Newtown Township

Planning Commission 

October 5, 2004

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (10/5/04): Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of the 10/5/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza and passed unanimously, with Mr. Dieterle abstaining.

The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, October 5, 2004, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairman Shawn Ward (joined the meeting late;) members Vince Lombardi, Allen Fidler, Jay Sensibaugh, Frank Mendicino, Mike Piazza, Sue Beasley, and Beth Sanderlin. Also in attendance were: Supervisor Skip Goodnoe, Solicitor Dave Sander, Engineers Chris Walker and Matt Johnston, Planner Judy Goldstein, and Public Works Director Tom Harwood.

CALL TO ORDER: Vice-Chairman Vince Lombardi called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. He announced that the Commission would discuss the conditional use application for K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons immediately after approval of the minutes because many Township residents were present to comment on this item in particular.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (9/21/04): Ms. Sanderlin moved to approve the minutes of the 9/21/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh.

Discussion of minutes: Mrs. Beasley referred to the discussion of the Jansen sketch plan and said she remembered that Mr. Ward recommended a specific law firm to the applicant. Mr. Sensibaugh said he did not hear that. Mrs. Beasley said she remembered Mr. Ward mentioning McBride and Murphy and Mr. Fidler mentioning Stuckert and Yates.

Mr. Fidler said these firms were mentioned as having experience with land development issues. He added that Boucher and James and Carroll Engineering were also mentioned in the same context. Members agreed to change the last sentence of the fifth paragraph under Sketch Plan – Jansen to read “Names of several attorneys and engineers were identified as having experience with land development issues.”

Mr. Fidler also asked that the second sentence of the fourth paragraph under Variance Request #661-04 be changed to read “…this recommendation; Mr. Sensibaugh said he was not sure.”

Ms. Sanderlin and Mr. Sensibaugh amended their motion to include both changes described above. The motion passed unanimously.


CONDITIONAL USE – K. HOVNANIAN’S FOUR SEASONS AT NEWTOWN – 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 build a 45-unit village housing development on a 19.1 acre site in the R-2 District under the B-17 Elderly Housing Use standards.

Mr. Lombardi said there are two issues he would like to address. The first is that the applicant was asked to do new traffic counts before returning to the Commission. Mr. Lombardi read an excerpt from the minutes of the 8/17/04 meeting, when this application was first discussed: “[The Commission] requested that counts be taken when the road construction is done and after school is back in session.”

Mr. Maloney said he understood his traffic engineer was to contact the Township Traffic Engineer to ascertain when the construction is completed.

Mr. Lombardi said the second issue is that the applicant was asked to investigate alternative access arrangements for the site. Mr. Maloney said the applicant sent letters to neighboring property owners and received one negative response and one returned letter. Mr. Lombardi said he is aware that the Eagle Ridge development is considering the request tomorrow night. Mr. Maloney said the applicant is also talking with Shir Ami about locating an emergency access through their property.

Mr. Lombardi asked Mr. Maloney to make a brief presentation about the proposed development before the public was invited to make comments and ask questions.

Mr. Maloney displayed a sketch plan and described the layout of the proposed homes and streets. He said the development will take access from Buck Road via a service road which is owned by PennDOT. A “pork chop” island will be installed to discourage exiting drivers from turning left onto Buck Road.

Mr. Lombardi said the proposed plan appears to meet site requirements but the Commission has been concerned about the potential effects on highway traffic and safety. He said the JMZO requires that a proposed use not cause hazardous or congested traffic conditions, and therefore the Commission asked the applicant to take more accurate traffic counts and investigate an alternative access.

Mr. Maloney said that B-17 Use is permitted in the R-2 District, and the sketch plan does not require any variances. He also said that many of the comments in the Boucher and James 6/23/04 review letter have been addressed. Ms. Goldstein said that no new materials have been submitted, so she cannot discuss them.

Paul Salvatore, a resident of Eagle Ridge, said that the applicant’s request to the Eagle Ridge Homeowners Association for a right-of-way for an alternative access will be discussed on 10/6/04. He requested that a representative of the applicant attend the meeting.

Mary Golden, a resident of Eagle Ridge, asked where the access would be. Mr. Maloney responded that the location has not been determined.

Tom Lyons, a resident of Newtown Crossing, asked why there was no emergency access shown on the plan. Mr. Maloney explained that this is only a concept plan.

Cindy Secora, a resident of Newtown Crossing, said a similar development was proposed for this site several years ago. She said she is concerned about traffic congestion and safety, particularly on Sunday mornings when the nearby church is very busy.

Barbara Keachey, a resident of Eagle Ridge, said there are existing water problems in the area. She also said drivers speed and make U-turns on Mill Pond now. She is concerned that the proposed development will make these problems worse.

Darryl Izeo, a resident of Newtown Crossing, expressed concern about losing open space and wooded areas.

Jay McWiggen, a resident of Newtown Crossing, said he is concerned about potential traffic problems. He said Shir Ami’s parking lots are filled when they have an event, so emergency access is not possible there. He also said the development will bring additional cars and older drivers to the area and will impact wildlife. He is also concerned about noise and dust from construction and drainage.

Joe Pizzo, a resident of Newtown Crossing, said he is concerned about drainage problems.

Paul Salvatore asked how many trips will be generated by the proposed development. Mr. Maloney responded that 14 trips are projected to be generated during the morning peak hours and 14 trips during the evening peak hours. Mr. Salvatore said that only 80% of the development will be age-restricted. He predicted that the development will cause traffic jams and create a hazard for school children waiting at busstops.

Mike Gallagher, a resident of Newtown Crossing, asked who owns the site. Mr. Maloney responded that Karr Associates is the present owner but K. Hovnanian has an agreement of sale.

Chris Bachman, a resident of Eagle Ridge, said there is already a great deal of traffic on Buck Road during the morning peak hours, and even one more trip is too many.

Steve Costello, a resident of Newtown Crossing, expressed concern that residents of the proposed development may demand a sound barrier wall to protect them from the noise of the Bypass.

Tom Lyons, a Township resident, said he does not want emergency vehicles driving close to his house.

Darryl Izeo asked how the applicant’s traffic study will be verified. Mr. Lombardi said the Township Engineer will ensure that it is accurate.

Mr. Mendicino said it is clear that the applicant needs to do an accurate traffic count and better access to the development needs to be designed.

Mrs. Beasley questioned the trip generation numbers because a significant portion of people aged 55 or older still work. Mr. Maloney said the model used by his traffic engineer dates from 2003.

Mike Gallagher offered to collect names and contact information after the meeting so that all interested residents can stay informed about this proposal. Mr. Lombardi said that the agendas for the Commission and the Board of Supervisors are posted on the Township website and the character generator on television.

Lorie Kezack, a resident of Eagle Ridge, said she wants to see a buffer between her property and the site.

Helen DeSoto, a resident of Newtown Crossing, asked what benefit the whole community will realize from this development. Mr. Malone responded that the site will eventually be developed, and the currently proposed use will be less burdensome on the community than other possible uses because it is age-restricted. He said that many concerns voiced tonight will be addressed during the land development process.

Mrs. DeSoto asked if a traffic study would consider the effects of other proposed developments in the area. Mr. Johnston responded that it will consider all projects underway as well as normal background growth, which is traffic generated by development beyond the borders of the Township.

Mr. Lombardi asked when the applicant will return to the Commission. Mr. Malone responded that the current extension ends at the end of October, which means the Board of Supervisors must hold the public hearing on 10/27/04. He stated that he plans to go forward with this schedule and not give the Township another extension.

Mr. Mendicino asked what the consequences are if the Commission tables this matter. Mr. Sander said the Board of Supervisors is required to convene the public hearing before the end of October. Mr. Sander asked Mr. Johnston when the Bypass construction is expected to finish; Mr. Johnston said it should be completed by mid-November. Mr. Sander said that the Board of Supervisors can act without a recommendation from the Planning Commission; the Municipalities Planning Code requires only that the Commission review an application.

Mr. Ward joined the meeting at this time.

Mrs. Beasley moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors deny the conditional use application because the applicant has not met the general conditions for conditional use approval as described in JMZO Section 1301 B.5 and because of the concerns expressed by neighboring residents and Commission members at this meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh.

Discussion of motion: At a member’s request Mr. Sander read Section 1301 B.5, which states that an applicant must provide adequate evidence that the proposed use is suitable in terms of effects on highway traffic and safety and has access adequate to protect streets from undue congestion and hazard.

Mr. Sensibaugh said the applicant also does not meet Section 1301 B.2, which requires that the proposed use not be a detriment to the property in the immediate vicinity, and that it be in the best interests of the municipality and to the benefit of the community and the public welfare.

Mrs. Beasley and Mr. Sensibaugh agreed to add noncompliance with Section 1301 B.2 to their motion.

Mrs. Beasley’s motion passed unanimously with Mr. Ward abstaining.

CONDITIONAL USE – CHEF JEAN PIERRE – 117 SOUTH SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-11-12: Joan Tardy was present to discuss her request to use 1,500 SF of an existing building in the TC District for E-5 Eating Place in addition to the previously approved E-1 Retail and E-3 Service Uses (gourmet food sales and cooking classes) on the site.

The 9/13/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed and the applicant agreed to comply with all applicable comments. The following points were discussed:

Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the conditional use application for E-5 Eating Place Use subject to the following conditions:

  1. Compliance with the 9/13/04 Boucher and James letter as applicable
  2. The Retail Use will be continuous, with either the Service Use or the Eating Place Use operating concurrently
  3. Hours of operation will be 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM seven days a week
  4. There will be a maximum of two employees on site
  5. Deliveries will be by step van vehicles
  6. No hazardous materials or noxious environmental impacts will be present
  7. There will be indoor dining for 12
  8. There will be no outdoor dining
  9. 20 parking spaces are provided (18 are required)
  10. No alcoholic beverages will be sold
  11. Outside refuse storage containers will be screened and landscaped

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

PRD VARIANCE – TOLL BROTHERS – ALYSSA DRIVE AND JULIANNE COURT (OVERLOOK) – TMP# 29-4-263, 264,265, 266, 267, 269, 271 & 29-6-210, 212, 213, 214, 218, 219, 220, 224, 225, 227, 228, 229, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236: Attorney Ed Murphy was present to discuss the applicant’s request for relief from the 15’ side yard setback required by the JMZO, to allow construction of decks on 25 homes in the Overlook development.

Mr. Murphy said the 15’ setback is inconsistent with the development of PRD residential subdivisions of village homes on small lots. He noted that because of the site’s topography, the houses are on different levels and therefore the decks will not be close to each other even if the setbacks are less than 15’. Mr. Murphy said that Mr. Harwood recommended that the applicant request relief for all the lots together rather than individually, and said a similar process was followed at Lakeview Estates.

Mr. Lombardi asked why the decks could not be built in the rear of the houses. Mr. Murphy said this was not possible because of the design of the houses.

Mr. Sensibaugh asked if the lots will comply with impervious surface requirements. Mr. Murphy said they will.

Mr. Lombardi said this relief should have been requested during the land development approval process. Mr. Ward said he felt the relief probably would not cause problems for the owners of adjacent homes, but he does not like the process followed by Toll Brothers.

Mrs. Beasley said the applicant told the Planning Commission previously that owners would be told in the HOA documents that they could not add decks, patios, or sheds. Mr. Murphy said that language was put into the HOA documents, but the homes are being sold with decks and some have been built.

Mr. Piazza asked Mr. Murphy to convey to the applicant the Commission’s discomfort with the process followed in this PRD Variance request.

Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors deny the PRD Variance request. The motion died for lack of a second.

Mr. Piazza moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant the relief requested consistent with the application and plan dated 9/7/04. The motion was seconded by Mr. Ward.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Mendicino asked if all the neighbors were notified of the hearing on this request. Mr. Harwood said notices were sent out, but he could not guarantee that all the newest owners were notified. Mr. Murphy said he will check with Toll Brothers to make sure.

Mr. Piazza’s motion passed 6-2, with Mr. Sensibaugh and Mrs. Beasley voting “nay.”

FINAL PLAN – MINOR SUBDIVISION – SEGEL/BRILLIANT – 391 EAGLE ROAD – TMP# 29-3-55: Engineer Maryellen Saylor, George Segel, and Dina Brilliant were present to discuss their plan to divide a 7.124 acre property in the CM District into two lots. Lot 2 will include an existing single family dwelling.

Ms. Saylor said the application was delayed for several years until public sewer service was available. She noted that the lots meet minimum area requirements and no improvements are being proposed.

The 9/23/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed and the applicants agreed to comply with all applicable comments. The following points were discussed:

The 10/4/04 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed and the applicants agreed to comply with all applicable comments. The following point was discussed:

Mr. Piazza moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they grant final approval to the plan for minor subdivision subject to the following conditions:

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

SKETCH PLAN – BUCKS COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE (BCCC) – 275 SWAMP ROAD – TMP# 29-3-3: Mark Grisi and James Linskz of BCCC, and architect John Watkins, were present to discuss their sketch plan for a 11,970 SF three-story addition to an existing building on the 197.52 acre campus in the EIR District.

Mr. Watkins displayed a concept plan and said the proposed addition will expand the Hicks Arts and Music Building. He said that the addition is proposed to accommodate the present student population; no increase in students is planned.

Ms. Goldstein recommended that the college update all their site calculations, impervious surface, setbacks, etc. when they submit a plan for this addition. She said this is the basic message of her letter.

The 8/5/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed and the following points discussed:

It was agreed that the 8/25/04 Bucks County Planning Commission letter brought up no new points.

Mr. Watson said the applicant met with the Park and Recreation Board, which recommended waiving requirements for recreation facilities. Mrs. Beasley asked if there are any plans for a trail connecting with the Tyler Park trail. Mr. Watson said there are none currently.

Mr. Watson said the applicant would like to request preliminary as final plan approval. Mr. Lombardi suggested this request be made when the preliminary plan is submitted.

Mr. Harwood questioned why the sewer line is shown running under the building addition on the sketch plan. Mr. Watson said it runs under the existing building and cannot be relocated.

Mr. Lombardi said the Commission members appeared to be generally favorable towards the sketch plan.

CORRESPONDENCE: The following items were included in members’ packets:

TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT: Mr. Johnston reviewed the October 2004 Pennoni Associates report on traffic-related engineering projects, which members received in their packets. He highlighted a few items:

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS: Deferred due to the late hour.

OLD BUSINESS: Deferred due to the late hour and the lack of updated copies of the three items.



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


Respectfully Submitted,


Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary