March 16, 2004
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (3/16/04): Mr. Mendicino moved to approve the minutes of the 3/16/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Beasley abstaining.
The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, March 16, 2004, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairman Shawn Ward; members Bob Dieterle, Allen Fidler, Beth Sanderlin, Vince Lombardi, Mike Piazza, Jay Sensibaugh (late), and Frank Mendicino (late). Also present were: Supervisor Skip Goodnoe (late), Solicitor Dave Sander, Planner Judy Goldstein, and Engineers Chris Walker and Phil Wursta.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Shawn Ward called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. He announced that Mr. Sensibaugh and Mr. Mendicino were attending another meeting and will be late, and Mrs. Beasley will not be present because she is ill.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (3/2/04): Mr. Piazza moved to approve the minutes of the 3/2/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously, with Mr. Dieterle and Mr. Fidler abstaining.
TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT: Mr. Wursta discussed the road closings and detours expected in the next few months as a result of construction projects on Sycamore Street, the Bypass, Swamp Road, Richboro Road, and Route 413. He said there is no overall coordination plan, but the Township’s concerns were discussed with PennDOT at a recent meeting. He also said there will be an effort to get information about closings and detours out to the public.
Several Commission members commented that the Closed Loop system on the Bypass might be causing some traffic problems at certain intersections, especially when traffic on the Bypass is light. Mr. Wursta explained that the system must balance optimal traffic flow with driver frustration.
Mr. Wursta said PennDOT would study the intersection at the entrance to the Newtown Shopping Center.
CONDITIONAL USE - NEWTOWN OFFICE PARK – NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD AND FRIENDS LANE – TMP# 29-10-99: Bill Messick, attorney Don Marshall, and engineer Curtis Rittler were present to discuss their request for 80,560 SF of D-1 General Office Use and D-2 Medical Office Use in four buildings to be constructed on an approximately nine acre tract in the O-LI District.
Mr. Sensibaugh arrived at the meeting.
The 3/9/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed, and the applicant agreed to comply with all points except those for which waivers are requested. The following points were discussed:
- Point 1 - Uses and Activities: Mr. Marshall said it is anticipated that the uses will be approximately 50% D-1 Use and 50% D-2 Use, and the parking calculations were done on this basis.He said that individual tenants would come in for conditional use approval as they are identified, and the owners will maintain a running list of uses to ensure that parking is adequate.
- Point 7 – Parking Calculations and Improvements: Mr. Marshall said the plan shows 504 parking spaces, but the applicant intends to remove six proposed spaces that are shown on an easement, bringing the total to 498 spaces and eliminating the need for a waiver to allow parking on an easement. He said that 470 spaces are required.
- Point 8 – Impervious Surface Calculations: Mr. Marshall said a variance was granted by the Zoning Hearing Board to allow 64.5% impervious surface where the ordinance limits impervious to 50%. The plan submitted shows 64.8% impervious, but removing the six parking spaces will bring the plan into compliance with the variance. In response to a member’s question Mr. Marshall said the detention basin was not included as impervious surface, as it is a wet pond.
Mr. Sensibaugh asked what affect the current moratorium on sewer connections will have on this application. Mr. Sander said the clock starts running when a plan is recorded, and the plan cannot be recorded without water and sewer agreements. A conditional use approval expires in six months if the applicant does not obtain a use permit or file a plan. The Township can grant an extension of the conditional use approval for up to one year.
Mr. Piazza moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant conditional use approval for D-1 General Office Use and D-2 Medical Office Use, subject to the following conditions:
- Hours of operation will be 6:00 AM to 12:00 midnight Monday through Saturday
- The maximum number of employees will be 402
- 498 parking spaces will be provided
- There will be no noxious environmental effects
- Only UPS deliveries are anticipated
- The applicant will comply with all Zoning Hearing Board decisions regarding this project
The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed 6-1, with Mr. Sensibaugh voting “nay”.
PRELIMINARY PLAN – NEWTOWN OFFICE PARK – NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD AND FRIENDS LANE – TMP# 29-10-99: This project is described above. Mr. Marshall said the applicant will comply with the 9/22/03 Bucks County Conservation District letter.
The 9/30/03 Boucher and James letter was reviewed, and the applicant agreed to comply with all points except those for which waivers are requested. The following points were discussed:
- A 3 a – Impervious Surface: Mr. Marshall noted that the plan will be in compliance with the Zoning Hearing Board decision when the six parking spaces shown on the easement are removed.
- A 6 c – Access to Parking Areas: Deferred to discussion of Traffic Engineer’s letter.
- A 6 d – Parking in Front Yard: Ms. Goldstein said this point does not apply to the proposed plan.
- A 7 – Loading Spaces: Mr. Marshall said there are sufficient loading areas if the four buildings are treated as one; Mr. Sander said this interpretation of the ordinance is acceptable.
- B 6 – Sidewalks: Mr. Marshall asked if the Commission recommends sidewalks along Newtown-Yardley Road; members indicated they want them. A member mentioned that the increase in office uses in the Business Park may increase pedestrian traffic.
It was agreed that there were no new issues in the 9/19/03 Bucks County Planning Commission letter.
The 10/10/03 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed, and the applicant agreed to comply with all points except those for which waivers are requested. The following points were discussed:
- III A 2 – Impervious Surface: Mr. Walker said the retention pond might be considered impervious surface, but it is acceptable to consider it pervious.
- III A 8 – Access to Parking Areas: Deferred to discussion of Traffic Engineer’s letter.
- III B 23 – Park and Recreation Fee: Mr. Marshall said the Park and Recreation Board recommended a fee in lieu of recreation facilities. He said the fee should be calculated on the basis of the area of the footprint, not the floor space, which would cut the fees stated in the Pennoni Associates letter in half. Mr. Sander agreed that this interpretation is acceptable.
Traffic: Mr. Wursta summarized the recommendations of the 3/10/04 Pennoni Associates letter regarding the traffic study as follows:
- Widen Newtown-Yardley Road to include a left turn lane across the frontage and a deceleration lane into the site
- Widen Friends Lane from Walker Lane to Newtown-Yardley Road to include a right turn lane
- Add a traffic signal at Walker Lane and Newtown-Yardley Road
- Offer for dedication the area between the existing and ultimate right-of-ways
- The applicant may need to consider restricting left turns onto Newtown-Yardley Road
Mr. Marshall asked if the applicant would be asked to pay all the costs of the traffic light, which is an off-site improvement. Mr. Wursta said the light is warranted now, but the proposed development will make the situation worse. He said he would recommend that the applicant contribute half the cost, and he noted that the traffic impact fees could be used for this purpose.
Mr. Marshall said some of the improvements being recommended will have significant costs, and the portion of those costs to be borne by the applicant will have to be negotiated. Mr. Wursta said the Township is planning a boulevard design for Newtown-Yardley Road and he would like to demonstrate what could be done on this part of the road.
Regarding Point III A 8 in the 10/10/03 Pennoni Associates letter, it was agreed that access does not need to be limited to Friends Lane and Walker Lane. Regarding Point III B 17, Mr. Marshall said the applicant would request a partial waiver for relief from the requirement to widen Walker Lane.
Mr. Marshall suggested that traffic issues be deferred to final plan stage so that the applicant can provide a plan of proposed improvements for the Planning Commission to review. There was general agreement with this suggestion.
Mr. Mendicino arrived at the meeting.
Mr. Fidler said he will abstain from voting because he has a banking relationship with the applicant. Mr. Mendicino said he also would abstain because he just arrived at the meeting.
Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant preliminary plan approval, subject to the following conditions:
- Compliance with the 9/22/03 Bucks County Conservation District letter, the 9/3/03 Emergency Services Department letter, the 9/19/03 Bucks County Planning Commission letter, the 9/30/03 Boucher and James letter, and the 10/10/03 Pennoni Associates letter
- The loading areas will be lengthened from 65 feet to 75 feet
- The Park and Recreation fees will be calculated based on a footprint of 40,280 SF
In addition, granting of the following waivers is recommended:
- Section 402.3 B & C – to allow submission of an aerial photograph in lieu of showing area features on the plan
- Section 402.4.M – relief from the requirement that a landscape architect seal the plans
- Section 514.2 – relief from the requirement that all parking be located to the side or rear of buildings
- Section 534.8 – relief from parking lot buffering requirements regarding the first half of the setback on the Third Federal side
- Section 516 – relief from the requirement to widen Walker Lane
The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously with Mr. Fidler and Mr. Mendicino abstaining.
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATION – METCALFE ARCHITECTURE – 18 SUSANNA WAY: Mr. Lombardi moved to state that the Planning Commission has no objection to the proposed relief. The motion was seconded by Ms. Sanderlin and passed unanimously.
SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS
a. Board of Supervisors: Mr. Goodnoe reviewed the major discussions at the 3/10/04 Board of Supervisors meeting, including the Woll Tract design, the anticipated road construction disruptions, setting a 25 MPH speed limit on Penns Trail North, and changes in the name, structure, and function of the Cable TV Committee.
b. Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission: Mr. Sensibaugh said the Commission would meet 3/18/04.
c. Sycamore Street Committee: Mr. Lombardi said the Committee discussed the road closings at their most recent meeting and asked the Board of Supervisors to advocate for keeping the Sycamore Street intersections open. They also discussed their website.
d. Historic Architectural Review Board: Mr. Lombardi reported that the Board spent the major portion of their most recent meeting in discussions with the Pryda LLC applicant. They also considered some possible changes at Newtown Place.
e. Park and Recreation Board: Mr. Mendicino reported that the Board met last week and had a major discussion on Roberts Ridge Park.
f. Plan Expirations: Mr. Sander said there are no plan expirations that need to be addressed.
ACT 537 PLAN REVISION – LINTON HILL AREA: Tom Ames, a resident of Gaucks Lane, suggested that the Commission invite representatives of the Sewer Authority to discuss this plan and answer several questions he has raised, including: Why was Gaucks Lane included in the study area, and why did the Authority presume that the Yamamoto Tract plan will be approved?
Mr. Lombardi said he is always in favor of extending sewer service, but he is aware that Mrs. Beasley, who was not present, had major concerns about the plan.
Mr. Ward asked if the sewer connection moratorium would affect the plan. Mr. Goodnoe said it would not.
Mr. Ward proposed that the item be tabled to the next meeting, and representatives of the Sewer Authority be invited to the meeting. Mr. Goodnoe said he would contact the Authority.
REPORT ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS: Mr. Ward distributed copies of his draft report, which he is committed to delivering to the Board of Supervisors at their 3/24/04 meeting. Ms. Goldstein agreed to provide a table summarizing the Commission’s recommendations on proposed changes in uses.
Mr. Piazza moved to approve the draft report with the addition of the table to be prepared by Ms. Goldstein. Mr. Dieterle seconded the motion.
Discussion of motion: Members had several suggestions for amendments, clarifications, and reorganizing of the report. Mr. Ward agreed to circulate a revised draft and Ms. Goldstein’s table to all members in the next few days.
Mr. Piazza and Mr. Dieterle withdrew their motion.
Mr. Dieterle moved to have the draft report circulated by e-mail to all members; if a member does not respond it will mean approval. Mr. Lombardi seconded the motion.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Sensibaugh asked how members would have an opportunity to comment on any revisions suggested by other members. Mr. Ward said there would not be time to circulate multiple drafts. Mr. Dieterle said there seemed to be agreement on the content, so members are reviewing the language only.
Mr. Dieterle’s motion passed 7-1, with Mr. Sensibaugh voting “nay”.
JMZO 2004-10 – TODS SIGN ORDINANCE REVISION: Tabled to next meeting.
JMZO2004-11 – AGRICULTURAL SOILS AND OPEN SPACE BUFFER: Tabled to next meeting.
JMZO 2004-12 – AMENDING JMZO USE A-6: Tabled to next meeting.
4/6/04 MEETING: Mr. Sander and Ms. Goldstein said they will not be able to attend the 4/6/04 meeting. Mr. Ward said the agenda for that meeting will be limited to the Act 537 Plan Revision, the three JMZO amendments tabled tonight, and any items that are time-critical.
ADJOURNMENT: Without objection the meeting was adjourned at 10:55 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary