Planning Commission Minutes
September 18, 2001
MINUTES OF 9/18/01: Mr. Kester moved to approve the minutes of the 9/18/01 meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Bowen and passed unanimously, with Mr. Lombardi, Mr. Dieterle and Dr. Kelly abstaining.
The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, September 18, 2001, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairperson Karen Doorley, Paul Kester, Shawn Ward, Sue Beasley and Jack Bowen (late). Also in attendance were: Township Traffic Engineer Jeff L’Amoreaux and Township Public Works Director and Interim Manager Thomas Harwood.
Chairperson Karen Doorley called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. Approval of the minutes was deferred until a quorum is present (see later). Mrs. Doorley announced that the sketch plan for Building Control Systems and Services has been added to the agenda.
TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM: Traffic Engineer Jeff L’Amoreaux presented the proposed Newtown Township 2001 Transportation Improvement Program project list (faxed to the Township on 9/14/01). Mr. L’Amoreaux suggested that the Township offer to provide 20% funding of engineering services on these projects to make them more attractive to PennDOT. Commission members agreed to recommend that the Township do so, except for Project #8 because of its very high cost.
Mr. Harwood noted that the Swamp Road study referred to in the “pending” item at the end will not be completed until December. Consequently, Mr. L’Amoreaux said that this item should be removed from the list.
Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve items one through eight on the proposed Transportation Improvement Program list, with a commitment of local funding participation on numbers one through seven, limited to preliminary and final engineering and not right away. The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously by the four members present.
Mrs. Beasley asked Mr. L’Amoreaux why Durham Road and the entrance to the Newtown Shopping Center were not aligned at the intersection with the Bypass. Mr. L’Amoreaux said he will investigate the situation.
CONDITIONAL USE - QUALTECH MOLECULAR LABORATORIES - 300 PHEASANT RUN - TMP# 29-10-133: Paul Salvatore was present to discuss the application from Steve Bernstein of Qualtech to use 3,000 square feet of space in an existing building for G-2 Research Use and 2,000 square feet for D-1 Office Use in the Light Industrial District. Mr. Salvatore explained that Dr. Bernstein could not be present because he is in California and his travel plans were disrupted by national events last week. Mr. Salvatore provided copies of a 9/15/01 letter from Dr. Bernstein which responded to the Heritage Conservancy letter of 8/28/01.
Dr. Bernstein’s letter stated that Qualtech will conduct pathology and histology research. Daily deliveries will be via UPS and Fedex, and small shipments will be made several times a week. The letter said that a maximum of five employees is anticipated, but Mr. Salvatore asked that the application be amended to raise this number to seven. Hours of operation will be 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
According to Dr. Bernstein’s letter, small amounts of alcohol, xylene and acids will be stored and disposed of in accordance with applicable regulations. No environmental impact is anticipated, no extra refuse storage will be needed and the required 16 parking spaces are provided.
Mrs. Beasley asked if the tissues involve communicable diseases, and if so, how did the company plan to dispose of the tissues. Mr. Salvatore said he will ask Dr. Bernstein to respond to this in writing to the Township.
Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the conditional use application, subject to compliance with the Heritage Conservancy’s 8/28/01 letter and Dr. Bernstein’s 9/15/01 letter, with clarification of how the applicant plans to dispose of medically hazardous waste, and with the application amended to show a maximum of seven employees. The motion was seconded by Mr. Ward and passed unanimously.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (9/4/01): Mr. Ward moved to approve the minutes of 9/4/01, with two changes on page one: The first sentence of the review of Wiltshire Walk should read “…was present to discuss…”, and the third sentence of Mr. L’Amoreaux’s remarks about the Bypass, 413 and the Acme driveway should read “…putting in a “lead-lag” traffic system…”. The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously.
SKETCH PLAN - BUILDING CONTROL SYSTEMS AND SERVICES - 90 WALKER LANE - TMP# 29-10-99: Tom Schrier was present to discuss his application to use 5,000 square feet of floor area in the Light Industrial District for G-6 Contracting Use, D-1 Office Use and G-3 Warehouse Use. Six hundred square feet of the office portion would be rented out. Mr. Schrier stated that he is planning to purchase the building as an individual and lease it to his company. He said his primary purpose in asking for a review of the sketch plan was to determine if the plan is feasible and if he should purchase the building.
Mr. Schrier’s application was accompanied by his letter of 7/31/01, in which he discussed two scenarios for this building. In one scenario, the contracting business is considered Office Use; the building would then require a total of 22 parking spaces, and Mr. Schrier would seek relief from parking requirements. In the second scenario, the business is considered Contracting Use; the building would then require a total of 12 spaces. Mr. Schrier acknowledged that Contracting Use is not permitted in the LI District, and this scenario would require a variance.
Mr. Schrier said that he is planning to consolidate his company’s offices and warehouse in this building. Hours of operation will be 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
Mrs. Doorley said the Planning Commission could not make a recommendation on either scenario. She stated that Contracting Use is not permitted in the LI District, and the business is clearly a contracting business. Also, the Planning Commission cannot recommend relief from parking requirements. Commission members were divided as to whether the company’s activities required a Contracting Use designation, but all agreed that the two scenarios did not seem feasible.
Mr. Harwood suggested that it might be possible for Mr. Schrier to comply with parking requirements by reducing the 3,400 square feet designated as Office Use, increasing the Warehouse Use, and then seeking a variance to allow the Contracting Use.
Mr. Schrier said that the building may not be suitable for his purposes. He asked if the Commission would vote on a recommendation, but Mrs. Doorley explained that the Commission cannot make a recommendation on the existing plan because the relief Mr. Schrier is seeking is not within the Commission’s scope.
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS:
1. John Stezzi - 566 Sterling Street: Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors ask Mr. Harwood to attend the hearing and express the Township’s concern about the size of the relief sought in this application. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Beasley and passed unanimously.
2. Keller-Williams Preferred R. E. - 36 Newtown-Richboro Road: Mrs. Beasley moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this application because of the excessive square footage of the proposed sign. The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously.
3. Newtown/Bucks Associates - 4 West Road: Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this application because of the excessive relief sought. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Beasley and passed 4-1, with Mr. Ward voting “nay”.
Mr. Ward stated that he felt the application should be opposed because of the lack of specificity of the variances sought. He pointed out that the heights of the signs as described on the application differ from those on the elevations.
Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this application because of the lack of specificity of the variances sought. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Beasley and passed unanimously.
Mr. Kester moved to rescind his previous motion concerning the application from Newtown/Bucks Associates. The motion was seconded by Mr. Bowen and passed unanimously.
SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS:
a. BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: No report.
b. NEWTOWN AREA REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION: No report.
c. JOINT ZONING COUNCIL: Mr. Kester reported that the Council discussed the village concept with Toll Brothers regarding the Gray and McLaughlin Tracts, and the possibility of rezoning the area. Mr. Kester said that Toll Brothers agreed to suspend their conditional use application in Newtown Township indefinitely. Mr. Harwood noted that an extension has been received. He added that the Board of Supervisors discussed the plan at their 9/17/01 work session and rejected it because all the density would fall into Newtown Township.
d. SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: No report.
e. HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD: Mrs. Beasley reported that HARB will meet on 9/19/01.
f. RECREATION BOARD: No report.
g. TRAIL COMMITTEE: Mrs. Doorley reported that there will be a final walkthrough on the Trail on 9/20/01.
h. PARK & OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE: Mrs. Beasley reported that the Shade Tree Committee wants to plant trees next to the Trail. Mrs. Doorley said that the Trail Committee already has landscaping plans.
i. PLAN EXPIRATIONS: None to be addressed.
a. JMZO: Commission members received copies of two memos from the Bucks County Planning Commission regarding the codification of the JMZO and amendment of the JMZO to allow signs within 1,000 feet of the Bypass under certain circumstances.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: None.
ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Kester moved to adjourn. With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:00 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary