Penn State Abington
EXPECTING THE MEETING ON NOV 10TH
TO BE THE HEARING .....
But Tom Hecker has said
again that he will meet with a small group of people and
leave the drest of us out . That is just plain NOT RIGHT
There are many who should be heard . How dare he hand pick a
few ( not even including all of those around the
college border )
This is shameful behavior
by a politician .....It cannot stay .
Hearing on both ordinances was to
be held on Oct 14, 2021 6:30 pm -- but Tom
Hecker made a personal plan with a small group of residents
to cancel it -- and did not alert any others before
the meeting . Others may have been studying the
ordinance - preparing their comments - lining up
sitters..... Tom didn't care . He and the Manager refused to
print for the public what Hecker had been willing to
put in writing for a few . Shame on you Tom Hecker and
information here :
including the Zoom Link
This ability to some of the
information all in one place on an issue like this came after a long letter that
for years they had sent us on a goose chase to get the
information needed for a meeting - so this time THE MEETING
info at least is all in
one place on the front page calendar click. Hurray.
Will it happen twice . Every issue should have ONE place
where all the info is stored .
issues as yet unresolved that should be resolved
BEFORE THE HEARING
The request they HAVE made icludes
buildings (plural) that could be as long as 300 feet and
55 feet high. Whenever 2 buildings ( that are not accessory
buildings ) are being considered for development, there
must be a Masterplan. So that clearly defined that the
zoning proposal was not just about the ONE academic building.
In July 2021 they said that they only had space for one
building . So I asked why that language was in the ordinance
and I was told the
others would be "infill" building . But they have thus
far on multiple occassions refused to define that exactly
and give all examples of it that would enable
residents to determine how much expansion to the campus that
would provide .
They also failed
completely to notify Manor College neighbors that all these
meetings were taking place ---- So Manor residents had NO
PART in crafting the ordinance that will impact them
Although verbally we were told the 3 residences they
own on the Penn State side of Cloverly Lane would retain
their residential nature after they are zoned to
CS, there is nothing in writing to back that up. Residents
deserve to know IN WRITNG that this promise will be hored in
perpetuity and theat they will not try to build a 55 foot
high 300 ft long building by joing these - asking for a few
little variances or waivers in the future . To make
sure a hi-rise doesn't end up in that corner
of the campus right opposite residential something needs
to be written.
WHAT'S THE PENN STATE REZONING IT ALL ABOUT
A LOT OF SMOKE AND MIRRORS
DISGUISED a rewrite of the zoning code as a simple attempt to
build a new Academic Building
. It was an overt attempt to deceive
the public rather than to explain the process properly. It
was not just an Academic Building at all :
1) IT WAS THE REZONING OF MULTIPLE CAMPUSES ( PSU
and MANOR) TO ALLOW DENSER AND HIGHER DEVELOPMENT
2) IT WAS A REQUEST TO CHANGE 3 RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES ON
THE CAMPUS SIDE OF CLOVERLY TO CS ZONING
3) IT WAS
ATTEMPT TO ZONE 2 RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES ON THE
OPPOSITE SIDE OF CLOVERLY WITH SCHOOL AND COMMERCIAL USES THAT
WOULD HAVE IMPACTED MANY R1 RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES
THROUGHOUT THE TOWNSHIP
CURRENT ZONING CS Community service is found on
Page 35 in this Zoning Code passed 4-27-17 and the
use matrix is on page
The R1 ( Single family residential) can also be found
Or find them in the heart of Abington
just to get the right tools in place
Please call /email your
and also your
Township Manager 267-536-1001 Richard
Emails found here :
and ask for:
SINGLE PAGE on our website that
has: All the links to relevant documents,
meetings, minutes, videos, power points etc
all held chronologically.
to be video tapeD, including PSU's
informal meetings with residents,
for review by those
who missed them or to get a better
handle on the details
YOU COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO BE RESTORED
where you have the most robust speaking rights -
Currently the Commissioners removed most of your
speaking rights in a very under-handed manner..... calling
it an expansion of your rights.
They created the
Committee of the Whole... to follow a monthly full Board
Meeting which effectively jammed 2 months worth of
meetings together . So, you may be on a zoom from 630 at night
until 10 or 11 PM. This is intended to have people give up and
go home-and it is positively contrary to the health and welfare
of the citizens of this Township. All health experts warn
against staying on your devices late at night, as it interferes
with good sleep patterns. And sitting for 4 hours might even
cause clots or circulation problems in some people, especially
seniors. The commissioners are charged with our health, safety
and welfare. This is contrary to all 3
The Committee of the
Whole would review ALL the items for the following
month ...... but you would not hear or see the review of the
item before your 5 minutes of comment. Once you did see
it, your comment time would be over. So you just wasted your
time at that meeting. And the commissioners know that.
And, by the way, they also are not asking many questions. So the
least amount of information is being learned in an entire long
meeting . One item, for instance, was called
"Rental Inspection Ordinance" and you had five minutes to talk
about it - without having a single clue what was intended. There
is no one that doesn't know that is wrong. But they refuse
to fix it. And they won't until each one of you
decides that you will speak up about it . As long as you're
accepting it, well what the heck, it works well for them.
HECKER SINGLE HANDEDLY DEMOLISHED ANY ATTEMPTS TO FIX THESE
TRAVESTIES You should demand that your speaking
rights be put back the way they were. There was a proposal
brought to the 5-13-21 meeting that was at least going to
replace the useless five uninformed minutes speaking time at the
beginning of the CoW with a more productive 3 minutes for
each item after it was presented...... Commissioner Tom
Hecker personally tanked that . First moving it to the END
of the very, very long, late meeting, then allowing an
unscheduled long presentation by the new Penn State Dean (
instead of properly presenting the agenda item which was the
ordinance on College Campuses - and then at the end of the
meeting he kept over-riding everyone's request to just get to
the voting to add the better speaking rights ..... and instead
he kept the argument going over whether or not it was too late
to HAVE the discussion - which was argued long enough to have
resolved it - but eventually everyone was exhausted near or
after 11 pm and wanted to go home. Those are all
actions that should NEVER be undertaken by the Chair of any
meeting. They are a violation of any good parliamentary
procedure --- completely contrary, for instance, to
Robert's Rules of order which was "sort of " adopted by
the Township ... however - they recently decided that although
they quote Roberts's Rules as our guide - they also said they
only loosely following it -
so that means they aren't - at all- unless they feel like
it. So... no rules for them. Can't be held
liable for violating rules that don't exist.
At a proper Committee Meeting the
item is presented and explained and after the explanation and
the Commissioner discussion, you then you have 3
minutes to comment ....before any vote. After you speak -
the Commissioners can still adjust their views before the vote,
if your comments gave them a change of heart on anything.
That is the proper way to do it. At the end of the Committee
section yuou have 3 minutes to address the Commissioners
on any topic of your choosing. This feature was one that
we worked hard to get instituted, because when we asked our
commissioners to put something important on the agenda, they
sometimes refused. So by having an open period, it allowed
residents to bring to the attention of all commissioners and
their fellow residents a matter that their Commissioner may not
have been accommodating about. It is an important part of our
public speaking rights.
IMPORTANT COMMITTEE MEETINGS : When they instituted the
Committee of the Whole, they gave them the right to send a
matter anywhere they wanted to rather than following a clear
path as they had always done for many years. One of the choices
was to skip over the committee meetings and go directly to the
board of commissioners where it might get a final vote. As you
can imagine, that feature has been used endlessly and our
committee meetings have almost all been skipped over - taking
our open comment rights away, taking our informed comment rights
away, and leaving an issue only to get whatever vetting the
commissioners decided it would get. Effectively they cut the
citizens out of the process when they did that.
THE GOAL OF THE REMOVAL OF OUR RIGHTS : The goal is
also problematic. One goal is mentioned above is that they have
used the Committee of the Whole to skip OVER Committee meetings
- and have skipped over nearly every single one since they
started. But at the 5-13-21 meeting, while they were
considering restoring the 3 minutes of speaking after each item
at the CoW, one Commissioner asked why not just restore
the the Committee Meetings? All Commissioners can
attend those and often do. Comr Hecker said but
everyone can't vote there.
That is correct only committee members vote but they are just in
advisory capacity... so all commissioners ultimately will
vote the way they want in the end . All certainly had equal
opportunity to ask questions. So Comr Hecker was willing to
throw our speaking rights under the bus so that he could vote on
the Committee matter -- and remove the right of the Committee to
vote in a different way . He removed your rights so he can vote
he really was not supposed to vote. He is supposed to trust the
judgment of the committee that he appointed.
You need to spend a few minutes thinking about some of what
seems to be going on here. .........
THE TIMING OF THE REMOVAL OF YOUR RIGHTS:
Given that these speaking rights were amended just as we
encountered a slew of onerous projects that would dramatically
change our Township : the Willow Grove Mall, Penn State rezoning
both campuses, the economic development Corporation (where
commissioners want to "become developers") , Toll Brothers
proposal for 120 homes at St Basils, Manager Manfredi's
desire to rework our zoning ordinance to be the way he wants it
to be --- which has been to facilitate developers while cutting
out the opinions of the public ( which was actually directly
written in one document), and more...... we need to really
open our eyes to what is going on here.
Is that OK
with you all? Because it is being used against
Having the right tools is the most important
part of achieving
success in protecting your property and personal rights.
FORGIVE THE JUMBLE OF INFORMATION - BUT NO TIME TO
ORGANIZE & EDIT BETTER - MORE IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO
HAVE IT THAN NOT HAVE IT BECAUSE IT'S NOT ORGANIZED !
2014 -- Penn State updated its Comprehensive Plan and conceived the idea of having
a new academic building located on campus where
the small "Conference Center" now is, between the
Cloverly Building and the Rydal building.
( see campus map here :
They have famously been repeating that they haven't had any
new building since the 70's - but that is because they built
everything up -- and what was left was on steep slope or
other problematic areas . After many meetings it was
described as being in the Steep Slope Conmservation area --
then -- miraculously it was not.
On 11-19-20 After multiple
meetings going several years back , they
met again with residents but revealed nearly no significant information about how they
planned to rezone. Their rezoning witll impact Manor College
as well, but Manor neighbors have not yet been included in
the conversation. The taped session is not posted. Residents
have no documents in hand
On 12-17-20 they met with Ward 1
Commissioner Hecker, who assured residents that some of the
issues would be resolved before they were allowed to move
forward with their application.
On 5-13-21 the ordinance is presented in the
documents in a bizarre meeting where Manager Manfredi says
they haven't made a submission yet - but they had, in
fact, submitted their first version ( see it below ) and it
was included in the meeting documents and there was an agenda item
that everyone read- including the manager and Comr Hecker
and the Dean of Penn State who was at the meeting .
That agenda item had with a motion to approve it which
danced around so the manager at one point had to try to
clarify what he was saying . It was then
approved to be sent to the neighbors meeting ( and per the
motion which was not amended, then to the Planning
Commission and then back to the Committee of the Whole .......
THE FIRST VERSION OF THE ORDINANCE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE PRESENTED
and then one would expect that Commisioners would ask
questions and clarify parts of it . That never
happened. Instead an UNSCHEDULED introduction of
the new Penn State Dean Chancellor and her vision for
the college filled up the Commissioners discussion time and
then the motion was voted on without any direct comment on
the ordinance at all ---- much like what happened at Willow
Grove where we got the History of shiopping instead of
a presentation about what was being voted on.
Here was the advertised agenda item motion
-- LATER DESCRIBED AS AN
ACCIDENT .... Commissioner Hecker kept talking around the motion and never
read the motion properly for the vote— but never
amended it either here is the way it
was advertised and how the motion should have been read
before the vote:
Penn State University Abington Campuses request to amend Zoning
Ordinance of the Township Of Abington providing for and
regulating a college/university campus, by Penn
State first holding a neighbor meeting to inform and seek input
from the affected neighbors, and to refer this ordinance to the
Townships Planning Commission for their review and
recommendations to be returned to the Board of Commissioners
Committee of the Whole. (Mr.
is the Ordinance they proposed .... finally.... Found in the Committee of the
Whole agenda in
the Agenda Packet documents .
this is the one ultimately called an accident ......
but not at the meeting where everyone saw it being presented
- including the Dean and the Township Manager and and
Commissioner hecker . ( Found here :
) - highlights added by me in the reprinting below
TOWNSHIP OF ABINGTON MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
ORDINANCE NO. ________________
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE ZONING ORDINANCE OF THE TOWNSHIP OF
ABINGTON, PROVIDING FOR AND REGULATING A
COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY CAMPUS USE IN THE CS COMMUNITY SERVICE
WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Abington
pursuant to section 601 of the Pennsylvania Municipalities
Planning Code, 53 P.S. §10601, and section 1502.1 of The First
Class Township Code, 53 P.S. §56502.1, to enact and amend land
WHEREAS, the Township of Abington is home to highly respected
educational institutions of higher learning which significantly
contribute to and enhance the
vibrancy, appeal, and culture of the Township;
WHEREAS, section 900.A of the Zoning Ordinance states that the
intent of the CS Community Service District is to “[p]rovide for
the education, medical, municipal,religious, and recreational
needs of the Township community….”
WHEREAS, the Zoning Ordinance does not expressly provide for a
college or university campus use that recognizes the uniqueness
of these institutions and
promotes the redevelopment of land currently used for college or
university purposes within the Township; nor does the Zoning
Ordinance provide appropriate
design and regulatory standards for college and university
facilities that will mutually benefit the Township and the
WHEREAS, the CS Community Service District of the Township seeks
to provide for the educational needs of the Township community,
allowing reasonable and
measured growth of facilities and physical plant, while
addressing the compatibility with nearby properties by
minimizing potential impacts caused by traffic, noise, and
University Campus Use
WHEREAS, permitting reasonable and controlled development of
current collegeand university facilities will help to ensure the
vitality of these institutions and
provide continuing and significant community and economic
benefits to the Township; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Commissioners has determined that the
amendment of the zoning ordinance is appropriate and necessary
to promote the development
and redevelopment of land used for college and university
purposes in the Township.
NOW, THEREFORE, the Board of Commissioners does hereby ENACT and
Section 1. The Comprehensive Use Matrix in
the Appendix to the Zoning Ordinance, referred to in Section
901. Permitted Uses of the CS Community Service
District in the Zoning Ordinance, shall be amended by the
addition of Use E-18,University Campus, as a permitted use in
the CS Community Service District
Section 2. Section 902. Dimensional Requirements of the CS
Community Service District of the Zoning Ordinance shall be
amended to read as follows:
SECTION 902. DIMENSIONAL REQUIREMENTS: See Figure 9.4 CS
Community Service District: Dimensional Requirements (Table).
A. The Dimensional Requirements for a Use E-18 University
Campus shall be as follows:
1. The maximum building coverage shall be 25%.
2. The maximum impervious coverage shall be 45%.
3. The minimum green area shall be 55%.
4. The maximum building height shall be 45 feet, subject to
the exceptions set forth in Section 2601.G, Height
height may be increased to 55 feet,if
the front or other yard setback along a public streetexceeds 100
feet, if fire access lanes are provided for the
structure, consistent with
recommendations of the township fire marshal, and if a
high-intensity buffer isused along property lines adjacent to a
residential zoning district.
For properties greater than 25 acres,
facades may exceed a length of 160 feet provided that they
include minimum 10-foot deep horizontal building offsets at
least once every 100 horizontal feet of façade length. However,
in no case shall a new building façade exceed a length of 300
5. The site must have direct access to a public street.
B. Where any dimensional or other requirements in the zoning
ordinance, e.g., Figure 9.4 CS Community Service District:
Dimensional Requirements (Table), conflict with the dimensional
requirements set forth in this section and Section
2103.E-18, the specific requirements of this section and Section
2103.E-18 shall apply.
Section 3. Section 2103.E of the Zoning Ordinance, Community
(Institutional Uses), shall be amended by the addition of a new
Use E-18, University
Campus, which shall read as follows:
Use E-18: University Campus: A college or university comprising
one or more buildings, lots, parcels, facilities and uses that
academic instruction or support to individuals enrolled therein,
and that are authorized to award associate, baccalaureate, or
post baccalaureate degrees. This use shall comprise accessory and
ancillary uses to serve the needs of the institution’s students,
faculty, and staff,including, but not limited to: academic
facilities, performance facilities,recreational/athletic
facilities, social facilities, eating/dining
facilities,administrative facilities, support facilities, health
facilities, faculty housing facilities, parking facilities, and
retail facilities. A mixture of these uses, including retail,
office, or institutional, and residential uses,may be located
within the same building without being classified as a Use J-1,
Mixed-Use Building. The following additional standards shall
apply and shall supersede any
conflicting requirements in the Zoning
Properties zoned R1 Low Density Residential with existing houses
owned by the college or university which (1) abut the college or
university campus or (2) which are separated by a public or
private street may be used for faculty housing by conditional
use. This includes temporary housing for visiting professors and
scholars, and administrative functions, including, but not
limited to development, alumni relations, business office, and
Administrative functions shall be limited to the first floor.
These uses shall not exceed 140,000 square feet of property and
amaximum of two structures.
B. Architectural standards:
1. Building elevations/renderings shall be submitted to
compliance with this criteria. Views presented shall include
each new building façade visible from the street, as viewed from
street. Views of new parking areas from the street shall also be
provided, where visible from the street.
2. It is recommended that all new buildings and expansions be
compatible with the architectural theme of existing buildings
structures on-campus and on abutting streets. Factors for
consideration include, but are not limited to:
(3) Style and pitch of roof
(4) Use of differentiated materials
(5) Wall-to- window-and-door ratio
(6) Architectural features and trim
(7) Door accentuation
3. Security features, including lighting, shall be non-intrusive
relative to nearby residential uses.
and HVAC facilities shall be screened from
public view, consistent with §2403. Buffers and Screens,
Subsection C. Site Element Screens.
4. Trash, storage, tanks and loading shall not occur within 100
of a street. Submission of a master facilities plan is required
all new floor area of at least 50,000 square feet, or new
facility area of at least 2 acres, unless such a plan has been
submitted within the past 3 years. The master facilities plan
shall meet the requirements of a tentative sketch plan. In
addition to the requirements of a tentative sketch plan in the
SALDO, the applicant shall show:
(1) Proposed driveways and parking areas.
(2) Student and faculty count.
(3) Approximate building heights.
(4) Floor area of existing and proposed buildings.
(5) Proposed timeline for building construction.
(6) Building and impervious coverage data.
(7) Elevations for building within 300 feet of a residential use
(showing façade[s] facing public street or residential use
within 300 feet).
5. Setback from Residential Uses. The following uses shall be
back at least 300 feet from residential uses: (1) Buildings,
storage or utility. (2) Organized activities such as graduation
ceremonies or camp activities. (3) Active recreation fields or
6. Traffic Study
(1) Purpose. The Traffic Impact Study will enable the
Township to assess the impact of the proposed
development on the transportation system in the
Township. The purpose of the impact study is to insure
that proposed developments do not adversely affect the
transportation network and to identify any traffic
problems associated with access between the site and
the existing transportation network. The study’s purpose
is also to delineate solutions to potential problems and to
present improvements to be incorporated into the
(2) A Traffic Impact Study shall be prepared by a qualified
traffic engineer and/or transportation planner with
previous traffic study experience. Procedures and
standards for a Traffic Impact Study are as set forth in the
SALDO (if such provisions are incorporated to the SALDO
at the time of the proposed land development). The
applicant may provide funds to the Township to enable
the Township to hire a traffic engineer of its choice to
conduct the study, if this procedure is deemed
appropriate and approved by the Township.
(3) A Traffic Impact Study prepared in accordance with the
guidelines of the Pennsylvania Department of
Transportation as part of an application for a state
highway occupancy permit may be submitted to the
Township in fulfillment of this requirement.
(4) In preparing the Traffic Impact Study, the most recent
edition of the Trip Generation Handbook of the Institute
of Transportation Engineers shall be used.
Excavation in or disturbance of a steep slope area shall be
permitted if the development within that area includes retaining
and/or foundation walls. The landowner shall submit an erosion
and sedimentation control plan during land development.
E. Existing parking lots shall not be subject to the landscaping
requirements of § 2402.A.2.Parking areas on the same lot are not
required to be interconnected.
F. There shall be provided one (1) off-street loading berth per
or facility that is erected with a gross floor area over twenty
thousand (20,000) square feet where the principal use of the
building requires the regular receipt or distribution of
merchandise by vehicles.
G. In the event of a conflict or inconsistency between any
regulation governing a Use E-18: University Campus and any other
zoning regulation in the Abington Township Zoning Ordinance, the
specific regulation for Use E-18 shall apply and control.
Section 4. Section 2304, Parking Use Requirements, subsection E,
Service (Institutional) Uses, shall be amended to add the
18. Use E-18: University Campus: A “parking space” shall be at
least 9 feet x 18 feet in size. The computation of required
parking spaces shall include both on-site and off-site parking
spaces. A University Campus use shall have one (1) parking
space for every classroom, plus one (1) space for every two and
a half (2.5) students who regularly attend classes on campus,
plus one (1) space for every ten (10) fixed auditorium seats,
one (1) space for every three hundred (300) square feet of gross
office area. The required number of parking spaces may be
reduced by a maximum of thirty percent (30%) if the college or
university provides and makes available all of the following:
1. a regularly scheduled shuttle service, which shall include
service to a commuter rail station;
2. a ride-share program; and
3. to the extent such programs are readily available, car-share
and bike share services.
Section 6. The Comprehensive Use Matrix in the Appendix to the
Ordinance, referred to in section 901 of the Zoning Ordinance,
shall be amended
by changing Use E-14, School or College – Public/Private, to Use
E-14, School –Public/Private.
Section 7. Section 2103.E of the Zoning Ordinance, Community
(Institutional Uses), Use E-14, School or College –
Public/Private, shall be amended
by amending the name of the use category and the introductory
Use E-14: School – Public/Private: A facility, building, lot,
parcel, use, or group
of facilities, buildings and uses that provides a broad
to individuals enrolled therein, and is licensed by the State
Education, including private and public kindergartens,
and senior high schools:…
Section 8. Section 2304, Parking Use Requirements, subsection E,
CommunityService (Institutional) Uses, subsection 14 shall be amended as
14. Use E-14: School – Public/Private: Elementary and secondary
require 1 parking space for every classroom plus 1 space for
students in tenth grade or higher, plus 1 space for every 10
Section 9. Repealer. All ordinances or parts of ordinances
or in conflict with any of the specific terms enacted hereby, to
the extent of said
inconsistencies or conflicts, are hereby specifically repealed.
Section 10. Severability. In the event that any section,
sentence, clause, or word
of this ordinance shall be declared illegal, invalid, or
unconstitutional by any court
of competent jurisdiction, such declaration shall not prevent,
preclude or otherwise
foreclose the validity of the remaining portions of this
Section 11. Effective Date. This Ordinance shall be effective as
of the date of
ENACTED and ORDAINED this _____ day of ______________________,
TOWNSHIP OF ABINGTON
_________________________ By: ______________________________
Secretary John L. Spiegelman, President Board of Commissioners
WANTED IN 2019
They wanted a new Academic Building - between the
Cloverly Building and the Rydal Building
They wanted properties on
side of Cloverly re-zoned to CS -Community Service
. ( Beware - as CS, they could merge those lots most
likely to another large
building there) .
expanded uses for the residences owned by PSU across
Cloverly ( they mentioned offices at one meeting
––previously mentioned uses were for fundraising or hosting
visitors. ) Retaining residential use but with an expansion . It would still allow
professors to live in these homes but not allow "hotel" use or
other uses - retaining more of the residential feel .
(Beware - "spot zoning " is not allowed - where you
rezone your own property for you benefit, but others with the
same zoning do not have the same privilege. So beware that
inserting text into the R1 uses could, conceiveably affect all
R1 uses in Abington. )
2019 to rezone the campus with a text amendment
to our zoning code that would transform NOT
just their campus - but all college and universtiy campuses in
PSU currently but it is unclear if other things would apply
without seeing their text.)
That means there is a really far reaching impact that comes with
this request - it is not just for Penn State. And certainly not
just for one building.
If this is still the plan in
2020 , then this should be labelled what it is : Changes
to Zoning for College and University Campuses in Abington.
There is sa huge amount to "unpack" in such a proposal - and it
will affect many residences, many neighborhoods, and our whole
Township ultimately. But because they would clearly be
rezoning to accommodate their new building in the process,
it is all being done together. The academic building
would be a "use by right" after the rezoning . But
what I find highly objectionalbe - and I think you should, too,
is that the whole very intense set of changes has been largely
labeled "Penn State's New Acadenic Building"
when it was ( at least a year ago,) far, far more
The specs they propose - and the full scope of their
requests- should be posted well in advance of any meeting
so residents can understand this. Meetings become unproductive
when people use all their question answer time trying to
just learn what's being done - and then are out of time to share
their thoughts and opinions about how they want their
Commissioners to act on the matter.
2014 Penn AState updates its Comprehensive Plan
with an eye toward
increasing the available academic space/ facilities
9-3-19 MEETING WITH
YELLOW HIGHLIGHTED SECTION NEAR THE END TO
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROCESS THAT PROVIDES FOR
COMMISSIONERS NOT TO ENTERTAIN THIS PROPOSAL AT ALL - -
UNLESS THE VOTERS THAT ELECTED THEM WANT THEM TO. The crowd in the room was largely Penn State
people & affiliates involved in some way with the
project.... but there were some neighbors there, too!
The new Academic
Building will be between the
Cloverly building and the Rydal building in the place of the
conference building that is now there.
All three of these buildings are relatively small.
There will be a new driveway on
to Cloverly. A small additional parking lot will go right next
to the one that is there.
There are houses all around that driveway that are owned
by the University
- 3 parcels with one house
demolished and 2 remaining are particularly in the crosshairs .
We all had a chuckle as the traffic
engineer told us there would be a
“nearly nil” by way of a traffic increase
with this new building
Shuttle routes - There are
7 routes served by 6 small van shuttles and 2
The shuttles go every ½ hour – and some
“on demand “ rides or specialized service is also
included in the over-all picture
PARKING 50 additional spaces at
Target were mentioned ( I missed that discussion so fill me in
if you know )
the new lot will add more spaces, too. That will be an extension
( of lot K I think ).
75-80% of students drive. Circulation in the area while looking
for a parking spot is an issue
Assigning spots is difficult
because people are sometimes there for only a short while – not
all day .
TRAFFIC CALMING There were
discussions about speed humps – eliminating driveways ,
chicanes, rumble strips, multi-way stops, etc All options will
need to be further considered .
They did studies from 6 am to 9 pm and studied 23
ZONING BY TEXT AND MAP - NOT VARIANCE
: The zoning change will be by way of a text
and map amendment -
Every developer's favorite new way of going around our zoning
laws. Marc Jonas of Eastburn Grey said that they would be
intending to create specialized zoning for Colleges and
Private Schools and Public Schools have very different needs
than Colleges and Universities.
thoughts : when the Colleges and Universities are
writing the zoning for Colleges and Universities we have a
problem. That is…. the neighbors/residents/citizens
who actually ELECTED the
legislators to serve their interests and build
communities the way
would like them to be, are left largely out of the picture.
Unless when you voted, you thought you were electing
someone to find developers, hospitals and universities that
would decide how your town should work for them, not for you.
For them that might mean bringing in lots of outsiders, and
expanding non-profit uses to the max. Or having more concrete
so as to have more "clients". The shoe seems to be on the wrong
I don’t think the
college had even ONE vote in any election - why is their voice
given preference over the citizens who did vote. Who exactly is
putting residents second….instead of first? )
The Township was rezoned in 2017 and people
from both the hospitals and the colleges were part of the
process. Commissioner Kline said that because those 2 uses were
so different, he expected that it would go this way ... that
they would write the zoning more appropriately later via text
and map amendment
Commissioner Kline did , in fact, try to zone things
differently on behalf of some of these entities.
I personally worked with people in 3 transition zones where the
effort was to try to turn residential housing into “light
commercial”. In the case of, for instance Highland Ave, next to
Abington Hospital, the neighbors learned about it warly on and
told him, in no uncertain terms, NO. Doing this would have
paved the way for non-owner occupied
medical offices around Abington Hospital, and affected
yet another row back into the neighborhood. Something similar is
happening here where a request for CS zoning of residential
parcels is representing the efforts of the school to expand into
the community further. At
Abington Hospital the residents revolted and
demanded it get taken out
BEFORE they were dragged through hours and hours
of meetings until they were worn down. A similar early effort
here could prevent hours of painful meetings and could make for
a very different ending ---- unless neighbors are happy
with the school expanding into the neighborhood. )
on to say that they intend to ask the Township to allow limited
use of the houses across the street….
Neighbors wanted everything to remain as residential as
possible. There are three residential properties they want to
change to a community service zoning rather than residential (2
of them have houses - 1 house was already demolished.
From the neighbors I believe that the houses
owned by Penn State, on their side of Cloverly are :
1639 (already demolished), 1665 , and 1681 and their
carriage house, 1687 is also there. Across the street
there is 1718 and 1694. If this is not correct please let
me know. I don't want someone to be shocked their house is
mentioned here when it is not involved .
If I understood it correctly, there
was talk of expanding to something beyond R1
single family residential use in the ones across the street (
perhaps to apartments????) but no specifics were given ), but they would remain residentailly zoned . But I have to get
all that straight first. Help me
out if you have any of the docs or know the facts on this . We
need to get hold of the slideshow and the documents ….
It is a shame this meeting was not
on video so we could
review anything we might have missed or misunderstood.
Commissioner Kline has been asked to video and share docs and
links since he arrived in 2008 - ---over 11 years ago. He
still refuses. Your rights are dimisnished when you can't
learn the facts in time.
One resident said that they sued Penn State
years ago and they required them to develop from the inside out
- I will try to get more on this.
It was also asked why they would build on
green space when they could build on the concrete where the
parking lots are. Didn't hear the
Kline explained the difference between the
request via the text and map amendment and a zoning change that
is requested via a variance:
A variance is a quasi judicial process - you make your
application before the Zoning Hearing Board and you need a
is looking for purely a "legislative" process, meaning that the
legislators, your Commissioners, have the right to zone anything
anyway they want to zone it- and they will need only 8 votes ( a
majority) to win the zoning.
Kline said we can put some stipulations in
the ordinance- we can work with resident’s concerns
Yes they can, but they often don’t.
new way of zoning things has come up only in more recent years.
Previously it was considered that people’s zoning rights were
protected and that developers, universities or other
challengers had to follow the law via variances or waivers to
make changes in the zoning. But some years back, a little more
than 10 years perhaps , developers began to get the idea they
didn’t need to go through all of that hassle at all because they
could go around it and still avoid "spot zoning" by taking other
parcels along with them. Let’s face it,
they almost never had a hardship and often would lose.
The Wawa wanted 24 variances - but had no hardship. So instead
they just asked their friends, the commissioners, if they would
approve a brand-new zoning use.
The residents filled the rooms and were lined up in the hall to
speak - still they were ignored and the developer got what he
One of our first challenges with a text and map amendment
was the Baederwood Shopping Center debacle… Commissioners Kline
and Peacock said they were making better zoning --- residents
largely disagreed. Their wishes were ignored and 246 units
were approved on eight sloped acres that would at most
have had eight homes. The slope might have prevented even all 8.
But common sense was also ignored. The floodgates of
"legilative zoning" were thus flung open for
the Wawa , the BET/YMCA
and other developerss who now freely write zoning for
their own properties however they like it, just as the college
is doing here.
spot zoning, they often have to zone or provide the
same conditions for other properties, as well -- changing our
zoning protections along the way.
When they rezoned the Wawa,
we had trouble getting them to tell us what other properties now
could have gas pumps by right - and didn't have to even ask the
neighbors. One such document sought
to eliminate all normal zoning processes and allow the
Commissioners to alter what they wished almost at will.
The public is largely oblivious.By
the time they understand it, multiple steps are already
approved. If we are not paying attention or not
savvy enough, our rights get written away by developers ( or
universities or others). Again, in the text and map amendment
style of zoning only eight commissioners need to say yes in
order for the zoning to change.
56,000 residents might wish it to be the other way but
only eight need to say yes.
I hardly need tell you what a set up for corruption that
Marc Jonas tried to explain the advantage
of the text and map amendment over variance method. He said all
of this will be in black-and-white. The worst thing he said is
to have something happen by variance….
(no it is not - because you can ask your Commissioners to have
your Zoning Hearing Board members removed if they
repeatedly approve variances that are in nobody's interest)
It was asked whether the three houses are
paying taxes. Kline said no. ( Universities are nonprofits) then
the president of the University said yes they were.
( I guess, apparently, because they are residential
and not zoned as part of the non-profit community service use
they aren’t nonprofit . I’m not sure what other
reason there might be.
Question : how much impervious
surface would be left at Penn State and Jonas said they were not
close to maxing out
Question : if these buildings were
all built and decades down the road the University decides we
don’t need these buildings anymore ( okay they could conceivably
move the college or funding could become an issue or something
else we can’t anticipate)
he asked if there are safeguards about how such a complex
could be rezoned
Jonas answered by saying that zoning is
always up to the commissioners and Kline followed that up by
saying anyone can request anything to be rezoned, unless
prohibitions were put on the deed
. And any CS
use would be allowed .
All the properties that are or become zoned CS(community
service) would be able to be used for any community service use
CS Community service is found on
Page 35 in this Zoning Code passed 4-27-17 and the use
matrix is on page
Jonas added that the zoning stays with the
Question : what other schools are affected?
Kline said in 2017 they went through the changes of uses and
then he explained the Hospital and University issue and the fact
that these 2 propertiy types were very different so the Zoning
Ordinance Committee decided not to do anything ... and to
let hem come in
and propose what’s useful to them in the manner that this is
( as I said above- I don’t buy that hook line and
sinker - they did indeed try to make some changes but met with
resistance - and didn't want to sour the whole rezoning
endeavor, I think).
.Question: about what the projected
date of completion was? The President of the University said
this is his fourth year and the project itself was approved
before he came. The project manager said it’s still a long way
away and it could be a 16 to 18 month design -And another
18 months of construction
Jonas said the zoning processes
would be expected to take several months- perhaps 6 to 9 months
or a year with
state agencies’ reviews
Kline said they hadn’t submitted anything
formally. 1½ years ago they met with neighbors. The first step
would be to go before the board and ask to advertise for
instance in an October meeting. (Sometime in November they would
then possibly hold the hearing
Question: about the zoning
that they would come in 1st for a zoning map and text
amendment--- they probably would do a reverse subdivision
later…. But there would be more say for residents before the
ordinance was approved.
but possibley in hours long meetings where the developers
drone on and the residents are given just minutes. )
Jonas said to some degree that is true,
but the critical part is land development. The
building is on land that is already zoned CS. Kline agreed -
but he said I want things written into the ordinance
( This is the biggest
deceit, in my opinion, that I see again and again and again. See
Jonas said when we did Lions gate we had a
meeting with everyone and then he remarked how nicely he thought
that came out. And
there were a few more questions about Memorial Field and Penn
State being proactive with traffic and controlling student
behavior, putting up traffic signs that tell students to slow
down etc.. The President agreed they could do things like that
Kline said that the school has contributed $30,000 a year to
police for patrols
The bolded and underlined part above is something that I find to
be a complete disgrace over and over in this Township.
I have sat in meeting after meeting after meeting where
residents were told that land development was where their issues
were largely addressed and they needn't bother so much wiht the
text and map amendments . Although Kline said that he wanted to
write things into the ordinance, what he did not tell everybody
is that very plainly and simply the Commissioners have
no obligation whatsoever to entertain this request for a text
and map amendment. That should allow for a
massive advantage to the benefit of the residents . But instead,
the leverage is being given away to the advbantage of
If they went for a variance, the law requires that their
request for a variance be heard. But when they are going outside
of the system in this manner, the law allows that the
commissioners do not even have to hear their
request for a change in
done in this
manner. The Commissioners are elected to serve the people who
elected them. Not thier own interests. Not the interests of
oursiders. Yes Penn State is an entity under Kline's
purview - but they do not vote. They should be there only if and
how the residents of that political subdivision choose to have
them. Otherwise....whose interests are the Commissioners
As you can imagine
this gives the commissioners every ounce of leverage that
they would need to negotiate
on behalf of their residents.
(You know, the people who elected them.)
Kline is going to be leaving. Possibly before the end of the
year, if the grand jury report is ever
released, or at the very least by the end of the year
because he is not continuing as Commissioner in 20120.
Tom Hecker and Christina
Baker are vying for the Ward one job starting in January.
So this is not a fortuitous time for the residents in
Ward 1 to be meeting a mega challenge of this sort.
And Commissioner Kline did not share with you the fact
that the Commissioners have no obligation to hear this
application for an academic building at all.
So in whose
interest was that?
In the case of the YMCA, the residents learned this
information on the very night that the commissioners gave away
the farm -- agreeing to let BET start the formal process, when
they had no obligation to do so. The residents were drug along over
a year long process, with crucial meetings during the holidays
and all kinds of shenanigans. The developer attended FOUR
Planning Commission meetings and apparently planned to keep
attending until he got approval, with no push back from the
Commissioners whocould, at any time, have stopped it.
What they should have done was had the developer and the
residents meet until full or near full agreement was arrived
at on many of the major principles, in informal forums where
residents had the same unlimmited time to speak that developers
have, and then, when residents were in at least general
agreement, they could
tell the developer they were ready to approve the formal
This is what you
do when you have all the leverage in the world and you really
ARE working in the interests of the people who elected you .
Instead as you heard in the discourse above, there is
possibly going to be a play for the text and map amendment
process to begin in October. That would be a disgrace.
If they are coming to an
October meeting, I can promise you, you have very little time to
get up to speed on what your rights are and what all the details
of this are …..because it will go lickety-split after that.
And once the text and map amendment are approved, there
are just a few details in land development that will be able to
be tweaked...location of driveways, positioning of lights and so
on. Not that these aren't important- but you will no
longer be able to change what they re-zoned. The school will have obtained it's expansion on
its own terms - with your voices just a quiet wimper - and the
zoning won't be able to be undone
Please know that I have done my best
to scribble these notes from the meeting - and to share
along with them tidbits of the experience I have
glaened from 13 years of observation and
participation in Township zoning matters. Time is going to be of
the essence for the residents if the School intends
to bring this to the Board in October.
Please also see
the link from the front page for the newly intended Economic
Development Corporation. This could, conceiveably also be
a factor here ...or anywhere in Abington.
welcome any corrections you can share and I will share them back
JANUARY 2020 -
Meeting with some of the neighbors ? If anyone
has a brief summary, please send it.
11-19-20 MEETING WITH NEIGHBORS
meeting with Commissioner Hecker
MAY 2021 : Committee of the
5-13-21 Committee of
After many "neighborhood meetings" , the
actual ordinance (
FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN ON THIS PAGE
) first officially appeared in the documents of the 5-13-21
Committee of the Whole meeting. It was intended to create zoning favorable to
Universities" and would allow
MULTIPLE such buildings as the New Academic Building
on both Penn State an Manor College campuses and they
could be up to 300 ft in length. It also would have
allowed the rezoning of certain
residential units ajacent to PSU both on the campus side of Cloverly and across
the street, which could have set unhappy precedents for other
properties that they bought in the future.
So it was quite substantially more than just an academic building.
At the 5-13 meeting, Manager Manfredi said they hadn't
made a submission yet - but of course they had, and it was in
hte documents - so the residents aren't getting the truth on all
2, 2021 : MEETING HOSTED BY PENN STATE
On June 2nd, 2021 we were told that it was a "mistake " or
"accident" that the item was on the Committee of the Whole
agenda in May ---- (of course, it had to have been submitted or
they wouldn't have had the text to put in the agenda
documents........ and the
Dean of Penn State, Comr Hecker and others were there and said
about the "mistake" as it was happening and as per the language
of the "mistake".... they did set a neighbors' meeting 5 days
later...... so that's all pretty hard to swallow that all
of that was a "mistake" ... but
at any rate they were dropping any rezoning of buildings
on the opposite side of Cloverly Lane from the campus and might
even sell them --- and dropping their intent to rezone
both campuses for now.... they'll be back later with that
(yup - and by July they were already back with it) .
They said they were planning to submit an
ordinance now only go forward with the new
Academic Building via a map amendment to change a small part of
the campus from residential to CS, so their entire campus will
be CS. They do not intend any intense uses where these
former residentialuses were. They expect it
will take a year of prep work for the new academic building and
then 18 months of construction once all the permits and
everything are approved. (Neighbors are rightfully concerned
about the noise over such a long time - and about the staging
area for their trucks, etc.)
July 27, 2021 Planning Meeting
there was another meeting of the immediate Penn State neighbors
on School Lane, Cloverly & Woodland with
Commissioner Hecker .
July 27, 2021 Planning
Two ordinances were on the agenda
separately for this advisory Board to consider. The first
was just to take the 3 properties that are on Penn State's
side of Cloverly Lane and to change them to CS ( Community
Service ). The Planning Commissioners were ready to
recommend that be passed. And I don't think the neighbors
disagree. Penn State has also said, yes, it will probably
sell the 2 houses on the other side of Cloverly.
the third issue- the rezoning of both campuses brought forth
some problems . First of all, the site that they chose for
their new building is on a flood conservation plain --- and that
has very stringent guidelines for development . There may be
steep slope involved there as well. The Architect on the
job is none other than Ward 6 Commissioner Michael Thompson -
and Abington has quite a history with Commissioners
compromises, laws policies and principals for profit or for
their clients, so that is also problematic. The College's
Engineer knew that this was (at least in part) in the
conservation plain area and went ahead with the plans anyway.
How did that happen ? Our Township Planner, Michael
Narcowicz has been involved. Did he not know. One
has to question whether they just hoped it would slide by
quickly - no one would ask any questions and no one would know.
More to come on this.
Also they were failing to address the multiple buildings
mentioned in the ordinance ..... when questioned they
reponded that there would be infill building . My
understanding of that is reconfiguration and expansion of
existing buildings. But that has never been shown . So
more about that needs to be known . There was aslo great
discussion about the buffer or setback from the road .
More to come on all of this .....
August 24, 2021 MOST RECENT TOWNSHIP MEETING Planning
Commission Meeting ----
Planning Commission August 24, 2021
were shenanigans yet again at the last Planning Commission
meeting - where the attorney for Penn State was allowed to pick
and choose whose questions he answered and whose he did not. And
then, the issue did not go back to the Committee as it
should after a review by the Planning Commission .......
Hearing on both Penn State
ordinances will be held on Oct 14, 2021 6:30 pm
Find the information here :
including the Zoom Link
This ability to find the
information all in one place came after a long letter
that for years they had sent us on a goose chase to get the
information needed for a meeting - so this time it is all in one
place on the front page calendar click. Hurray.
issues as yet unresolved that should be resolved
BEFORE THE HEARING
Please click here to view Ordinance
The request they HAVE made includes that Manor College will get
this zoning - and also the Horse Farm possibly - as Manor
is negotiating for that as I write this . Manor residents
have NOT been notified - nor have they been included in the
crafting of the ordinance through the many meetings that were
held . The ordinance includes buildings (plural) that
could be as long as 300 feet and 55 feet high. Whenever 2
buildings ( that are not accessory buildings ) are being
considered for development, there must be a Masterplan. So that
clearly defined that the zoning proposal was not just
about the ONE academic building. In July 2021 they
said that they only had space for one building . So I asked why
that language was in the ordinance and I was told the
others would be "infill" building . But they have thus far on
multiple occasions refused to define that exactly and give all
examples of it that would enable residents to
determine how much expansion to the campus that would provide
decided first that it WAS in a steep slope conservation district
– but then that it wasn’t…..
Buffers - I have not checked to see where the buffer distances
ended up – you’ll have to check that - p4 , for instance, some
activities are just 100 ft from residential
As noted - they failed completely to notify Manor College
neighbors that all these meetings were taking place ---- So
Manor residents had NO PART in crafting the ordinance that will
Please click here to view Ordinance
This is for Penn State only..... . Spot zoning?
Although verbally we were told the 3 residences they own
on the Penn State side of Cloverly Lane would retain their
residential nature after they are zoned to CS, there is
nothing in writing to back that up. Residents deserve to know IN
WRITNG that this promise will be honored in perpetuity and that
they will not try to build a 55 foot high 300 ft long building
by joining these - asking for a few little variances or waivers
in the future . To make sure a hi-rise doesn't end up in that
corner of the campus right opposite residential something
needs to be written.
Concerns that you have?
Please feel free to
send your information to us and please be sure
to tell us about any information you believe to be incorrect - write