December 7, 2004
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (12/7/04): Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of the 12/7/04 meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, December 7, 2004, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairman Shawn Ward; members Allen Fidler, Jay Sensibaugh, Bob Dieterle, Vince Lombardi, Beth Sanderlin, Sue Beasley, and Mike Piazza (delayed.) 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.
Excused: Frank Mendicino.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Shawn Ward called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (11/16/04): Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the minutes of the 11/16/04 meeting with one correction: The first sentence of the penultimate paragraph under Newtown Rental Center should read “…not recommend that the Township oppose or support the request…” The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed unanimously, with Mr. Lombardi abstaining.
TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT: Mr. Johnston reviewed the progress of several road projects in the Township, including traffic-calming work on Mill Pond Road and on Fountain Farm Road, the closed loop system, and several intersections on the Bypass.
Mr. Dieterle said a “right turn only” sign should be installed at Buck Road and the Bypass. Mr. Johnston said there are several places along the Bypass where additional signs are needed and Pennoni is following up.
Mrs. Beasley said the traffic lights seem to be installed incorrectly at Linton Hill and Washington Crossing Roads. Mr. Johnston said he will look into this.
CONDITIONAL USE – ACME – 48 WEST ROAD – TMP# 29-3-24: John Connelly of Acme and attorney Jack Wuerstle were present to discuss their request to expand an existing coffee shop within the Acme building to include eat-in with accessory take-out (Use E-5.) The coffee shop will be relocated and will include more seating, but there will be no expansion of hours of operation or employees, and no exterior improvements.
The 11/30/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed. Ms. Goldstein said the only significant issue is the parking. Mr. Wuerstle said the calculations indicate that six additional parking spaces are needed for the expansion. Acme has 168 spaces in reserve and could build six of them. However, the existing parking is probably adequate, since the expanded seating will not draw any additional traffic to the store. Commission members agreed that parking appears to be plentiful on this site. Mr. Wuerstle said the applicant will comply with the Boucher and James letter.
Mr. Sander asked if E-6 Use would be more appropriate. Mr. Harwood said this was discussed with the applicant and it was determined that E-5 Use is the most appropriate.
Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this application subject to compliance with the 11/30/04 Boucher and James review letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE - FAMILY YMCA OF LOWER BUCKS COUNTY AT CHANDLER HALL – 190 S. SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-009-003: Eric Stark of the Family YMCA of Lower Bucks County and Tom McLearnon of Chandler Hall were present to discuss the YMCA’s request for approval to occupy part of the Chandler Hall facility and operate a fitness center (Use C-8) which is open to the public. The property is located in the PC District.
The 11/30/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed. Mr. Stark said the YMCA will comply with all points in the letter.
Mr. Ward asked about parking facilities. Mr. McLearnon said there is sufficient parking on the Chandler Hall campus.
Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this application subject to compliance with the 11/30/04 Boucher and James review letter. The motion was seconded by Ms. Sanderlin.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Fidler asked what the original purpose of the building was. Mr. McLearnon said it was built as a fitness center, but Chandler Hall originally intended to operate it themselves.
Mr. Sensibaugh’s motion passed unanimously.
PRD VARIANCE – PETERSON/ALUNNI – 364 BURGUNDY LANE – TMP# 29-33-54: Graham Peterson was present to discuss his request for relief to allow the construction of a kitchen addition at the rear of his property in the R-1 District which will result in a rear yard setback that is less than the minimum of 32.74’. Mr. Peterson stated that there is open space behind his property, and PECO power lines behind that. He said that the adjacent neighbors and the Homeowners Association have no objections to his plans, and he will bring letters from them to the Board of Supervisors meeting.
Mr. Harwood said there is no impervious surface issue involved.
Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this variance subject to compliance with the 11/22/04 Pennoni Associates review letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.
PRELIMINARY PLAN – HICKS BUILDING ADDITION – BUCKS COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE (BCCC) – 275 SWAMP ROAD – TMP# 29-3-3: Architects John Watkins and Donna Weaver, and BCCC Physical Plant Director Mark Grisi, were present to discuss their plan to construct an 11,970 SF addition to an existing building on the BCCC campus in the EIR District. Mr. Watkins said a two-story addition with a basement is planned, and a walkway will be modified.
The 11/5/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed. Mr. Wuerstle said the plan has been modified in accordance with the review comments from Boucher and James and Pennoni Associates. Commission members said they had no objections to the requested waivers listed in Section B.1. Comments were as follows:
- B.1.c – Showing existing features in the area. Ms. Goldstein said recent plans showing the features of the entire BCCC campus are already on file, so an aerial photograph is not necessary.
- B.1.d – Landscape architect. Commission members agreed it was acceptable for a licensed arborist to seal the landscape plans.
- B.1.f – Traffic impact fees. No additional traffic is anticipated from these improvements.
The 11/11/04 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed. The following point was discussed:
- III.B.11 – Land dedicated for recreation or fees. Members asked about plans discussed a few years ago to construct a trail connecting the Newtown Trail with the Schofield bridge. Mr. Goodnoe recalled that the College cooperated with the development of this plan and was willing to provide an easement for this trail, but the funding was not obtained. He also suggested the Board of Supervisors could be asked to consider waiving the fees since the College is a tax-supported public institution. Mr. Watkins said that the Parks and Recreation Board recommended a waiver of the fees at their meeting on 9/1/04.
Mr. Sander suggested the question of the fees could be deferred until such time as the Township can build the connector trail. Mr. Grisi said he will discuss this with the College president.
Mr. Lombardi moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the preliminary plan as final, subject to the following conditions:
- Compliance with the 11/5/04 Boucher and James letter, the 10/29/04 Emergency Services letter, the 11/11/04 Pennoni Associates letter, the 11/3/04 Bucks County Planning Commission letter, and the 10/28/04 Conservation District letter
- The applicant agrees to either pay the Township $15, 453.27 as a fee in lieu of recreation space, or dedicate a permanent easement for an extension of the Newtown Trail to the Schofield Bridge, at such time as the Township can build the extension
- A note regarding this agreement will be placed on the plan
The Commission also recommends that the following waivers be granted:
- SLDO 301.7 – to permit the plan to be reviewed as preliminary/final
- SLDO 402.1.A – to permit a drawing scale of !” = 20’ where 1” = 50’ is required
- SLDO 402.3.C – to permit the applicant to submit a plan of the entire campus in lieu of showing existing features in the area on the plan
- SLDO 402.4.M – to permit the landscape plan to be sealed by a licensed arborist
- SLDO 402.5 – relief from the requirement of a traffic study
- SLDO 402.6 – relief from the requirement to pay traffic fees
The motion was seconded by Mrs. Beasley and passed unanimously.
RE: ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATION – HOLLAND FLOOR COVERING – 35 SWAMP ROAD – TMP# 29-11-80: The applicant seeks relief to permit construction of a 2,991 SF sales and showroom addition to an existing building where only 18 off-street parking spaces and 11 on-street spaces are available and 70 spaces would be required by the ordinance. A variance was granted earlier to allow only 18 parking spaces for the existing building. The property is located in the R-2 District.
Several Commission members expressed concerns about the inadequacy of the parking facilities. Although this is a low-intensity business, a more intensive business could move in and create a major problem.
Mr. Harwood observed that the 11 on-street spaces are on German Avenue, which is a private road, and the Zoning Hearing Board cannot grant a variance based on spaces on a private road. He said this is a sensitive area regarding parking and cannot take much development. The parking spaces on German Avenue will narrow the 50’ road down to a 25’ road.
Several Commission members said they have observed flooding problems in the area with the existing development of this property. Mr. Sander said the applicant will need to go through the land development process, where these issues will be discussed.
Mr. Ward moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose this application on the grounds that the hardship was created by the applicant and the use of the on-street parking spaces on German Avenue would create a public hazard. The motion was seconded by Mr. Dieterle and passed 6-2, with Mr. Piazza and Mr. Lombardi voting “nay.”
SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS: Mr. Lombardi moved to defer reports to the next meeting. >The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.
JMZO – AGRICULTURAL SALES AMENDMENT: Members received a copy of a 11/15/04 letter from Terry Clemons commenting on this JMZO amendment.
GRAY TRACT REVIEW: Members received copies of the 11/24/04 Pickering, Corts, and Summerson review of the preliminary plan for the Gray Tract for Upper Makefield Township.
BOUCHER AND JAMES ADDRESS CHANGE: Members received copies of a 11/8/04 memo from Boucher and James advising of a change of address.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 9:05 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary