Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Minutes of January 24, 2007

 

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Anne Goren, Vice-Chairman Phillip Calabro, and members Thomas Jirele and Richard Weaver. Also present were: Paul Beckert, Township Solicitor, Edward 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 Father Michael Piccard of St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church. . This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Pellegrino noted that the Park and Recreation Board would be added to the agenda.

Public Comment: Resident Nancy Crescenzo asked the Board for its goals and expectations for the coming year.

Mrs. Goren responded that the Board discusses its expectations during work sessions. At this time no deadline has been set for any of the Board’s projects.

Mr. Jirele said that he has concerns that the Board has not discussed the Woll tract or the Municipal Complex expansion; both projects need to be addressed.

Mrs. Goren said that the Woll tract engineering contract has only recently been awarded and the Township is in the process of acquiring the land for the Municipal Complex expansion.

Mr. Jirele urged the Board to continue to actively pursue these two projects.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that both projects should have public input, including a referendum on financing for the projects. She reminded the Board that she had asked a series of questions on the safety of the Clark barn and asked for an update.

Resident Roger Taylor expressed concern about the Rockridge property, which had recently been denied final approval for land development. He said that this area is ecologically sensitive, and he has some concerns about its proximity to the County dam. He noted that there were some inaccuracies in the FEMA floodplain demarcation for the property. He asked that the Township appoint a river keeper to review plans for construction within 1500 feet of the Newtown and Neshaminy Creeks. He said that there would be a meeting on February 10, 2007 to discuss restoration of the Newtown Creek.

The Board discussed whether the Township should make an application to FEMA to review the floodplain along the Newtown Creek. Mr. Koehler said that the Township could perform a flood study, and if the results are different than the FEMA map, an application could be made to FEMA.

Mr. Pellegrino and Mr. Koehler agreed to investigate the cost of performing a flood study, and briefly discussed the area to be studied, agreeing to estimate costs for a study from the old trolley bridge to the area of the dam.

Resident Robert Ciervo asked about plans for a sidewalk or trail from the By-Pass along South State Street.

Mr. Pellegrino responded that the budget includes installation of a trail from Freedom Drive to the By-Pass on South State Street. Construction would probably begin after the winter.

Mr. Ciervo spoke about a recent car accident that has damaged the bridge on Barclay Street. He noted that although it is located in the Borough and is a County bridge, the Township should be involved in discussing with the Borough whether this bridge should be widened as part of the repair. He stressed that this bridge unites one section of the Township with the other, and that the Board should be involved in discussion about the repair.

Mr. Pellegrino agreed to contact the Borough about the bridge, but noted that a County repair involving widening of the bridge could take three to five years.

Mr. Jirele questioned whether the Borough would want the bridge widened, and suggested that the Board have a liaison with the Borough to discuss this matter.

Resident Walt Iwaskiw questioned the additional costs for maintenance of any new parks, and asked that the Board present to the public some long term plans for building and maintaining the Woll tract.

Members Comments: Mr. Calabro reminded the public to fill out Homestead Exclusion forms by March 1, 2007 in order to qualify for property tax reduction if Act 1 passes in referendum in the May primary election.

Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports

Minutes: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of January 10, 2007. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Bills: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize payment of bills for December 2006 totaling $129,262.75. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Crescenzo complained about the high cost for replacement of cell phones, and about additional equipment for guide rails.

The motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $194,697.07for January 2007. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $180,000.00. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission: Chairman Shawn Ward reported that the Planning Commission met on January 16, 2007 to review a number of land development plans. They reviewed a sketch plan for 11 Penns Trail, and the preliminary plan for a major subdivision at 235 Eagle Road. The Commission offered comment on each plan; both will return to the Planning Commission for further review. The Commission recommended approval of the DeLuca Corporate Center application for conditional use, subject to a number of conditions. They took no action of a Zoning Hearing Board application for 30 Copperleaf Drive, and recommended that the Zoning Hearing Board application for 2600 S. Eagle Road be limited to one additional retail use. They reviewed and recommended approval of JMZO 2006-04, Livestock and Poultry, and tabled discussion on a proposed fireworks ordinance.

Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine reported that the regular meeting for February has been canceled because of a conflict with the Board of Supervisors schedule. There will be a presentation by some high school students on a skate park at the March meeting. The Park and Recreation Department reports an increase of 3% in revenue, and a slight decline in participation; however it was noted that the decrease is in the sale of discount tickets, not in program enrollment. Ticket sales will be removed from subsequent reports on participation. The Department has begun distributing an electronic newsletter to participants, which should prove a cost savings. A discount of 10% on programming is being offered to participants 55 years of age and older. It is hoped that this will provide a better evaluation of demographics on participation. The Board discussed its 2007 priorities, which are as follows:

  • a natural resource management study and barn repairs for the Clark Nature Center
  • Working with Chandler Hall residents and personnel to plan a restoration of Carl Sedia Park
  • Restrooms for Roberts Ridge Park, and working with the Rotary Club on landscaping and garden plans
  • Field improvements for Helen Randle and Chandler ball fields
  • Fencing for the park behind Staples
  • Woll tract engineering
  • Continuation of the trail system, possibly extending the trail through the proposed Goodnoe development to the Peter Taylor Farm

The Board has also assigned a liaison to the newly formed Newtown Creek Coalition.

Land Development

Revised Preliminary Plan as Final Plan for Land Development – Toll/Fidler/Roberts Tract, 611 Newtown Yardley Road: Attorney Ed Murphy represented the applicant for a development of 102 carriage homes on 27.7 acres. Mr. Murphy said that the Ordinance has been amended to allow for a B-19 transitional residential use, and the Planning Commission has reviewed the plan and recommended approval. Because the applicant has been meeting with the Planning Commission and has developed fully engineered plans while waiting for the Ordinance to be adopted, he is asking for final plan approval at this time.

The applicant proposes to extend the Newtown Trail along Lower Dolington Road from Roberts Ridge Park to the intersection of Terry Drive and Newtown Yardley Road on the Roberts Ridge side of the street. The Planning Commission also recommended that the trail be extended behind the Gulf Station and the animal hospital.

Mrs. Goren expressed some concern about the extension behind the Gulf station, but Mr. Murphy said that the area would be reseeded and the trail would come out to Newtown Yardley Road at the entrance to the development. Intersection improvements will be made. In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Murphy said that the trail would connect with the intersection at Terry Drive to become part of the proposed improvements to the Business Commons streetscape. He said that the developer would like to preserve an existing stand of trees between the new development and Roberts Ridge Park, supplementing these trees with additional plantings.

Mr. Murphy said that the second entrance to the development has been relocated to align with Stanford Drive, and this will involve a swap of a small triangle of land at that intersection with the Township in exchange for an equivalent piece of land at the other end of the development, which will become part of Roberts Ridge Park. The existing barn will be retained at its present location with a façade easement, and will eventually be deeded back to the Fidler family.

In response to Mr. Beckert’s question, Mr. Murphy said that the applicant will perform some intersection improvements at Newtown Yardley Road and Terry Drive/Lower Dolington Road in addition to paying a traffic impact fee. All streets within the development will be private streets, and a number of waivers will be required. These streets will not be suitable for dedication, and such will be conspicuously noted in all Homeowners Association documents. The Joint Historic Commission has recommended the preservation of the barn and the transfer of the property.

The applicant has conducted a speed study from the Bypass to the border with Newtown Borough and will support a reduction in the speed limit on Newtown Yardley Road to 35 MPH. A traffic study had been performed some time ago, but the applicant was not required to do a revised study because the initial study had anticipated the development of the Brandywine property as an office complex. A revision would show a reduction in traffic.

In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Jeff Madden reviewed the parking within the development, noting that there would be no parking in the alleys, only two parking spaces per home inside the garage. Additional visitor parking is located in various spots throughout the development. There are 120 designated on street parking spaces.

In response to Mr. Pellegrino’s question, Mr. Murphy said that the applicant would consider providing crosswalks in the style of the Sycamore Street crosswalks.

Resident Michael Piazza said that he is a member of the Planning Commission, but was speaking as a private citizen. He abstained from voting on this plan at the Planning Commission meeting. He said that he now regrets not allowing a zoning change for Mr. Fidler to expand his business on this property. This development is too large and intensive for this area of the Township. He has concerns about the heavy traffic, and felt that the traffic study should have been revised. The original study was conducted when school was not in session and the park was closed. There are heavy traffic back ups on Newtown Yardley Road now that will only get worse with the addition of so many homes.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that the Board should have allowed a zoning change for Mr. Fidler to expand his business. It was wrong to allow this zoning change, instead. These homes are not age restricted, and will be a burden on the school district. The increase in student population caused by this development will cause an increase in school taxes. A development this size could add over 100 children to the district.

Resident Jay Sensibaugh said that the Planning Commission’s vote of approval was not unanimous. He has serious concerns about the intensity of the use at this location. He said that the traffic study should have been revised to take into account the changes in the Business Commons.

Mr. Ciervo said that he agrees that the zoning should not have been changed for this development. He expressed concern about the long term effect of changing zoning to increase housing density. He was concerned that a developer, and not the community, had requested the zoning change.

Mr. Murphy said that the zoning for this property has not been changed. It had been and continues to be R-2 high density residential. A new use, transitional residential, has been added. In 2004, Toll presented a plan for an R-2 development, and it was suggested that Toll develop a plan similar in appearance to the Frost Watson site. This is a new use added to the high density residential district, and the plan is not as intense as would have been permitted under the Ordinance.

Mr. Jirele pointed to some inconsistencies in a review letter from Suburban Lighting.

Mr. Murphy referred to a more recent review letter, dated January 12, 2007, with which the plan will comply.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Murphy explained that the Township’s traffic engineer did not think a new traffic study would be necessary because the previously completed study included the Brandywine development, a far more intense use than the housing development now planned for that site.

Mr. Madden said that the original study had been done in August 2004 by McMahon Associates. In response to Mr. Piazza’s question, he said that a speed study had been conducted in 2006 that included Lower Dolington Road and the intersection with Newtown Yardley Road and Terry Drive.

Mr. Beckert again noted that because the development includes private streets, a number of waivers are sought.

Mr. Weaver moved to approve the preliminary as final plan of Toll Brothers – Fidler Roberts tract, 611 Newtown Yardley Road, for 102 carriage houses, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The plan shall be revised to comply with the review letters of Remington and Vernick dated September 28, 2006, of Boucher and James dated September 6, 2006, of Pennoni Associates dated October 5, 2006, of The Bucks County Planning Commission dated September 21, 2006, of The Newtown Emergency Services Department dated September 6, 2006, of the Bucks County Conservation District dated July 27, 2006, and of Suburban Lighting dated January 12, 2006;
  2. All approvals, permits and certificates will be presented to the Township prior to the final plan being recorded;
  3. Proof of financial security and deeds of easement shall be provided;
  4. Prior to the signing of the final plan and the plan being recorded each garage shall be deed restricted, which deed restriction shall prevent conversion of said garage as future living space. The deed restriction shall be provided and approved by the Township and made a part of each deed upon conveyance, which covenant shall run with the land. A note shall be added to the plan indicating that requirement;
  5. Prior to the signing of the final plan and the plan being recorded parking in alleyways outside of garages shall be deed restricted. The deed restriction shall be provided and approved by the Township and made a part of each deed upon conveyance, which covenant shall run with the land. A note shall be added to the plan indicating that requirement;
  6. Old Newtown Yardley Road shall be removed and reseeded;
  7. Traffic impact fees shall be paid;
  8. Park and Recreation fees shall be paid in lieu of open space;
  9. The applicant shall present executed water and sewer agreements;
  10. Agreements of sale and homeowners association documents will note that streets are private, do not meet Township specifications and will not be subject to future dedication to the Township;
  11. Any signage for the site shall be subject to the sign requirements of Newtown Township JMZO Section 1100;
  12. Trash collection shall be subject to the satisfaction of the Township;
  13. The Applicant shall fund a speed study from the Newtown By-Pass to the Newtown Borough border along Newtown Yardley Road to help support the Township’s application for a speed reduction to 35 MPH;
  14. The applicant shall align the entrance intersection with Stanford Drive; the Township agrees to swap land from Roberts Ridge Park with the applicant to complete this alignment;
  15. The applicant shall provide evidence of adequate mail service;
  16. The applicant shall execute a Deed of Unilateral Covenants and Restrictions incorporating the notes provided herein;
  17. The applicant shall extend a pedestrian trail from Lower Dolington Road to the Newtown Yardley Road/Terry Drive intersection, to provide crosswalks at Lower Dolington/Newtown Yardley Road intersection, and at the entrance to the site at Newtown Yardley road. The crosswalks are to be similar in design to those on Sycamore Street. The applicant shall extend a pedestrian trail along Newtown Yardley Road as shown on the site plan to the site entrance. The Homeowners Association assumes responsibility for maintenance of trees in the subject area. A use easement shall be created in the Homeowners Association documents to allow public access to trails. The Township waives the obligation to perform a revised traffic impact study;
  18. The barn is to be preserved in its present location with a sod easement, and if as part of this arrangement the Fidlers require that land be conveyed with the barn, a conservation easement shall be provided and ground shall be included in the ground of the applicant for site calculations;
  19. Prior to execution of permits the applicant and the Township shall agree on costs the applicant shall pay to defray costs of road improvements to Lower Dolington/ Terry Drive and Newtown Yardley Road intersection;
  20. Prior to the signing of the final plan and its being recorded, all outstanding legal, engineering and administrative fees due the Township as a result of the preliminary and final subdivision land development review shall be paid in full to the Township;
  21. The Township agrees to the retention of existing trees that the applicant will supplement with additional buffering.

The following waivers are granted:

  • Section 402.3.b – regarding the scale of the plan
  • Section 504.11 – regarding dead end streets
  • Section 504.12 – regarding stub roads
  • Section 504.16 - to not require private streets to meet Township standards for right-of-way paving with curbs and gutters
  • Section 504.17 – regarding rights-of-way
  • Section 505.2.a – regarding sight distances
  • Section 505.3 – regarding minimum tangents
  • Section 505.5 - to not require a one hundred (100) foot tangent at the approach to an intersection
  • Section 507-3 – to permit intersections less than 1000 feet apart
  • Section 507.4 – regarding street layout
  • Section 508.2 – regarding driveways
  • Section 509.1 – regarding length of cul-de-sac
  • Section 509.4 – regarding drainage in cul-de-sac
  • Section 510.1 – regarding alleyways
  • Section 510.3 – regarding dead end streets
  • Section 510.4 – regarding service streets
  • Section 514.7 – relating to vehicles backing into parking spaces
  • Section 516 - to not require curb gutters along the roadway
  • Section 517.1 – regarding sidewalks
  • Section 517.4 – regarding minimum width of sidewalks
  • Section 518.2 – regarding length of blocks
  • Section 518.4 – regarding depth of blocks
  • Section 530.2 - regarding street trees
  • Section 530.3.d.1 – regarding street trees
  • Section 533 – regarding open space in residential developments.

Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 3-1, with Mr. Calabro voting nay.

Conditional Use: DeLuca Corporate Center – 138 South Sycamore Street: Mrs. Goren asked if anyone wished to be party to this application. There was no response.

Mr. Beckert entered the following exhibits:

  • T-1 – Notice of the application
  • T-2 – Proof of publication of notice
  • T-3 – notice to adjoining property owners.

Attorney Ed Murphy was sworn in. Mr. Murphy said that the Planning Commission has recommended approval of this application for D-1 office use for a new building at the site of the old St. Andrew’s Pre-School. The property has been rezoned, and the building will be used for DeLuca’s corporate headquarters. The applicant is scheduled to return to the Planning Commission for land development review on February 6, 2007. There have been no changes to the plan, and the building is to be entirely occupied by DeLuca. Since the Planning Commission’s review the applicant has reconsidered hours of operation and would like to extend evening hours to 7:00PM on weekdays, and to include Saturday morning hours. In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Murphy said that the height of the building is 30 feet, except for one feature which is 35 feet high. The Zoning Hearing Board granted relieve for this one feature.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked that Toll Brothers pay for a $20,000 piece of equipment that the Township has budgeted for Sycamore Street maintenance.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the applicant is DeLuca, not Toll Brothers, and that the equipment has been removed from the budget.

Mr. Weaver moved to grant conditional use to DeLuca Enterprises, 138 South Sycamore Street for D-1 office use, subject to the following conditions:

  1. The use shall be D-1 office use with an accessory building for storage (Use H-5). The office shall not exceed 33,900 square feet;
  2. The maximum number of employees shall be 120;
  3. The hours of operation shall be 7:00AM to 7:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 8:00 AM to 12:00 noon on Saturday;
  4. No hazardous, flammable or explosive materials shall be stored on site;
  5. No glare from light shall extend onto adjacent properties;
  6. No deliveries shall be made on Sycamore Street; all deliveries shall be by no larger than UPS size trucks;
  7. No noxious environmental effects shall be generated on site;
  8. 173 parking spaces shall be provided, the minimum required parking has been met; 27 spaces shall be permitted to be reserved in green to be paved as required by the Township;
  9. The applicant shall submit a true and correct copy of the current deed. If the applicant is equitable owner, a true and correct copy of the agreement of sale shall be provided;
  10. No use shall be permitted which would be noxious or offensive to the immediate surrounding area by reason of smoke, gas, vibration, noise or which constitutes a public hazard by fire, explosion or otherwise;
  11. The requirements of JMZO section 1301.b have been met in terms of consideration of traffic, health, safety and welfare of the community and as it affects adjoining and adjacent residents;
  12. All conditions and requirements set forth in any preliminary or final land development approval or any variances granted shall be deemed part of the conditional use approval;
  13. All outstanding legal, engineering, administrative and other review fees due the Township as a result of the conditional use review shall be paid in full.

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

In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Murphy said that there is open space between the site and its nearest neighbor to the South on Sycamore Street.

Conditional Use: Elliott Building Group – The Promenade at Sycamore: Attorney David Sander and Co-counsel Jim Garrety represented the applicant. Also in attendance was attorney T.J. Walsh, representing Newtown Presbyterian Church and Newtown Ambulance, owned by the Newtown Veterans Association. Mr. Walsh would represent Sycamore Street Associates for this evening’s proceedings, in place of Craig Smith.

Mr. Beckert advised the applicant that Supervisor Jerry Schenkman is not available for this evening’s hearing, but would be in attendance if this application is continued beyond this evening. He would like to review this evening’s transcript and participate in voting if the applicant has no objection.

Mr. Sander and Mr. Walsh had no objection to Mr. Schenkman’s participation in subsequent hearings.

Mr. Walsh said that the Zoning Hearing Board had not finished hearing this application at a Special meeting on January 22, 2007, and had continued the application to March 1, 2007. The Zoning Hearing Board Chairman indicated that the agenda is heavy for March and this application might not be decided until some time in April. He asked that the Board continue this hearing or defer its decision pending the outcome of the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Walsh also asked the Board to appoint a hearing officer for this application, as the Redevelopment Agreement puts the Board under certain obligations. He referred to a letter dated December 18, 2007 from Mr. Sander to Mr. Beckert reminding the Board of these contractual obligations. He questioned the impartiality of the Board as a whole in this hearing.

Mr. Sander asked to proceed this evening with the hearing, without a decision, pending the outcome of the Zoning Hearing Board. He said that his letter to Mr. Beckert referred in a general way to the Board’s obligations in the Zoning Hearing Board application. He believes that the Board can conduct a fair hearing and is opposed to appointing a hearing officer.

In response to Mr. Jirele’s request to see the letter, Mr. Beckert offered Mr. Sander’s letter of December 18, 2006 as Exhibit T-11 and his response dated January 3, 2007 as Exhibit T-12.

Mr. Beckert referred to his statement that had been read into the record of the Zoning Hearing Board, stating the Township’s position in support of the application, concluding as follows:

“… the Township would request a provision that the applicant agree that nothing within any variance that may be granted shall limit the Township’s review of any conditional use or land development…”.

In response to Mr. Beckert’s request for an updated list of waivers being requested, Mr. Sander said that the plan being presented as part of the conditional use hearing has not been engineered. The plan submitted for land development in May, which had been fully engineered, had a list of waivers. This current revised plan does not have an accurate list of waivers; some of those needed on the May plan are probably still needed, but some may no longer be needed. Mr. Sander indicated that a revised final plan would not be fully engineered until the Zoning Hearing Board has rendered a decision.

Mr. Beckert expressed concern that a list of waivers that had been promised is not forthcoming. He was concerned that extensions would be needed for land development.

In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Beckert said that a fully engineered plan is not a requirement for a conditional use hearing.

Mr. Sander entered as Exhibit A-7 a revised plan that conforms to conditions necessary for the Supervisors’ support at the Zoning Hearing Board.

Kim Labrake was recalled to discuss the revisions to the plan. She was reminded by Mr. Sander that she was still under oath.

In response to Mr. Sander’s questions, Ms. Labrake said that the plan has been reduced to 57,380 square feet; a service corridor has been removed at the rear, so that the plan would comply with the Board of Supervisors square footage request. The plan shown in Exhibit A-7 accurately depicts this square footage and parking. The parking calculation has been revised. The plan had included 15 parking spaces for employees and seating for a 5960 square foot restaurant. It has been learned that employee parking is not required in the TC zoning district. The restaurant parking has been recalculated to show seating for 162 patrons, requiring 81 parking spaces. The calculation is based on removal of restrooms, entrance and kitchen from the restaurant square footage, leaving 3190 square feet of seating area.

Mr. Sander entered as Exhibit A-8 a seating chart for the proposed restaurant.

Ms. Labrake said that she researched seating arrangements using “Architectural Graphic Standards”, and designed a layout for formal dining using appropriate table size. This plan shows 138 indoor seats and 24 patio seats. The total number of parking spaces required for the Promenade has been reduced to 332 spaces. The Zoning Hearing Board application has been amended to reflect this reduction.

In response to Mr. Walsh’s questions, Ms. Labrake said that she does not know whether this plan is fully compliant with the SALDO requirements, of whether some waivers, in addition to Zoning Hearing Board relief, will be necessary. She does not know whether the Zoning Officer has seen the revised parking count. All three uses for the project are part of one application. The plan proposes 207 parking spaces; there is adequate parking for each individual use, but combined the Ordinance requires 332 spaces, requiring relief for 125 parking spaces. The D-1 office use requires 152 parking spaces, E-1 retail requires 99 spaces, and E-5 eating place requires 81 parking spaces. The applicant is also seeking a variance for reduced parking stall size to 9 feet by 18 feet. If that request were denied, the garage would have fewer parking spaces.

In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Ms. Labrake said that the 81 parking spaces for E-5 eating place are in accordance with the Ordinance.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Ms. Labrake explained that gross area includes the entire area, wall to wall; net area eliminates non-usable space. The areas used in this application refer to gross areas for retail and office space; the number 57,380 square feet refers to gross area.

Mr. Beckert asked Mr. Sander if he would agree to a condition that the restaurant be limited to 3190 square feet, but Mr. Jirele suggested that instead of limiting the area, the condition limit the applicant to 162 seats.

Mr. Sander said that he would agree to a seating limit of 162 seats, but not to a square footage limit for the dining room. In response to Mr. Beckert’s questions, Ms. Labrake and Mr. Sander reviewed the restaurant seating: 24 patio seats, 12 bar seats and the remainder in the dining area for a total of 162 seats. They did not know whether waivers would still be needed for a fire lane, stormwater management, screen planting, or buffer yard. They would require a waiver for a traffic impact study.

In response to Mr. Smith’s questions, Ms. Labrake and Mr. Sander confirmed that the applicant is committed to a quality restaurant at this location. There would probably be different seating for a restaurant other than a quality, formal dining restaurant.

Mr. Jirele noted that the applicant had already agreed to a condition of a 162 seat limit in the restaurant.

Mr. Sander said that the applicant could not identify any specific tenants at this time; however a neighborhood style restaurant is not anticipated. He agreed with Mr. Beckert that any prospective tenant would have to be granted conditional use approval.

Jeffrey L’Amoreaux was sworn in.

Mr. Sander offered as Exhibit A-9, Mr. L’Amoreaux’s Curriculum Vitae. In response to Mr. Sander’s questions, Mr. L’Amoreaux said that he is a professional engineer who has performed over 100 traffic impact studies. He has worked on traffic signalization and redevelopment plans. As an employee of Carroll Engineering he served on the Sycamore Street Committee. He is currently employed at Van Cleef Engineering. Mr. L’Amoreaux was accepted as an expert witness.

Mr. L’Amoreaux said that he had reviewed the conditional use application and plans for this project and agreed that the following parking is required:

  • D-1 Office – 30,440 square feet – 152 spaces
  • E-1 retail – 19,735 square feet – 99 spaces
  • E-5 eating place – based on seating – 81 spaces

A total of 332 parking spaces are required. He explained that initially parking had been provided for 15 restaurant employees, but under Section 603.c.4 of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance, employee parking is not required. The applicant then removed service areas from the restaurant square footage, leaving room for 162 seats.

Mr. Sander entered as Exhibit A-10 a parking demand analysis.

In response to Mr. Sander’s questions, Mr. L’Amoreaux explained that the parking analysis compares the parking required for each business at each hour of the day. He has revised the analysis based on the revised plan entered as Exhibit A-7. In the revised plan, the restaurant parking has been calculated based on seating. The analysis shows parking needs for non-December Fridays, non-December Saturdays, December Fridays and December Saturdays. He noted that the December analysis uses 138 restaurant seats, rather than 162 seats, because 24 seats are for outdoor dining. The only deficits in parking availability are on December Fridays between noon and 2:00 PM. Mr. L’Amoreaux said that he did not think that those deficits would occur because the analysis was prepared using a publication called “Parking Generation”, which does not have a category for specialty shopping. He used the shopping center category, which shows a greater need for parking than he thought would be accurate. The manual “Trip Generation” does show a difference between specialty shopping and shopping center, and those numbers are more in keeping with the type of shopping anticipated at this site.

Mr. L’Amoreaux said that in preparing the analysis he assumed the restaurant would serve lunch and dinner during the week, and brunch, lunch and dinner on weekends. All numbers used came from the “Parking Generation” manual published by the Urban Land Institute, a tool recognized by traffic engineers.

In addition to preparing the analysis, Mr. L’Amoreaux counted cars on Sycamore Street between Durham Road and Washington Avenue on the Friday and Saturday before Christmas, 2006. There are 61 on-street parking spaces available on Sycamore Street, of which only 21 were in use on December 22, 2006 at 4PM. He also counted 46 occupied parking spaces in the Sycamore Street Center parking lot at that time, leaving 103 spaces empty. He said that he feels the parking for this plan is sufficient, especially when combined with available parking on Sycamore Street. He said that it was unlikely that there would be a need for using the Sycamore Center parking lot, and there would be no impact on the Sycamore Center parking; it could, in fact, increase Sycamore Center’s exposure.

In response to Mr. Sander’s questions, Mr. L’Amoreaux said that he had opportunity to observe the traffic flow along Sycamore Street and on Jefferson Street. There is a “no turn on red” sign facing Jefferson Street at Sycamore Street. This causes traffic to back up on Jefferson Street into the Borough. In addition to the “no turn on red” sign, there is a sharper angle for cars turning onto Sycamore Street at this intersection, heading north. It is about a 95° angle for that turn. At the point where an exit from this site is planned, there would not be a need for a “no turn on red” sign; there is no problem with sight distances. The angle for turning is 90°. Sycamore Street’s recent redevelopment has been done with provision for entrance into this site. The traffic light has a display facing the site; there are curb cuts and a driveway opening. At the time of renovation of Sycamore Street, a project of this scope was anticipated for this site. The proposed access point to the parking garage for this project is 23 feet wide, and will have two lanes, one ingress, one egress. The entry can accommodate two box trucks. In an emergency, motorists could escape on foot if the driveway were blocked.

In response to Mr. Walsh’s questions, Mr. L’Amoreaux said that the Ordinance does not provide for shared parking. Residential uses sometimes require fewer parking spaces than office uses. For this calculation, he used imagined tenants for the retail site, such as quality restaurant, bank, gift shop, a total of nine retail uses on the first floor. He does not know whether the applicant has investigated leasing parking spaces from Sycamore Center.

In response to Mr. Walsh’s question, Mr. Sander said that he is not challenging the validity of the Ordinance, but showing that the shared parking analysis presents a more realistic perspective of parking needs.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. L’Amoreaux said that evaluating motorists’ ability to escape on foot in an emergency is based on his expertise as a traffic engineer. In response to Mrs. Goren’s question, he said that he used 138 seats in the restaurant in the shared parking analysis for December because 24 of the restaurant seats are outdoors, and would not be in use in December.

In response to Mr. Beckert’s questions, Mr. L’Amoreaux said that he did not perform a traffic study, just a traffic count. He could not give an accurate rating of the level of service at the intersection of Jefferson and Sycamore Streets, but he did observe significant delays at certain times of the day, coming from the Borough toward Sycamore Street. He said that the flow of traffic on Sycamore Street was not bad, but on Jefferson Street it was poor. Motorists wait more than once cycle to get through the intersection.

In response to Mr. Koehler’s questions, Mr. L’Amoreaux said that at Jefferson Street the light remains green about 25 seconds and allows about 7 or 8 cars to turn. He briefly discussed the office parking and said that not all employees would be leaving the building at exactly the same time, but that there would be a gradual reduction in parking between 4:00PM and 6:00PM. “Trip Generation” does not include figures for “specialty retail” shopping. He expects that the amount of traffic generated would be consistent and would not increase over time. He said that note “o” on Exhibit A-10 should have been removed, because there is no parking needed for the restaurant before 10:00AM.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. L’Amoreaux said that he observed traffic on December 22, 2006, a Friday, between 4:00 and 6:00PM, and observed that one in ten cars attempts to make a left turn from Jefferson Street onto Sycamore Street. Cars exiting the Promenade and going straight onto Jefferson Street were considered in evaluating traffic.

Mr. Sander said that he did not have any more witnesses. He might present rebuttal witnesses.

Mr. Walsh said that he and Mr. Smith expect to have between 3 and 5 witnesses.

Mr. Beckert suggested that the hearing be continued to the meeting of February 21, 2007, with a decision postponed pending the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board. A separate meeting would be scheduled to allow public comment prior to rendering a decision.

Mr. Weaver moved to continue the conditional use hearing of The Promenade at Sycamore to February 21, 2007. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Weaver moved to close the hearing. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Reports of Officials:

Manager: Mr. Weaver moved to adopt a resolution amending the fee schedule for 2007. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Solicitor’s Report: Authorization to Advertise Historic District Impact Statement: Mr. Beckert explained that this proposed amendment to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance would require a developer to file an impact statement so that the Township could determine whether to permit demolition of a historic asset. The amendment has been discussed during work sessions, in response to learning that a historic structure was almost demolished on a property in the Township.

Mr. Jirele noted that the proposed Ordinance refers to a four class system which has not yet been described. It also uses vague language to describe structures that are “irreparable”. He said that he would prefer postponing advertisement until the language has been improved and an inventory has been compiled.

The Board discussed whether to advertise the Ordinance and continue to redraft it, or to postpone advertisement until the draft has been finalized.

Mrs. Hibbs said that the Joint Historic Commission members have not yet had an opportunity to review this draft. She reviewed the upcoming meeting schedule for the Commission and noted that no new demolition permits would be written until the next meeting on the fourth Monday of February.

After further discussion, the Board agreed to wait until the Joint Historic Commission had an opportunity to review the Ordinance.

Mr. Weaver moved to table authorization to advertise until March 14, 2007. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Vacating of Paper Streets Ordinance: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize advertisement of Ordinance vacating paper streets. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Jake Brake Ordinance: Mr. Calabro moved to authorize advertisement of Jake Brake Ordinance. Mr. Weaver seconded.

Discussion of motion: The Board discussed their concerns about enforcement. Mr. Pellegrino said that signs would be posted to alert truckers of the Ordinance, and it would be enforced the same as other traffic ordinances; the police would have to observe the incident and issue a ticket. The Ordinance would be for Township roads, only; the State would be petitioned for state roads. Signage could cost above $5000.

The motion passed 4-0.

JMZO Ordinance 2006-04 – Livestock and Poultry: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize advertisement of JMZO 2006-04, Livestock and Poultry. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Beckert said that any existing livestock and poultry would be grandfathered. The Ordinance only covers properties between 3 and 10 acres; there are no significant parcels in Newtown Township affected by this Ordinance. Motion passed 4-0.

Ordinance Appointing the Elected Tax Collector as Delinquent Tax Collector: Mr. Weaver moved to adopt the Ordinance appointing the elected tax collector as delinquent tax collector. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Crescenzo said that she had been notified by mail of a class action suit against Berkheimer for charging excessive fees for collection of delinquent taxes.

Mr. Beckert said that this Ordinance appoints the elected tax collector, not Berkheimer.

The motion passed 4-0.

Zoning Hearing Board Applications: Mr. Beckert reviewed the application of Newtown Center Associates for setback variances to construct an addition to the proposed Petsmart site. The Planning Commission had recommended that the variance have as a condition that the site be limited to one additional retail tenant, only.

Mr. Calabro moved to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to represent the Township’s position that the variance be conditioned on limiting the site to one additional tenant. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Public Comment: Mrs. Crescenzo said that the cost to the School District to educate additional children moving into the Toll/Roberts/Fidler development would be $18,000,000. She said that the Woll site costs have been estimated at $5,500,000. She complained that the Petsmart site is very messy. She complained that the old Acme building is an eyesore, and that the Acme Visioning Committee had wanted a parking garage at that site. She said that there should be a referendum on financing for the Woll tract and the municipal expansion; she asked when the municipal expansion would be discussed by the Board, and whether the current meeting room would become a fallout shelter.

Mr. Pellegrino said that some plans had shown the meeting room as storage and the technology room as an emergency management area. There have been numerous iterations of the plans, and the members have held discussions. Each department has identified its needs, which have been incorporated into plans.

No Executive Session was needed.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:20AM.

 

Respectfully Submitted:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary

 

Attest:
Robert Pellegrino, Township Manager

Anne Goren, Chairman

Phillip Calabro, Vice-Chairman

Jerry Schenkman, Secretary/Treasurer

Thomas Jirele, Member

Richard Weaver, Member