June 7, 2005
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (6/7/2005): Mr. Piazza moved to approve the minutes of 6/7/05; the motion was seconded by Mr. Fidler and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, June 7, 2005, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairman Shawn Ward; members Jay Sensibaugh, Mike Piazza, Vince Lombardi, Beth Sanderlin, Shannon Wilson, Allen Fidler, Jim Bowe, and Frank Mendicino. Also in attendance were: Solicitor Dave Sander, Engineers Chris Walker and Matt Johnston, Planner Judy Goldstein, and Public Works Director Tom Harwood.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Shawn Ward called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM.
MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING (5/3/05): Mr. Fidler moved to approve the minutes of 5/3/05; the motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza and passed unanimously, with Mr. Bowe abstaining.
Note: The scheduled 5/17/05 Commission meeting was canceled because of Primary Election Day.
TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT: Mr. Johnston distributed his June 2005 report on traffic-related engineering projects in the Township and highlighted the following items:
Newtown Bypass/Buck Road/Richboro Road Improvement Project: The 30 day test period for the signal has been extended. PennDOT policy requires consideration of a no turn on red restriction at any intersection where there are dual left turn lanes. Members suggested that the no turn on red signal be lit only when traffic is moving in the left turn lanes, allowing right turns on red at other times. Mr. Johnson said he will continue to work on this.
Bypass/Durham Road and Tyler State Park Entrance: The Township has made some changes to the timing of traffic signals.
Swamp Road and South Eagle Road: The Township has issued a Request for Proposals for a traffic study. Several members said conditions seem to be worse since the completion of the Sycamore Street project work in the area. Mr. Johnston said he will look into options for this intersection.
Newtown-Yardley Road: A field meeting with PennDOT was held on 5/11/05 and went well.
TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP – 552 RESTAURANT – 552 WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD: Attorney Don Marshall and Brian Haveson of Lavender Real Estate Holdings were present to discuss the transfer of the nonconforming Restaurant Use and sign from the Stonehouse Bistro to Lavender Real Estate Holdings. Mr. Marshall said the new owner will call the restaurant “552” and does not plan any change or expansion of the use.
Mr. Sander asked if the new owner agrees to the same conditions that were imposed at the last transfer of ownership as described in the 12/27/02 letter to Mr. Marshall from the Solicitor. Mr. Marshall said the new owner will comply with these conditions. Mr. Sander noted that no new conditions can be imposed with this transfer because there is no change or expansion of the use.
Mr. Sander said there were some discussions with the previous owner about sharing a parking area across the road from the restaurant with the Wiggins Park. Mr. Haveson said he is willing to discuss this with the Township.
Mr. Sander said the agreement between the Stonehouse Bistro and the Township regarding the use of a tent for outdoor events will expire this year. Mr. Marshall said the new owner does not intend to hold outdoor events and will meet with the neighbors to make sure they will not be negatively impacted by the business. He noted that new developments in the area will likely make it easier to bring public water to the restaurant.
Mr. Piazza moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the transfer of the Restaurant Use and a nonconforming sign for the 552 Restaurant from the Stonehouse Bistro to Lavender Real Estate Holdings with the following conditions:
- Compliance with the conditions cited in the Solicitor’s 12/27/02 letter to Don Marshall regarding the previous transfer of ownership
- Compliance with the agreement between the current owner and the Township regarding the use of a tent
The motion was seconded by Mr. Wilson and passed unanimously.
PRD VARIANCE – MESZAROS – 215 W. HANOVER STREET – TMP# 29-24-234: Attorney Don Marshall and applicant Victor Meszaros were present to discuss the applicant’s request for relief from rear and side yard requirements and impervious surface limits to allow construction of an addition on the rear of his house and to allow an existing shed to remain on his property in the R-1 District. Mr. Meszaros is requesting a rear yard setback ranging from 13.4’ at one corner to 13.9’ at the other corner where the minimum setback is 30’; 41% impervious where the maximum is 30%; and a side yard setback of 4’ where the minimum is 6’. Mr. Meszaros said the addition is necessary because of a medical condition from which he suffers.
Mr. Marshall explained that the applicant will remove a patio as part of this project, so the net increase in impervious surface will be 712 SF. He noted that there is open space on two sides of the property, which is in the Newtown Crossing development.
Mr. Marshall provided a letter signed by several neighbors stating that they do not object to Mr. Meszaros’ plans. He said a permit was never issued for the existing shed and the applicant has agreed to obtain one. The applicant also agrees that no further expansion of the house’s footprint will be sought.
Mr. Fidler moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the requested relief with the following conditions:
- The applicant will obtain a permit for the existing shed
- No further relief will be sought from requirements regarding rear and side yard setbacks and the impervious surface ratio for this property
The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE – SOCCER AND LACROSSE CENTER – 53 GERMAN AVENUE – TMP# 29-11-39: Attorney Don Marshall, applicant Susan Hillman, and property owner Randy Yardley were present to discuss their request to use 3,000 SF of an existing building in the CC District for E-1 Retail Use. Mr. Marshall stated that Ms. Hillman’s business currently operates in the Newtown Shopping Center.
Mr. Marshall said the business primarily involves equipping sports teams, with some individual customers. He stated there will be little traffic because most of the business involves fulfillment of group orders. A maximum of two employees will be on site, hours of operation will be 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday through Saturday, deliveries will be by UPS-type vans only, no noxious environmental effects will occur, and the eight parking spaces required by the 11/15/04 Zoning Hearing Board decision will be provided.
The 5/27/05 Boucher and James letter was discussed, and the applicant agreed to comply with all applicable points. The following items were discussed:
- Item 5 – Deliveries: Ms. Goldstein said she is concerned about delivery vehicles blocking German Avenue. Mr. Marshall said there is room for a van to pull off the road completely. He said there is no right-of-way on German Avenue, which is a private road.
- Item 7 – Parking: Mr. Marshall said the applicant is requesting a waiver of the requirement for paved parking. Mr. Harwood said the existing gravel surface is considered impervious surface and the ordinance requires that the parking area be paved. Mr. Walker said paving might lead to drainage problems. Ms. Goldstein said the handicapped parking space is not van-accessible according to ADA and L & I standards. Mr. Fidler asked if the Fire Marshal would approve a plan where the parking is so close to the building.
- Items 8 & 9 – Conditional Use Requirements and Site Improvements: Ms. Goldstein said the lack of a site plan and land development review means that there are many issues that cannot be determined concerning the use, pedestrian and vehicle circulation, improvements, adjacent uses, buffering, etc.
Mr. Sander said that the use of this property was originally represented as residential, which is why there was no land development review.
Michael Carr said he is an attorney representing Mr. Newhart, a neighboring property owner. Mr. Carr said his client objects to the conditional use applicationbecause in the CC District a business must be on a major road. Also, German Avenue is a private road and not regularly maintained by anyone.
Mr. Sander said the property owner is entitled to access to his property, and this would necessarily be along German Avenue. However, the Board of Supervisors needs to review the land development issues involved.
Mr. Carr said it appears the owner of the property is attempting an “end run” around the ordinance. He asked that the Commission review his objections in detail, and offered to submit them in writing. Mr. Lombardi suggested tabling the matter until the Commission has more information about Mr. Newhart’s concerns. Other members felt it was unnecessary to wait for the written documentation.
Mr. Lombardi moved to table this matter to the 6/21/05 meeting to allow Mr. Carr the opportunity to provide written information to the Commission about his client’s objections to the conditional use application. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sensibaugh.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Sander asked that Mr. Carr provide the information to him, Mr. Ward, and Mr. Marshall.
Mr. Lombardi’s motion passed 5-4, with Mr. Fidler, Mr. Piazza, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Mendicino voting “nay”.
REVISED FINAL PLAN – PENNS TERRACE OFFICE PARK – 54 PENNS TRAIL – TMP# 29-10-96: Attorney Don Marshall and engineer Curt Rittler were present to discuss their revision of a final plan for land development that was approved on 11/15/00. A 20,000 SF two-story office building and improvements are planned for this site in the LI District. The revision eliminates the underground parking and the detention basin in the original plan.
The 5/31/05 Boucher and James letter was discussed, and the applicant agreed to comply with all applicable points. The following items were discussed:
- Item A 5 – Parking: Mr. Marshall pointed out that the part of the parking area that is within 10’ of the property line is a turnaround area, not a parking space. Ms. Goldstein agreed that this item is therefore not applicable.
- Item A 6 – Buffering: Mr. Marshall said the applicant proposes to move the loading area to the west entrance of the building and will buffer the area. This also eliminates the need for the waivers of Sections 529.e.C, 529.4.B, and 529.4.E which were previously granted.
- Item B 7 – Park and Recreation Improvements: Mr. Marshall said a fee in lieu of improvements was previously approved but will need to be recalculated because of the revisions to the plan.
Mr. Lombardi said that the 5/15/05 Bucks County Planning Commission letter and the 5/31/05 Pennoni Associates letter noted that a detention basin has been eliminated and an underground stormwater management system proposed, along with several other changes to the original plan. He said he wants to see a preliminary plan submitted, with all the changes fully shown and described, instead of a revised final plan.
Mr. Johnston said the traffic circulation pattern was better in the original plan. The revised plan has two dead-end parking aisles, and the turnaround area for delivery vehicles appears to be inadequate.
Members also questioned where the smaller 8’X18’ parking spaces are located and whether the Fire Marshal would approve the revised layout.
Mr. Sander said that if the Commission were to recommend approval of the revised final plan the following conditions might be recommended:
- Granting of the waiver requests
- Payment of the fee in lieu of recreation improvements
- Move the loading area as proposed
- Resolve the traffic flow questions
- Comply with the review letters
Mr. Mendicino moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors require the applicant to submit a preliminary plan for land development for this project. The motion was seconded by Ms. Sanderlin and passed unanimously.
RE: FINAL PLAN – BLACKSMITH 161 – LOTS 81 & 82 – NEWTOWN BUSINESS COMMONS – TMP# 29-10-161: Attorney Don Marshall and engineer Curt Rittler were present to discuss their proposal for construction of a new 25,296 SF two-story office building on a property in the LI District.
The 5/6/05 Boucher and James letter was discussed and Mr. Marshall said the applicant will comply with all points.
The 5/10/05 Pennoni Associates letter was discussed and Mr. Marshall said the applicant will comply with all applicable points. The following item was discussed:
- Item III A 2 – Park and Recreation Fees: Mr. Marshall said he believes the fees should be calculated on the basis of the footprint of the building, which would result in a fee about half of what was stated. Mr. Walker said fees should be calculated on the basis of the square footage of the building. Mr. Ward said this question will be resolved by the Board of Supervisors regarding the recreation fees as well as the traffic fees.
Mr. Fidler moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant final approval to the project with the following conditions:
- Compliance with the 5/6/05 Boucher and James letter, the 5/10/05 Pennoni Associates letter, the 4/5/05 Bucks County Planning Commission letter, and the 4/14/05 Suburban Lighting letter
- The applicant will pay the traffic impact fees and park and recreation impact fees as determined by the Board of Supervisors.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Piazza and passed unanimously.
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: The Commission reviewed the following three applications scheduled for the 7/7/05 Zoning Hearing Board meeting and agreed to make no comments:
- Tisone – 16 Crocus Lane – Newtown Grant
- Santore – 15 Atkinson Lane – Rosefield
- Harm – 11 Delaney Drive – Linton Hill Chase
SUBCOMMITTEE AND LIAISON REPORTS: Tabled due to the late hour.
CORRESPONDENCE: Members received in their packets the agenda and minutes for the 6/1/05 Park and Recreation Board meeting and a 5/5/05 memo from Lisa Russo regarding two approved ordinances.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
RECORDING SECRETARY: Gretta Stone, outgoing Recording Secretary, was thanked by members for her seven years of service. Marian Stroup, incoming Recording Secretary, was introduced and welcomed.
GENERAL DISCUSSION: None.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 10:20 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary