Newtown Township

Planning Commission 

January 20, 2004


MINUTES OF 1/20/04 MEETING (RELATED TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS):  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the EDC portion of the 1/20/04 minutes with one correction:  The recommendation on Use E10, Service Station, should read “Recommendation to continue permitting this use in the O-LI District as a conditional use.”  The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously. 


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, January 20, 2004, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were: Chairman Shawn Ward, members Allen Fidler, Jay Sensibaugh, Frank Mendicino, Bob Dieterle, Vince Lombardi, Sue Beasley, Beth Sanderlin, and Mike Piazza.  Also in attendance were:  Supervisor Skip Goodnoe, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine, Economic Development Commission representative Doug Terry, Township Solicitor Dave Sander, Township Planner Judy Goldstein, Township Engineer Chris Walker, and Public Works Director Tom Harwood. 

CALL TO ORDER:  Chairman Shawn Ward called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. 

MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS (1/13/04):  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the minutes of the 1/13/04 special meeting with changes to the sixth paragraph of the Traffic Engineer’s report so that the first sentence reads as follows:  “Mr. Walker commented that NBC projects that have been submitted to the Township total about 150,000 SF and will generate about $650,000 in traffic fees.”  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ward and passed unanimously, with Ms. Sanderlin and Mr. Piazza abstaining. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (EDC) RECOMMENDATIONS ON USES:   Mr. Ward asked Commission members to focus on the EDC’s recommended changes in permitted uses as described in Ms. Goldstein’s 11/11/03 memo attached to Mr. Pellegrino’s 11/13/03 memo.  During the discussion, members made the following comments:  The conditional use process should be streamlined in some situations but not eliminated, since many uses and individual situations should be discussed in a public meeting; the Township’s Zoning Officer and Fire Marshal are qualified to make many “administrative” conditional use decisions; there are some uses which are regulated by public agencies or professional associations which ensure safe operations; and uses permitted by right still have to operate in conformity with ordinance requirements.  Commission members agreed to make the following recommendations on the proposed zoning changes in the LI and O-LI Districts: 

·         A1 - Agriculture and Horticulture:  No comment on the proposal to make this a permitted use in the O-LI District.

·         C1 - Place of Worship:  Agreement with proposal to permit by conditional use in the LI and O-LI Districts.

·         C3 - Commercial School:  Recommendation to permit by conditional use in both districts.

·         C6 - Athletic Facility:  Recommendation to permit by conditional use in both districts.

·         C10 - Child Care Facility:  Agreement with proposal to permit by right in both districts.

·         D1 - Office:  Agreement with proposal to permit by right in both districts.

·         D2 - Medical Office:  Agreement with proposal to permit by right in both districts, provided that appropriate safeguards exist regarding hazardous materials and waste.

·         E10 - Service Station:  Recommendation to continue permitting this use in the O-LI District.   

Commission members agreed to begin their next meeting on 2/3/04 at 7:30 PM in order to finish their review of the use recommendations.  Mr. Sander will advertise the change in starting time.  Mr. Fidler said he will not be able to attend the 2/3/04 meeting and will e-mail his comments on the remaining uses to Mr. Ward. 

WELCOME TO NEW MEMBERS:  The Commission welcomed newly appointed members Beth Sanderlin and Mike Piazza.  

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (1/6/04):  Mr. Fidler moved to approve the 1/6/04 minutes with the following changes:  The first sentence of Mr. Ward’s motion on the Pryda LLC conditional use application should read “Mr. Ward moved for discussion purposes to recommend that…”, and the last sentence should read “The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler for discussion purposes and failed…”.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously, with Ms. Sanderlin and Mr. Piazza abstaining. 

REVIEWS 

Final plan - newtown business commons lot 21 - 111 pheasant RUN - TMP# 29-10-141:  Removed from the agenda at the request of the applicant.   

SITE PLAN REVIEW - ROBERTS RIDGE PARK - FROST LANE AND LOWER DOLINGTON ROAD:  Andrew Levine, Chairman of the Park and Recreation Board, presented a sketch plan of existing and proposed improvements to Roberts Ridge Park.  He said a playground and a parking lot have been installed recently, and the Board is proposing to expand the playground with equipment for handicapped children and to add a picnic grove area, restrooms, electrical, water, and sewer connections, and more landscaping.  They are also looking at adding another parking lot along Lower Dolington Road, since park users often park along the road now.  He stated that 16 parking spaces are provided now, and after school hours additional parking is available near the Alternative School.  If the proposed Lower Dolington parking lot is built there will be a total of 66 spaces available, including three handicapped spaces. 

Commission members expressed concern about the low number of handicapped spaces for a facility that will include special playground equipment for handicapped children.  Members also questioned the location of the playground far from both the existing and the proposed parking lots, and the need to run water lines uphill to the restrooms.  Also, several members felt that it might be dangerous for park users to make turns into the proposed lot along Lower Dolington Road.  A resident commented that this lot will detract from the park’s appearance. 

Suggestions offered included moving the playground and restrooms closer to the existing parking lot, expanding the existing lot towards the playground to allow closer handicapped parking, and reducing or eliminating the proposed lot on Lower Dolington Road.  

Mr. Levine said he will look into addressing members’ concerns and the feasibility of their suggestions. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS 

a. Richard McManus - Upper Silver Lake Road and Old Newtown-Yardley Road:  No comments. 

b. David Gifford - Holland Floor Covering - 35 Swamp Road:  No comments. 

c. Paul & Lydia Lewis - 424 Burns Lane:  No comments. 

d. Stonehouse Holdings - 552 Washington Crossing Road:  Mr. Sander reviewed the history of this application.  The applicant previously appealed Mr. Harwood’s notice of a violation regarding the use of the property.  That appeal will be heard by the Zoning Hearing Board on 2/5/04.  Mr. Harwood issued another violation notice recently because the permit for a temporary tent expired; the applicant’s appeal of that notice will also be heard on 2/5/04.  Mr. Harwood said the applicant has taken the tent down to clean it and will probably put it up again; if he does so, Mr. Harwood will issue a third violation notice. 

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors send the Solicitor to support the decisions of the Zoning Officer in this case and to oppose the variance request.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 

Mrs. Beasley said that everyone who spoke about the noise problem on this property at the meetings of the Board of Supervisors should be notified about the Zoning Hearing Board hearing, even if they live further than 500’ away. 

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS 

a. Board of Supervisors:  Mr. Goodnoe reviewed the major decisions made at the 1/14/04 Board meeting, including several land development plans, two PRD variances, a noise ordinance, and a proposal for a study of flooding problems on Wrights Road.  Mr. Weaver is Chairman, Mr. Harp is Vice-Chairman, and Mrs. Goren is Secretary/Treasurer. 

b. Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission:  Mr. Sensibaugh reported that Walt Wydro will continue as Chairman.  The Commission discussed a review and update of the Comprehensive Plan and the need for a process for tracking the review of proposed ordinances.  The Regional Planning Commission would like a contact person in each municipality to track ordinance reviews. 

Mr. Sander said he could serve as the contact person for the Regional Planning Commission, since his firm attends the meetings of both the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission.  He commented that there are about 15 draft ordinances in different stages of review by the Jointure.  He agreed to forward a summary of pending ordinances prepared by T. J. Walsh in December 2003 to Commission members. 

Mr. Lombardi said an important court decision regarding the Dolington Group occurred recently; Mr. Sander agreed to forward the decision to the Commission for discussion at the next meeting. 

c. Sycamore Street Committee:  No report. 

d. HARB:  Mr. Lombardi reported that HARB discussed the Pryda LLC plan at its most recent meeting.  Terry McLean is continuing as Chairman and Harriet Beckert is Vice-Chairman. 

e. Park and Recreation Board:  Mr. Mendicino reported that Andrew Levine is Chairman and Joel Grosso is Vice-Chairman.  The Board is reviewing its subcommittee structure. 

f. Plan Expirations:  Mr. Sander said there are no expirations needing to be addressed. 

CORRESPONDENCE 

LOWER MAKEFIELD NOTICE:  Mr. Fidler commented that the Township received notice of a Lower Makefield Township Planning Commission meeting on the same day as the meeting. 

JMZO - LI AND 0-LI DISTRICT PROVISIONS:  Deferred to the 2/3/04 meeting. 

JMZO - CONDITIONAL USES AND SPECIAL EXCEPTIONS:  Deferred to the 2/3/04 meeting. 

OLD BUSINESS 

APPOINTMENTS:  Mr. Ward appointed Beth Sanderlin and Mike Piazza as Planning Commission representatives to the Sycamore Street Committee. 

TRAINING FOR NEW COMMISSION MEMBERS:  Ms. Goldstein said she will bring the publications she described at the last meeting to the 2/3/04 meeting.  She offered to do a presentation for the new members on zoning issues and the land development process.  Mr. Ward asked Ms. Goldstein to do a seminar on zoning issues from 7:00 to 8:00 PM on 2/17/04 and one on the land development process from 7:00 to 8:00 PM on 3/2/04.  All members of the Commission are welcome to attend.  Mr. Sander said he will not advertise these sessions, since no business will be discussed.  

NEW BUSINESS  

WOLL TRACT RFP:  Mr. Sander noted that the Park and Recreation Board intends to send the RFP out in the next few days, so the Commission needs to comment at this meeting.  Mr. Ward said he read the RFP and had no problems with it.  Mr. Sander said the “Scope of Work” section includes a presentation to the Planning Commission, so Commission members will have a chance to comment on specific proposals. 

GENERAL DISCUSSION 

AGENDA FOR 2/3/04 MEETING:  Mr. Ward said that the ordinance on conditional uses and special exceptions, and the ordinance implementing the EDC recommendations, will be discussed at the 2/3/04 meeting.  

Mr. Ward asked Mr. Sander to write a memo summarizing the provisions of the conditional use/special exception ordinance.  Mr. Fidler said he will not be able to attend the 2/3/04 meeting and would like to comment on the ordinance.  He is concerned that it ties commercial uses to access to a primary arterial collector road, and this may limit what the Township can do in the future in some districts. 

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

____________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary