Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

January 7, 2003

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (1/7/03):  Mr. Ward moved to approve the minutes of the 1/7/03 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Beasley abstaining. 

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, January 7, 2003, 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 Shawn Ward.  Also in attendance were Township Supervisor Tom Jirele, Township Engineers Gerry Smith and Phil Wursta, Township Solicitor Dave Sander and Director of Public Works Tom Harwood.


Chairperson Karen Doorley called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.  She welcomed new member Shawn Ward.



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.


Note:  The scheduled 12/17/02 meeting was canceled for lack of business.





CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Fidler moved to elect Mrs. Doorley as Chairperson; the motion was seconded by Mr. Ward and passed unanimously.


VICE CHAIRMAN:  Mr. Ward moved to elect Mr. Fidler as Vice Chairman; the motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously.


SECRETARY: Mr. Ward moved to elect Mr. Lombardi as Secretary; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.



TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT:  A summary of the status of current traffic-related projects as of 1/3/03 was distributed.





SKETCH PLAN - MAJOR SUBDIVISION - KOSACCI - WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD - TMP #29-10-13.2:   Emmanuel Kosacci and engineer Tim Stout were present to discuss the plan to subdivide a 10.669 acre site in the R-1 Residential District into five lots for single family homes. 


The 11/26/02 letter from Heritage Conservancy was discussed.  The letter raised concerns about the number and placement of the three access points from the homes onto Washington Crossing Road.  Mrs. Doorley said she discussed the plan with Mr. Frank today, and he suggested that the applicant consider constructing an internal road connecting all the driveways, with only one access onto Washington Crossing Road.  This access would line up with Cliveden Drive.  This may involve obtaining an easement from Verizon.


Mr. Fidler asked Mr. Kosacci to consider placing the lots in a cluster, reducing the lot size, and putting all the open space on the northern side of the site.  This may require a variance, since the lot does not meet the 15 acre minimum size for a cluster arrangement.


Several other members expressed a preference for minimizing the number of access points along Washington Crossing Road, as well as concerns about adequate sight distances at intersections.  Members also noted that the Township will need access to the open space along the eastern side of the site.


Mrs. Doorley recommended that the applicant meet with the Township Traffic Engineer, align the access with Cliveden Drive, reduce the number of access points, ensure adequate sight distances, provide for access to Township open space, and discuss an easement with Verizon.  She also noted that a sliver of Lakeview Estates’ open space runs along the frontage of proposed lots 4 and 5.


Mr. Stout said the Township might not want stormwater facilities on this property, since there is a detention basin upstream.  Mr. Smith said he will consider this point.


Jeff Marshall and Roger Taylor, nearby property owners, said there should never be an access point where proposed lot 4 is located.  This has been the site of several bad accidents.  Mr. Taylor said there is a sunken stretch of old road along the frontage of lots 4 and 5 that creates additional difficulties in constructing an access there.  Mr. Taylor distributed a letter dated 1/7/03 describing his concerns about the proposed subdivision.


REVISED FINAL PLAN - 413 OFFICE CENTER - 398 DURHAM ROAD - TMP# 29-3-34:  Principals Paul Allen and John McGrath, engineer Maryellen Saylor and attorney Thomas Hecker were present to discuss the plan to construct two office buildings, totaling 52,500 square feet, on an 11.3 acre property in the PS-2 District. 


Mr. Hecker said that an earlier final plan was reviewed by the Planning Commission in February 2002 and the Commission recommended approval.  However, several changes have been made to the plan since then.  He said the Township raised concerns regarding the location of the access road and the connector road, and the proposed traffic light at Municipal Drive apparently will not meet warrant requirements.


Ms Saylor said the biggest change is the elimination of the connector drive parallel to Route 413.  The road connecting this property with those north and south of it now runs behind the buildings, making it necessary to move the buildings closer to Route 413.  The front building is now 30 feet from the ultimate right of way, which will require a variance.  To meet parking requirements the applicant is seeking variances to allow fewer parking spaces and spaces that are 18 feet deep, as well as a few spaces that would be nine feet wide.  Ms Saylor said they will also request waivers on the turning radius of the internal drive (50 feet instead of 150 feet), tree protection (to allow grading), and a few more.  She said that Durham Road Associates, the adjacent property owner, finds this plan acceptable.  Ms Saylor said another major change is that the basement is now proposed to be used for office space, which adds 12,000 square feet but does not change the footprint of the building.


Mrs. Doorley asked why the applicant is asking for additional office space, when they previously had a plan that complied with the ordinance.  Mr. Hecker responded that the revisions to the plan, and the delays as they were worked out, made this a very expensive plan, and the applicant needed to add office space.


Traffic Engineer Phil Wursta said he felt the original internal configuration did not work.  He said the frontage road was too close to Route 413, whether or not there was a traffic signal at Municipal Drive.


Mr. Sander asked if the parking could be brought to the front instead of moving the buildings up.  Ms Saylor said it would require a variance.


Mr. Ward said it seems like it would be easier to go out onto Route 413 to get from one building to another.  Ms Saylor said the new connector road is placed to create the least disturbance of trees and wetlands. 


Mr. Fidler asked if the 50 foot turning radius will be a problem for emergency vehicles.  Mr. Hecker said it would not.  Mr. Wursta said Pennoni asked the applicant to build the connector drive like a road.  He said the revised plan consolidates access points. 


Several Commission members said they preferred the original plan reviewed in February, but Mr. Hecker said the applicant’s planning is in an advanced stage and it would be difficult to change now.


Mr. Sensibaugh suggested putting the smaller building closer to the road instead of the larger one.  Mrs. Doorley said she still wants to see the required 100 foot setback.  Mr. Fidler said that approving this plan with a building 30 feet from the ultimate right of way would set a bad precedent.


Ms Saylor said that the revised plan does require more parking, and what is on the plan is less than the ordinance requires but more than industry standards.  Mr. Fidler suggested that the applicant seek a bigger variance on the parking and move the building back.


Mr. Ott said he did not like the location of the stub road (the future connection with the adjacent property).  Mr. Ward said he is concerned about the internal road configuration.


Mr. Jirele suggested that the road in the rear be moved forward and the buildings be moved to either side of it.  Ms Saylor said this was considered, but the applicant did not want the complex bisected by the road because it would be unsafe for pedestrians.


Mr. Kester said he is concerned about traffic generated by this development added to traffic from the Municipal Complex, especially with no traffic light.  Mr. Wursta said that is why it was important to reduce access points on Route 413 and get rid of the frontage road.


Mr. Fidler said he will abstain from voting on this plan because he has a banking relationship with one of the principals.


Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not approve this revised final plan because:


·         The buildings are too close to Route 413

·         The square footage is increased from the previous plan

·         The number and the size of the parking spaces are reduced

·         The fire lanes are improperly located

·         The stub road is poorly located


The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously, with Mr. Fidler abstaining.


CONDITIONAL USE - PRYDA, INC. - 159 NORTH SYCAMORE STREET:  Postponed at the request of the applicant.


In connection with this application, Mr. Harwood said Mr. Frank suggested that the Planning Commission discuss road classifications in general at some point.  For example, Jefferson Avenue is a collector road, which should have a 120 foot right of way.  Mr. Wursta said most road classifications in Bucks County are based on an old system.  PennDOT now recognizes only four classifications:


·         Major Arterial

·         Minor Arterial

·         Collector Road

·         Local Road (25 MPH speed limit required)


Mr. Wursta suggested that the Commission also look at right of way requirements in the ordinance.


Mr. Harwood said all the information about road classifications and rights of way exists in different places.  Mrs. Doorley asked Mr. Smith and Mr. Wursta to give the Commission an updated and comprehensive report on road classifications and rights of way in the Township.


ZONING HEARING BOARD (UPPER MAKEFIELD) - BUCKS COUNTY TOWER COMPANY - 881 HIGHLAND ROAD:  Mrs. Doorley said the Commission reviewed this application earlier and had no problems with it.  Commission members agreed to report to the Board of Supervisors that the Commission has no objection to this request.


NAME CHANGE REQUEST - MARKET AT NEWTOWN PLACE - SYCAMORE STREET AND CAMBRIDGE LANE:  Mr. Harwood provided copies of a 12/18/02 letter he received from Susan Nydick of the Quaker Group.  Ms Nydick requested approval to change the name of the Market at Newtown Place to the Corners at Newtown Place.  Mr. Sander noted this would be a revision to the final plan.


Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the requested revision to the final plan, changing the name to the Corners at Newtown Place.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously.





 HOFFA TRACT - EAGLE ROAD: The Commission received a letter from the Fire Marshal dated 8/26/02 (probably an erroneous date) rejecting the revised site plans dated 12/16/02  for the Hoffa Tract.  Mr. Harris’s letter said that the emergency access road between Route 413 and Julianne Court should be eliminated, and Julianne Court should be changed to a through street.


LETTER FROM MIKE FRANK:  Mrs. Doorley read a letter she received from Mike Frank thanking the Commission for the gifts presented to him in December 2002.


LETTER FROM LOWER MAKEFIELD:  Mrs. Doorley reported she received a letter from Lower Makefield notifying the Commission that Lower Makefield approved the building of a church on Stoopville Road.





APPOINTMENTS:  Mrs. Doorley made the following liaison appointments for 2003:


a.      Board of Supervisors - vacant

b.      Newtown area Regional Planning Commission - Mr. Kester will serve until he moves out of the Township in a few months.  Mr. Sensibaugh will also serve.

c.      Joint Zoning Council - vacant

d.      Sycamore Street Committee - In addition to Jim Ott and Karen Doorley, Shawn Ward will serve.

e.      Historic Architectural Review Board - Sue Beasley and Vince Lombardi

f.        Park and Recreation Board - Jim Ott and Bob Dieterle will share the liaison function.





TOWNSHIP PLANNER:  Mrs. Doorley said a new Township Planner, Judith Stern Goldstein, is expected to be appointed at the Board of Supervisors meeting on 1/8/03.  Mrs. Doorley said she interviewed Ms Goldstein and recommended her to the Board.



ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 9:50 PM.







Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary