Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

June 17, 2003

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (6/17/03):  Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of the 6/17/03 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously, with Mr. Ward, Mr. Dieterle and Mr. Mendicino abstaining. 

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, June 17, 2003, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were: Chairperson Karen Doorley; members Allen Fidler, Paul Kester, Jim Ott, Jay Sensibaugh, Bob Dieterle, Sue Beasley and Vince Lombardi.  Also in attendance were:  Township Engineer Chris Walker, Township Solicitor Dave Sander, Township Planner Judy Goldstein and Township Public Works Director Tom Harwood. 

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

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (6/3/03):  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the minutes of the 6/3/03 meeting with one change.  Under General Discussion, Mr. Kester’s Retirement, the last sentence should read “There was general support for this suggestion.”  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ott and passed unanimously. 


AMENDED FINAL PLAN - VILLAGE AT NEWTOWN SOUTH - SOUTH EAGLE ROAD - TMP# 29-10-85 & 29-10-85-5:  Attorney John VanLuvanee was present to discuss the proposal to construct a retail building and a drive-through bank on a 16.3142 acre site in the PC District.  The proposed amended plan has been discussed several times by the Commission. 

Mr. Sander said he, Mr. Harris and Mr. VanLuvanee met and researched the land development history of this site.  He said they found that in 1991 a seventh revised final plan was approved, but never recorded or built.  In 1996 an eighth revised final plan was approved and recorded.  This plan showed 36,000 SF of approved office space in the area in which the present applicant wishes to build.  The present proposed plan is for the same number of square feet but with a different use and a different layout.  A community center is mentioned in the 1991 plan but not the 1996 plan; therefore, the applicant is not required to build a community center. 

Ms. Goldstein said that parking and dimensional requirements for office and retail uses in a shopping center are the same. 

Mrs. Doorley asked if plan approvals expire after a certain time.  Mr. Sander said the ordinance states that they do expire after five years unless the plan is “substantially complete”.  In his opinion, a majority of the 1996 plan is built. 

Mrs. Doorley asked if the applicant will comply with the review letters.  Mr. VanLuvanee said the applicant will comply with all points in the review letters that apply to this plan.  Mrs. Doorley asked him to identify the specific points which he does not think are applicable. 

The Commission discussed the 4/10/03 Pennoni Associates review letter.  Ms. Goldstein and Mr. Sander commented that they were not present at the meeting in which this letter was first discussed (4/15/03), but Mr. Walker said he was present, and he had his notes with him.  Mr. VanLuvanee said the applicant will comply with all points with the following exceptions: 

Mr. Kester moved to table this matter until the applicant provides calculations for the entire site.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and failed 3-4, with Mr. Dieterle, Mr. Ott, Mr. Lombardi and Mr. Fidler voting “nay” and Mrs. Beasley abstaining. 

Mr. Fidler noted that there were many informal agreements between the previous owner of this property and the Township regarding impervious surface, making it difficult to determine the present situation.  Mr. Lombardi said the real issue is whether the stormwater management is adequate to handle what is being proposed.  He said his impression is that the basins on this site are over-sized. 

The Commission continued its review of the Pennoni Associates letter:

Mr. VanLuvanee said the applicant will comply with all points in the Boucher & James letter of 3/12/03 except for Point B 3 b, which requires that the plan show where the existing transformers will be relocated.  He said PECO will determine the locations.  

Mr. Van Luvanee said that the applicant will comply with the Emergency Services letter of 2/27/03, the Conservation District letter of 3/14/03 and the Bucks County Planning Commission letter of 3/25/03.  

Mr. VanLuvanee said he does not intend to return to the Commission, since the review letters have been gone over twice.  Mr. Lombardi said the Commission can make a recommendation now, since the outstanding issues are matters of fact and are not controversial.  Other members said some matters are controversial. 

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the amended final plan for the Village at Newtown South, contingent on compliance with the Pennoni Associates review letter of 4/10/03, with the following open issues to be resolved: 

The applicant also agrees to comply with the Boucher & James review letter of 3/12/03, with the following exceptions: 

The applicant also agrees to comply with the Emergency Services letter of 2/27/03, the Conservation District letter of 3/14/03 and the Bucks County Planning Commission letter of 3/25/03.  In addition, the Commission recommends that the following waivers be granted: 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler. 

Discussion of motion:  Mrs. Beasley said if the motion passes with all these open issues, the Commission will be passing the plan on to the Board of Supervisors without doing its job.  Mr. Kester agreed.  Mr. Sander noted that Mr. VanLuvanee has said he will not grant an extension, so the plan would have to be considered at the first Board meeting in July.  If the majority of Commission members are not ready to make a recommendation tonight, they will have to vote to recommend denial of the plan. 

Mr. VanLuvanee said he will grant a 30 day extension if Township staff can provide all the needed information by then.  Mr. Sander asked if the Engineer will be able to determine if the basin is adequate in 30 days; Mr. Walker said he will be able to do so. 

Mr. Lombardi’s motion failed 0-8, with all members present voting “nay”. 

PROPOSED REZONING OF ROBERTS NURSERY TRACT - NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD:  Mr. Fidler removed himself from the Commission for this item, as he is the applicant.  Attorney Don Marshall and planner Rob Dusak were also present to discuss the proposal to add an H-15 Agricultural Retail Use, accessory to Agricultural Use, to the R-2 District.  A revised proposed ordinance amendment had been distributed to Commission members earlier. 

Mr. Fidler said one open issue was described in his cover letter.  He asked for discussion of the overall size of the H-15 Use relative to the Agricultural Use.  Ms. Goldstein clarified that the ten acre minimum applies only to the H-15 Use area.  Since the H-15 area cannot exceed 50% of the area devoted to the principal use, a site smaller than 30 acres cannot take advantage of the H-15 provision.  She said the ordinance does not state this directly, but it has this effect. 

Mr. Sander suggested the following wording for the last sentence of Section 803 H 2:  “The Agricultural Retail use area shall not exceed 50% of the land area devoted to the principal agricultural use.” 

Mrs. Doorley said she received e-mail messages from officials in other municipalities expressing a favorable opinion of the proposed H-15 ordinance. 

Mr. Sander also suggested that the second sentence of Section 803 H be reworded as follows:  “…fruits and vegetables, livestock, poultry, and lawn and garden supplies and equipment produced on or off the site.” 

Ms. Goldstein asked if Mr. Fidler can live with the 35% maximum impervious surface for the agricultural use, as shown in the table of performance regulations in Section 405 B.  Mr. Fidler said his present agricultural use is 27% impervious, so he felt the 35% maximum is not a problem. 

Ms. Goldstein recommended that Section 405 D be titled “Special Regulations - Agricultural Retail Accessory Use (H-15)”, and that Section 405 D 2 be revised to read “The temporary outdoor sale of merchandise…”  Mr. Harwood commented that “seasonal” sales tend to go on year round as one season is replaced with another. 

Ms. Goldstein suggested that Section 803 H 7 be changed to read “…five hundred (500) square feet of outdoor sales area…” 

Mr. Fidler indicated that all the changes proposed by the Commission are acceptable to him. 

Mr. Kester moved to send the proposed ordinance, as amended in tonight’s discussion, to the Board of Supervisors for their review.  If it is satisfactory, the Commission further recommends that the Board forward the proposed ordinance to the other participating municipalities in the Jointure for their review.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously, with Mr. Fidler abstaining. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS:  The Commission reviewed the following applications and had no comments on them: 


SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE:  Mr. Lombardi reported that the pre-bid meeting is being planned. 

PARK AND RECREATION BOARD:  Mr. Ott reported that the Board recently discussed the Village at Newtown South plan.  They also discussed development of the Woll Tract with a group of residents who were present at the meeting.  Mr. Ott said access to the Woll Tract is a controversial issue.  Mr. Fidler said plans for developing the tract should go through the regular land development process, beginning with a sketch plan review by the Commission. 

CORRESPONDENCE:  The Commission earlier received copies of the following correspondence:




PAUL KESTER’S RETIREMENT:  Mrs. Doorley thanked Mr. Kester for his many years of service on the Planning Commission, and presented him with a gift certificate for dinner at a local restaurant. 

Mr. Kester said he has served on the Planning Commission for 12 of the last 15 years, and it has been a great experience.  He said that members have not always agreed with each other, but it is always important to respect each other’s integrity. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Mr. Kester moved to adjourn.  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 PM.


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary