LOWER SALFORD — Applications will be submitted for use-and-occupancy permits for two parking lots that are being used to park trucks that make deliveries from Amazon, the owners of the properties told township supervisors at the board's Feb. 4 morning work session.
It's not always clear what approvals are needed for new and different uses, though, attorney Nate Fox, representing property owners Mike and Zach Moore, said.
"I think we're finding with this facility use, as elsewhere, there are holes in local municipal zoning ordinances because there's nothing that really speaks to this," Fox said.
"But it's easier to handle those holes when we're informed about them at the beginning of the process as opposed to getting calls from concerned residents and neighbors and having to kind of try to catch up to the process," Township Manager Joe Czajkowski said.
Sixty trucks are being parked at Ametek Pittman on Godshall Drive and 30 at the former Nyce Printing on Main Street without permits having been applied for in either case, township officials said. Both properties are owned by the Moores.
Amazon is not the tenant in either case, Zach Moore said.
"Amazon does not own and operate these fleets. There's Amazon logos on them, but it's not Amazon. They're all subcontractors that Amazon partners with," he said. "Amazon's a great buzzword, but this is not Amazon."
"They're a result of Amazon having a warehouse in Towamencin, but they're not Amazon vehicles, understood," board member Chris Canavan said.
The township's questions are about the allowed use of the properties under the zoning rules, he said.
In the case of the Ametek site, which is zoned for industrial use, the parking lot which was an accessory use becomes a primary use, he said. At the Nyce site, which is zoned for residential use, it would be another non-conforming use joining other businesses already using the property, he said. Rock Community Church, which also uses part of the property, is not a non-conforming use because the institutional use is allowed, he said.
The Ametek lot has about 260 parking spaces, Fox said. Pittman was bought by Ametek, which moved the manufacturing work previously done at the site to Mexico, he said. The company still has engineering offices at the site, he said.
"Historically, it was a heavy manufacturing operation, and warehousing and storage, with tons of parking and tons of employees," Fox said. "We don't have that anymore."
Even if there are less vehicles, there are different traffic patterns and times of peak use, which also has to be considered, Canavan said.
There are also aspects of the plan that work in its favor, he said.
"The site's buffered. It's got an access to [Route] 63. It's close to the turnpike," he said.
A permit application and township review is necessary, though, he said.
"It's just a matter of knowing what's there so that we don't get ahead of ourselves, and not that I think you're trying to over-stuff it, but, "Canavan said, "things have a tendency to grow."
Jim Garrity, the township's solicitor, said he will have to check to see if the parking use is allowed in the industrial zoning district.
"We'll look at it when the application's filed, but the use really is not of the building. The use is of the parking lot and it's a truck depot," Garrity said.
The drivers come to the site, take the trucks out and make deliveries, then return the trucks and go home, Zach Moore said.
"It's not 24/7. They're not storing anything at this facility," he said.
There have been complaints from neighbors of the Nyce property about additional lighting having been installed in the parking lot, which was expanded, Czajkowski said.
The lighting was added for security, Mike Moore said.
Grading was done, but the lot wasn't expanded, he said.
A site plan filed with the township shows the large parking area in the rear of the building when it was used by Nyce Printing, Zach Moore said.
"What you see here has always been there," he said as a photo of the lot was shown.
The biggest issue at the Nyce site is that the plan adds a new non-conforming use, which would need to go to the zoning hearing board for its approval, Rob Reilley, the township's director of building & zoning/code enforcement officer, said.
There is also a stipulation agreement for the Nyce property signed in 1996 by a previous owner that limits the types and amount of uses, township officials said. That was never recorded with the deed and he had not previously seen it, Mike Moore said.
The permit applications will be filed for the township's review, he said.
"We live here in this community," Mike Moore said. "We want to have a good relationship with you."
Garrity said the Nyce property is complicated.
"Let's decide what's non-conforming and agree to it and then everybody knows where they're going," he said.