Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

February 4, 2003

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (2/4/03):  Mr. Ward moved to approve the minutes of the 2/4/03 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously, with Mr. Fidler abstaining.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, February 4, 2003, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were:  Chairperson Karen Doorley; members Bob Dieterle, Jay Sensibaugh, Jim Ott, Paul Kester, Vince Lombardi, Sue Beasley and Shawn Ward.  Also in attendance were Township Planner Judy Goldstein, Township Engineers Chris Walker 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 announced an additional item for the agenda will be an informal sketch plan discussion regarding the Prime Building Group. 

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (1/21/03):  Mr. Ott moved to approve the minutes of the 1/21/03 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously. 

TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT:  Mr. Wursta commented on his 1/31/03 report, distributed in members’ packets, as follows: 

·         Swamp Road Corridor Study:  A public meeting has been scheduled for 2/13/03 to discuss the results of the study.  Many public officials will be present.

·         Newtown CBD Signalization:  Two of the intersections are being done as part of the Sycamore Street project.

·         Durham Road and North Drive Traffic Signal:  Bids on this project will be opened on 2/18/03.

·         Wrights Road and Durham Road Traffic Signal:  Minor punch list items remain to be addressed, to be followed by final inspection.

·         Washington Crossing and Linton Hill Roads Traffic Signal:  Flashing operation should begin 2/5/03, with full operation hopefully the week of 2/17/03.

·         Bypass, Buck Road and Richboro Road Improvement Project:  The project is expected to be let on 9/15/03 or earlier.

·         Buck Road and Crown Pointe:  The next step is for the Township to award the construction contract.  Mr. Kester noted that it is very difficult to exit from the church located at this intersection, since a left turn is not permitted.

·         Durham Road and Newtown Shopping Center Left Turn Lane:  PennDOT approved the permit plan on 1/3/03, and the Township will award the construction contract.

·         Durham Road and Eagle Road Pre-emption and Signal Timing:  The signal phasing is being revised for the installation of emergency pre-emption for all four approaches.

·         Bypass, Durham Road and Tyler State Park Entrance:  Pennoni is adding a left turn signal to this intersection, similar to other intersections on the bypass.  Northbound left turns will change from permitted to protected.

·         Stoopville Road Safety and Engineering Study:  Pennoni has initiated contact with PennDOT to have the study conducted; hopefully there will be something to report at the next meeting.  Mr. Ott said a major concern of residents is the varying speed limits posted along the street.  Mr. Wursta said he expects PennDOT to look at that problem. 


FINAL PLAN FOR MINOR SUBDIVISION - LOT LINE CHANGE - LAKEVIEW ESTATES - WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD - TMP# 29-23-209:  Jeffrey Marshall, one of the applicants, was present to discuss the proposal to change lot lines for the transfer of three small parcels of land between Lot 59 and Open Space Areas “B” and “C” of Lakeview Estates.  The property is in the Conservation Management District.  Attorney Ed Murphy arrived near the end of the discussion. 

Ms. Goldstein said that she did not receive a copy of the plan in time to finish her review, but she could speak from her notes tonight.  She said her first comment is that the applicant needs to include the calculations for the base site area on the plan. 

Mr. Marshall said he is the owner of Lot 59 on the plan (dated 9/27/02).  When the Lakeview Estates tract was developed, DeLuca Enterprises agreed to increase the lot with the existing house and barn from the original acre and a half to 10 acres to support the preservation of these buildings.  The lot line change is a trade between him and DeLuca Enterprises; the parcels he will give to DeLuca include a steep swale and a retaining wall.  Mr. Marshall said that 8.5 acres of his lot are open space, and this will not be changed substantially by the trade. 

Ms. Goldstein said that a concern to be addressed is that the open space will not be contiguous.  Mr. Walker said the Pennoni review letter of 1/21/03 states that the zoning ordinance requires that open space should “encompass a single land area or minimum number of areas, linked by a common means of circulation and access.”  Ms. Goldstein said the areas could be made contiguous, but  Mr. Marshall explained that area residents do not want pedestrians to have direct access to Hidden Lakes through the open space. 

Mr. Sander said the ordinance does not specifically require that the open space be contiguous, only that it be linked by common access, which in this case can be Harmony Lane. 

Mr. Marshall indicated that the applicants will comply with the other points in the Pennoni letter, most of which refer to conditions present in the approved final plan for Lakeview Estates. 

Ms. Goldstein said the deed restricted open space should be marked clearly on the plan, and there should not be building setback lines in the open space.  Note #5 should also be changed to reflect this revision.  She said that she will put the comments she made tonight into a letter. 

Mr. Ward moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they approve the lot line change for Lakeview Estates as shown on the 9/27/02 plan, contingent on compliance with the 1/21/03 Pennoni review letter and the forthcoming Judy Goldstein review letter, with the condition that the plan will be revised to show no building setback lines in deed restricted open space, and Note #5 on the plan will be revised to reflect this change.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 

INFORMAL SKETCH PLAN DISCUSSION - PRIME BUILDING GROUP - PENNS TRAIL AND FRIENDS LANE:  Wayne Johnson of Pickering, Corts and Summerson and Hal Roberts of the Prime Building Group were present to discuss their proposal to build a 35,000 square foot office building on a 16 acre property in the Newtown Industrial Commons.  The property contains several existing office and warehouse buildings.  Mr. Johnson distributed a sketch of the site showing the existing and proposed buildings.  He stated that the area where the new building is proposed is now lawn. 

Mr. Johnson said that the property consists of five different tax map parcels, and a condo association incorporates all five.  He said that it is likely that all internal property lines will be extinguished when the proposed building is constructed. 

Mr. Johnson said that the property currently has 42% impervious surface.  When the new building is in place, the impervious surface will be approximately 50%, which is the maximum for this zoning district.  He noted that the applicant could have a 60% ratio with conditional use approval, but this is not contemplated.  He stated that the existing number of parking spaces meets existing needs, and the required additional number of spaces will be provided for the proposed building.  

Ms. Goldstein said the internal circulation appears convoluted, and the plan will need to provide enough room for large trucks to maneuver into the loading docks.  Mr. Johnson said this aspect of the plan has not been addressed yet.  

Mr. Kester said he is concerned about left turns out of the new access onto Penns Trail.  Mr. Lombardi said he would like to see the new curb cut in Penns Trail eliminated, in view of the present and future traffic on that road.  

Several members said they would like to see all the stormwater on the 16-acre property handled by the new development.  Mr. Johnson said that cannot be done, given the terrain of the site and the locations of the existing buildings.  He said the older buildings were constructed before there were requirements for stormwater management.  However, he said that the additional runoff caused by the proposed building will be managed in accordance with the ordinance.  Mr. Johnson commented that the Township will encounter this problem again on other parcels in the Newtown Industrial Commons that were developed in the late 1960’s. 

Ms. Goldstein noted that the property will be looked at as one parcel during the land development review if the applicant combines all the tax map parcels as planned.  She said that the applicant will probably need to go to the Zoning Hearing Board as well as request some waivers.  

Mrs. Doorley stated that this discussion does not eliminate the need for a formal sketch plan submission. 


a.      Board of Supervisors - no report 

b.      Newtown area Regional Planning Commission - Mr. Kester said the Commission will meet in two weeks. 

c.      Joint Zoning Council - no report. 

d.      Sycamore Street Committee - Mr. Lombardi said the Committee discussed the Acme site, streetlights and a problem with a Sycamore Street resident regarding a taking of land.  The Committee is close to an agreement with the resident. 

e.      Historic Architectural Review Board - Mr. Lombardi said HARB has not met since he last reported to the Commission. 

f.        Park and Recreation Board - Mr. Ott and Mr. Dieterle reported that the Board will meet on 2/5/03. 

g.      Plan Expirations - No report. 


PRD VARIANCES:  The Commission received copies of a 1/16/03 letter from Mr. Sander to the Township Manager explaining the difference between variances granted by the Zoning Hearing Board and variances granted by the Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Sander said the letter was distributed to members for information purposes only. 

HIGHWAY CLASSIFICATIONS:  Mrs. Doorley said Mike Frank asked the Commission to look at whether Jefferson Street should be reclassified.  Mr. Sander noted the classifications are listed in an appendix to the JMZO.  Mr. Harwood said Jefferson Street is now a minor arterial; it cannot be a local road because it includes a bridge. 

Ms. Goldstein said she will contact Mr. Frank and explore the issue with him.  She recommended that the Commission discuss this in detail when Mr. Wursta, the Traffic Engineer, can be present (Mr. Wursta had left the meeting earlier). 


JMZO - SWIMMING POOLS AND FRONT YARD FENCES:  Mr. Sander said that Wrightstown addressed all of the concerns in the Commission’s 7/9/02 letter, and he asked if the revised version of the ordinance attached to Patrice Scully’s letter of 7/16/02 is acceptable.  There was some discussion of the need for a better definition of a post and board fence, but Commission members concluded that the ordinance was acceptable in its present form. 

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the ordinance as revised on 7/16/02 by Patrice Scully.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 

JMZO - E-16 NON-RESIDENTIAL CONVERSIONS:  Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors authorize the Solicitor to send this ordinance to the other Jointure municipalities for their review.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Kester and passed unanimously. 



ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 9:40 PM.


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary