Newtown Township

Board of Supervisor Minutes

April 19, 2006


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting May 10, 2006. MINUTES OF APRIL 19, 2006 REGULAR MEETING:   Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of April 19, 2006. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren noted that page 7 should read “Waivers are granted from the following SALDO sections”, and page 10, item 14, the word “reasonably” should be removed.

Mr. Weaver amended his motion; Mr. Calabro amended his second, and the amended motion passed unanimously.

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, April 19, 2006 in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Anne Goren, Vice-Chairman Phillip Calabro, Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman and member Richard Weaver. Also present were: Paul Beckert, Township Solicitor; Edward F. Koehler, Township Engineer; and Robert Pellegrino, Township Manager.

Call to Order: Chairman Anne Goren called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence.

Invocation: The invocation was given by Dr. William Bowles, Elder – Crossing Community Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Changes to the agenda: Mr. Pellegrino informed the Board that there would be no Sycamore Street Committee or Planning Commission reports, and an escrow release for Village at Newtown South has been added to the Engineer’s Report.

Public Comment: Resident Nancy Crescenzo asked whether any of the matters she had brought up at previous meetings had been discussed, and whether the Board had been provided with written lists of her questions.

Mrs. Goren said that a few of the items had been added to work session agendas.

In response to Mrs. Crescenzo’s further questions, Mr. Pellegrino said that the Board had addressed some of her concerns at previous meetings. The Silver Lake culvert is adequate to support traffic, and guide rails are being installed, and the DCNR and Penn State Cooperative extension have approved the plantings at the Clark Nature Center as non-invasive.

Mrs. Crescenzo complained that there is not adequate handicapped access to the trail from the parking area at the Clark Nature Center.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she had asked the Board to investigate ways to save money in the budget, and questioned the high cost of health insurance for employees.

Resident Karen D’Aprile questioned whether any progress had been made in removing the “keep off shoulder” sign from the Buck Road and Newtown Bypass intersection and adding the right turn lane again.

Mr. Pellegrino said that he had written a letter to PennDOT about this. It had been in their plans, and he had written to remind them. He will follow up again.

Resident Ethel Hibbs asked whether all questions to the Board of Supervisors are to be submitted in writing.

Mr. Schenkman said that he had suggested at a previous meeting that members of the public provide Board members with written questions as a reminder to the members to research answers on urgent matters.

In response to Mrs. Hibbs’ question about Hidden Lake Dam, Mr. Pellegrino said that he has learned that the reports on the dam inspection are considered privileged and he has been denied access. He has been assured that the dam is inspected annually. He said that the Jefferson Street sign is to be corrected from “avenue” to “street”.

Member Comments: Mr. Weaver congratulated the Park and Recreation Department on being recognized with two prestigious awards given by the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society at their 59th Annual State Conference. “Excellence in Programming” awards were given to “The Woodland Explorers” in the Environmental Education category, and “Kids Archeology Dig” in the Historic/Social/Cultural Site category. Both programs were held at the Clark Nature Center.

Minutes, Bills List and Reports

Minutes: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of the work session of March 13, 2006. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren noted that the last paragraph on page 5 should read, “…turning over the parcel to the Borough’.

Mr. Weaver amended is motion; Mr. Calabro amended his second and the amended motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of April 5, 2006. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Bills List: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $353,534.74. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers in the amount of $145,140.48. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Land Development Projects

Public Hearing: JMZO No 2006-03 – Amend Zoning Ordinance to Rezone Easterly Side of Durham Road Between South Drive and North Drive from PS –2 to R-2 District: Attorney Thomas Hecker represented McGrath Homes in this request for a zoning change.

Mary Ellen Saylor of Pickering Corts and Sommerson explained that the lots on Durham Road, opposite the municipal complex, are currently zoned PS-2, and had been approved for a 190,000 square foot office complex. The properties have been sold to McGrath Homes, and a plan has been developed for consolidating five parcels and changing a lot line along the boundary with the veterinary clinic. The property will have B-17, age restricted townhouses, a community center and private roads. The property is surrounded by an R-2 zoning district, with Newtown Grant and the veterinary clinic surrounding it, and the municipal complex on theopposite side of Durham Road. The plan is consistent with the surrounding zoning. The Planning Commission has recommended that, if approved, the Bucks County Planning Commission redo its comprehensive plan to include the change.

Ms. Saylor said that McGrath has prepared fiscal and traffic impact studies that compare this use with the PS-2 use. There would be less traffic impact, especially during AM and PM rush hours. While the PS-2 use would have a positive fiscal impact, the B-17 use would also.

Mr. Beckert said that Upper Makefield and Wrightstown had already voted approval of the zoning change, and the proposed ordinance has been advertised and all surrounding parties have been notified.

Mrs. Crescenzo expressed concern for additional land lost that had been designated for business use. She also pointed out that, although the community would be age restricted, there could still be an impact on the school district, with many people age 55 have children still in school.

Mrs. Goren said that while many age qualified communities are only 80% 55 and over, this development would be 100% restricted to at least one household member 55 or over, and no residents under the age of 19.

Mr. Beckert said that there have been challenges to age restriction in California, but the age restrictions have been upheld.

Mrs. Hibbs noted that Wrightstown passed the amendment with reservations, and asked what the fiscal difference would be between PS-2 and R-2.

Mr. Hecker said that there would be a positive impact over time, as the development becomes occupied, of over 1.3 million dollars, based on current millage, to the Township, School District and County. He noted that there would be no drain on municipal services, as streets are to remain private.

Mrs. Hibbs said that senior housing places additional burdens on fire and emergency services, and that the Area Agency on Aging has stated that there is such an impact.

In response to Mrs. Hibbs additional questions, Mrs. Goren asked that these questions be addressed during the conditional use and preliminary plan approval portions of the meeting.

Mr. Weaver moved to adopt JMZO No 2006-03 – amending the zoning ordinance to rezone the easterly side of Durham Road between South Drive and North Drive from PS –2 to R-2. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Conditional Use – McGrath Homes/Delancey Court – 398 Durham Road: Mrs. Goren asked if anyone present wished party status in this hearing. There was no response.

Mr. Hecker, Ms. Saylor and John McGrath were sworn in.

Mr. Beckert said that all affected residents have been notified of the hearing, and that notice has been appended to the record.

Mr. McGrath presented a sample front elevation of the two-story townhomes planned for the development. He said that the development would include, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a greenhouse and a community center with card rooms, meeting rooms, a ballroom and kitchen facilities. Because the Ordinance requires ready access to professional and commercial services off-site, a shuttle service would be available to residents to transport them from point to point.

Ms. Saylor again reviewed the fiscal and traffic impacts, and noted that there would be no adverse impact on the community, and the site is suitable for this use. The site will comply with all aspects of the Ordinance, including 100% of homes will be occupied by one resident over age 55.

Mrs. Crescenzo was sworn in. She questioned the use of, and parking for the proposed community center.

Mr. McGrath said that use of the community center would be restricted to residents and their guests. The facility could be rented out to residents for private parties and dinners for up to about 90 people. The community center will have 45 parking spaces.

Mrs. Crescenzo expressed concern about the width of the internal streets, and about parking along the streets and in the driveways, and about storage of pool chemicals.

Mr. McGrath said that parking has not been an issue in any of the other communities he had built. The streets would have parking along one side, and are planned to be 26 feet wide, adequate for two-way traffic and one lane of parking. Fire trucks and emergency vehicles would be able to maneuver through the development.

Mr. Weaver moved to grant conditional use approval for McGrath Homes for a proposed B-17, elderly housing as a principal use to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance Article VIII, Section 803.B.17, subject to the following conditions:

Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. McGrath agreed that a pool management company would be hired to oversee storage and disposal of pool chemicals.

A condition is added that a pool management company will be hired and all pool chemicals will be locked.

Mr. Weaver amended his motion and Mr. Calabro seconded. The motion passed 4-0.

Revised Preliminary Plan for Major Subdivision – Delancey Court – 398 Durham Road: Mr. Hecker said that McGrath homes will comply with the review letters of Boucher and James, Bucks County Planning Commission, Pennoni Associates and the Fire Marshal. There are a number of waivers being requested.

Ms. Saylor reviewed the list of waivers. She said that because the development will not have public streets, a number of waivers from the Township road requirements are sought. They are also seeking waivers from the sidewalk requirements on Durham Road, as there is no other sidewalk for it to join. They would like a waiver for the length of one cul-de-sac. A few waivers are requested from the stormwater management requirements, which will have no negative impact.

Mr. Hecker said that a Park and Recreation fee in lieu of open space has been calculated at $619,800 and a traffic impact fee has been calculated at $92,986.

Mrs. D’Aprile asked whether the stormwater management system would have any impact on the basins in Newtown Grant.

Ms. Saylor said that there would be no impact on Newtown Grant’s stormwater management system.

Mrs. Hibbs expressed concern about allowing private roads that do not meet Township standards. She noted a street in Newtown Borough that does not meet standards, whose residents are seeking to dedicate that street. She also expressed concern about preservation of tree lines that border the property. She said that there had been plans for a landscaped berm between the property and Society Place in Newtown Grant in the office complex proposal.

Mrs. Goren said that the streets would remain the property of the Homeowners Association.

Ms. Saylor said that the berm is not part of the plans any longer as the existing tree line is to be preserved. In response to Mr. Calabro’s comments, Ms. Saylor said that the plantings would be supplemented if necessary to shield Newtown Grant and create a buffer.

In response to further comment from Mr. Calabro, Mr. McGrath agreed to extend a fence along the property line if the Board wanted one. There are plans for a fence with gates along the Durham Road side of the property.

In response to Mrs. Hibbs’ questions about traffic, Ms. Saylor said that there would be a left turn lane and left turns would be permitted.

Mrs. Goren noted that the traffic lights at North Drive and at Wrights Road create breaks in the traffic to allow for left turns.

Mr. Schenkman said that if there is a problem with cars using North Drive to make u-turns, it should be addressed, regardless of the plans for this development.

Mrs. Hibbs continued to express concern about the intense use of the land and about the impact of traffic throughout the day, as opposed to business traffic during the business day only.

Resident Kevin McDermott said that his property on Columbine Circle abuts the proposed development. He is happy with this use and the change of zoning, but questioned the distance from his property line to the new homes. He asked about the appearance of the rear on the houses and about restrictions on decks, patios and additions.

He asked about preservation of the existing tree line, noting that he and his neighbors would prefer a natural boundary to a fence. He also asked about lighting and noise control.

Ms. Saylor estimated the distance from Mr. McDermott’s property line to the rear of the nearest house at about 30 feet.

Mr. McGrath said that the rear of the buildings would be about 90% brick. There are some restrictions on the patios and porches. There can be no additions to the houses because of the setback requirements. Patios and porches have already been calculated into the setbacks shown on the plan. The public offering statement for the homes includes the obligations of both the homeowners and the homeowners association for maintenance of the exteriors of the properties and the common areas. Individual homeowners will be allowed to do some individual planting around their homes but most landscaping is done by the homeowners association.

Mr. Beckert asked about the impervious surface ratio and setbacks, noting that there have been a number of problems recently with new homes that do not have adequate room for patios and decks. The homeowners are then surprised that they are not permitted to build because of the setbacks and impervious surface.

Mr. McGrath said that a disclosure would be made to prospective buyers about permitted additions. McGrath Homes would dictate the type and size of deck, patio or porch that can be added. Space for these additions has been included in the setback and impervious surface calculations.

Mr. Pellegrino noted that the Township lighting consultant has recommended sodium vapor lights for streetlights. The Township has a noise ordinance.

Mr. McGrath said that he will comply with all lighting consultant recommendations. The light poles are twelve feet high.

Mrs. Crescenzo expressed concern about environmental issues. She urged the developer to consider natural and non-chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in the plantings and landscaping. She suggested that the Environmental Advisory Council review this plan for impact on the creeks.

Mr. Calabro asked about sidewalks within the development out to the entrance area, noting that the public buses run along Rte 413 to the malls and railroad connections.

Ms. Saylor said that the sidewalks could be extended to the entrance to the development.

Ms. Saylor said that they will replace any old growth trees that are dying. She reviewed the Boucher and James letter of March 15, 2006, explaining that the DEP will review the sanitary sewer plans. The 100-year floodplain is protected. A few variances will be sought for disturbance of wetlands for utility and road crossing and for a disturbance of woodlands of more than the permitted 50%.

Mr. McGrath agreed to contribute the value of curbs and sidewalks, for which a waiver is sought, to the Township.

In response to Mrs. Hibbs question, Ms. Saylor said that some of the trees along Rte 413 would be removed to allow for a right turn lane. In response to Mrs. Crescenzo’s question, she said that the basins would be periodically mowed and some decorative grasses might be used. The basins would drain in less than 72 hours and would not pose a mosquito problem.

Mr. Hecker said that the plan will comply with all review letters and asked for preliminary as final plan.

The Board members briefly discussed the request, but agreed with the Planning Commission’s opinion that a final plan be compliant; they are not comfortable with giving final plan approval with a long list of “will comply’s”.

Mr. Weaver moved to grant preliminary plan approval for a major subdivision to McGrath Homes, Delancey Court, 398 Durham Road for 120 age qualified townhomes, with the following conditions:

  1. That the plan comply with conditional use decision of April 19, 2006;
  2. That the plan comply with review letters of Boucher and James dated March 15, 2006, Pennoni Associates dated March 16, 2006, Bucks County Conservation District dated August 31, 2005, Bucks County Planning Commission dated December 7, 2005, Suburban Lighting Consultants dated September 27, 2005, and Newtown Emergency Services Department dated February 15, 2006;
  3. That variances from the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board are secured from the following
    • 902.B.2.b and 903.B.5.b to allow greater than 50% disturbance of existing woodlands;
    • 903.B.2, to allow crossing of wetlands for roads and utilities;
    • 1000.E.3.b.2, to allow a deck or porch to be within 15 feet of rear or side yard setbacks;
    • 405.4.C, to not require a front yard setback of 20 feet, a side yard setback of 10 feet or a rear yard setback of 30 feet;
    • 1001.A.6, to allow a reduced parking stall width of 9 feet for residential off-street parking;
  4. That impervious surface calculations include decks and porches;
  5. That summary calculations of impervious surface for each group of townhomes be provided to the Township;
  6. That the community center facilities be restricted to residents and their guests;
  7. That garages are deed restricted from being converted to additional living space;
  8. That the applicant execute unilateral covenants and present all required permits necessary to develop the site to the Township;
  9. That a park and recreation fee in lieu of open space be paid;
  10. That a traffic impact fee be paid;
  11. That all required approvals be obtained;
  12. That all financial securities be paid and deeds of easement be obtained;
  13. That water and sewer service agreements be provided;
  14. That a wrought iron fence be installed along the northern border of the property except where it would encroach on wetlands,
  15. That sidewalks be extended to the entrance of the development;
  16. In consideration of waivers for curbs and sidewalks elsewhere, a payment be made to the Township equal to the cost of the curbs and sidewalks;
  17. That all administrative and legal costs be paid in full.

Waivers are granted from the following JMZO sections:

The following waiver from the Newtown Township Stormwater Management Ordinance is granted:

Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Conditional Use – Rockfactory LTD, LLC – 3 Cambridge Lane: Nick Antonacci and Peter Balthus were sworn in.

Mr. Beckert noted for the record that this application had been advertised and all necessary notifications had been mailed.

Mr. Antonacci said that he would like to open a music school with six studios for guitar and keyboard lessons at 3 Cambridge Lane, behind the 7/11 Store, previously occupied by a Karate School. The hours of operation would be 8:00AM to 10:00PM, with eleven as the maximum number of employees, although generally no more than three employees would be on site at any given time. Noise would be contained within the studios.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Antonacci said that there would be no retail sales, except for musical accessories such as guitar picks and strings to the students.

Mr. Schenkman moved to grant conditional use to The Rockfactory LTD, LLC for use c-3 Commercial School in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District subject to the following conditions:

Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Final Plan for Land Development - Homewood Suites – 104 Pheasant Run: Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicants. Thomas Reece, general manager of Homewood Suites, and Cameron Troilo were present.

Mr. Marshall said that conditional use approval and Zoning Hearing Board variances have been granted for development of this 10.7 acre site in the LI, Light industrial Zoning District for a 65,048 square foot office building, a 3300 square foot financial institution and a 2900 square foot café and a 120 room executive inn and conference center. The plan is the same as the preliminary plan. Mr. Marshall presented an architect’s rendering of the elevation of the executive inn.

Mr. Marshall said that the Planning Commission had expressed some concern about the sale of liquor at the executive inn. The plan is for a 1440 square foot lounge in the inn to serve cocktails to the guests. It would not be large enough to be any kind of club, and would cater to the business people using the inn. There will be no liquor sales in the café.

His clients do not think a flashing light at the intersection of Terry Drive and Pheasant Run is necessary, but will comply with the request. The engineers have supported the request for the stormwater management waivers requested. There is a question about the setback for a gazebo.

Mrs. Goren expressed concern about lighting for the project. She asked if the applicant would be amenable to reevaluation of the lighting at six-month intervals. She said that it is difficult to ascertain the impact of the lighting before installation.

Mr. Marshall said that his client would agree to some light calming at night. The fixtures chosen would shine directly down and would not be visible from an angle.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she was unhappy with the Board’s concern for residential neighbors’ feelings about light in the business district, but unconcerned with the objections of neighbors to the Woll Tract, where 60 foot high sports lighting is proposed.

Mr. Reece said that the inn would have 105 guest rooms, which would reduce the parking requirement. The kitchen will prepare a full breakfast for guests of the inn, and possibly some light food for the cocktail lounge. There will not be a full restaurant inside the inn; the café will be at the corner of Terry Drive in the office building. The lounge will not turn away customers who are not guests at the inn, however it will be a very small lounge, inside the building.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Marshall said that he did not know whether the café would have a “bring your own bottle” policy.

Mr. Weaver moved to approve the final plan for land development for Homewood Suites (Cameron Troilo), 104 Pheasant Run, for D-1, office use, E-4, financial establishment, E-5, eating place, and E-22, executive inn/conference center, subject to the following conditions:

The following waivers are granted:

Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Land Development Waiver Request – The Rose Group – 29 Friends Lane: Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicants, Dominick Marziani and Hank Leiberman.

Mr. Marshall said that the applicants are seeking a waiver of the land development process, as they are only planning to reconfigure the parking area around the existing building. This adaptive reuse will be 50% office and 50% research. There will be no additional impervious surface. The applicants are scheduled to close on the property on May 9, 2006. Mr. Harwood has expressed willingness to issue permits for interior improvements. In response to Mr. Pellegrino’s question, Mr. Marshall said that his clients would be willing to pay the application fee.

Mr. Weaver moved to grant a waiver from the land development process for The Rose Group, 29 Friends Lane, with the conditions that:

Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Reports of Officials

Board Members: Mr. Schenkman reported that he and Mr. Pellegrino attended a caucus in Harrisburg on rights-of-way for cable companies.

Manager: Mr. Pellegrino said that the motor and heating oil bids to be approved are for delivery of fuels.

Mr. Weaver moved to approve acceptance of bids from Petroleum Traders for premium gas and from Sunoco for low sulfur diesel, #2 heating fuel and propane. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Solicitor: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize adoption of the Sex Offender Ordinance as advertised for consideration at this meeting. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Beckert reviewed the applications to the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mr. Weaver said that he had visited the site for the Council Rock scoreboards, and questioned whether a variance is needed, as the locations are not at all visible from the Bypass. He asked that Mr. Pellegrino review this with Mr. Harwood.

Mr. Schenkman moved to send the solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board in opposition to the application for 406 Merion Drive. Mrs. Goren seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that the Planning Commission had recommended opposition because the request for an increase in impervious surface is excessive.

Mr. Calabro said that he trusted the Zoning Hearing Board to make a reasonable compromise decision on this application. He did not think the solicitor should be sent to oppose the application.

Mr. Weaver agreed with Mr. Calabro.

Mr. Schenkman withdrew his motion.

Mr. Pellegrino noted that the Zoning Officer could be asked to bring the Board’s concerns to the attention of the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mr. Beckert said that there would be an executive session after the meeting.

Engineer: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release #9 for Wiltshire Walk in the amount of $161,576.77. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release #2 for Blacksmith 161 LLC in the amount of $77,458.95. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release #1 for Village at Newtown South in the amount of $373,794.88. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Public Comment: Mrs. Crescenzo thanked Mr. Weaver for his work with the business community. She congratulated the Park and Recreation Department on their awards. She again expressed concern for the proposed sports lighting at the Woll Tract and the Board’s lack of concern for the nearby residents.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked about handicapped access to the walking trail on Eagle Road. She said that she has asked about this before and is waiting for a response.

Board members were not sure what Mrs. Crescenzo was referring to. Mr. Pellegrino agreed to look into this question.

In response to Mrs. Crescenzo’s questions about the Pryda property on Sycamore Street, Mr. Beckert said that enforcement notices had been issued for the property’s failure to comply with HARB requirements.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she would like to see a skate park in Newtown. She read from minutes of some old Park and Recreation Board meetings that referred to building a skate park.

Mrs. Hibbs asked for some clarification on the minutes of the work sessions. She questioned what was said about the uses that would be permitted on the St. Andrew’s Preschool property.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the property is zoned Town Commercial and most uses would require conditional use approval.

Resident John D’Aprile expressed some concern about traffic calming suggestions for Stoopville Road that were discussed at a recent work session. He was particularly concerned about speed bumps and roundabouts. He said that the residents of Newtown Grant are opposed to such measures.

The meeting adjourned at 11:20PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted: ____________________________________
                                          Mary Donaldson,  Recording Secretary

 

Minutes Approved as submitted __________ as corrected___________

 

Attest: _________________________                                                         ___________________________
           Robert M. Pellegrino, Manager                                                            Anne Goren, Chairman

 

                                                                                                                     ___________________________
                                                                                                                     Phillip Calabro, Vice-Chairman

 

                                                                                                                     ___________________________
                                                                                                                     Jerry Shenkman, Secretary/Treasurer

 

                                                                                                                     __________________________
                                                                                                                     Thomas Jirele, Member

 

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                                                                                                                     Richard Weaver, Member