October 19, 2004
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (10/19/04):Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of the 10/19/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Ms. Sanderlin and passed unanimously, with Mr. Lombardi abstaining.
The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, October 19, 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, and Beth Sanderlin. Also in attendance were: Supervisor Skip Goodnoe, Solicitor Dave Sander, Engineer Chris Walker, and Planner Judy Goldstein.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Shawn Ward called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. He announced that the conditional use application of the Newtown Athletic Club has been removed from the agenda at the request of the applicant.
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.
CONDITIONAL USE – ORLEANS HOMEBUILDERS – YAMAMOTO TRACT (AKA FOXHALL ESTATES) – 551 WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD – TMP# 29-16-2-1, 29-16-5-2, 29-16-5: Bill Briegel of Orleans Homebuilders and attorney Edward Murphy were present to discuss the proposal to build 18 homes under B-12 Use, Single Family Detached Cluster, on a 27.71 acre site in the CM District. Mr. Murphy said the applicant would like to address the conditional use application and the preliminary plan together.
Mr. Murphy said that the Commission and the Board of Supervisors saw several sketch plans for this property in the spring of 2003 and expressed a preference for one showing larger lots. In September 2003 a moratorium on sewer connections took effect. Orleans is now talking with the Sewer Authority about connecting this property with the new Linton Hill pumping station.
Mr. Murphy said that B-12 Use requires conditional use approval in the CM District. Orleans would like to do this process at the same time as the land development approval process.
The 6/25/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed. The applicant agreed to comply with the letter. The following point was discussed:
- B.1 – Variance Requests: Seven variances will be sought in connection with this project. Mr. Murphy said that most of them relate to preservation of agricultural soils and open space. He said that using the large lot plan means the applicant cannot comply with open space requirements. The open space and the basin will be owned by the Homeowners Association. Mr. Fidler commented that the parcels of agricultural soils are so small they are unlikely to be used for agricultural activities. They are also not contiguous with existing farmland.
Mr. Fidler asked about a secondary emergency access to the site. Mr. Murphy responded that this could be located on the east side between two houses. Mr. Ward said provision of an emergency access should be a condition of the use approval.
Mr. Murphy said the access driveway from Washington Crossing Road is planned to be 32’ wide at the entrance, tapering to 26’ wide at the intersection with Road B. Mr. Sander noted that the ordinance requires 30’ roadways. Mr. Ward said this will be discussed further in the review of the preliminary plan.
Mr. Piazza moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the request for Use B-12 on this property subject to the following conditions:
- Compliance with the Boucher and James letter of 6/25/04
- Provision of an emergency access road
The motion was seconded by Ms. Sanderlin.
Discussion of motion: Tom Ames, a neighboring property owner in attendance, asked if the location, dimensions, and materials of the emergency access could be described in the motion. Mr. Sander suggested that the motion could specify an emergency access that is approved by the Fire Marshal. Mr. Murphy said the applicant would prefer grass pavers, but the Fire Marshal is likely to request a 30’ wide blacktop road. He and Mr. Ames both said this is not their preference.
Mr. Murphy said there is about 40’ between the two houses at the location where the access might be located. There is a 30’ wide utility easement there now, and the access would cross the pipeline in one place. He said he did not see any alternatives to this proposed location.
Mr. Mendicino said he cannot support the recommendation for conditional use approval if the access is located between two houses, or if the location is not specified in the motion.
Mr. Piazza’s motion passed 5-2, with Mr. Sensibaugh and Mr. Mendicino voting “nay.”
Mr. Fidler said that the Township should mark emergency access roads, perhaps with poles, so that they can be found when snow is on the ground.
REVISED PRELIMINARY PLAN - ORLEANS HOMEBUILDERS – YAMAMOTO TRACT (AKA FOXHALL ESTATES): Mr. Murphy and Mr. Briegel then discussed the preliminary plan for the project described above.
The 6/25/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed. The applicant agreed to comply with the letter except for those points addressed by proposed variance or waiver requests. The following points were discussed:
- A.5.a – Recreational Land: Mr. Murphy said the Park and Recreation Board recommended a fee in lieu of recreation facilities on 2/4/04.
- C.1.b – Curb and Roadway Widening: Mr. Murphy said the applicant is seeking a waiver from the requirement for curbs on Washington Crossing Road but will widen the entire frontage of the road. Mr. Walker said he recommends 12’ lanes and 4’ shoulders.
- C.1.c – Sidewalks: The applicant is requesting a waiver from the requirement to install sidewalks on Washington Crossing Road. Commission members said they want to see sidewalks on both sides of internal roads; the applicant agreed to this.
- C.4.a – Cartway Width: Mr. Mendicino said he would like to see at least 30’ width so that school busses can travel on the roads. Mr. Ward said people sometimes park on both sides of the road even if it is prohibited. Mr. Walker said that roads in several nearby developments were at least 28’ wide, and most were 30’ or wider. Mr. Murphy agreed to 30’ wide internal roads, although Mr. Briegel said PennDOT may require a change.
- C..4.3 – Lighting: This can be required by the Board of Supervisors at their discretion. Commission members decided to recommend six lights spaced evenly throughout the development.
- C.7.f – Buffering: The applicant agreed to install buffering between the site and the Stonehouse property and on the east side where Mr. Ames home is located.
- C.9 – Sewers: Mr. Murphy said the applicant will work with the neighbors to determine the configuration of the sewer system and the placement of manholes.
- C.11 – Emergency Access: The applicant will find out what the Fire Marshal recommends and develop a proposal.
The 8/4/04 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed, and the applicant agreed to comply with all points not addressed by proposed variance or waiver requests. The following points not covered in the earlier discussion of the Boucher and James letter were discussed:
- B.21 – Cul-de-Sac Drainage: Mr. Walker said the applicant has demonstrated that adequate drainage is provided for the Road B cul-de-sac, so he does not oppose the waiver request.
- E.58 – PECO Line: Mr. Briegel said there is no easement for the PECO line that traverses the property. He said Orleans will work with PECO so that service to nearby residents is not affected during construction.
Mr. Ames said the applicant should be aware that there has been some flooding recently along the site’s frontage on Washington Crossing Road.
It was agreed that the 12/9/03 Bucks County Planning Commission letter does not include any points not discussed earlier.
The applicant agreed to comply with the 9/17/04 Bucks County Conservation District letter.
Mr. Piazza moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant preliminary plan approval for this project with the following conditions:
- Compliance with the 6/25/04 Boucher and James letter, the Pennoni Associates 8/4/04 letter, and the 9/17/04 Bucks County Conservation District letter
- The applicant will use temporary electric poles to maintain service to neighboring homes during construction and eventually install all lines underground
- The buffering between the site and the neighboring homes to the east will be enhanced
- Six street lights will be placed in the development
- Additional EDUs will be obtained
- A fee in lieu of park and recreation facilities will be paid
- Additional buffering will be added along the basin and the entry driveway near the Stonehouse property
- The applicant will cooperate with the neighbors in determining the location of the sewer system and manhole
- The width of the emergency access will be defined by the applicant, who will then determine the best location and materials for the access
- The Commission recommends that the Board of Supervisors not oppose the seven variances sought by the applicant (listed in the 6/25/04 Boucher and James letter, Point A.1.a through g)
- The following waiver requests are supported:
- Section 509.1 – to permit cul-de-sacs longer than 800’
- Section 516.2 – to allow no cubing along the entire frontage of Washington Crossing Road; the applicant will widen the entire frontage of the road
- Section 402.5 – relief from the requirement to perform a traffic study
- Section 517 – to allow no sidewalks along Washington Crossing Road; the applicant will install sidewalks on both sides of the internal roads
- Section 509.4 – to allow the cul-de-sac for Road B to drain to inlet 4 and not toward the open end.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
Mr. Goodnoe asked about an apparent discrepancy between JMZO and SLDO requirements concerning tree removal (Boucher and James letter, point C.3.a.) Ms. Goldstein said the SLDO specifies that the applicant must indicate which trees greater than 15” in girth are to be removed, while the zoning permit process specifies trees of more than 10” girth, and this may need to be addressed with an ordinance amendment.
CONDITIONAL USE – SALADWORKS -2804-2808 S. EAGLE ROAD – TMP# 29-3-24-4: Ted Sisholtz was present to discuss his proposal to convert 2,200 SF of an existing video rental store in the PC District to E-5 Eating Place Use.
The 10/5/04 Boucher and James letter was discussed. The applicant agreed to comply with the letter. The following points were discussed:
- 2. – Deliveries: Mr. Sisholtz said a 24’ refrigerated truck will make deliveries to the rear of the building at least three times a week.
- 4. – Hours of Operation: Mr. Sisholtz indicated he would like to amend his application to state that the hours will be 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM seven days a week.
- 5.,6. – Hazardous Materials and Environmental Effects: The applicant stated there will be no hazardous materials used or stored on the site, and no noxious environmental effects.
- 7. – Parking: Ms. Goldstein said no additional parking spaces are required, and her observations indicate that there is adequate parking now. Mr. Piazza commented that the prohibition of parking in the fire lane needs enforcement in this area. Ms. Sanderlin said this problem seems to be worse in front of other nearby businesses.
- 9. – Alcohol: The applicant stated that no alcohol will be served or sold.
- 10. – Refuse Storage: The applicant stated the business will use an existing dumpster.
Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this use subject to the following conditions:
- Deliveries will be made at least three times a week to the rear of the building by trucks no larger than 24’
- A maximum of 20 employees will be on site
- Hours of operation will be 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM seven days a week
- No hazardous materials will be used or stored
- There will be no noxious environmental effects
- No alcoholic beverages will be served or sold
The motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza and passed unanimously.
PRELIMINARY PLAN – NEWTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB POOL ADDITION – 209 PENNS TRAIL – TMP# 29-10-137: The Commission received a copy of a 10/18/04 letter from the applicant’s engineer requesting that this item be continued.
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS – 11/4/04
Variance Request #665-04 – Susan Hillman (t/a Soccer and Lacosse Corner) – 53 German Avenue: The applicant seeks relief to permit a retail shop with only eight parking spaces provided in the CC District. Commission members had no comments on this application.
Variance Request #666-04 – Pier 1 Imports – 2807 S. Eagle Road – TMP# 29-3-24-6: The applicant seeks relief to erect two 160 SF roof-mounted signs in the PC District. Commission members had no comments on this application.
Variance Request and Appeal from and Action of the Zoning Officer #664-04 – W. David Fleming and Beverly Fleming – Rose Bank Winery, 258 Durham Road – TMP# 29-3-25-1 The applicant seeks relief to allow weddings, parties, and other functions as accessory to retail sales and wine-making in the CM District, and is appealing an action of the Zoning Officer regarding an enforcement notice prohibiting these activities because they are not specified as accessory uses in the ordinance. Mr. Sander explained that the Board of Supervisors has already authorized the Solicitor to oppose the applicant’s variance request regarding the use of a temporary structure for these events, and the Commission needs to make a recommendation regarding the appeal from the Zoning Officer’s action. Mr. Sander said the Zoning Officer claims that the accessory use is exceeding the principal use.
Several Commission members said they have not heard the volume of noise that neighbors have complained about. Mr. Dieterle said the appeal should be opposed if the applicant is violating the ordinance. Mr. Piazza expressed some concern about traffic and public safety oversight.
Mr. Ward said he does not consider events like weddings to be recurrent events, as each one is different. Mr. Sander said the applicant has agreed that they are recurrent events and based his variance request on that understanding.
Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, said this is a major commercial business, with events several days a week. On a recent weekend there was a second tent on the property. He said that he could hear people talking in the tent when he stood near Newtown Elementary School, and he feels this is an inappropriate activity for the CM District.
Mr. Mendicino said the applicant has been hosting events on this site for years, and the alternative is probably a housing development. He asked if the Township has any authority to require parking, traffic, and safety standards.
Mr. Sander said Mr. Harwood has stated that these uses are not provided for in the ordinance and therefore are not permitted. Mr. Sensibaugh commented that the ordinance seems to be deficient in not covering these uses.
Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors support the applicant’s appeal. The motion died for lack of a second.
Mr. Mendicino moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose the applicant’s appeal from the action of the Zoning Officer. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Piazza asked if the Township is liable if someone gets hurt at an event at the winery. Mr. Sander said that if the Zoning Hearing Board grants the variance the Township will not be liable.
Mr. Iwaskiw said the tent should be considered a structure and the applicant should be required to go through the land development process. Mr. Sander said the Zoning Hearing Board can impose that condition.
Mr. Iwaskiw also said that if the property is sold to a developer, only about three houses could be built there. This might be preferable to the present uses.
Mr. Fidler said he will abstain from voting on this issue because he has a conflict of interest concerning the applicant.
Mr. Mendicino’s motion passed 5-1, with Mr. Dieterle voting “nay” and Mr. Piazza and Mr. Fidler abstaining.
SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS
- Board of Supervisors: Mr. Goodnoe reported on the actions of the Board of Supervisors at their 10/13/04 meeting.
- Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission: Mr. Sensibaugh reported that the Commission will meet on 10/21/04.
- Joint Zoning Council: No report.
- Sycamore Street Committee: Mr. Piazza reported that the project is going well. The Committee is hoping to have no barricades up on Sycamore Street during the holidays.
- HARB: No report.
- Park and Recration Board: Mr. Fidler said he attended the 10/6/04 meeting and heard presentations by several local sports organizations. The Board discussed improvements and repairs to several playing fields.
- Plan Expirations: No report.
GRAY TRACT – 10/5/04 BOUCHER AND JAMES LETTER: Commission members received copies of the Boucher and James review of a preliminary plan submitted for the Gray Tract, 921 Creamery Road.
JMZO 2004-17 – DELETION OF MID-RISE APARTMENT: Mr. Sander said the Jointure decided that this use is not necessary. The Bucks County Planning Commission supports this change.
Several Commission members identified several places where this use exists in the Township and wondered if this ordinance will create nonconformities.
Mr. Mendicino moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not approve this ordinance because it will create nonconformities in the Township. The motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza and passed unanimously.
JMZO 2004-18 – GASOLINE SALES AS ACCESSORY USE: Mr. Sander said the ordinance permits gasoline sales only at service stations.
Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this ordinance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza and passed unanimously.
JMZO 2004-19 – GROUP HOME REGULATIONS: Mr. Sander said this ordinance adds a provision to Use B-18 that exempts tenants who are protected under the Fair Housing Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Building code requirements regarding topics such as parking, water and sewer service, and the number of residents still apply. Mr. Sander noted that group homes are permitted in all zoning districts by special exception.
Mr. Piazza moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this ordinance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: None.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 10:50 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary