Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

Minutes of August 15, 2011

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on August 15, 2011 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Robert Ciervo, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener, Philip Calabro and Michael Gallagher, members. Not present was Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman. Also present was Michele Fountain, Township Engineer, Jeff Garton, Township Solicitor and Bill Bolla, Township Solicitor.

Members of the audience included: Amy Kaminski, P.E., Gilmore & Associates, Inc.; Jim Worthington; John McGrath; Peter G. Stampfl, Stampfl, Hartke Associates; Joseph J. DeSantis, McMahon Transportation Engineers & Planners; Dan Perez, Bucks County Courier Times; Gerry Monigan, Bucks County Herald; Petra Schlatter, Advance; Township residents included Kiran Patel, Kanti Patel, Ethel Hibbs, Judith Norkin, Vince Lombardi, Shawn Ward, Jay Sensibaugh, Karen Dorward, SaraJane Dallas, Douglas Wiegand, Jennifer Dixon, Allan Fidler, Sandi Thomas Joe Calla, Robert Urbach, and Mr. and Mrs. Fred DeVesa. Residents from local municipalities included Walt Jamison, Lorraine Pentz and Warren Woldorf.

Call to Order: Chairman Ciervo called the meeting to order at 7:38 P.M.

Community Comments



Kiran Patel, 6 Saffron Court – Patio Construction on Deed Restricted Open Space

Mr. Garton updated the Supervisors with regards to Mr. Patel’s request to construct a patio on deed restricted open space. The property is located at 6 Saffron Court (lot #416) part of the Newtown Grant subdivision. Plans for review were provided by the Township Engineer and the applicant. The plans show that the entire backyard is located in deed restricted open space, limiting what can be done in the yard. The applicant is here on his advice as to what steps they can take. First, the applicant would need approval from the Board to permit the patio. Second, every lot owner in section 6 of the Newtown Grant subdivision would need to give approval.

Mr. Patel stated that he is here to request relief from the Board with regards to the construction of a pervious patio in deed restricted open space. To date, he has submitted a building permit application to the Township Codes Department, which was denied by the former Zoning Officer John Boyle and preceded to contact the Township Solicitor who advised that he would need relief approval from the Supervisors and approval from neighboring homeowners. He commented on his review of the restriction and feels that it would not be violated. He advised that his family has resided at the property for fifteen years and can't fully enjoy the property due to the restriction. Once getting approval from the Board he would contact the required neighbors for their consent.

Mr. Garton stated that the lot is allowed an impervious surface of 30% and even with the construction of the patio it would fall under the 30%.

Ms. Fountain stated that she is not familiar with the pavers being proposed. She advised the Board on her knowledge with regards to pervious pavers and that the Township Codes Department considers pervious pavers to be impervious.

Chairman Ciervo commented on deed restricted open space and the ordinance stating that structures can’t be built in deed restricted open space. Mr. Patel advised on his interpretation of the language in document.

Supervisor Benchener questioned if the applicant has discussed the matter with neighbors. Mr. Patel reported that he has spoken with his adjacent neighbors and they have no problem, but that he needs to know all the neighbors needed to be contacted due to the deed restriction.

Supervisor Gallagher commented on the deed restricted area being a buffer from the roadway.

Mr. Patel stated that the area where the patio is being proposed is currently grass and that no trees would be removed. He reported that when the property was purchased, the owner was not aware of the restriction.

Chairman Ciervo questioned if the property had a front porch/patio. Mr. Patel advised that there is a small front porch.

Supervisor Benchener questioned Mr. Garton with regards to concession Mr. Garton advised that the applicant would need approval from all residents in section 6 of Newtown Grant.

Mr. Patel stated that he is looking for approval from the Board before contacting the homeowners.

Supervisor Benchener advised that he would be in favor of the patio if the applicant has approval from residents in section 6 and that it meets the Township’s impervious surface ratios.

Supervisor Calabro advised that he agrees with Supervisor Benchener with regards to supporting the applicant.

Chairman Ciervo advised that he would not be in favor of constructing the patio on deed restricted open space.

Supervisor Gallagher advised that he was also against constructing the patio on deed restricted open space.

Mr. Garton noted that the Board members present were tied in agreement on whether to allow the construction of a patio on deed restricted open space and suggested rescheduling the matter for further discussion when Supervisor Schenkman is present.

The Supervisors thanked Mr. Patel for his time.

(Mr. Garton left.)

Penns Trail North Traffic Calming Discussion – Amy Kaminski, P.E. (Gilmore & Associates, Inc.)

Ms. Kaminski provided a power point presentation for the Board and audience with regards to traffic calming on Penns Trail North. She referenced the discussion at the Board’s June 22, 2011 meeting and the temporary traffic calming measures installed on Penns Trail North. The measures that were in place have been removed. She discussed the speed analysis, explained why traffic calming is used and noted that Penns Trail does qualify for traffic calming. Possible treatments include rumble strips, gateways, chicanes, bulb outs, speed humps, cushions, split island and median treatments. She discussed the advantages/disadvantages and costs of the various treatments. She recommended that the Township install speed humps at two locations or to install a center median treatment with landscaping in two locations, but not to install both types of treatments.

Supervisor Gallagher advised that he likes the idea of a bike lane and rumble strips, but he is worried about the noise from the rumble strips. He inquired on the speed humps/cushions being temporary products, which can be removed. Ms. Kaminski reported on the temporary products which can be removed in the winter. She suggested that the Township do more studies (before/after installation).

Supervisor Gallagher noted that the treatments will help calm traffic, but enforcement is needed.

The Supervisors agreed that the problem areas need to be discussed with Chief Pasqualini.

Supervisor Calabro questioned the lifetime of permanent speed humps. Ms. Kaminski advised that would depend on the sub base and installation. Supervisor Calabro commented on the pros of the permanent speed humps verses temporary speed humps. Ms. Kaminski advised that she would look into the life expectancy of the product.

Supervisor Benchener questioned if the speed humps would interfere with the plowing of the roadway. Ms. Kaminski advised that depends on the preferences of the plow operators and that all traffic calming elements present an issue to Public Works.

Chairman Ciervo commented on the recommendation to install either speed humps or center medians. He prefers speed humps and questioned why the recommendation not to do both. Ms. Kaminski stated doing one or the other due to the short distance that needs to be controlled.

The Supervisors discussed the prior measures taken and agreed less is better.

Supervisor Gallagher expressed Supervisor Schenkman’s concerns regarding traffic on Upper Silver Lake Road and the possibility of installing traffic calming devices.

The Supervisors discussed the intersection of Penns Trail North and Upper Silver Lake Road. Ms. Kaminski discussed the Township’s traffic calming options.

Mr. Wiegand, representing the Wiltshire Walk Homeowners Association’s Board of Directors commented on the need to enforce the speed limit and the traffic calming options being presented. He noted that he is against rumble strips, due to the noise. He requested that the Association be kept in the loop. He recommended installing an additional stop sign at the intersection of North Penns Trail and Hartfeld Road.

Mrs. Dixon stated that she wants the finished product to look nice. She questioned what the Township’s next step will be. Chairman Ciervo advised that the next step would be for the matter to be added to the agenda of a regular televised meeting. He stated that the Board wants to hear from residents before moving forward.

Supervisor Benchener commented on the two options being either speed humps or medians.

Mrs. Dixon inquired on the possibility of installing raised crosswalks to calm traffic. Ms. Kaminski reported that could be a possibility but the location would need to be considered to provide the calming being sought.

Mrs. Dixon suggested that the traffic calming presentation be made to the Homeowners Association. She advised that she is against installing a temporary solution due to the appearance and favors waiting for the permanent solution.

Supervisor Calabro questioned when the best time to install the speed humps is. Ms. Kaminski recommended installation be done in the spring.

Ms. Kaminski advised that she could provide photographs of the traffic calming elements to the Homeowners Association if the Board would like.

Mr. Fidler commented on enforcement being number one for traffic calming. He discussed areas of concern being emergency response time and road maintenance. He suggested getting input from the Emergency Services and Public Works Departments. He commented on his experience operating snow plows in the Township, the installation of a 4-way stop sign being more cost effective and the Board doing their homework before making a decision. Supervisor Gallagher stated that the Board will contact the Public Works, Emergency Services and Police departments to discuss the matter.

Mr. Wiegand also agreed that the installation of the stop sign at the intersection of North Penns Trail and Hartfeld Road would be more cost effective. Ms. Kaminski discussed Pennsylvania Code with regards to the installation of stop signs and noted that stop signs that don’t meet the warrants can be an issue with regards to enforcement. She will research if a stop sign is warranted.

Supervisor Benchener suggested that the Homeowner Association review the options and that the Township look into installing stop sign.

Supervisor Calabro advised that due to the timing, he favors installing the stop sign.

The Supervisors thanked Ms. Kaminski for her time.

Promenade – Jim Worthington, Peter Stampfl

Mr. Stampfl reported on the last plan for the Promenade presented to the Board, which was approved and the new plan being presented. The new plan reduces the square footage to 20,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 26 residential units. The approved plan called for 25,700 sq. ft. of retail space and 23 residential units. The Supervisors were provided plans dated August 15, 2011 for their review.

Chairman Ciervo referenced the Zoning Hearing Board decision noting that the maximum first floor square footage was 23,362 sq. ft. of retail space and 25 residential units.

Mr. Stampfl reported that the number of parking spaces on the plan as it is currently configured is 116 and there is no underground parking. The access points are the same. The loading area is still behind the building. The freestanding building closest to the church will be reduced to one-story and moved away from the side setback; it will not be connected to the larger building as previously shown and will be for retail use. The number of retail spaces as shown on the plan is four and access would be from Sycamore Street as well as the rear parking field. The larger building would be for retail and residential use. The first floor would be retail space leaving the second and third floors for residential use. The residential units are being proposed as one bedroom units, ranging from approximately 1,220 sq. ft. to 1,673 sq. ft. He discussed the proposed elevations, accessibility from Sycamore Street and the rear of buildings, the buildings’ facades and the site being ADA complaint. The building height of the larger building is approximately 41’ ½”. The height of the smaller building is 27’ 7”. He introduced Joe DeSantis to discuss the traffic portion of the project.

Mr. DeSantis reported that 116 parking spaces are sufficient for the site. He discussed the ITE studies/recommendations, the advantages of shared parking and concluded that 116 spaces comply with the ITE criteria, stating there would be ample parking. He provided the Board with information regarding parking studies.

Supervisor Benchener commented on the available on-street parking. Mr. DeSantis reported that there are 32 parking spaces along the street.

Supervisor Calabro questioned the weekday numbers and when the retail shops will close. The applicant advised that the shops will close at 9 P.M.

Chairman Ciervo questioned if the proposed parking meets the zoning requirements, noting that the past plan had less units, more retail, and more parking. Mr. DeSantis reported that he did not review the zoning requirements.

Chairman Ciervo questioned where the residents will park. Mr. DeSantis advised that separate parking for the residents is not being proposed.

Chairman Ciervo advised that he is concerned with where the residents will park. He commented on the past variance granted. Mr. DeSantis stated that there would be plenty of evening parking.

Mr. Stampfl advised on a correction on the plans dated August 15, 2011. The retail square footage is 20,000 sq. ft. He commented on the approved plan calling for larger residential units.

Supervisor Gallagher asked if the residential units would be owned, rented or leased. Mr. Stampfl stated the units would be leased.

Supervisor Gallagher noted that it would be the applicants’ best interest to provide adequate parking for residents.

Supervisor Benchener commented on the parking being self-regulated and suggested that the on-street parking be metered.

Chairman Ciervo questioned Mr. Bolla with regards to land development and the sketch plan and if the retail uses could be restricted. He commented on future concerns regarding what could go into the retail spaces. Mr. Bolla advised that could be a condition in the agreement between the Board and the applicant. Mr. Worthington commented on keeping the retail uses appealing to the residents. Mr. Stampfl commented on the building designed for uses and that he is unaware of restrictions. Mrs. Fountain reported that a zoning variance will be needed due to the number of parking spaces proposed and that conditions could be implemented by the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mr. Worthington clarified that they are on a limited timeframe; the anchor tenant is waiting to sign. If that doesn’t happen the project dies. He is hoping to break ground in October/November.

Supervisor Gallagher commented on the removal of the old Acme building. Mr. Worthington reported that once approval is received, the building will be removed.

Mr. McGrath discussed the plan calling for upscale retail and luxury apartments and the parking being adequate for what is being proposed.

Chairman Ciervo commented on the ordinance and the approved variances. He discussed the proposed plan being short 36 parking spaces and the need to dedicate parking spaces to the residents. Mr. Worthington agreed to dedicate parking spaces for the tenants.

Supervisor Calabro suggested that residents have a sticker rather than a designated parking space.

Chairman Ciervo expressed concerns that there would not be enough parking spaces for the residents.

Supervisor Gallagher stated that if the residents do not like the parking situation they will leave and that it is in the best interest of the applicants to have parking for the residents.

Chairman Ciervo advised on his concerns regarding shared parking.

Mr. Bolla commented on the request for a waiver of land development and the need for a zoning variance approval from the Zoning Hearing Board. He noted that the matter would need to get on their agenda.

Supervisor Gallagher commented on determining when the next Zoning Hearing Board meeting is. The applicant would appear before that board and then re-appear before the Supervisors.

Mr. Worthington reported that their major tenant is looking for an answer. He noted the changes to plan include a reduction of square footage.

Chairman Ciervo stated that the applicant needs two variances, one for parking and one for the additional residential unit.

Mr. Worthington discussed his history with Township and stated that he is confident with regards to the number of parking spaces being provided.

Supervisor Benchener commented on time being of the essence. He suggested that the new plan is a better fit. He discussed the parking concerns and the need to go before the Zoning Hearing Board for variances and the Board working with the applicant regarding the land development waiver

Supervisor Gallagher commented on the Boards’ options and what can be done without the parking variance to indicate to the anchor tenant that the Board is in favor of the project moving forward. Mr. Bolla advised that if the Board chooses they could waive land development if all of the conditions of the Conditional Use approval originally granted were met. The whole project is a conditional use. Mrs. Fountain reported that Conditional Use approvals include conditional preliminary final land development plan approval and a conditional use for the anchor tenant. Mr. Bolla advised that if the Board desires they could send a letter in support. The next Supervisors’ meeting is August 24 th.

Chairman Ciervo and Supervisor Gallagher noted that the matter needs to get on the Zoning Hearing Boards next agenda.

Mr. Bolla advised the applicant to review the decisions of the approved Conditional Use and to check in with the Township Engineer.

Supervisor Calabro stated that the rendering compliments the Township and is hopeful that the project moves forward.

Mr. Ward, President of the Sycamore Street Association noted that the project is supported by the Association.

Mr. Jamison, member of the Newtown Presbyterian Church noted that the current plan is more complimenting and strongly recommends that the Township proceed.

Mr. Fidler discussed the Planning Commission’s role in the project. He suggested having the Township Engineer review the parking calculations and noted that the plan must meet SALDO. He advised on concerns with regards to waiving land development.

Chairman Ciervo commented on the additional parking variance needed due to the on-site parking not meeting the requirements.

Ms. Norkin advised that she is the target market for the residential units and feels that reserved parking should be required for the residents. She would expect two parking spaces, agreed with Mr. Fidler’s comments and that she did not want to see any corners cut at the expense of the residents.

The Supervisors thanked the applicants and the public for their time.

(Mr. Bolla left.)

Old Business


New Business


Other Business

Supervisor Calabro commented on Roberts Ridge Park and open space. It was suggested to contact Mr. Czajkowski.


Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 9:58 P.M.


Respectfully Submitted:
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary



Joseph S. Czajkowski, Township Manager

Mike Gallagher, Chairman

Robert Ciervo, Vice-Chairman

Matt Benchener, Secretary/Treasurer

Philip Calabro, Member

Jerry Schenkman, Member