LIMERICK >> Facing a group of angry residents concerned about a proposal to develop 10 acres of land at 181 Limerick Center Road into a truck servicing business, township supervisors held off making a decision.
Instead, the supervisors voted Tuesday on a motion to consider the facts and opinions brought out during the nearly three-hour meeting and decide at the next meeting, in two weeks, whether to move the proposal forward.
The property, and proposals for it, have a complicated history. For many years, the township’s zoning map indicated the parcel was split, with one part residential and the other office and light industrial.
But as it turns out, the map was wrong because township officials could find no record of a vote by an elected body that change part of the parcel over to residential.
Tom Perkins, owner of TP Trailers and Truck Equipment, owns the parcel with his sister and has variously tried to develop it with 50 townhomes, which was rejected by the township, as well as a business exactly like the one on Ridge Pike, which was also rejected, according to Supervisor Ken Sperring Jr.
The reason for the second rejection was that Limerick Center Road is not certified for enough traffic to accommodate sales of vehicles, explained Mark Kaplin, the lawyer representing Perkins.
This latest proposal is similar to the first, except that vehicle sales are no longer proposed, thus removing the snag that sank the last one.
But his proposal, to build a 35,000 square-foot office/warehouse/five-bay shop will still generate more heavy truck traffic than Limerick Center Road can handle, said the nine speakers whose homes border on the property.
Samuel F. Barilla, who emphasized that he was speaking as a resident and not a member of the township’s planning commission, said the increased truck traffic just blocks from Limerick Elementary School, will create a safety hazard for children.
He also was the first of several to raise concerns about the potential for stacking of shipping containers, as high as 30 feet, on the portion of the property which borders the residential area.
Another speaker, Darren Thompson, said he was concerned about air quality with so many large trucks running and being worked on at the site.
Bella Rosa Court resident Amy Walker said when she and her husband bought their house, they were assured the neighboring property was zoned for residential use.
Given that the shop will be doing truck inspections increases the likelihood of trucks with bad brakes driving past Limerick Elementary School, said Walker. She warned the supervisors that if they approve the project, she and her neighbors will take legal action.
Kaplin said repeatedly that his clients had done everything the township had asked and that the business, when open, will follow whatever rules and ordinances apply.
He also announced that Perkins has agreed to fence the entire property to address concerns raised about safety.
Supervisors’ Chairwoman Elaine DeWan told the crowd several times that if a proposal meets the rules and regulations of zoning and land use, the supervisors have very little ground to deny a proposal simply of the grounds of objections by the neighbors.
“If we reject an ‘as-of-right’ plan, they can come after our personal assets,” Sperring told the crowd.
The plan has already been cleared by the zoning board and has gone through the first round with the planning commission and was before the board seeking preliminary site plan approval.
Instead, the board delayed taking the next step, which would be to authorize Solicitor John Iannozzi to draft a resolution granting preliminary site plan approval, with whatever conditions the supervisors choose to attach.
Consideration of that step will come at the next meeting, scheduled for July 17.
Should that action be taken, the board would vote at the first meeting in August. Presuming preliminary site plan approval was granted, Perkins and his plan would go back to the planning commission in pursuit of final site plan approval, which would also need to be granted by the board of supervisors.