Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

August 20, 2002

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (8/20/02):  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the minutes of the 8/20/02 meeting with one change: In the ninth paragraph of the discussion of the Durham Road Associates Preliminary Plan, the first sentence should end after “…the Pennoni letter”.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Doorley abstaining. 

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, August 20, 2002, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Vice Chairman Allen Fidler; members Paul Kester, Jay Sensibaugh, Jim Ott, Bob Dieterle and Jim Bowe. Also in attendance were: Township Engineer Gerald Smith; Township Solicitor David Sander; Township Planner Mike Frank; and Kristie Kaznicki of the Public Works Department.

Vice Chairman Allen Fidler called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (8/6/02): Mr. Bowe moved to approve the minutes of the 8/6/02 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously.


PRD VARIANCE - DANIEL GOURLEY - 120 EVERETT DRIVE - TMP# 29-28-316: Owner Daniel Gourley was present to discuss his request for a variance to increase the impervious surface on his property to 28.55%, 3.55 percentage points over the 25% maximum. He proposes to build a family room addition on the back of his home in the Country Bend development in the R-1 Medium Density District.

Mr. Ott said the rear yard setback would be only 4.6 feet with the addition, and asked if a variance was needed for this. Ms Kaznicki said that there is no minimum rear setback in Country Bend. Mr. Gourley said there is at least 100 feet of open space behind his lot. He also said that his neighbors do not object to the addition.

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the PRD Variance for 120 Everett Drive. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Sensibaugh asked Mr. Gourley if he had letters from his neighbors, and Mr. Gourley responded that he did not. Mr. Fidler said it would be good to obtain some for the hearing before the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Sander added that Mr. Gourley should check with his Homeowners Association to see if they have any requirements.

Mr. Kester’s motion passed unanimously.

SKETCH PLAN - TEMPORARY MODULAR CLASSROOMS - COUNCIL ROCK HIGH SCHOOL NORTH - 62 SWAMP ROAD - TMP# 29-3-11-2: Tom Ames, Supervisor of Operational Services for the Council Rock School District, was present to discuss the District’s proposal to install up to six temporary modular classrooms behind Council Rock High School North on a grassy area near the tennis courts. Mr. Ames stated that the trailers would be relocated from Holland Junior High. He said they are needed because the District will be doing extensive renovations inside the high school while school is in session. He distributed a memo and copies of photographs giving details on the plan. Mr. Ames emphasized that this is a conceptual plan, and the District is open to suggestions.

Mr. Kester asked about progress on the construction of Council Rock High School South. Mr. Ames said it will be open by 9/30/02. Mr. Ames said that the renovations at North should be finished by the end of summer 2004.

Mr. Frank said his review of 8/13/02 was based on a C-2 School Use, which would normally require a conditional use approval, but the more appropriate use would be H-7 Temporary School Structure, which is permitted by right. Mr. Sander read from the ordinance about the requirements for an H-7 Use. The applicant applies for a six month permit from the Codes Office, and must renew it every three months thereafter. Mr. Sander said the best course seemed to be to secure the permit and then seek a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board so that the District will not have to renew the permit so frequently for the next two years.

Mr. Sensibaugh asked if the existing walkway to the tennis courts could be utilized for access to the modules. Mr. Ames said he will consider that.

Mr. Frank said he did not see any problems with the impervious surface ratio, parking, access, sanitation, etc.

Nancy Cresenzco, a Township resident, said she was concerned about the students having to go into the main building to use the bathrooms. Mr. Ames said the school has security personnel present every day. He also said that there will be about 600 fewer students at the school this year than last year.

Bill McMenamin, a Township resident, asked if the walkways will be canopied. Mr. Ames said that has not been decided.

PRELIMINARY PLAN - DURHAM ROAD ASSOCIATES (DRA) - 416 & 434 DURHAM ROAD - TMP# 29-3-35 AND 29-3-36-2: David Pinchuk of DRA, attorney John VanLuvanee and engineer Maryellen Saylor were present to discuss their plan to construct three office buildings at a 13.64 acre site in the PS-2 District, with D-1 Office Use. Mr. VanLuvanee stated that the applicant has already received conditional use approval for D-1 Use. The plan that was distributed to the Commission, and to the Township Engineer and Planner for their review, is dated 12/31/01. The plan remains the same except for a reconfiguration of the access road. Mr. VanLuvanee displayed a sketch of the new configuration. He asked that the Commission discuss the 12/31/01 plan and subsequent reviews, since the access road is the only change. Mr. Smith noted that there will be a traffic signal at North Drive, which will create breaks in traffic that will facilitate access to the DRA property.

The Commission first discussed the Pennoni review letter of 8/13/02. Mr. VanLuvanee said there were several comments about floodplain issues (including points numbered A 5, 6 and 9, and B 18) that will be addressed by a new floodplain study to be commissioned by DRA. Mr. VanLuvanee said the standard floodplain maps from 1975 are inaccurate. He also clarified that there will be only D-1 Office Use, and that there is no space in the basement to be added to the gross floor space (number A 4).

Number A 7 mentions the variance already obtained to allow an impervious surface of 32.1%. Mr. VanLuvanee said the new driveway configuration will require another variance, to allow 33.7%. He said that the Zoning Hearing Board granted a variance to allow some parking spaces to be smaller so that DRA could construct three relatively small buildings rather than one very large one. Regarding buffering, Mr. VanLuvanee said that DRA will work with the Newtown Grant neighbors on a satisfactory buffer.

Point number A 17 states that the ordinance requires that 50% of the parking area lights must be left on overnight, but Mr. Sander and Mr. Frank confirmed that this section of the ordinance does not apply to the PS-2 District.

Mr. VanLuvanee stated that the Fire Marshal has approved the plan, but Mr. Smith reminded him that the Fire Marshal must also approve the reconfigured driveway. Mr. VanLuvanee stated that the applicant will seek a waiver of Section 512, requiring sidewalks along Durham Road (point number B 11). Several Commission members said they do not see a need for sidewalks on Durham Road.

Several comments were related to stormwater management. Mr. VanLuvanee said DRA will work with Pennoni to ensure that the post-development flow rate does not exceed the pre-development rate. Mr. Smith said the flow rate, not the amount, was his concern.

Point B 17 deals with the requirement to provide a copy of the proposed maintenance agreement for the stormwater system to the Township. Mr. Sander said this is a relatively new requirement, and he will provide the form to DRA.

Mr. VanLuvanee said that the Parks and Recreation Board recommended a fee in lieu of park or recreation facilities, which is acceptable to DRA. He also said the existing house (point number C 6) will be removed and donated to the Fire Department for training purposes.

Mr. Frank said that most of his points were covered in the discussion of the Pennoni letter; his comments about the road layout will be addressed when the reconfiguration is discussed. He suggested that an easement should be provided for access to the outparcel, in anticipation of its development. Mr. VanLuvanee said DRA will do so, with the understanding that it will not be included in impervious surface calculations.

Bill McMenamin, president of the Newtown Grant Homeowners Association, presented a list of concerns that nearby residents have about the DRA development.

·       Lighting:  The residents would like the lighting near Society Place turned off at 8:00 PM, and the rest of the parking lot lighting turned off at 10:00 PM.  They also want the lights to be “downcast” so they do not shine into the windows of homes.  Ms Saylor said the proposed fixtures are the same as those in the CAU parking lot, and residents can go there to see what they are like.  Mr. VanLuvanee said DRA has agreed to the first two requests, and is willing to work on the design of the fixtures with the neighbors.

·       Landscaping:  The residents had concerns about berming, tree removal and planting, aeration of ponds, and disturbance of the area around the creek.  Mr. VanLuvanee said DRA will work with the neighbors and have them sign off on the landscaping plan.

·       Traffic Control:  The residents view the traffic signal at North Drive as very important.  Mr. Smith assured them it will be installed, and said Pennoni has already begun design work on the project. 

Mr. VanLuvanee said the next step for DRA is to seek a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board.  He said they hope to return for preliminary as final approval, since the plan was discussed in detail tonight.  Nancy Cresenzco asked that the Newtown Grant Homeowners Association be notified when this plan is reviewed again. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS:  The Commission reviewed eight applications scheduled for the next Zoning Hearing Board meeting, and commented as follows:

1.      Maple Leaf Learning Center - 530 Washington Crossing Road:  No comments.

2.      Genesis Community Church - 54 Walker Lane:  No comments.

3.      Tony & Michael Cestero - 128 Stoopville Road:  No comments.

4.      Kim & George Lawrence - 207 St. Andrew’s Place:  No comments.

5.      Prime Properties Inc. - 172 Durham Road: Commission members recommended that the Township ensure that the expanded parking area is used only for residential parking.

6.      Scott Levy - 8 Alexander Way:  No comments.

7.      Piccollo Trattoria - 32 West Road Unit P:  Mr. Sander read the ordinance definition of a sign.  Members agreed the statue, which is already there, is a sign, and noted that the applicant is seeking an additional sign as well.  Mr. Kester said there is no hardship demonstrated.  Mr. Sensibaugh said opposing this request is inconsistent with other decisions.  Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this request.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Bowe and passed 4-2, with Mr. Sensibaugh and Mr. Ott voting “nay”. 

8.      Paul Lebedev - 84 Cypress Place:  Mr. Bowe and Mr. Fidler said the rear yard encroachment is quite significant.  Mr. Bowe moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this request.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously. 


NEWTOWN GRANT RESOLUTION: Mr. Fidler stated that the Commission was not asked to make a recommendation on the 7/17/02 resolution by the Newtown Grant Homeowners Association.  Mr. Kester said it states the residents’ concerns very clearly, and the Commission will address them when reviewing a plan involving improvements to Stoopville Road. 

Richard Tonge, a Newtown Grant resident, said the resolution was developed after the Planning Commission meeting at which a plan for the McLaughlin Tract was reviewed.  He stated that the resolution will be shared with Toll Brothers.  He said that the Newtown Grant Homeowners Association would like to be notified when the McLaughlin Tract plan is reviewed again. 

Chris Kennedy, a Newtown Grant resident, said residents are uncertain where the appropriate venue is for them to voice their concerns, and are feeling frustrated. 


COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT:  Commission members received an 8/16/02 memo from Tom Harwood outlining recent projects funded with CDBG grants, and a timetable for submission of this year’s application.  The memo requested that the Commission discuss this subject at their meeting on 9/3/02, so the item was tabled until 9/3/02. 

DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE:  An 8/16/02 memo from Tom Harwood was distributed at the meeting.  The memo stated that he estimates that a minimum of two hours of administrative work will be required each time this ordinance is implemented.  Commission members discussed the possibility of charging developers a fee to cover this expense.  Mr. Sander said there is a possibility that the Codes Office would have to deal with as many as a hundred of these a month for a while.  He said that Wrightstown has stated they will not verify the information gathered by developers. 

Mr. Sander recommended that a disclaimer appear on the form stating that the Township does not guarantee the information is 100% accurate.  Mr. Bowe said the disclaimer would negate the value of the document, but Mr. Dieterle said it will alert the homeowner to issues they need to investigate.  Mr. Bowe suggested said these documents can be kept on file and made available to homebuyers. 

Mr. Sander said he will correspond with Pat Scully and discuss charging an administrative fee, adding a disclaimer and publicizing the availability of the information submitted. 


ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, Mr. Fidler adjourned the meeting at 11:20 PM. 


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary