Newtown Township

Planning Commission 

June 20, 2006

Minutes of Previous Meeting 06/20/2006 – Unanimously approved by all members.

Present: Chairman Shawn Ward, Vice Chairman Vince Lombardi and members, Jay Sensibaugh, Allen Fidler, Shannon Wilson, Jim Bowe, Frank Mendicino and Mike Piazza. Also present were Solicitor Paul Beckert, Engineer Edward Koehler and Public Works Director of Planning and Zoning Mike Solomon. Beth Sanderlin-Weachter and Township Planner Judy Stern Goldstein were delayed, arriving at approximately 9:00 p.m.

1. Call To Order – Chairman Ward called the meeting to order at 8:10 p.m. He rearranged the agenda to allow for the arrival of Judy Stern Goldstein.

2. Minutes of Previous Meeting – Allen Fidler motioned to accept the minutes as submitted; Jay Sensibaugh seconded the motion. Members approved with Frank Mendicino and Mike Piazza abstaining.

3. Ordinance Reviews

d. JMZO 2206-15, B-17 Elderly Housing Use. Paul Beckert advised that this item would be removed from the agenda since the Board of Supervisors had voted to approve a settlement in the zoning appeal incorporating this use site specific to the Brandywine Tract. Jay Sensibaugh recommended that the commission also look at the OR-1 and OR-2 parcels on the south side of the Bypass to restrict ordinances similar to this one.

a. JMZO 2006-06, New Agricultural Use – Winery Accessory to a Vineyard. Chairman Ward noted that no action would be taken on the ordinance before the Planning Commission since another revision had been made to it. Dave Fleming of Rosebank Winery advised members that in his understanding, the law stated that a winery is not an accessory to a vineyard, but actually a stand-alone agricultural use; Chairman Ward asked Paul Beckert for documentation evidencing that fact. Frank Mendicino commented on the fact that, in his opinion, Mr. Fleming’s operation was a vital asset to the community; Chairman Ward and Mike Piazza concurred. Members agreed to table this item for future discussion.

b. JMZO 2006-09, Revising Impervious Surface Limitations and Dimensional Criteria in the VR-1 and VC-1 Zoning Districts. Vice Chairman Lombardi noted that everyone in the Jointure has approved this except Newtown. Members requested that Paul Beckert, Solicitor, obtain a determination as to the application of the Wrightstown footnote in the ordinance, before any decision was made. The footnote refers to Wrightstown keeping 50% cover, irrespective of the rest of the district and refers to all other uses. “All other uses” creates a problem that needs to be resolved before the Planning Commission votes on this ordinance. Members agreed to table this item for future discussion.

c. JMZO 2006-13, New Use – B-19, Transitional Residential Development. Vice Chairman Lombardi motioned to recommend approval of the final revision (provided by Ed Murphy, Esq. later in the meeting) to the Board of Supervisors; Shannon Wilson seconded the motion. Members voted to approve the motion with Allen Fidler and Mike Piazza abstaining from the vote.

4. Correspondence. Chairman Ward read a letter from Tom Harwood thanking everyone, in respect of his retirement, for their expression of gratitude for his services.

5. Zoning Hearing Board

a. Promenade at Sycamore Street, North Sycamore Street and b. Delancey Court (McGrath Homes), Durham Road. Chairman Ward decided to review these later in the meeting when Judith Stern Goldstein arrived.

c. Chetan and Reshma Patel, 140 Wrights Road. Paul Beckert advised that the builder of this property and the property owned by Steven DiMeglio, had built homes beyond the area of soil disturbance and the owners have wrongfully mowed the conservation switch grass. Chairman Ward noted that Tom Harwood had issued the violation, but now it appears the Zoning Board does not have jurisdiction. Jim Bowe motioned to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they support of the enforcement of the township ordinance; Vice Chairman Lombardi seconded. Members unanimously voted to approve and Paul Beckert added that this should also apply to the DiMeglio case.

e. Alan Brader, 8 Ainsley Court and f. Mark Scher, 17 Delaney Drive. Chairman Ward noted that these are both setback issues and Allen Fidler felt that the Zoning Board should be left to do their job on these, adding that stormwater management should also be looked into. Members unanimously agreed to refer these to the Board of Supervisors without comment.

d. Tai Nguyen, 2 Devon Road. The applicant is seeking relief to construct a pond/waterfall in the rear of his property with setback issues; ponds are not subject to the same restrictions as swimming pools. Members agreed to refer this to the Board of Supervisors without comment.

g. Daniel Doorley, 1070 Lindenhurst Road. The application was presented to the board as existing non-conformity with setback issues. Members agreed to refer this to the Board of Supervisors without comment.

6. Promenade at Sycamore Street, North Sycamore Street

This is a continuation of the Conditional Use Application from the June 6, 2006 meeting, as well as, the Zoning Hearing Board items reference in 5.a. above.

David Sander, Esq. advised that the rendering of the property had been put onto a plan, resulting in various variances being needed. The changes to the plans that will result from the Conditional Use discussions will not change the variance requests. Regarding the parking, 455 spaces are required for the uses and the applicant is providing 275. A variance is required; however, Mr. Sander advised that as a part of the Conditional Use discussion they would provide information that would show how their proposal was sufficient.

With some members absent from the June 6, 2006 meeting, Chairman Ward recapped the issues to be discussed: Delivery Access, Parking and Traffic. Allen Fidler asked if there was an agreement between the ambulance squad and the Elliot Group regarding access through their property and Mr. Sander responded there was not. Mr. Fidler advised EMS had told him that they had no desire to allow access through their property. Mr. Sander added that discussion regarding emergency access would occur during the next meeting with a representative of the ambulance squad present; discussion regarding normal vehicular traffic out of the parking lot onto S. Eagle Road would be discussed this evening. Mr. Fidler inquired about providing access though the open land in the rear of the Presbyterian Church.

David Sander, Esq. introduced the consultants he had brought with him to discuss the issues tonight: Scott Mill, Project Manager/Landscape Engineer of Van Cleef Engineering Associates, Jeff L’Amoreaux, Director of Traffic and Transportation also with Van Cleef, Jill Palazzo, Architect with MKSD and Kimberly LaBrake, MKSD Architect/Partner. Vice Chairman Lombardi remarked that there were many concerns that this project would contribute to parking problems, not ease the situation up.

Regarding truck delivery, Mr. Sander recapped the issue with moving trucks into the parking area and turn-around access; no loading/unloading on Sycamore Street. Scott Mill provided handouts showing the movement of a 30’ truck and a 29’ garbage truck. Architecturally, Kimberly LaBrake advised that in lieu of a 2-elevator bank, a single elevator had been moved to the rear of the stair tower to facilitate truck movement. Frank Mendicino was concerned over the fact that the parking, elevator and stairs were accessible 24 hours a day. Allen Fidler expressed his concern over the amount of space afforded to loading/unloading when 2 trucks were parked in the rear, as well as, the impact to traffic. Vice Chairman Lombardi suggested off-hour deliveries; however, Mr. Sander felt it would be better to address that when each individual user came before the Planning Commission with their Conditional Use application – a blanket restriction would be difficult. Ms. LaBrake advised that there would be a rear corridor for employee use only and a central open air corridor through the buildings to separate pedestrian traffic from vehicular traffic. Frank Mendicino reiterated his concerns with safety issues, security issues and the 24-hour access to the property. Mike Piazza added a concern about lighting; Ms. LaBrake noted that the lighting was designed not to disturb the surrounding area. Mr. Sander noted that the expense in maintaining the common areas would be shared by all the tenants and the parking would be free. When Mike Piazza questioned the one central trash collection area proposed, Ms. LaBrake advised that all users, restaurant, retail, office and residential would share in that area. When Shannon Wilson raised the issue of multiple deliveries at the same time, Mr. Sander advised that it was a matter of trucker cooperation. Frank Mendicino commented that the configuration of this property would not work; there appeared to be major problems in the rear and concerning deliveries. Mr. Sander added that appropriate signage would be included. Jay Sensibaugh raised the question of access by tow trucks, etc. in the event of an accident and Mr. Sander advised that emergency services would be there to control the situation.

Paul Beckert noted that there was a general consensus of the Board of Supervisors that, as a part of the redevelopment agreement, they had agreed to the square footage of the building, the number of parking spaces, access via Sycamore Street, uses and variances involved in this issue. Any recommendations made by the Planning Commission would be taken into consideration. Frank Mendicino was concerned with going any further with the discussions if nothing was going to come from them and Chairman Ward countered advising that it was the position of the Planning Commission to make recommendations, regardless of the outcome; some changes have already been made. Mr. Beckert added that the Board of Supervisors felt they had agreed to the sketch plan and the details were yet to be worked out. When Allen Fidler asked about land development, SALVO requirements, setbacks and waivers, Mr. Beckert thought the Board of Supervisors had not gotten that far. Further, Mr. Beckert advised he would obtain a copy of the agreement for all the members.

Regarding the parking issue, David Sander noted that the 295 proposed parking spaces would be adequate based on the mixed-use proposal; use fluctuates during the day, based on the various uses. Jeff L’Amoreaux handed everyone an analysis complied through his use of “Parking Generation”, a reference book published for Transportation Engineers. The book provides an average peak-parking scenario, based on various cities. His handout provided analysis for 8 different parking scenarios, including Holiday traffic and designated parking for residential use. Shannon Wilson noted that residential parking had to be taken out of the mixed-use allotment. Phil Wursta, Traffic Engineer, Pennoni Associates noted that the project was more like a city development; however, Shannon Wilson and Jay Sensibaugh were in agreement that they preferred Newton not to resemble Philadelphia. Mr. Sensibaugh suggested reducing the area of the retail occupancies, which might provide enough space for an additional access/egress. Phil Wursta was asked for his opinion and he advised that 34 residential spaces were required and with shared parking, the number of spaces for the office could be reduced from 120 to 60, 30-retail spaces might be acceptable and the restaurant needed 150. This brings the number of spaces needed to 274.

Allen Fidler noted his concern over changes that might occur down the road and felt that it might be best to structure a “usage” agreement with the applicant. This way, retail would remain retail, office would remain office and type of restaurant would not change, so as not to affect the parking. Chairman Ward advised that it could be made a condition of the Conditional Use approval.

Phil Wursta advised that the amount of traffic coming out of the proposed driveway should not be an issue; however, he recommended to Jeff L’Amoreaux that a traffic study be done.

Regarding rear access to the property, David Sander, Esq. and Scott Mill showed the board a diagram by Van Cleef proposing a driveway extension as an EMS staging area; no access by the public. The diagram also showed the problem with the required grade to access the property from the rear. Edward Koehler asked Mr. Mill what the elevation of the parking on the south side was and Mr. Mill responded that he thought a cell tower was in the way; however, he would look into this alternative.

Chairman Ward and David Sander agreed to look at the remaining issues, including traffic and EMS at the next Planning Commission meeting on July 18, 2006. Mr. Sander noted that stormwater management was not a part of the Conditional Use application; however, they would be willing to discuss it with the preliminary plans in hand at that meeting. Chairman Ward asked for the ability to look at the next meeting agenda, and if necessary, a special meeting would be arranged.

McGrath Homes Redevelopment of the Goodnoe Restaurant Site

Architect Peter Stampfl of Stampfl Hartke Associates, LLC, along with Architect Daniel Chieco of Pickering, Corts and Summerson, Inc. and John McGrath of McGrath Homes, presented a rendering of the project and described the proposed redevelopment of the property:

Allen Fidler noted that parking was a premium and questioned Mr. Chieco as to the proposal when the township ordinance called for 5.5 spaces per 1000 SF of retail area. Mr. Stampfl noted that a pharmacy required less parking that other retail operations. Mr. Chieco added that the proposed spaces were 10’ by 20’, larger than the norm. Designated parking for employees and residents might be considered. Mr. Fidler reiterated his concerns over parking and what the future held, no different from the issues with the Promenade at Sycamore Street.

Peter Stampfl advised the total square footage was 27,340 SF of retail and apartments, including:

Shannon Wilson asked if a maximum square footage restriction of the restaurant would be agreeable and John McGrath advised they would take that under consideration. Edward Koehler suggested reducing the size of the proposed pharmacy building to allow for additional parking spaces. Judith Stern Goldstein commented on the need for spacious sidewalks along Sycamore Street. Jay Sensibaugh asked about the elimination of Ice Cream Alley, but that will be used for delivery access.

Subcommittee Reports were waived due to the length of the meeting; however, Chairman Ward noted that he had reviewed the Plan Expirations and everything appeared to be in order.

9. Adjournment. Chairman Ward adjourned the meeting at 11:00 p.m.


Respectively submitted by:


Susan M. Dalman – Recording Secretary