Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

August 5, 2003

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (8/5/03):  Approval was deferred to the next meeting to allow time to consult tapes (if possible) or notes from the meeting.  Questions were raised about Mr. Fidler’s statements about the Park and Recreation Board, the discussion of Commission members’ comments at meetings of the Board of Supervisors, and how a liaison with the Board of Supervisors was requested.  The recording secretary will research these questions and bring the results to the next meeting.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, August 5, 2003 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were Karen Doorley, Chairman; Sue Beasley, Bob Deiterle, Allen Fidler, Vince Lombardi, Frank Mendicino, James Ott, Jay Sensibaugh, and Shawn Ward, Members. Also in attendance were Chris Walker, Traffic Engineer, Judith Goldstein, Township Planner and David Sander, Solicitor.

Call to Order:

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

Approval of Minutes:

Mr. Ward moved to accept the minutes of July 15, 2003. Mr. Fidler seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Traffic Engineer's Report:

Mr. Walker reported that the Bucks County Transportation Improvement Program (BCTIP) had been submitted for the Township to review at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on August 13, 2003. The program includes Newtown By-Pass rehabilitation estimated at $4,000,000.

The Planning Commission agreed that they were not prepared to review the BCTIP and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors because the report had only been received by members and they had not had sufficient time to review it in preparation for the meeting.

Mr. Lombardi noted that Mr. Wursta was not present at the meeting to advise the Planning Commission.

Mr. Mendicino said that he agreed that the Planning Commission needed more time to review the BCTIP. He also commented that Newtown Township should be represented at the Bucks County Planning Commission.

Mr. Lombardi suggested that a sub-committee be formed to review the BCTIP and other traffic concerns. He asked if any Commission members would be willing to meet as a sub-committee during the day, when Mr. Wursta might be available to attend. Messrs. Mendicino, Ward and Fidler agreed to serve on a sub-committee, meeting during the day. Mr. Fidler said that he would set up a meeting and include Mr. Wursta.

Mrs. Doorley reviewed the dates for all deadlines for review and recommendations to the Bucks County Planning Commission. She noted that the deadline for submission to BCPC would be September 2, 2003. She suggested that the sub-committee meet and prepared a presentation to the Planning Commission at their August 19, 2003 meeting. She suggested that they could ask that the Board of Supervisors move their discussion of the BCTIP to their August 27, 2003 meeting.

Mrs. Beasley asked if a sub-committee meeting would have to be advertised and open to the public.

Mr. Sanders advised the Commission that this is not necessary, as the sub-committee does not constitute a quorum.

Mr. Ward moved to strongly recommend that the Board of Supervisors postpone consideration of the BCTIP to their August 27, 2003 agenda because the Planning Commission had not received the BCTIP in a timely fashion, and the Traffic Engineer was not present to advise discussion; that a sub-committee be formed of Messrs. Fidler, Lombardi, Mendicino and Ward, to review the BCTIP and to represent Newtown Township at the Bucks County Planning Commission. Mr. Sensibaugh seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Mendicino commented that he had noticed that a series of brown and green quarry truck detour signs had been placed throughout Lower Makefield, Newtown and Wrightstown. He said that the Wrightstown Board of Supervisors had voted to remove any signs posted on Wrightstown Township roads.

Mr. Walker said that he would look into this and apprises Mr. Wursta of the Commission's questions and concerns.

Conditional Use – 111 Pheasant Run, Newtown Business Commons

Mr. Don Marshall and Mr. Curt Rittler were present to discuss the Conditional Use application for 111 Pheasant Run Road. They are applying for D-1 office use and H-5, accessory Building, with impervious surface ratio of 60%.

Mr. Marshall said that the existing storage shed would be removed to accommodate a new storage building, to house snow removal and lawn maintenance equipment. Because the offices expect only small truck deliveries, a 20-foot by 40 foot loading area has been moved to the rear of the building, and a fire lane has been created at the front of the building. He said that there are no tenants yet, but that they have planned for 148 parking spaces, and are requesting to keep 16 spaces in reserve.

Mr. Mendicino commented that there might not be enough parking spaces remaining when the last tenant moves in.

Mr. Marshall said that each tenant would have to apply for conditional use, and parking would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Mr. Rittler said that he had discussed the property with the Township Engineer, and there are no known drainage issues. He said that the neighboring Goddard School maintains an on site storm water management system.

Mr. Marshall said that the existing historic structure would remain intact.

Mr. Marshall said that this would be office use only, with all activities indoors. There will be no retail business or storefronts. The accessory building does not require parking.

Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the D-1 and H-5 uses and increased impervious surface ratio of 60% for 111 Pheasant Run Road, Newtown Business Commons. Mr. Fidler seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Subcommittee and Liaison Reports:

Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission

Mr. Sensibaugh and Mr. Mendicino will attend their August 16, 2003 meeting.

Sycamore Street:

Mr. Lombardi reported that the project would be started in November, although no firm date has been set.

Historic Architectural Review Board:

Mr. Lombardi reported that they have been discussing a Sycamore Street Monument, but no design has been approved yet.

Park and Recreation Board:

Mr. Ott said that he would attend the August 6, 2003 meeting. He said that he did not know what was going on at the Woll Tract, but had noticed some trees had been removed and a curb cut had been put in. He said that he thought that trucks were dropping topsoil from construction sites to create berms in the proposed park.

Mr. Fidler expressed concern that the Park and Recreation Board had not discussed their plans with the Planning Commission. He was also concerned that the Public Works Department was accessing the property from Rte 413. He said that he had recalled that access could be gained through the school property. Mr. Walker said that he had worked with Mr. Pellegrino to obtain PennDot permits to access the property through Rte 413. Mr. Ott said that he would recommend to the Park and Recreation Board that they discuss their plans for the Woll Tract with the Planning Commission.

Plan Expirations:

Mrs. Doorley noted that Tudor Square expires on August 13, 2003.

New Business:

Mrs. Doorley said that she had a telephone call from Mr. Harp asking that a Planning Commission member attend a special Newtown Borough Council Meeting to review the Toll Brothers plans for the Frost Watson site. She said that this plan will add 57 homes to the property, and will affect traffic on Penn Street and Washington Avenue.

Member Comments:

Mr. Mendicino commented that Lower Makefield had been proposing traffic calming on Lindenhurst Road in Lower Makefield with PennDot. He suggested that the sub-committee also look into this and see how it affects the Newtown portions of Lindenhurst Road. Mr. Ott said that he was aware of studies done on the quarry truck routes and thinks there may be a more recent study than the 2001 study that the members have seen.

Mrs. Goldstein said that she had been given a Lower Makefield report that she would review for the next Planning Commission meeting.

Mrs. Beasley said that she thought that the Penns Trail/Newtown By-Pass intersection had become dangerous and should be considered during BCTIP discussions.

The Commission discussed a recent request by a resident for a liaison between the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission. There is some concern that the Board of Supervisors are not aware of the background behind Planning Commission recommendations, particularly the recommendations on the Zoning Hearing Board applications. Mr. Sander commented that the Board of Supervisors does not always formally oppose applications to the Zoning Hearing Board because the Zoning Hearing Board is trusted to understand the Ordinances and to evaluate any hardships and make informed decisions. He said that the Township only sends its solicitors to oppose when it is a very major and controversial application. He said that not all Townships ask their Planning Commissions to review Zoning Hearing Board applications. Mrs. Doorley said that the Planning Commission had initially asked to review these applications because developers were presenting new plans to the Planning Commission for which they had already been granted variances. It was suggested that perhaps the Board of Supervisors should meet with the Planning Commission to share thoughts.

The Commission discussed whether it is appropriate for Planning Commission members to address the Board of Supervisors during land-development hearings and at public comment. It was agreed that if a Planning Commission member was speaking to clarify the majority opinion of the Planning Commission, that member should identify himself as a Planning Commission member, however, when giving public comment each member should state that he is speaking as a resident of the community and does not represent the opinion of the entire Planning Commission.


Mr. Fidler moved to adjourn at 10:15 PM. Mr. Ott seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


Respectfully Submitted:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary