Planning Committee – Former G.E. Park (Part 1)

Some of you may know I grew up in Springdale’s Heritage Hill subdivision and my parents still live there.  A few times a week I find myself driving by the former GE Park (now Springdale Commerce Park?) and even being on City Council I have a lot of open questions about the development.  Since any final development plans for this location will constitute a “Major” change to the planned use after the proposal will come before City Council for approval before proceeding.

I have been at the last couple planning committee meeting to listen first hand and I wanted to share my questions so far and what I have learned.

A few point to open:

  • The zoning decision proceeded some time ago from residential to industrial mixed use, unless there are significant and unexpected developments the use for this property will remain in the spirit of the new planned use.
  • The location is adjacent to significant numbers of Springdale family homes (both condos and single family).  I do not believe current guidelines for industrial / warehouse buildings sufficiently protect these residents use of their properties as I do not believe they anticipate this use adjacent to residential homes – but they do establish a good baseline and set of minimums.
  • The location is already adjacent to as significant transportation corridor that includes trucking so the transition is natural – the increased use does warrant scrutiny.

In short:

This is a industrial use near residential area so we need to make sure the new tenants are setup for success as good neighbors.

Aerial Picture from Traffic Study


Questions and Concerns:

December Planning Committee
1. There was some discussion on sidewalks in and around the development.  Councilman Lawrence Hawkins asked the developer about sidewalks and they responded with the ‘typical view’ diagrams and explained that all the roads inside the park had them with curbs and ADA corners which is great though there was no discussion of sidewalks around Crescentville and 747.  Earlier in the meeting Amy T (resident) had asked in the meeting about that and there was no response I recall.  Will the city or the developer be adding sidewalks where they are absent around the development on Crescentville and 747?
Answer: I followed up with Derrick Parham (City Administration) and he confirmed the current plans will be to complete the outside perimeter sidewalk.
Follow-up: Monitor to ensure the new sidewalk remains in the plan.
GE Park Plat
2. There was discussion from one of the residents (Amy T) on pedestrian use in the area, Don Z. (City Engineer) mentioned the traffic study.  Does the study include impacts on pedestrian use?  What crosswalk options will be added at the new light, on Crescentville, and 747?  (With the additional truck traffic this will be a more significant issue).
Answer: I have received a copy of the traffic study (an impressive 80+ page report) and am currently reviewing it with a focus on understanding the assumptions and expected increased traffic patterns.  Discussing the pedestrian crossing issue with Derrick Parham (City Administration) he confirmed there would not be a new crossing at the changed exit on Crescentville.  The reasoning is that there is no sidewalk to cross to (on the Butler County side) so it would be unsafe.  Interestingly there is such a crosswalk at the corner of 747 and Crescentville (across Crescentville) More to come on this.
Follow-up: review the traffic study, if not addressed adequately in the study request cross walk or additional justification for it not being included.
Estimated Traffic Assumptions from Traffic Study
3. There is significant concern regarding noise from the increased trucking.  One area other communities have address is around truck engine breaking (which when it occurs can be quite significant) – currently as far as I can tell Springdale does not have an ordinance to address this I could only find the City ordinance 76.27 Unnecessary Noises in commercial equipment which only prohibits sounds and signalling devices when not required for safety – not engine braking in residential areas.  76.18 discusses braking but only that the truck would need to have brakes not prohibiting alternative braking requirements.  Should we address this in advance of this development (and in what situations)?
Answer:  As it turns out one of my older brothers is a Long Haul trucker… I spent some time with him over the holidays and we talked about truck noise and residential areas.  It was eye-opening (ear opening?).   He also spoke with several other truckers to get more views on engine braking and shared this – the area we are talking about it is frankly not likely that anyone would want to or really be able to do engine braking anyway.  From a practical standpoint the area is short, flat, and low speed.   Several folks he discussed it with actually said the best way to get them to DO engine braking and generally make noise would be to put up some signs prohibiting it.  He did warn that in cross doc situations (like is being proposed) trucks that are about to start a ‘trip’ are required to complete a Pre-Trip Inspection (PTI).  Noteworthy is that truckers are required to verify their horn works before each trip.
Follow-up: Let’s set aside the general anti-social nature of that and take it for what we can use – since it is not likely to improve situation and might make things worse we should avoid this intervention until it is needed.  The PTI item is worth keeping in mind as we talk about distance from docks to residential property and sound dampening walls and landscaping.
4. There was significant discussion on the ‘South of the Beaver Run Creek’ green space or new 5th building…  The developer had mentioned they were open to donating that land back to the city for use as green space or a park.  The Mayor indicated that the city had enough parks and did not have funds to maintain a new one.  How much space – acreage and shape – does this space represent?  What would the estimated cost be to convert to a maintained walking path, playground, dog park, or managed green-space (note those are 4 different options) in initial cost and ongoing?  Was the possibility of the green-space discussed in any of the past Public hearings (even going back to the original developer PUD discussions)?  Was this ever an item on the Parks and Recs commission agenda?  Have the residents of the current development included this option in their recent deliberations when considering property value affects or livability concerns?
Answer: Between the December meeting and this post the developer has since removed the 5th building south of the creek and intends to keep it as green space.
Follow-up:  Investigate opportunity, the space may not be feasible for city green-space but I would like to see the idea vetted before being dismissed out of hand.  Even a small walking path and picnic area might help reduce the impact to local residents of the docks / industrial space.

What do you think?  Let your elected officials know!

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