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The Cornwall Borough Planning and Zoning Commission gave Cornwall Properties feedback on waiver requests for the developer’s 131-home subdivision plan at its meeting Monday, April 1.

The plan is available for review below.

While borough engineer Josh Weaber is still working with Cornwall Properties to review the plan’s resubmission after the first round of feedback, Byler Holdings representative Mike Swank asked the commission to consider granting 11 waivers.

Mike Swank stands by a diagram of the subdivision.

Some allowances, such as sidewalks through the development only on one side of the street, additional lots along a road containing a cul-de-sac, and stormwater management waivers for low points on the site, were granted by the commission.

However, others, such as the developer’s request to forego street improvements along Iron Valley Drive, were tabled or denied.

SALDO, Section 13-402.1.A. Plan Scale

This concerns the scale of the plan. While borough ordinance requires that plans are drawn such that one inch is equal to 50 feet or less, Cornwall Properties seeks to provide plans at 60 feet to the inch.

Commission members indicated that they have no problem with this waiver.

SALDO, Section 13-501.1.G(1). Existing Street Improvements

Borough ordinances require that developers provide street improvements, including road widening, curbing, and concrete sidewalks where developments have frontage on roadways.

The proposed plan has two sections of frontage along Rexmont Road, with 50 feet and 400 feet, as well as much of Iron Valley Drive.

Swank argued that the waiver is justified as the Rexmont Road sections are small and a sidewalk would not connect to anything. As for Iron Valley Drive, the street is private and does not have sidewalk or curbing at present.

Cornwall Properties has previously mentioned its desire to dedicate its portion of Iron Valley Drive, but Swank said this would occur after the subdivision is built.

Commission members indicated willingness to waive improvements on the 50-foot strip of Rexmont Road and sidewalk construction on the 400-foot strip, but felt they did not have enough information on the status of Iron Valley Drive to grant this waiver. They tabled action on the waiver until more information is gathered.

Iron Valley Drive background

Iron Valley Drive is privately owned by Cornwall Properties (northernmost section) and Iron Valley Homeowner’s Association 1 (southern section). Cornwall Properties has expressed a desire to dedicate its portion of the roadway to the borough.

Representatives of the HOA have come forward at several meetings voicing concerns with how the subdivision could affect traffic and recently concluded talks with Cornwall Properties surrounding usage of the property. Due to the history of the road, Cornwall Properties has a legal right to access the full length of the drive.

Swank said Monday that talks with the HOA concluded that the HOA would install gates around its section of Iron Valley Drive, allowing access only by Iron Valley residents, residents of the planned subdivision, and visitors to Cornwall Properties’ golf club while barring others from the roadway.

Conrad and P&Z chairman Ray Fratini voiced a dislike for this solution, but acknowledged that it is the road owners’ right to determine how the road is used.

Notably, the borough was offered dedication of the road years ago, but did not accept it as street widening and curbing was not performed. Conrad asked if Swank had asked the HOA about the cost to acquire its portion of the drive, and Swank said Cornwall Properties had not. HOA members present said they would be open to considering such a proposal.

Conrad implored Swank to consider the purchase of the southern section of the drive for eventual dedication to the borough, saying that with enough money they could likely purchase it. Swank said he would consider it.

SALDO, Section 13-510.4.A. Maximum Lots on a Cul-De-Sac

While borough code sets a 12-lot max on roads containing cul-de-sacs, Cornwall Properties proposes 14 lots instead.

Swank argued that the borough has permitted more than 12 lots around cul-de-sacs in at least five other developments, including Granite Street, Juniper Street, and Bell Tower Drive. The committee unanimously agreed to recommend approval of the waiver.

Councilman and P&Z member Bruce Conrad expressed concern that so many borough developments surpass ordinance requirements. Zoning officer Jeff Steckbeck said the ordinance was designed to give the borough more power to choose what to permit, but as a result most developments are granted significantly more waivers than in some municipalities.

Conrad suggested the borough revisit some ordinance requirements.

SALDO, Section 13-510.7.A. Cul-De-Sac Radii

The borough requires cul-de-sacs to have a diameter of 100 feet at the turn with 120 feet at the right-of-way. Cornwall Properties requested the allowance of an 80-foot diameter with a 100-foot right-of-way, citing that a typical 42-foot long fire truck should be able to navigate this size cul-de-sac.

An illustration of the cul-de-sac contained in a letter to the borough requesting waivers.

The committee consulted a member of the fire department, who voiced concern for emergency vehicles navigating the cul-de-sac in emergency situations, especially if cars are parked around the cul-de-sac.

The committee unanimously agreed not to recommend the granting this waiver.

SALDO, Section 13-511.2.B. Sidewalks on both sides of Street

While the ordinance requires that housing subdivisions build sidewalks on both sides of the street, Swank asked that the requirement be waived so the developer can place sidewalks on just one side of the street.

Steckbeck explained that the requirement was added to the ordinance to make developments more expensive and disincentivize developers from building more. In practice, he said, the requirement only served to raise prices for prospective homeowners in the borough.

He said sidewalks on both sides of a street increase runoff and recommended the committee grant this waiver, which the committee unanimously did. However, they asked Cornwall Properties to consider pervious sidewalks, which will be discussed in more detail in future meetings.

SALDO, Section 13-511.3.C. Use of Slant Curb

Swank requested that the subdivision be allowed to use slant curbing throughout rather than straight curbing, as required by the ordinance. He said this gives a more finished touch and gives developers flexibility in the placement of driveways after curbs are installed.

The committee unanimously agreed to recommend granting of this waiver.

SALDO, Section 13-512.1 & 512.2. Concrete Monuments

While the borough’s ordinance requires that concrete monuments are placed every two lots or every 200 feet, this would require the development to contain between 80 and 90 monuments, Swank said.

With technological developments in satellite tracking and more, Swank said that eight monuments throughout the development would be sufficient.

The committee countered this with 16, and unanimously agreed to grant the waiver by only requiring 16 monuments.

SWM, Section 11A-309.2.B. Pipe Size

The borough’s stormwater management ordinance requires that pipes dedicated to the borough have a diameter of at least 18 inches, but specifies that 15-inch diameter pipes may be allowed at the borough engineer’s discretion.

Weaber said he sees no issue with Cornwall Properties having 15-inch pipes at some locations. The committee unanimously agreed to recommend the waiver conditional on his review of the stormwater plan.

SWM, Sections 11A-309.3.C & 11A-310.5. Gutter Spreads

The borough code requires that, in a 25-year storm event, gutter spreads of water must be half the length of the travel lane or an inch less than the curb depth.

Swank said that the subdivision plans only include exceeding of this number at low points in the property, but said that the gutter spreads still pose no threat.

The commission unanimously agreed to recommend the granting of this waiver, noting that at low points this often cannot be helped.

SWM, Section 11A-310.7. Intersection Flows

On a similar vein, the borough stormwater ordinance requires that flow across intersections in 25-year storm events not surpass one inch.

Swank said that only one street in the proposed subdivision surpasses this, at 1.56 inches, and that this doesn’t pose a threat to resident safety.

The commission unanimously agreed to grant this as well, for the same reason as the previous waiver.

SWM, Section 11A-308.4. Fencing around basins

While the borough code requires that basins with surrounding slopes less than 5:1 (horizontal to vertical) be surrounded with fencing, Cornwall Properties requested that its basins, at a 3:1 slope not require fencing.

Conrad noted that fencing can ultimately be a detriment to safety in cases where children climb the fences and are stuck in the basin.

The commission unanimously agreed to recommend the granting of this waiver.

In case you missed it… Background on this story

In July 2022, Byler Holdings requested a zoning amendment from the borough allowing them to build an 800,000-square-foot warehouse in their general industrial (GI) tract.

The alternative, they said, was for them to use their limited industrial (LI) tract to construct warehouses with a combined square footage of around 700,000.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council hears concept plans from Byler Holdings, one including a nearly 800,000-square-foot warehouse [2022]

This plan drew significant concern from many Cornwall residents, with opposition to warehousing on the site largely due to the traffic and noise.

A community group Cornwall United 4 Responsible Development, headed by Jeremy Zimmerman, soon emerged in opposition to warehousing on the site.

Council formed an ad hoc committee made up of members of the community, council, and Planning and Zoning Commission to work with Byler Holdings on developing conditions for zoning changes (similar as was done for H&K, the previous owner of the property) or otherwise working with the developer to find a mutually agreeable solution.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council forms ad hoc committee to work with Byler Holdings

Ad hoc discussions did not go far, as they did not have a clear direction and Byler had not submitted plans for the property. Meetings were paused until further directives were given.

Byler Holdings sent the borough a letter withdrawing its request for an amendment due to community outcry, Swank said. The developer reversed this request later, after members of the community appeared equally opposed to the plan for smaller warehouses in the LI tract.

In September 2023, Byler Holdings came before council to ask if council was willing to consider the amendment submitted the year before. In an informal roll call, the majority of council members indicated willingness to consider it.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council to consider Byler text amendment

Council and Byler Holdings agreed to resume meetings of the ad hoc committee to work out conditions. However, Byler Holdings later requested that council hold off on scheduling meetings until an internal decision was made.

At around the same time, Cornwall United came forward with a zoning text amendment of their own which would remove “public warehousing” as an LI permitted use and add it as a general commercial permitted conditional use.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council refers citizen’s text amendment to ad hoc committee

This amendment was referred to the ad hoc committee, and has since been referred to P&Z for evaluation and recommendations.

In November, Byler’s attorney Mike Swank returned to council to submit a new zoning amendment, one that would morph into the ordinance adopted Tuesday.

Read More: Cornwall to consider Byler zoning amendment, expects January decision

The proposed amendment would allow manufacturing uses in Cornwall GI zones, with Byler’s property containing the only GI plot in the borough.

Swank expressed at that time that if this amendment was passed, Byler Holdings would retract its previous zoning amendment request.

However, council had to move quickly, as Byler hoped to rent to Cornwall-based submarine part-manufacturer PRL Industries, who was on a tight timeline.

PRL Industries plans to enter a 20-year minimum lease for around 10 acres of the 104-acre tract, which Swank said also has about 60 undevelopable acres. Traffic would mostly be limited to one flatbed truck entering and exiting a few times a day, PRL director of sales and marketing Tim Lewis said.

As the U.S. is in the process of greatly expanding its submarine production, PRL is under a tight timeline as one of the top parts producers in the country to up its production.

Council agreed to expedite the process, sending the amendment to P&Z and Lebanon County Planning with the goal to hold a hearing and choose to adopt or not adopt the amendment in January. P&Z discussed details of the amendment and made some changes before referring it back to council.

Read More: Planning commission advances zoning change fast-tracked for PRL Industries

Council unanimously agreed to schedule a public hearing for the amendment at its reorganization meeting Jan. 2, where it would then be adopted with changes.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council schedules public hearing for Byler amendment

Byler Holdings has also submitted a plan for residential development in residential low-density and conservation recreation. The plan includes 131 single-family detached homes, constructed over three phases.

The borough has provided comments to Byler Holdings surrounding the development, which it has not yet responded to.

Byler Holdings also submitted the Lake Resort Community text amendment to the borough for review. As of now, no action has been taken on this amendment.

Read more: Cornwall planning board seeks public comment on ‘Lake Resort’ amendment

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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.


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