Newtown Township

Planning Commission 

March 1, 2005


MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (3/1/05): Mr. Mendicino moved to approve the minutes of 3/1/05; the motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously, with Mr. Ward, Mr. Fidler, and Mr. Wilson abstaining.


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, March 1, 2005, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Vice-Chairman Vince Lombardi; members Jay Sensibaugh, Jim Bowe, Mike Piazza, Beth Sanderlin, and Frank Mendicino. Also in attendance were: Supervisor Skip Goodnoe, Solicitor Dave Sander, Engineers Chris Walker and Matt Johnston, and Planner Judy Goldstein.

Excused: Shawn Ward, Allen Fidler, Shannon Wilson.

CALL TO ORDER: Vice-Chairman Vince Lombardi called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (2/15/05): Mr. Sensibaugh moved to approve the minutes of 2/15/05 with the following changes to the discussion of the Brandywine Realty Zoning Hearing Board application:

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

REVIEWS

PRD VARIANCE – SUZANNE CONNELLY – 30 ALYSSA DRIVE – TMP# 29-6-223: Ms. Connelly and attorney Don Marshall were present to discuss the request for relief to allow the construction of a garage, which will result in 25.9% impervious surface where 25% is the maximum, and a 28’ rear yard setback where 30’ is the minimum.

Mr. Marshall said the property is a farmhouse, which is now part of the Overlook development. It originally faced north but it now faces south, and is the only house in the development without a garage. Mr. Marshall clarified that the impervious surface will be 25.95%, which is different from the figure on the application.

Mr. Piazza moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the variance request. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.

INFORMAL REVIEW – FLOWERS/MADANY TRACT (LOWER MAKEFIELD) - WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD – TMP# 29-16-8, 20-3-4, AND 20-3-11-2: David Shafkowitz of the Elliott Building Group and Engineer Brian Focht were present to discuss an access design for Gaucks Lane. Several options were initially discussed with the Commission at the 1/18/05 meeting, and the applicant was asked to discuss them with the residents of Gaucks Lane and come back with an option that addresses the residents’ concerns.

Mr. Shafkowitz said he met with several residents of Gaucks Lane, including Linda Majewski, who had agreed to act as a liaison between the residents and the applicant. He said the residents agreed that Option C was most acceptable, and this plan was subsequently supported by Pennoni Associates staff. Option C calls for realignment of the intersection with Gaucks Lane and will enable two Gaucks Lane residents to connect with public water service. Mr. Shafkowitz provided a summary of the conclusions agreed upon by the applicant and the residents at the meeting (attached to these minutes). Ms. Majewski and Tom Ames, another Gaucks Lane resident, were present and affirmed Mr. Shafkowitz’s report.

Mr. Shafkowitz said the Elliott Building Group is returning to Lower Makefield on 4/14/05 after some further engineering is done. He noted that Option C was the choice of Lower Makefield officials as well.

Ms. Sanderlin thanked the Elliott Building Group for working with the Commission and the residents to find a solution.

TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT: Mr. Johnston reviewed the March 2005 Traffic Engineer’s Report which was circulated in members’ packets. He highlighted a few projects:

REQUEST FOR REZONING – TOLL BROTHERS – FIDLER/ROBERTS TRACT - NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD – TMP# 29-10-55: Mike Palmer of Toll Brothers and attorney Ed Murphy were present to discuss their petition to rezone the 27.75 acre tract from R-2 Medium Density Residential to a new District, TR Transitional Residential. Members received reviews of the rezoning petition, a traffic study, and a proposal to add a new use to the R-2 District in their packets. The applicant displayed a sketch plan of the proposed development.

Mr. Murphy said the applicant was encouraged to seek rezoning for this tract by Township officials. The proposal was discussed with the other two Jointure municipalities, which preferred to see the tract remain zoned R-2. Therefore the applicant is now seeking to add a new use B-19 Transitional Residential Development to the R-2 District, which involves changes to the ordinance but not to the zoning map. Mr. Murphy said the design requirements for the proposed Use B-19 would be the same as those for B-17 Elderly Housing but without the age restriction.

Mr. Lombardi said the Commission was concerned about traffic and density when the applicant met with them in June 2004. He noted that the traffic study addresses the first concern and asked Mr. Murphy to comment on the density of the proposed development.

Mr. Murphy said the sketch plan shows 102 townhouse units, but a fully engineered plan would probably reduce that to around 95 units. The price would be approximately $600,000. Members generally agreed that the development would increase property values in the area. Regarding stormwater, Mr. Murphy said only a small portion of the site drains toward the Borough; otherwise, the site drains towards the Newtown Business Commons.

Mr. Piazza said he lives nearby in Raintree and is very concerned about the size of the development and the traffic it will generate. Mr. Murphy said that the applicant could build a development with approximately 116 units under current R-2 requirements. He said access is tentatively planned on Lower Dolington Road and Newtown-Yardley Road. Pennoni Associates suggested that the access on Lower Dolington Road be aligned with Stanford Drive, but this will likely require crossing some Township park land.

Mr. Palmer said Toll Brothers is interested in pursuing this kind of development because of the very positive response to a similar development in the Borough on the Frost-Watson Tract. He said each house will be about 2,700 SF in area.

Mr. Lombardi asked Mr. Johnston to comment on the traffic study. Mr. Johnston said he agrees with the study’s conclusions, although he has asked for some updated data. He does not expect the Brandywine office complex to add much traffic to this part of Newtown-Yardley Road.

Bruce Herring, a resident of Upper Makefield, asked what the development would look like under existing zoning. Mr. Murphy said a by-right plan would be a PRD with 112 units and a similar road network, but it would not be as attractive as the proposed development.

Ms. Goldstein said the applicant is proposing that the new B-19 Use be permitted by right, and she suggested it should be permitted by conditional use to give the municipalities more control. Commission members generally agreed with this suggestion and expressed support for the new use.

Mr. Lombardi suggested that Toll Brothers discuss the JMZO amendment and a sketch plan with the Board of Supervisors, take a closer look at traffic issues, and consider lowering the density of the development. Mr. Murphy said he would prefer to come back to the Planning Commission again before meeting with the Supervisors, which was agreeable to members.

PRELIMINARY AS FINAL PLAN - PRYDA LLC -159 N. SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-12-15: Joseph Guckavan of Pryda, attorney Douglas Maloney, and engineer Jeff Skinner were present to discuss their plan for site improvements to a property in the TC District. The improvements include removal of a one-story garage and a driveway, construction of a parking lot, restoration of a two-story frame building for office use, and installation of a stormwater management system.

Mr. Maloney said the ownership of Pryda LLC has changed, but Pryda remains the owner of the property. The applicant received conditional use approval on 7/14/04 for D-1 Office Use. Mr. Maloney said the improvements are not extensive but they greatly improve the appearance of the property. The net increase in the impervious surface is about 1,000 SF.

The 12/22/04 Boucher and James letter was reviewed and the applicant agreed to comply with all applicable points. The following items were discussed:

The 12/23/05 Pennoni Associates letter was reviewed and the applicant agreed to comply with all applicable points. The following items were discussed:

There was agreement that there were no new issues raised in the 12/3/04 Bucks County Planning Commission letter.

Mr. Mendicino moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the preliminary plan as final subject to the following conditions:

In addition, the following waivers are recommended:

The motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza for discussion.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Piazza questioned whether the motion should reference the traffic and park and recreation fees. Mr. Sander suggested the reference because the issue was discussed and most members favored retaining the fees.

Mr. Mendicino’s motion passed unanimously.

SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS

CORRESPONDENCE

FINAL APPROVAL – BLACKSMITH 161 – NEWTOWN BUSINESS COMMONS LOTS 81 & 82: Members received a copy of the final approval letter for this project in their packets.

REVISED PRELIMINARY PLAN – MAJOR SUBDIVISION - GRAY TRACT – TMP# 47-8-16 (UPPER MAKEFIELD): Copies of a 2/23/05 review of this project by Pickering, Corts, and Summerson were distributed at the meeting.

OLD BUSINESS: None.

NEW BUSINESS

SUBDIVISION AND LAND DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE AMENDMENT – PROFESSIONAL FEES: Mr. Sander explained that this amendment implements new requirements in the MPC regarding charging professional consultant fees to applicants. When the amendment was discussed by the Board on 2/23/05 a concern was raised about the applicant having only 45 days in which to dispute a charge (30 days for inspection fees), and the Commission was asked to consider this concern in their recommendation.

Mr. Sander explained the process by which these payments are handled. Mr. Sensibaugh said he does not favor extending the deadline because this would delay the release of escrow funds. There was general agreement that 45 days is sufficient.

Mr. Piazza moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve this amendment in its present form. The motion was seconded by Mr. Lombardi and passed unanimously.

JMZO 2004-17 – MID-RISE APARTMENTS: Mr. Sander explained that this ordinance would eliminate Use B-11 Mid-Rise Apartment from the JMZO. Newtown Township currently has one or two mid-rise apartment buildings which would then become nonconforming.

Mr. Lombardi said there does not seem to be a demand for this type of housing in the Township. Mr. Bowe said that might change in the future, so he was in favor of eliminating this use now.

Mr. Bowe moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors forward this ordinance to the Jointure with a recommendation to advertise it for adoption. The motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza and passed unanimously.

GENERAL DISCUSSION: None.

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 10:30 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

____________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary