Carwash Zoning Hearing (9/29/20)
Notes from the September 29th, Zoning Hearing Board Meeting in Chester Heights, PA
On August 3rd Darin Kapanjie presented his plan to bring an extreme express carwash to Chester Heights at the corner of Valleybrook Road and Baltimore Pike. The first hurdle in building the carwash is to receive a special exception giving him permission under the zoning code to proceed. As noted in the Zoning Hearing Notice the property is currently zoned for a Business. Article VII B Business District of the Zoning Code does NOT have a classification for a carwash in the code. Mr. Kapanjie is therefore asking for an exception based on Article VII Sec. 185-72 H (1&5 )
"The following uses when authorized as a special exception by the Zoning Hearing Board, subject to the general standards provided in Article XV, and provided that special consideration shall be given to the suitability of the use in the proposed location; (1) Gasoline station, automotive repair and or sales....(5)
Any use of the same general character as those enumerated in Subsection F of this section."
The applicant came ready to address THREE main concerns to building a carwash at the corner of Valleybrook Road and Route 1:
1. LIGHT POLLUTION
To address the lighting concern a study was presented to show that the lights from the vacuum stations will not emit past the parking lot. Astute audience members noted that the light trespass concern is not limited to the vacuum stations themselves. Sign and area lighting would also contribute to the potential light pollution. Not to mention the unaccounted for light pollution from the vehicles waiting to enter the wash, leaving the wash, and standing in Valleybrook traffic.
The applicant representative noted that the lighting would be designed to the specification permitted by the borough zoning code and are out of the scope of this hearing. When and if this moves forward the code lighting guidelines will be followed.
Appendix 5 was the star of this presentation for the applicant showing the decibel levels for the vacuums as no more the 57.3 db even with all 30 hoses in use. The comparative sound chart rates show that this is no louder than a quiet office or moderate rainfall. There was no consideration for the sound of the carwash itself noting that it was fully contained in the building and any noise directly from the wash would be negligible.
The concerns over the auxiliary noise that the carwash would generate through added idling of vehicles, loud car stereos, extra beeping due to aggravated drivers stuck at the light was not addressed and was deemed out of the scope of the presentation.
This by far is the most concerning of all issues with regard to the development of 104-106 Baltimore Pike. To that effect, Mr. Kapanjie engaged a traffic engineer, Ms. Nicole Kline, PE.
Both Route 1 and Valleybrook roads are PennDOT roads therefore any construction here requires a PennDOT Highway Occupancy Permit.
The traffic impact study presented concluded that no off-site traffic improvements were required and a few adjustments were needed for on-site traffic which are shown in the Turning Template in Appendix 11.
There were many questions from the audience and the Borough Engineer regarding this matter. First is the approach coming from Stoneybank Road down Route 1 towards Valleybrook Rd. The guidelines say that there is enough sight distance to allow cars to slow down as they approach the light. There is also a recommendation to allow for a full 14ft shoulder to alleviate the potential problem. However, as noted by a resident there is a rise in the road approaching the light, and if cars are backed up to enter the carwash or in the turning lane, there will be a greater risk for accidents at an already dangerous intersection.
Second, is the traffic approaching the light on Valleybrook Road. There is a proposed lengthening of the turning lane by 100ft, but the study notes that this is not a requirement. The presentation was based on traffic patterns observed in pre-COVID conditions to avoid undercounting the vehicle traffic. During the presentation, Ms. Kline noted that the signal should clear all turning traffic in one cycle. This has not been the experience of our residents who have seen traffic backing up to Smithbridge Road. To say that there will be"no discernable impact as a result of development" doesn't feel accurate to the residents of Chester Heights traveling the road each day.
The Borough Solicitor and the Engineer will be reviewing this traffic study with an expert to determine if there are any concerns for the Borough that should be considered. They were given until Friday (10/2/20) to determine if they will be introducing testimony regarding the impact on traffic. The Hearing was extended to October 14th at 7pm and will take place at the Village of Valleybrook Clubhouse.
See the official borough notice for more information.
Additional questions and concerns from the audience included:
Can the design of the Carwash be more representative of the look of the Borough? Perhaps a more Colonial Look? No Response.
What is the standard for the council to grant a special exception? § 185-124: Standards for review of proposed special exception or variance.
What is the impact of the chemicals if any on the water table for residents with wells?
Response: There will be no water leaving the site. This is a self-contained system.
Zoning Hearing Board:
Cynthia McNichols, Esq.
H. Fred Hamel
Justin Buccilli (Alternate)
Chris Furlong ( Solicitor)
Business Representatives and Witnesses:
John Jaros, Esq.
Nichole Kline, PE (Traffic Study)
Jeremy Maziarz, PE
Council & Representatives:
Peter J. Rohana, Esq. - Special Solicitor
Matt Houtman, PE - Borough Engineer
Residents Party to the Hearing
If a resident lives within 500ft of the property they can join as a party to the hearing. In this case that would be all residents from Logtown Rd., Madison Apartments, Highland Reserve, Corner of Walnut Hill Blvd. and 490 Valleybrook Rd. If you enter as a party you have the right to receive all information from the Zoning Board and the applicant with regard to this hearing.
Two residents voiced concerns and became parties to the hearing.
Gloriann Ellis 146 Logtown Rd
Trish Williams 116 Logtown Rd
Three residents participated in public comment raising the concerns noted above.
Kathleen Enright, 245 Windsor Ct
Richard Umani, 245 Windsor Ct
Melinda Kerry, 382 Lenni Rd
The hearing is a legal matter and a court reporter was present. The full transcript should be made available by the borough after the hearing concludes on October 14th.
Links to the Applicant's Exhibits