Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

May 7, 2002


MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (5/7/02):  Mr. Kester moved to approve the minutes of the 5/7/02 meeting with one correction:  The last sentence of the first paragraph under Conditional Use - McLaughlin Tract should read “…Mr. Frank questioned whether the log house lot will be included as open space.”  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, May 7, 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: Supervisor Anne Goren; 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.  She announced that there will be no traffic engineer’s report. 

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. 

REVIEWS: 

FINAL PLAN - HESTON TRACT (THE RESERVE) - TOLL BROTHERS - 208 UPPER SILVER LAKE ROAD - TMP# 29-10-77:  Mike Palmer, attorney Ed Murphy and engineer Jeffrey Franz were present to discuss the final plan for a residential development of 24 lots with single family homes on a 77.3 acre tract in the OR District.  Preliminary plan approval was granted by the Board of Supervisors in February 2002. 

Mr. Murphy said the disposition of the Heston barn was an unresolved issue after the preliminary plan review.  He said the applicant has been working with the Save the Barn group, but the Peter Taylor Farmstead does not have the funds to reassemble the barn on their property.  Instead, they propose to use the timbers to repair and restore one of their existing barns.  The applicant will donate the cost of building a foundation, estimated at $30,000 to $40,000, to the barn preservation group. 

Mr. Fidler observed that if the timbers are stored, they must be indoors or they will rapidly deteriorate.  He suggested that the applicant’s park and recreation fees, plus the money that had been earmarked for the foundation, could go towards restoring the barn.  Jeff Marshall of the Save the Barn group said his group received one estimate of $500,000 for the cost of restoring the barn.  Mr. Murphy said Toll Brothers will work around the barn as long as possible, and will continue to work with the Save the Barn group on a solution.  When the barn is dismantled it will be stored indoors.   

Pennoni Associates’ 5/3/02 letter was reviewed.  Mr. Murphy said the applicant has complied or will comply with all points in the letter.  Members  had questions about the stormwater management.  Mr. Franz stated the drainage system is self-contained and will not worsen the drainage in the Newtown Corporate Center to the south.  He said Mr. Heston will maintain the well on his lot and will continue to use it. 

The Heritage Conservancy’s 4/9/02 letter was reviewed.  Mr. Frank said the only major point in his report not yet dealt with is the question of access to the open space.  Mr. Franz showed where access will be available from Upper Silver Lake Road.  Mr. Palmer said the access will be a flat, mowed area.  Members asked that it be delineated in some way, with buffering, signage or a fence. 

Mr. Fidler asked about the safety and drainage of the pond.  Mr. Franz said the pond is about 4 feet at its deepest part, and the slope of the edge is about 3:1.  Mr. Fidler was concerned that the development will reduce the flow of water through the pond, causing the water to become stagnant.  Mr. Palmer said a fountain could be installed to provide aeration. 

Mr. Murphy said the only letter the applicant has from the Fire Marshal is inconsistent with the preliminary plan approval regarding the location of fire hydrants.  He agreed to obtain an updated letter from the Fire Marshal. 

Bill Sterling, a neighboring property owner, expressed concern that the some proposed plantings near the swale will cast shade on his farmland.  Mr. Palmer said the trees are there because of an ordinance requirement.  He said Toll Brothers will request a waiver if necessary to relocate the trees so they do not impact Mr. Sterling’s property. 

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the final plan for the Heston Tract, known as The Reserve, with the following conditions: 

·         Compliance with the Pennoni Associates letter of 5/3/02.

·         The applicant will dismantle the existing barn and work with the Save the Farm organization on a suitable disposition.  The barn will remain standing as long as possible or until a solution is found.

·         The parts of the barn will be stored inside, at the expense of Toll Brothers..

·         The applicant will build a foundation for the barn to be reassembled elsewhere, or donate the cash equivalent as approved by Pennoni Associates.

·         Compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 4/9/02.

·         The pond will be aerated.

·         There will be access to the open space from Upper Silver Lake Road, delineated by buffering, fencing, or signage.

·         Compliance with the Conservation District letter of 4/19/02.

·         The applicant will obtain a new review letter from the Fire Marshal.

·         Trees will be removed from the northern side of the swale and berm and added elsewhere, by waiver if necessary. 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Deiterle and passed unanimously. 

PLANS FOR COMMISSION REVIEW:   Several members expressed a preference that in the future,  half size plans be obtained from applicants and distributed to Commission members for their review.  Mr. Harwood said he will look into making this change. 

SKETCH PLAN  - MCLAUGHLIN TRACT - TOLL BROTHERS - 37 STOOPVILLE ROAD - TMP# 29-7-5: Mike Palmer, attorney Ed Murphy and engineer Jeffrey Franz were present to discuss the sketch plan for 35 single family homes on a 38.39 acre tract on Stoopville Road in the CM District.  Mr. Murphy summarized the history of plans proposed for this site.  He stated that the present sketch plan incorporates improvements to the road and to the intersection of Stoopville, Linton Hill and Creamery Roads, as suggested by Pennoni Associates’ revision of the earlier Carroll Engineering plan.  The improvements double the cost over what the ordinance requires.  He  said that Upper Makefield, which shares the intersection, has reviewed the sketch and found it acceptable. Mr. Murphy said the log house, which will remain on its own lot, is proposed to be deeded to the Township for public use.  

Mr. Murphy said that in order to justify the increased costs of the road improvements, the 35 lots and houses are larger than proposed last year.  He said the applicant will need Zoning Hearing Board relief for disturbance of soils and for a density of 1.7 units.  

Mr. Lombardi asked why there are two cul-de-sacs instead of a loop street.  Mr. Murphy said this design was chosen to meet buffering requirements and to keep a single access onto Stoopville Road.  He said that with a loop street design, the backs of some houses would face Stoopville Road.  Mr. Palmer added that there are also wetlands to consider, and Mr. Franz said it might be difficult to design a loop with the required radius. 

Mr. Harwood suggested that the applicant could seek a variance to encroach into the 100 foot buffer.  Commission members were divided on whether to favor the cul-de-sacs or a loop design. 

Mr. Smith explained the road improvements recommended by Pennoni Associates. The intersection at Stoopville, Creamery and Linton Hill Roads will be straightened out into right angles and a left turn lane added, and Stoopville Road will be pushed further north into the McLaughlin Tract.  An historic tree on Stoopville Road will be preserved, and sight distances are improved.  An 80 foot right of way is required by ordinance. 

Mr. Ott said he feels the improvements are going to increase the speed of the traffic.  He said he agreed that the intersection needs some work, but the proposed improvements seem like more than is needed.  Mr. Lombardi said the addition of a traffic signal at the intersection will help cut down on traffic speed.  

Chris Kennedy, a resident of Newtown Grant, asked when it is appropriate for the public to comment on land development plans.  Mr. Sander outlined the land development process, and Mrs. Doorley said the public can comment on any issue after the Commission has discussed it.  

Ms Kennedy said she and other neighbors do not want to see an 80 foot right of way on Stoopville Road.  Mr. Smith said the ordinance requires an 80 foot right of way on this type of road.  Mr. Sander noted that the width of the right of way is not the same thing as the width of the cartway. 

William McMenamin said he is concerned about the short distance between the access to the development and the curve in the road.  Tom Lendle said sewer and water service for residents of Stoopville Road is more important than preserving the log house, which some consider an eyesore. 

CONDITIONAL USE  - MCLAUGHLIN TRACT - TOLL BROTHERS - 37 STOOPVILLE ROAD - TMP# 29-7-5:  The application is for Use B-14, Performance Subdivision.  The Heritage Conservancy letter of 4/16/02 was reviewed.  It was noted that the open space in the CM District is supposed to be farmable lands; Mr. Frank questioned whether the log house lot will be farmable.  

Mr. Lombardi said that if the Township grants a waiver on the width of the right of way, it would reduce the applicant’s need for relief on density.  Mr. Murphy said that the improvements to Stoopville Road are not technically part of the conditional use process, but Mr. Lombardi disagreed.  

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they approve the conditional use application for this project as shown on the sketch plan reviewed tonight, with the following conditions: 

·         Compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 4/16/02.

·         The applicant will obtain a variance for disturbance of class 1 and 2 soils

·         The log house will be preserved in the open space on a separate lot and devoted to public use.

·         The remainder of the open space will be farmable fields.

·         The applicant will produce a current aerial photo of the area.

·         The applicant will provide the appropriate deed restrictions on the open space.

·         The applicant will obtain a variance permitting a density of 1.7 units.

·         Stoopville Road improvements will minimize the width of the cartway and the right of way, making them as narrow as possible while maintaining safety. 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed 5-3, with Mr. Fidler, Mr. Ott and Mr. Sensibaugh voting “nay”, and Mrs. Beasley abstaining.  

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS:  Deferred to the next meeting. 

CORRESPONDENCE:  None. 

OLD BUSINESS: 

BUFFER STANDARDS:  The Commission reviewed a 2/15/02 memo from Mr. Frank regarding proposed buffer standards to be included in the JMZO.  Mr. Frank said that the ordinance is fairly vague about standards for buffering.  Mr. Lombardi observed that the vagueness allows the Township flexibility to negotiate in each case.  Mr. Sander suggested that the Commission focus on standards for buffering between dissimilar uses; members agreed with this suggestion, and asked Mr. Frank to develop some recommendations in this area.  Mrs. Beasley said that lighting is also a major concern when dissimilar uses abut. 

OR DISTRICT ZONING:  Tabled to next meeting. 

NEW BUSINESS: 

JMZO AMENDMENT - RESIDENTIAL ACCESSORY STRUCTURES AND ACCESSORY USES FOR TEMPORARY MOTOR VEHICLE SALES:  The Commission received a 5/2/02 letter from Terry Clemons, solicitor for the Newtown Area Joint Planning Commission, which included a draft ordinance amendment and commentary from the Bucks County Planning Commission, Wrightstown Township and Upper Makefield Township.  Mrs. Doorley asked Mr. Frank to review the letter and present a summary at a future meeting. 

GENERAL DISCUSSION: 

NEXT MEETING:  Mrs. Doorley noted that the next Commission meeting falls on 5/21/02, primary election day.  Three members said they will not be able to attend because of election day commitments.  Mrs. Doorley decided the Commission will meet unless there is no urgent business scheduled.  

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

 

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED, 

 

____________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary