Planning Commission Minutes
December 4, 2001
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (12/04/01): Mr. Lombardi moved to approve the minutes of the 12/4/01 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously, with Mr. Sensibaugh, Mr. Ott and Mr. Bowe abstaining.
The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, December 4, 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 and Sue Beasley (late). Also in attendance were: 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 (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.
TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT: Mr. L’Amoreaux gave a brief update on several current projects:
a. Newtown Bypass Closed Loop System: The contractor has installed the pole foundations at the Swamp Road intersection and is making
good progress now that he is out of the rock area.
b. Washington Crossing & Linton Hill Road Intersection: Carroll Engineering met with PennDOT and has confirmed that PennDOT will do a
traffic count at this intersection soon.
c. Roadway Sufficiency Analysis/Capital Improvements Plan Adoption: The Traffic Impact Fee Committee will present their
recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on 12/12/01.
Final plan - platinum executive suites - 12 PENNS TRAIL - TMP# 29-10-87: Attorney Don Marshall was present to discuss the final plan for a two story addition to an existing one story office building on a 2.298 acre property in the Light Industrial District.
Mr. Marshall stated the applicant will comply with all points in the Heritage Conservancy, Carroll Engineering and Bucks County Planning Commission review letters. He said that the Fire Marshal’s 10/11/01 letter requested several changes, with which the applicant has complied. Mr. Marshall anticipates receiving a second letter from the Fire Marshal shortly, approving the revised plan.
Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the final plan for Platinum Executive Suites, subject to compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 10/9/01, the Carroll Engineering letter of 11/15/01, the Bucks County Planning Commission letter of 11/9/01, the Fire Marshal’s letter of 10/11/01 and a second letter from the Fire Marshal expected soon.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.
Sketch plan - mill race office campus - lindenhurst foad - tmp# 29-10-79: Vice Chairman Allen Fidler chaired this portion of the meeting, as Chairperson Karen Doorley is one of the principals in this application.
Attorney Don Marshall and Daniel Doorley were present to discuss the plan to convert an existing dwelling to D-1 Office Use and to construct a new building, for additional D-1 Office Use, on a 5.4 acre property in the Office Research District. Mr. Marshall explained that there are many environmental issues on this property, including substantial areas of wetlands and floodplain. He stated that the applicant has tried to protect environmentally sensitive areas.
Mr. Marshall said the applicant has a letter of agreement with Brandywine Realty Trust, the adjacent property owner, to share access to Lindenhurst Road with their office development, Newtown Commons. He said the applicant plans to have pervious parking in the floodplain area and to seek a conditional reduction in parking. He added that this is a nonconforming lot because it is smaller than the minimum size for this district; therefore, the applicant plans to seek relief from the Zoning Hearing Board regarding the building and setbacks. Mr. Marshall said the applicant is primarily interested in hearing Commission members’ thoughts on the D-1 Office Use, and the proposed intensity of the use.
The Commission reviewed the Heritage Conservancy letter of 11/27/01. Several comments referred to the nonconforming size of the lot already mentioned by Mr. Marshall. The letter also recommended that the Joint Historic Commission assess the historical value of the existing buildings to be removed; Mr. Marshall said this will be done. Mr. Marshall also said the applicant will seek a waiver from the loading dock requirement, as only small truck deliveries are expected.
Regarding the comment about the driveway grade, Mr. Marshall said the applicant will seek a waiver if it is necessary. The applicant will also seek a waiver on the required traffic study, since the impact of this project will be minimal compared to other developments going up in the area. Mr. Marshall stated that the applicants will comply with all other points in the letter.
Commission members agreed that the proposed use is reasonable for this property, and is consistent with other uses in the OR District. Mr. Fidler suggested that the applicant’s engineer look at whether the access to the Bypass can accommodate stacking another 43 cars. Mr. Lombardi asked if the Brandywine Realty Trust (BRT) sketch plan included an easement for this property’s access; Mr. Marshall said he will look into this. Mr. L’Amoreaux said the engineer for the BRT development has spoken with Carroll Engineering about the access to the Bypass. Mr. L’Amoreaux agreed that an easement for the Mill Race Office Campus should be on the BRT plan.
FINAL PLAN - WILTSHIRE WALK PRD - NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD AND UPPER SILVER LAKE ROAD - ORLEANS HOMEBUILDERS - TMP# 29-10-52, 29-10-52-2, 29-10-52.1, 29-10-52.2, 29-10-52-10: Michael Vesey of Orleans and Attorney Ed Murphy were present to discuss the final plan for a residential development with 49 village houses and 100 townhouses on a 54+ acre property in the R-1 Medium Density and R-2 High Density Residential Districts.
Mr. Murphy said that the Commission last saw this plan around the beginning of September 2001. He said several minor changes were made in response to the applicants’ discussions with the Commission, the Board of Supervisors and the neighboring homeowners. He said that the Heritage Conservancy letter of 11/27/01 included a good summary of the changes (items 1 through 7). The changes include making the proposed Hatfield Avenue a loop street, without a connection to Vera Avenue; changing the layout of lots on Kingly and Warwick Roads to preserve a larger area of woodlands; adding a walking trail to connect Hatfield Road with Newtown-Yardley Road; providing a landscaped berm behind a home fronting Upper Silver Lake Road; restricting traffic on Upper Silver Lake Road by closing it at Penns Trail North; and slightly changing the layout of the church parking lot. Mr. Murphy stated that Orleans is now the legal owner of the Platt parcel. He also said that plans will be submitted soon for the church and the bank properties.
Richard Tomlinson, an adjacent homeowner on Upper Silver Lake Road, stated he is satisfied with the plans for improvements to Upper Silver Lake Road as they affect his property.
Mr. Barbaz said the Carroll Engineering review letter of 11/29/01 was primarily “nuts and bolts” engineering details. Mr. Murphy said that Orleans has complied or will comply with everything in the review letters from Heritage Conservancy, Carroll Engineering, Bucks County Planning Commission and the Fire Marshal.
Mr. Murphy said there will be room to turn around at the point where Upper Silver Lake Road is blocked. They will put some kind of vegetation on the vacated portion of the road, and install breakaway barricades. Mr. Vesey said that the Township will retain the right of way on the vacated portion of the road. Mr. Harwood said that maintenance of the area should be the responsibility of the Homeowners Association. Mr. Lombardi said that the maintenance of the barricades should be the responsibility of the Township.
Neighbors Richard Tomlinson and John Hitchner asked about the buffering planned for the area behind their homes on Upper Silver Lake Road. Mr. Vesey said that the berms will be as high as possible, and trees will be planted on top of the berms early in the construction process. Mr. Tomlinson also asked that lighting be configured so that the effect on the neighbors is minimal. Mr. Vesey said that no wetlands were found in the nearby wooded area.
Another neighboring property owner asked about speed limits on Upper Silver Lake Road approaching the intersection with Penns Trail North. Mr. L’Amoreaux said it is currently posted at 35 MPH, and Penns Trail North will probably be the same. He recommended a warning sign, not a stop sign, at the right turn from Upper Silver Lake Road. Mr. Tomlinson said he believes some poles will need to be moved to install the right turn lane; Mr. Vesey said he will check on this.
Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the final plan for Wiltshire Walk, subject to compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 11/27/01 and the Carroll Engineering letter of 11/29/01, and subject to the agreements with the neighbors discussed tonight, and provided that the applicant will landscape the vacated portion of Upper Silver Lake Road, and the Homeowners Association is responsible for maintaining the landscaped area. The Commission also recommends that the request for variances on lots 5,39,40,41,42 and 46 be supported. The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Kester said he still feels this use is too intense, and that insufficient attention has been paid to the traffic impact of this development on Newtown Borough. He said he will abstain on the vote.
Mr. Ward’s motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Kester abstaining.
Mr. Lombardi expressed his appreciation for the applicant’s willingness to work with the Township and neighboring property owners to solve a number of longstanding problems in the area.
CONDITIONAL USE - MCLAUGHLIN TRACT - STOOPVILLE ROAD - TOLL BROTHERS - TMP# 29-7-5: Mike Palmer of Toll Brothers and Attorney Ed Murphy were present to discuss the proposed B-14 Performance Subdivision Use for a 38.39 acre property in the Conservation Management District. The application was discussed at the Commission’s previous meeting, and the applicant was asked to return with further documentation related to the signature of the property’s legal owner, the historical value of the existing log house, the soils study, and new open space calculations. Mr. Palmer said he has furnished all requested documentation.
Mr. Lombardi said he felt that major improvements to Stoopville Road, primarily softening the curves, should be made a condition of approval for the conditional use. Mr. Palmer said Toll Brothers have agreed to do whatever improvements the ordinance requires. Several other Commission members pointed out that other developments are planned for the immediate area, and traffic on Stoopville Road will increase a great deal. Mr. Murphy said that he would rather the issue be settled at this point than later in the planning process.
Mrs. Doorley said that the Joint Historic Commission reported that the existing log house has significant historic value. She recommended that the lot on which it is located be sold separately, not as part of the Homeowners Association, with access on Stoopville Road. She also recommended that Toll Brothers still be able to count the lot in their base site calculations. Mr. Murphy said that an existing barn of no historic value will be dismantled.
Mr. Fidler expressed concern about the dangerousness of the intersection of Stoopville, Linton Hill and Creamery Roads. He noted that the intersection is only partly in Newtown Township, and asked if the Township’s traffic impact fees can be used to improve the intersection. Mr. L’Amoreaux said he will seek legal advice on this question. He suggested that PennDOT be consulted to determine what criteria to use in discussing improvements to the curves in the road.
Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the conditional use application for the McLaughlin Tract, subject to compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 10/23/01; provided that the applicant will make improvements to both curves on Stoopville Road so that they meet PennDOT’s criteria for banking and safe stopping distances; and provided that the lot containing the existing log house be sold as a separate outparcel, although the lot will be part of the applicant’s base site calculations. The motion was seconded by Mr. Ward and passed unanimously.
SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS:Deferred to the next meeting.
SIGNATURE REQUIREMENTS FOR PLAN APPLICATIONS: Mrs. Doorley received a 11/27/01 letter from Mr. Sander indicating that an equitable owner can sign a plan application, although documentation of their ownership should be provided.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: Mr. Harwood distributed copies of two recent applications to the Zoning Hearing Board.
a. 516-01 - Boris Kryss: Commission members agreed to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this request, because the relief
sought is excessive.
b. 517-01 - Leonard Kane: Commission members agreed to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this request if the proposed
setback is less than 10 feet.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: None.
ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Fidler moved to adjourn. With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary