Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Minutes of March 28, 2007

 

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 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 members Thomas Jirele and Richard Weaver. Also present were: Paul Beckert, Township Solicitor, James Watson, Township Engineer and Robert Pellegrino, Township Manager.

Call to Order: Chairman Anne Goren called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM. After a moment of silence Mrs. Goren led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Public Comment: Resident Jay Sensibaugh announced upcoming events sponsored by the Sierra Club to be held in honor of Earth Day, on April 14, at Core Creek Park and on the Doylestown Courthouse Plaza.

Sue Herman of Lower Makefield referred to a recent article in the Bucks County Courier Times about traffic calming for Stoopville Road. She thanked the Supervisors for pursuing traffic calming, but derided resident Robert Ciervo, who was quoted in the article as being against the use of traffic circles on Stoopville Road. She said that the article should have explained that the proposed traffic calming would be “roundabouts” which are different from traffic circles. She suggested that the Township put a video showing the “roundabouts” on its cable television station.

Mrs. Goren asked if Mr. Ciervo would like an opportunity to respond to Ms. Herman’s remarks.

Resident Robert Ciervo responded to Ms. Herman’s remarks, saying that as a long time resident, he is well aware of the sometimes dangerous traffic on Stoopville Road; however he does not believe that traffic circles will effectively reduce truck traffic. The only way that the Township could effectively reduce truck traffic would be if it were to take back Stoopville, which is a state road.

Resident John D’Aprile complained that Ms. Herman is only interested in reducing traffic on Lindenhurst Road in front of her own house.

Member Comments: Mrs. Goren said that the Township intends to begin showing the video of roundabouts and traffic circles on its cable station beginning on Monday. The times would be announced on the character generator on the station. She said that the Township had heard a presentation from Gilmore Associates, but at this time no decision to act on the plan has been made. The Board welcomes input and feedback from interested residents.

Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports

Minutes: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of the work session of February 12, 2007. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Jirele abstaining.

Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of February 21, 2007. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of March 14, 2007. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Bills List: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $273,153.45. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $170,000. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Jay Sensibaugh reported that at the March 20, 2007 meeting, the Commission reviewed three Zoning Hearing Board applications. Applicant Neil Morris is seeking variances to put an addition and garage on his home at 429 Taylor Avenue. The Commission passed this on without comment.

Third Federal Bank is seeking variances to replace an existing non-conforming sign with a 32.66 square foot three sided sign, which would be visible from the Bypass, and lit internally. After discussion, the members passed this on without comment.

Attorney Don Marshall and applicant Karen Miller were in attendance to review the application of Grainhouse Developers, LLC for increased impervious surface and reduced parking for the adaptive re-use of an existing building. After lengthy review of some changes made to the original application, which had sought a parking variance for relief of 62 spaces and increase in impervious surface to 70.4%, the Commission voted unanimously to rescind its prior recommendation that the Board of Supervisors to oppose this application, subject to the following conditions:

  • Elimination of medical uses
  • 1,800 square feet to be used as warehouse space
  • All units will be condominiums
  • On site stormwater retention to be as if meadow
  • No more than 45,000 square feet to be used as office or warehouse, with remaining area as utility and common areas.
With these conditions, the required parking is reduced to 234 spaces, a relief of 40 spaces.

Land Development Projects:

Conditional Use – Rouget – 2 Swamp Road: Attorney Mark Rickles and applicant Brian Held were sworn in. Mr. Held explained that he is in partnership with Jacqueline Carugati, who is listed on the application.

Mrs. Goren asked if anyone present 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
  • T-4 – The Planning Commission recommendation for “Tasteful Teas”
  • T-5 – “Tasteful Teas” Conditional Use approval
  • T-6 – Notice of Zoning Violation of Rouget

Mr. Beckert explained that a violation notice had been issued to Rouget for remaining open beyond the hours approved for Tasteful Teas.

Mr. Held said that he is co-owner of the restaurant located in the building formerly occupied by Tasteful Teas. The restaurant seats 60 patrons, however the size of the kitchen prohibits him from serving more than 35 people per seating. There will be no liquor sold, but it will permit BYOB. Deliveries would be about once a day in box trucks. He would like to remain open to serve dinner, with the last seating at 9:00 PM, closing at 10:00PM, seven days a week, although the restaurant is currently not open every day. He expects to have 12 employees, but usually not more than 7 are on the premises at any time. He has ceased evening hours, except for a few special events, which were permitted under Tasteful Teas’ conditional use approval.

Mr. Beckert reviewed the conditions recommended by the Planning Commission. Mr. Held was amenable to all. He noted that he expected to have a larger dumpster shortly, which would be shared with Rita’s Water Ice. There would be no take-out service.

Mr. Rickles said that there is concern about parking at this location. There are 130 parking spaces used by Rita’s Water Ice, La Stalla and this restaurant. The space formerly housing Newtown Floral is currently empty.

Mr. Beckert said that this had been a concern of the Planning Commission at the time of Tasteful Teas’ conditional use. That was the reason that Tasteful Teas was required to close at 4:00PM.

Mr. Rickles said that he and the applicant have discussed how best to address the parking concerns. There is a real problem during the summer months, especially on weekends. Mr. Held’s employees are required to park on the opposite side of Eagle Road, near the Sherwin Williams paint store, which is closed in the evening. He has considered offering valet parking on summer weekends.

The Board expressed interest in helping to alleviate the parking problem, noting that other businesses at this location have failed, in part because of the parking issues. Mr. Schenkman said that he is concerned, not only for this business, but all of the businesses in this section of the shopping center which are affected by the inadequate parking. He asked whether it would be possible for Mr. Held to work cooperatively with La Stalla to provide combined valet parking.

Mr. Jirele suggested that LaStalla’s conditional use be reviewed to see if any conditions had been attached to its approval. He did not think that there would be a need for a valet during the winter months, but he pointed out that in addition to the lack of parking when Rita’s is open, there are children walking through the lot, and it is busy every evening, particularly after sports events. He suggested that a valet might be needed every evening beginning March 15, through Labor Day.

Mr. Weaver said that it is not fair to impose this condition on only one restaurant. He suggested that the owner of the shopping center should be required to help address this problem.

Mr. Jirele agreed, suggesting that the Board should consider reviewing the parking that had been held in reserve.

After some further discussion, Mr. Held agreed to a condition that he provide valet parking from March 15 through Labor Day, and if, after review, the Township found that a valet is needed at other times, he would provide such service.

Mr. Calabro expressed some concern that other businesses in the shopping center would possibly be affected if valets were to use parking spaces near those other businesses.

Mr. Beckert noted that there is available parking near Sherwin Williams, which is closed in the evening.

In response to Mr. Schenkman’s questions, Mr. Pellegrino said that the Township would be aware of conditions because of resident/tenant complaints and police and code department observations.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s questions, Mr. Held said that he is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and has worked at the River Club in New Brunswick, and owned Julianna Rose in Richboro for eight years.

Mr. Jirele moved to grant conditional use approval for Rouget, 2 Swamp Road, Village of Newtown South Shopping Center subject to the following conditions:

  1. The Use be E-5 Eating Place Use for a restaurant use including on site food preparation consisting of 2,275 square feet;
  2. That no alcoholic beverages be sold on the premises;
  3. The maximum number of employees be 12;
  4. The hours of operation be 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., seven days a week, the last seating beginning no later than 9:00 p.m.;
  5. That deliveries be by no larger than 16 foot box trucks with no deliveries being permitted on Sycamore Street;
  6. That parking be required for employees in the Village of Newtown South Shopping Center on the westerly side of South Eagle Road, and as the hours are to be extended to 10:00PM, valet parking be provided from March 15 through Labor Day, and subject to be extended after Labor Day if Township review deems it necessary;
  7. That no hazardous, flammable or explosive materials will be stored or used in the building;
  8. That no noxious or hazardous environmental impact shall be generated by the use on the site;
  9. That pursuant to Section 1301.B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance the use appears to be consistent with and as the same type of uses in the vicinity and compatible therewith; that the improvement will not be a detriment to the property in the immediate vicinity; that the property is suitable for the use in question and in conformance with the Zoning Ordinance;
  10. That a true and correct copy of the lease shall be provided;
  11. That no new signage shall be erected without conformance with Section 1100 of the JMZO and upon approval of a certificate of appropriateness by the Board of Supervisors upon the recommendation of the Historic Architectural Review Board;
  12. That adequate dumpster facilities be provided; that the dumpsters be at all times sealed and covered; that no overflow of trash be permitted; that if any overflow is found to exist the Township may require additional trash pickup; and that all biodegradable trash will be wrapped tightly;
  13. That all review fees be paid as part of the conditional use review by the applicant in full.

Mr. Weaver seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Beckert clarified for Mr. Schenkman that the motion states that no alcohol would be sold on the premises; BYOB would be permitted. He gave as an example of Township review of parking, that there could possibly be a need for a valet during another season, such as between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Mr. Held would agree to provide this if the Township deemed it necessary.

The motion passed unanimously.

The conditional use hearing for Rouget was closed.

Conditional Use – Promenade at Sycamore – North Sycamore Street: Mr. Beckert said that it had been agreed among all parties that testimony had been completed. This evening’s continuation is for public comment. A decision would be made by the Board pending the outcome of the Zoning Hearing Board application. That application is to be continued on Friday, March 30, 2007, beginning at 10:00 AM. The Zoning Hearing Board expects to render its decision at its regular meeting of April 5, 2007. He suggested that, after hearing public comment, the hearing be continued to April 18, 2007.

Robert Ciervo was sworn in. Mr. Ciervo asked whether the Board knew of the height of the recently approved DeLuca building, also on Sycamore Street. He believed that DeLuca had been granted variances similar to those being requested by Promenade, and he asked that all applicants be treated fairly.

Mr. Beckert said that the Zoning Hearing Board, not the Board of Supervisors, had granted DeLuca a 35 foot height variance.

Mr. Ciervo expressed some concern that the site has been abandoned and has become an eyesore.

John D’Aprile was sworn in. Mr. D’Aprile said that he has following this project closely since the beginning of the Sycamore Street and Acme Visioning Committees had begun their investigations of ways to revitalize the site. He noted that the plans submitted look very similar to those initially approved in the Redevelopment Agreement. He said that he has seen many businesses granted variances when they did not provide adequate parking. He asked that this issue be resolved quickly so that the project could get underway.

Mr. Sander asked to read a statement this evening.

Mr. Calabro asked whether this meeting had been advertised for public comment. He noted that the agenda only refers to the conditional use hearing.

Mr. Beckert suggested that the agenda for April 18 show public comment on this application, and that additional public comment would be heard at that time.

Mr. Sander read a statement noting that the applicant is entitled to conditional use approval. The applicant’s architects and engineers have shown that the applicant meets all criteria for D-1 office use, E-1 – retail use and D-5 restaurant under Section 803 of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance for these uses as well as under the general criteria in Section 1301. There has been considerable debate on parking availability, although the shared parking analysis prepared by the Promenade’s engineers shows that the only deficit occurs on four December Friday afternoons for three hours, during which time ample parking is found on the street. The party against the applicant is disgruntled that his own plans were not chosen for the Redevelopment Agreement. This project will bring businesses to the area, and will increase the value of that party’s own property and increase the business of that party’s tenants. The Board should be guided by the Redevelopment Agreement, which required these uses. He asked that the Board honor the Redevelopment Agreement and grant the conditional use approvals.

Mr. Schenkman moved to continue the application for conditional use for The Promenade at Sycamore to April 18, 2007. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Jirele moved to close the conditional use hearing. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Reports of Officials:

Manager:

Mr. Pellegrino reported that The Reserve at Newtown has provided all necessary documentation for dedication.

Mr. Weaver moved to accept dedication of the Reserve at Newtown. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Solicitor:

Mr. Beckert asked that the Board review a proposed ordinance for all persons that collect and transport municipal waste and source-separated recyclables generated within the Township of Newtown and the reporting of the quantities of source-separated recyclables collected and delivered to a recycling facility and providing penalties for violation of this ordinance.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize advertisement of an Ordinance relating to trash haulers reporting requirements and related matters. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Beckert reviewed the Zoning Hearing Board application of Neil Morris, 429 Taylor Ave. This was passed on without comment.

Mr. Beckert reviewed the application of Third Federal Savings Bank, 950 Newtown Yardley Road, to replace an existing non-conforming sign with a 32.66 square foot triangular sign with a slightly reduced height, within 1,000 feet of the Newtown Bypass.

Attorney Don Marshall, representing the applicant, explained that the sign is the same as the Bank’s sign at its location in the Newtown Business Commons. He provided pictures and confirmed that the proposed sign would be placed atop a fieldstone base and would be internally lit. He confirmed Mr. Jirele’s estimate that it is about the same size as the Commerce Bank sign.

Mr. Jirele and Mrs. Goren each expressed concern about internally lighted signs on the Bypass. The Board has been consistent in limiting signage on the Bypass.

Mr. Marshall noted that this particular business takes direct access from the Bypass, and is a location sign, not an advertising sign. He said that the Ordinance prohibits signage within 1,000 feet of the Bypass; the Commerce Bank internally lit sign is within that 1,000 feet. If required, the applicant could possibly reduce the size to be consistent with the existing non-conforming sign.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Marshall said that the third side of the sign faces Campus Drive. Because the property fronts on two streets, the applicant is entitled to two two-sided signs, but is instead asking for one sign with three sides.

Mr. Calabro disagreed that the third side would be necessary because anyone exiting Campus Drive would have seen the sign upon entering. He also expressed distaste for the appearance of a plastic, internally lit sign. He said that the sign should be in keeping with the style of the stone bank building. He indicated that he would support the request for a size variance for a wood sign with external lighting and only two sides.

Mrs. Goren acknowledged that the Bank has updated its logo, and the new sign might need to reflect that change; however she was opposed to the internal lighting.

Mr. Marshall questioned the use of personal taste as a criterion to approval.

Mr. Jirele moved to send the solicitor to oppose the application of Third Federal Bank unless the sign were 30 square feet, wood carved in keeping with the appearance of the building, and externally lit. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Sensibaugh noted that external floodlighting on a three sided sign could cause glare on the roadway.

Mr. Jirele said that the lights would be directed at the sign and should not pose a safety risk.

The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Marshall was also in attendance to discuss the application of Grainhouse Developers, LLC, whose application the Board had voted to oppose. The applicant will address increased impervious surface with underground stormwater management. Initially the applicant had been seeking relief of 100 parking spaces, but has agreed to remove medical uses, has added 1800 square feet of warehouse, and by removing common areas and utilities from parking calculations, now requires relief of only 26 parking spaces.

Mr. Jirele moved to rescind opposition to the application of Grainhouse Developers, LLC. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Jirele moved to send the solicitor to support the application of Grainhouse Developers subject to the conditions as follows:

  • Elimination of medical uses
  • 1,800 square feet to be used as warehouse space
  • All units will be condominiums
  • On site stormwater retention to be as if meadow
  • No more than 45,000 square feet to be used as office or warehouse, with remaining area as utility and common areas.
Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Engineer:

Mr. Jirele moved to authorize escrow release of $49,139.51 to Penns Terrace Office Park. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Calabro moved to authorize signing of Mylars for Mastromarco minor subdivision. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Public Comment: Mr. Ciervo asked about a sketch plan reviewed by the Board at the work session of February 12, 2007. This plan showed 40 townhome units at Durham and Eagle Roads on twelve acres. He asked whether this would be an age-qualified development, and what number of units would be permitted on this property by right.

Mr. Pellegrino said that 13 single family homes would be permitted on the twelve acre parcel by right. The property is zoned R-1, and the applicant was proposing an addition to the permitted uses in the R-1 zoning district to allow for 40 townhomes. These homes would not be age restricted. He explained that this would be a textual addition to the current zoning, not a change to the zoning map. Such an amendment would have to be approved by all three municipalities in the Jointure. He noted that the Board was not in support of this sketch plan, and had a number of concerns, including the intensity of the use and the layout of the townhomes. The Township has not heard from the applicant again since the Supervisors last reviewed the sketch plan.

Mr. Ciervo said that he would be opposed to any zoning change that would increase the housing density.

Mrs. Goren announced that there would be an executive session to discuss personnel and land acquisition.

The meeting adjourned at 10:00.

 

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