Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

December 3, 2002

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (12/3/02):  Mr. Ott moved to approve the minutes of the 12/3/02 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously, with Mr. Ward abstaining.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, December 3, 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, Sue Beasley 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. 

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. 

TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT:  Mr. Wursta distributed a summary of current traffic-related engineering projects and highlighted several projects as follows: 

·         Closed Loop System: The system was activated on 9/19/02, and the final construction inspection is scheduled for 12/19/02. 

·         Swamp Road Corridor Study: A public meeting to discuss the results of the study will be held on 12/5/02.

·         Traffic Signal Investigation - Durham Road and North, Durham Road and Municipal Drive - The North Drive signal will be bid in about two weeks.

·         Durham Road and Wrights Road signal - Due to be completed by 12/20/02.

·         Pedestrian Crossings - PennDOT is rethinking signalization for pedestrian crossings.  There is a concern that pedestrians assume traffic will stop when they push the button.  Mr. Lombardi asked if the flashers can be turned off at night because they are annoying to nearby residents.

·         Washington Crossing and Linton Hill Roads Traffic Signal - Construction has begun.

·         Swamp Road and the Bypass - Mr. Bowe said that at peak times, there is a substantial backup at the Swamp Road intersection with the Bypass.  Mr. Wursta said the left turn on green arrow only signal may be eliminated to facilitate the traffic flow.

·         Left Turn off Buck Road at Crowne Pointe - A revised permit plan has been submitted to PennDOT, and a positive response is expected.

·         Durham Road at Newtown Shopping Center Left Turn - The phasing is being changed.  The plan has been approved and work will be scheduled soon. 

Mrs. Beasley raised a concern about the traffic congestion on Richboro Road and the Bypass at Shir Ami.  She said cars are backing up onto the Bypass.  Mr. Sander said the problem seems to be periodic, depending on what is going on at the temple.  Mr. Wursta said he will look into the problem. 

Mr. Wursta distributed an outline of grants available for transportation projects, for the Commission’s information. 


CONDITIONAL USE - PRYDA INC. - 159 N. SYCAMORE STREET - TMP# 29-12-15:  Postponed at the request of the applicant. 

SKETCH PLAN - PREMISES C - 826 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - TMP# 29-10-40-1:  Neil Betoff of First Evergreen and engineer Bob Toner were present to discuss their proposal to construct a 26,000 square foot two story office building on a 3.4753 acre site in the LI District.  The site is part of an existing 22.1803 acre development which includes five other “premises”. 

In response to questions in the Heritage Conservancy’s 11/19/02 review letter, Mr. Betoff stated that general office uses are anticipated, no basement area will be included in the base site calculations, and no trucks larger than Fedex vans are expected.  Mr. Betoff said that the 21 parking spaces now on Premises C would be relocated to Premises A or E by striping other existing paved areas.  Mr. Frank recommended that the plan show the entire development so that the parking arrangements are clear. 

Mr. Frank asked if PECO owns a strip of land shown on the sketch plan, or if it is an easement.  Mr. Betoff said it is an easement.  Mr. Harwood and others said they believe PECO owns this land.  The applicant was advised to investigate this question and submit documentation with the plan.   

Mr. Betoff said that variances will be sought to allow one loading berth instead of two, and to allow impervious surface in excess of 50%.  He also said a waiver will be sought to allow the proposed parking arrangements. 

Mr. Betoff said his company is still working out how stormwater management will be addressed, but he feels that the plan for this development might alleviate some existing problems as well. 

Mr. Frank said the proposed use of the existing access on Newtown-Yardley Road might cause stacking problems at peak times.  Mr. Lombardi observed that this is already a congested intersection.  He asked the applicant to consider adding a second left turn lane to Newtown-Yardley Road.  Mrs. Doorley suggested the applicant meet with the Traffic Engineer. 

Mr. Betoff said that Premises D, a 1.2818 acre parcel, would not be developed, but would be transferred to the Newtown Rental Center.  Several Commission members expressed concerns about future development on this parcel, and asked if there could be a deed restriction on it.  They agreed that the Commission should hear what plans the Newtown Rental Center has for this land before the Commission makes a recommendation about a plan for Premises C. 

Mr. Dieterle asked Mr. Betoff to estimate how many people might be employed in the building.  Mr. Betoff said approximately 80 to 90 people would typically work in an office building of this size. 

TRANSFER OF NONCONFORMING USE TO NEW OWNER - LAVENDER HALL - ANDREW TIETELMAN - WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD:  New owner Andrew Teitelman and attorney Don Marshall were present to discuss the transfer of the nonconforming use on this property (Restaurant Use) to Mr. Teitelman, in accordance with Section 1205 of the JMZO.   

Copies of Mr. Teitelman’s 12/2/02 letter to Mr. Harwood were distributed. 

Mr. Marshall said that when the present plan for this property was approved several years ago, there were two issues discussed: 

·         The extension of the water line to the building so that a sprinkler system can be installed.

·         The dangerousness of the customer parking on the opposite side of the road from the restaurant. 

Mr. Marshall said these issues were also brought up by Mr. Harwood in recent communications about a proposed expansion of the facility, and Mr. Teitelman’s letter explains how he will address them.  Mr. Marshall said Mr. Teitelman is willing to meet with the Fire Marshal to get his approval on a plan to extend the water line.  He will also provide valet parking at peak times when customers cars will have to be parked across the road.  Mr. Marshal said that eventually the parking facilities on the restaurant side of the road will be expanded and it will no longer be necessary to park customers’ cars across the road. 

Mr. Sensibaugh said that since the plan was approved, commercial development and traffic in the area have increased.  Mr. Lombardi asked if the Planning Commission should review the conditions of the use.  Mr. Teitelman said he is not planning to use the previous owner’s plan.  He said that Phase I of the project includes only interior renovations. 

Mr. Sander said that the Township can impose conditions on this approval only if changes to the nonconformity are being proposed.  The existing nonconformity is not being abandoned.  The present owner could reopen the restaurant today. 

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the transfer of the nonconforming use for Lavender Hall to Andrew Teitelman under the provisions of Section 1205 of the Zoning Ordinance with the following conditions: 

·         The applicant agrees that, if he expands the present facility, he will extend the water line up Washington Crossing Road and install sprinklers.

·         The applicant agrees to provide valet parking during peak lunch, dinner and banquet times, pursuant to a valet plan to be submitted to the Township.

·         Employee parking will be across the road from the restaurant during peak lunch, dinner and banquet times. 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Marshall asked that the motion be amended to include approval of the transfer of the signage. 

Mr. Kester and Mr. Lombardi agreed to amend their motion to include a recommendation that the Board of Supervisors approve the transfer of the existing signage on the property.  The motion passed unanimously.  

CONDITIONAL USE (UPPER MAKEFIELD) - DOLINGTON GROUP - DOLINGTON, HIGHLAND AND WASHINGTON CROSSING ROADS:  Mr. Harwood explained that he received a request from the Upper Makefield Department of Code Enforcement to review this application because it is on a property adjacent to the Township.   

Mr. Frank said he is also a consultant to Upper Makefield.  He distributed copies of his 11/12/02 review of this application.  He said the original proposal was for over 1200 units on a 311.56 acre parcel.  The present plan is for 78 single family detached homes, 106 village homes, 102 twin homes and two lots for existing homes and accessory structures in the Conservation Management District, and 20 single family homes in the Village Residential-1 District (a total of 308 residential units).  Mr. Frank said the present plan conforms to the ordinance.

Mrs. Doorley said the Upper Makefield Planning Commission did not like this plan because of the many access points on Stoopville Road and on Washington Crossing Road.  Several Commission members said they also found the access points excessive.

After studying the plan, the Commission agreed to write a letter to the Upper Makefield Planning Commission with three comments:

·         There is an excessive number of access points on Stoopville Road and Washington Crossing Road.

·         A traffic signal is needed at the intersection of Washington Crossing Road and Stoopville Road.

·         The applicant should consider making the street of single family homes immediately west of Highland 
      into a cul-de-sac.


SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE:  Mrs. Doorley said the Committee will meet this month.



BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING:  Mrs. Doorley said that Mr. Frank will be honored at the 12/11/02 Board of Supervisors meeting for 13 years of service to the Township.  She suggested that Commission members should try to be present for the presentation.


LI AND O-LI DISTRICT ZONING:  The Commission received a 11/27/02 memo from the Township Manager relaying a request from the Business Development Council.  The Council is asking the Commission to study the following proposals:

·         To increase the impervious surface ratio in the O-LI District from 50% to 60%;

·         to permit medical office uses in the LI District; and

·         to increase the impervious surface ratio in the LI District from 50% (60% with conditional use approval) 
     to 65% to 70%.

The Commission agreed to put this issue on the agenda in January 2003.  In a preliminary discussion, members raised concerns about traffic and stormwater management in the area.


ADJOURNMENT:  Without objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 PM.


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary