Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

June 19, 2001


MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING 6/19/01 Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of the previous meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously with Mrs. Doorley abstaining.


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, June 19, 2001, in the lower level. Township meeting room. In attendance were: Vice Chairman Allen Fidler, Secretary Vince Lombardi, members Paul Kester, Bonnie Kelly, Sue Beasley and Jack Bowen (late). Also in attendance were: Township Engineer John Barbaz, Township Planner Mike Frank, Township Public Works Director and Interim Manager Thomas Harwood. Also present were Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission Chairman Walt Wydro, Upper Makefield Planning Commission Chairperson Kathleen Pisauro, Upper Makefield Planning Commission Legal Counsel Laura Mercuri and Upper Makefield Planning Commission members Stan Arabis, Dave Kulig and Herb Adler.

Vice Chairman Allen Fidler called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (5/1/01): Deferred until a quorum is present (see later).

REVIEWS:

SKETCH PLAN - MCLAUGHLIN TRACT - TOLL BROTHERS - TMP# 29-7-5: Attorney John Van Luvanee and Michael Palmer of Toll Brothers were present to discuss the sketch plan for a proposed residential development on Stoopville Road in the CM District. Mr. Palmer displayed a new sketch of the McLaughlin tract development, along with a new sketch for the Gray tract, which is in the R-2 District. He stated that neither of these sketches have been submitted for review.

Mr. Van Luvanee said that Toll Brothers is no longer proposing to seek rezoning of the McLaughlin tract to R-1, nor offering to make major improvements to Stoopville Road. He said that Toll Brothers is not planning to join the McLaughlin and the Gray tracts, but they were asked to present them together tonight.

Walt Wydro, Chairman of the Newtown Regional Planning Commission, and several members of the Upper Makefield Planning Commission joined the discussion.  Mr. Wydro said that he had hoped that the two planning commissions could discuss these two developments, as well as the Melsky tract, tonight. 

Mr. Palmer said that the Melsky tract is not under agreement.  Tentative plans for the Melsky tract call for the open space to be in the Upper Makefield portion of the development.  Mr. Fidler said he did not like the idea that all the housing will be in the Newtown Township portion.  He expressed concern that this will worsen an already bad intersection at Stoopville Road and Linton Hill Road.

Jeffrey Stout, a resident of Stoopville Road, presented a sketch of suggested improvements to Stoopville Road.  Mr. Palmer said that Toll Brothers will not consider doing major road improvements like those proposed by Mr. Stout if the McLaughlin tract is zoned CM and only 35 units are developed. 

Mr. Lombardi suggested that it might be possible to draw funding for these improvements from several sources.  Mr. Stout estimated that his proposal would cost about $400,000 or $500,000. 

Mr. Palmer said that no onsite sewage or water treatment is planned for these two tracts.  He stated that the McLaughlin tract does not need it, and the wells in the Gray tract have been tested and found adequate.  Members of the Upper Makefield Planning Commission said this is a problem for them.  One member said it was important to recharge the aquifer in the area being discussed, and suggested that spray treatment of wastewater be considered.  Mr. Fidler said that this is not recommended because of the threat of the West Nile virus.  Mr. Van Luvanee said that the McLaughlin tract will probably be approved before the Gray tract, largely because of sewage issues. 

Mr. Lombardi observed that Newtown Township needs to resolve traffic problems, and Upper Makefield needs to resolve water and sewer problems.  He suggested that a long term solution might be to consider new zoning for this area. 

Members of both planning commissions agreed to ask their Chairpersons to develop a plan for how they are to work together in reviewing the development of the McLaughlin, Gray and Melsky tracts.  They also agreed to hold a work session on Thursday, 7/12/01 at 7:30 PM at Upper Makefield.  Mr. Wydro agreed to notify all members of both commissions by e-mail. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: 

SEPTA - VARIANCE REQUEST #496-01:  Mr. Harwood explained that the bus route and bus stop signs were placed in the right of way and are attached to traffic control signs, making this a safety issue as well as an aesthetic one.

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose permitting bus stop and route signs placed on traffic control signs or within the legal right of way.  The Commission recommends that the Board not oppose the placement of signs on other poles, provided that SEPTA obtains permission from the owners of the poles.  The Commission is in agreement with the suggestion that SEPTA meet with Township officials to determine the acceptability of proposed signage.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously. 

DOUGLAS AND SANDRA DIXON - VARIANCE APPEAL:  No recommendation to oppose.

LINFORD AND MARY BETHMAN - VARIANCE REQUEST #498-01:  No recommendation to oppose.

FRANCIS AND JOHN TYROL - VARIANCE REQUEST #499-01:  No recommendation to oppose.  Melba Vitoriano, an adjoining property owner, was present and expressed concern about the number of parking spaces being provided in the plan for this property.  Mr. Harwood explained that the variance request was about the width of the parking spaces; the number of spaces will be discussed in the land development process. 

JEFFREY FRANTZ - VARIANCE APPEAL:  Several members suggested to Mr. Harwood that the relief being sought on variance requests like this one should be expressed as a percentage of the maximum impervious surface, rather than the number of percentage points by which the request exceeds the maximum.  In this case, the relief sought is actually an increase of over 40%. 

Mrs. Beasley moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this application on the grounds that the relief requested would be an excessive increase in the impervious surface.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.

DIANE BEISSER - VARIANCE APPEAL:  No recommendation to oppose. 

Orleans Homebuilders - LUTHERAN CHURCH OF GOD’S LOVE - VARIANCE REQUEST #492-01, AND FIRST NATIONAL BANK AND TRUST - VARIANCE REQUEST #493-01:  These two requests were considered together, as they both relate to the Wiltshire Walk development.  Mr. Lombardi stated that these two proposals are good ideas, but if the Wiltshire Walk plan is not approved he would not favor approving these variance requests.  Mr. Harwood said that the applicants in these requests will have to go back to the Zoning Hearing Board if the present plan for Wiltshire Walk is not approved. 

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose these applications, provided that the plan for the Wiltshire Walk development is approved substantially in its present form.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously, with Mr. Fidler abstaining. 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (6/5/01):  Mr. Lombardi moved to approve the minutes of the 6/5/01 meeting with one change.  Under “Conditional Use - Rimon Jewish Day School”, the second sentence of the second paragraph should begin “Mr. Smolow recommended…”.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Bowen and passed unanimously, with Mr. Kester, Dr. Kelly and Mrs. Beasley abstaining. 

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS:

a.      BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:  No report. 

b.      JOINT PLANNING COMMISSION:  Mr. Kester reported that the Commission will meet on 6/21/01.

c.      JOINT ZONING COUNCIL:  No report. 

d.      SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE:  Mr. Lombardi reported that the street is being repaved now, and planning has begun with the water company. 

e.      HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD: No report.

f.        RECREATION BOARD:  No report. 

g.      TRAIL COMMITTEE:  No report. 

h.      PARK & OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE:  Mrs. Beasley reported that the Committee has not met since her last report.

i.         COMMUNITY CENTER COMMITTEE:  Mr. Fidler reported that the Committee will present its draft final report to the Board of Supervisors on 6/25/01. 

j.         PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  None to be addressed.

CORRESPONDENCE:  None. 

OLD BUSINESS:  None. 

NEW BUSINESS: 

DRAFT CHARTER - NEWTOWN AREA REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION:  Mr. Kester asked that this discussion be deferred until the next meeting so that he can clarify a concern about the proposed voting process.

JMZO - UPDATE AND REVISIONS - SIGNS NEAR THE BYPASS:  Mike Frank reviewed the his 3/13/01 draft update and revisions distributed previously to Commission members.  He said that the purpose of the revision is to permit property identification signs for office complexes or shopping centers along the Bypass that would be visible from the Bypass.  The sizes and distance of the signs from the Bypass are specified in the draft.

Mr. Lombardi said that these size and distance requirements were predicated on some research done by the Business Development Council on whether people could read the signs from the Bypass, which is different from whether they could see the signs.  Mr. Lombardi asked Mr. Frank to add some explanation of this history to the draft.  Mr. Frank said he could put this in the preamble.  He will bring the revised draft back to the Planning Commission before it goes to the Board of Supervisors.

GENERAL DISCUSSION:  None. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Mr. Kester moved to adjourn.  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:30 PM.

  

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,

 

 

 

______________________________

Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary