Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

April 15, 2003

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (4/15/03):  Mr. Kester moved to approve the minutes of the 4/15/03 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously, with Mr. Ward abstaining.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, April 15, 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 Vince Lombardi.  Also in attendance were Township Engineer Chris Walker, Township Solicitor Tom Smith and Township Public Works Director Tom Harwood. 

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

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (4/1/03):  Mr. Kester moved to approve the minutes of the 3/18/03 meeting with one change:  in the second paragraph under Discussion of Proposed Rezoning of Roberts Nursery Tract, Mr. Dusak should be identified as an architect and planner, not an engineer.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 

CONDITIONAL USE - SOIL STRIPPING - FIRST NATIONAL BANK - 773 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD:  Attorney Donna Wengiel was present to discuss the applicant’s request to remove approximately 340 cubic yards of soil (G-15 Use) from the First National Bank construction site in the R-2 District.  Ms. Wengiel stated that the soil is clay, and has been taken to Shady Brook Farms.  She also said the application mentions a different quantity of soil and should be amended to 340 cubic yards. 

Mr. Kester moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the G-15 Use to allow approximately 340 cubic yards of soil to be removed from the First National Bank construction site.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously, with Mr. Fidler abstaining. 

REVISED FINAL PLAN - VILLAGE AT NEWTOWN SOUTH (PARCEL A) - SOUTH EAGLE ROAD - TMP# 29-10-85 AND 29-10-85-5:  Attorney John VanLuvanee and engineer Mary Ann Saylor were present to discuss the applicant’s plan to construct a retail building and a bank on a 16.3142 acre site in the PC District.  Mr. VanLuvanee said that the revised plan develops the two remaining parcels in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center.  He said most improvements in the approved 5/29/96 final plan for the shopping center have been constructed.  The site to be developed is between the farmers market and an office building.  Mr. VanLuvanee said it has been difficult to reconstruct the history of the development of the shopping center, since the final plan was revised several times, variances were granted, and ownership has changed several times. 

The Pennoni Associates letter of 4/10/03 was reviewed.  Mr. VanLuvanee said the impervious surface on these parcels on the approved final plan is 69.5%, and the proposed revised plan brings this down to 68.8%.  He said the same building square footage is proposed as on the approved plan, but the use will be retail rather than offices. 

Mr. Lombardi said some compromises were made when the original final plan was approved, because the owner was having financial difficulties.  South Eagle Road was not made a Township road; this was so the owner could avoid having to conform with certain requirements for setbacks and the location of parking lots.  Mr. VanLuvanee said the Township has recently indicated interest in taking dedication of South Eagle Road. 

Mr. VanLuvanee said that many of the comments in the Pennoni letter do not apply to the proposed plan because it is a revision of an approved final plan.  He said the applicant therefore is not required to make existing improvements in the shopping center conform to the ordinance.  He said the applicant will comply with every comment that does apply to the proposed plan.  Conditional use approval will be requested when each tenant moves into the buildings to be constructed. 

Comment III A 6 states that a major bike system is required.  Mr. VanLuvanee said he does not believe this section applies; if it does, the applicant will seek a variance.  Mr. Fidler said there is an existing path connecting to Sycamore Street which could be the bike path. 

Comment III A 7 refers to the requirement that off-street parking areas must have a solid four-foot high buffer when adjacent to a street or another property.  Mr. VanLuvanee said the applicant will provide such a buffer between the parking areas and adjacent properties, but South Eagle Road has never been considered a street.  Mr. Walker said the landscape plan on the original 7/25/91 plan shows buffering along the street.  It was not clear whether this landscaping plan is still in force. 

Comment III A 11 discusses stormwater management requirements.  Mr. VanLuvanee said the applicant will complete the basin as shown on the approved final plan.  Ms. Saylor said it is not clear what calculations went into the design of the basin but it was approved to handle 69.5% impervious surface, which is more than what is proposed. 

Comment III A 14 discusses the parking stall dimensions.  While the standard stall is 10’ by 20’, all proposed stalls are shown as 10’ by 19’.  Mr. Harwood said a variance was granted for the shorter stalls.  Mr. Ott asked if the handicapped spaces can be enlarged.  Ms. Saylor said they meet ordinance and ADA requirements, but they can be enlarged by eliminating a space elsewhere.  

Comment III B 29 asks about past open space requirements; Mr. Van Luvanee said he will research this. 

Comment III D 40 refers to a traffic impact study.  Mr. VanLuvanee said traffic will not be impacted much; he noted that the original plan was designed for more traffic than is there now.  He said the applicant will do some striping of the road at the intersection with Swamp Road, where there have been problems.  Mr. Kester said he believes changing the use from office to retail will have a substantial impact.  Mr. VanLuvanee said he will research whether a traffic impact fee has been paid or is due. 

The Boucher and James letter of 3/12/03 was reviewed.  Mr. VanLuvanee said the applicant will comply with all comments that apply to the proposed revised plan. 

The 2/27/03 letter from the Fire Marshal’s office was discussed.  Members commented on its brevity and agreed to send a copy to the Fire Marshal with a request for a more detailed review of the plan. 

The Bucks County Planning Commission letter of 3/25/03 was discussed.  Mr. VanLuvanee said the only comment not covered in other letters concerns tree protection standards (#4).  He said the applicant cannot meet this requirement and will request a waiver. 

Commission members agreed there are still many questions about what agreements and approvals are still in effect for this plan.  Mr. VanLuvanee agreed to research these questions with the help of Mr. Harwood and other Township officials.  He said he may come up with inconclusive results; if so, he will meet with Township officials and develop a consensus about these issues. 

Mr.  Kester moved to table the matter of the revised final plan for the Village at Newtown South until the applicant can report the results of his research.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Smith asked who has the records on variances granted.  Mr. Harwood said his office has these records. 

Mr. Harwood said it would be good to put some buffering between the parking lots and South Eagle Road.  Mr. Fidler suggested adding a berm and plantings to the basin. 

Mr. Kester’s motion passed unanimously. 

REVISED FINAL PLAN - MINOR SUBDIVISION - SZARKO - 93 RIDHBORO ROAD:  Mr. Szarko, engineer Heath Dumack and attorney James McMaster were present to discuss the plan to subdivide a tract of slightly less than two acres into two lots.  One lot will contain an existing single family dwelling, and another single family dwelling will be constructed on the second lot.  Mr. McMaster stated that the applicant has revised the plan in accordance with previous review comments, and has obtained the necessary variances. 

The Pennoni Associates letter of 1/30/03 was reviewed.  Mr. McMaster said this letter includes all the comments of the Heritage Conservancy and Bucks County Planning Commission letters.  Mr. Walker suggested that any recommendation for approval be conditioned on confirmation that the plan is now in compliance with Section 405.C regarding minimum front yard width (Comment III A 4).  Mr. Walker also asked how the seepage pit on lot 2 will be maintained (Comment III A 6).  Mr. Dumack responded that the applicant has provided a maintenance schedule for the pit.  Mr. McMaster said it will be in the interests of the homeowner to make sure the maintenance is done correctly. 

Regarding Comment III A 9, Mr. McMaster said that Richboro Road is now a Township road, so the area between the existing right-of-way and the ultimate right-of-way will be offered to the Township for dedication. 

Comment III A 14 indicates that street trees may be required on the frontage along the Bypass.  Mr. McMaster said that this area is already heavily wooded, and enforcement of this requirement would mean removing existing trees to install new ones.  Mr. Smith said the applicant will still have to request a waiver. 

Mr. Fidler questioned whether the driveway is too long or too narrow, or if the turning radius is too small, for emergency access.  Mr. Dumack said the plan was sent to the Fire Marshal, but he has not responded yet.  He said that the Commission was previously concerned about the health of the trees near the driveway, but the driveway could be made 12 feet wide.  Mr. Dumack said he will discuss the turning radius with the Fire Marshal. 

Mr. Sensibaugh asked about sidewalks in the area.  Mr. McMaster said there are no sidewalks in the immediate area. 

Mr. Harwood said that point #5 in his 4/9/03 letter is only a reminder that the common driveway will be impacted if the Township constructs road improvements beyond the legal right-of-way line.  

Mr. Smith asked Mr. Walker if he feels that the turnaround area is now adequate (Pennoni Comment III A 12).  Mr. Walker said it is.  Mr. Walker asked if the Commission was in agreement with the placement of the street trees along Richboro Road; members indicated it is satisfactory. 

Mr. Smith suggested that Pennoni Associates provide an updated review letter before this plan is reviewed by the Board of Supervisors.  

Mr. Ott moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this revised final plan, subject to compliance with the Pennoni Associates letter of 1/30/03, the Heritage Conservancy letter of 1/7/03, Mr. Harwood’s letter of 4/9/03 (items 1 through 4), and the forthcoming review by the Fire Marshal.  The Commission further recommends that the following waivers be granted: 

1.      Section 402.1.A - Scale of drawing

2.      Section 402.3.B & C - Existing features

3.      Section 516 & 517 - Cartway widening and curbing

4.      Section 1203(2)(A)(1) - Open space

5.      Section 508.2 - Driveway width

6.      Section 504(17) - Cartway (widening of Richboro Road)

7.      Section 530(1)(A)(3) - Street trees (on the Bypass frontage) 

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

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS:  The Commission reviewed four applications scheduled for the 5/1/03 meeting of the Zoning Hearing Board, and commented as follows: 

·         #588-03 - Bierach - 304 Linton Hill Road:  The Commission had no comments on this application.

·         #589-03 - Mangogna - 10 Millstone Drive: The Commission found this plan excessive.

·         #590-03 - Derek - 43 Sibelius Road:  The Commission found this plan excessive.

·         #591-03 - Neiman 14 Cypress Place:  The Commission found this plan excessive. 


a.      Board of Supervisors - no report. 

b.      Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission - Mr. Kester said the Commission will meet on 4/17/03. 

c.      Newtown Area Joint Zoning Council - No report. 

d.      Sycamore Street Committee - Mr. Lombardi said the Committee is reviewing plans.

Acme Visioning Committee:  Mr. Lombardi also reported that the Acme Visioning Committee met with the Board of Supervisors at a work session, and the Committee’s recommendations were accepted.  Mr. Pellegrino and Robert White will develop an RFP which will emphasize commercial development of the site. 

e.      Historic Architectural Review Board - Mr. Lombardi said HARB is reviewing Sycamore Street plans. 

f.        Park and Recreation Board - Mr. Ott said he attended the Board’s most recent meeting.  The Silver Lake Park Subcommittee recommended that YSM develop a master plan for the park.  He also noted that the benches and tables are installed at Roberts Ridge Park. 

g.      Plan Expirations - Mr. Smith will alert the Manager to the need for action on the 413 Office Center. 




ADJOURNMENT:  The meeting was adjourned without objections at 10:20 PM. 


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary