Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

July 16, 2002

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF JULY  16, 2002: Mr. Sensinbaugh moved to approve the minutes of July 16, 2002. Mr. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 7-0, with Messrs. Dieterle and Fidler abstaining.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, July 16, 2002, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were:  Chairperson Karen Doorley; members Paul Kester, Jay Sensibaugh, Sue Beasley, Jim Ott, Vince Lombardi 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. 

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (7/2/02):  Mr. Kester moved to approve the minutes of the 7/2/02 meeting with one change.  Under Verizon Sketch Plan, the seventh paragraph should read “The Commission recommended the review of an existing wetlands study”.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously. 


PRD VARIANCE - ELIZABETH BEASLEY - 152 HIGH STREET - TMP# 29-25-34:  Elizabeth Beasley was present to discuss her request to reduce the rear yard setback from the required 30 feet to 22 feet, and to increase the impervious surface ratio from the maximum of 25% to 32.4%, on her property in the R1 Medium Density Residential District.  She proposes to build a patio enclosure in the rear of her home which will slightly increase the size of an existing patio.  Ms Beasley said that her present patio is eight feet by 22 feet; the proposed new patio will be ten feet by 22 feet.  

Mr. Sensibaugh said he is a nearby resident and talked to neighbors close to Ms Beasley.  They all said they had no problems with the project.  Ms Beasley gave Mr. Harwood a letter from the nearest neighbors stating they had no objection to the enlarged patio. 

Commission member Sue Beasley said she will abstain from the vote because the applicant is her daughter. 

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the PRD variance request regarding 152 High Street.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Beasley abstaining. 

REVISED/AMENDED FINAL PLAN - KATHLEEN M. LESSER - 117 S. SYCAMORE STREET - TMP# 29-11-12:  Kathleen M. Lesser and attorney Edward Murphy were present to discuss the plan to expand the parking lot at her property in the TC Town Commercial District, add some landscaping and add 475 square feet of sidewalk along Sycamore Street. 

Mr. Murphy said the applicant received approval in 1993 for a 3700 square foot addition which was never built. The present plan replaces the previous one.  Mr. Murphy said that conditional use approval has already been granted for the orthodontist’s office on the second floor (D-2 Medical Office).  The “Chef’s Essentials” business (Use E-1 Retail Shop) moving into the first floor received conditional use approval previously, which is transferable to this location.  Mr. Harwood confirmed that this is correct.  The plan rearranges and expands the parking lot, adds landscaping, and gives Ms Lesser more control over ingress and egress. 

Mr. Murphy said the applicant is requesting relief from the Zoning Hearing Board to permit parking within Sycamore Street’s right-of-way; to permit two handicapped spaces 10.5 feet wide instead of 12.5 feet wide; and to omit the required buffer between the parking and the street.  Mr. Murphy said that if the variance request is successful, parking space #20 on the plan will probably be eliminated in order to install a fire lane.  He said the improvements will be coordinated with the Sycamore Street plan. 

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they approve the revised amended plan for 117 S. Sycamore Street, contingent on compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 7/9/02, the Bucks County Conservation District letter of 7/12/02 and the Pennoni Associates letter of 7/15/02.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Ott said he knows from experience that 10.5 feet is not wide enough for a person getting in or out with a wheelchair.  Mr. Murphy and Ms Lesser studied the plan and said the handicapped spaces could be expanded to be 12.5 feet wide. 

Mr. Lombardi and Mr. Kester agreed to amend their motion to include a recommendation that a condition of approval be that the handicapped parking spaces be 12.5 feet wide.  The motion passed unanimously. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: The Commission reviewed seven applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board meeting of 8/1/02, and made the following comments: 

a.      Holland Floor Covering - 35 Swamp Road: The applicant is requesting E-1 Retail Use in a District where it is not permitted.  Several members observed that the area around the property is predominantly commercial.  Mr. Sander said that this business requires relatively few parking spaces, but another retail use with higher parking needs could come in later.  Mr. Harwood suggested that the Commission recommend that the applicant not be permitted outdoor storage or storage of commercial vehicles.  Members agreed to state no opposition, but to note Mr. Harwood’s concerns. 

b.      Kathleen Lesser - 117 S. Sycamore Street: No opposition, but the Commission recommends the condition that the handicapped parking spaces be expanded to 12.5 feet wide (see above). 

c.      Bucks Central Church - 41 Linden Avenue:  No opposition. 

d.      Markman - 15 Susanna Way: Mrs. Doorley observed that the applicant is seeking a 56% increase in the impervious surface on this property.  Mr. Harwood noted that loose stones, pavers, etc. are still impervious surface, because when they settle into the ground after installation they do not permit water to sink in.  Members agreed to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this request and support the ordinance, because the relief sought is excessive.  Members noted a growing trend for homeowners to propose using pavers or stones instead of building decks or patios, although they are all considered impervious surface in the ordinance. 

e.      Yakimiv - 126 Chesapeake Drive: Mr. Harwood noted that the applicant is proposing a fence on the property line, making maintenance of the fence difficult.  He also said that uneven fences behind a row of houses can be an appearance issue.  Members agreed to state no opposition to this application. 

f.        Blatstein - 6 Madison Court: Members had some reservations about the excessive relief sought, and about the potential for similar requests from almost every resident in this development (Pheasant Pointe). 

g.      John Buhr & Vanessa Lum - 9 Blayze Court: No opposition. 


a.      BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:  No report. 

b.      NEWTOWN AREA REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION:  Mr. Kester said the next meeting is 7/18/02.  The group will discuss a proposal to require developers to reserve some allowance for impervious surface for homeowners to add features like patios and pools.  

c.      JOINT ZONING COUNCIL:  No report. 

d.      SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE:  Mr. Lombardi said the 7/9/02 meeting was canceled, and the Committee will meet on 7/25/02 to review the plans one more time before construction begins. 

e.      HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD:  Mr. Lombardi said that the sign for Tyrol’s insurance agency was approved. 

f.        PARK AND RECREATION BOARD:  Mrs. Beasley reported that the Board did not meet.  Mrs. Doorley said that the Township won the First Fourth softball game again. 

g.      PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  Mrs. Doorley said there are several plans that must come before the Planning Commission at the next meeting on 8/6/02, and it appears that the Szarko minor subdivision needs an extension.  Mr. Sander said he will bring these items to Mr. Harris’ attention. 


FINAL PLAN - FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH - STOOPVILLE ROAD AND WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD - TMP #20-1-1:  Commission members received a copy of the Bucks County Planning Commission’s 7/9/02 letter to Lower Makefield reviewing this project. 



JMZO 2002-08 - AGRICULTURAL OFF-PREMISES SIGNS:  The Commission received a copy of a draft ordinance which permits and regulates off-premises agricultural signs.  Mr. Frank distributed his letter of 6/27/02 to Mary Eberle, which recommends that the ordinance be reworded to require that the seasonal off-premises signs be removed at the end of the season, not when the agricultural use ends.  

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors support Mr. Frank’s recommendations as described in his 6/27/02 letter.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 


OPEN HOUSE - ICT:  Mrs. Doorley said she received a notice of an open house at the ICT building to be held on 7/19/02.  

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 9:25 PM. 


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary