Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

September 16, 2003


APPROVAL OF MINUTES - MEETING OF 9/16/03:  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the minutes of the 9/16/03 meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously, with Mr. Ott abstaining. 


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, September 16, 2003, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were: Chairperson Karen Doorley; Members Allen Fidler, Frank Mendicino, Jay Sensibaugh, Bob Dieterle, Sue Beasley, Shawn Ward, and Vince Lombardi.  Also in attendance were:  Supervisor Raymond Goodnoe, Township Engineer Chris Walker, Township Solicitor Dave Sander, Township Planner Judy Goldstein, and Public Works Director Tom Harwood.  

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

APPROVAL OF MINUTES - MEETING OF 9/2/03:  Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of the 9/2/03 meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously. 

PRELIMINARY PLAN - MAJOR SUBDIVISION - KOSACCI - WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD - TMP# 29-10-13.2:  Emanuel Kosacci, architect Wayne Johnson and attorney Don Marshall were present to discuss the plan for the subdivision of a 10.84 acre parcel in the R-1 District into four lots for single-family dwellings.  The applicant proposes an underground stormwater management system and a cul-de-sac, from which all lots will take access.  Lots three and four also have an emergency access to Washington Crossing Road.  Mr. Marshall said the Park and Recreation Board has recommended a fee in lieu of a dedicated park and recreation area. 

Mrs. Doorley asked the applicant to reconsider the name of the development (Kosashvilli Court); Mr. Kosacci said he will. 

The Pennoni Associates letter of 7/23/03 was reviewed, and the following points were discussed: 

·         III A 1 and 2 - Mr. Marshall said the applicant will seek relief from the Zoning Hearing Board to allow the driveway to cross floodplain soils and wetlands.

·         III A 5 - Mr. Marshall said the applicant will either comply with the requirements regarding the width of remaining stands of trees, or seek a waiver.

·         III A 10 - Mr. Marshall said the Fire Marshal asked for a 20’ driveway and the applicant will comply with this request, but 25’ seems excessive.  Mr. Sander questioned whether Section 1001(B)(5) applies to this driveway.  Mr. Harwood asked how the shared driveway will be maintained.  Mr. Marshall said there will be cross-easement agreements so that all owners will know their responsibilities.  Mr. Harwood suggested the driveway be defined with some kind of barrier to discourage people from driving off the roadway.

·         III B 14 - The applicant will provide an aerial photo and seek a waiver of the requirement to show existing features on the plan.

·         III B 17 - The applicant agreed to provide four low intensity streetlights in the development.

·         III B 19 - The applicant agreed to provide an easement to the Township along Washington Crossing Road for a future sidewalk, and to provide a “clear zone”.  The applicant will seek a waiver to allow curbing on only one side of the cul-de-sac.

·         III B 29 - Mr. Johnson said a centralized garbage collection in a screened dumpster area is proposed.  Commission members were not in favor of this plan; the applicant agreed to provide for individual household garbage collection.

·         III C 34 - Mr. Marshall said the cross-easements should cover the maintenance of the stormwater management facilities, but if creating a homeowners association seems advisable the applicant will comply.

·         III C 35 and 36 - The applicant is seeking a waiver of two sections of the ordinance relating to drainage.  Mr. Marshall said these sections were discussed with Mr. Walker earlier, who agreed that the applicant is proposing best management practices for this project.

·         III C 39 - Mr. Marshall indicated that the ordinance only suggests drainage towards the bulb of a cul-de-sac, and that cannot be done because of the topography of the site.  Mr. Walker said he is comfortable with the proposed arrangements.

·         III C 43 - The applicant will seek a waiver to build the driveway across a sewer easement.

·         III D 50 - The applicant will seek a waiver to allow a 26’ cartway on the cul-de-sac.  Mr. Walker said he supports the waiver.

·         III D 51 - The applicant will seek a waiver to allow the approach from the cul-de-sac to the intersection to be less than a 100’ straightaway. 

The 7/29/03 letter from Boucher & James was reviewed, and the following points not previously addressed were discussed: 

·         B 2 c - The applicant will seek a waiver of the requirement to do a tree count, as there are many trees on this parcel.

·         B 8 b - Ms. Goldstein asked if the applicant will consider planting trees other than Norway maples, which are invasive; Mr. Johnson said another species will be chosen.

·         B 8 c - The applicant will seek a waiver of the requirement to buffer two different land uses. 

Mr. Marshall stated the applicant will comply with all points in the other review letters that have not been covered.  He noted that the Fire Marshal affixed a stamp of approval on the plan.

Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the preliminary plan for a major subdivision of the Kosacci property, contingent on compliance with the 7/23/03 Pennoni Associates review letter, with the following comments: 

1.      The applicant will obtain relief from the Zoning Hearing Board regarding building the driveway over a floodplain area or wetlands

2.      Four streetlights of low intensity will be provided

3.      An easement will be granted to the Township for future sidewalk and/or curbing along Washington Crossing Road in a clear zone as defined by the Township Engineer

4.      A fee will be paid in lieu of park and recreation facilities, as recommended by the Park and Recreation Board

5.      Garbage collection will not be centralized

6.      The names of the subdivision and the cul-de-sac will be reconsidered

7.      Cross-easements for the maintenance of the shared driveway will be provided

8.      Reflectors will be placed on the barrier near the creek 

The Commission further recommends that the following waivers be granted: 

1.      Section 402.3 b & c - to accept an aerial photo in lieu of showing existing features on the plan

2.      Section 302, 303.02 of the Stormwater Management Ordinance - relief from the 1 year, 24 hour storm and 75% release rate requirements

3.      Section 520.5 - relief from the requirement to keep easements as lawn

4.      Section 504.17 - to allow a 26’ cul-de-sac cartway

5.      Section 505.5 - to allow the approach of the cul-de-sac to Washington Crossing Road to be less than a 100’ straightaway

6.      Section 402.3 G - relief from the requirement to perform a tree count

7.      Section 507.5 - to allow a 35’ corner curb radius

8.      Section 508.6 - relief from the requirement of an additional 25’ setback on reverse frontage lots

9.      Section 531.1 - relief from the requirement to buffer different land uses

10.  Section 517 - relief from the requirement for sidewalk on one side of the cul-de-sac

11.  Section 516.2 - relief from the requirement for curbing on Washington Crossing Road 

Also, the applicant agrees to comply with all points not discussed above that appear in the 7/29/03 Boucher and James letter, the 8/6/03 Bucks County Planning Commission letter, and the 8/12/03 Bucks County Conservation District letter.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously. 

PRD VARIANCE - FOUR SEASONS SUN AND SHADE COMPANY - 8 SOUTH LANCASTER LANE - TMP# 29-24-214:  The homeowner, Casey Gibbons, was present to discuss the PRD variance request to allow construction of a sunroom that would result in a 22.8’ rear yard setback where a 30’ setback is required.  Mr. Sander said this request is scheduled for the 10/8/03 Board of Supervisors meeting.   

Mrs. Gibbons said her neighbors have no objections to the project.  Commission members encouraged Mrs. Gibbons to bring letters from her neighbors, as well as the Homeowners Association, to the Board of Supervisors meeting. 

Mr. Ward moved to state that the Planning Commission has no objection to the PRD request.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS 

TUDOR SQUARE, LP - 638 & 660 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - #611-03:  The applicant seeks a variance to allow the construction of a three-story office building in the O-LI District that will exceed the maximum impervious surface ratio by 18.6%.  Mr. Mendicino said the Economic Development Committee is proposing to increase the maximum impervious surface in this area, and the Zoning Hearing Board has granted several variances for this recently; however, the ordinance has not been amended yet and no one has studied what the impact will be.   

Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors send the Solicitor to the hearing to defend the ordinance.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed 7-1, with Mr. Dieterle voting “nay”. 

SAMUEL KIRK - 9 MAPLE LANE - #610-03:  The applicant is seeking a variance to allow the construction of a patio that will exceed the maximum impervious surface ratio by 3.14%.  Commission members had no comments on this application.

PRYDA LLC - 159 N. SYCAMORE STREET - #612-03:  The applicant is seeking a variance to allow ten parking spaces where 15 would be required if the building is used for D-1 Office Use.  Mr. Harwood explained that the use of this property has not yet been determined.  Work on the building has been stopped by Mr. Harwood’s office because there were problems with soil erosion.  He said HARB also has some issues with the work being done. 

Mr. Sander said the applicant has obtained other variances conditioned on his obtaining conditional use approval for D-1 Office Use.  

Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors send the Solicitor to the hearing to oppose the request on the grounds that the applicant is creating his own hardship.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Mendicino said this is an example of the Zoning Hearing Board setting policy for the Board of Supervisors.  He referred to the variance granted to Newtown-Yardley Road Associates for a significant increase in their impervious surface ratio as another example.  Mr. Sander said there are no requirements about the order in which an applicant should obtain conditional use approvals and variances.  He also said that the Zoning Hearing Board deals with each case on its own merits.    

Mr. Sensibaugh asked Mr. Goodnoe to comment on this issue.  Mr. Goodnoe said the Board of Supervisors usually does not get involved in Zoning Hearing Board cases unless there is an egregious situation; the Zoning Hearing Board is supposed to determine whether there is a hardship.  Mr. Goodnoe said the Zoning Hearing Board is and should be an independent body.  

Mr. Ward’s motion passed unanimously, with Mrs. Beasley abstaining. 

NEW BUSINESS 

JMZO 2002-09 - DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE:  Mr. Sensibaugh said he has reviewed Draft 4 of the ordinance and has no objections to it.  Mrs. Doorley said she has major objections to the amount and type of information the builder would be required to provide.   

Mr. Sander said a major reason the ordinance was drafted was to avoid situations like a recent one involving Eagle Glen, in which buyers of new homes claimed they were not informed about the status of their open space.  He said the developer will pay the Township’s costs involved in verifying and maintaining the required information.  

Mr. Goodnoe said he is concerned about the provision that the Zoning Officer will certify that the information is correct, since this makes the Township liable if the information is found to be wrong later. 

The copy of the ordinance given to Commission members was not complete, so the matter was tabled to the 10/7/03 meeting when the Commission can consider a complete version. 

JMZO 2003-01 - AMENDMENTS REGARDING COMMUNICATIONS TOWERS AND AQUACULTURE:  Mr. Sander explained that that these amendments are primarily “housekeeping” measures, and they affect only Upper Makefield and Wrightstown Township. 

Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve JMZO 2003-01.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ward and passed unanimously. 

JMZO 2003-02 - AMENDING THE HIGHWAY CLASSIFICATION MAP:  Mr. Lombardi said the Traffic Engineer recently told the Commission that PennDOT wants to reduce the number of road classifications to four; this ordinance proposes nine classifications.  The Commission agreed to table consideration of this amendment until they could get clarification from the Traffic Engineer, who is expected to attend the 10/7/03 meeting. 

GENERAL DISCUSSION:  None. 

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:20 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

  

____________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary