Board of Supervisors
Work Session Minutes
December 20, 2004
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting January 26, 2005. MINUTES OF 12/20/04 WORK SESSION: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 12/20/04 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
Members Present: Richard Weaver, Chairman; Scott R. Harp, Vice Chairman; Anne Goren, Secretary/Treasurer; Tom Jirele, Member; Raymond “Skip” Goodnoe, Member; Dave Sanders, Solicitor; Robert M. Pellegrino, Township Manager.
Also Present: Alan Smith; Brian Mann, The Omnia Group; Jim Pearlstein, Pearl Properties; Reed Slogoff, Pearl Properties; Dan McLaughlin, Pearl Properties; Jeff Alvert, Pearl Properties; John DePasqualie, Elliot Building Group; Peter Stampfl, Stampfl Hartke Associates, LLC.; Bob White, Redevelopment Authority; Walt Jamison, Newtown Presbyterian Church; Caron Williams, Newtown Presbyterian Church; Renate Siekwann, Advance; Frank Tyrol, Cologne; Ron Heverly, Cologne; Chris Ortwein, Newtown Main Streets manager; Thomas Hecker, Begley, Carlin & Mandio, LLP.; Wayne Johnson, McGrath Homes; Various Newtown Township and Newtown Borough residents including Ethel Hibbs, David Katz, Mark Craig, Steve Goodman, Kathleen Parry, John Parry, Gail Laughlin, Joan Grozalls, Barry Portnord, Judith Norkin, Phil Calabro and Brandon Wind.
Prior to the Call to Order, the Supervisors met in executive session.
Call to Order: Chairman Weaver called the meeting to order at 8:10 PM.
Presentation of Acme Property Proposals
Mr. Weaver advised the residents that the below developers would be making presentations with regards to the development of the old Acme site located on Sycamore Street.
Mr. Williams commented that the Newtown Presbyterian Church had received no formal notice with regards to the presentation of the Acme property proposals. He questioned what steps are being taken to notify stakeholders. Mr. Pellegrino advised that individual notices were not sent to property owners, the Township did advertise on the Township web site and in the local newspaper.
Mr. Smith gave a brief history of his development philosophy and projects he has completed within the community including the restoration of the Brick Hotel, Barclay Court, Sycamore Center and the Stocking Works.
Mr. Smith advised that his proposal for the Acme property would incorporate an ice-skating rink. The building would be three (3) stories, the first level would be retail/office and the second and third levels would be residential. The building materials would alternate, similar to the Sycamore Center. There would be a total of 142 parking spaces; there would be 44 parking spaces under the building for residents. The estimated cost of the project is between $12,000,000 – $15,000,000. The retail/office space square footage is 23,000. The retail/office space uses could include a garden store, a restaurant and skating rink.
Mr. Jirele asked how many residential units there would be. Mr. Smith advised there would be twenty (20) residential units.
Barry Portnord questioned who would be responsible for maintaining the ice-skating rink. Mr. Smith advised that the association/management would handle the responsibility of maintaining the ice-skating rink.
Mr. Katz commented on the street frontage for the Acme property along Sycamore Street. Mr. Smith advised the Acme property runs from the edge of the Newtown Presbyterian Church property to the end of the current Acme lot. He advised that directly across from Jefferson Street there would be an arched entryway to the rear of the building for parking. Mr. Katz questioned the width of the sidewalks, what traffic calming measures would be taken, if a traffic light would be installed at Jefferson Street and if there would be on- street parking. Mr. Pellegrino advised that a traffic light would be installed at Jefferson Street as part of the Sycamore Street Reconstruction Project. Mr. Smith advised there would be on-street parking in front of the center. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the traffic lights along Sycamore Street would be part of a closed loop system.
Mr. Portnord commented on the entryway with regards to traffic problems. Mr. Smith advised that the intersection would be controlled due to the traffic light, he felt that would take care of any traffic problems.
Ms. Norkin commented on the traffic light at Goodnoe’s (Rt. 532 & Durham Road), she referred to the timing of the lights with regards to pedestrian crossing. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the traffic light would be included in the closed loop system. A suggestion was made to install a pedestrian crossing signal.
Mr. Weaver thanked Mr. Smith for his time.
The Omnia Group
Mr. Mann gave a brief history with regards to The Omnia Group Inc.
Mr. Mann advised that his proposal for the Acme property would incorporate a memorial plaza. The site would consist of two (2) buildings. The buildings would be three (3) stories, the first level would be retail and the second and third levels would be residential. The building materials would alternate. There would be a total of 115 parking spaces; all residents would have their own parking areas. The retail space uses could include a restaurant and high-end retail shops. The retail space square footage is 13,000. The residential space square footage is 25,000; including eight (8) condo units and eighteen (18) apartment units.
Mr. Jirele questioned the architectural details of The Omnia Group’s proposal with regards to standing out or blending into Newtown. Mr. Mann advised that his proposal would make the center stand out as well as blend in to Newtown; the proposal includes using varied materials, classical designs, the first level would be taller, there would be a lack of shutters and varied raised roof levels.
Mr. Portnord questioned the number of parking spaces and how many spaces were designated for the residents. Mr. Mann advised that each residential unit was allotted one (1) parking space. Mr. Pellegrino advised that according to the Township code there is a two (2) parking space minimum per residential unit. Mr. Mann advised that the condo units would have a garage.
Mr. Jamison questioned the building running along the property of the Newtown Presbyterian Church; what is the anticipated elevation for the residential units and how will they deal with elevation change between the church property and the Acme property. Mr. Mann advised that the lower level would consist of garages and maintenance/utility rooms; the rear of the building would face a retaining wall. The second and third levels would be used as living space.
Mr. Jirele questioned if the Condo units facing the church property would have balconies.
Mr. Mann advised that The Omnia Group had not really thought of having balconies.
Ms. Goren questioned if the Condo units would be owner occupied. Mr. Mann advised they would.
One resident questioned the parking for delivery trucks. Mr. Mann advised that his proposal allowed for the delivery trucks to park in the rear of the building.
One resident questioned the size of the memorial plaza. Mr. Mann advised that the memorial plaza is approximately 25’ across; he described what the memorial plaza would look like. The resident commented with regards to accessing the memorial plaza, she advised that walking through the parking lot was not very inviting. Mr. Mann discussed the access to the memorial plaza.
Mr. Portnord commented with regards to sidewalks accessing the memorial plaza. Mr. Mann advised that his proposal does include sidewalks for accessing the memorial plaza.
Mr. Weaver thanked Mr. Mann for his time.
Mr. Pearlstein gave a brief history on Pearl Properties. He also introduced Mr. McLaughlin, Mr. Slogoff and Mr. Alvert.
Mr. Pearlstein advised that his proposal for the Acme property would also incorporate the property were the Newtown Emergency Squad is located. The site would consist of two (2) buildings and a three story-parking garage. He explained that the building closest to Eagle Road would be a three story stick frame garden apartment complex. The garden apartment complex would consist of thirty-nine (39) units – thirteen (13) units on each floor. The building running along Sycamore Street would be three (3) stories, the first level would be for retail use with 18’ high ceiling and the second and third levels would be residential. The second and third levels of the building would contain twenty-eight (28) urban style units – fourteen (14) on each floor. The retail space is approximately 30,000 square feet. He explained that to enter the complex you would drive through an arched entryway to access the parking garage in the rear of the building. The parking garage would have a total of 228 parking spaces, the first level of the parking garage would have 82 parking spaces, the second level of the parking garage would have 88 parking spaces and the third level which would be parking for residents of the garden apartment complex only would be accessed from Eagle Road and have 58 parking spaces. The third level of the parking garage would also contain a garden area. Deliveries and trash service would be conducted in the rear of the building.
Mr. Katz questioned what the differences between the garden apartment and the urban style apartment and the square footage of the two apartment types. Mr. Pearlstein advised that the garden apartments are approximately 1,000 square feet and that the urban apartments are approximately 1,100 square feet on the second floor and 900 square feet on the third floor. He also noted that the finishes in both styles are high end including ceramic tile baths and stainless steel appliances.
Mr. Katz questioned the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Mr. Pearlstein advised most would have either two (2) bedrooms/one (1) bath or two (2) bedroom/two (2) bath.
Ms. Grozalls questioned the height of the building and what you will see as you approach the complex from Jefferson Street. Mr. Pearlstein advised that you would not be able to see the parking garage as you approach the complex. He also advised that the height of the building is 38’.
Ms. Grozalls questioned the total density of the complex. Mr. Pearlstein advised that the complex would contain a total of sixty-seven (67) apartment units, 30,000 square feet of retail space and 228 parking spaces.
Mr. Portnord commented with regards to the ambulance squad property and the zoning on that piece of property. Mr. Pellegrino advised on the zoning. The Supervisors discussed the zoning.
Mr. Jirele questioned if the retail shops would be accessible from Eagle Road. Mr. Pearlstein advised that you would not be able to access the retail shops by vehicle from Eagle Road, but there would be access for pedestrians.
One resident questioned what would be seen as you approach the complex from Sycamore Street. Mr. McLaughlin advised you would see the side of a retail building, he was unsure if there would be a view of the parking garage. The resident also questioned Pearl Properties vision of a garden apartment. Mr. Pearlstein advised that the garden apartment would be beautiful.
Mr. Portnord questioned what the exterior finish of the buildings would be. Mr. Pearlstein advised on the types of exterior finishes that will be used and that the complex would resemble the current look in Newtown.
Mr. Katz questioned the site plans with regards to the view of the cell phone tower. Mr. Pearlstein advised where the cell phone tower is approximately located on his proposal.
Mr. Katz questioned the ambulance squad property with regards to the existing building. Mr. Pearlstein advised that if his proposal were chosen the current ambulance squad building would be knocked down. Mr. Katz questioned where the ambulance squad would move. The Supervisors advised that the relocation of the ambulance squad is still being discussed.
Mr. Jamison questioned the number of parking spaces and where people are expected to shop. Mr. Pearlstein advised that he felt there was sufficient parking and people could walk into town but he hopes the people parking in the garage would shop in the complex.
Ms. Norkin questioned the appearance of the front of the building running along Sycamore Street. Mr. McLaughlin advised on what material would be used. Ms. Norkin suggested using a brick material knows as Bucks County pudding stone.
Ms. Norkin questioned the entryways to the buildings; she described how the downtown community has offset entryways. Mr. McLaughlin advised that type of entryway could be incorporated into Pearl Properties proposal.
Mr. Portnord questioned what Pearl Properties intentions are, would they keep ownership of the property? Mr. Pearlstein advised that Pearl Properties would contain ownership of the property.
Mr. Williams questioned the garden apartments off of Eagle Road. Mr. Pearlstein advised that the building would be strictly residential.
Ms. Norkin questioned if Pearl Properties would be working with landscape architects. Mr. McLaughlin advised that Pearl Properties would be working with landscape architects.
Ms. Grozalls commented on the number of parking spaces with regards to the number of vehicles on Jefferson and Sycamore Streets. Mr. Pearlstein advised that Pearl Properties had researched feedback for several years from the Township and residents to design their proposal.
Mr. Wind commented on the entryway to the top level of the parking garage, he questioned for safety, reasons would vehicles be able to exit the parking garage through the top level? Mr. Pearlstein advised that would not be possible.
One resident commented on the garden area. Mr. Pearlstein advised the garden area would be on the third level of the parking garage.
Mr. Jirele questioned what type of landscaping would be put into the garden area. Mr. McLaughlin advised that the garden area could contain items like paver patios, bistro patio w/ furniture, large 14’ trees and landscaping lighting.
Mr. Portnord questioned how water drainage for the garden area would be handled on the parking garage. Mr. McLaughlin advised how Pearl Properties would deal with the drainage.
One resident with a business located across the street from the retention basin questioned if the retention basin would be enlarged. Mr. Pearlstein advised that the proposed plan is not fully engineered. Mr. McLaughlin offered possible alternatives.
Ms. Levy questioned if Pearl Properties has worked in the past with HARB. Mr. Pearlstein advised Pearl Properties does have prior experience working with HARB.
Mr. Pearlstein added that Pearl Properties is prepared to purchase the property and they are not looking for subsidies from the Township.
Mr. Weaver thanked the representatives from Pearl Properties for their time.
Elliot Building Group
Mr. DePasqualie gave a brief history on Elliott Building Group and their business relationships with Stampfl, Hartke Associates, LLC. and Van Cleef Engineering Associates. He also introduced Mr. Stampfl who gave a brief history on Stampfl, Hartke Associates, LLC.
Mr. DePasqualie expressed his vision for the Acme property. The site would consist of two (2) buildings. The buildings would be three (3) stories, the first level would be retail space and the second and third levels would be office space. The second and third levels of the two (2) buildings would be connected. Elliot Building Group would primarily occupy the office space on the second and third levels. The total square footage of the building is 68,068. The retail space is 23,000 square feet. There would be a two story concrete parking structure with a total of 231 parking spaces on two levels. The building site would include arched windows, awnings, promenades/steel roof, different roofline types and alternating building materials. Mr. Stampfl advised that directly across from Jefferson Street would be the entryway to the rear of the building for parking. Mr. Stampfl advised that trash services could be conducted in the rear of the building and that the trash enclosure would be walled and has a gate. Mr. Stampfl advised that delivery trucks could park behind the building closest to the Newtown Presbyterian Church. Mr. Stampfl advised that there would be parking along Sycamore Street, where deliveries could occur. Mr. DePasqualie advised Elliott Building Group could provide tenants to fill the buildings.
Mr. Katz commented on having a restaurant in the complex with regards to a liquor license. Mr. DePasqualie advised they have not discussed the matter with the Township.
Mr. Goodman commented with regards to street front deliveries. Mr. DePasqualie advised he felt the deliveries would not interfere. Mr. Stampfl advised that deliveries could be made in the rear of the building. Mr. DePasqualie advised that if Elliot Building Group were selected for the project they would work on pedestrian access, using traffic calming devices (raised crosswalks, pedestrian crossing signs).
Ms. Ortwein questioned how the promenade would interact with the new sidewalks on Sycamore Street. Mr. DePasqualie advised that the promenade would be an extension of the new sidewalks. Elliot Building Group would extend the sidewalks to the front of the buildings, using the same material and blending.
Mr. Williams questioned the entrance and exit of the parking garage. Mr. DePasqualie explained the entering and exiting of the parking garage.
Mr. Portnord commented with regards to the parking garage being modular construction and how would they retain the back wall. Mr. DePasqualie advised that the parking garage is designed to retain the walls. Mr. Stampfl offered possible alternatives advising that a retaining wall would be built if required.
Mr. Katz questioned why Elliot Building Group did not design their proposal to include residential use. Mr. DePasqualie advised why Elliot Building Group did not design a mixed-use building.
Mr. Portnord questioned the cost of the project. Mr. DePasqualie advised the project is approximately $15,000,000. The estimated time to construct the building would be one (1) year.
Mr. Norkin commented with regards to the proposals from other developers incorporating items like an ice-skating rink or memorial garden. Mr. DePasqualie advised that Elliot Building Group had not considered incorporating such items.
One resident questioned the appearance of rear entries to the buildings. Mr. DePasqualie advised that his proposal has the rear of the building looking as good as the front to some degree depending on the retailer.
One resident questioned what type of retailers the Elliot Building Group is expecting to occupy the building. Mr. DePasqualie advised they are looking for high-end retailers.
One resident questioned what effect the complex would have on the main street businesses. Mr. DePasqualie advised he felt the complex would enhance and encourage the main street businesses. He did advise that there are some businesses that would be an asset to Newtown. The resident commented on the effect the complex would have on traffic. Mr. DePasqualie commented on improvement the Township is making to the area roadways to help improve the traffic situation.
One resident made the suggestion of allowing vehicles to access the complex from Eagle Road helping to relieve some of the traffic from Sycamore Street. Mr. DePasqualie advised there are ways to make that happen but that would need to be discussed further.
Mr. Weaver thanked the representatives from Elliot Building Group for their time.
Mr. Portnord asked the BOS who currently has control of the Acme property. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the Acme property is under lease by the Township.
Mr. Portnord questioned how the sale of the property would be handled. Mr. Pellegrino advised that through the Redevelopment Authority the Township would be brokering the transaction.
Mr. Portnord questioned if the current owner of the Acme property could sell the property with out notice to the Township. Mr. Pellegrino advised that could be a possibility, but he did not think that would happen at this time.
Mr. Portnord asked the BOS how they would make their decision on choosing a developer to develop the Acme property. Mr. Weaver advised that the BOS would narrow the decision down to two (2) proposals.
Mr. Jamison questioned if once the BOS have narrowed their decision down to two (2) proposals, would they request the public’s comments. Mr. Weaver advised he felt the BOS would.
Mr. Jirele advised that the BOS have not officially discussed the matter with Newtown Borough. He felt that Newtown Borough should have input on the matter.
Mr. Portnord questioned when the Township’s lease for the Acme property expires. Mr. Pellegrino advised that there is one (1) year left on the lease.
Mr. Katz commented with regards to the BOS choosing a proposal. Mr. Weaver advised that the Township is working with Mr. White of the Redevelopment Authority to best select the developer for the Acme property.
Ms. Ortwein, Newtown Main Streets manager representing the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation addressed the BOS with regards to the development of the Acme property. She provided the BOS with a packet, stating the recommendations of the Newtown Main Streets.
Mr. Weaver thanked Ms. Ortwein for her time.
McGrath Homes – Sketch Plan Presentation for a 55 and Older Community
Mr. Hecker advised the BOS that McGrath Homes would like to build an age restricted community in place of the proposed office complex. Mr. Johnson discussed the three (3) adjoining properties: Durham Road Associates property (Parcel A), McGrath property (Parcel B) and Pearson property (Parcel C). He advised that Parcel A & B yield approximately 120,000 square feet (Parcel A = 80,000 square feet, Parcel B = 40,000 square feet). Parcel C yielded approximately 80,000 to 90,000 square feet. Mr. Johnson advised that Parcel A & B have prior approval for an office complex. Mr. Johnson discussed the sketch plan for the fifty-five (55) and older community with regards to design layout. Mr. Johnson discussed correspondence from Mr. William McManimon Jr., President of the Newtown Grant Master Board of Directors supporting the plan for a fifty-five (55) and older community. Mr. Johnson discussed tax benefits and the traffic impact with regards to age restricted communities.
Mr. Jirele questioned the tax impact if the property was an office development. Mr. Johnson advised.
Mr. Johnson advised the property is currently zoned PS2. Mr. Johnson requested that the BOS amended the PS2 zoning or re-zone the property R2. Members discussed amending the zoning ordinance.
Ms. Goren questioned if the minimum lot area of 40,000 square feet was for a group of buildings. Mr. Johnson advised on the lot area. Ms. Goren questioned if McGrath would be interested in building single family homes. McGrath advised they are not interested in building single family homes.
Mr. Johnson advised that McGrath has two (2) proposals for the age restricted townhomes. The first proposal would have One hundred fifty (150) units but no clubhouse. The second proposal would have One hundred forty-two (142) units and a clubhouse. The approximate value of the homes would be $600,000.
Mr. Jirele asked Mr. Sanders what residential uses are allowed in PS2. Mr. Sanders advised that PS2 zoning allowed single family detached dwellings.
Mr. Jirele explained he is for age restricted housing but feels the Township should not be re-zoning areas within the Township.
Ms. Goren advised she liked McGrath’s proposal. She feels there are positive reasons to allow age restricted housing.
Mr. Jirele questioned if McGrath has done any research regarding the number of residents of age restricted housing are still employed and paying earned income tax. McGrath advised they have conducted studies and each year the age gets lower, the first study showed the average age of sixty-seven (67), the second study showed the average age of sixty-five (65) and the third study showed the age of sixty-three (63).
Mr. Harp asked Mr. Sander what action needs to be taken if the BOS wanted to proceed with McGrath’s proposal for the age restricted housing. Mr. Sanders advised that the BOS have three (3) options. The first option would be to amend the PS2 district regulations to allow a B17 elderly housing use as a condition use or as a special exception. The second option would be to rezone the property from PS2 to R2. The third option would be to have McGrath apply for a use variance. Mr. Sanders advised the BOS that if they support the project they should choose the first or second option.
Mr. Goodnoe advised he was in favor of rezoning the property to R2 but would want the Township to get a land development approval.
Ms. Goren advised she was in agreement with Mr. Goodnoe’s comment to rezone the property R2 and get a land development approval.
The Supervisors discussed the McGrath property development in Lower Makefield.
Mr. Jirele suggested rezoning another parcel within the Township back to office space.
The Supervisors discussed earned income taxes within the Township.
The Supervisors discussed the areas zoned PS2.
Mr. Harp advised he was in favor of rezoning the property from PS2 to R2 with a land development approval.
The Supervisors thanked the McGrath representatives for their time.
Appeal of Larry Fyock – Zoning Hearing Board Refund
Mr. Pellegrino advised the Supervisors on Mr. Larry Fyock’s request. The Supervisors discussed the request for a refund of application fee from Mr. Larry Fyock.
Ms. Goren commented with regards to state law. She advised she felt the unused fee should be refunded.
Mr. Goodnoe commented with regards to the Township’s fee schedules.
The Supervisors agreed they had no recollection of the Township ever refunding any unused fees.
Ms. Goren advised the Supervisors on her discussions with a representative of PSATS. She advised that per her discussions with the PSATS representative the Township could not keep the unused funds.
Mr. Weaver commented with regards to the Township’s fees.
Mr. Harp advised he felt the unused funds should be refunded.
Mr. Jirele commented with regards to fees paid to the Township. What happens when the cost is higher than the fees received by the Township? Mr. Sanders advised that the Township regulates the fee schedule; the Township pays any expenses above the fees received.
The Supervisors discussed the history of the case. Mr. Sanders advised he had no recollection of this type of situation ever happening within the Township. He advised he felt it was the discretion of the BOS to refund the unused fees.
The Supervisors discussed the Township’s fee schedule.
The Supervisors discussed the language on the Township’s application. The Supervisors agreed to have Mr. Sanders review the language on the application and advised the BOS.
Snow Emergency Route Enforcement Discussion
Mr. Jirele advised the Supervisors on a discussion at the Making A Difference Seminar regarding snow emergency route enforcement. A request was made to take a more aggressive approach to enforce the no parking on streets during snow. In many neighborhoods the plow truck can only make one pass on the street due to vehicles parked on both sides of the street. The Homeowner Associations requested the Township to take an aggressive approach and enforce the no parking on streets during snow.
Ms. Goren commented that in some communities the vehicles need to be parked on the street, maybe the Township could offer alternative parking areas.
Mr. Pellegrino advised that residents do receive doorknockers to remind them to remove their vehicles from the street during snow. Temporary signs are placed at the entryways of developments. Police have knocked on doors asking residents to move their vehicles. He advised on problem areas within the Township. Mr. Pellegrino advised that this year he has instructed the police department to give first time offenders a warning and repeat offenders would be ticketed. Mr. Sanders advised the Supervisors on the Township’s ordinance regarding snow emergency routes.
Mr. Jirele recommended advertising on the web site, the paper and the Township’s character generator with regards to no parking on the street during snow.
Mr. Wind thanked the Supervisors for addressing the issues regarding parking in the street during snow. He also commented with regards to the request made for a refund of an application fee. He also commented with regards to the age restricted housing, what happens in ten (10) years, how are property values affected?
Mr. Calabro commented with regards to McGrath’s proposal for age restricted housing. He feels the development would complete Newtown Grant.
Mr. Katz commented with regards to zoning issues. He advised he felt the Township should stick to the fee schedule and not offer any refunds. He advised he felt the land zoned office space should be keep together. He also advised he feels the Township needs to stick to their zoning ordinance, not revise the zoning at the request of an individual.
Ms. Hibbs commented with regards to the dips in roadway at Rt. 532 and Linton Hill Road. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the Township engineer is trying to get PennDot to fix the dip at the shopping center and that PennDot feels the dip at Linton Hill Road is acceptable as long as the vehicle is doing the speed limit.
Mr. Weaver thanked the public for their input.
Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 11:30 PM.
After the Meeting adjourned the Board of Supervisors meet for an executive session.
Respectfully Submitted by:
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary