Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

March 6, 2001


MINUTES OF 3/6/01:  Mr. Lombardi moved to approve the minutes of the 3/6/01 meeting with one change: under Subcommittee and Liaison Reports, Park and Open Space Committee, Mrs. Beasley had no report.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Baldwin and passed unanimously with Mr. Kester abstaining. 


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, March 6, 2001, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM.  In attendance were: Chairperson Karen Doorley, members Allen Fidler, Vince Lombardi, Frank Mendicino, Bonnie Kelly, Jack Bowen (late) and Sue Beasley (late).  Also in attendance were:  Township Planner Mike Frank, Township Traffic Engineer Jeff L’Amoreaux and Township Public Works Director Thomas Harwood.

Chairperson Karen Doorley called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.  She announced that item 4.f. on the agenda, the review of the sketch plan for Durham Road Associates, has been postponed.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (2/20/01):  Too few members present at this point had attended the 2/20/01 meeting to approve the minutes.  The minutes of 2/6/01 and 2/20/01 will be considered at the 3/20/01 meeting.

TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT: 

DUNMORE CORPORATION ACCESS:  Mr. L’Amoreaux’s 2/21/01 letter to the Township Manager summarized his recommendations for addressing motorist conflicts at the Dunmore Corporation driveway on Penns Trail.  Mr. L’Amoreaux displayed a sample wicket to be installed on Penns Trail to discourage motorists from using the gore area and centerline.

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend trying the wickets for three months at Penns Trail and the Bypass to mitigate the problem with access to the Dunmore Corporation driveway.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously.

Newtown-yardley road speed reduction:  Mr. L’Amoreaux’s 2/23/01 letter to the Township Manager explained his decision not to recommend a reduction of speed on Newtown-Yardley Road between Elm Avenue and Lower Dolington Road. 

REQUEST FOR LEFT TURN ARROW FOR BUCK ROAD AT BYPASS:  Mr. L’Amoreaux’s 2/27/01 letter to the Township Manager explained his recommendation that existing traffic data do not support a resident’s request for a left turn arrow at this intersection.

NEWTOWN BYPASS WIDENING:  Mr. L’Amoreaux reported that all rights of way have now been obtained for this project. 

ISTEA TRAIL #1:  Mr. L’Amoreaux reported this project should begin in the spring, although there are still a few design issues in the vicinity of Silver Lake to address. 

REVIEWS:

CONDITIONAL USE - ADVENT OPTRONICS - 205 PHEASANT RUN - TMP# 29-10-133:  Zino Altman of Advent Optronics was present to discuss his plan to use approximately 5,000 square feet of an existing building in the Newtown Industrial Commons (Light Industrial District) for the development of testing methods and equipment for the optical communications industry.  Mr. Altman said that eventually he would like to take over the entire building at 205 Pheasant Run.

The Heritage Conservancy’s 3/1/01 letter was reviewed.  Mr. Altman stated that his company’s list of clients includes many of the top telecommunications companies in the nation.  Deliveries, largely by UPS and Fedex trucks, are expected to be about once every two weeks; pickups will be about once a month.  The applicant anticipates approximately one visitor a month.  An average of nine and a maximum of 12 employees will work a single shift, 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM.  No hazardous materials will be on site, no outdoor refuse and no noxious environmental effects are expected.

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this conditional use application, subject to the Heritage Conservancy review of 3/1/01.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously.

CONDITIONAL USE (SOIL REMOVAL) - NEWTOWN RENTAL CENTER - 861 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - TMP# 29-10-52-8:  H. Shannon Wilson was present to discuss his application to remove approximately 1,000 cubic feet of soil from his property in the R-1 Medium Density Residential District.  Mr. Shannon explained that the soil removal will be necessary to complete the construction of the Newtown Rental Center.  Mr. Harwood advised that a conditional use permit is required to remove soil regardless of where the soil is going.

Mr. Fidler moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this conditional use application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.

CONDITIONAL USE (CHANGE IN HOURS OF OPERATION) - MANHATTAN BAGEL - 31 SWAMP ROAD:  Brian Wood was present to discuss his application to change the hours of operation of Manhattan Bagel.  Mr. Wood said he seeks to amend the conditional use approval to permit operating hours from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily instead of 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this application.  The motion was seconded by Dr. Kelly and passed unanimously.

SKETCH PLAN - LOT 21 - HIDDEN LAKE - LAKEVIEW DRIVE AT WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD - TMP# 29-3-48-23:  James and Hilde Krewson were present to discuss their sketch plans for subdivision of lot 21 in the Hidden Lakes development in the Conservation Management District.  Mr. Krewson stated they are seeking suggestions regarding two options for subdividing their 5.74 acre lot.

Mr. Krewson explained that there are currently two dwellings and a barn on the property.  Plan A would establish three lots, with one building on each.  Plan B would establish two lots, one with a dwelling and the other with the barn and the other dwelling.  Mrs. Krewson stated that she and her husband want to subdivide the lot to make it attractive for a potential buyer to renovate and use the barn, which has great historic and architectural value.  Mrs. Krewson said that no one has undertaken renovation of the barn because of the cost.  The Krewsons have secured the barn and it is not being damaged by weather or vandals.  Mr. Krewson stated that the developer of Hidden Lake has installed water and sewer service, as well as electric service, for the barn. He is currently operating a small sign business in the barn. 

Mr. and Mrs. Krewson described the restrictions and covenants affecting the lot.  The agreements involve all owners of lots in the Hidden Lake development, the builder of the development and the Township.  The agreements state that no lot in Hidden Lake, including lot 21, shall be further subdivided.   They allow up to three apartments for condominium units in the barn, and include a facade easement on the north side of the barn.  The applicants can seek to change the covenenants only if 100% of all lot owners in the development agree. 

Commission members decided to make no formal recommendations about Plans A and B until the preferences of the other lot owners in Hidden Lake are known, although no objections were raised to either plan.  The majority of members felt that the Krewsons should ascertain their neighbors’ views before taking the issue to the Board of Supervisors. 

SKETCH PLAN - JOINT MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY - POLE BARN GARAGE - FEEDOM DRIVE - TMP# 29-9-5-1:  Engineer Kenneth Finger was present to discuss the sketch plan for the expansion of an existing parking area and the addition of a second pole garage building of approximately 2400 square feet on the property, located in the  TC-2 Town Commercial District.  Mr. Finger stated the applicant needs additional storage space for vehicles.  Access will be onto Freedom Drive.

The Heritage Conservancy’s review letter of 2/28/01 was discussed.  Mr. Frank stated that Municipal Building Use C-14 is not permitted in the TC-2 District, and the proposed plan would be a significant expansion of the nonconforming use.  He added that it may be useful to revisit what is permitted in areas where municipal uses are located.   Mr. Finger stated the proposed barn is an accessory building to other uses on the site.  The water treatment plant is not currently operating, but the Authority maintains the buildings and surrounding land.  There is also an interceptor and a metering chamber on the site.

Mr. Frank and Mr. Harwood researched the ordinance, and they recommended that the Authority revise the plan to show a nonconforming use under section 1208, and seek an H-5 special exception. 

CHANGE IN AGENDA:  Mr. Mendicino moved to take up General Discussion at this point in the agenda.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously. 

GENERAL DISCUSSION: 

UNSAFE CONDITIONS AT GOODNOE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Nancy Carroll, a Newtown Borough resident whose children attend Goodnoe Elementary School, asked to speak to the Commission about unsafe conditions at the school caused by recent improvements.  She is concerned that additional improvements planned by the school district will worsen the dangerous traffic and pedestrian patterns.

Mrs. Carroll stated that an addition and some temporary trailers were installed in 1989; the trailers are still present.  This year, additional young children have been added to the student population because of the closing of the Chancellor Street school.  The parking lot has been reconfigured.  She displayed photographs which she said documented the inadequate parking facilities; visitors and parents must park on the grass.  They also showed that busses dropping off and picking up children at the school must make a difficult left turn from the right lane, crossing in front of two other lanes of traffic.  Also, she stated that traffic sometimes stacks up behind the busses on Frost Lane.  

Mrs. Carroll said that the school district plans to put in a new driveway which will be outside the school zone.  There are also plans for an additional playground.  She is concerned because with the new driveway, children being dropped off by their parents will no longer be visible to their parents as they enter the building. 

Mrs. Carroll asked why the school district’s plans for the work that has been done, as well as the work planned, were not reviewed by the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Bowen asked if Mrs. Carroll had discussed her concerns with the school board; she responded that she had, and this resulted in getting a crossing guard for the children who had to cross three lanes of traffic to get to and from their the school.  Mr. Mendicino said that the Board of Supervisors is aware of the problems and will be discussing them with the school district. 

NEW BUSINESS:

PARK AND RECREATION COMPREHENSIVE PLAN: Park and Recreation Department Director Bill Wert and Dick Weaver, a member of the Park and Open Space Committee, presented a summary of the Comprehensive Plan.  Commission members previously received copies of the plan in their packets.  The Commission asked Mr. Wert to obtain an enlargement of a map showing all the park areas in the Township so that the Commission can refer to it during plan reviews. 

Mr. Wert said his department has been developing this plan since 1979.  He said it includes site specific plans for Roberts Ridge, Silver Lake Park, the Wiggins Tract, the Wohl Tract (including contiguous land being provided by the Elliott Building Group), the Clark property and the Swamp Road Park.  Mr. Wert said that over 500 residents were involved with the creation of the plan. Mr. Lombardi asked if there are any plans to establish a watershed association; Mr. Wert responded that the possibility has been discussed, and there are grants available for this purpose.

Mr. Wert said that the Park and Open Space Committee will bring the plan to the Board of Supervisors for formal approval.  Mrs. Doorley asked if a Planning Commission motion recommending adoption would be helpful; Mr. Wert said it would.

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve and adopt the Comprehensive Plan by formal resolution.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously. 

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS: 

a.      BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Mr. Mendicino summarized the highlights of the 2/28/01 Board of Supervisors meeting, including the approval of the 413 Office Center condtional use application, an unusually long public comment period, and a review of the Newtown Shopping Center sign plan.  The shopping center will submit a revised plan to the Board at the next meeting.

b.      JOINT PLANNING COMMISSION:  No report.  

c.      JOINT ZONING COUNCIL:  No report. 

d.      SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE:  Mr. Lombardi reported that the Committee will meet on 3/13/01.

e.      HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD: No report. 

f.        RECREATION BOARD:  No report.

g.      TRAIL COMMITTEE:  See the Traffic Engineer’s report.

h.      PARK & OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE: Mrs. Beasley reported that the Committee has been working on the Comprehensive Plan discussed earlier. 

i.         COMMUNITY CENTER COMMITTEE:  Mr. Fidler reported that the last meeting was canceled because of a snowstorm.

j.         PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  None to be addressed. 

OLD BUSINESS: 

JMZO AMENDMENT - CANAL SETBACK:  Mrs. Doorley said that the deeds on the properties next to the Delaware Canal give the owners “riparian rights”, although the amendment prohibits residential uses within 60 feet of the canal and commercial uses within 90 feet.  Mr. Lombardi said it sounded like taking of private property.  Mrs. Doorley said that the residents themselves were the impetus behind this amendment.  Mr. Mendicino added that it affects only Upper Makefield Township.

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this amendment.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Beasley and passed 4-3, with Mr. Fidler, Mr. Mendicino and Mr. Lombardi voting “nay”.

JMZO AMENDMENT - VILLAGE HOUSES IN R-1 DISTRICT:  Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this amendment.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Mr. Fidler moved to adjourn.  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:45 PM. 

 

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,


 

 ______________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary