Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

March 18, 2003

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (3/18/03):  Mr. Ott moved to approve the minutes of the 3/18/03 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously, with Mr. Ward abstaining.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, February 18, 2003, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were: Chairperson Karen Doorley; members Bob Dieterle, Paul Kester, Allen Fidler, Jim Ott, Jay Sensibaugh and Sue Beasley.  Also in attendance were Township Planner Judy Goldstein, Township Engineer Chris Walker, Township Solicitor Dave Sander and Township Public Works Director Tom Harwood. 

Chairperson Karen Doorley called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.  

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (2/18/03):  Mr. Kester moved to approve the minutes of the 2/18/03 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed 4-0, with Mr. Ott, Mr. Sensibaugh and Mrs. Beasley abstaining. 

Note:  The scheduled 3/4/03 Commission meeting was canceled for lack of agenda items. 


INFORMAL DISCUSSION - SKETCH PLAN - YAMAMOTO - WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD:  Mike Vesey of Orleans Corporation and attorney Ed Murphy were present to discuss two alternative concepts for a 27.5-acre property in the CM District.  Ms. Goldstein informed the Commission that she worked on this project before her appointment as Township Planner. 

Mr. Murphy displayed sketches of the two concepts being considered by the applicant.  Both concepts included one access on Washington Crossing Road and substantial open space. 

The first sketch showed 23 village lots averaging 6,500 square feet along two cul-de-sacs.  The houses are clustered near Washington Crossing Road.  Mr. Murphy said this plan meets all requirements of the ordinance.  

The second sketch showed 18 single family lots averaging 20,000 square feet along a loop road.  The plan meets ordinance requirements except for exceeding the maximum allowable disturbance of Class III soils (70% instead of the maximum of 30%). 

Mr. Murphy said that public water and sewer service was proposed.  He said that the Water and Sewer Authority had asked Orleans to consider helping with stormwater management problems in Mardot Village, another development in the area.  This can be done more easily with the second plan. 

Mr. Murphy said the applicant prefers the second plan, but would need relief on the soil disturbance issue.  He asked Commission members to indicate which plan they prefer. 

The majority of members indicated that they preferred the second plan because the lots and houses are larger, there are no cul-de-sacs, and the houses are farther away from Washington Crossing Road.  Mr. Fidler and Mr. Sensibaugh said they prefer the first plan because of the greater amount of open space and better conditions for infiltration of water. 

SKETCH PLAN - NEWTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB (NAC) - INDOOR POOL ADDITION - 209 PENNS TRAIL - TMP# 29-10-137:  Jim Worthington of the NAC and architect Gerry Higgins were present to discuss their proposal to construct a 12,545 square foot addition to the existing NAC facility in the LI District.  The addition would contain two recreational pools, party rooms, an exercise room and an indoor track.   

Mr. Worthington stated he is proposing to add connected recreational and instructional pools for children where there is currently a patio and a parking area.  The pools will be adjacent to the existing pool, on the other side of an existing glass wall. The purpose of the addition is to better serve the existing membership.  A net total of 39 parking spaces will be added.  Mr. Worthington said that existing parking is adequate for the current membership.  There is an occasional problem when special events are taking place. 

Mr. Fidler said the parking and the proximity of this project to the Bypass are two issues needing to be addressed. 

Ms Goldstein asked what is the capacity of the new pools.  Mr. Worthington estimated around 50 persons in the recreational pool and around 30 persons in the instructional pool.  Ms Goldstein noted the applicant will need variance on parking requirements. 

Mr. Kester questioned having children’s activities in two locations.  Mr. Worthington said it is more useful to keep all pool uses together, and to have the party rooms close to the pools.  

Mr. Ott expressed concern about the setback from the Bypass and the amount of impervious surface coverage.  Mr. Worthington said the NAC received a variance to allow 60% impervious, and this project will increase that to about 70%. 

The 3/13/03 Boucher and James letter was reviewed.  Mr. Worthington said the NAC will seek variances on the impervious surface, on the number and sizes of parking spaces, and on the loading berth requirement.  Waivers will be sought for requirements relating to the proximity of parking to the building and curbing in parking areas. 

Mr. Kester said that the existing stormwater management system is old and should be examined carefully.  He said there are problems in the whole Newtown Industrial Commons, and they might get worse with the anticipated increase in the intensity of the uses. 

The 3/13/03 Bucks County Planning Commission letter was reviewed.  The letter noted that the driveway width was less than the required minimum, but it appeared that the letter did not take into account the fact that the driveway is one way.  Mr. Higgins indicated that the applicant will comply with all other points. 

Mr. Higgins displayed several views of the proposed addition with a Power Point presentation. 

Mrs. Doorley asked if some of the parking could be kept in reserve; Mr. Worthington said that is possible.  Ms. Goldstein reminded him that stormwater management plans must be adequate to handle all of the impervious surface, even if some is in reserve. 

Mr. Walker asked if the existing aisle of trees in the parking lot could become a pedestrian trail through the lot.  Mr. Higgins said this area has a steep grade which would make it difficult.  Commission members were divided about the advisability and need for a pedestrian path through the lot.  

Mr. Higgins said the applicant will seek the appropriate variances and return with a preliminary plan. 

INFORMAL DISCUSSION - SKETCH PLAN - KOSACCI - WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD - TMP # 29-10-13.2:  Emmanual Kosacci and architect Wayne Johnson were present to discuss their proposal for four residential lots on a 10.669 acre property in the R-1 District.  The Commission previously reviewed a sketch plan submitted in November 2002 for this project. 

Mr. Johnson said that two major concerns raised by Commission members at the earlier review have been addressed: 

1.      The access road on Washington Crossing Road is now lined up with Cliveden Drive.

2.      The building lots have been reduced from five to four.  Two are on the cul-de-sac which leads to Washington Crossing Road, and two will be connected to the cul-de-sac by a driveway, so that there will be only one access for this project. 

Mr. Johnson said the driveway connecting lots three and four with the cul-de-sac will be about 10 feet wide, and the applicant may be able to use a porous surface on it because it will have only light use.  The driveway is planned to go on top of the existing sewer line; the area is already packed down from the sewer installation.  Mr. Johnson said the applicant plans to offer the cul-de-sac road for dedication, and will provide a space where snow can be collected.  There will be emergency access to lots three and four off Washington Crossing Road.  Mr. Johnson said the applicant is trying to minimize paving and impervious surface. 

Roger Taylor, a nearby property owner, said there is an old sunken road bed near lots three and four which would make it difficult for emergency vehicles to access those lots.  Mr. Johnson said the vehicles would actually stay out on Washington Crossing Road, although the area could be graded to accommodate emergency vehicles if the Fire Marshal requests this. 

Mr. Sander questioned how easily the sewer line could be maintained with a driveway on top of it.  Mr. Johnson said the area of the sewer line has already been cleared and would require the least disturbance of woodlands. 

Mrs. Doorley asked if a Homeowners Association will be created for this development, particularly to deal with the driveway.  Mr. Johnson said maintenance and use of the driveway will probably be covered by reciprocal cross-easements.  Mr. Sander said the situation needs to be made clear to prospective buyers of these lots. 

Mr. Sander noted that the property line is very close to the access road on Washington Crossing Road, and asked if there is room for acceleration and deceleration lanes.  Mr. Walker said these may be required even though there are only four lots in the development. 

Mr. Ott asked if patterned concrete could be used in the crosswalk, consistent with that being used on Sycamore Street sidewalks.  He said Mr. Lombardi can discuss this in more detail, as he brought it up in a Sycamore Street Committee meeting. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS - SCHEDULED FOR 4/3/03:  The Commission discussed two applications scheduled for the 4/3/03 meeting of the Zoning Hearing Board. 

1. Request # 586-03 - Tanner - 554 Washington Crossing Road: Brett Tanner and attorney T. J. Walsh were present.  Mr. Tanner said he is proposing to build a single family home behind his lawn equipment sales and service business in the CM District.  This will require relief to allow two uses on one lot, and an increase in the impervious surface from the present 26.7% to 32.7%.  He previously received a variance allowing his present business at this location. 

Mr. Fidler asked if this proposal will require a land development plan.  Mr. Sander said it will require one.  Mr. Fidler said his concern is stormwater management. 

Mrs. Doorley asked if drainage problems will affect the property of a neighbor, Barry Roberts, who was present.  Mr. Roberts said he felt the project will not affect his property, since his land is higher than Mr. Tanner’s land in the rear.  He said this project and others in the area might affect his ability to develop his property in the future. 

Mr. Kester questioned the accuracy of the impervious surface calculations.  Mr. Walsh said he will check them before the Zoning Hearing Board meeting. 

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose this request.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle. 

Discussion of motion:  Mrs. Beasley, Mr. Ott and Mr. Sensibaugh said they are opposed to the request because they oppose increasing the impervious surface in the CM District. 

Mr. Kester’s motion passed 4-3, with Mrs. Beasley, Mr. Ott and Mr. Sensibaugh voting “nay”. 

2. Request # 587-03 - Szarko - 93 Richboro Road:  According to Mr. Harwood’s 2/26/03 memo, the applicant is proposing to subdivide a 1.93 acre property in the R-2 District into two lots, and to construct a single-family dwelling on one lot.  This will require relief to allow 16.34% impervious surface on one lot and 15.8% impervious surface on the other lot, where the maximum allowed by the ordinance is 15%.  Relief is also needed to allow a 30 foot lot width at the building setback line, where the ordinance requires a minimum width of 100 feet.   Commission members agreed the applicant appears to have a hardship situation on this flag lot. 

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose this request.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously. 


a.      Board of Supervisors - no report 

b.      Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission - No report. 

c.      Newtown Area Joint Zoning Council - Commission members received a notice of a Legislative Forum on 3/20/03 sponsored by the Council.  Several members said they plan to attend. 

d.      Sycamore Street Committee - Mrs. Doorley said the Committee met on 3/17/03 with the Board of Supervisors at the Board’s work session.  Mr. Sander said the whole Sycamore Street project is now being overseen by Mr. Pellegrino.  The Committee will continue its liaison with the community and the contractors, and Pennoni Associates will oversee the engineering aspects. 

e.      Historic Architectural Review Board - No report. 

f.        Park and Recreation Board - Mr. Ott said he and Mr. Dieterle attended a recent meeting of the Park and Recreation Board, and their experience raised questions for them about the role of Planning Commission liaisons.  They reported that the Park and Recreation Board did not acknowledge their presence or invite them to sit at the table during the meeting. They have not been able to obtain the agenda, the minutes or the Comprehensive Plan, in spite of several requests.  Mr. Sander noted that the role of liaison is different with each board or committee.  Mr. Ott said he is willing to attend a few more meetings to see if it is worth his time.  Mrs. Doorley said it would be good to have a Supervisor as liaison to the Planning Commission as well. 

g.      Cable TV Committee - Mr. Sander said that the Cable TV Committee is expanding its membership and its scope, and is looking at televising the Planning Commission meetings.  

h.      Plan Expirations - Mrs. Doorley noted the Durham Road Associates plan expires on 3/31/03, and the Hoffa Tract plan expires on 4/1/03. 


PARKING AT ROBERTS RIDGE PARK:  Commission members received a copy of a 2/11/03 memo from Pennoni Associates regarding parking problems in the vicinity of Roberts Ridge Park.  Pennoni will be studying the situation, and the Planning Commission will be asked to comment on their recommendations. 


PROPOSED REZONING - ROBERTS NURSERY SITE - NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD:  Mr. Fidler said he met recently with Mr. Pellegrino and Ms. Goldstein and revised the proposal he discussed with the Commission at the last meeting.  The Steele property is no longer included in the area to be rezoned.  Mr. Fidler will probably discuss the revised proposal in detail with the Commission at the next meeting. 

Mr. Sensibaugh said he is concerned about traffic going through the Borough to reach the proposed retail establishment.  Mr. Fidler said his proposal might actually help the traffic situation by diverting some of the Township traffic that might otherwise be headed for the shopping centers that are on the west side of the Borough. 

Mrs. Beasley said she was not present for the discussion of the proposal on 2/18/03, but she is in favor of it. 


ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:30 PM. 


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary