Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

September 17, 2002


MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (9/17/02):  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the minutes of the 9/17/02 meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously, with Mr. Bowe, Mr. Fidler and Mr. Kester abstaining. 


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, September 17, 2002, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were:  Chairperson Karen Doorley; members Jay Sensibaugh, Jim Ott, Sue Beasley, Vince Lombardi and Bob Dieterle.  Also in attendance were Township Planner Mike Frank, Township Engineer Chris Walker, Township Solicitor Dave Sander and Director of Public Works Tom Harwood. 

Chairperson Karen Doorley called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. 

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (9/3/02):  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the minutes of the 9/3/02 meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously, with Mr. Dieterle and Mrs. Beasley abstaining. 

REVIEWS 

CONDITIONAL USE - NEWTOWN FIRE COMPANY - 55 MUNICIPAL DRIVE - TMP #29-3-18-2: Warren Dallas of the Newtown Fire Company, attorney Ed Murphy and engineer Heath Dumack were present to discuss their request for an F-2 Emergency Services Use for the existing 4,180 square foot building and a 2,400 square foot addition, on a 1.2258 acre parcel in the MS District.  Mr. Murphy explained that the addition is necessary to enable the Fire Company to store all of their equipment inside. 

Mr. Murphy said he was unable to verify that there was a special exception granted by the Zoning Hearing Board in 1992 to allow the Emergency Services Use.  Therefore the applicant is requesting conditional use approval at this time.  

The Heritage Conservancy letter of 8/15/02 was reviewed.  In response to the letter, Mr. Murphy said the use will continue to be Emergency Services Use; the hours of operation will be 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday through Friday; and no hazardous materials will be stored or noxious environmental effects generated.  Mr. Murphy said that no one will be staying overnight in the building, and the Fire Company will not be filling or testing fire extinguishers in the building. 

Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the request from the Fire Company for the expanded F-2 Emergency Services Use, contingent on compliance with the 8/15/02 Heritage Conservancy letter, and providing that the activities on the site remain the same, the hours of operation are 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday through Friday, and no hazardous materials are present or noxious effects generated.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously. 

PRELIMINARY AS FINAL PLAN - NEWTOWN FIRE COMPANY - 55 MUNICIPAL DRIVE - TMP# 29-3-18-2:  Mr. Dallas, Mr. Murphy and Mr. Dumack also discussed the preliminary as final plan for the addition described above. 

The Pennoni Associates letter of 9/12/02 and the Heritage Conservancy letter of 8/15/02 were reviewed.  Mr. Murphy stated that the applicant is seeking the waivers listed on page 2 of the Pennoni letter, and will comply with all other points in the letter.  

Mr. Sensibaugh asked if the plan clarifies that a variance is not needed for an apparent encroachment into the rear yard, since the line in question is a lease line and not a property line.  Mr. Murphy said it has been made clear. 

Mrs. Beasley moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they approve the preliminary as final plan for the addition to the Fire Company Building, contingent on compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 8/15/02 and the Pennoni Associates letter of 9/12/02.  It is further recommended that the Board of Supervisors grant the five waivers listed on page two of the Pennoni letter.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Harwood said it will be difficult to maintain the sides of the basin with the 2-1 slope that would be permitted if a waiver of Section 521.5.G is granted.  Several alternatives were discussed, and Mr. Harwood recommended that the sides of the basin be planted with crown vetch.  Mr. Murphy agreed with this recommendation. 

Mrs. Beasley amended her motion to include the recommendation that the sides of the basin be planted with crown vetch.  Mr. Sensibaugh seconded the amendment, and the motion passed unanimously. 

CONDITIONAL USE - APPLEBEE’S NEIGHBORHOOD BAR AND GRILL - 2 WEST ROAD - TMP# 29-3-24:  Hank Lieberman of Applebee’s and attorney Donna Wengiel were present to discuss the applicant’s request for approval of an E-6 Take Out Restaurant Use, supplemental to the existing E-5 Restaurant Use.  The restaurant is located in the Newtown Shopping Center in the PC District.  Ms Wengiel said the “to go” service began operating before the applicant realized he needed a conditional use approval. 

Mr. Lieberman described the “to go” service, in which restaurant staff deliver take out orders to the customer’s car in one of four reserved parking spaces with an electronic monitor that notifies the restaurant that the customer is waiting.  He said Applebee’s is requesting approval for four directional signs to designate these spaces. 

The Heritage Conservancy letter of 8/21/02 was reviewed.  Ms Wengiel stated that the E-6 Take Out Use will be supplemental to the E-5 Restaurant Use and not replace it.  She said that there will be no change in the delivery traffic, floor area, employees or hours of operation.  No hazardous materials or noxious environmental effects will be present.  

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the request for an E-6 Take Out Use supplemental to the existing E-5 Restaurant Use, subject to compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 8/21/02, and providing that the service is drive-in and not drive-through, and four parking spaces will be designated for this purpose with signs as shown in photographs submitted with the application.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Beasley. 

Discussion of motion:  Mike Iapalucci, a Township resident, asked if a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board was needed for the signs.  Mr. Harwood said it is needed, because the signs will have text on both sides, and one side faces the Bypass.  Ms Wengiel said the applicant will agree to remove the text on the side facing the Bypass.  Mr. Iapalucci suggested that Mr. Harwood also look into whether the canopy sign on the restaurant meets the ordinance. 

Mr. Lombardi amended his motion to include the statement that the applicant agrees to remove the text on the side of the signs facing the Bypass.  Mrs. Beasley seconded the amendment and the motion passed unanimously. 

PRELIMINARY AS FINAL PLAN - MILL RACE OFFICE CAMPUS - 1051 LINDENHURST ROAD - TMP# 29-10-79:  Applicants Daniel and Karen Doorley, architect Dan Winokur and attorney Donna Wengiel were present to discuss their plan to construct a new 8,840 square foot office building on a 5.4374 acre parcel in the OR District.  There is an existing office building on the site. 

For this portion of the meeting, Commission Secretary Vince Lombardi presided, as Chairperson Karen Doorley is one of the applicants. 

Ms Wengiel stated that the applicant has obtained Zoning Hearing Board relief from a number of requirements relating to side yard setbacks and parking and utilities in floodplains.  She said access to the site will be through an easement on the adjoining Brandywine property. 

The 7/29/02 Heritage Conservancy letter was reviewed.  The letter notes that the entire building envelope is within the 100 year floodplain and wetlands.  In response to a question in the letter, Ms Wengiel stated that the applicants will add ten parking spaces in reserve, for a total of 22 spaces. 

Ms Wengiel said the applicants are seeking a waiver from the requirement for a traffic study because this development will have minimal impact on local roads.  A waiver is also being sought from the requirement to show all local features on the plan; Ms Wengiel said an aerial photo, with all the recent nearby developments, will be submitted.  A total of 11 waivers are being requested (see Mr. Lombardi’s motion below). 

Ms Wengiel stated that the Fire Marshal has approved the location of the parking area, which is closer than 20 feet from the building, and written documentation of this will be obtained.  Ms Wengiel also said that the applicant has a letter from the Sewer Authority granting permission to locate a small portion of the parking area in a sanitary sewer easement.  

Ms Wengiel said that the Park and Recreation Board has recommended a fee in lieu of park and recreation facilities.  She noted that the Heritage Conservancy letter questions the location of the handicapped parking space, and explained that the grade of the site made this location preferable.  Ms Wengiel also agreed to limit the height of the lighting poles to 16 feet. 

The Pennoni Associates letter of 9/5/02 was reviewed.  Mr. Walker noted that much of the site will be covered with up to 4 feet of water in a 100 year flood.  He said he supports the request for a waiver of the Stormwater Management Ordinance because no runoff will occur from this site.  

Point III B 3, regarding the right of way and the cartway on Lindenhurst Road, was discussed in detail.  The applicants agreed to provide an 80 foot right of way, and to show the existing right of way and cartway on the plan. 

Regarding Point IV B 2, Ms Wengiel said that the suggested parking area design was not desirable, and Mr. Walker agreed.  Regarding Point IV B 4, Mr. Walker said that the traffic impact fee amount was incorrect.  He said it should be $17,750.65, as specified in his subsequent letter of 9/16/02. 

Point IV C 1 suggested that the plan be revised before submission to the Board of Supervisors.  Commission members recommended that the applicants wait to see what the Board’s comments are before developing a revised plan. 

Commission members agreed that the Bucks County Planning Commission letter of 8/21/02 covered the same items that the previous review letters covered.  

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the preliminary as final plan with the following conditions: 

·       Compliance with the 7/29/02 Heritage Conservancy letter and the 9/5/02 Pennoni Associates letter as amended by their letter 9/16/02 letter, which specifies a traffic impact fee of $17,750.65

·       Points IV B2 and IV B4 of the 9/5/02 Pennoni letter are struck

·       Ten spaces will be added to the plan to show a total of 22 reserve parking spaces

·       Applicant will pay a fee in lieu of providing park and recreation facilities

·       lighting fixtures will be no higher than 16 feet

·       If the reserve parking is constructed, plantings will be extended in accordance with the Heritage Conservancy letter 

In addition, the Commission recommends that waivers be granted from the following sections of the ordinance:

·       303.2.b.5 and 402.5 (Traffic study)

·       402.3.b & c (existing features)

·       514.9 (distance of parking lot from building)

·       517 (sidewalks on Lindenhurst Road)

·       520.5 (parking lot in sanitary easement)

·       The Stormwater Management Ordinance (provision of stormwater management facilities)

·       504.17 (to show the existing right of way and cartway)

·       516.2 (curbing and widening)

·       520.2 (to provide a general easement with no monuments)

·       520.8 (marking the access easement)

·       528.3 (monuments along easements) 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Sensibaugh asked that the applicants put a statement in their tenants’ leases that parts of the parking lot are in the 100 year floodplain.  The applicants agreed to this. 

Mr. Lombardi amended his motion to include this agreement. Mr. Sensibaugh seconded the amendment and the motion passed unanimously. 

Mrs. Doorley resumed chairing the meeting following this motion. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS 

The Commission discussed three of the nine applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board as follows: 

Variance Request #573-02 - Pryda LLC:  Mr. Sander said this applicant is asking for a use variance for his property in the TC District.  He explained that the conversion of a residential use into a commercial use is an E-16 Commercial Conversion Use, and this is not permitted by right or by conditional use in the TC District. The applicant wants to convert the residential building to D-1 Office Use, but this is not one of the uses permitted as an E-16 Commercial Conversion.  Therefore, he is also asking for a variance to permit a conversion to Office Use. 

Mr. Lombardi asked if the applicant would be required to obtain conditional use approval for the D-1 Office Use if the Zoning Hearing Board granted these two requests.  Mr. Sander said that in his opinion, the applicant would have to appear before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to get conditional use approval for the D-1 Use if the Zoning Hearing Board grants these two requests.  He said that the variance request is not for a D-1 Use, since that is permitted in the TC District.  He noted that the recent Tyrol conversion on Sycamore Street probably should have gone through the Zoning Hearing Board for an E-16 Use.  If the TC District permitted an E-16 Commercial Conversion, the applicant would have come directly to the Planning Commission with his request. 

Mr. Harwood said that he was not sure that the Township can make the applicant go through a conditional use procedure for the D-1 Use.  Mr. Sander said he would like to meet with Mr. Frank and Mr. Harwood to develop a recommendation regarding an amendment to the ordinance. 

Variance Request # 567-02 - John W. Melsky:  Mr. Ott asked why the applicant needed a variance.  Mr. Harwood explained that the owner of two contiguous nonconforming properties must combine them to minimize the nonconformity before he can issue a permit.  The applicant also questioned whether the Zoning Officer rendered a decision within 90 days of the application on 3/7/02, as required by the ordinance.  However, Mr. Harwood provided a copy of the decision, which was rendered on 4/15/02. 

Variance Request # 571-02 - Jim Ostowski:  Mr. Ott said this applicant had disregarded the ordinance before this application, as the storage shed is already in place.  Mr. Harwood said the Zoning Hearing Board can refuse to grant the request and order the applicant to remove the shed.  He said he will send an inspector to check the shed immediately. 

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS 

a.      BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:  No report. 

b.      NEWTOWN AREA REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION:  No report. 

c.      JOINT ZONING COUNCIL:  No report. 

d.      SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE:  The Committee’s September meeting was canceled. 

e.      HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD:  No report. 

f.        PARK AND RECREATION BOARD:  No report. 

g.      PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  Mr. Sander said he asked Kristie Kaznicki of the Zoning Office to check the expirations, and he is confident they are in order. 

CORRESPONDENCE 

LETTER REGARDING HOFFA TRACT:  The Commission received a copy of a 9/11/02 letter from Doctors Goldberger and Kelly of 26 Eagle Road.  The letter commented on a notice they received that Toll Brothers has filed a preliminary plan for the Hoffa Tract on Eagle Road.  Mrs. Doorley noted that the plan has not been scheduled for the Commission’s review, so the Commission can not respond to the letter at this time.   Mr. Harwood commented that it might be helpful to let Doctors Goldberger and Kelly know that the Township can not divert a stream.  Mrs. Doorley asked that the Administrative office call her about this letter. 

OLD BUSINESS 

NOTIFICATION OF RESIDENTS:  Commission members received Mr. Frank’s memo of 9/4/02 on this subject, which displayed the newspaper advertisement that Buckingham Township places announcing their planning Commission’s agenda.  The Commission discussed the possibility of doing the same kind of advertising, but concluded that there would not be time to place an ad since the agenda is not finalized until the Thursday afternoon before the meeting. 

Commission members agreed that in the future, residents asking for special notice about Planning Committee agendas will be encouraged to consult the Township website, watch the cable TV station that carries the announcements, or call the Township office for information about upcoming agendas. 

NEW BUSINESS:  None. 

GENERAL DISCUSSION:  None. 

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

 

Respectfully Submitted,

  

____________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary