Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

November 19, 2002

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (11/19/02):Mr. Lombardi moved to approve the minutes of the 11/5/02 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr.Fidler and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Beasley abstaining.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, November 19, 2002, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairperson Karen Doorley; members Allen Fidler, Bob Dieterle, Jay Sensibaugh, Jim Ott, Paul Kester, Vince Lombardi and Jim Bowe. Also in attendance were Township Planner Mike Frank, Township Engineer 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. She announced that item 4b will be addressed first because the attorney for item 4a is delayed.

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.


PRELIMINARY PLAN - HOFFA TRACT - 90 EAGLE ROAD - TOLL BROTHERS - 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 property in the R-1 District into 40 lots. This review was continued from the 11/5/02 meeting. Mr. Murphy said there were two issues left unresolved at the last meeting: the Trail and the allocation of impervious surface to the future homeowners.

The Trail: Mr. Murphy displayed a sketch of the developments along Eagle Road in this area, showing the present route of the Trail. Mrs. Doorley said that the trail was discussed at the 11/6/02 Board of Supervisors meeting, and the Board now agrees with the Planning Commissionís preference for routing the Trail down the east side of Eagle Road, with a crossing at the intersection of the Hoffa Tract access road and Eagle Road.

Mr. Murphy said that his research showed that there is sufficient right of way along Eagle Road in which to construct the trail, although some parts may be close to the road. He said the Hoffa Tract Homeowners Association will maintain the portions of the Trail adjacent to the Tract, but the Township will need to maintain the portions that are off site. Mr. Frank suggested that a barrier be constructed where the Trail comes very close to the road.

Mr. Smith said he recommended a pedestrian crossing with flashing lights activated by the pedestrian. Mr. Murphy agreed that the applicant will construct the pedestrian crossing at their expense to the specifications of the Township Engineer.

Impervious Surface: Mr. Murphy distributed a worksheet showing that Toll Brothers calculated that there are 117,000 square feet of impervious surface available on the site. Dividing this number by the number of lots (37), Toll determined that each lot could be allocated 3163 square feet of impervious surface. Mr. Murphy said Toll can put the largest model house on the smallest lot, using about 3000 square feet, and still allocate at least some impervious surface to the homeowner. The homeowners will be prohibited from building pools, sheds or fences, but they will have room for decks and patios without requiring a variance. He said that Toll had considered allocating a uniform percentage of impervious surface to each lot, but with this method they would not have been able to put a house on the smallest lot. He also said this method is more equitable.

Mrs. Doorley questioned whether homebuyers would accept the prohibition on pools, sheds and fences, pointing out that the Homeowners Association can change their rules. Mr. Murphy said the prohibition can be put in the deeds and agreements of sale.

Mr. Lombardi proposed that the applicant seek a variance to increase the siteís overall impervious surface, thus permitting more for the homeowner. Mr. Sensibaugh said he is not in favor of increasing the maximum impervious surface. Mr. Murphy said Toll is willing to increase the capacity of the basin even without the increase in the overall impervious, but that would probably just give a homeowner ammunition for a variance request later.

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

∑ Compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 9/4/02, the Pennoni Associates letter of 10/4/02, and the Fire Marshalís letter of  
  8/26/02 (except for comment #1).

∑ The applicant will obtain the approval of the Conservation District.

∑ The applicant will provide protection for the well and structures on the Milnor property in case of blasting.

∑ A five foot wide macadam Trail will be constructed from the Eliott property to the north, down the west side of Eagle Road to the access road into 
  the Hoffa property, then across the road and down the east side of Eagle Road.

∑ Where the Trail crosses Eagle Road the applicant will install flashing lights and a striped crosswalk at his expense.

∑ The cost of the portion of the Trail that is off the site will be credited towards the applicantís park and recreation fees.

∑ The applicant will construct a barrier between the Trail and the road if the Township Engineer determines it is necessary, at the applicantís cost.

∑ Each lot will be allocated 3163 square feet of impervious surface.

∑ Swimming pools, sheds and fences will be prohibited in HOA documents, deeds, agreements of sale and all other documents. The prohibition will 
  also be noted on the plan.

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

VILLAGE AT NEWTOWN SOUTH - PHASE II - NEWTOWN CENTER ASSOCIATES - TMP# 29-12-19: Attorney John VanLuvanee and engineer Maryellen Saylor were present for an informal discussion of options being considered by the owner of this property. Mr. VanLuvanee said that the original plans for the undeveloped section of the Village at Newtown called for a group of office buildings. The owner now proposes to develop this section as additional retail space.

Mr. VanLuvanee said that the approved plan, dated 4/30/96, was distributed to Commission members with their packets. It showed that Phase II was approved with 69.5% impervious surface and 5.5 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet. There was a variance to allow the parking ratio, but there is no record of a variance to allow the plan to exceed the 50% maximum impervious surface. Even when this section is combined with Phase I (as it was originally), the ratio is about 58%.

Mr. Vanluvanee said that the present owner of Section II is proposing to increase the square footage of the proposed buildings from approximately 36,000 to approximately 51,700. Mr. Vanluvanee said the applicant filed an application for a variance to increase the impervious surface to 70%, but the Board of Supervisors directed the Solicitor to oppose the request and it was withdrawn. The applicant has now filed an amended request for either the increase in impervious surface or a reduction in parking requirements.

Mr. Sensibaugh asked if it is possible to bring this property back to 50% impervious as the ordinance requires. Mr. Vanluvanee said that this is impossible; the owner would have to tear down existing buildings to do so. He stated that the basin was designed to handle the impervious shown on the approved plan, and that is 69.5%.

Mr. Fidler commented that additional retail uses will generate more traffic, especially on the weekends, in an area that is already quite congested. Several members said there is already a need for a traffic light at Swamp Road.

Commission members said they welcome development of this property, but some questioned if the community needs more small, high-priced retail space, citing vacancies in the other section of this shopping center.

Mr. Vanluvanee asked if the Commission would support either of the variances he mentioned. Members generally agreed they were not in favor of increasing the impervious surface ratio on this property, and that traffic issues will be very important when they review a plan for development, whether the use is office or retail.

ZONING HEARING BOARD VARIANCE - PLATINUM EXECUTIVE SUITES (SCHEDULED FOR 12/5/02): Mr. Sander explained that the applicant rents office space on a very short term basis, so there is a very high turnover of tenants. The applicant is asking for a blanket occupancy permit because the ordinance requires that the space must be inspected and a new permit issued every time a new tenant comes in. A similar variance was granted recently to HQ Global.

Mr. Sander said that the Commission should know that the Fire Marshal objects strongly to this request. Mr. Harwood said his office is satisfied as long as the leasee controls the space and owns the furniture, and the use is exclusively D-1 Office Use. Mr. Harwood said the tenants do not change the configuration of the offices, such as the egress.

Mr. Lombardi said this is probably an instance in which the ordinance needs to be amended, although he agrees that there needs to be some kind of oversight. Mr. Bowe commented that storage businesses may also fall into this category.

Mr. Harwood said the Fire Marshal still has the authority to inspect the property any time, but if his office does not find a new occupancy permit for a new tenant they will notify the Codes office of a violation.

Commission members agreed to take no position on this request.



b. NEWTOWN AREA REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION: Mr. Kester reported that the next meeting is 11/21/02.


d. SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Mrs. Doorley said the Committee did not meet this month.



g. PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Harwood said all expirations are up to date. He is expecting extensions on Durham Road Associates, the Hoffa Tract and the McLaughlin Tract.




JMZO 2002-13 - HOUSEKEEPING AMENDMENTS: Mr. Sander said this will be on the Board of Supervisorsí agenda on 11/20/02. He said Section 1 adds an H-2 No Impact Home Based Business Use to all residential Zoning Districts. Section 2 contains corrections of various clerical errors. Section 3 deals with nonconforming uses and structures. Section 4 states that federal or state law preempts the provisions of this ordinance. Section 5 requires the use of HEC-RAS standards for calculations of flood elevations, which is the more current methodology. Section 6 repeals all previous ordinances that are inconsistent with this one.

Commission members agreed to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this ordinance, although some members criticized the vagueness of the Repealer section.

JMZO 2002-12 - CELL TOWER ORDINANCE: Mr. Sander said this ordinance concerns the Dudley Tract and the Gunser Tract. Cell towers are permitted now on these two parcels; this ordinance adds a requirement for a special exception. Commission members agreed to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this ordinance. It was noted that it is helpful to know if parcels referred to in this type of ordinance are near the border with Newtown Township.


CHRISTMAS PARTY: Mrs. Doorley reminded members that following the 12/17/02 meeting the Commission will adjourn to Il Sol for the Christmas party.

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:00 PM.


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary