Updated Draft C-1 Zoning Ordinance Amendment … Looks Like ‘Spot Zoning’!

Per the July Planning Commission meeting, attorney Denise Yarnoff returned to the drawing board to add her style of regulations to the proposed C-1 zoning text amendment change.  If you recall, her client Ed Morris, presented a sketch plan to the Planning Commission for an assisted living facility on  the old Jimmy Duffy catering site on Rt 30 in Daylesford.

Ms. Yarnoff’s first draft of the C-1 zoning ordinance change was met with great displeasure from many in the community; vague and without associated restrictions or requirements for assisted living facilities.  More or less, an ‘anything goes’ kind of approach to the zoning ordinance change … no restrictions in the way of height, buffer, lot size, bed density, nada.  In other words, the proposed zoning change suggested a carte blanche approach for developers; i.e. build any size assisted living facility on any lot size in C-1 commercial zoning districts in Tredyffrin Township. No surprise that Daylesford neighbors, and many other community members, balked at Ms. Yarnoff’s initial draft ordinance.

To be clear; Denise Yarnoff wrote the draft zoning text amendment change for Tredyffrin Township but on behalf of her client, developer Ed Morris.  Although I still do not understand this process of having a developer’s attorney write township ordinances, apparently, it is legal and that other municipalities handle this type of situation similarly.  As I said in an earlier post, ‘if’ (and that is a big ‘if’) I buy into the reasons (financial, etc.) that a developer’s attorney can write a draft township ordinance amendment, I think that any revisions to the document need to come from the township (either staff or Planning Commissioners).  At least in the case of the proposed C-1 zoning ordinance amendment change, this was not how it was handled … Ms. Yarnoff did the rewrite on the text amendment and has resubmitted it to the township for next week’s Planning Commission meeting.

To review Ms. Yarnoff’s revised and updated proposed C-1 zoning text amendment change, click here. Here are the six items that Ms. Yarnoff added as restrictions for an assisted living facility in C-1 Commercial District:

  1. The property shall have direct access to an arterial street;
  2. The property shall be located within ¼ mile of a regional train station;
  3. The maximum number of beds per assisted living facility building shall be 500 square feet of the Tract per bed;
  4. The maximum number of beds per assisted living facility building shall not exceed 120 beds;
  5. The development shall comply within the buffer requirement to a residential use set forth in Section 208-66H; and
  6. The assisted living facility shall be licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Looking at this list, I would expect nothing less from a good real estate attorney – the client is paying her hourly rate and she needs to get the best deal for him that is possible; I get it.  However, seriously, I am embarrassed for Ms. Yarnoff … I’m no attorney, but is this the best that she could come up with?  Does she think that these are acceptable restrictions?

Bed density was one of the major problems that many neighbors and township residents had with the Morris sketch plan of the proposed assisted living facility.  His plan suggests 93 beds/79 units on the 1 acre C-1 Jimmy Duffy site — a higher bed density than anywhere in the county, including the downtown West Chester.  Because so many residents took issue with bed density, it made sense that Ms. Yarnoff would probably lower that number, make it less dense in the re-write of the proposed zoning ordinance amendment.  Not so … in restriction #4, Yarnoff increased the permitted bed density to 120 beds!  So much for listening to township residents.

Looking at #2 of Ms. Yarnoff’s restrictions which requires that assisted living facilities in the township be built within ¼ mi. of a regional train station.  Doesn’t that restriction make it convenient for the ‘Jimmy Duffy Assisted Living’ project?  How in the world can this restriction in the proposed zoning ordinance change not be viewed as ‘spot zoning’.  How many C-1 properties, other than the Jimmy Duffy location, could meet this restriction?

How about #6 on Ms. Yarnoff’s list of restrictions — licensing.  Isn’t licensing already a state requirement for assisted living facilities.  How does this add to the proposed zoning amendment change?

Lot size … where exactly is the lot size requirement in this proposed zoning change?  Without offering any lot size restrictions, is Ms. Yarnoff suggesting that ‘anything goes’? In Tredyffrin, build an assisted living facility on a postage stamp lot and it can have 120 beds!  Don’t we need a minimum number of acres for assisted living facilities in Tredyffrin Township?  Remember, currently assisted living facilities is included in the township’s Institutional Overlay (IO) district — with  a 10-acre requirement.  Some argue that the 10-acre restriction is antiquated and needs updating.  However, I cannot believe that the township needs to go from 10 acres down to no acreage requirement for assisted living facilities.

And folks, remember that the township recently signed a $100K contract for consultants to review and make recommendations on commercial zoning in the township.  What about waiting for those results before we make a change that will affect commercial zoning in the entire township?  The next opportunity for public input is on Thursday, August 16, 7 PM at the Planning Commission meeting.

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  1. To say the Daylesford Neighborhood Assn (DNA) was disappointed with Ms. Yarnoff’s revised Ordinance Amendment would be a gross understatement. We look forward to discussing our displeasure and opposition at next Thursday’s PC meeting.

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  2. Seeing that this project appears to be DOA, I think this modification reflects little effort. It addressed nothing that her partner promised in the last meeting. Note that it continues to reference assisted living without any definition of terms.

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