Board of Supervisors
Minutes of May 27, 2009
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on May 27, 2009 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Thomas Jirele, Vice Chairman Robert Ciervo, Secretary-Treasurer Michael Gallagher, and Philip Calabro and Jerry Schenkman, members. Also present were: Joseph Czajkowski, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Call to Order: Chairman Jirele called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence and an invocation by Father Ernest Curtin of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. This was followed by and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski said that a maintenance agreement for Village at Newtown South has been added to the Engineer’s Report and Prevailing Wage Discussion has been removed from the agenda. The update on the Municipal Complex expansion and the Zoning Hearing Board application of 200 N. Sycamore Street will follow public comment.
Public Comment: Resident Jennifer Dix asked the Board about improvements to Newtown Yardley Road, which had been on the TIP. She also asked about replacement of a portion of the trail damaged with construction of a building on Newtown Yardley Road near the Newtown Cemetery. She asked whether there are plans for a crosswalk to the trail at that location. She has had some concerns about crossing Newtown Yardley Road to use the trail, as cars travel at higher speeds at that location.
Mr. Czajkowski said that funding for the Newtown Yardley Road project has been diverted by PennDOT to bridge repair projects throughout the state. It will be on the 2012 TIP. He will investigate progress on repair of the trail.
Mr. Gallagher said that he would like to discuss changes to the speed limits with the traffic engineer. Because the Newtown Bypass has a 55 MPH speed limit and Newtown Yardley Road has a 45 MPH limit, dropping to 30 MPH in the Borough, sometimes cars travel at high speeds after exiting the Bypass onto Newtown Yardley Road. He suggested possibly reducing the speed limit to 35 MPH.
The Board agreed that this should be discussed with the traffic engineer.
Mike Sellers of Newtown Borough Council announced that the Newtown Creek Coalition will sponsor its third Creek Clean-up day on Saturday, June 20 at 9:00 AM at Green & State Streets, near Newtown Bike Shop. He thanked the Township for its support of past clean-ups, including sending the Public Works Department to remove collected debris.
Resident Karen Katz announced that Newtown 21 st Century Voice has been conducting a survey of opinions on the future development of Sycamore Street. Preliminary results on questions regarding the maximum height for buildings on Sycamore Street have shown that 62.4% of respondents agree that the maximum height should be 30 feet, 28.5% favor 40 feet and 9.1% favor 50 feet.
Mr. Jirele said that he had taken the survey and found that the wording of the question on building height had lead him to believe the respondent was to have answered what the current permitted height is; he had answered 30 feet to that question.
Mr. Gallagher agreed that he had the same impression for that question.
Mr. Calabro said that the question should have made clear that the survey was seeking an opinion on what “should be” the maximum permitted height.
Mrs. Katz said that the survey would be open until July. At that time results of all questions would be shared with the Supervisors and with the public.
Newtown Borough resident Christine Edmunds said that she had answered the survey and had understood the height question to mean what “should be” the maximum permitted. She had answered 30 feet.
Manager’s Report, Municipal Building Update: Ken Duerholz of Boyle Construction presented a chart outlining the timeline for completion of construction of two buildings, a new administration building and a new public works building. Construction on the administration building began on February 10, 2009. Construction is 16 weeks into a 48 week schedule. Despite 15 weather related non-work days, grading and removal of existing structures and installation of some utility conduits have been completed. Framing will begin shortly on the administration building and progress will be visible in July and August. Interior work will be done as winter approaches. The public works building is a pre-engineered structure. It is not as far along in construction as the administration bulding because of design and order delays. The pre-engineered building will be delivered in mid-June by truck.
In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Duerholz said that there have been no unexpected “surprises”. The LEEDS consultant has been on site and has been pleased with points awarded so far, including for removal of hazardous materials which consisted of asbestos shingles on the demolished garage.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the project is close to earning enough points for LEEDS gold certification. It is difficult to judge whether points awarded for use of solar or wind energy for any portion of the project will gain enough points to qualify for gold certification, but the consultant is looking at ways to increase the points going forward.
In response to Board questions, Mr. Duerholz said that while there had been a lot of rain at the start of the project, 15 non-work days is not that much above average. It is to be expected when a project begins in February instead of later in the spring. Once site work is completed, there should not be many more days missed due to weather. The pillars recently installed are supports for the front entrance.
Mr. Gallagher asked whether the project has been on budget so far.
Mr. Duerholz and Mr. Czajkowski explained that there have been a few minor change orders amounting to a total of about $40,000. These have been addressed by the administration. Mr. Duerholz agreed to provide the Board with lists of the change orders. Mr. Czajkowski said that he would contact the Board if there were any major changes, however, those seen thus far have been for small amounts for items that are necessary, such as conduits connecting the two buildings and valves required by the water company.
Resident Joanne Bintliffe Ritchie asked whether construction would be complete in time for residents to have easy access to the polls on Election Day. There had been some difficulties with construction vehicles blocking the polls during the primary election.
Mr. Duerholz explained that by November site work will have been completed; work will primarily be on the interiors at that point; the entrance road would be clear for two-way traffic.
The Board agreed to discuss furniture and furnishings for the new buildings at work sessions in July and August. The furnishings for the renovations to the police offices should be discussed at a regular meeting in advance of the budget meetings.
Solicitor’s Report - Zoning Hearing Board Application, 200 N. Sycamore Street
Attorney William Bolla represented the Township for this review. Attorney Ed Murphy represented the applicant.
Mr. Jirele suggested that Mr. Murphy review each variance request on the application individually.
Mr. Murphy said that the first variance request is from Section 603 to permit use E-2, large retail store and residential condominiums which are not permitted in the TC Town Commercial District. The applicant plans a 12,485 square foot retail space for an Anthropologie store and 27 residential condominiums.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would prefer that the applicant seek a variance to allow an E-1 use larger than the permitted 10,000 square feet. While he does not object to the larger retail space, use E-2 would allow for some retail uses that are not currently permitted in the TC district, such as variety store, supermarket, department and discount stores, uses better suited for the PC district. If use E-2 is allowed, a future tenant might want to bring a permitted E2 use other than that proposed now, or might want to combine with other spaces in the building, or other large properties in the TC district might also want the E-2 use.
Mr. Bolla advised the Board that the granting of the variance could be limited. The Zoning Hearing Board could grant relief with conditions which would eliminate these concerns. Zoning law does not set precedent. He suggested that the applicant might seek E-2 or in the alternative E-1 with greater than 10,000 square feet, with either use limited to the 12,500 square feet.
Mr. Murphy said that the applicant would agree to limit the space to 12,500 square feet.
Mr. Jirele asked about the performance standards for uses E-1 and E-2.
Mr. Gallagher said that as he understands it, use E-1 has some restrictions on what can be sold in the retail establishment. Parking is calculated differently, with E-1 parking based on square footage and E-2 using both square footage and employee parking. For a 13,000 square foot space, however, the parking spaces required would be about the same.
Mr. Murphy reviewed the proposed number of parking spaces for the entire site; 103 spaces at grade and 69 in the underground garage. While 111 spaces re required for the retail uses, the garage will have two spaces per dwelling unit with 15 extra spaces. From those extra spaces, the applicant proposes to assign 8 spaces to retail proprietors or managers.
Dr. Ciervo said that single family and twin homes are permitted by right in the TC district, as well as a use for a dwelling with a business, but he could not find a condominium use in the JMZO. He said that B-10, garden apartment, comes closest to condominium, but garden apartments are limited to 16 units per building and the building size is limited to 120 feet in length, with 3 parking spaces per unit required. What is proposed is high density housing. The height of the building is connected to the number of units. If this building were limited to two stories, it would have fewer units.
Mr. Bolla explained that “condominium” is not a use, but a form of ownership. The Zoning Hearing Board can consider the application and grant relief if the owner meets the burden of proving a hardship.
Mr. Schenkman said that he has concerns about the overall proposal; is it a net positive or negative for the site and for Township? He said the Board should consider the quality of life issues; what would be the benefit or the detriment of 27 dwelling units added to Sycamore Street.
In response to questions from Mr. Calabro and Dr. Ciervo, Mr. Murphy said that because the condominium use is not defined in the Ordinance, the applicant assigned what he considered a reasonable number of two parking spaces per unit, with 8 additional spaces in the underground lot. The hardship for this applicant would be the evolution of the project, the parking, the architecture, the mixed uses, all of the points listed in the report of the Acme Visioning Committee.
Mr. Jirele said that a residential mixed use structure had been a part of the Acme Visioning Committee’s recommendations and developers had been encouraged to present plans for the mixed use. A residential presence will make a more vibrant streetscape. For this reason he supports the mixed use.
Dr. Ciervo said that he is very concerned with the number of units proposed. He would be more supportive if a two story, half residential/half retail or business building were proposed. He is very concerned about traffic and parking.
Mr. Gallagher said that he supports the residential component of the plan because of its contribution to the streetscape. The residential presence will contribute to the success of business tenants and will keep the area active in the evenings.
Mr. Schenkman said that he is also in favor of the residential presence. There has always been a residential presence on Sycamore Street. His concern is with the scope of the project. He is not sure what the right number of units would be for a good quality of life for the new residents and current residents.
Mr. Jirele said that the Zoning Hearing Board will address the number of units permitted.
Mr. Calabro said that while he is supportive of the residential component, he disagrees that it is necessary in order to keep the street from being deserted in the evenings. There are already residences on Sycamore Street and this particular property has never had residences.
Mr. Murphy reviewed the relief sought from Section 603(B)(1) for a height of 42 feet 7 inches and for front and side yard setbacks.
Architect Peter Stampfl presented the architectural rendering last shown to the Supervisors, with a 45 foot 1 inch height, and a revised rendering with the height reduced to 42 feet, 7 inches. The northern end’s hip roof has been removed and a flat roof with softer corners has replaced it. Balconies have been moved to that end of the building. Six inches have been removed from each residential floor and the building has been lowered six inches. The side of the building nearest Newtown Presbyterian Church has a mean height of 38 feet.
Engineer Carl Janeka discussed the stormwater management, explaining that the property slopes up toward the rear. In response to Mr. Jirele’s questions, he explained that the building cannot be lowered more because underground stormwater detention facilities must connect with the existing storm sewer inlets under Sycamore Street and a deeper garage would create to sharp a slope for the garage entry ramp. Lowering the building would also interfere with handicapped access at the rear of the building.
Ms. Fountain agreed with Mr. Janeka on requirements for stormwater management.
Dr. Ciervo strongly objected to the request for a height variance. He said that the Acme Visioning Committee had expected a “minor height variance” might be needed. The height is connected to the number of proposed residential units. For this site and with an eye toward future development along Sycamore Street, he strongly urged that the current height restrictions be adhered to.
Mr. Murphy said that the applicant has withdrawn the request for a variance from 903(B)(9), regarding calculations for stormwater run off. The applicant is seeking variances for disturbance of man made steep slopes and woodland associations.
Mr. Murphy reviewed the requests for variances for parking stall size and parking aisles. The applicant is proposing parking stalls of 9’X18’ at grade and 9’X16.7’ in the underground garage, with a 14.5 foot driving aisle in the garage.
Engineer Scott Mill explained that the underground parking will be angled, which gives additional room, and the aisle will be one-way. In response to Board questions, he explained that a computer program was run to recreate the movements necessary to maneuver a 19 foot long vehicle in the garage and no problems were encountered. A typical sedan is about 14-15 feet long and a Ford Excursion is 18.9 feet long. The parking stalls, when measured on the perpendicular are 19 feet from the wall to the driving aisle.
The Board agreed that the stall sizes were adequate for residential parking.
Mr. Murphy said that the applicant is also seeking a variance on the size and number of loading berths, asking for one 20’X43’ berth.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board has a few options for this application:
Mr. Gallagher noted that the Planning Commission, when reviewing this application, had recommended that the Board send the Solicitor to the hearing to monitor the proceedings. While he has faith in the Zoning Hearing Board, he said he would support a motion to send the Solicitor to observe and report back to the Board.
Dr. Ciervo said that he has a number of serious concerns, particularly with height and with the number of proposed residential units. He is also concerned about parking; he noted how difficult the parking has been at Goodnoe’s Corner. This seems to be too intense a use for a two acre parcel.
Dr. Ciervo moved to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to oppose this application.
The motion failed for lack of a second.
Mr. Jirele moved to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to seek party status on behalf of the Township and to monitor the proceedings. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher said that he has some concern about sending the Solicitor to “monitor” a Zoning Hearing Board application, as it could become expensive. In this particular application, there are a number of issues on which the Board members are concerned, yet the Board remains divided on the exact direction to take. He would like the project to be smaller in scope, however, he is confident the Zoning Hearing Board will consider the application very carefully.
Mr. Calabro said that he agrees that the Zoning Hearing Board will be very careful and thorough with the application, but is concerned that this is a major project and the Board’s interests should be represented. He expressed some concern about sending the Solicitor without specific direction. While he did not think he wanted to oppose the application, he would like to see a smaller building with fewer condo units.
Mr. Jirele said that this application will probably take a number of meetings to address. If the Solicitor has party status he will be able to report to the Board and the Board can weigh in on certain aspects of the application.
Mr. Bolla said that he would participate by asking the hard questions to make sure the applicant provides solid evidence of hardship, to make sure the law is met.
Dr. Ciervo said that he was not in favor of sending the Solicitor without a specific direction from the Board to either support of oppose the application.
Mr. Schenkman said that the Zoning Hearing Board is aware of the Board’s concerns. The Zoning Hearing Board will listen to the evidence presented and will attempt to apply the law while protecting the Ordinance. He noted that the Zoning Hearing Board frequently grants decisions different from what had been requested.
Mr. Jirele and Mr. Gallagher each noted that the Zoning Hearing Board is the early stage of land development. Much of the concerns about traffic and safety and other issues would be addressed during the land development and conditional use process. Mr. Jirele noted that the applicant has already worked cooperatively with the Board and Planning Commission to reduce the size of the project considerably. It had originally been 55 feet high.
Mr. Jirele asked for public comment before a vote on the motion is taken.
Mark Craig of Newtown Borough Council said that he has concerns about the intensity of the use. He is supportive of the mixed retail and residential use but has concerns about traffic and safety. He urged the Board to carefully consider whether to oppose the application.
Mike Sellers of Newtown Borough Council said that there have been significant modifications to the original plan. The proposal has merit, but also has significant negative implications, particularly for traffic on Sycamore and Jefferson Streets. He urged the Board, while not to oppose the application, to give the Solicitor guidance to convey the Township’s concerns to the Zoning Hearing Board. This project will have an effect on the entire area surrounding Newtown Creek.
Resident Ethel Hibbs asked that the Township keep the Joint Historic Commission informed, as an inspection of the site will be necessary as part of the demolition permit to remove the existing structure.
Mr. Jirele said that the Joint Historic Commission will be notified in advance of the issuance of a demolition permit; this would take place after the Zoning Hearing Board has rendered a decision.
Kara Godwin of Newtown Borough said that she is concerned that this project is proceeding without a traffic study, as this project will impact traffic in Newtown Borough. She has submitted petitions opposing the use and height variances. She urged the Board to send the Solicitor to oppose the application.
Resident Harriet Beckert said that she is very concerned about increased traffic with this project. Regarding height she suggested leaving a sloped greenspace between the sidewalk and the base of the building, the sloped lawn might soften the appearance of height. She also asked whether the applicant will be required to comply with HARB requirements for signage and colors, as Goodnoe’s Corner had done.
Mr. Jirele said that the applicant has assured the Township that he cooperate with HARB on signage and colors, although the project is not in the historic district. This is a land development issue.
Mr. Gallagher noted that traffic concerns would be part of the Conditional Use proceedings.
Resident Karen Katz said that while the project has come a long way there is still a long way to go to make the project acceptable to many in the Township and Borough. She discussed the Newtown Creek Coalition’s approach toward projects, with volunteers working toward a consensus. She suggested that the Township use a more “integrated style of bargaining” with the developer, including interested residents in the proceedings. She urged the Township to consider senior citizens, teens, young children and the owners of existing businesses in moving forward. She expressed concern about traffic and the different performance standards for E-1 and E-2 uses, as well as the “hardship” in this case. She urged the Board to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to send a message to the Zoning Hearing Board members of the Supervisors’ concerns.
Mr. Gallagher explained that traffic issues are part of the conditional use proceedings; if an applicant does not meet the requirements for traffic, a conditional use approval would not be granted.
Jennifer Pennington of Newtown Borough said that she is concerned about the height and setback variances, which will determine the footprint of the building.
Resident John D’Aprile said that there have been a number of Borough residents complaining about traffic, yet the Borough did not give the same consideration to the Township when it approved the large residential development on the Frost Watson property.
Resident Poncho Messier said that he is concerned that the project is being reduced to the point where it will no longer be viable to the builder. He has concerns about the future of the site if the McGrath organization leaves the project. In response to Dr. Ciervo’s question, Mr. Messier said that he is interested in moving into one of the proposed condominiums and would still be interested if it were only a two story building of the same quality.
Dr. Ciervo said that he does not object to the mixed uses or the condominiums, but to the intensity of development. If a two story building were proposed with one floor of condominiums, he would be in support. He noted that McGrath has already been granted a number of variances in Newtown Township for other projects.
Resident Pam Fitzpatrick said that some members of the Planning Commission had concerns about the proposed parking stall sizes. She also discussed the long history of open space preservation efforts throughout the County and expressed concern about the intensity of development and its impact on Newtown Borough residents. She urged the Board to uphold the current zoning, and urged more community involvement in planning.
John Guy of Newtown Borough said that he is against the proposed project because of its impact on traffic.
Mr. Schenkman said that the Board has not reached a consensus. He would prefer to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board with clear direction, but he is concerned that the Board cannot agree on a clear direction. While he does not recommend opposition to the project, he would like the Solicitor to convey the Board’s unhappiness with the overall dimensions of the building and with the number of proposed condominium units.
Mr. Jirele and Mr. Gallagher each said that the Solicitor, who has attended all of the meetings at which this project has been discussed, will be able to adequately represent the Board to the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Jirele also noted that the applicant does not need a variance for the number of units, but for the use.
Mr. Bolla said that he would convey to the Zoning Hearing Board the Supervisors’ overall concern with the number of units proposed. The Zoning Hearing Board could grant or deny a variance or could grant a variance for a lesser number of units. When discussing this with the Zoning Hearing Board he would stress the impact the number of units would have on the surrounding community.
Mr. Calabro said that in the current economy it might be difficult to sell 27 large condominiums. The project could be scaled back with smaller units. The Visioning Committee’s work is outdated. While he agreed that the project has been revised significantly, he would prefer to send the Solicitor with specific direction. He would only vote to send the Solicitor to support, oppose or with specifics to bring to the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Schenkman agreed that he would not support the motion to “monitor the proceedings”.
Mr. Jirele withdrew the motion. He noted that the default position is to not send the solicitor at all.
Dr. Ciervo moved to send the Solicitor to oppose the application of 200 N. Sycamore Street to the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Calabro seconded. The motion failed with Messrs. Schenkman, Jirele and Gallagher voting nay.
Mr. Schenkman moved to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to seek party status and participate in the proceedings in an attempt to downsize the proposed height of the building to 40 feet and to reduce the number of condominiums, reducing the impact on parking and traffic. The motion failed for lack of a second.
Mr. Jirele moved to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to seek party status, to monitor the proceeding and to keep the Board informed.
Mr. Gallagher suggested to amend the motion to convey to the Zoning Hearing Board the opinions expressed by the Supervisors since September 2008.
Mr. Jirele amended his motion to include sending the Solicitor to seek party status, to monitor the proceedings and keep the Board informed, and to convey to the Zoning Hearing Board opinions expressed by this Board since it began reviewing the project in September 2008. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Mr. Jirele polled the Board for its support of the motion and withdrew his motion.
Dr. Ciervo said that he thought Mr. Schenkman’s motion was close to what he would like to see, and agreed to send the Solicitor to oppose unless the building were reduced to 40 feet. He suggested that the Board attempt to agree on a number to limit the residential units. He suggested 16, which would be the permitted number for a garden apartment building.
Mr. Gallagher asked whether each individual Board member could compose a letter for the solicitor outlining his feelings as to an acceptable resolution to the variance requests.
Mr. Jirele said that this decision must be made in a public forum. The Board does not have a clear consensus as to whether to send the Solicitor. The Board did not support Mr. Schenkman’s parameters, finding them too vague. The alternative is to not send the Solicitor and to leave the matter for the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Schenkman said that he had hesitated to place a number on the residential units, because he did not know what would be feasible.
Mr. Schenkman moved to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to obtain party status, to monitor the proceedings and report to the Supervisors, to initiate and participate in negotiations for a building height of 40 feet and a number of condominium units not to exceed 22 units. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele asked whether a party to the application would have the ability to negotiate.
Mr. Bolla said that a party has the ability to negotiate with the applicant. Mr. Bolla has worked before with this developer and with this developer’s attorney and feels that he could be successful in working out a result that would be more palatable to a majority of the Board. This application will probably take multiple hearings, giving the Board opportunity to have input into his negotiations.
Mr. Gallagher expressed concern that sending the Solicitor with the specific number of 22 units could strap the negotiations.
Mr. Schenkman said there will be reporting to the Board and opportunity to work with the developer.
Mr. Jirele said that this project has been in discussion for seven years. He is very concerned about placing this number on the applicant now.
Mr. Murphy said that he has conferred with the applicants. The parameters are not acceptable; the applicant would not proceed with those numbers.
The motion failed 2-3, with Messrs. Gallagher, Jirele and Ciervo voting nay.
Mr. Jirele said that the Township would not send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board on this application.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular Board meeting of May 13, 2009. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $455,500.94. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $340,000. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to make payment to Omni Wind for an annomometer for $1000. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher explained that this is the expense that was approved at the last meeting but does not appear on the bills list.
The motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Board Members: Dr. Ciervo asked to remove discussion of the skateboard ordinance from the agenda.
Mr. Schenkman said that written reports on the PSATS Convention would be in the Board’s packets.
Mr. Gallagher reported that the Board had participated in the Memorial Day parade on Monday. Mr. Gallagher noted that he was using his laptop computer at this meeting as a first step toward reducing the amount of paper used in the Township for copies. He has been working with Township Administrative Assistant Olivia Kivenko to develop electronic Board packets and the Technology Committee is investigating ways to use electronic media in the new Municipal Complex.
Mr. Jirele said that sending the monthly Treasurer’s Report to the Board will be saving a very large amount of paper.
Mr. Gallagher reported that the Financial Planning Committee is working on a presentation for an upcoming Board meeting.
Dr. Ciervo reported that a recent article in the Newtown Advance about the Newtown Dam had prompted a number of phone calls and e-mails from residents with concerns about the safety of the dam. He reported that the dam, which was built in 1980 by the Neshaminy Water Resources Agency and is inspected monthly by Global Oceanic Enterprises, is not hazardous or unsafe. The dam is owned and maintained by the County. Fire Marshal Don Harris is involved in a notification system for the dam.
Mr. Schenkman asked that Mr. Harris and the Board be provided with copies of the County reports.
Mr. Jirele said that once, many years ago the dam was taxed by extreme weather and had functioned properly.
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that the PlanningCommission continued its discussion of mixed uses and of planned commercial developments on Sycamore Street. The members discussed possible performance standards for the street, with particular emphasis on parking, building height and façade requirements. Among mixed uses discussed were arts & crafts studios, and galleries. One concern discussed was medical office uses on the larger properties. The Commission also discussed the new “village” style housing, which might be considered as a possible permitted use. Our new member, Rob Whartenby, advised that he has done some preliminary research on performance standards, which he has e-mailed to Ms. Fountain and the members for further review.
Some residents in attendance expressed interest in expanding the historic district to both sides of Sycamore Street.
The Commission will continue its review and is optimistic that a complete report will be presented to the Board at the end of the summer.
The Commission reviewed Penns Trail Storage, 104 Penns Trail, final plan for land development to construct two 2-story self-storage buildings with a total gross square footage of 63,180 square feet on a 3.27 acre parcel in the LI Zoning District and recommended that the Board grant final approval subject to certain conditions, including relief from the Zoning Hearing Board.
The Commission reviewed the application of Timothy Cojocaru, 7 East Park Road, opposing the action of the Zoning Officer regarding conditions for a home occupation for firearm repair. The Zoning Officer added as a condition that no sales be conducted. The Commission felt that the Ordinance does not prohibit retail as part of a home occupation. The ATF requires that retail be permitted in order for a license to be issued. The applicant has indicated that his will be strictly a repair business. We had some question as to whether the permit would go with the location or with the applicant, himself. After careful review of the Ordinance, the Commission voted 7-1 to recommend that the Board support the applicant before the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Garton explained to the Board that should any relief be granted, it would stay with the property unless the Zoning Hearing Board placed limits or conditions on the relief.
The Commission reviewed the Zoning Hearing Board application for Richard and Grace LeMay, 8 Clearview Drive and agreed they have no comment on this application.
Technology Committee Appointments: Mr. Gallagher moved to appoint Anand Shukla, Arun Chaudhary and Lynne Brennan to the Technology Committee. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to Dr. Ciervo’s question, Mr. Gallagher explained that the three members were chosen from four requests for appointments based on those three volunteers’ telephone conversations with the Technology Chairman and their level of interest and participation in the last meeting. The fourth applicant is very welcome to attend meetings and make contributions in an unofficial capacity.
The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher said that the Technology Committee is preparing a presentation for the Board’s second meeting in June. The members are investigating a possible demonstration of Smart Boards for use in the new municipal building, along with Netbooks for the dais and some electronic hook-ups for the televised meetings.
The Board agreed that they would prefer that a vendor give a demonstration to the Technology Committee, with Board members invited to see the presentation. Once the Technology Committee has reviewed the products, they can make specific recommendations to the Supervisors. A more comprehensive demonstration of all technology for the new building would be preferred.
Historical Architectural Review Board: Dr. Ciervo moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for signs for Allstate, 5 North Sycamore Street as outlined in a memo dated May 12, 2009. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Jirele moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for a porch for Carriage House, 221 North Sycamore Street, as outlined in a memo dated May 12, 2009. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for Representative Santarsiero’s office, 277 North Sycamore Street, as outlined in a memo dated May 12, 2009. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
HARB Board member Harriet Beckert reported that HARB has been participating in Planning Commission discussion of Sycamore Street. HARB has begun work on a booklet outlining acceptable windows, doors and facades in the historic district and has been discussing possibly expanding the historic district.
Reports of Officials
Resolution Authorizing Partnership with Doylestown Borough on a PEDA Application: Mr. Czajkowski reported that a resolution would be needed in order to participate in a grant application for upgrading 125 streetlights to LED lights. The grant has no matching fund requirement and the $500,000 grant would be shared with Doylestown Borough. Inter-municipal projects are given additional points when the grant application is reviewed.
Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt Resolution 2009-R-14, authorizing partnership with Doylestown Borough for a grant application with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection- Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Newtown Fire Association Annual Report: President Warren Dallas and Chief Andy Errico were in attendance to report on the Fire Association, with 51 active members, 8 probationary members and 8 junior members. Two vehicles have been replaced and renovations to the firehouse are ongoing. The Fire Association responded 555 times, participated in drills, training and fire prevention public education for a total of 7657 volunteer hours. In 2009 the Association plans to continue its partnership with the EMS and to replace two vehicles. Newtown Fire Association will host the 89 th Annual Fire Parade on June 13, the Association’s 120 th anniversary.
Mr. Dallas thanked the Board for the donation of an old bus which was used in rescue training exercises.
In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Dallas and Mr. Errico agreed that although membership has been up recently, the biggest challenge facing the volunteer fire association is membership. The junior program has seen some recent growth, and the association hopes to continue its networking efforts in recruiting young firefighters. The museum renovations are progressing, paid entirely with donations. A 1790’s hand pumper and an 1892 ladder wagon will be displayed in the museum.
Bucks County Community College – ADA Projects and Retaining Wall: Mark Rissi of Bucks County Community College was in attendance to request a waiver of land development for a project which proposes to separate students from vehicles and extend the pedestrian path from one end of the campus to the other along Cottage Lane. The project would involve removal of 950 square yards of paving and installation of 1400 square yards of new paving for parking and access drives. The net increase would be 490 square yards of additional impervious surface. Mr. Rissi said that the impervious surface is still well below the maximum permitted.
Ms/ Fountain confirmed that the project is below the 5000 square feet which would require stormwater management plans.
Mr. Garton advised the Board that if a waiver is to be granted, an agreement between the parties should be executed.
Mr. Calabro moved to grant a waiver of land development to Bucks County Community College for its ADA and retaining wall projects, subject to the signing of a waiver agreement. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo said that he would hope that the College would work with our Park and Recreation Department to allow programming at some of the College’s facilities.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he is not aware of any difficulties with programming lately.
Mr. Schenkman said that he would like to see some cooperation with the College on Swamp Road traffic calming.
The Board discussed possibly working with representatives of the College on a number of concerns of mutual interest.
The motion passed 5-0.
Sandwich Board Application: Mr. Garton presented an amended sandwich board application, which modifies the correlation between the colors on the sign and the colors of any prior certificate of appropriateness granted by the Supervisors including approved colors for the building and its other signage.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt the revised sandwich board application. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Zoning Hearing Board
Timothy Cojucaru, 7 East Park Road: Mr. Garton explained that this application challenges the action of the Zoning Officer. Mr. Cojocaru applied for approval to operate a Home Occupation Business at his place of residence for “gun repair and gunsmith”. The Zoning Officer imposed a condition that no gun sales would take place from the property. The Ordinance does not prohibit retail sales as a home occupation, and the retail component is required for licensing by the ATF. Mr. Garton suggested that the Zoning Officer withdraw the condition and make approval unique to this applicant.
In response to questions from Mr. Schenkman, Mr. Cojucaru said that his neighbors have not objected to his plans. He does not intend to sell guns at his home.
The Board agreed that there is no need to send the Solicitor for this application.
Richard and Grace LeMay, 8 Clearview Place: The Board had no comment on this application.
Penns Trail Storage, 104 Penns Trail: Attorney Don Marshall was in attendance to review this application for relief to permit disturbance of 5200 square feet of flood plain to install a street, driveway, sidewalk and utilities. Mr. Marshall explained that this project has already been granted preliminary approval for land development. The Planning Commission and Board had requested that the applicant align the driveway with the driveway on the opposite side of the street. He also noted that there had been a variance granted for 76% impervious surface, however, the actual impervious surface will be 57% where the maximum permitted impervious surface is 65%. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Marshall said that if the applicant did not align the driveway, as requested by the Board, the variance and special exception would not be necessary. The applicant would withdraw the 76% impervious surface relief already granted.
Ms. Fountain confirmed that the project is below the maximum 65% impervious surface.
Mr. Garton said that he would speak to the Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor about this application.
Goodnoe’s Corner Certificate of Completion #10: Mr. Schenkman moved to release escrow in the amount of $67,096.74 for Goodnoe’s Corner. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: The Board briefly discussed concerns about parking at this location, particularly along Ice Cream Alley.
Mr. Garton said that if there are safety concerns the Township can regulate parking there.
Dr. Ciervo suggested meeting with the owners of Goodnoe’s Corner and Village at Newtown about an arrangement for employee parking.
Mr. Jirele suggested that the traffic committee address these concerns.
The motion passed 5-0.
Newtown Center Associates, Village at Newtown South Certificate of Completion #5: Ms. Fountain explained that this is the final certificate; the developer has requested escrow of $15,000 cash instead of a maintenance bond, to be held for 18 months. She confirmed that there are no public improvements and the amount would be sufficient.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize escrow release of $46,817.78, with the remaining $15,300 to be held in escrow to satisfy maintenance bond requirements. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Garton explained that, as there is no public property involved, after the 18 months, if anything fails, it is the owner’s responsibility.
Mr. Schenkman said that he has some reservations about the Township’s possible exposure.
The motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Schenkman abstaining.
Mr. Gallagher moved to sign a maintenance agreement for Village at Newtown South. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Dr. Ciervo asked about some unfinished work to be done by Toll Brothers at Linton Hill Chase.
Ms. Fountain explained that the work has been complete and the escrow has been returned. Some minor landscaping repairs have been completed. A resident had concerns about some grading in the open space. She will meet with the homeowner about this.
In response to Dr. Ciervo’s questions, Mr. Garton said that there had not been an easement recorded for the St. Andrew’s Briar detention basin. He has been working to clear title so that the Township can take over ownership.
Mr. Gallagher reported that a draft open space plan has been returned by the Bucks County Planning Commission. He will provide copies to the Board for review after which it will be presented to the public.
Mr. Gallagher said that the County will be reviewing the Township’s Natural Areas grant application on the last Wednesday of the month, which conflicts with the Board of Supervisors meeting. He asked whether it would be possible for Jeffrey Marshall of the Heritage Conservancy to represent the Township at that review.
The Board agreed that if a Board member is not required to be in attendance, then the Township would send Assistant Manager John Boyle with Mr. Marshall.
Mr. Calabro asked when the Traffic Committee would begin meeting.
Mr. Jirele said that he has spoken to Newtown Borough and they have agreed to circulate some possible meeting dates for the last week in June.
Dr. Ciervo asked whether the Township had spoken to any farmers about cultivating any of the Township owned open field spaces.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he would contact the local farmer who has worked the fields in the past.
The Board asked Mr. Czajkowski to investigate possible signage for the Township owned open space.
Mr. Jirele announced that the Board would have an executive session to discuss matters of potential litigation.
The meeting adjourned at 12:30 AM.