Newtown Township

Planning Commission Minutes

October 7, 2003

APPROVAL OF MINUTES - MEETING OF 10/7/03: Mr. Ott moved to approve the minutes of the 10/7/03 meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously, with Mr. Ward and Mrs. Doorley abstaining.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, October 7, 2003, in the lower level Township meeting room.In attendance were: Vice-Chairman Allen Fidler; members Frank Mendicino, Jay Sensibaugh, Bob Dieterle, Sue Beasley, Jim Ott, and Vince Lombardi.Also in attendance were:Supervisor Raymond Goodnoe, Township Engineers Chris Walker and Phil Wursta, Township Solicitor Dave Sander, Township Planner Judy Goldstein, and Public Works Director Tom Harwood. 

Vice-Chairman Allen Fidler called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.He announced that Chairperson Karen Doorley had been called out of town unexpectedly. 

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. 


OVERVIEW:Mr. Wursta provided a written update of traffic-related engineering projects in the Township. 

Bucks County Transportation Improvement Program (TIP):Mr. Wursta said the Township Manager did a good job of testifying at the State Transportation Hearings on 9/26/03.A copy of Mr. Pellegrinoís testimony was provided to Commission members.He suggested the Commission develop a strategy for the 10/9/03 Bucks County Planning Commission meeting on the TIP.Several Commission members said they plan to attend the meeting; they agreed to meet in the parking lot at 6:30 PM to discuss their testimony. 

Local TIP:Mr. Fidler said the Commission promised to develop and report to the Board of Supervisors on a local TIP list.He asked Mr. Wursta and Ms. Goldstein to draft a list of recommended traffic-related projects for the Commission to consider. 

JMZO 2003-02 - AMENDING THE HIGHWAY CLASSIFICATION MAP:Ms. Goldstein said the purpose of the proposed ordinance is to correct some information on the highway classification map, but the larger issue is PennDOTís stated preference for only four classifications.The Jointure presently has nine classifications.Mr. Wursta said that reclassifying all of the Townshipís roads would be a very large undertaking.†† He said that PennDOT prefers the following classifications, usually tied to speed limits:Principal or Major Arterial, Minor Arterial, Collector Street, Local Street (automatic 25 MPH speed limit). 

Mr. Sensibaugh commented that the width of right-of-ways and cartways are issues to be considered as well, and more categories would give the Township more flexibility.Mr. Sander said that there is a different set of classifications in the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance relating to right-of-way and cartway widths.Mr. Ott suggested that the Commission go through the JMZO and find out what the justifications are for setting different minimum widths.Mr. Wusta commented that the Township is now substantially built out, so another approach would be simply to list all Township roads and specify what right-of-way they should have.Mr. Harwood said the Township has approximately 125 streets. 

Mr. Fidler said it seems there is general agreement on having four classifications.He asked Mr. Wursta, Ms. Goldstein, and Mr. Sander to research these issues and make recommendations to the Commission.Mr. Sensibaugh agreed to let the Jointure know the Commission will make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors after researching the issues. 

PRELIMINARY PLAN - MINOR SUBDIVISION - HIDDEN VALLEY TRACT - 138 HIDDEN VALLY LANE - TMP# 29-2-3:Nick Hano and engineer Deane Riniker were present to discuss their proposal to subdivide a 15.856 acre parcel in the R-1 District into three lots.Lot I will contain an existing single family dwelling and several outbuildings, as well as the open space; new single family homes will be built on Lots 2 and 3.All lots will take access on Hidden Valley Lane. 

The 8/13/03 Boucher and James letter was reviewed, and the following points were discussed: 

         A 1 - Mr. Riniker stated that the applicant does not plan to request any variances.

         A 4 c - Ms. Goldstein said the location of trees shown on the plan did not seem consistent with what she saw in the field.The applicant agreed to meet with her at the site to eliminate any inconsistencies.

         A 6 - Mr. Hano said the owner of Lot I will own and maintain the open space.

         B 2 a - Mr. Riniker said the applicant will seek a waiver to allow an aerial photo in lieu of showing existing features on the plan.

         B 3 - Mr. Sensibaugh expressed concern about sight distances at the additional accesses onto Hidden Valley Lane, and their proximity to the intersection with Chestnut Drive.Mr. Sander noted that Ms. Goldsteinís comment refers only to the existing driveway; the two driveways being proposed conform to the ordinance, and the applicant will have to demonstrate safe sight distances for them.

         B 4 - Commission members generally felt the area is already sufficiently lit, but acknowledged that the Board of Supervisors will determine if further lighting is needed.

         B 8 - Mr. Riniker said the applicant is proposing to pay a fee in lieu of park and recreation space.

         C 2 - Mr. Riniker said he will work out with Ms. Goldstein the apparent errors in the stated minimum lot areas for the three proposed lots. 

The 9/24/03 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed, and the following points not previously covered were discussed: 

         III A 4 - After some discussion Mr. Walker said his comment on base site calculations was partially incorrect.He said he will meet with the applicant and work out a resolution.

         III B 11 - Mr. Riniker stated that Lot 1 will have public water and sewer service, and Lots 2 and 3 will have on-site bio-retention systems.Ms. Goldstein said this is a newer type of system that retains the water on the property instead of piping it away; this is considered more environmentally friendly.

         IV 20 - Mr. Riniker said the site may not meet the 75% release rate requirement on Lots 2 and 3; if so, the applicant will request a partial waiver. 

Mrs. Beasley suggested that the applicant have the lots prepared for cable service during construction. 

There was general agreement that there were no additional issues raised by the review letters from the Bucks County Planning Commission, Emergency Services, and the Bucks County Conservation District. 

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant preliminary approval to the Hidden Valley Tract plan, with the following conditions: 

1. Compliance with the 8/13/03 Boucher and James review letter, with the following additional notes:

         The open space will be owned and maintained by the owner of Lot 1

         A fee in lieu of park and recreation space will be paid in the amount of $15,495.00

         The applicant will comply with the requirements of the Board of Supervisors regarding street lights 

2. Compliance with the 9/24/03 Pennoni Associates review letter, with the following additional notes:

         The applicant will determine if Lots 2 and 3 meet the 75% release rate requirement of the ordinance.If they do not, the applicant will request a waiver from this requirement.

         The applicant will meet with the Township Engineer to determine the correct base site area calculation.

         The applicant agrees to contact the cable company to have the new lots prepared for cable service during construction. 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Ott. 

Discussion of motion:Mr. Sensibaugh said he is still concerned about the proximity of the three driveways to the intersection with Chestnut Drive.Ms. Goldstein commented that only the existing driveway does not conform to the ordinance. 

Mr. Lombardiís motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Sensibaugh abstaining. 

REVISED FINAL PLAN - VILLAGE AT NEWTOWN SOUTH - SOUTH EAGLE AND SWAMP ROADS - TMP# 29-10-85 & 29-10-85-5:Attorney John VanLuvanee and engineer Maryellen Saylor were present to discuss the proposal to construct a retail building and a bank on the remaining undeveloped portion of the Village at Newtown shopping center.Mr. VanLuvanee said he and Ms. Saylor met with Mr. Walker and Mr. Sander immediately after the Commissionís discussion of the plan in June 2003 and resolved the remaining issues.He said it was determined that the existing stormwater system was designed to handle even more than the proposed impervious surface, but it was not designed to meet the required 75% release rate specified in the ordinance.He said there is no room to expand the system, so the applicant will request a waiver of that requirement. 

Mr. Mendicino asked what tenants are expected in the retail building.Mr. VanLuvanee said that is unknown at this time, although the applicant acknowledges the need for each tenant to obtain conditional use approval.Mr. Mendicino said he is concerned about adequate parking.Mr. VanLuvanee said the plan provides more parking spaces than is required by the ordinance.Ms. Goldstein commented that the plan conforms to the ordinance even if the calculations are based on this parcel only. 

Mr. Sensibaugh noted that the planís impervious surface ratio exceeds the 50% maximum.Mr. VanLuvanee said this is true, but it does not exceed the ratio on the approved plan.Mr. VanLuvasnee said there is no record of a variance to allow this.Ms. Goldstein confirmed these statements. 

Mr. Sander asked Mr. VanLuvanee to address the need for easements for the stormwater drainage system, since it crosses an area that may be sold to another owner in the future.Mr. VanLuvanee said easements will be provided.He also noted that the plan will now comply with comments #19 and #23 on the 4/10/03 Pennoni Associates letter regarding the stormwater management system, and the applicant no longer will need waivers of Pennoniís comments #21 and #22 regarding the paving section and parking within 20 feet of the building. 

Mr. VanLuvanee said the applicant will seek a waiver to allow a plan scale greater than the one specified in the ordinance, and a waiver to allow an aerial photo in lieu of showing existing features on the plan. 

Mr. Ott moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant final approval to the revised plan for the Village at Newtown South, with the following conditions: 

1. Compliance with the 4/10/03 Pennoni Associates review letter to the extent applicable, with the additional comment that the applicant agrees to comply with comments #19 and #23 regarding the stormwater management system. 

2. Compliance with the 3/12/03 Boucher and James review letter to the extent applicable. 

3. Compliance with the 3/14/03 Bucks County Conservation District letter, 3/25/03 Bucks County Planning Commission letter (with the exception of item #4), and the 2/27/03 Emergency Services letter. 

4. The Commission recommends granting the following waivers:

         to allow a greater than specified plan scale

         to allow an aerial photo to be accepted in lieu of showing existing features on the plan

         from the stormwater management ordinance requirement regarding a 75% release rate

         from the requirements regarding the location of the tree protection fencing 

5. The applicant will pay traffic impact fees and park and recreation fees as determined by the Engineer. 

6. The applicant will construct appropriate buffering between the basin and the Bill Marsh Ford dealership. 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle. 

Discussion of motion:Mr. VanLuvanee clarified that the stormwater easement to the Township does not mean that the Township will provide maintenance; it is for emergency purposes only.He added that he is discussing with the Sewer Authority the current moratorium on sewer hookups.Mr. Ott said he reviewed the earlier Commission discussion of this project and he believes that every outstanding issue has been covered. 

Mr. Ottís motion passed 6-1, with Mr. Sensibaugh voting ďnayĒ.  

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS:The Commission reviewed seven applications scheduled for the 11/6/03 Zoning Hearing Board meeting and had the following comments: 

Kosacci - #613-03:The applicant is requesting two variances regarding building on a floodplain and the width of two stands of trees, and a special exception to allow disturbance of wetlands.A neighbor, Roberta Taylor, was present.She said that the site is very wet, sight distances at the emergency access is poor, the parcel is currently for sale, and the present owner does not own a strip of land along the road frontage.Mr. Walker advised that whoever develops the parcel will have to comply with the approved plan and the ordinance.He added that the emergency access road will be blocked to regular traffic.Commission members agreed to make no comments on this application. 

J. Loew & Associates - #614-03: Mr. Ott moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors support the opinion of the Zoning Officer regarding screening of rooftop HVAC equipment.The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Beasley abstaining. 

Berman - #615-03:Commission members agreed to make no comments on this application. 

Franceschelli - #616-03:Mr. Ott asked how the plan for this development was approved with more impervious surface than allowed by the ordinance, but with no variance obtained.Mr. Sander said this was permitted in exchange for the developerís agreeing to install several features to buffer the homes from the adjoining trash disposal operation, none of which appear to have been done.At the request of Commission members, Mr. Sander will research this issue.Commission members agreed to make no comments on this application. 

Wiley and Watson - #617-03:Commission members agreed to make no comments on this application. 

Twining - #618-03:Mr. Harwood said there is a court order requiring the owner to clean up the property.Mr. Sander suggested compliance with the order should be a condition of any zoning relief granted.Commission members agreed to make this recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. 

Frey - #619-03:Commission members agreed to make no comments on this application. 


Park and Recreation Board:Mr. Ott noted that Commission members received a copy of the Boardís minutes in their packets, as the Board decided that sharing minutes with the Commission was a good way for the two groups to communicate.The Board is also interested in having an Trail Committee again, and they asked for two Commission members to work with two Board members on this.Mr. Lombardi said Mrs. Doorley and Mrs. Beasley were involved with the previous Trail Committee.Ms. Goldstein said she gave Mr. Wert an outline of the history of trail planning in the Township and copied Mrs. Doorley.Mr. Ott commented that with the unexpected resignation of the Boardís Chairman, Mr. Bires, some projects are in limbo. 

Sycamore Street Committee:Mr. Lombardi reported that Haines and Kibblehouse were the low bidders on the project, with a bid of approximately $4.3 million, but the bids have to be researched before the contract is awarded. 

Plan Expirations:Mr. Sander said there are no plan expiration dates needing to be addressed by the Commission. 

Board of Supervisors:Mr. Goodnoe said the Board of Supervisors did not vote to support an ordinance amendment regarding impervious surface requirements in the LI and O-LI Districts as he had previously stated, but he believes they were favorable to it when it was discussed.The Economic Development Commission will be making a full set of recommendations regarding zoning changes soon, and they will be considered together. 

Mr. Goodnoe said that the Board of Supervisors asked the Commission to look at the impact of the street tree ordinance on PECOís utility lines a few months ago.Ms. Goldstein said she has some materials on this subject and can bring a recommendation to the Commission.†† 

CORRESPONDENCE:Commission members previously received copies of the following documents:

         The Park and Recreation Board minutes of 9/3/03

         A 9/29/03 memo from Mr. Pellegrino to the Board of Supervisors regarding testimony given at the 9/26/03 State Transportation Meeting

         A 9/19/03 letter from Mr. Wursta to Mr. Pellegrino regarding the four TIP projects submitted by the Township 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (EDC) MEETING:Commission members received a 9/30/03 memo from Mr. Pellegrino regarding the EDCís recommendations regarding proposed changes to the use regulations in the LI and O-LI Districts.Mr. Pellegrino invited Planning Commission members to attend and participate in the EDC meeting scheduled for 10/16/03, at which the EDC will discuss these proposals as well as previous recommendations concerning impervious surface maximums and parking stall sizes in these districts. 


JMZO 2002-09 - DISCLOSURE ORDINANCE:Mr. Fidler said that Mrs. Doorley requested that this item be tabled until she can be present. 


MEETING 11/4/03 (ELECTION DAY):Commission members noted that the Commissionís first November meeting is scheduled for Election Day.They agreed to table this item until the next meeting on 10/21/03. 

ADJOURNMENT:Without objections the meeting was adjourned at 11:25 PM.


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary