When the doors opened at 6 p.m. at the Penn Forest Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 Thursday evening it looked like residents' interest in the Navitat zip line project was waning, but by 6:30 the room was almost filled to capacity.
The Penn Forest Planning Commission quickly dispensed with approval for minutes and the first item under new business on the agenda, a reverse subdivision.
The commission also bypassed the section on the agenda entitled "Public Comment."
Robert Cox, the township engineer under the township's contract with Barry Isett & Associates, called for the attention of the assembled residents and instructed them as to how the rest of the meeting was to proceed.
Cox first informed the crowd that there were two items to be discussed with regard to the Navitat project. The first being Navitat's request for a Special Exception to use an alternative parking material.
"We are proposing the use of aggregate gravel rather than a bonded hard surface for the roads and the parking area on the leased property," said Rocco Caracciolo, the engineer representing Navitat on this project.
"My client prefers the use of the gravel because it is more natural than a hard, paved surface material," continued Caracciolo.
Attorney Peter Layman, a private attorney hired to represent Darren Reinart, a resident of the Bear View Development, pointed out that he thought that the request was improperly put before the planning commission because it lacked "specific details and specifications necessary to make an informed opinion."
In the end, planning commission members voted to not recommend the special exception to the township's zoning hearing board. That board will take up the matter at its February meeting.
The third and last item on the agenda was the Land Development Plan submitted by Navitat for review. The plan was submitted to the township engineer, who had sent a detailed letter in response. The meeting was the opportunity for Navitat to formally respond to the letter before the planning commission.
Caracciolo started the discussion by asking the members of the audience to give him the opportunity to go through the letter item by item and address each issue that had been raised by the township engineer.
"I understand that everyone here is concerned and wants to ask questions, but I will never get through everything if we do that, so please allow me to go through the letter and I promise I will stay and answer any questions you have after we have finished here," offered Caracciolo.
"I also want to point out that the township engineer did his homework. This letter covers everything possible, even down to signature boxes on the plan. He really did a thorough job," Caracciolo added.
Some of the issues which will need to be addressed in the final plan include the following:
Ÿ Protection of the wetlands
Ÿ Proof of a legal right to make application
Ÿ List of variances on the plan including
Ÿ 18-foot-wide driveway
Ÿ Seasonal hours of operation
Ÿ Special exceptions for traffic
Ÿ Welcome center accessibility for emergency medical and fire apparatus
Ÿ Well and septic location
Ÿ DEP requirements
Ÿ Latent glare will not use street lights
Ÿ Parking accommodations
Ÿ Driving surfaces
Ÿ Driveway access
Ÿ Handicap access hard surface
Ÿ Firelane to be addressed
Ÿ Signage no signs planned
Ÿ Right to use Bear Creek Drive
Ÿ Landscaping plan is to utilize the natural landscape and not cut trees
Ÿ Dumpsters do not plan to use dumpsters
Ÿ Subdivisions and land divisions
Ÿ Will need review by Carbon County Planning Commission
Ÿ No work to begin without prior approval
Ÿ Septic testing
Ÿ Approval of Fire Chief
Ÿ Lease area needs to be included in plan
Ÿ Use of concrete sidewalk for ADA regulations
Ÿ Water and sewer well and septic
Ÿ Identify and specify culverts
Ÿ Soil erosion approximately 1 acre of disturbance
Ÿ Signature blocks on plan
Ÿ Grading for ATV trail
Ÿ Vehicle circulation must permit fire truck to turn around
Ÿ Driveways width and surface
Ÿ Easements road crosses 2 private properties
Ÿ Lot pins
Ÿ Storm water management plan
Ÿ Rock feature incorporation of an existing natural rock feature into the tour
Ÿ Sewer systems
Ÿ Tree cutting plan
Ÿ Rock feature
Ÿ Final plans for the zip line including platforms
Ÿ New gate plan including how the fire department will access property after hours and off season
This list includes all of the concerns expressed by the township engineer. The list is redundant in some places because it is addressing a specific issue or subissue that needs to be corrected, added or modified on the final plan.
"I want to make it clear that we are not requesting any approval of these plans. They are not ready for that. We are here to identify the concerns. I have been through this entire list and I agree with everything on it and we (Navitat) intend to satisfy all of them," said Caracciolo.
Caracciolo then went on the address what he believes is the greatest concern, that being the approximately 1.5 miles of road from Behrens Road to the Dietrich property.
According to Caracciolo, there will be a maximum of 260 additional trips on the road leading to the Dietrich property per peak season day.
"The traffic study shows that the existing traffic, taking into consideration the number of people residing in Bear View, to be 624 trips per day on an annual basis. That already exceeds what a gravel surface roadway can handle. Bear Creek Drive should be improved. My question to the planning commission is, are you asking Navitat to improve the road?" Caracciolo asked township solicitor Gregory Mousseau.
"That is a question for the planning commission that I do not believe they are prepared to answer. The township engineer still needs hard data before the planning commission can make a recommendation," Mousseau responded.
The earliest that this matter will come before the planning commission again is March. Navitat is on the agenda for the Penn Forest Township Zoning Hearing Board for Feb. 14.