Newtown Township

Planning Commission 

July 18, 2006

 Minutes of Meeting on 07/18/2006. Members unanimously approved, except for Jim Bowe who abstained from the vote.

Present: Chairman Shawn Ward, Vice Chairman Vince Lombardi and members, Jay Sensibaugh, Allen Fidler, Shannon Wilson, Frank Mendicino, and Mike Piazza. Also present were Jerry Schenkman, Solicitor Paul Beckert, Township Engineer Edward Koehler, Township Planner Judy Stern Goldstein, Traffic Engineer Matt Johnston and Public Works Director of Planning and Zoning Mike Solomon. Jim Bowe and Beth Sanderlin were excused.

1. Call To Order – Chairman Ward called the meeting to order at 8:08 p.m.

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

3. Land Development

  • The applicant intended to mill the road down to 4ft. and make it part of the Newtown Trail; however, alternative comments have been made that the road should be eliminated entirely or left at the current 15ft. width and not extend the trail. Jeff, of Eastern States Engineering showed on a plan the proposed road with sidewalks along the western side of Newtown-Yardley Road and the frontage of the property; the pavement would end at the property line. Mr. Murphy asked about providing road crossings and Matt Johnston advised that a crossing at the light was preferable to creating any new crossings. Mr. Murphy confirmed that the board recommendations would eliminate a section from the entrance, west to the property line, continue the road easterly along the property line, mill the road down to 6ft. and add one new section; a crosswalk would be added. Members of the public expressed their concerns about the traffic; no current traffic impact study has been done. However, Matt Johnston felt that the analysis for the tract was acceptable;
  • Expansion of alleyways to intersect into internal roads. Judith Stern Goldstein, who made this recommendation, expressed her concern about the length of the dead end alleyways; Shannon Wilson felt it was a deterrent to motorists cutting through. She further noted that residents and delivery vehicles would have a problem turning around. Edward Koehler confirmed with the applicant that “dead-end” signage would be in place. Mr. Murphy advised the applicant would connect the roadways, if requested to do so;
  • Open Space Variances in the Bucks County Planning Commission’s review letter. Mr. Murphy advised it was a sub-division issue, not a zoning ordinance issue and Judith Stern Goldstein agreed; no variance is needed;
  • On-site parking adequacy; the plans meet the ordinance. Several review letters have recommended over-flow parking facilities, which Jeff, of Eastern States Engineering, advised there were opportunities to handle this. Judith Stern Goldstein expressed her concern for parking when residents had parties and/or during the holidays; she added that the Homeowner’s agreements must specify how visitor parking will be handled. Mr. Murphy agreed that the applicant would attempt to comply;
  • Disposition of the historical barn located on the property. Mr. Murphy deferred this item until Jeff Marshall, of the Joint Historic Commission, could do his inspection and make recommendations. Jay Sensibaugh noted that if the recommendation were to dismantle the barn, the agreement with the applicant would have to require reinstallation by them. Allen Fidler advised that he had made an offer to buy the barn back and preserve/perpetuate it. He did not want to preclude his option to add a caretaker’s residence to the barn that is over 7,000SF and built in 1783; it is part of the original homestead and would not be used as an agriculture accessory to Mr. Fidler’s business. The location of the barn is not conducive to including it in the Homeowner’s Association.
  • B-19 Text amendment. Mr. Murphy updated the board noting that a) Wrightstown’s Planning Commission had approved it, b) Wrightstown’s Board of Supervisors denied it wanting to amend the zoning to R3 in lieu of a text amendment and c) Newtown Supervisors could not act on it until the zoning issues were straightened out.
  • All other issues commented on in the reviews are “will comply”.

Judith Stern Goldstein requested that the applicant show outdoor areas, i.e. patios and decks, on the plan.

All of the issues raised by Suburban Lighting have been dealt with.

Judith Stern Goldstein advised that everything was on hold waiting for the zoning amendment. Paul Beckert noted that an extension on the plans would be needed.

When asked for comments, Mike Piazza advised that in his opinion the project was too large and traffic/ congestion was going to be detrimental to the area. Members of the public spoke:

  • Mrs. Watts asked for a definition of B-19 use and expressed her concern over the increase in traffic and the 45 mph speed limit. Matt Johnston advised a speed study could be done and Edward Murphy, Esq. added that the applicant would comply.
  • Lorraine Pentz was pleased with the intent to preserve the barn; Mr. Fidler added that other buildings would also be renovated and preserved;
  • Gail Halpern was concerned over the access/egress at Stanford Road. Matt Johnston advised there would be right and left turn lanes into the development; and
  • Jonathan Dix requested that the board carefully consider the adequacy of the parking.

Jay Sensibaugh motioned to table the issue until the zoning amendment was finalized and revisions were made to the plans for the following:

  • Newtown Trail extension and milling of the access road;
  • Extension of alleyways to intersect with internal roadways;
  • Additional on-site parking; and
  • Preservation of the existing historical barn on the property.

Vice Chairman Lombardi seconded and members unanimously agreed.

c.    Promenade at Sycamore Street – This item was removed from the agenda

4. Zoning Hearing Board – All of the following items were unanimously recommended to the Board of Supervisors for their approval:

Edward Koehler noted that regarding issues of exceeding impervious surface ratios, he had recommended in some situations that applicants take measures to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff.

5. Ordinance Reviews

6. Subcommittee Reports

7. New Business – Chairman Ward spoke with Mike Sellers of the Newtown Borough Planning Commission who suggested joint meetings between the two planning commissions. He would discuss this further with Mr. Sellers and report back to the Planning Commission for action.

8. General Discussion – Frank Mendicino requested that other members of the Planning Commission be asked to attend meetings that the Chairman and/or Vice Chairman were unable to attend. Chairman Ward agreed.

9. Adjournment – Chairman Ward adjourned the meeting at 10:10 p.m. with unanimously approval by members.


Respectfully submitted by:


Susan M. Dalman, Recording Secretary