Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

November 5, 2002


MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (11/5/02):  Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of the 11/5/02 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously, with Mr. Dieterle abstaining.


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, November 5, 2002, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were:  Chairperson Karen Doorley; members Allen Fidler, Jay Sensibaugh, Jim Ott, Sue Beasley, Paul Kester, Vince Lombardi and Jim Bowe.  Also in attendance were Township Planner Mike Frank, Township Engineers Phil Wursta and Gerry Smith, 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 (10/15/02):  Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of the 10/15/02 meeting with three changes:  Mr. Ott’s name should replace Mr. Sensibaugh’s name on the sixth bullet under the Traffic Manager’s Report, in the first sentence in the discussion of the motion on AstaTech, and in the first sentence of the third paragraph under Law School Admissions Council.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Doorley and Mr. Lombardi abstaining. 

REVIEWS 

CONDITIONAL USE (SOIL STRIPPING) - LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS COUNCIL - PHEASANT RUN AND PENN STREET - TMP# 29-10-33:  Steve Shriber of The Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) was present to discuss their request to remove approximately 4500 cubic yards of material, primarily topsoil, from the site in the Planned Commercial District.  Mr. Shriber stated that some of the material will be used for the berm to be constructed on the west side of the property, but no destination has been identified yet for the balance of the soil.  

Several Commission members expressed the hope that the soil will remain in the Township.  Mr. Shriber agreed to try to find a location within the Township for the soil. 

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this request, with the understanding that the applicant will attempt to find a location for the soil within the Township.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously. 

CONDITIONAL USE - SUBWAY SANDWICHES AND SALADS - VILLAGE AT NEWTOWN - TMP# 29-3-24-6:  Applicant Frank Mendicino was present to discuss his request for Use E-6 Eating Place – Drive-in for 2000 square feet of an existing building in the Planned Commercial District.  He is proposing a restaurant with seating for 44 diners, with both eat in and take out service. 

The 10/21/02 Heritage Conservancy letter was reviewed.  Mr. Mendicino stated that a large truck will make a delivery to the rear of the store between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM every Wednesday morning.  There will be an average of 15 employees and a maximum of 30 in three shifts.  Mr. Mendicino asked that his application be amended to show hours of operation from 6:00 AM to midnight, seven days a week, because the restaurant may be open for breakfast in the near future.  He said that there will be no hazardous materials or noxious environmental effects.  Refuse storage will be in an existing receptacle in the rear of the building, and a trash receptacle is provided in front of the store.  He stated he plans to open around the first of the year. 

In response to members’ questions, Mr. Mendicino stated he is not planning to have delivery service or “to go” service (like the Applebee’s restaurant service which was recently approved). 

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they approve this conditional use application, subject to compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 10/21/02, and with the hours of operation amended to 6:00 AM to midnight seven days a week.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously. 

SKETCH PLAN FOR MINOR SUBDIVISION - HIDDEN VALLEY TRACT - HIDDEN VALLEY LANE -TMP# 29-2-3:  Engineer Dean Riniker was present to discuss the sketch plan for a 5.856 acre parcel in the R-1 Medium Density Residential District.  The applicant is proposing to subdivide the property into three lots.  Lot one, which contains an existing dwelling, would be 4 acres, and lots two and three would be .93 acres each.  

The 10/1/02 Heritage Conservancy letter was reviewed.  Mr. Riniker stated that the property is part of the Newtown Crossing development.  He said that the lot areas are measured from the 50 foot ultimate right of way, and that there are no restrictions on the site in the deed.  He also confirmed that the existing building is used only as a single family detached dwelling.  Mr. Riniker said that the existing driveway will remain on lot one, and it might be possible for the other two lots to share an existing curb cut on lot two.  Several members expressed a preference for limiting curb cuts on Hidden Valley Lane. 

The 10/18/02 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed.  Mr. Riniker said that the Park and Recreation Board recommended a fee in lieu of recreation space.  Mr. Smith noted that item III B 11 should state that the applicant will be assessed a traffic impact fee, not a traffic study. 

REVISED PLAN FOR MINOR SUBDIVISION - JOSEPH SZARKO - 93 RICHBORO ROAD - TMP# 29-11-2:  Mr. Szarko and engineer Heath Dumack were present to discuss the revised plan for the minor subdivision of a 84,079 square foot parcel in the R-2 Residential District.  Mr. Dumack said the applicant proposes to divide the property into two lots.  Lot one would be 30,051 square feet, and lot two would be 39,156 square feet. 

Mr. Dumack said that a new revised plan was just submitted to the Township.  The consultants and the Commission received a plan dated 8/30/02.  

The 10/2/02 Heritage Conservancy letter was reviewed.  Mr. Frank said there are three important points in his letter.  Under A #1, he noted that lot two would be 75 feet wide along Richboro Road, but would quickly taper to about 20 feet wide for approximately 240 feet.  Point A #2 notes that the front and side yard minimum setbacks are not met, and there is some confusion about which is the front yard and which is the side yard.  Point A #3 notes that the impervious surface ratio will exceed the maximum permitted if the property is subdivided.  Mr. Dumack confirmed that the driveway on lot two has been included in the impervious surface calculations. 

The Heritage Conservancy letter notes that three waivers have been requested:  the required scale of the plan; showing existing features on the plan; and street, curb and sidewalk improvements. 

Mr. Harwood said that the driveway is considered a structure, and must meet the minimum setback from the property line. 

The 10/17/02 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed.  In addition to the points raised by Mr. Frank, the Pennoni letter questioned whether the proposed driveway will damage the mature trees near it.  Several Commission members expressed a similar concern. 

Mr. Sander recommended that the applicant apply to the Zoning Hearing Board for three variances: 

·       the minimum lot width at building setback

·       the maximum impervious surface ratio

·       the encroachment on the side yard for construction 

In addition, Mr. Sander recommended that the applicant seek an opinion from the Zoning Hearing Board on the identification of the front and side yards.  Mr. Szarko granted a 90 day extension of the plan’s expiration; his letter was given to Mr. Harwood. 

FINAL PLAN FOR MINOR SUBDIVISION - LOMBARDI - 123-125 N. SYCAMORE STREET - TMP# 29-12-11:  Mr. Lombardi and attorney John VanLuvanee were present to discuss their plan for dividing a .6509 acre property in the TC District into two lots.  Lot one would be 10,683 square feet and contain an existing dwelling and garage; lot two would be 17,762 square feet and contain three existing buildings.  Mr. Lombardi removed himself from the Planning Commission for this matter. 

Mr. VanLuvanee stated that the property was originally two parcels, but was combined into one parcel when the minimum lot size was reduced.  He said the applicant is proposing to put the original property line back in.  He said the Zoning Hearing Board on 6/6/02 granted relief on the minimum side yard setbacks. 

The10/21/02 Heritage Conservancy letter was reviewed.  Mr. VanLuvanee clarified that the right of way shown for Sycamore Street on the plan is the legal right of way. 

Mr. VanLuvanee said that a waiver may be needed on street trees.  He stated that there is already considerable vegetation along the street.  Mr. Lombardi noted that the Sycamore Street improvement program will add street trees.  Mr. VanLuvanee said that the plan has been reviewed by the Sycamore Street Committee. 

The10/24/02 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed.  Several points were determined to be not applicable because there are no new uses or construction being proposed.  

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the final plan for this subdivision, conditioned on compliance with the applicable points in the 10/21/02 Heritage Conservancy letter and the 10/24/02 Pennoni Associates letter.  The Commission further recommends that waivers be granted regarding the plan scale and the requirement for street trees.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 

PRELIMINARY PLAN - MCLAUGHLIN TRACT - TOLL BROTHERS - STOOPVILLE ROAD - TMP# 29-7-5:  Mike Palmer of Toll Brothers and attorney Ed Murphy were present to discuss the plan for 35 village type houses under Use B-14, Performance Subdivision, on a 38.39 acre tract in the CM District. 

Mr. Murphy said that Toll Brothers, PennDOT and the Township met in September 2002 and agreed on design parameters for improvements to Stoopville Road.  These will be reviewed on a separate plan.  He also said that the Zoning Hearing Board granted variances on 7/11/02 to permit construction of 35 units instead of 33, and to disturb 50% of the Class I and II agricultural soils where only 20% and 25% are permitted.  Mr. Murphy said that a revised preliminary plan dated 10/28/02 has been submitted this week which addresses many of the consultants’ comments. 

Mr. Kester said he would like to have a copy of the Zoning Hearing Board decision in his packet for any plan on which the Board has granted variances. 

The 10/7/02 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed.  Commission members discussed the proposed buffer along the Gray Tract border.  Mr. Palmer said Toll Brothers will be developing this property also, but nothing has been approved yet.  Townhouses and single homes are proposed on the Gray Tract, and a 100 foot buffer is required on both properties.  Mr. Frank suggested showing the buffer for both properties on the plan.  Commission members agreed that a berm was not necessary on this border. 

Regarding the buffer for the Stoopville Road frontage, Commission members agreed they would like to see a berm approximately five feet high, with plantings, similar to the one on an adjacent development, Dolington Estates.  Mr. Ott said he continues to be concerned about the proximity of Stoopville Road to the backs of the houses in this development, and asked if the cul-de-sacs could be redesigned into a loop pattern.  He said the residents of these homes will be bothered by truck traffic.  Mr. Murphy said that setback requirements and wetlands made a loop pattern very difficult.

The section of the Newtown Trail along Stoopville Road was discussed.  Commission members agreed they want the trail to be set back from the road, but in front of the buffer.  It should be five feet wide and macadam.  Mr. Murphy asked if Commission members preferred that the trail go through the wetlands or go around them into the development.  Members generally agreed it should go through the wetlands.  Mr. Murphy agreed that the applicant will obtain the appropriate permit for building the trail through the wetlands.  

Mr. Murphy said the applicant is requesting the following waivers: 

·       Section 509 (1), to allow an 1800 foot cul-de-sac street.

·       Section 509 (4), to allow drainage of the cul-de-sac towards the closed end of the street.

·       Section 522 (9)(E)(7), to allow less than the required amount of cover over the storm pipes between structures 301, 302, 303, 304 and 305. 

Point III B 20 on the Pennoni letter refers to the proposed basin, which must be counted in open space calculations if it is a retention (“wet”) basin.  Several Commission members indicated a preference for a dry basin.  Mr. Murphy agreed it will be a dry basin, and no waiver will be needed. 

Mr. Fidler said he would like everyone to understand that, by reducing the right of way of Stoopville Road, developers will be able to get a higher density approved for future projects along this road, since the width of the right of way affects base site calculations.  

Point II B 39 refers to the Fire Marshal’s review.  Mr. Murphy said he had just received the Fire Marshal’s letter, which had two comments:  He would like to see a fully paved emergency access road, and he had recommendations for placement of the hydrants along Stoopville Road.  Commission members suggested that the emergency access roadway could be strengthened to accommodate emergency vehicles, but the surface could be covered by grass.

Mr. Murphy said he was aware that the Commission has been discussing the possibility of asking developers to reserve some of the allowable impervious surface for future use by the homeowners, for pools, decks, etc.  He stated that in order for the whole site to meet the 20% maximum requirement for impervious surface, each lot could have no more than 40%.  He said that Toll Brothers is suggesting that the houses be built using only 35% of this maximum, leaving 5% for the homeowner.  He said that in this development, homeowners would not encounter problems with setbacks.  He said there have been discussions on the regional level about creating an ordinance like this.  Commission members were generally favorable towards this idea.

Mr. Frank asked about lot 36, which contains the existing log house.  He said this is a fairly small lot with little room for parking.  Mr. Murphy said the applicant will need to get a written assessment of the house’s condition and historical value, and he asked that this issue be deferred to final plan review.

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the preliminary plan for the McLaughlin Tract, subject to the following conditions: 

·       Compliance with the 9/11/02 Heritage Conservancy letter.

·       Compliance with the 10/7/02 Pennoni Associates letter.

·       The border with the Gray Tract will be landscaped only (no berm).

·       The buffering on both tracts along the common property line will be shown on the plan.

·       The berm on the Stoopville Road side will be approximately 5 feet high and similar to the berm on Dolington Estates

·       The Newtown Trail will be constructed through the wetlands, and the applicant will secure a permit for this construction.

·       The Trail will be outside the right of way but in front of the buffer.

·       The Trail will be macadam and five feet wide.

·       Waivers are granted for Sections 509.1, 509.4 and 522.9 of the ordinance.

·       The basin will be dry.

·       The applicant will pay a fee in lieu of open space.

·       Compliance with the Fire Marshal’s letter of 11/1/02.

·       A note will be added to the plan allocating 5% of each lot’s 40% maximum permitted impervious surface to the future use of the homeowner.

·       The use of the “log cabin” lot is deferred to final plan review.

·       The applicant will secure the approval of the Bucks County Conservation District.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester. 

Discussion of the motion:  Mrs. Beasley asked what kind of surface will be on the section of the Trail that crosses wetlands.  Mr. Fidler said that DEP will made a recommendation when the applicant obtains a permit.

Mr. Lombardi and Mr. Kester agreed to add this to the motion.

Mr. Ott said he is still concerned about the cul-de-sacs and how close the homes on Road B are to Stoopville Road.  Mr. Lombardi said he prefers the cul-de-sac design because it provides a more open appearance from Stoopville Road.

Mr. Harwood asked the Homeowners Association be responsible for maintaining the Trail. 

Mr. Lombardi and Mr. Kester agreed to add this to the motion.  Mr. Lombardi’s motion was passed 6-2, with Mr. Ott and Mr. Sensibaugh voting “nay”.

Joanne Richey, a Township resident, said buffering and berming does nothing to help the neighbors deal with traffic noise.  She said she lives in Eagleton Farms and can not use her patio because of noise and dirt from truck traffic on Stoopville Road.  

PRELIMINARY PLAN - HOFFA TRACT - TOLL BROTHERS - 90 EAGLE ROAD - TMP# 29-3-28, 29-3-28-3, 29-4-42 AND 29-4-44:  Mike Palmer of Toll Brothers and attorney Ed Murphy were present to discuss their plan to subdivide a 29.4897 acre site in the R-1 Residential District into 40 lots.  One lot will contain an existing dwelling, and 39 new houses will be built.

Mr. Murphy said that the applicant will comply with all points in the review letters with the exception of four issues that remain to be settled:  Frontage improvements on Eagle Road, standards to be used for streets, the basin and deed restricted open space behind lots three through seven.

Frontage Improvements on Eagle Road:  Mr. Murphy asked what the Commission preferred regarding curbs.  Mr. Smith said he recommends curbs all along Eagle Road, and Commission members were in agreement.  Mr. Smith said curbing and other improvements will alleviate some current drainage problems on Eagle Road.

Mr. Murphy asked if the applicant should build a trail or a sidewalk along Eagle Road.  Commission members said they want a five foot macadam trail.  On the plan it stops at the adjacent Milnor property.  Mr. Bowe suggested the trail should cross Eagle Road at the access road.  Taylor Milnor was present, and he said that he does not want a trail ending at his property.  He and his wife Shirley said it was safer for people to cross Eagle Road at the proposed access road than at their property.  Several Commission members suggested asking the Board of Supervisors to reconsider their previously expressed preference for a trail on the west side of Eagle Road. 

Walter Iwaskiw, an Eagleview resident, said that residents using the trail on the east side of Eagle Road find it inconvenient to use the section that goes between the houses.  He also asked that the last five feet of the trail near Kuhar’s Way be paved.  Mr. Murphy said that is part of the plan.

Commission members concluded that the trail should cross Eagle Road from west to east at the entrance driveway to the Hoffa Tract development and continue south along Eagle Road.  Mrs. Beasley suggested that the applicant look into using the fee in lieu of recreation space for construction of the trail.

Mr. Bowe asked about drainage on lot seven.  Mr. Smith said the drainage system will alleviate some present conditions in that area, and will not cause problems for lot seven. 

Street Standards:  Mr. Murphy said street design standards similar to those at Wiltshire Walk were used.  The interior road will be 32 feet wide, there will be parking on one side, and there will be sidewalks on both sides of the road except in a section to the north, where eliminating the sidewalk will allow for increased buffering.  Mr. Smith said he questioned the road width, but Mr. Sander said that in a PRD there is more flexibility with road widths. 

Basin:  Mr. Murphy said the 10/4/02 Pennoni Associates letter says the basin can be included in open space calculations depending on its design.  Mr. Murphy said that technically, the basin’s steep slopes mean it can not be included.  He said the applicant could remedy this by changing some or all of the single homes to townhouses.  Commission members agreed that it was preferable to allow the basin to be counted, enabling Toll Brothers to build only single houses on the tract.

Mr. Murphy said buyers will sign an agreement not to seek variances to build pools or other structures that exceed the impervious surface maximum.  Mr. Lombardi said that buyers of these homes will expect to be able to build additional amenities.  Mr. Murphy said the applicant could make the same allocation of impervious surface that is proposed for the McLaughlin Tract. 

Deed Restricted Open Space:  Mr. Murphy referred to the Pennoni review letter’s comments about the open space behind lots three through seven, which is almost all in a pipeline area.  He said that the Board of Supervisors have the choice of accepting open space with deed restrictions.

Mr. Murphy said the applicant will comply with all points on the 8/26/02 Fire Marshal’s letter except for the first, which recommends access to Route 413.  He said the Board of Supervisors have already stated their opposition to this. 

Mr. Fidler asked how many units would be built if the applicant chose to build a mix of single homes and townhouses.  Mr. Murphy said probably another 20 units would be built. 

Mr. Bowe asked if blasting will be necessary to construct the basin.  He said he is concerned about the pipeline on the property and the effects on the neighbors.  Mr. Murphy said Toll Brothers will make sure any blasting is done with no harmful effects. 

Mr. Sander suggested that a motion to recommend approval would include the following recommended conditions: 

·       A five foot wide macadam trail along the Eagle Road frontage, from the Eliott Building Group property south to the access driveway, where it will cross to the east side.

·       Curbs along the entire Eagle Road frontage.

·       Streets designed like those in Wiltshire Walk .

·       A waiver approved to include the basin in open space calculations.

·       An allocation of some impervious surface to the homeowner for future use (details deferred to final plan stage)

·       Acceptance of deed restricted open space.

·       Compliance with the 9/4/02 Heritage Conservancy letter, the 10/4/02 Pennoni Associates letter, and the 8/26/02 Fire Marshal letter (except for point #1)

·       The applicant will obtain a letter of approval from the Bucks County Conservation District.

·       The Milnor property, including their well and structures, will be protected if any blasting takes place 

Mr. Lombardi said the Commission should settle the questions of the sidewalk route and the impervious surface allocation before making a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Palmer said Toll Brothers will put the sidewalk wherever the Township wants.  Regarding the impervious surface issue, he said the average size of the lots is about 7500 square feet.  40% of this would be about 3200 square feet, and the driveway takes about 900 square feet.  Mr. Kester said that a five percent allocation to the homeowner would be too small. 

Mr. Murphy asked that this plan be tabled to the next Commission meeting on 11/19/02 to settle the issues of the route of the trail and the allocation of impervious surface. 

Mr. Iwaskiw commented that his development was built about 4 ½ years ago, and few homeowners have sought variances on impervious surface ratios. 

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS:  Deferred to the next meeting. 

CORRESPONDENCE 

LETTER RE VILLAGE AT NEWTOWN SOUTH:  Mrs. Doorley received an 11/3/02 letter from the attorney representing Newtown Center Associates asking for time at the 11/19/02 Commission meeting to discuss several planning issues regarding the undeveloped space at the shopping center.

OLD BUSINESS 

JMZO - RIPARIAN CORRIDOR (TABLED FROM 10/15/02):  Mr. Lombardi stated he opposes including Newtown Creek in this ordinance.  Mr. Kester said the Commission agreed at the 10/15/02 meeting that each municipality should establish its own standards for its own waterways, and there should be no Jointure-wide generalized ordinance like this.  Mr. Lombardi said erosion controls are needed for the Newtown Creek, not a buffer.  Mrs. Doorley said this will be communicated to the Board of Supervisors in a letter.

Mr. Fidler suggested that Mr. Frank should research what is needed to protect the banks of the Newtown Creek in the Township. 

JMZO - USE E-16 IN TC DISTRICT:  Mr. Lombardi said the name of the E-16 use should be changed to “structural conversion”, and it should be a conditional use in the District.  Mr. Sander said he will revise and recirculate the ordinance in light of these comments. 

GENERAL DISCUSSION:  None.  

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 11:50 PM. 

 

Respectfully Submitted, 

 

____________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary