Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Work Session Minutes

July 17, 2006


DRAFT - SUBJECT TO AMENDMENT BY THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS UNTIL APPROVED.


Members Present: Anne Goren, Chairman; Philip Calabro, Vice Chairman; Jerry Schenkman, Secretary/Treasurer; Richard Weaver, Member; Paul Beckert, Solicitor; Robert M. Pellegrino, Township Manager; Chris Fazio, Engineer. Not present was Tom Jirele, Member.

Also Present: Don Harris, Emergency Services Director; John Boyle, Assistant to the Township Manager; Dave Shafkowitz, Esquire; Dave Saunders, Esquire; Kim Labrake, MKSD Architects; Scott Mill, Van Cleff Engineers; Karl Janetka, Van Cleef Engineers; Barbara Long, Bucks County Courier Times; Various Newtown Township residents including Ethel Hibbs, Nancy Crescenzo, Walt Iwaskiw, Vince Lombardi, Jay Sensibaugh, Frank Mendicino, Allen Fidler and James Bowe.

Call to Order: Chairman Goren called the meeting to order at 8:02 P.M.

Don Harris – Presentation of Emergency Services Operation

Mr. Harris updated the Supervisors with regards to the operations manual of the Emergency Services Department. A memorandum dated July 10, 2006 was provided to the Supervisors for their review. Mr. Harris advised that many departments and individuals have reviewed the Emergency Services Operations manual. He advised that the operations manual is strictly used for his department’s personnel. He advised on the information contained within the operations manual. He discussed the guidelines needed to be followed by career fire departments. He advised on various chapters within the operations manual. He advised that he is looking for the Board of Supervisors to adopt the operations manual at a future meeting.

Mr. Schenkman questioned how the Emergency Services personnel would receive the operations manual once approved by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Harris advised on how the department personnel would receive a copy of the operations manual.

Mr. Pellegrino questioned the percentage of the proposed operations manual that the department is already using. Mr. Harris advised that 90% of the proposed operations manual is currently being used.

Mr. Schenkman questioned the accreditation program. Mr. Harris advised with regards to the accreditation program.

Mr. Harris advised the Supervisors with regards to the department’s required response times for a career fire department.

Mr. Schenkman questioned the benefits to being accredited. Mr. Harris advised on the benefits to the department by being accredited.

Mr. Jirele questioned if the labor agreement attorney has reviewed the proposed operations manual. Mr. Harris and Mr. Pellegrino advised on the review of the proposed operations manual.

Mr. Pellegrino advised the Board of Supervisors that he wanted to give them an opportunity to review the proposed operations manual.

The Supervisors thanked Mr. Harris for his time.

Ms. Crescenzo questioned how often the accreditation comes up. Mr. Harris advised with regards to the re-certification for accreditation.

Ms. Crescenzo questioned the development of the operations manual. Mr. Harris advised on how the operations manual was developed.

Ms. Crescenzo questioned other departments within Bucks County being accredited. Mr. Harris advised that Newtown Township has the only accredited or career fire department.

Ms. Crescenzo commented with regards to the Township’s fire safety inspection program. Mr. Harris advised that topic is covered in the operations manual.

Elliottt Building Group – Promenade at Sycamore “Old Acme Site”

The Supervisors were provided various correspondence with regards to Elliottt Building Group and the Promenade at Sycamore in their packet.

Mr. Shafkowitz updated the Supervisors with regards to the background of the Promenade at Sycamore. He also commented with regards to the issues that the Board of Supervisors has.

Ms. Goren advised that she is interested in how the plan has changed from the original concept plan submitted and approved on May 25, 2005.

Mr. Shafkowitz advised on how the project was started. He discussed the proposal submitted by Elliottt Building Group and the signing of the Redevelopment Agreement. He discussed the purchase of the site. He advised on the changes to the proposed concept plan and the current plan. He discussed the square footage with regards to the interior and exterior of the site. He discussed the useable space within the site. He advised that the current plan calls for the first floor to be 20’ and the second and third floors would be 14’. He advised that the interior height of the building is 48’ and that the extra 7’ are in the architectural features, which hide the structures on the roof.

Ms. Labrake advised the Supervisors with regards to the building height. She advised that all floors are divided with sprinklers and ductwork. She advised that the ceiling height on the second and third floors would be 10’ with 4’ between the ceiling and the next floor deck.

Ms. Goren suggested placing the HVAC units on the roof. Ms. Labrake advised with regards to hiding the HVAC units from sight.

Mr. Shafkowitz advised that there are concerns with maintaining the Sycamore Street streetscape. He discussed the view of the building from Sycamore Street and from the rear of the building.

Ms. Goren suggested putting the HVAC units on the roof and hiding the end closest to the retention basin. Ms. Labrake advised on the various roof heights and discussed fire safety.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to the residential units on the rear of the building and their HVAC units. Ms. Labrake advised that all rear residential units have balconies.

Mr. Jirele questioned if the second floor has one central HVAC unit. Ms. Labrake advised with regards to the second floor HVAC unit.

Mr. Jirele questioned the first floor HVAC units. Ms. Labrake advised with regards to the first floor HVAC units.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to the use of the second floor of the building that has been identified as having a restaurant on the first floor. Mr. Shafkowitz advised that space is intended for office use.

Mr. Jirele questioned what percentage of the building Elliott Building Group would occupy. Mr. Shafkowitz advised on the percentage of the building that would be occupied by Elliott Building Group.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to the walkway connection of the two buildings on the second floor. He suggested the possibility of connecting the two buildings at a different level. Mr. Shafkowitz advised that Elliott Building Group could look into the possibility of adjusting the height of the walkway connecting the two buildings.

Mr. Jirele advised that he is against having a third floor on the building that has been identified as having a restaurant on the first floor (the building closet to the Presbyterian Church). He discussed the massive size of that building. Ms. Labrake advised that the originally proposed plan showed the building being two stories.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to the first floor footprint being close to the plan that was originally submitted and the increase of the second and third floors. Mr. Shafkowitz advised with regards to the increase in square footage, the interior space on the first floor is 23,000 sq. ft., the second floor is approximately 30,000 sq. ft. and the third floor is 24,000 sq. ft.

Mr. Jirele advised that he feels that the building height and total square footage needs to be reduced.

Mr. Shafkowitz commented with regards to the issues of concern by the Board of Supervisors and the list of variances required by Elliott Building Group.

Ms. Goren advised that she is in favor of reducing the building height. Mr. Shafkowitz advised that Elliott Building Group would look into the matter.

Mr. Shafkowitz discussed his meetings with staff and Elliott Building Group’s driving force in developing the project.

The Supervisors discussed the height of the building.

Mr. Shafkowitz questioned if the Supervisors would like to maintain the archway. Mr. Jirele advised that he did not want the archway at the cost of a 20’ first floor. Ms. Goren advised that she did not mind the archway and the 20’ first floor, but she would like the second and third floor reduced to 10’ each. Ms. Labrake advised with regards to reducing floor heights.

The Supervisors discussed reducing the size of the parking garage. Ms. Labrake advised with regards to reducing the size of the parking garage and the need for a parking variance.

Mr. Beckert commented with regards to discussions regarding concerns about delivery trucks during normal business hours.

Mr. Lombardi commented with regards to the building height and the perspective from other locations within the Township. He discussed enhancing Sycamore Street and preserving its historic nature. He felt that the plan being proposed would not enhance Sycamore Street or preserve its historic nature.

Ms. Crescenzo commented with regards to the building height and the figures generated by the Township. She questioned where the directions from the Township were coming from. Mr. Jirele advised that this is the first time that this Board has met with Elliott Building Group, he also commented about the misunderstanding.

Mr. Sensibaugh commented with regards to the normal road overpass height being 14’6” and the first floor elevation of 20’. He questioned why the first floor elevation could not be reduced. Ms. Labrake advised that the archway clearance is 17’; she also advised that the driveway is not flat for drainage purposes.

Mr. Beckert commented on past discussions at prior meetings with regards to the Conditional Use Application stating that every large delivery truck must make deliveries from the street from 11 P.M. to 7 A.M. He questioned if that is so why does the archway need to be so high. Ms. Labrake advised with regards to trash trucks passing thru the archway.

Mr. Fidler commented with regards to PennDot clearance regulations being 13’6”.

Mr. Shafkowitz discussed the components of the project from the Redevelopment Agreement, Elliott Building Group’s investment in purchasing the site and various discussions with staff.

Ms. Goren advised that she believes that the Board does want to see the features, just not so much of them.

Mr. Mendicino commented with regards to this project, the process being flawed and the mistakes made. He discussed the need for the Township to follow the proper steps for plan development. He commented with the current plan violating various current Township ordinances.

Mr. Calabro questioned what the Supervisors objective is tonight. He commented with regards to the building height and the ramping of the driveway leading to the parking area. A representative from Elliott Building Group advised with regards to ramping and the sloping of the driveway.

Mr. Calabro commented with regards to hearing from the applicant that the only concerns that the Township has are with regards to the height and size of the building. He discussed concerns he heard at the last Planning Commission meeting. He commented with regards to the original plans presented to the Township, the current plans being submitted and the Redevelopment Agreement. He discussed the Board agreeing to approve any variances needed.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to the motion previously approved by the Board of Supervisors regarding approving variances.

Mr. Calabro advised that he did not recall any discussions regarding the variances being requested and that item not being on the agenda for the public’s input.

Ms. Goren reviewed the memo received from Mr. Beckert on the evening the motion was approved.

She discussed the current plan being proposed is not consistent with the original sketch plan. She discussed the need to reduce the height and square footage of the building.

Mr. Calabro commented with regards for the need to review the Township’s list of issues with the applicant one by one.

Ms. Goren advised that she believes that most of the issues are due to the increased size of the project and that if the project were downsized a lot of the variances requested would go away. She discussed the upcoming meeting before the Zoning Hearing Board; she recommended that Elliott Building Group request postponing the meeting.

Mr. Jirele questioned the maximum building height in that zoning district. Mr. Beckert advised that the maximum building height is 30’ – two stories.

Mr. Beckert advised that on the originally submitted sketch plan a portion of the building was shown as three stories. He discussed item #3 on his memorandum dated July 13, 2006 with regards to The Promenade at Sycamore LP/Variance request. He advised that Elliott Building Group is requesting a variance with regards to the building height and the stories allowed. He advised that the Township could require the building height not to exceed 45’.

Mr. Weaver questioned the hardship involved with reducing the first floor to 16’ and the second and third floor to 13’. Ms. Labrake advised with regards to the total building height being 45’ and the possible scarifies.

Mr. Lombardi commented with regards to other proposed plans that the Board of Supervisors reviewed for the old Acme site.

Ms. Crescenzo advised that she agrees with Mr. Mendicino’s comments with regards to the project and questioned why the Supervisors are wasting time. She discussed comments from the Planning Commission with regards to the matter.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to the Planning Commission’s response and the applicant’s legal right.

Mr. Mendicino commented with regards to the issues discussed by the Planning Commission.

The Supervisors discussed Mr. Beckert’s memorandum dated July 13, 2006 with regards to The Promenade at Sycamore LP/Variance requests.

The Supervisors discussed item #1 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum. The Supervisors advised that they are okay with having B-11 Apartment Use on the site.

Mr. Lombardi advised the Supervisors with regards to the visions of the Acme Site Visioning Committee regarding the resident use be H-10, a resident in conjunction with a business.

The Supervisors discussed item #2 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum. Mr. Beckert advised with regards to the impervious surface ratio being 88 percent and the request for 90 percent.

The Supervisors discussed item #3 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to height. Mr. Beckert advised that the originally submitted sketch plan did show three stories on a portion of the building but the Township can take a position with regards to the height of the building.

Mr. Mendicino commented with regards to having this discussion with the applicant present, when that applicant is planning to appear before the Zoning Hearing Board. Ms. Goren advised that the current discussions could allow the applicant to revise the current plan to be represented before the Planning Commission with the possibility of the applicant not having to appear before the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Jirele advised that this information would be presented during the solicitor report. Mr. Beckert advised that since he has been with the Township he can only recall requesting four applicants who applied to appear before the Zoning Hearing Board to meet with the Board of Supervisors at a work session to discuss concerns to see if there could be a resolution of the concerns.

The Supervisors discussed item #4 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to the minimum front yard. Mr. Beckert advised on the request by the Township to move the property to the front for the streetscape effect.

The Supervisors discussed item #5 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to the minimum side yard. Mr. Beckert advised that the required standard is 6’ and the applicant’s request is for 1’. Mr. Beckert advised that the northern side is adjacent to the retention basis and the southern side is adjacent to the Presbyterian Church. He commented with regards to the Township being able to take a position with regards to both the northern and southern sides of the site with regards to the minimum side yard. He discussed the effects to the Church, having the building so close. Mr. Shafkowitz advised the Supervisors on discussions with representatives from the Presbyterian Church with regards to buffering and a garden area. Mr. Shafkowitz advised that the buffering on the southern side of the property would be replaced with larger full-grown trees.

Mr. Fidler commented with regards to Elliott Building Group replacing the trees.

The Supervisors discussed the buffering of the property-taking place on the Church’s property.

The Supervisors discussed the possibility of shifting the northern building over closer to the retention basin and reducing the width of the building with the restaurant located on the first floor.

Mr. Beckert commented with regards to a second egress for emergency vehicles.

Mr. Calabro questioned why the Board is discussing shifting the buildings verses reducing the overall size of the buildings.

Mr. Shafkowitz commented with regards to removing the third floor from the building designated as having a restaurant on the first floor and realigning the archway.

Mr. Calabro questioned if Elliott Building Group would consider shrinking the overall size of the buildings. Mr. Shafkowitz advised that he could not answer that question at this time.

Mr. Shafkowitz advised that he needs to discuss the proposed changes with his staff.

The Supervisors discussed item #6 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to the minimum rear yard. Mr. Beckert advised that the minimum rear yard required is 20’ and that the applicant is requesting a minimum rear yard of 4.5’. Mr. Beckert commented with regards to the site plans changing to a streetscape. Mr. Jirele advised that he did not have nor has he heard of any issues with regards to the rear yard setback. Mr. Beckert advised that the Ambulance Squad did not appear to have a problem with the 4.5’ rear yard setback. Mr. Schenkman commented with regards to possible setback issues.

The Supervisors discussed item #7 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to the maximum length of the mid-rise apartment building. Mr. Beckert advised that the maximum length is 120’ and the request is for 305’.

The Supervisors discussed item #8 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to off-street parking. Mr. Beckert advised that it is clear that there was acknowledgement in the sketch plan that there would be a reduction required in the number of parking stalls. He advised that he has concerns with regards to the parking reduction request as it is phrased. Mr. Shafkowitz advised on the further reviews by his staff once they have addressed the Supervisors other concerns. Mr. Beckert advised that Elliott Building Group is entitled to the reduction in the number of parking spots in accordance with the Redevelopment Agreement.

Mr. Sensibaugh questioned the parking reduction with regards to screening. Mr. Beckert advised that the topic of screening parking areas was item #15 on his memorandum and would be discussed.

Mr. Fidler commented with regards to the reduction in parking.

The Supervisors discussed item #9 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to steep slopes 15 - 25%.

The Supervisors discussed item #10 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to steep slopes 25% or more.

The Supervisors discussed item #11 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to the Woodland Associations protected ratio required. Mr. Beckert discussed the issues with regards to the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Shafkowitz commented with regards to the possible shifting of the building and the need for further discussions with representatives from the Presbyterian Church.

The Supervisors discussed item #12 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to the buildings within minimum depth of front, side or rear yards. Mr. Beckert advised the Supervisors that he sees no problem with regards to the front or rear yards and discussed shifting the building closest to the Church.

One resident questioned how shifting the building would affect the single access with regards to lining up with the intersection. Ms. Goren advised that the building with the restaurant on the first floor width would be reduced.

Mr. Sensibaugh suggested flipping the buildings. Mr. Shafkowitz advised on why the restaurant was planned in a separate building.

The Supervisors discussed item #13 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to the parking stall requirements. Mr. Beckert advised that the Township’s ordinance requires conventional stalls to be 10’ x 20’ and the request is for 8.5’ x 18’ and handicap stall to be 12.5’ x 20’ and the request is for 8.5’ x 18’. He also advised that he is unaware of any specific discussions with regards to the parking stalls. He commented with regards to the need to maximize the number of conventional parking stalls and advised that the Township does not have the final determination with regards to handicap parking stalls. Mr. Shafkowitz advised with regards to Elliott Building Group using the angled parking.

Ms. Crescenzo commented with regards to handicapped parking. Ms. Labrake advised that handicapped parking stalls will be available and there size will be 13.5 x 20.

Mr. Beckert commented with regards to the variance requested for handicapped parking stalls. Ms. Labrake advised that a variance is not required for the handicapped parking stalls.

Mr. Fazio questioned if the parking area had a van accessible handicapped parking stall. Ms. Labrake advised with regards to the handicapped parking stalls.

Ms. Crescenzo commented with regards to angled parking. Ms. Labrake advised with regards to the angle parking and the decks of the parking garage.

Mr. Calabro questioned how the plan currently being proposed for the parking garage is different from the originally submitted plan. Ms. Labrake advised that the original plan did not show any ramps or elevator in the parking garage.

The Supervisors discussed item #14 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to off-street parking within the side and rear property lines. Mr. Beckert advised on the Township’s ordinance and the applicant’s request.

The Supervisors discussed item #15 on Mr. Beckert’s memorandum with regards to screening of the off site parking areas. Mr. Beckert advised on the Township’s ordinance and the applicant’s request. He advised on his confusion when questioning the applicant with regards to buffering the parking garage. Mr. Shafkowitz and Ms. Labrake commented with regards to buffering the parking garage.

Mr. Shafkowitz discussed the possibility of having the buffering on the adjacent properties verses Elliott Building Group’s property.

Mr. Schenkman advised the Supervisors that he feels there are still too many unanswered questions for the Board to really contemplate what the finished product will look like. He also discussed the direction that the applicant needs for the Board.

Mr. Shafkowitz discussed the feedback received at tonight’s meeting and advised that he would contact the Zoning Hearing Board to postpone their meeting.

Mr. Schenkman commented with regards to traffic access issues. He suggested a secondary access for the site. Mr. Shafkowitz advised with regards to a secondary access for the site.

Mr. Sensibaugh commented with regards to Elliott Building Group’s next meeting with the Planning Commission on July 18, 2006. Mr. Shafkowitz advised he would contact the Planning Commission to postpone the meeting on July 18, 2006.

Mr. Schenkman commented with regards to the motion passed at the June 28, 2006 meeting to support the variance requests. He questioned if the Board should withdraw the motion giving approval until a later date.

Ms. Goren advised that it is her intention to give a more detailed motion at a later date.

Mr. Beckert advised the Supervisors with regards to the motion approved at the June 28, 2006 meeting, the effects if the first motion is withdrawal and the need to have a final motion before the applicant goes before the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mr. Calabro commented with regards to the Planning Commission’s issues on the Conditional Use Application. Mr. Shafkowitz advised with regards to the concerns discussed tonight and the Planning Commission’s concerns. He advised that he would review the proposed changes with his staff to see what they can come up with.

Mr. Calabro suggested that Elliott Building Group attempt to address the concerns that the Planning Commission has, as not to be repeating the same issues. Mr. Shafkowitz advised he would try and discussed his goals on what to provide the Board of Supervisors for review at their next meeting.

Mr. Beckert commented with regards to continuing the Conditional Use Hearing. He advised to let him know the date before July 26, 2006. He also advised that the next two meeting dates are August 9, 2006 and August 23, 2006.

Ms. Crescenzo questioned the size of the building. Mr. Shafkowitz advised that Elliott Building Group would address the issues.

The Supervisors thanked the representatives from Elliott Building Group for their time.

Community Comments

Mr. Fidler commented with regards to the Township and the need to support barn preservation. The Supervisors discussed the relocation of old barns.

Mr. Mendicino commented with regards to Elliott Building Group and the discussions of the Planning Commission. He also discussed traffic problems and advised on his feelings with regards to the Redevelopment Agreement. He suggested that the Board continue meeting with other parties regarding the development of the site. Mr. Beckert advised he would not discuss the matter publicly. Mr. Mendicino suggested that the Board discuss the matter privately.

Mr. Pellegrino advised the Supervisors and the public on discussions with Elliott Building Group at the December 2005 meeting. He advised that no one representing the Township ever told Elliott Building Group to make the building larger, topics of discussion included Emergency Services, the Rescue Squad, internal traffic in the parking garage, various technical issues, storm water management, buffering the Rescue Squad, sensitivity to the Church and protecting the Church.

Mr. Mendicino recommended that the Board stand up to the developer with regards to the Redevelopment Agreement and the accusations being made that Township staff called for the increased size of the buildings.

Ms. Goren advised that the Board is not going to approve the plan currently being proposed.

Mr. Schenkman commented with regards to the need for the Board to challenge untrue statements.

Ms. Goren advised that the Board challenged the applicant tonight.

Mr. Calabro and Mr. Schenkman advised that they did not hear the Board challenge the applicant tonight.

Mr. Calabro advised that what he heard was the Board advising the applicant to shift the building, no one directly suggested thatthe applicant shrink the overall size of the buildings.

Mr. Schenkman commented with regards to the need for the Board to challenge untrue statements and the repercussion of not challenging the untrue statements if the matter goes into litigation. He advised that if he was fully aware of the matters discussed at the December meeting with Elliott Building Group he would of challenged statements made at tonight’s meeting.

Mr. Pellegrino advised that the Township did direct Elliott Building Group to move the building closer to the road, but he never contemplated that the rear of the building would not be moved closer to the road. He did not find out until this morning that the building was bigger that what was approved on the plan approved by the Board with the signing of the Redevelopment Agreement.

Mr. Sensibaugh commented with regards to Elliott Building Group’s current plan and the line of site issues. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the building is not supposed to be right up to the sidewalk, that Elliott Building Group is suppose to enlarge the sidewalk area with the same materials used on Sycamore Street.

Ms. Crescenzo commented with regards to the prior meetings with Elliott Building Group and paid Township staff and there being no minutes. Ms. Goren advised that the plan could only be changed by the Board not Township staff.

Mr. Beckert advised on discussions he has had with Mr. Sanders regarding meetings with Elliott Building Group and Township staff. He also advised on what took place at the two meetings he has attended with Elliott Building Group and Township staff.

Ms. Crescenzo commented with regards to the bills submitted to the Township.

Mr. Sensibaugh thanked the Board for making the effort with regards to the review of the plan and discussed the applicant revising the plan.

Mr. Mendicino commented with regards to the applicant’s next meeting before the Board of Supervisors.

Other Business

Adjournment

Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 10:40 P.M.

Once the meeting adjourned the Supervisors met in Executive Session.


Respectfully Submitted by:


_____________________________
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary