Newtown Township

Planning Commission 

March 7, 2006

 Minutes of Previous Meeting – Jay Sensibaugh motioned to accept the minutes of the March 7, 2006 meeting as written; Jim Bowe seconded the motion. Vince Lombardi and Allen Fidler abstained.

Present: Chairman Shawn Ward and members, Jay Sensibaugh, Shannon Wilson, Jim Bowe, Frank Mendicino, Beth Sanderlin and Mike Piazza. Also present were Solicitor Paul Beckert, Traffic Engineer Matt Johnson, Township Planner Judy Stern Goldstein and Public Works Director Tom Harwood. Vince Lombardi and Alan Fidler were excused.


Chairman Ward called the meeting to order at 8:00 p.m.


The following changes were made to the minutes of the February 21, 2006 meetings:

  1. Item 3.b. is amended as follows:

    i.    First paragraph last sentence is amended to read “Paul Beckert framed a motion to recommend approval to the Board of   
          Supervisors, Shannon Wilson made said motion and Mike Piazza seconded it”; and

ii.    Second paragraph, last sentence is amended to replace Shannon Wilson with Paul Beckert who questioned Mr. 
       Tomlinson on the availability of veteran parking.

   2.    Fifth paragraph, first sentence, item 6.a. is amended to read, “Paul Beckert framed a motion to recommend approval to the 
          Board of Supervisors…”

Jay Sensibaugh motioned to approve the minutes with the changes shown above. Mike Piazza seconded the motion that was unanimously approved, with the exception of Beth Sanderlin and Jim Bowe, who abstained.


Matt Johnson provided everyone with the current Township Engineer’s Report and made note of the following items:

  1. 1. Closed Loop Traffic Signal System (Rt. 413 and Durham Road to I-95) – The PENNDOT design will be completed by June 2006 and implementation will take place within 1 month
  2. 3. PENNDOT Liaison – The draft TIP is to be issued in May/June 2006
  3. 5. Newtown Bypass (413) Buck Road/Richboro Road Improvement Project – Regarding the right turn signals off the Newtown Bypass, Richboro Road and Sycamore Street have been installed; Buck Road still to be completed
  4. 10. Newtown-Yardley Road – PENNDOT Safety Review was done and Pennoni is revising/resubmitting this
  5. 11. Miscellaneous Items – Jake Brake Restrictions – 80,000 lb. trucks are required to have the ability to stop without brakes; the Jake brake effectively transforms the internal combustion engine into an air compressor, slowing the vehicle without the use of the brakes. This creates of substantial amount of noise. Frank Mendicino noted that in order for the township to prohibit the use of a Jake brake, PENNDOT must approve the ban. Further, he raised the question of prohibiting the Jake brake on specific roads, but added that doing so on roads i.e., Stoopville would only divert trucks to other roads that did not have the ban. Paul Beckert mentioned that the safety issue might override the noise issue and Jim Bowe suggested a time ban, i.e. not allowing the use of a Jake brake between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.


a.    JMZO 2006-06 – Winery Accessory

This ordinance requests that the Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance be amended to include a new Agricultural use called “Winery Accessory to a Vineyard” and to adopt provisions governing such use. Dave Fleming of Rosebank Winery was in attendance. Judith Stern Goldstein, in describing this ordinance, mentioned that Wrightstown had already approved it. Jay Sensibaugh noted that with a special event on the property, there would be a noise factor; however, that appeared to be covered by item 4.f. regarding the township’s noise ordinance. He further noted that item 6. regarding the proximity of buildings to the property line should be amended to 100 ft. (vs. 75 ft.) and Mr. Fleming agreed.

Chairman Ward asked how many vineyards were in the jointure and Mr. Fleming advised there were 3 – 1 in Upper Makefield and 2 in Newtown Township. Mr. Fleming added that there were a lot of open items with the Department of Agriculture regarding the status of vineyards and wineries; whether they were considered crops under the Department’s jurisdiction and regulations, or not. Further, the Department’s ruling as to the right to farm requires 10 acres of land. Judith Stern Goldstein advised that the real issue in this ordinance is to separate accessory use from retail use, i.e. a winery without crops.

Jim Bowe motioned that the issue be tabled until Mr. Fleming received a determination from the Department of Agriculture on the status of vineyards/wineries. Beth Sanderlin seconded the motion and it was unanimously approved.

b.    JMZO 2006-12 – Deleting Babysitting from Ordinance

This ordinance requests the deletion of the Babysitting provision from the Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance because it is unenforceable. Paul Beckert mentioned that someone had come to the board last year complaining about childcare facilities in a residential neighborhood. Judith Stern Goldstein noted that a previous solicitor’s report showed that it had been approved, Judith Stern Goldstein added that the ordinance refers only to “babysitting” and that restrictions on family daycare facilities remained.

Jay Sensibaugh motioned that the Planning Commission recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors and Shannon Wilson seconded the motion. This was unanimously approved.


a.    Board of Supervisors

b.    Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission – Chairman Ward noted that some ordinances had been approved 
       but provided no detail.

c.    Joint Zoning Council – No report; meeting was cancelled due to the inclement weather.

d.    Sycamore Street – Chairman Ward, in Mr. Lombardi’s absence, noted that there were still a few areas that needed 
       to be cleaned up. Also the Committee was looking into the flag storage issue. A recommendation has been made to the 
       Board of Supervisors regarding a right of way and Shannon Wilson added that Pennoni was to reinvestigate that issue.

e.    Historic Architectural Review Board – No report

f.     Park and Regional Board – No report

g.     Environmental Advisory Council – No report

h.     Plan Expirations – Tom Harwood’s March 3, 2006 report was provided to everyone. Chairman Ward asked Paul Beckert 
        if everything was okay and Mr. Beckert advised it was.


a. American Legion Minor Subdivision, 41 Linden Avenue

Tom Harwood’s memo to the Planning Commission discusses the American Legion parking lot division, noting that a field survey shows 44 parking spaces surrounding the American Legion Post and 11 separate spaces across Linden Avenue. Standards for the American Legion Post, designated as a Private Club, call for 82 available parking spaces. Mr. Harwood advises that the applicant has been notified of this condition.

Jay Sensibaugh questioned how the required number of parking spaces was determined and Mr. Harwood advised that it was calculated on the square footage of the existing building. Paul Beckert advised that he spoke with Ed Murphy regarding this. Mr. Murphy suggested addressing this issue in the event of change in occupancy, noting on the plan that the owner at the time will add parking spaces as required. Mr. Beckert felt this was not a problem at the present time.

b. Fidler Tract – Preliminary Subdivision

Christopher J. Fazio of Remington, Vernick and Beach Engineers provided Tom Harwood with submission information on Toll Brothers, Inc.’s proposal to construct 102 condominium units on the Fidler Tract consisting of 28.4 acres. Included was a list of waivers, subdivision ordinances, stormwater management and general comments. Matt Johnson mentioned that there was a meeting scheduled with Toll Brothers on March 8, 2006 introducing new plans for traffic management. Judith Stern Goldstein noted that there were a lot of zoning issues on this proposal.

The Planning Commission makes no comments at this time.

c. JMZO Amendments 2006-04, 2006-05, 2006-06 and 2006-07

Susan E. Piette, Esq. of Terry W. Clemons and Associates, Solicitor for Wrightstown Township copied Newtown Township in a letter dated February 9, 2006, advising that the Wrightstown Board of Supervisors found the following amendments acceptable in their current draft form:

She further noted that after “positive discussion … between the residents and the Board” several recommended modifications would be made to JMZO 2006-04 – Livestock and Poultry.

d. Zoning uses vs. income classes

In a memo to the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission, Susan E. Piette, Solicitor for Wrightstown Township cited the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Section 604(4)(Pa.Stat.Ann.tit53 Section 10604(4) regarding this issue. She advised “Pennsylvania municipalities are not mandated to provide dwellings for all income classes of people or to use zoning as a socio-economic tool to create housing for various classes of people”.


a. PC-2006-01 – Policy/Procedure for Plan Review

Chairman Ward noted that he had included the reference to electronic submission of plans/proposals as suggested by Jim Bowe in the February 21, 2006 meeting into the revised proposal that he had provided for everyone’s review.

The following changes are made to the revised proposal:

Shannon Wilson motioned to adopt this policy/procedure with the noted changes. Jay Sensibaugh seconded the motioned and it was unanimously approved.

b. Upper Makefield Resolution on Zoning Districts

All members agreed that there was nothing to review at this time.


Conditional Use Approval – 104 Pheasant Run

A letter from Don F. Marshall, Stuckert and Yates was presented to the Planning Board, requesting a change in the conditional use at 104 Pheasant Run. The property owner secured a tenant to occupy the café; however, it was requested that the square footage be increased from 2,197 sq. ft. to 3,000 sq. ft., the number of seats be increased from 50 to 54 and the hours of operation be modified from 6 a.m./6 p.m. (Monday thru Saturday) to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (7 days a week). Frank Mendicino motioned to ask the applicant to file a new application and revisit the review process. Jim Bowe seconded the motioned and it was approved unanimously.


All members approved adjournment of the meeting at 09:10 p.m.


Submitted by: _______________________________
                       Susan M. Dalman, Recording Secretary