Newtown Township

Planning Commission 

February 3, 2004


MINUTES OF 2/3/04 MEETING:  Mr. Piazza moved to approve the minutes of the 2/3/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, February 3, 2004, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were: Chairman Shawn Ward, members Jay Sensibaugh, Frank Mendicino, Bob Dieterle, Sue Beasley, Beth Sanderlin, Mike Piazza, and Vince Lombardi (late).  Also in attendance were:  Supervisor Skip Goodnoe, Township Solicitor Dave Sander, Township Planner Judy Goldstein, Township Engineers Chris Walker and Phil Wursta, and Public Works Director Tom Harwood. 

CALL TO ORDER:  Chairman Shawn Ward called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM. 

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.  

EDC RECOMMENDATIONS ON USES:  The Commission continued its review of the EDC’s recommendations for changes in permitted uses in the LI and O-LI Districts.  For each use for which a change is proposed, Ms. Goldstein read the definition in the ordinance. 

·         E20 - Veterinary Office or Clinic:  Agreement with proposal to permit by conditional use in both districts.

·         E22 - Executive Inn/Conference Center:  Ms. Goldstein explained that this is a new use category; a working definition is in her 11/11/03 memo to Mr. Pellegrino.  The majority of Commission members supported permitting an E22 conditional use in both districts, pending clarification of the following issues:  whether a restaurant should be required, parking requirements, appropriate lot size, traffic and access problems, whether it should be located near the Bypass, and the definition of “meeting room”. 

·         G2 - Research:  Recommendation to keep this as permitted by conditional use in both districts.

·         G3 - Wholesale, Warehousing, etc.:  Agreement with proposal to permit this use by right in both districts.

·         G4 - Mini Storage:  Agreement with proposal to permit this use by right in both districts.

·         G5 - Printing:  Agreement with proposal to permit this use by right in both districts. 

The Commission will complete their review of the use recommendations at their 2/17/04 meeting. 

REVIEWS 

PRELIMINARY PLAN - MINOR SUBDIVISION - MICHAEL DINARDO AND JENNIFER FOWLER - 49 STOOPVILLE ROAD - TMP# 29-1-10:  Michael DiNardo, Jennifer Fowler, and architect Frank Ernst were present to discuss the plan to divide a 6.65 acre parcel in the CM District into two lots.  Lot one contains an existing single family dwelling, and a new single family dwelling is planned, but not currently proposed, for lot 2.  

The 1/7/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed; Mr. Ernst said the applicant will comply with all comments or waivers will be requested.  The following points were discussed: 

·         A 8 b - Driveway easement:  Mr. Ernst indicated that the owner has not yet decided whether to have two driveways or a shared driveway.  Ms. Goldstein said a shared driveway reduces the number of access points on the road, but can become a problem if the two lots are owned by two different people in the future.  Mr. Ernst agreed to provide cross easements so that both lots can use the existing driveway now. 

·         A 8 c - Existing buildings:  Mr. Ernst stated that the existing dwelling will stay, and the owner has not decided yet what to do with the shed and the garage which are also on the site.  He said that neither has any historic value. 

Comments in the 1/29/04 Pennoni Associates letter that were not covered earlier were reviewed.  Mr. Ernst said the applicant will comply with all comments or waivers will be requested.  The following points were discussed: 

·         III A 4 - Stormwater management:  Mr. Walker suggested a condition of approval should be that the applicant provide stormwater facilities if the site is developed. 

·         III B 9 - Drainage easements:  Mr. Walker suggested that the applicant provide access agreements rather than easements for the area of Newtown Creek. 

·         III B 20 - Public water:  Mr. Ernst said that the public water source is on the other side of the creek and it would be difficult and costly to connect as required by the ordinance.  Mr. Walker advised that the applicant will need to request a waiver to continue using a well on lot 1 and to construct a new well on lot 2. 

·         III C 25 - Traffic impact fees - Commission members recommended that the applicant request a waiver of the traffic impact fees. 

It was determined that the 12/22/03 Bucks County Planning Commission letter had no comments not previously addressed.  Mr. Harwood noted that the applicant will need to request an extension of the 11/7/02 variance from the Board of Supervisors. 

Mrs. Beasley moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant preliminary approval to the DiNardo minor subdivision plan, subject to the following conditions: 

1.      Compliance with the Zoning Hearing Board’s 11/7/02 decision

2.      Compliance with the Boucher & James 1/7/04 letter and the Pennoni Associates 1/29/04 letter

3.      If the property is developed in the future, the applicant will provide stormwater management to ensure that runoff does not exceed predevelopment levels

4.      The applicant will provide an access agreement to preserve the natural drainage of the Newtown Creek

5.      The applicant will obtain an extension of the variance granted on 11/7/02 

In addition, the Commission recommends that the following waivers be granted: 

1.      Section 504 - widening of the cartway of Stoopville Road

2.      Section 516 - curbing on Stoopville Road

3.      Section 517 - sidewalks on Stoopville Road

4.      Section 404.1.a - plan scale

5.      Section 508.5 - frontage required on a marginal access street or reverse frontage

6.      Section 508.6 - additional 25’ of depth required for lots abutting collector streets

7.      Section 523.1 - requirement to tie into public water supply

8.      Requirement to pay traffic impact fees of $3,000 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (1/20/04):  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the minutes of the 1/20/04 meeting, with the correction to the EDC portion noted earlier.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.  

TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT:  Mr. Wursta provided a written status report on traffic-related engineering projects in the Township.  He also reported that there will be a meeting in March at the PennDOT District 6 offices at which representatives from Northampton, Wrightstown, Upper Makefield, Lower Makefield, and Newtown will discuss regional traffic issues, including quarry truck traffic and Stoopville Road.  Mr. Wursta said it is important to keep mentioning projects for which the Township would like to get PennDOT funding. 

Mr. Wursta also reported that he is developing a list of projects that will impact Township traffic this year.  He will provide a copy to the Commission when it is completed. 

Mrs. Beasley said she feels putting a pedestrian crossing on Stoopville Road does not make sense.  

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS 

a. Board of Supervisors:  Mr. Goodnoe reviewed the major decisions made at the 1/28/04 Board meeting, including a Certificate of Appropriateness, a PRD variance approval, discussion of a noise ordinance and a floodplain ordinance, and authorization of a Pennoni Associates study of flooding issues on Wrights Road. 

b. Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission:  Mr. Sensibaugh said that the Regional Commission has not met since his last report. 

c. Sycamore Street Committee:  Mr. Lombardi said there was nothing new to report. 

d. HARB:  No report. 

e. Park and Recreation Board:  Mr. Mendicino said the Board will meet on 2/4/04. 

f. Plan Expirations:  Mr. Sander said that the conditional use applications for Tudor Square Phase III and Pryda LLC will expire on 2/11/04 unless the Township receives extensions. 

Mr. Mendicino moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors deny the Tudor Square Phase III and Pryda LLC applications unless the Township receives extensions from the applicants beyond 2/11/04.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 

Mr. Lombardi asked if anything has been done to stabilize the stream bank opposite the Presbyterian Church.  Mr. Goodnoe commented that the Board of Supervisors received a grant for this, but he does not know if the work is scheduled.  

CORRESPONDENCE 

GRAY TRACT - STOOPVILLE AND CREAMERY ROADS - TMP# 47-8-16 (UPPER MAKEFIELD):  Commission members received copies of a 1/26/04 letter from Pickering, Corts, and Summerson to the Upper Makefield Board of Supervisors reviewing the proposed 96-unit elderly housing development planned for the Gray Tract, which borders Newtown Township.  Dave Kulig, a member of the Upper Makefield Planning Commission (UMPC), was present and said the review is expected to take several months.  Mr. Kulig said that there is a good well on the property, and the developer will probably use that instead of the water line easement shown on the plan.  He said that Upper Makefield requires that applicants demonstrate that wells within half a mile of a development will not be adversely affected. 

Mrs. Beasley said she has serious concerns about the effect a well serving 96 proposed residential units on the Gray Tract will have on existing wells in the area, including her own on Linton Hill Road in Newtown Township.  She said her well is more than half a mile from the Gray Tract. 

Mrs. Beasley moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors correspond with Upper Makefield Township and request that 1) no existing wells in Upper Makefield or Newtown Township be adversely affected by the proposed well serving the Gray Tract; and 2) that existing wells in Newtown Township be monitored during the pumping test required in the DEP process.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 

PENDING ORDINANCES:  Commission members received copies of a 1/23/04 letter from Mr. Sander outlining the status of several ordinances pending in the Jointure.  The letter included a 1/8/04 summary prepared by T. J. Walsh, Solicitor for the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission.  Mr. Sander noted that six of the ordinances are on the Commission’s agenda tonight, and that the Board of Supervisors requested that the Commission report a recommendation to them on the floodplain ordinance at their 2/11/04 meeting.  

OTHER CORRESPONDENCE:  Commission members also received copies of the Park and Recreation Board 2/4/04 agenda and 1/7/04 minutes, and a 1/23/04 letter from M & M Homes, Inc. regarding their legal representation. 

OLD BUSINESS 

JMZO - 2004 - LI/O-LI DISTRICT PROVISIONS:  Mr. Sensibaugh moved to table this ordinance because the Commission has not completed its review of the EDC’s recommendations.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously. 

JMZO - 2003 - CONDITIONAL USE AND SPECIAL EXCEPTION CONSOLIDATION:  Mr. Sander provided a summary of the provisions of this ordinance in his 1/29/04 letter.  He said the ordinance recognizes that the two processes are exactly the same, except that conditional uses are heard by the Board of Supervisors and special exceptions are heard by the Zoning Hearing Board.  The ordinance consolidates references to the two processes in one section, reorganizes several sections of the JMZO, and revises the wording in sections dealing with each zoning district in which special exceptions are provided.  Mr. Sander said there are no changes in what is heard by the Board of Supervisors and the Zoning Hearing Board or how they are handled.  He said the net effect is to make the JMZO easier to use. 

Mr. Lombardi said he would like to more time to review the changes in detail.  Mr. Sander suggested that Mr. Lombardi focus on the new Article XIII. 

Mr. Lombardi moved to table consideration of this ordinance to the next meeting to allow more time for review of the proposed changes.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed 7-1, with Mr. Sensibaugh voting “nay”. 

Jmzo - 2002-09 - Homeowners Disclosure:  Mr. Ward asked Mr. Harwood to comment on this ordinance.  Mr. Harwood said it appears to address consumer protection concerns, not Township responsibilities.  He also said it will demand a great deal of staff time and effort from his department, and includes ambiguous provisions.  

Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not support this ordinance because it is burdensome to Township staff and costly.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi. 

Discussion of motion:  Mrs. Beasley suggested that the checklist might be made available to prospective homebuyers.  Mr. Harwood cautioned that this might lead people to blame the Township if something goes wrong or is left out of the checklist. 

Mr. Sensibaugh’s motion passed unanimously. 

NEW BUSINESS 

JMZO - 2002-06 - LIGHTING:  Mr. Sander said this ordinance is intended to update Section 1004, and refers to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinances of each municipality in the Jointure.   Ms. Goldstein commented that several provisions are ambiguous and difficult to comply with (for example, calculating “the average maximum” in C 1 a).  She said that nuisance concerns are dealt with in the Township’s stand-alone Nuisance Ordinance, and other municipalities could deal with them in a similar way. 

Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not support this ordinance because it is not appropriate for the JMZO, as it deals with regulating nuisances.  The Commission recommends that each municipality explore alternative ways of addressing these concerns, such as stand-alone ordinances or subdivision and land development ordinances.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously. 

JMZO - 2002-16 - FENCING/LIGHTING AROUND TENNIS, BASKETBALL, SKATEBOARD COURTS:  Mr. Sander said this ordinance adds a new Use H-15.  Mr. Lombardi said this is another ordinance that deals with nuisances, not land development.  Ms. Goldstein noted that the provisions regarding fence height contradict the Township’s Subdivision Ordinance. 

Mr. Mendicino moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not support this ordinance because it is not appropriate for the JMZO, as it deals with regulating nuisances.  The Commission recommends that each municipality explore alternative ways of addressing these concerns, such as stand-alone ordinances or subdivision and land development ordinances.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously. 

JMZO - 2003 - FLOODPLAIN REGULATIONS:  Mr. Sander said the ordinance allows limited structures in area where a flood insurance study has been done, as long as there is no development in the floodway portion of the floodplain.  It would allow a rise in the 100-year flood level that is less than one foot.  Mr. Sander said the ordinance has been reviewed and approved by FEMA. 

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors support this ordinance.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Beasley. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Sensibaugh asked if a developer could excavate the watercourse so the net increase in the flood level would be less.  Mr. Walker said theoretically that could be done. 

Mr. Lombardi’s motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Sensibaugh abstaining. 

GENERAL DISCUSSION 

COURT DECISION REGARDING DOLINGTON LAND GROUP:  Commission members received a copy of a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision.  Due to the late hour, members agreed to discuss this decision at the next meeting. 

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 11:20 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

  

____________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary