff and civic associations to improve efficiency/functionality of government/community groups.

    F28.b Establish task force of staff, elected officials, and civic leaders to outline program and objectives. Coordinate with local institutions with leadership training to facilitate training. This recommendation will be removed.

    F29.b Create a Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee to regularly report to the Board of Commissioners to ensure that the Comprehensive Plan is continually implemented. This recommendation will be removed.

    F30 Establish a system where the Township Board of Commissioners, School District Board Members and respective staffs meet to discuss shared issues, delivery of services, public communication and potential shared services. This recommendation will be removed.

    F30.a Continue to work with Lower Merion School District on joint planning, development, use and maintenance of ball fields and game courts (Parks & Recreation Recommendation, page 30). This recommendation will be removed.

    PUBLIC COMMENT

  6. COMPREHENSIVE PLAN ADOPTION

    Consider for recommendation to the Board approval of a resolution in accordance with Section 302(c) of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) adopting A Comprehensive Plan for the Preservation, Infill, and Redevelopment of Lower Merion Township (Comprehensive Plan) dated September 2015.
    (Exhibit A)

    On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, the general consensus of the Planning Commission was to support the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan. Section 302(b) of the MPC requires that the governing body hold at least one public hearing on the proposed Comprehensive Plan. The Board reviewed the Comprehensive Plan at a public hearing on October 28, 2015 and continued the public hearing to Monday, November 16, 2015. The Building & Planning Committee formally made a recommendation to approve the Circulation Element and the Water Resources Element on December 2, 2015. 

    PUBLIC COMMENT 

     

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