Newtown Township

Planning Commission 

January 17, 2006


MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING – 01/17/06: Chairman Ward noted that there was one change to the Minutes of the meeting held on January 17, 2006, as follows: Those parties listed as attending the January 17th meeting is revised to delete Steve Harris as Solicitor and replace him with Paul Beckert. With this correction, the minutes were approved and accepted by all parties attending this meeting, as listed above.


The Newtown Township Planning Commission met on Tuesday, January 17, 2006, in the lower level Township meeting room. In attendance were: Chairman Shawn Ward, Vice Chairman Vince Lombardi, and members Jay Sensibaugh, Allen Fidler, Jim Bowe, Frank Mendicino, Beth Sanderlin-Weachter and Mike Piazza. Mr. Wilson arrived at the meeting at 9:45 pm. Also present were Solicitor Steve Harris, Engineer Chris Walker, Planner Judy Goldstein and Public Works Director, Tom Harwood.

1. CALL TO ORDER: Mr. Ward called the meeting to order and introduced the Planning Commission members and support staff to the public that was present.

2. REORGANIZATION:

Mr. Lombardi took the gavel for the nomination of chairman.

Ms. Sanderlin-Weachter moved the nomination of Shawn Ward for Chairman; Mr. Bowe seconded the nomination. As there were no further nominations, the nominations were closed. The motion was approved 7-1, with Mr. Sensibaugh voting nay. Mr. Wilson was not present for the vote.

Mr. Sensibaugh moved the nomination of Vince Lombardi for Vice Chairman; Ms. Sanderlin-Weachter seconded the motion. As there were no further nominations, the nominations were closed. The motion was approved 8-0; Mr. Wilson was not present for the vote.

Mr. Sensibaugh moved the nomination of Allen Fidler for Secretary; Mr. Piazza seconded the motion. As there were no further nominations, the nominations were closed. The motion was approved 8-0; Mr. Wilson was not present for the vote.

The following liaisons for 2006 were appointed by the Chairman:

Board of Supervisors: Shawn Ward

Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission: Shawn Ward, Vince Lombardi

Joint Zoning Council: Shawn Ward, Allen Fidler

Sycamore Street: Shawn Ward, Mike Piazza, Jim Bowe

Historic Architectural Review Board: Vince Lombardi

Park & Recreation Board: Shannon Wilson, Frank Mendicino

3. MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING:

The minutes of the previous meeting on 12/20/05 were presented and reviewed. There were no changes. Mr. Fidler made a motion to approve the minutes as presented. Mr. Bowe seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0 with Mr. Piazza, Mr. Ward, and Ms. Sanderlin-Weachter abstaining. Mr. Wilson was not present for the vote.

4. TRAFFIC ENGINEER’S REPORT: None.

5. REVIEWS:

a. Woll Tract – Concept Plan

Recreation Board Chairman Andy Levine presented a revised draft master plan for the Woll Tract, and reviewed the revisions. He said they had shifted the parking areas and relocated the fields so they were closer together and more towards the elementary school and winery. Mr. Levine said they had explored different parking options to minimize vehicle headlight glare and noted that the access from Wrights Road was still theoretical. He clarified that the distance between the lights and the Leck property was 332’, and to the Fleming property was 472’. Mr. Levine said the lights shine away from the properties and said that they would achieve the predetermined light intensity at the border of the Leck property. It was clarified that Musco total lighting would be used, which has negligible light spillover. Mr. Levine clarified that 396 parking spaces were planned, which exceeds the ordinance requirements, and that they planned for parking along the access road from Wrights Road. It was clarified that the two fields farthest from Rte. 413 would probably have the heaviest use, during daylight hours, and that the only lighted fields were the four closest to Rte. 413. Mr. Levine said the looped road areas could serve as drop off points. Mr. Levine said that the adjacent neighborhoods and elementary schools had strong feelings about the proximity of the fields.

Mr. Sensibaugh suggested a double row of parking on the left side of the park; Mr. Mendicino suggested that parking along the left side only of the park was most practical. Mr. Stone noted that park access needed to be determined before reconfiguring parking and traffic patterns. Mr. Mendicino noted that there might be a change in the lighting if/when parking was redistributed. Mr. Levine said they would investigate the redistribution of parking during the engineering phase, and said they would be working with the township’s lighting consultant.

Mr. Levine said he had sent copies of the plans to Walter Leck and Dave Fleming and would speak to them before going to the Board of Supervisors. He said the committee would work with the homeowners’ associations of the surrounding neighborhoods regarding buffering. Mr. Lombardi suggested passing along a resident “wish list” to the Supervisors. Mr. Ward complimented the Board’s attention to the concerns of the neighbors. Mr. Bowe said his greatest concern over parking was for safety rather than the distance people would have to walk to get to the playing fields. It was clarified that pathways were planned in the park.

Township resident Dave Fleming said he was in favor of the project and said he would welcome the Wrights Road access road and would like his property to be tied into township water and sewers.

Mr. Mendicino said that it would be a mistake if traffic issues were not addressed now; this would also provide a chance to pursue funding for possible needed intersection and/or roadway improvements. Mr. Levine noted that they were pursuing grant funding for a traffic impact study, and that it couldn’t practically be completed until park access was determined and the concept plan was approved by the Board. Mr. Levine noted that further engineering would yield more detailed stormwater management, traffic engineering and signalization details.

It was the consensus of the commission that parking, traffic issues and lighting details could not be finalized until the issue of park access was decided, and that the concept plan should proceed to the Board of Supervisors. There was a discussion of process, with several motions made and withdrawn regarding a vote for the concept plan; Mr. Mendicino felt a vote for a concept plan did not follow usual procedure. As the Commission was equally divided on this point, it was decided that Mr. Ward would report to the Board of Supervisors that the Commission supported the concept plan for the Woll Tract; Mr. Ward will craft the language for his report.

b. Final Plan for Land Development – Cameron C. Troilo, Inc.
    Homewood Suites – 104 Pheasant Run

The application is for Final Land Development for the proposed D-1 Use, Office; E-4 Use, Financial Establishment; E-5 Use, Eating Place; and E-2 Use, Executive Inn/Conference Center. The plan proposes to renovate an existing vacant industrial building to include a 67,398 square foot office space, a 3,300 square foot bank, and a 2,197 square foot café. Additionally, the plan proposes to construct a 100,000 square foot executive inn on the site. The site has frontage along Pheasant Run Road within the LI-Light Industrial Zoning District. Additional improvements include the expansion of existing parking areas, a courtyard/pool, as well as stormwater management facilities.

Attorney Don Marshall and Engineer Steven Burger of JG Park & Associates were present for the applicant. It was clarified that the project also involves B-1, Office Use. Mr. Marshall reviewed the Boucher & James letter dated December 14, 2005, noting points of compliance. Mr. Beckert said the required traffic study noted on Page 5 of the Boucher & James letter should be reviewed before final approval; Mr. Marshall said a future meeting should cover review of the traffic study and final approval.

In his letter dated November 21, 2005, the Fire Marshal said that the plans should comply, with the exception of the location of fire hydrants; the applicant is applying for a variance on the issue of hydrants. It was noted that the proposed swimming pool would be indoors. Ms. Goldstein suggested that plans for fencing around the pool should be noted on the plans.

Pennoni Engineer Chris Walker noted in the Pennoni Associates letter dated January 12, 2006, item #20, that the 4:1 slope in the stormwater basin was required for maintenance of the required volume of the basin, due to the location of utilities. He said he supported the waiver for the basin proximity to the property line, item 22(a). Mr. Walker said that waivers may be required for items #26 and #27, but that there have been plan revisions that may prove that no waivers are required. Mr. Marshall said that they would comply with everything in the Pennoni letter. Mr. Burger noted that the lighting should shine down, without glare. It was noted that the Bucks County Conservation District, in their letter of September 22, 2005, noted that the plan for erosion sediment control was adequate for the site. It was noted that the Bucks County Planning Commission, in their letter of December 15, 2005, noted the importance of the traffic study as a requirement for preliminary plan approval.

Mr. Sensibaugh made a motion to table the application pending submission of the traffic studies and any necessary revisions. Mr. Piazza seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

c. Preliminary as Final Plan for Land Development – Newtown Rental Center
    861 Newtown Yardley Road

The applicant proposes to consolidate two parcels into one and then divide that into two lots, and proposes to vacate Old Newtown-Yardley Road, to relocate an existing historic farmhouse, and to construct an additional 7,500 square feet of commercial space adjacent to the existing commercial warehouse. The site will have access from Upper Silver Lake Road. Additional site improvements include parking expansion and the relocation of a driveway.

Owner/Applicant Shannon Wilson and Engineer Jeff Skinner were present. Mr. Skinner gave a brief overview of the project, noting that future parking was proposed and that they were proposing to expand the existing stormwater basin, which should reduce drainage onto Upper Silver Lake Road.

The Boucher & James letter dated January 12, 2006 was reviewed; waivers were noted. Mr. Walker clarified that there would be a fee in lieu of providing park and recreation land; no traffic study is required. It was clarified that a waiver was being requested for lighting along the streets. Mr. Fidler suggested that stormwater be addressed earlier in the project, even though they are not paving future parking now. Mr. Skinner said he had been concerned with extending a pipe under the parking area. Mr. Walker noted that the applicant could not meet the Section B, item 1(n) requirements for stormwater recharge and would be requesting a waiver. He said that the soil was limiting and created hardship, and that the recharge was at 90%; he suggested a partial waiver, noting that the applicant had made a best attempt to comply with the requirement.

The Pennoni letter dated January 10, 2006 noted that no waivers were being requested. It was clarified that issues of proposed uses allowed by zoning variance cited in the Comments in the Bucks County Planning Commission letter dated October 5, 2005 had been resolved. It was noted that the Emergency Services Department had reviewed and approved the minor subdivision plans dates August 15, 2005. Mr. Skinner said that plans were being revised and re-submitted to Suburban Lighting addressing the issues in the Suburban Lighting letter dated November 2, 2005. It was clarified that site lighting would be on all night for security purposes; Mr. Wilson clarified that front lighting would be down-lighting. Ms. Goldstein noted that there were no outstanding issues of substance.

Mr. Fidler clarified that the reduction of parking was predicated on the identified uses, and asked what mechanism the township could use to decide if future parking would be needed. Mr. Harwood said that changes in use and the required Certificate of Occupancy would address parking issues. Mr. Wilson clarified that he has approval for signs at Newtown Yardley Road.

Wiltshire Walk resident Jonathan Dix said he appreciated the Wilsons’ management of the Rental Center. He expressed concern over buffering and lighting, being mainly concerned with areas through which persons could wander from the Rental Center into the Wiltshire Walk neighborhood; he would like to see more “corralling” to keep kids out. Wiltshire Walk resident Ashish Honawor asked if the fence could be extended on the left property line down to the front corner of the property. Mr. Wilson offered to extend the fence to the property line in the rear, and along the left side of the property to the front corner of the property. It was clarified that the parking lot lights would be 20’ high; Mr. Dix noted that the Brandywine lights were shorter. Mr. Wilson said he would like to keep the taller parking lot lights and said he would plant taller trees if needed to shield the lights; it was clarified that there would be no hot spots with the lights. Mr. Harwood noted that there are standards for existing lighting in the zoning code.

Mr. Fidler made a motion to recommend the approval of Newtown Rental Center preliminary as final plan for land development based on plans dated last revised January 5, 2006, subject to the following conditions:

Mr. Bowe seconded the motion, which was approved 8-0, with abstention by Mr. Wilson.

JMZO Amendment – Agricultural Use Amendment No. 2004-12
JMZO Amendment – Nursery & Greenhouse Amendment No. 2006-07

Mr. Fidler reported that he has been attending the Jointure meetings. He said the decision had been made to break out several agricultural uses, that Mr. Pogonowski felt that residential accessory agricultural uses had not been addressed. Mr. Fidler said that the proposed ordinance would grant protection to uses such as growing and selling apples at a residence; garden centers were removed from accessory uses. Mr. Fidler said the Jointure was looking for input. He said his agriculture related concerns had been mostly addressed, that this amendment might not support future uses but addressed small pursuits. Mr. Ward noted that agricultural entertainment issues were also addressed, such as carnivals, parking, seasonal events, etc. Mr. Sensibaugh asked how the Sterling property might be affected; Mr. Fidler said there seemed to be no issues, noting that Mr. Sterling could use up to 3000 square feet for agricultural sales based on his acreage.

Mr. Piazza made a motion to approve draft JMZO Amendment 2004-12 regarding agricultural use, and draft JMZO Amendment 2006-07 regarding Nursery and Greenhouse uses. Mr. Bowe seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved.

6. Zoning Hearing Board Applications

Cecelia & Michael Fingerman, 4 Delaney Drive, Linton Hill Chase

Variance request #715-06

The applicant is seeking relief to permit the construction of an approximately 1132 square foot patio, in the rear of an existing village house which would exceed the minimum rear yard setback, and impervious surface requirements of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 as amended, and the Linton Hill Chase Final Plan. The property is located in the CM, Conservation Management District. The Linton Hill Chase development was constructed under B-14, performance subdivision use regulations and B-2 village house dimensional regulations.

It was noted that the property is currently at the maximum 40% impervious surface. The Planning Commission members felt that the request for additional impervious surface was excessive.

7. SUBCOMMITTEE & LIAISON REPORTS:

a. Board of Supervisors – No report was given.

b. Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission – No report was given.

c. Joint Zoning Council – Mr. Fidler said he felt the Solicitor’s Report of outstanding/proposed JMZO amendments would be quite helpful in keeping the Planning Commission up to date on amendments. Mr. Sensibaugh asked about proposed amendments 2006-01 (Group Homes) and 2006-02 (Accessory Contractors); they will be on the agenda for the next meeting. Ms. Goldstein suggesting contacting the Jointure’s solicitor for the latest drafts of the amendments.

d. Sycamore Street – No report was given.

e. Historic Architectural Review Board – No report was given.

f. Park and Recreation Board

g. Environmental Advisory Council – No report was given.

h. Plan Expirations - Mr. Harwood noted there was nothing of concern.

8. CORRESPONDENCE: No correspondence was discussed.

9. OLD BUSINESS: No old business was discussed.

10. NEW BUSINESS:

Mr. Sensibaugh noted that the comprehensive plan would be on the Regional Planning Commission’s agenda at their next meeting on Thursday night and that review of the plan would require extensive review and input. Mr. Sensibaugh noted that the Environmental Advisory Council would be meeting next Monday evening, and that they are conducting an EcoStar Awards program to recognize businesses addressing environmental concerns; applications will be provided.

11. GENERAL DISCUSSION: There was no discussion.

12. ADJOURNMENT: Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

___________________________________
Leslie Dunleavy, Acting Recording Secretary