Newtown Township

Planning Commission 

February 17, 2004


MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (2/17/04): Mr. Piazza moved to approve the minutes of the 2/17/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Beasley abstaining.


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, February 17, 2004, in the lower level Township meeting room.  In attendance were: Chairman Shawn Ward, members Jay Sensibaugh, Frank Mendicino, Bob Dieterle, Beth Sanderlin, Mike Piazza, and Vince Lombardi.  Also in attendance were:  Supervisor Tom Jirele, Upper Makefield Township member Dave Kulig, 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.  The meeting was preceded by a one-hour orientation seminar on zoning issues presented by Ms. Goldstein. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON USES:  The Commission continued its review of the Economic Development Commission’s recommendations on uses in the LI and O-LI Districts as described in Mr. Pellegrino’s 11/13/03 memo.  For each use discussed the ordinance definition was read. 

·         G7 - Truck Terminal:  Agreement with the recommendation to change this to a non-permitted use in both districts.

·         G12 - Recycling and Refuse Facility:  Agreement with the recommendation to change this to a non-permitted use in the O-LI District.

·         G13 - Radio or Television Transmitter:  Agreement with recommendation to change this to a Special Exception in LI District.

·         H5 - Accessory Building:  Agreement with the recommendation to change this to a permitted use in the O-LI District.

·         H6 - Outside Storage:  Agreement with the recommendation to a permitted use in the O-LI District.

·         H13 - Non-Commercial Accessory Radio Antenna:  Agreement with the recommendation to change this to a permitted use in the O-LI District. 

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. 

REVIEWS 

SKETCH PLAN - SILVER LAKE PARK:  Kathy Kelly and Joel Grosso of the Parks and Recreation Board were present to discuss a sketch plan of improvements planned for Silver Lake Park.  Ms. Kelly said that only the driveway and the 22 space parking lot are planned for this year.  In future years the Board would like to install a walking path around the perimeter with a connection to the Newtown Trail, a ballfield backstop, a picnic area with outdoor furniture, and a fountain in the lake.  The ballfield will be for informal games and will not be graded.  The fountain’s purpose is to keep the lake aerated.  There will be no restrooms, drinking fountains, or lighting.  Ms. Kelly said the lake is presently in good shape and not polluted. 

Mr. Sensibaugh said that the walking trail begins close to the road, and he asked if barriers could be erected to keep people from driving on the walking trail.  Mr. Ward asked if there are any plans for parking on Silver Lake Road; Ms. Kelly said there are no plans currently.  Ms. Goldstein noted that the trail forms a loop of about half a mile. 

Mr. Piazza asked if directional signage for the park will be placed on the Bypass.  Mr. Walker said the driveway goes up a steep slope from the road, and he asked if there could be a guardrail on that section.  Ms. Kelly will take these questions back to the Parks and Recreation Board. 

Mr. Harwood suggested that the Board review the plans with Lockheed Martin, a nearby property owner. 

CONDITIONAL USE - TUDOR SQUARE - PHASE III - 660 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - TMP# 29-10-119 AND 29-10-119-1:  Attorney Don Marshall was present to discuss the request to allow 45,456 SF of D-1 General Office Use on a 9.27 acre site in the O-LI District.  The applicant proposes to construct a three-story building; two office buildings currently exist on the site. 

The 10/14/03 Boucher and James letter was reviewed.  Mr. Marshall said that only small truck deliveries are anticipated, no hazardous materials will be used or stored, the average number of employees will be 250 and the maximum 420, the hours of operation will be 6:00 AM to midnight Monday through Saturday, 217 new parking spaces will be provided, and no noxious environmental effects will be produced. 

Mr. Marshall said the applicant will comply with all points in the Boucher and James letter relevant to the conditional use application (items A 3 and 4).  He said the two tax map parcels are owned by the same person and will be merged into one parcel. 

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the conditional use application subject to the following conditions: 

1.      Only small truck deliveries will be made

2.      No hazardous materials will be used of stored

3.      The maximum number of employees will be 420

4.      The hours of operation will be 6:00 AM to midnight Monday through Saturday

5.      The two tax map parcels will be merged

6.      217 new parking spaces will be provided

7.      The applicant will comply with the provisions of the10/14/03 Boucher and James letter relevant to the conditional use application (items A3 and 4) 

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

PRELIMINARY PLAN - TUDOR SQUARE - PHASE III - 660 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - TMP# 29-10-119 AND 29-10-119-1:  See previous review.  Mr. Marshall said that expanded parking and a new stormwater management system are proposed in addition to the new building.  

The provisions of the 10/14/03 Boucher and James letter relevant to the preliminary plan submission were reviewed (items A5 through C3).  The following points were discussed: 

A 6 a - Steep Slopes:  Ms. Goldstein said she observed steep slopes near swales and the existing stormwater management system.  Mr. Marshall said the slopes will not exist when the new stormwater management system is constructed.  He also said the slopes do not fit the definition of “steep slopes” in the ordinance because they are not subject to runoff and erosion. 

A 9 - Width of Driveway:  The access drive from Newtown-Yardley Road is in excess of 35’ wide to accommodate turning lanes.  Ms. Goldstein said that this requirement appears in both the JMZO and the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.  If it is waived by the Board of Supervisors it is not necessary to obtain a variance as well.  Mr. Jirele commented that the Township asked the applicant to design the driveway this way, so it makes sense to grant a waiver of this requirement. 

A 12 - Clear Sight Triangles:  Mr. Marshall said the applicant is not responsible for telephone poles or signs that currently are in the sight triangle, and telephone poles are not generally considered obstructions.  

B 5 - Fire Lanes:  Mr. Marshall said the applicant will comply with the Fire Marshal’s letter.  Mr. Lombardi commented that the letter is not clear about what the applicant should do; Mr. Harwood said he will get a clarification from the Fire Marshal. 

B 6 - Lighting:  Mr. Marshall said the applicant is seeking a waiver from the requirement for street lights along Newtown-Yardley Road.  He said a light is proposed for the driveway entrance. 

B 8 - Curbing:  Mr. Marshall said all new parking will have curbs. 

B 14 - Park and Recreation Improvements:  Mr. Marshall said the Parks and Recreation Board has reviewed the plan and recommended a fee in lieu of recreation improvements. 

The 10/16/03 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed.  Mr. Walker said that the applicant has submitted a traffic study but his office has not yet reviewed it.  He recommended that traffic issues be deferred to the final plan review.   The following items were discussed: 

1.      III A 1 - Impervious Surface:  Mr. Marshall said the applicant received a variance to allow 59.3% impervious surface where the ordinance requires no more than 50%. 

2.      III A 3 - Utility Easements:  Mr. Marshall said this Section does not apply to the two Newtown Business Commons general utility easements. 

3.      III A 10 - Right-of-Way:  This comment notes that Newtown-Yardley Road is a Principal Arterial Highway, so the minimum right-of-way should be 120’.  The applicant has proposed a 40’ right-of-way measured from the center line.  Mr. Marshall said the existing buildings prevent the applicant from providing the full right-of-way, and the comment is not applicable.  Mr. Sander suggested this question be deferred to the final plan review. 

4.      III B 18 - Park and Recreation Fees:  Mr. Marshall said he questions the calculation of fees in this comment, but the applicant will pay what the ordinance requires. 

5.      III C 20 through 38:  It was agreed that traffic issues will be deferred to the final plan review. 

Mr. Marshall said there are no additional issues in the Bucks County Planning Commission’s 10/14/03 letter, and the applicant will comply with all points in the Bucks County Conservation District’s 8/16/02 letter. 

Mr. Walker asked if the applicant has considered constructing an emergency access to the site.  He suggested the applicant explore the possibility of an emergency access through the adjacent cemetery. 

Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant preliminary approval to this plan with the following conditions: 

1.      Compliance with the 9/18/03 Emergency Services letter, the 10/14/03 Boucher and James letter, and the 10/16/03 Pennoni Associates letter

2.      The applicant agrees to pay the appropriate fee in lieu of providing recreation facilities

3.      A note will be placed on the plan to explain the calculations of the base site area regarding the easements

4.      The issue of the ultimate right-of-way will be determined at final plan review

5.      Traffic issues (Pennoni Associates items C 20 through 24, 28, and 31) are deferred to final plan review

6.      Compliance with all applicable provisions of the Bucks County Planning Commission’s 10/14/03 letter

7.      Compliance with the 8/16/02 Bucks County Conservation District letter

8.      The applicant will discuss the possibility of emergency access through the adjacent cemetery with the cemetery owner 

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

1.      Section 508.2 - To allow an access driveway wider than 35’

2.      Section 402.3.B and C - To allow an aerial photograph in lieu of showing existing features on the plan

3.      Section 402.4.M -  Relief from the requirement that a landscape architect prepare the plan

4.      Section 513 - Relief from the requirement for street lights along Newtown-Yardley Road; the applicant will provide a street light at the entrance

5.      Section 517 - Relief from the requirement for sidewalks along Newtown-Yardley Road

6.      Section 520.5 - To allow parking on the general utility easements

7.      Section 516.2 - Relief from the requirement for curbing on the road frontage 

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

PRELIMINARY PLAN - NEWTOWN OFFICE PARK - NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD AND FRIENDS LANE - TMP# 29-10-99:  Withdrawn from the agenda at the request of the applicant. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATION - JEANETTE MANN - 23 BIRCH COURT - TMP# 29-44-138:  Several members commented that the proposed patio seems excessively large, but it was up to the neighbors to determine if it is acceptable. 

Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose this request, provided that the applicable Homeowners Association does not object to the plan.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza and passed unanimously. 

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS 

a. Board of Supervisors:  Mr. Ward reported that the Commission’s recommendations on ordinances were supported at the Board’s 2/11/04 meeting. 

b. Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission:  Mr. Sensibaugh said that the Regional Commission will meet on 2/19/04. 

c. Sycamore Street Committee:  Mr. Lombardi said the website for the project is operating now.  The site will be updated regularly with information on the progress of the work. 

d. HARB:  Mr. Lombardi said that HARB’s most recent meeting was primarily devoted to a discussion of the Pryda LLC project. 

e. Park and Recreation Board:  Mr. Mendicino said the Board discussed the Silver Lake Park sketch plan, and heard an offer from Jim Worthington to allow the Township to use a building he owns in the Newtown Business Commons as a community center.  

f. Plan Expirations:  Mr. Sander said there are no expirations requiring the attention of the Commission. 

CORRESPONDENCE 

PRELIMINARY PLAN -YAMAMOTO:  The Commission received a 2/6/04 memo from the Park and Recreation Board reporting that the Board recommended a fee in lieu of open space for this project. 

ROBERTS RIDGE PLAYGROUND:  The Commission received copies of a 2/4/04 memo from Director of Parks and Recreation Bill Wert to the Manager.  The memo reports that Mr. Wert received an estimate of $19,800 for disassembling, relocating, and reinstalling the playground equipment, which was suggested by the Planning Commission. 

PRELIMINARY PLAN APPROVAL - HIDDEN VALLEY TRACT:  The Commission received copies of a 2/6/04 letter from the Solicitor to M & N Homes, Inc. which includes a Revised Preliminary Plan Approval for this project. 

OLD BUSINESS 

JMZO 2004 - LI/O-LI DISTRICT PROVISIONS:  Mr. Ward said he will draft a report to the Board of Supervisors on the Economic Development Commission recommendations and circulate it to members for review.  

Mr. Dieterle moved to table consideration of this ordinance until the Commission has completed its review of the Economic Development Commission’s recommendations and has developed its report to the Board of Supervisors.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously. 

JMZO 2003 - CONDITIONAL USE/SPECIAL EXCEPTION:   Mr. Sander said the ordinance is being proposed because conditional uses and special exceptions are basically the same processes, except that conditional uses are heard by the Board of Supervisors and special exceptions are heard by the Zoning Hearing Board.  He said the principal change is to eliminate Section 1507.E and move the provisions governing special exceptions into Article XIII, renaming that Article “Conditional Uses and Special Exceptions.” 

Mr. Lombardi expressed strong opposition to this proposed ordinance because there are so many changes it is impossible to tell if anything substantive has changed.  Dave Kulig, a member of the Upper Makefield Planning Commission, was present and said the ordinance includes some new definitions and consolidates some sections, but the intent of the original ordinance is preserved. 

Mr. Sensibaugh asked what benefits come from the proposed ordinance.  Mr. Kulig responded that it simplifies and clarifies the provisions relating to these two processes.  He said the impetus for the proposal was a request for the Upper Makefield Planning Commission to research the possibility of changing some conditional uses to special exceptions; in the course of this research, they noticed how difficult it is to use the ordinance in its present form. 

Ms. Goldstein said she also found it difficult to compare the existing ordinance with the proposed ordinance.  She said the changes affect the entire document, not just Article XIII.  She noted that Wrightstown Township has tabled the ordinance and has not yet discussed it. 

Mr. Sander suggested that the ordinance could be revised to include only some of the changes, to make it easier to comprehend.  Mr. Kulig said he will take this suggestion back to Upper Makefield. 

Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not enact the ordinance in its present form, as it is confusing.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino for purposes of discussion. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Mendicino asked if the Commission has a deadline for making a recommendation.  Mr. Sander said the Commission can reject it now and wait for a revised version.  Mr. Mendicino said he will not support the proposed ordinance as it is written now. 

Mr. Mendicino withdrew his second.  Mr. Sensibaugh’s motion failed for lack of a second. 

Mr. Mendicino moved to table consideration of the ordinance to give the Commission more time to review it.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously. 

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 11:25 PM. 

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

 ____________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary