August 17, 2004
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (8/17/04): Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of the 8/17/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, August 17, 2004, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairman Shawn Ward; members Allen Fidler, Jay Sensibaugh, Frank Mendicino, Mike Piazza, Bob Dieterle, Sue Beasley, and Vince Lombardi. Also in attendance were: Solicitor Dave Sander, Engineer Chris Walker, Planner Judy Goldstein, Chairman of the Park and Recreation Board Andrew Levine, Public Works Director Tom Harwood, and Park and Recreation Department Director Bill Wert.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Shawn Ward called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (7/20/04): Mr. Piazza moved to approve the minutes of the 7/20/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.
Note: The meeting scheduled for 8/3/04 was canceled.
CONDITIONAL USE – TASTEFUL TEAS AND MORE – 2 SWAMP ROAD – TMP# 29-10-85-007: Donna Liberatore and Charles Scarlatta were present to discuss their request to use an existing vacant building in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center in the PC District for E-5 Eating Place Use with an accessory E-1 Retail Use. Copies of Ms. Liberatore’s 8/12/04 letter responding to the Boucher and James review letter were distributed.
The 8/10/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed and the applicant agreed to comply with all applicable items. The following points were discussed:
Item 1 - Uses – Ms. Liberatore stated that a tea room serving breakfast and lunch and an accessory retail gift shop are planned.
Item 2 - Deliveries – Ms. Liberatore said she anticipates one or two stepvan deliveries a month for the retail use, and a stepvan delivery early each morning for the food service.
Item 3 – Employees – Ms. Liberatore said most of her employees will be part time. The application states that an average of six and a maximum of 14 will be on site, but Ms. Liberatore said she expects no more than eight employees to be present at one time.
Item 4 – Hours – The application states the hours of operation will be 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Tuesday through Sunday. Mr. Mendicino asked if the applicant would want to expand the hours stated on the application for occasional special events. Ms. Liberatore responded that there might be occasions when the tea room would stay open until 8:30 PM.
Items 5 and 6 – Hazardous Materials and Potential Environmental Impacts – Ms. Liberatore said there would be no hazardous materials or noxious environmental impacts.
Item 7 – Parking – Ms. Goldstein said this is her main concern about this application. Ms. Liberatore said this is a priority for her too. She is aware that the 90 spaces in the immediate area of her site, La Stalla Restaurant, Rita’s Water Ice, and the Newtown Floral Company get heavy use, particularly in the evening, but she feels that they will be adequate because her tea room will close at 4:00 PM.
Ms. Goldstein said the parking needs were originally calculated for the shopping center as a whole, but eating places are very intensive users of parking. Several members observed that it is difficult to find a nearby parking space in the evening now.
Mr. Sander said the ordinance requires that the tea room have 58 spaces, which is more than half of what is available in the immediate vicinity. He said the hours of operation would overlap with Rita’s and La Stalla in the afternoon.
Mr. Harwood said the employees might be required to park in another area of the shopping center as a condition of approval. Mrs. Beasley suggested that high school students be discouraged from parking at the center. Mr. Walker suggested requiring the center owner to trigger the reserve parking on the approved plan.
Item 10 – General Comments – Members noted that the plan for a glassed-in porch may require HARB approval. Mr. Fidler also noted that the tea room may need additional EDUs of sewer service and this should be discussed with the center owner.
Mr. Harwood said that there may be a traffic impact fee required when the building permit is issued if the use is more intensive than the previous use.
Mr. Piazza moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this application subject to the following conditions:
- Deliveries for the retail use will be by UPS-type trucks once or twice a month; deliveries for the food service will be by UPS-type trucks daily in the early morning hours
- There will be an average of six and a maximum of 14 employees on site
- Hours of operation will be from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Tuesday through Sunday, with occasional evening hours to 8:30 PM from October 31 through April 30
- No hazardous materials will be stored or used on the site
- There will be no noxious environmental effects
- Fourteen parking spaces for employees will be provided on the west side of S. Eagle Road
- There will be no drive-in service
- There will be no alcoholic beverages served
- Approval will be obtained from the Fire Marshal and the Sewer Authority
- A Certificate of Appropriateness will be obtained from the Board of Supervisors via HARB
- The applicant will pay any required traffic impact fees
In addition, the Commission recommends that the Township ask the owner of the shopping center to trigger the reserve parking following an analysis of the mix of uses that are currently on the site and their parking demands.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE – K. HOVNANIAN’S FOUR SEASONS – BUCK ROAD AND THE BYPASS – TMP# 29-009-003-001 AND 29-009-007: Attorney John Maloney was present to discuss the applicant’s request to use a 19.1 acre site in the R-2 District for 45 single family homes in a Village Housing design under the B-17 Elderly Housing Use. The application was initially reviewed by the Commission at their 7/20/04 meeting and the applicant was asked to return with comments on the plan from the Traffic Engineer and the Fire Marshal. Mr. Walker stated that the Traffic Engineer could not be present tonight; Mr. Maloney said he was aware of this.
Mr. Maloney said the plan was discussed with the Fire Marshal. According to Mr. Maloney, the Fire Marshal requested that the cul-de-sac road be at least 20’ wide, that the bulb and the loop be paved, and that the applicant explore the possibility of getting an emergency access easement from a neighboring property owner. Mr. Maloney said he would like to keep the bulb and the loop landscaped. He said some street parking has been added to the plan, and he would like to see the internal roads dedicated. He said sidewalks are planned for both sides of the roads.
Members asked Mr. Walker what the minimum road width would be for dedication to the Township. He said there are conflicting road width requirements in the ordinance; it specifies 26’ in one place and 30’ in another. Mr. Harwood said the Township has never accepted a road as narrow as 20’; there would be problems with emergency vehicles and with maintenance of the roads. Mr. Walker said the ordinance is silent on required widths for one-way roads. Mr. Ward asked Mr. Sander to research what the ordinance requires regarding road width.
Mr. Maloney said traffic counts were done in July 2004. Commission members said those counts were probably not valid because the road work in the area eliminated a great deal of traffic, and the high school was not in session. After some discussion they requested that counts be taken when the road construction is done and after school is back in session. The applicant was asked to check with the Township Engineer to ascertain when the construction work is done.
Ms. Goldstein asked if there are any options for alternative access to the site. Mr. Maloney responded that he was not aware of any. Mr. Sander suggested that the applicant talk to neighboring property owners about an alternate access to the property.
Mr. Maloney said his understanding was that the applicant needs to do a traffic count in September, to explore alternative access to the site, and to research what is required for dedication of roads to the Township.
Mr. Maloney said he has already given the Township an extension to 9/30/04, but he will provide a further extension to the first Board of Supervisors meeting in October.
PRESENTATION – WOLL TRACT ACCESS – ROUTE 413 - PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine, Park and Recreation Department Director Bill Wert, engineer Evan Stone, and several Board members were present to discuss the development of the Woll Tract.
Mr. Levine said the Board has structured its public hearings on the Woll Tract to focus first on access issues, then on facilities and uses, then on design and lighting. The Board would like to get the Planning Commission’s comments at each of these stages. He said he hoped that Commission members would be able to express their preferences in the form of a motion following the discussion.
Mr. Levine asked the Commission to focus on the issue of access to the property tonight. He distributed conceptual sketches of four access alternatives:
- Route 413 Entry – Access only from a signalized intersection on Route 413 at the Clark Nature Center entrance
- Wrights Road Entry – Access only from Wrights Road between Newtown Elementary School and Rose Bank Winery
- Dual Entry A – Access from both roads connecting with a loop road around the perimeter of the park
- Dual Entry B – access from both roads connected by a shorter road
Mr. Levine said that access from Eagle Road had been considered in the early stages of planning but this is not an option now. He said that access from Route 413 would be difficult without a traffic signal at that intersection; it is unknown whether the signal would be warranted.
Mr. Fidler asked if a lighted field would necessitate a lighted parking lot; Mr. Levine responded that it would mean not only a lighted parking lot but also lights along the access road.
Mr. Levine said that residents expressed a preference for #4 at a recent public hearing, primarily because the shorter connecting drive between the access roads would not be as close to their homes as the loop road on #3, which would be about 300’ from the nearest home.
Mr. Levine said the Board is proposing to approach the issue of access in two phases. He would like to begin negotiating with the School Board regarding the Wrights Road access, and then work on planning the Route 413 access, which will be more difficult and will depend on whether the intersection will meet warrant for a signal. He asked if the Commission was in favor of this phasing plan.
Mr. Mendicino said he could not judge the merits of the access plans without knowing the uses and the locations of facilities, and particularly where any lighted fields would be located. Mr. Wert said the access issue will determine the layout of the facilities.
Mrs. Beasley noted that the Clark Nature Center and the Woll Tract will attract two very different kinds of users, so she does not see the usefulness of connecting them.
Mr. Ward polled Commission members on which concept plan they preferred; the responses were:
- Mr. Dieterle: Prefers the Wrights Road access and add the Route 413 access if possible.
- Mr. Lombardi: Agrees with Mr. Dieterle.
- Mr. Mendicino: Prefers the Route 413 access if a signal is warranted.
- Mrs. Beasley: Prefers a Wrights Road access between Newtown Elementary and St. Andrews.
- Mr. Sensibaugh: Agrees with Mrs. Beasley.
- Mr. Fidler: Agrees with Mrs. Beasley.
- Mr. Piazza: Prefers the Route 413 access and the connection with the Clark Nature Center.
- Mr. Ward: Prefers access plan #3.
Mr. Sander said there is not enough unity among Commission members for a motion.
Ms. Goldstein commented that combining school and park uses is generally a good idea, since they have the same users at different times of the day.
Mr. Dieterle left the meeting at the conclusion of this discussion.
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS The Commission reviewed seven applications scheduled for the 9/2/04 Zoning Hearing Board meeting and had no comments on the following applications:
- Profy – 100 Winchester Lane
- McCartney – 33 Jonquil Drive
- Beck – 35 Harmony Way
- Alto Sign Company – 2822 S. Eagle Road
- Snarponis – 21 Warwick Court
The Commission discussed two applications in detail:
Newtown Corporate Center – Upper Silver Lake Road – TMP# 29-10-76: The applicant seeks a special exception to build a bridge and a road in the floodplain.
Mr. Sensibaugh moved to state that the Commission has no objections to the relief requested. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously with Mr. Piazza and Mr. Fidler abstaining.
Silver Lake Executive Campus – Silver Lake Road – TMP# 29-10-43 & 29-10-43-1: The applicant seeks a variance to allow 10’ by 17’ parking stalls where 10’ by 20’ stalls are required.
Ms. Goldstein said the proposed dimensions are unusual. She said the parking islands are six feet wide and the application states that cars will have a three-foot overhang, which means the islands will be completely overlapped by the parked cars’ bumpers.
Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors support the ordinance and oppose this request. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed 5-1, with Mr. Lombardi voting “nay” and Mrs. Beasley abstaining.
SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS Deferred due to the late hour.
PRD VARIANCES VS. ZHB VARIANCES – 8/5/04 LETTER FROM SOLICITOR: Commission members received copies in their packets of a letter from Mr. Sander explaining when a variance request should be handled as a PRD variance and when it should be a Zoning Hearing Board variance.
FIDLER/ROBERTS TRACT – 8/10/04 LETTER FROM E. VAN RIEKER: Commission members received copies in their packets of a letter from E. Van Rieker, AICP, with a preliminary proposal from Toll Brothers for a new zoning district, a TR Traditional Residential District. Mr. Sander said the proposal is for a version of the R-2 District that would have higher density, no age restrictions, and different setbacks.
After a brief discussion Commission members asked Mr. Sander to invite Toll Brothers to a future Commission meeting to present their proposal in person.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
JMZO 2004-12: Mr. Sensibaugh said the Agricultural Committee of the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission will be discussing the proposed ordinance regarding accessory agricultural uses on 8/26/04, and the meeting is open to the public.
9/7/04 COMMISSION MEETING: There was general agreement to cancel the scheduled 9/7/04 meeting of the Planning Commission.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary