MOORE TWP., Pa. – Moore Township residents applauded Thursday night after hearing a review of their new ordinance that will put limits on warehouses.
Then after the zoning amendment was approved and they found out it would not limit the two warehouses proposed on the site of Southmoore Golf Course, the mood of the crowd fell.
"That plan was submitted before this was adopted," Solicitor David Backenstoe said. A pending ordinance, he explained, could not be applied to a plan that was already in the township's hands.
"We were under the impression that it would" apply, said Matt Flower, who led a committee of residents that helped shape the ordinance. Several others at the Klecknersville Ranger Volunteer Fire Co. hall agreed.
Developer Water's Edge at Wind Gap LLC submitted a plan last month for two warehouses between Route 512 and Jones Road, which is zoned for industry even though the land is used now for golf.
The zoning amendment was not promoted as a way to block that project, but instead to subject warehouses to more township scrutiny and to limit their size.
The amendment, Backenstoe said, makes warehouses a "conditional use," which allows more review than a permitted "by right" use on industrial land. The revision also expands buffer zones between warehouses and residential and agricultural land, requires snow scrapers for truck roofs, and mandates amenities for truck drivers in a bid to keep them from parking near homes.
The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission gave the amendment a glowing review, Backenstoe said. The audience applauded. Supervisor Richard Gable thanked the solicitor for his work.
The amendment was approved unanimously, with Gable, Chairman Daniel Piorkowski and Vice Chairman David Shaffer in favor.
Then the mood in the room fell, like air coming out of a balloon, when the residents found out the revision will only apply to future proposals.
Flower asked if there are any conditions under which the revised zoning could apply to Southmoore, and Backenstoe said if the plan is changed significantly or a new plan is presented, the restrictions could come into play.
Or, the board of supervisors could reject the plan, but that is not as simple as it sounds.
"The board can't just say, 'We don't like it so we're going to deny it,'" Backenstoe said. Rejecting a plan without basis could lead to years of expensive litigation.
The next step for the Water's Edge proposal will be a planning commission meeting Sept. 22.
The board also approved Backenstoe's proposal to "vacate," or give up, the public's interest in Trapper Road, which was never fully developed. The road is on township maps but not fully defined, the solicitor said.
"The township doesn't know where it is," he said. A public hearing will be the next step in abandoning the throughway.
The supervisors voted to advertise an ordinance restricting vehicle weights on West Dell Road between Copella and Moorestown roads, with exceptions for emergency vehicles, school buses and local deliveries. A final vote will be made at a future meeting.
Moore's minimum pension contributions for the year were approved, with $75,202 going to the fund for non-uniformed employees and $211,434 for police pensions.