Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

November 20, 2001


MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (11/20/01):  Mr. Lombardi moved to approve the minutes of the 11/20/01 meeting with the following changes:  (1) Under Preliminary Plan, Heston Tract, the second sentence of Mr. Ward’s motion should begin “Further conditions are:  the applicant will obtain…”.  (2) Under Conditional Use, McLaughlin Tract, the final sentence should read “…which expires 12/5/01.”  The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, November 20, 2001, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairperson Karen Doorley, members Bob Dieterle, Allen Fidler, Shawn Ward, Vince Lombardi, Paul Kester, Bonnie Kelly and Jack Bowen (late). Also in attendance were: Supervisor-elect Anne Goren, Township Engineers John Barbaz and Jeff L’Amoreaux, Township Planner Mike Frank, and Township Public Works Director Thomas Harwood.

Chairperson Karen Doorley called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (10/16/01): Mr. Ward moved to approve the minutes of the 10/16/01 meeting with one change. In the fourth paragraph under Final Plan - Tyrol’s Sycamore, the last sentence should read: “… Mr. Frank assured her that only Professional Office Uses are permitted under the conditional use approval.”

The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously, with Mr. Kester and Dr. Kelly abstaining.

NOTE: The scheduled 11/6/01 meeting was canceled.

TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT:

CLOSED LOOP SYSTEM: Mr. L’Amoreaux gave a brief update on the progress of the Closed Loop System. Mr. Fidler asked if the cables for the system will be protected from damage. Mr. L’Amoreaux said the conduit will have a metal tape above it, and there will be orange markers showing its location. Any damage to the system will show up immediately on the Township’s computers.

TIP HEARING: Mr. L’Amoreaux reported he attended the County hearing on the TIP. Advocates for improvements to Swamp Road were heard from.

REVIEWS:

CONDITIONAL USE - MCLAUGHLIN TRACT - TOLL BROTHERS - STOOPVILLE ROAD - TMP# 29-7-5: Mike Palmer of Toll Brothers and John Pagenkopf of Eastern States Engineering were present to discuss their application for B-14 Performance Subdivision Use for a 38.39 acre tract in the CM District. They propose 35 single family village houses on a single, “P” shaped internal street. Two plans were submitted: one shows a rectangular loop surrounding a village green, and one shows a curvilinear loop. Mr. Palmer said that Toll Brothers prefers the curvilinear design, and the Board of Supervisors seemed to prefer it when they discussed it in a work session. Mr. Pagenkopf said that the rectangular plan was created to show how more open space could be incorporated in the design.

Mr. Kester stated that the application has been signed by Toll Brothers, the equitable owner, rather than the legal owner. He said that under the ordinance this is not an acceptable application. Mr. Harwood said he believed that either owner’s signature is acceptable under the ordinance. Mr. Lombardi asked if the appropriate signature could be made a condition of approval. Mr. Kester said that the clock does not start running on an application until it is accepted, and he believed that the application can not be accepted without the legal owner’s signature. Commission members decided to review the proposed project tonight but to make no recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

The 10/23/01 Heritage Conservancy letter was reviewed. Mr. Palmer said that Toll Brothers has a more accurate soils report than the standard reference, and they will provide the report to the Township. Mr. Palmer said they will also provide a written report from the Historic Commission, which has looked at the existing buildings on the site.

Mr. Lombardi asked if Upper Makefield has changed its position on sewage disposal. Mr. Palmer said they have not. He added that Toll Brothers has had two conditional use hearings on the Gray Tract in Upper Makefield, with no resolution.

Mr. Fidler highlighted item A 2 in the Heritage Conservancy letter, which states that the plan does not meet the ordinance requirement for the CM District to “provide for the agricultural use of the majority of the Class I, II or III soils”. He suggested that more houses be put inside the loop of the “P” so that more open space would be on the outside.

Mr. Frank asked if the applicants plan to make improvements to Stoopville Road as part of this project. Mr. Palmer said that no major improvements are planned, since a 35 unit development will not support the improvements discussed at earlier meetings. Mr. Lombardi said this will be An important issue when the land development plan is reviewed, along with the issue of the possibly historic buildings on the site.

Mr. Palmer said he will submit a report from the Historic Commission on the existing buildings and the signature of the legal owner of the property to the Township before the next Planning Commission meeting. Mr. Harwood said there needs to be an extension on the plan, which expires 12/15/01.

PRELIMINARY PLAN - HESTON TRACT - TOLL BROTHERS - UPPER SILVER LAKE ROAD - TMP# 29-10-77: Mike Palmer of Toll Brothers and Jeff Franz of Eastern States Engineering were present to discuss their plan for a 24 lot residential development on a 77.3 acre property in the OR District. Mr. Kester said that he has the same concern about this application as he did about the previous one: the application was signed by the equitable owner, not the legal owner. Mrs. Doorley asked that a letter requesting clarification of this issue be sent to Township Solicitor Dave Sander.

The 9/25/01 letter from the Heritage Conservancy was reviewed. Mr. Palmer said that the Historic Commission has studied the existing buildings and has recommended that only the farmhouse and a barn be preserved. He said that the development was planned around these buildings. Mr. Palmer also said that an existing springhouse and garage will also remain on lot #4, which the Hestons will retain. He said that a variance will be sought to allow the front yard of lot #3 to be less than the required 100 feet, so that the barn can remain in place.

Mr. Palmer said that Toll Brothers commissioned a soil study by Del Val Soils and Environmental Consultants on which they based the plan. He will submit that report to the Township.

Point B 6 of the Heritage Conservancy letter recommends that some kind of delineation should be made on the accessway to the open space, which adjoins lot #6. Mr. Frank suggested using shrubbery or a fence. Mr. Fidler suggested a sign for the accessway. He also said that there needs to be room for equipment necessary to maintain the open space. Mr. Palmer said that the Homeowner’s Association will have the responsibility of maintaining the open space. He also stated that the Park and Open Space Committee recommended a fee in lieu of open space.

Mr. Palmer said that a waiver of the requirement for sidewalks on the internal road will be sought. Several Commission members indicated they would not support this waiver. Mrs. Doorley noted that the sidewalk on Upper Silver Lake Road is necessary to connect with the Township Trail. Mr. Palmer said streetlights will be added to the plan in accordance with the ordinance.

The 10/12/01 letter from Carroll Engineering was reviewed. The letter raised some questions about the existing pond shown on lot #5. Mr. Palmer said that a well will be installed to recharge the pond. Mr. Barbaz said he is also concerned about the pond’s proximity to a home. Mr. Fidler suggested that the final plan address safety issues related to the pond.

The Carroll Engineering letter states that the accessway to the open space brings pedestrians to a point where the majority of the open space is blocked by the detention basin. Mr. Palmer said the accessway might be relocated to the other side of lot #6.

The planned request for a waiver regarding sidewalks on the internal road was discussed again, and Mr. Palmer said Toll Brothers will build the sidewalk. He stated they will comply with all other comments in the letter, with the exception of the recommendation in point D 7 that bituminous concrete base course be in place on the internal road before construction takes place. He said this will delay construction for seven or eight months, and is not their usual approach. Mr. Harwood said the benefit of having the base course in place is that the road will support the weight of an emergency vehicle. Mr. Palmer said that a roadway that supports a concrete truck should support an emergency vehicle. Mrs. Doorley said the ordinance does not require that roads be paved before construction, so the Township cannot make this a condition of approval.

Mr. Harwood said that Lower Makefield has raised questions about the impact of this development on their portion of Core Creek. Mr. Barbaz said he will send Lower Makefield the stormwater management calculations on this project.

Bill Sterling, an adjacent property owner, asked Mr. Palmer about deed restrictions for the drainage swale near his property line. Mr. Palmer said Toll Brothers will put deed restrictions on lots #9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 for drainage swales.

Mr. Sterling also asked if there will be any grading near his property. Mr. Palmer responded that the ground will be built up to the level of his property. Mr. Sterling had several other questions about the plan which Mr. Palmer and Mr. Franz were able to address to his satisfaction.

Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the preliminary plan for the Heston Tract, subject to compliance with the 9/25/01 Heritage Conservancy and the 10/12/01 Carroll Engineering letter. The applicant will obtain a variance to permit the existing barn to remain in the front yard of lot #3. The applicant also agrees to place deed restrictions on lots 9 through 13 for drainage swales. The applicant will comply with the Fire Marshal’s letter of 9/19/01 and the Bucks County Planning Commission letter of 11/8/01, except that the stormwater management plans must be approved by the Township Engineer. The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS:

VARIANCE #514-01 - DURHAM ROAD ASSOCIATES: Mr. Harwood commented that both variances being reviewed tonight were discussed at earlier Planning Commission meetings.

Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors take no position on this variance request. The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.

VARIANCE #515-01 - ICT GROUP: Mr. Bowen said he will abstain from voting on this issue because he has a business relationship with the applicant.

Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors take no position on this variance request. The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously, with Mr. Bowen abstaining.

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS:

    a.     BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: No report.

    b.     NEWTOWN AREA REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION: Mr. Kester reported that the Regional Planning Commission met  
            but took no significant action. The Consolidated JMZO has been adopted by all three municipalities.

    c.     JOINT ZONING COUNCIL: Mr. Kester reported that the Council recently reviewed a proposed uniform construction code.

    d.     SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Mr. Lombardi reported that work is going on almost 24 hours a day in anticipation of the 
            onset of cold weather.

    e.     HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD: No report.

    f.     RECREATION BOARD: No report.

    g.     TRAIL COMMITTEE: No report.

    h.     PARK & OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE: No report.

    i.     SWAMP ROAD SAFETY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT: Mr. Bowen reported that the Board of Supervisors have asked that the 
           improvements to Swamp Road be the top priority on the TIP list. He said another meeting should be scheduled in the next two weeks.

    j.     PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mrs. Doorley noted that the Heston Tract plan expires on 11/29/01. She asked that Mr. Harwood and Mr. 
           Pellegrino be alerted to this.

CORRESPONDENCE:

JMZO - SANDMOUNDS IN YARDS - LETTERS FROM SOLICITOR AND UPPER MAKEFIELD: The Commission received a copy of a 10/29/01 letter from Township Solicitor Dave Sander which includes a draft amendment to the JMZO requiring a 15 foot setback for sandmounds. The Commission also received a letter from Dave Kuhns, the Code Enforcement Officer of Upper Makefield Township, suggesting that the required setback be changed to 10 feet.

Mr. Fidler moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the JMZO amendment regarding sandmounds as written by Township Solicitor Dave Sander. The motion was seconded by Mr. Ward and passed unanimously.

GOVERNOR’S AWARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE CEREMONY: Commission members received an invitation to the ceremony on 12/19/01 in a 11/14/01 letter from the Department of Environmental Protection.

OLD BUSINESS:

REZONING OF DURHAM ROAD AND EAGLE ROAD AREA: Mrs. Doorley reported she received a letter regarding this issue from Terry Mc Lean, Chairperson of HARB. The letter stated that HARB would like a chance to study the historic value of the homes in this area, some of which are Sears Roebuck houses, before any action is taken on rezoning.

NEW BUSINESS: None.

GENERAL DISCUSSION:

RESIGNATIONS:Mrs. Doorley asked that any member planning to resign should submit their resignation as soon as possible.

Mrs. Doorley also noted that Mr. Dieterle needs to receive a copy of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance as a new member of the Planning Commission.

ST. ANDREWS RECTORY: Mr. Lombardi said he may be able to move the St. Andrews rectory, which the church plans to demolish, onto his property.

LIQUOR LICENSE TRANSFER: Mr. Kester said he recently attended a special session of the Newtown Borough Council in which the Council considered the transfer of a liquor license from Bristol Borough. He said that guidelines for consideration of these requests seem to be lacking, but he felt there are planning issues involved, such as parking and the proximity of schools. The question of the brewery being a manufacturing use in a commercial district was raised at the meeting.

ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Bowen moved to adjourn. With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:50 PM.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,

______________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary