Planning Commission Minutes
July 17, 2001
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (7/17/01): Mr. Lombardi moved to approve the minutes of 7/17/01 with two changes. On page 2, the first paragraph under Revised Sketch Plan - Newtown Commons Expansion should read “Mr. Fidler said he will be abstaining from the discussion because he represents the interests of the owner of the property…”. On page 3, the second paragraph should read “He said that five parking spaces per 1000 square feet are being provided, which exceeds the applicant’s anticipated needs”. The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously, with Mr. Kester and Mr. Mendicino abstaining.
The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, July 17, 2001, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairperson Karen Doorley, Vice Chairman Allen Fidler, Secretary Vince Lombardi and member Sue Beasley. Also in attendance were: Township Engineers Bob Larason and Jeff L’Amoreaux, Township Planner Mike Frank, Township Public Works Director and Interim Manager Thomas Harwood.
Chairperson Karen Doorley called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. A quorum of members was not present, so motions were expressed as recommendations of members present.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (7/3/01): Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of 7/3/01 with two changes: On page 1 in the second paragraph under Conditional Use - Council Rock School District, the phrase “…to Mr. Ames…” should be deleted; and on the 4th page in the 5th paragraph under Conditional Use - Frank and John Tyrol, the first sentence should read “…zoning board for 9’ X 20’ parking spaces…”. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Beasley and passed unanimously by those members present. It was noted that the minutes could be approved without a quorum because a majority of members present at the 7/3/01 meeting were present tonight.
TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT:
NEWTOWN BYPASS CLOSED LOOP SYSTEM: Mr. L’Amoreaux reported that Armour and Sons were awarded the contract for this project. The Township is attempting to get emergency vehicle preemption included in the project. Mr. L’Amoreaux said that construction should take place this fall and the system should be operating by the winter. He felt there will be a minimum of disruption to traffic on the Bypass.
CONDITIONAL USE - STORK LABS - 6 PHEASANT RUN - TMP# 29-10-152: Eugene Mugnier, architect, and Sam Jackins, General Manager of Stork Labs, were present to discuss their proposal for use D-1 (1,394 square feet) and use G-2 (8,236 square feet) at this site in the Light Industrial District. Mr. Jackins stated that Stork Labs plans to expand their present operations, currently located in the adjacent building at 2 Pheasant Run.
A 7/9/01 letter from Mr. Jackins previously distributed to the Commission responded to the Heritage Conservancy review letter of 7/2/01, and Mr. Jackins provided additional comments. He stated that activities at the site will include chemical analysis and mechanical testing of metals. Mr. Jackins stated they expect two to three large truck deliveries a week and one to two small truck deliveries a day, a maximum of 12 employees will work at this site, and hours of operation will be 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM (a correction of Mr. Jackins’ letter) Monday through Friday.
Mr. Jackins stated that there will be no noxious environmental effects from Stork’s operations. He explained that the hazardous materials listed will be used in minute quantities, stored in controlled containers, and disposed of by a licensed waste remover. The applicants agree to provide information to the Fire Marshal about where hazardous materials will be stored. Twenty five parking spaces are required, and 29 are available.
Mr. Fidler moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this conditional use application, subject to the Heritage Conservancy letter of 7/2/01 and Mr. Jackins’ letter of 7/9/01. The applicants agree to provide a floor plan to the Fire Marshal showing the location of hazardous materials. The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passedd by unanimous vote of the four members present.
CONDITIONAL USE - TYROL’S SYCAMORE - 223 NORTH SYCAMORE STREET - TMP# 29-12-20: Frank Tyrol and attorney Don Marshall were present to discuss their proposal for D-1 office use for 6202 square feet at a site in the Town Commercial District. Mr. Marshall apologized for missing the 7/3/01 Commission meeting at which this review was originally scheduled. He stated that the plan has already received preliminary approval from the Board of Supervisors, and the applicants are requesting a variance on the size of some of the parking spaces. Mr. Marshall said that the applicant’s insurance business will occupy 3217 square feet of the office space. Additional conditional use applications will be submitted as additional tenants are identified, with specific information about their uses. For Tyrol’s operations, only small truck deliveries are expected, and a maximum of 10 employees will be present for normal office hours. No hazardous materials or noxious environmental effects will result from this use.
Melba Vittoriano, an adjacent property owner, was present and expressed concerns about the provision of parking for this project. She questioned why the Board of Supervisors approved giving the Tyrols credit for shared parking when she will not agree to such an arrangement. She stated that the immediate area has a shortage of parking facilities, and asked that the Township not approve large projects unless all necessary parking spaces are actually provided. Ms Vittoriano also complained that she had asked to be notified whenever this plan is being reviewed by the Township, and was not notified about the meeting in which the Board of Supervisors granted preliminary approval.
Mr. Marshall said that the applicants should receive the shared parking credit because they are open to such an arrangement, and that the ordinance allows applicants to pay a fee in lieu of up to five parking spaces. They plan was given preliminary approval with the condition that the applicants pay for three spaces. He further stated that if future additional tenants need more parking than is provided in the preliminary plan, the applicants can build more in the unused floodplain area. He said that the Tyrol business will use only 3217 square feet (which includes the stairway space) and will require 16 spaces. Mr. Tyrol displayed a rough sketch of how all the required spaces could be built if necessary. Mr. Frank commented that it is also possible that future tenants will not need all the parking shown on the sketch.
Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this conditional use application, subject to the Heritage Conservancy’s 6/6/01 letter, for D-1 office use only. The use of the floodplain for parking should be permitted, and if additional parking is required when additional tenants move in it should be provided in the unused floodplain area shown on the site plan. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Beasley and passed unanimously by the four members present.
REVISED SKETCH PLAN - NEWTOWN COMMONS EXPANSION - LINDENHURST ROAD AND BYPASS - TMP# 29-10-76: Tony Rimikis of Brandywine Realty Trust, Attorney Michael Caughlin, and architect Mitch Shiles were present to discuss a sketch plan showing five additional office buildings, totaling approximately 400,000 square feet, on the Newtown Commons property in the OR District. Mr. Fidler said he will be abstaining from the discussion because he is the owner of the property being purchased for this project. Mrs. Doorley said she will also abstain because she is an adjacent property owner.
The sketch plan included a road from the Bypass to Upper Silver Lake Road, and a traffic light is proposed at its intersection with the Bypass. Mr. Rimikis described the entire site as an attractive, campus-like project, with considerable buffering separating the complex from nearby residential areas. He said that the applicants have already given the Township an easement for the first part of the proposed road through the complex. The course of the road was altered slightly because of the creek it crosses on a 120 foot bridge. Mr. Rimikis stated that the road will align with the Penns Trail North that runs through the Wiltshire Walk plan at the intersection with Upper Silver Lake Road. This road will be offered for dedication to the Township. He said that Brandywine needs to have at least 400,000 square feet of office space to make this project economically feasible.
Mr. Shiles said the five additional buildings will have an appearance similar to the approved one. He said that five parking spaces per 1000 square feet are being provided, which exceeds requirements. There is an existing farmhouse on the site which the applicants plan to raze. Mr. Shiles agreed to check on the historic value of the house before this is done. He also said they would like to preserve some of the wooded area on the north of the property.
Mr. Larason asked that the applicants consider extending the Township Trail through the property. Mr. Rimikis responded that perhaps some of the recreation fees could go for this idea.
Commission members noted that stormwater management, buffering and traffic will be additional items for discussion in the plan review.
REVISED PLAN - MINOR SUBDIVISION - PEPPLEMAN TRACT - DURHAM ROAD - TMP# 29-10-19, 29-10-20 AND 28-4-14: Paul Allen and Attorney Bill Benner were present to discuss the applicant’s proposal for a minor subdivision which involves a property on Durham Road which is located in both the Township and Newtown Borough. The applicant proposes to divide the property into two lots; lot 1 and part of lot 2 would be in the Township’s TC-2 District.
Mr. Benner stated that the applicant is requesting all necessary variances, but the hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board is continued because the Board of Supervisors wants to review the plan first. He said that the plan submitted meets all requirements of the ordinance, pending a few waivers and relief from the Zoning Hearing Board. The waivers are regarding curbs, sidewalks and street trees.
Mr. Allen said that the subdivision was requested by the seller of the property so that he could sell lot #2 with the buildings on it.
Mark Rickles, an adjacent property owner, was present. The Commission received a 7/13/01 letter from him charging that the applicant is not disclosing his intention to build very intensively on lot 1 following the subdivision. He stated he is also opposing the variance request because he is opposed to allowing a 10 foot front yard setback on lot 1.
Mr. Benner said that a 10 foot front yard is consistent with the front yards of the two adjacent buildings, which would provide the “townscape” envisioned by the TC District zoning.
Mr. Larason said that when a land development plan is submitted, the status of the shared driveway easement on lot 1 will need to be clarified.
Mr. Fidler moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the proposed minor subdivision as long as the parcel created in the Township meets all requirements of the ordinance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously by the three members present.
Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose the variance request as long as the resulting front yard setback on lot 1 is equal to the average of the setbacks of the buildings on either side of the property. The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously by the three members present.
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: Commission members reviewed the applications of Robin Seasock, Bob and Carol Huffman, Alexander and Diane Saphos and Boris Kryss. They had no concerns about the requests.
SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS: Deferred due to the late hour.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
SEWER AUTHORITY POLE BARN: Mr. Harwood explained that the Authority was exempted from the regular land development process. Mr. Frank reviewed his report on the project. Commission members briefly discussed it and concluded they had no concerns about the proposed pole barn. Mr. Harwood said that if the surrounding properties are developed, buffering may be necessary.
JMZO AMENDMENT - CANAL OVERLAY DISTRICT: Commission members generally did not favor the amendment because it seems to be the equivalent of taking of property. They also noted that the draft was written in a confusing manner, some materials were missing, and acronyms were not explained.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT: Mr. Frank announced he has just received some materials about the CDBG request for $5100 due at the end of September. He will discuss this issue in more detail at a future meeting.
ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Fidler moved to adjourn. With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 11:15 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary