Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

April 16, 2002

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (4/16/02):  Mr. Kester moved to approve the minutes of the 4/16/02 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, April 16, 2002, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were:  Chairperson Karen Doorley, members Allen Fidler, Paul Kester, Bob Dieterle, Jim Ott, Jay Sensibaugh, Vince Lombardi, Sue Beasley and Jim Bowe.   Also in attendance were: Township Engineer Gerald Smith; 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.



CLOSING OF UPPER SILVER LAKE ROAD:  There were approximately 12 residents present who wanted to discuss the closing of Upper Silver Lake Road north of Newtown-Yardley Road.  Mrs. Doorley explained that the Newtown Corporate Center issue on the agenda tonight is a Zoning Hearing Board application which does not relate to traffic issues. 


Paul Sterling questioned whether the stormwater management measures approved with the Wiltshire Walk plan were discussed with residents.  Linda Scott and Susan Iazzatti said the matter was discussed openly at several meetings, and the residents of Upper Silver Lake Road were satisfied with the final plan.  They also said that some residents of Kirkwood were present for at least one of these discussions.


Mrs. Doorley suggested that residents concerned about the closing of Upper Silver Lake Road attend when the Commission again reviews the Newtown Corporate Center plan, which may occur at the first meeting in May.



MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (4/2/02):  Mr. Ott moved to approve the minutes of the 4/2/02 meeting with two changes:  In the Traffic Engineer’s Report, the first sentence under the Durham Road and the Bypass item should read “…the road surface on Durham Road approaching the Bypass near the entrance to the Newtown Shopping Center”, and the next item should read “ Eagle Road and Stoopville Road:  Mr. Ott asked …”.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously.





SKETCH PLAN - CLARK NATURE PRESERVE PARKING LOT - DURHAM ROAD:  Russell Strover of the Township Park and Recreation Board and Township Engineer Gerald Smith were present to discuss the plan for a minimal parking area and access driveway for the Clark property.  They explained that the parking area is exclusively for Township employees and officials involved in the maintenance and development of the property; it is not yet open to the public.


Mr. Strover said two shrubs will have to be removed to install the driveway, which will be 20’ wide (the present access is 10’ wide).  The apron of the driveway will be paved, but the rest of the drive and the parking area will be gravel.  Six 10’ X 20’ parking spaces will be provided.  There is a PECO easement in the back of the property.  Mr. Strover said an additional five spaces shown on the sketch plan behind the garage may be withdrawn.


Mr. Harwood said he is very concerned about the fast traffic on Durham Road at this location.  He suggested a left turn lane or warning signal for people turning let into the driveway, and that access be prohibited at night.


Mr. Smith said that the Traffic Engineer has looked at this proposed intersection and concluded there is no need for a left turn lane or a deceleration lane, because there will be fewer than 25 users.


Mrs. Beasley said that the Park and Open Space Committee discussed the Clark and Wohl properties several times, and it was understood that there would be parking on the Wohl Tract and not on the Clark property.  She said the Committee discussed several ways of getting people across Durham Road to the Clark property safely, such as a traffic signal, a crosswalk or a pedestrian bridge.  She said that safe access was going to be a major issue for the development of the Clark property.


Mr. Lombardi asked if there is room on Durham Road for a deceleration lane.  Mr. Smith said he believed there is.  Mr. Harwood said it may be necessary to move a utility pole, but this would help southbound traffic. He suggested that parking be prohibited on the driveway, and that the parking area be large enough so that no one has to back out onto Durham Road.  Mr. Lombardi suggested that the access be right in/right out.


Mrs. Beasley asked how the public will be kept out of the driveway.  Mr. Strover said there may be a gate across the entrance.


Mrs. Doorley asked if the Park and Recreation Board will come back before the Planning Commission when they have an engineered plan; Mr. Srover said they will.


CONDITIONAL USE - FUND FOR INHERITED DISEASE RESEARCH (FIDR) - 375 PHEASANT RUN - TMP# 29-10-133:  Lisa Malseed, President of FIDR, and Daniel Fox, consultant, were present to discuss their plan to use 8,100 square feet in an existing building in the LI District for G-2 Research Use, D-1 Office Use and G-3 Warehouse Use. 


Heritage Conservancy’s 3/19/02 letter was reviewed.  Ms Malseed said that FIDR is a privately funded research company investigating possible cures for Von Willenbrand Disease.  She said they are seeking funding for research into cures for other autoimmune diseases.  Delivery trucks will be of the UPS type.  There are currently five employees, and Ms Malseed hopes to increase that to ten.  She said the hours of operation will be 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday through Friday, but sometimes it will be necessary for employees to be present in evenings or on weekends.  Mrs. Doorley suggested the applicant amend the application to show the maximum hours employees might work.  Ms Malseed said she would ask to have the application show hours of operation from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM seven days a week.  She said there will be very little nonemployee traffic.  Their primary donor visits once a year.


Ms Malseed distributed a list of hazardous materials that FIDR will be using.  She said the Fire Marshal has seen the list and is not concerned.  Very small amounts of the materials will be used, employees are trained to use them, a safety shower is on site, and waste materials are picked up by a company which specializes in handling this kind of material. Ms Malseed said FIDR complies with federal, state and local EPA requirements; if they did not, the vendors of these substances would not sell them to FIDR.


Mr. Ott asked if a Halon system is possible for this site.  Mr. Fox said it can not be used in this kind of facility.


Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the conditional use application of FIDR, subject to compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 3/19/02.  The Planning Commission supports amending the application to show hours of operation as described above.  Further recommended conditions include:  there will be no large truck deliveries, the applicant will comply with any instructions from the Fire Marshal and with all applicable federal, state and local standards regarding hazardous materials.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.


Mrs. Beasley said the Commission should have a consulting chemist to help members assess safety issues regarding hazardous materials.  Mr. Lombardi commented that FIDR is a private organization without much oversight. Members were not sure of the Fire Marshal’s role in this process.  After some discussion, Mrs. Doorley asked Mr. Harwood to invite the Fire Marshal to a future meeting to help the Commission consider this question.


SKETCH PLAN - HOFFA TRACT - 90 EAGLE ROAD - TMP# 29-3-28, 29-28-3,29-4-42 & 29-4-44:  Attorney Ed Murphy and Mike Palmer of Toll Brothers were present to discuss a sketch plan for 41 lots on a 29.4897 acre property in the R-1 District.  Two sketches were submitted; the Commission expressed a preference for “B”, which shows direct access to Eagle Road, and only an emergency access to Durham Road.  A PRD with 39 new village homes is proposed, and one existing dwelling will remain.


The Heritage Conservancy’s 4/2/02 letter was reviewed. Mr. Murphy said that the Homeowners Association will prohibit the addition of pools or outbuildings by the owners, but there is room within the building envelope to add a deck or patio.  A typical lot will be approximately 60’ X 100’. Mr. Murphy said the streets will be 32’ wide, with parking on one side. He agreed to eliminate lot 3, which had a utility easement on it.  He said the existing buildings on lots 32 and 37 were inspected by Jeff Marshall of the Historic Commission and found to be of no historic value.


Mr. Murphy said the sketch shows a sidewalk on Eagle Road across from the site; this would connect with Cliveden’s sidewalk.  Several Commission members expressed a preference for a sidewalk on the Hoffa Tract’s side of Eagle Road because schools are located on that side.


A landscape berm is shown on the north side of the property.  Mr. Murphy said it might be necessary to obtain a variance to eliminate the sidewalk on one side of the access road in order to have a more substantial buffer between the road and the property line.


Mr. Harwood asked if the cul-de-sac could be changed into a loop street, which is easier to maintain.  Mr. Murphy said he will look into this.


PLAN AMENDMENT - CHANGE TO NATURAL RESOURCE PROTECTION LINE - TYNDALL - 17 MILLSTONE DRIVE:  Paul Tyndall was present to discuss his request to redraw the natural resource protection line on his property to permit construction of a deck and spa.  His request was accompanied by several photographs which illustrated that there are no trees or other plants that would be affected.  The square footage of protected area would remain the same.


Mr. Ott moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the change to the natural resource protection line at 17 Millstone Drive as proposed by Mr. Tyndall.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.


ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS:  The Commission reviewed six applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board on 5/2/02, and commented as follows:


1. Law School Admissions Council:  Mr. Sensibaugh said he is concerned that the parking area is being reduced.  Mr. Lombardi said the additional buffering for the residential neighbors is a good tradeoff.


Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose this application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed 8-1, with Mr. Sensibaugh voting “nay”.


2. Vincent and Sally Lombardi:  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose this application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously.


3. Newtown Corporate Center:  Mrs. Doorley and Mr. Fidler said they will abstain from any vote on this issue because of a conflict of interest.  Mr. Ott noted the plan indicates that Mrs. Doorley’s property will be impacted in a hundred year flood.  Mrs. Beasley said she does not like permitting backwater on an adjoining property.  Mr. Fidler said the Commission needs an engineer to assess the impact of the proposed bridge on neighboring properties.


Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that an engineer be retained, at the expense of the applicant, to evaluate the applicant’s hydrological data and determine its accuracy, with the results provided at the Board of Supervisors meeting on 4/24/02.  This action is recommended to help the Township understand the impact of this proposed variance on the upstream neighbors during a 100 year flood.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed 5-2, with Mr. Fidler and Mrs. Doorley abstaining and Mr.Sensibaugh and Mr  Bowe voting “nay”.

Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this application if the applicant does not pay for the engineering study.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Doorley, Mr. Fidler and Mrs. Beasley abstaining.

Mr. Kester moved  to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose the special exception requested by the applicant.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed with Mrs. Doorley and Mr. Fidler abstaining.


4. Mr. & Mrs. Pandit - 225 Yorkshire Drive: Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose this application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Bowe and passed unanimously.


5. Doctors Goldberger and Kelly - 26 Eagle Road: Mrs. Beasley moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose this application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.


6. Donna Lynne Picone - 93 Richboro Road: Mrs. Beasley moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose this application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.


Mr. Harwood invited members of the Commission who want to know more how the Zoning Hearing Board makes its decisions to attend a Zoning Hearing Board meeting.



SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS:  Deferred due to the late hour.








OR DISTRICT ZONING:  Tabled to next meeting.





BUFFER STANDARDS:  Tabled to next meeting.



ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 11:10 PM.







Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary