Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

August 21, 2001

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (8/21/01):  Mr. Ward moved to approve the minutes of 8/21/01; the motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, August 21, 2001, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Vice Chairman Allen Fidler, Secretary Vince Lombardi, Paul Kester, Bonnie Kelly, Shawn Ward, Sue Beasley and Jack Bowen (late). Also in attendance were: Township Engineer John Barbaz and Township Public Works Director and Interim Manager Thomas Harwood.

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

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (8/7/01): Mr. Kester moved to approve the minutes of 8/7/01 with two changes to the item “Discussion of Rezoning of Eagle and Durham Roads Area”. The last sentence of the second paragraph should read “Medical offices would also be included…”. The last sentence of the fourth paragraph should read “…although Mr. Hinterlang stated he is opposed…”. The motion was seconded by Dr. Kelly and passed unanimously, with Mr. Ward abstaining.


CONDITIONAL USE - CHICK-FIL-A - NEWTOWN SHOPPING CENTER - TMP# 29-3-24: Tim Townes of J. Loew & Associates, engineer John Martinez and a representative of Chick-Fil-A, Inc., were present to discuss their application for E-6 Use, Eating Place with Drive-Through. Mr. Townes stated that a building of approximately 4,211 square feet will be built on Pad #1. He said that Chick-Fil-A will not seek a liquor license, and there will be no outdoor seating or dining. The play area and the drive-through widow are within the pad.

The Commission reviewed the 8/6/01 letter from Heritage Conservancy. Mr. Townes stated that Chick-Fil-A plans to request a variance to permit four signs. Mr. Townes provided a floor plan, and agreed to submit the plan for the Fire Marshal’s review. There will be an average of 10 and a total of 60 employees. Hours of operation will be 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.

No noxious environmental effects are anticipated. Refuse storage will be in the locations noted on the plan for the shopping center. One or two tractor trailer deliveries are anticipated each week. Deliveries will be prohibited during peak hours. Outside trash receptacles will be provided, and the surrounding area will be monitored and cleaned regularly by Chick-Fil-A staff. The drive-through window lane, which circles the building, can stack 14 cars. Mr. Martinez said that traffic leaving the pickup window could turn right to avoid crossing the stacking lane.

Mr. Kester raised a concern about pedestrian traffic crossing the stacking lane. Mr. Fidler said that most fast food restaurants have this type of traffic pattern. Mr. Barbaz suggested that signs and striping be installed on crosswalks.

Mr. Harwood asked if there is adequate turning room for the tractor-trailers approaching and leaving the loading area. Mr. Townes said that the engineer may need to open up the curb radius to provide adequate room.

Mr. Lombardi asked about utility equipment on the roof, and Mr. Townes said he is aware that the equipment needs to be screened.

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this conditional use, subject to compliance with the Heritage Conservancy’s letter of 8/3/01, and with the understanding that there will be no alcoholic beverages served and no outdoor seating or dining. Activities, hours of operation, deliveries and numbers of employees will be as described above. The Fire Marshal will review the plan, and the utility equipment on the roof will be screened. The motion was seconded by Dr. Kelly and passed 6-1, with Mr. Kester voting “nay”.

REVISED PLAN FOR MINOR SUBDIVISION - SEGAL/BRILLIANT - 391 EAGLE ROAD - TMP# 29-3-55: Dr. George Segal, Dina Brilliant and engineer Manfred Heinrici were present to discuss their plan for the subdivision of a 7.1 acre lot in the CM District. Lot 1 will have an existing dental office and parking area; lot 2 will have a future dwelling. In 1999 the Zoning Hearing Board granted a variance to permit these uses on the property. The ruling specifies that the dental office should have no more than 4 employees and occupy no more than 1,000 square feet; the parking area shall have no more than 12 spaces; a 25 foot driveway will be provided; a four foot buffer hedge shall be provided on the north side of the parking area; an onsite septic system should be installed; and exterior lighting should be no higher than four feet.

The Commission reviewed the 8/10/01 letter from the Heritage Conservancy. Mr. Heinrici said that all provisions of the variance ruling will be complied with, and appropriate notes will be added to the plan.

The plan includes a request for waivers of the ordinance requirements for widening Eagle Road, installing sidewalks on Eagle Road and planting street trees. Mr. Heinrici said that the project has minimal impact on traffic in the area, and there are already many trees along Eagle Road. He also stated that lot 1 has an existing well and a new septic system; lot 2 has a well. Ms. Brilliant said she has letters documenting the fact that public sewer service is not available.

The Commission reviewed the 8/16/01 letter from Carroll Engineering. Mr. Heinrici said that the plan will comply with all points in the letter. The letter suggests that the issues of the driveway and stormwater management for lot 2 be addressed when a land development plan is engineered for lot 2. However, Mr. Barbaz also suggested that the applicant provide some preliminary calculations for stormwater management to demonstrate that the proposed design is feasible.

Mr. Harwood said that lot 2 does not have the required minimum side yard because of the presence of the septic system, which he considers a structure. Commission members felt this needs to be resolved by the Solicitor. Mr. Heinrici said that the applicant may either seek a variance or redraw the property lines in order to comply, if the Solicitor determines that the septic system is a structure. Commission members also felt that it needs to be determined if a traffic study is necessary, given the minimal scope of the project.

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this minor subdivision, subject to compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 8/10/01 and the Carroll Engineering letter of 8/16/01, with the three requested waivers granted, and deferring the issues of the traffic impact fee and the septic system being considered a structure. The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: The Commission reviewed the applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board meeting of 9/6/01.

MARY JANE GARNER - 511 GRANT STREET: Members agreed to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they oppose this application because the relief sought seems extreme.

COMMERCE BANK - NEWTOWN SHOPPING CENTER: Members agreed to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they oppose this application and support the ordinance.

BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO - NEWTOWN SHOPPING CENTER: Members agreed to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they oppose this application and support the ordinance.

REVISED PLAN FOR MINOR SUBDIVISION - PAUL ALLEN - PEPPLEMANT TRACT - SOUTH STATE STREET - TMP# 29-10-20 and 28-4-14 (NEWTOWN BOROUGH): Paul Allen, engineer Don Rife and attorney Bill Benner were present to discuss the plan to divide a 1.68 acre property which lies partially in the Township’s TC-2 District and partially in Newtown Borough. Several neighboring property owners were present and participated in the discussion.

Mr. Allen said that the Commission lacked a quorum on 7/17/01, when they discussed the subdivision, and although the three members present at that meeting had voted to recommend approval of the plan, he asked to return to the Commission to get a recommendation from a majority of members.

Shawn Ward said that he had discussed this application with Mr. Allen prior to his appointment to the Planning Commission, and asked if anyone considered this a conflict of interest. Commission members and Mr. Allen said they saw no problem with Mr. Ward’s participation in discussion and voting on this issue.

Mr. Allen said he is seeking a variance to allow a 40 foot front setback instead of a 60 foot front setback. Some Commission members felt this was unnecessary, since the ordinance requires that the front setback be in line with that of the neighboring buildings.

Mary Bethman, a neighboring property owner, said she represented a group of State Street property owners. Copies of a letter from their attorney, Michael Sellers, was distributed to the Planning Commission in their packets. Ms Bethman asked for clarification of Mr. Allen’s plans for developing lot 1.

Mr. Allen said that a revised plan submitted on 7/19/01 clarified the driveway easement which provides access to Lot 1. He intends to construct two or three buildings of 5,000 square feet or less on Lot 1, in accordance with the ordinance, and he will not interfere with the neighbors’ access. Mr. Harwood commented that the wording of the easement agreement should be specific about maintenance.

The Commission discussed the Carroll Engineering review letter of 7/17/01. Mr. Benner said the applicant will comply with points A1 and A2, which suggest that the plan be revised to reflect the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board on 9/6/01. He said that a waiver from the required plan scale is requested. Mr. Benner agreed to defer the issue of improving the sidewalk along State Street until a land development plan is submitted.

Carroll Engineering’s 8/21/01 letter was distributed tonight. It stated that the only change in the 7/19/01 revised plan was a clarification that the driveway giving access to Lot 1 exists, and runs with TMP 29-10-19.

Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this minor subdivision, subject to the Carroll Engineering letters of 7/17/01 and 8/21/01, with a waiver of the plan scale granted, and with the issue of improving the sidewalk along State Street to be deferred until a land development plan is submitted. The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously.

Commission members also agreed to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose Mr. Allen’s variance request.





d. SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Mr. Lombardi reported that Mr. Mendicino resigned from the Sycamore Street Committee. Mr. Ward agreed to serve in his place.

e. HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD: Mrs. Beasley reported that she was not able to attend the most recent meeting, but she was told that the focus was a second cease and desist order issued to the La Stalla restaurant because of exterior work that was not approved by HARB.


g. TRAIL COMMITTEE: No report. Mr. Fidler commented that the trail needs regular edging to prevent the grass from encroaching on it.

h. PARK & OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE: Mrs. Beasley reported that the Committee did not have a quorum at the last meeting, but discussed allowing the Boy Scouts to use the barn on the Clark property.

i. PLAN EXPIRATIONS: None to be addressed.


LETTER FROM MR. & MRS. HINTENLANG: The 8/12/01 letter was addressed to the Solicitor. The Hintenlangs objected to Dr. Kelly’s involvement with the discussion of the rezoning of the Eagle and Durham Road area at the 8/7/01 Planning Commission meeting. Commission members noted that Dr. Kelly explicitly stepped aside from her role as a member of the Commission at the beginning of the discussion, which is reflected in the minutes. Members agreed to ask the Solicitor to respond to the Hintenlangs and explain that residents who serve on commissions can also act as private citizens.

BUCKS COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION - TRANSPORTATION ENHANCEMENTS PROGRAM: Commission members agreed to refer this 7/25/01 letter to Mike Frank.



COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT: Members reviewed the 7/30/01 memo from Mr. Frank and agreed to recommend that he send the letter he proposes, asking that the additional $5,100 allocation be rolled into the Walnut Street and Swamp Road project.

PENNDOT COMMENTS ON INTERSECTION OF 413 AND DURHAM ROAD: Commission members agreed to forward this letter to the Traffic Engineer.

LEGAL COUNSEL FOR THE PLANNING COMMISSION: Members discussed the question of whether the Commission should have legal counsel present at all meetings. Members agreed to ask the Supervisors to discuss the question with them at a future work session.

DRAFT JMZO: Commission members said they found the consolidated JMZO to be comprehensive and easy to use. They also endorsed the concept of the Township maintaining the official version online.

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors adopt the consolidated JMZO and forward it to the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.


ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Bowen moved to adjourn. With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 11:20 PM.


RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,______________________________
                                                        Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary