Planning Commission Minutes
March 5, 2002
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (3/5/02): Mr. Kester moved to approve the minutes of the 3/5/02 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, March 5, 2002, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairperson Karen Doorley, Members Allen Fidler, Vince Lombardi, Paul Kester, Bob Dieterle, Jim Ott and Jim Bowe. Also in attendance were: Supervisor Anne Goren, Township Engineers John Barbaz and Phil Wursta, Township Solicitor David Sander, 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 (2/19/02): Mr.Kester moved to approve the minutes of 2/19/02 with the following corrections: The first correction to the 2/5/02 minutes should read “…an interconnect conduit to the Durham-Wrights Road intersection…”, and the eighth paragraph under Preliminary Plan - First National Bank should begin “Mr. Lombardi noted…”. The motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously.
TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT: Phil Wursta continued his review of current traffic-related projects, focusing on items #8 through #15. Mr. Wursta reported that he hopes to have a signal operational at the Washington Crossing Road and Linton Hill Road intersection by Labor Day. He said Nelson Shaeffer of Pennoni Associates is working with the Sycamore Street Committee. He expects that the Closed Loop System will be finished by the end of summer, and some PennDOT funds will be available for preemption.
Pennoni is handling the bidding and construction of the pedestrian crossings on Hemlock Drive and Stoopville, and on Richboro Road; Carroll Engineering will do the design work. Mrs. Doorley asked if the flashing lights can be turned off at night. Mr. Wursta said he will look into whether the lights can at least be shielded.
Mr. Wursta reported a meeting of the Swamp Road Study Committee is scheduled for 3/20/02. PennDOT has been asked to fund the engineering and construction of this project.
Mr. Wursta said that he is studying the intersections of Durham Road with North Drive, Municipal Drive and South Drive, and has met with the developers of the proposed office complexes on Durham Road. His study indicates that Municipal Drive may not meet warrant for a signal.
PRELIMINARY PLAN - NEWTOWN COMMONS EXPANSION - UPPER SILVER LAKE ROAD - TMP# 29-10-76: Tony Rimikis of Brandywine Operating Partnership, architect Mitch Shiles, attorney William Stewart and engineers Jeremy Maziarz and Mike Roth were present to discuss their proposal to construct five office buildings, totaling 414,000 square feet, on a 58.77 acre site in the OR District. Mrs. Doorley and Mr. Fidler stated they will abstain from any votes relating to this project because of conflicts of interest.
Mr. Kester said that the application should be signed by the present owner, not the equitable owner. Mr. Stewart said he will address this point.
Mr. Shiles displayed a sketch of the proposed expansion of the office complex, which will be renamed the Newtown Corporate Center. He said five three story buildings are planned, and 2,071 parking spaces will be provided. An internal drive will connect Penns Trail North at Upper Silver Lake Road with the existing Newtown Commons building and Lindenhurst Road. Mr. Shiles noted that a large wooded area along the Bypass will be protected. He stated that the intersection of the internal drive and the Bypass will be signalized and will permit all turns, as the Township requested during the review of the earlier phase of the project. The internal drive will have two lanes and will be designed using the same criteria as Penns Trail North.
Mr. Wursta said that Carroll Engineering (CEC) is studying the traffic issues on this project; Mr. Sander noted that CEC’s letter said a report on traffic issues will be coming. Mr. Lombardi said that the traffic issues in this area are serious enough to warrant having a separate meeting on the subject when Jeff L’Amoreaux, CEC’s Traffic Engineer, can be present. He said he is very concerned about the combined traffic impact of this project and Wiltshire Walk. Mr. Harwood said that it may be necessary to add a lane to the Bypass east of the intersection with the Newtown Corporate Center drive.
Heritage Conservancy’s 1/9/02 letter was reviewed. Mr. Rimikis said that the project will be phased in over five years, and the road will be part of the first phase. He also stated that no basements are planned. Mr. Stewart said the applicant will comply with all points in Section A; a special exception will be sought to allow the road to cross a floodplain. In addition to the four waivers listed in Section B, Mr. Rimikis said the applicant will ask for a waiver of the traffic impact fees, since the internal drive will be very expensive and will benefit the whole area. An aerial photograph was included with the application.
Regarding sidewalks, Mr. Stewart said that the applicant proposes to build a trail on the east side of Upper Silver Lake Road, as recommended by the Parks and Recreation Board. The applicant will comply with other points in Section B, and with Section C. Mr. Stewart agreed to submit a lighting plan, and to consider lowering the light poles. Mrs. Doorley asked him to consider timing the lights, to minimize their impact on nearby residential neighbors.
Carroll Engineering’s 2/15/02 letter was reviewed. Mr. Stewart said the applicant will comply with all points in Section A. In Section B, Mr. Stewart said the applicant will study B.1, relating to the creation of two lots, and will comply with all other points in the report except those relating to waiver requests. Regarding B.17, Mr. Stewart said the applicant does not plan to widen or install curbs on the southern part of Upper Silver Lake Road, since the Township plans to close the road near the intersection with Penns Trail North. Mr. Lombardi said these improvements would help drainage in the area. He recommended that engineers for all nearby developments meet to discuss stormwater management issues. Mr. Barbaz said he will look into this.
Mr. Harwood asked how many employees are anticipated. Mr. Rimikis said he estimates four employees per 1000 square feet, totaling about 1600. He said he anticipates higher end corporate offices with lower density. Mr. Harwood said that if a tenant provides a cafeteria for the employees there must be room for a tractor trailer to make food deliveries.
Mr. Bowe and Mr. Ott said they are concerned about buffering for the residential areas to the west. Mr. Rimikis said he is willing to talk with residents to plan the buffering.
Mr. Fidler said he has observed that the construction workers working on the first building have been very good about keeping the area clear of debris.
Mrs. Goren asked about setbacks on the northern border, which is adjacent to a residential area. Mr. Rimikis said they comply with the ordinance requirements, and noted that both areas are in the OR District. Mr. Frank said there are specific buffering requirements between two different uses, but not setback requirements. Mr. Sander confirmed this statement.
Several nearby residents were present and asked the applicant to protect their homes from the lights to be installed in this project. They also brought up traffic concerns and drainage concerns.
Mrs. Goren asked for a copy of the applicant’s traffic study. She also asked that the applicant consider closing the access to Lindenhurst Road after the traffic light on the Bypass is operational, as she considers this access dangerous. Mrs. Goren recommended that all traffic issues be reviewed by both Carroll Engineering and Pennoni; she said she will bring the question of funding for this review to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Stewart said the applicant will return when traffic and other engineering issues have been studied.
SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS: Deferred.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
PLANNING COMMISSION RESOURCES: Copies of the Planning Commission’s bylaws were provided in the packets for this meeting. The Recording Secretary will obtain copies of the Municipalities Planning Code, the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan for all members if the cost is reasonable.
PLANNING COMMISSION NAMEPLATES: Mrs. Doorley said that a member has raised the question of nameplates for the members. The consensus of the members present was that this would not be advisable, given the volume of papers and plans usually on the table.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: None.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting was adjourned at 9:45 PM with no objections.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary