NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes for the meeting held on August 15, 2006
Present : Chairman Shawn Ward, Vice Chairman Vince Lombardi and members, Allen Fidler, Frank Mendicino and Mike Piazza. Also present were Solicitor Paul Beckert, Township Engineer Edward Koehler, Township Planner Judy Stern Goldstein, Traffic Engineer, Board of Supervisors Treasurer/Secretary Jerry Schenkman and Director of Codes and Zoning Mike Solomon. Jay Sensibaugh, Shannon Wilson, Jim Bowe and Beth Sanderlin-Weachter were excused.
1. Call To Order – Chairman Ward called the meeting to order at 8:22 p.m.
Chairman Ward revised the Agenda as follows:
a. Conditional Use – Affinity Insurance Solutions would be heard first; and
b. Conditional Use – Promenade at Sycamore Street was removed.
2. Minutes of Previous Meeting – 08/01/2006 – Members unanimously approved the minutes.
3. Conditional Use – Affinity Insurance Solutions, 123 North Sycamore Street
Vice Chairman Lombardi recused himself from the vote since he was assisting the applicant in his presentation. Christopher Cice advised that his application was for a general office involved in insurance. Hours would be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; no Saturdays. No flammables, no noxious or hazardous materials, standard FedEx/UPS deliveries only and the available parking of 3.5 spaces, based on premises square footage, is within the ordinance. There will be 2 employees and applicant anticipates little or no foot traffic. Mr. Lombardi advised that there would be a common multi-tenant sign, as well as, individual building signs identifying the tenants. Allen Fidler motioned to recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors; Mike Piazza seconded. Members voted unanimously, excluding Mr. Lombardi, to recommend approval.
4. Land Development
a. Delancey Court (formerly Lafayette Quarters), 398 Durham Road – Final Plan for Major Subdivision
Thomas Hecker, counsel for the applicant, joined by Maryellen Saylor, P.E., Project Engineer – Pickering, Corts and Summerson, Inc., advised that the Board of Supervisors had approved the rezoning of the property to R-2, the Conditional Use and the Preliminary Land Development for this project. A historic home has been found on the property and the applicant intends to restore, repair and relocate it for use by the homeowners association. Frank Mendicino expressed concern about the intended relocation site and preferred to see it incorporated into the clubhouse area. Ms. Saylor assured him that there would be adequate access and it was situated, in part, due to the wetlands on the property. Allen Fidler requested that the homeowner’s agreement specify that the use of this historic property be solely for the HOA. He noted that circumstances had arisen where HOA’s had used property like this to offset expenses. Mr. Hecker agreed.
Reviewing the consultant’s/planner’s letters, Mr. Hecker noted that variances would be needed; however, for the most part, the applicant would comply with the issues raised. Judith Stern Goldstein advised that it was important to show the patios and impervious surface areas on the plans; the applicant would comply. Allen Fidler noted that an application for various items involving PennDOT had been made and they would need to be finalized before any permits could be granted. Ms. Goldstein added that the historic building must be added to the plans and reviewed. Further, the solicitor would need to review the deed restrictions.
Regarding stormwater management, Mr. Hecker advised that due to municipal problems with the sewer module, 101 units including the community center would be constructed now and the remaining 19 units would be delayed pending approval.
Regarding the shuttle bus to be provided for the residents, Mr. Hecker advised that service would be provided by an outside company; however, the homeowners association would handle control over the use.
Matt Johnston advised that everything appeared to be satisfactory from the traffic standpoint, except for the payment of the impact fee and details on the signage; Maryellen Saylor, P.E. advised the applicant would comply.
Vice Chairman Lombardi felt, in his opinion, that the applicant did not need to appear before the Planning Commission with the revised plans; the consultants/planners would need to review the plans before they went to the Board of Supervisors and since the issues appeared to be minimal, could provide the applicant and the Board with their comments. Judith Stern Goldstein and Edward Koehler agreed.
Paul Beckert framed a motion to recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors, who would receive revised final plans, with the following conditions:
- Subject to all waivers granted and variances obtained;
- In compliance with all the consultants/planners review letters;
- Subject to the conditions in the Preliminary Land Development, Township, Conditional Use and Zoning Hearing Board approvals;
- Note will be added to the plan for the separation of Lot 1 – Veterinary Use, from the project and rezoning;
- Subject to review and approval of the proposed shuttle bus service;
- Information will be provided regarding the impervious surface ratio including decks and porches; a summary calculation will be provided for the townhouse groups;
- Community center will be restricted to residents and their guests including a clubhouse, community room, card room, fitness room, indoor/outdoor pool, tennis courts, office and kitchen facility;
- Subject to review and approval of the relocation/restoration of the historical property;
- Garage deed restriction – no habitational use allowed;
- Park and Recreation and Traffic Impact Fees will be paid prior to issuance of the building permits;
- Agreements to the financial security, water service and sewer;
- Appropriate fencing with buffering and construction of a sidewalk along Durham Road;
- Copy of deed of merger provided;
- Highway occupancy permit; and
- Homeowners will receive information regarding any wetlands included in their property.
Vince Lombardi made the motion and Mike Piazza seconded it. Chairman Ward asked for comments from the public and John Hitchner mentioned handicapped access to the historic property that the applicant advised would be provided. Members voted 3 to 1 to approve it with Allen Fidler abstaining. Frank Mendicino had to excuse himself from the meeting during this discussion and was not a party to the vote.
b. The Villas at Newtown, Upper Silver Lake Road – Preliminary Plan for Major Subdivision
Thomas Hecker, counsel for the applicant, advised that the B-17, Age Qualified Residential use for this property has been approved. Mark Havers, P.E., Director of Site Engineering – Pickering, Corts and Summerson, Inc. joined Mr. Hecker in reviewing the comments in the consultant’s/planner’s letters. 172 units will be provided in quadroplex arrangement along with a clubhouse and tennis courts; the historical house will be restored/preserved but will not be age-qualified.
Allen Fidler expressed his concerns over the proposed Emergency Management Access road and members felt the access road entering the development through an individual’s driveway was inappropriate; the applicant’s engineer will attempt to relocate the access road.
Vice Chairman Lombardi raised the issue of only have one access to the property by residents and Mr. Hecker advised that this was preferable for security and as an avoidance to traffic cut-through; Matt Johnston was agreeable with this arrangement.
Judith Stern Goldstein requested that the plans be revised to show the patio areas and parking. Mr. Havers advised there were 70+ parking spaces at the community center; each unit will have a 2-car garage with 2 parking spaces with parking along one side of the street permitted.
Mr. Hecker advised that the applicant will comply with the majority of issues raised in the consultant’s/planner’s review letters; some waivers have been requested with respect to the roadways. Vice Chairman Lombardi noted that the homeowner’s must be made aware of the fact that the streets within the development were private and not the responsibility of the Township. Chairman Ward confirmed with Mr. Havers that none of the waivers were applicable to Upper Silver Lake Road. Allen Fidler confirmed with Mr. Havers that the sewer department would have access to all of the manholes in the development. Mr. Havers advised that the plans would be revised to deal with the Bucks County Planning Commission request to reduce the height of the street slopes; retaining walls would be provided if needed. Regarding item #39 of the Remington and Vernick letter of July 14, 2006, Mr. Hecker asked for some direction from the Township concerning Upper Silver Lake Road. Paul Beckert advised, in his opinion that the Township was not going to make any decisions with opening the road right now. Further, he posed the question as to whether the applicant would be willing to make improvements at a later date if the Township made that decision and Mr. Hecker advised that would be taken into consideration with the option to escrow funds for the improvement of the road along the frontage of the development. Chairman Ward noted that the open issues were 1) the Emergency Access Road and 2) the sloping along Durham Road. Judith Stern Goldstein asked for a recalculation of the site to remove the 3 acres for the historical dwelling.
Chairman Ward opened the discussion up to the attending members of the public:
- Lorraine Pentz, Chairman of the Joint Historic Commission, expressed her pleasure with the restoration and relocation of the historical property;
- Jennifer Dix asked if the community would be gated and Mr. Hecker advised that that decision would be made by the homeowners association. Asking about traffic, Mr. Hecker advised her that the daily count would be approximately 130 vehicles compared to the office use generating approximately 4,400 vehicles;
- John Hitchner was pleased that a residential community was being proposed vs. the office complex. He expressed concerns from several residents who a) preferred to see a natural habitat kept in the surrounding areas, b) were concerned about the proximity of several units to the road, c) had concerns with the effects on their individual wells (which McGrath Homes has promised to provide public water and sewer facilities for them), d) felt there was a need for improvements to Upper Silver Lake Road, e) preferred snow removal be kept within the community (which Mr. McGrath agreed to), f) were adverse to the dangers of construction traffic along Penns Trail with respect to children and g) wanted berms as high as possible along Upper Silver Lake Road;
- John Iezzatti expressed his desire to keep Upper Silver Lake Road closed;
- Joan Baiocchi asked John McGrath about the Community Center and he responded that it would consist of one level. She also expressed her concerns about construction traffic and the difficult turns on Upper Silver Lake Road, as well as the storm water basins (which Edward Koehler advised would drain within 24 hours).
Mike Piazza motioned to table this issue pending receipt of the revised plans and review of them by consultants and planners; Vince Lombardi seconded the motion. Members unanimously approved the motion.
5. Zoning Hearing Board
b. Joseph W. McGrath (Goodnoe Tract), 298 North Sycamore Street
Joseph W. McGrath, represented by Kelly McGowan, Esq., appeared before the commission to discuss the applicant’s requests for zoning relief in conjunction with the revised concept plan for the Goodnoe site. The applicant indicated that the size of the freestanding retail (pharmacy) building had been reduced to 10,000 sq. ft. and that proposed parking was based upon industry standard of 4.5 spaces per 1000 sq. ft. of gross floor space. Additionally, the applicant indicated that the concept plan was designed similar to TC zoning requirements and that while the proposed impervious surface far exceeds the PC District requirements, it only exceeds the TC District impervious limits by approximately 4%. Further, the revised plan did not provide for street-front access to the retail/commercial units along Sycamore.
Vice Chairman Lombardi motioned to support the concept and recommend, as agreed to by the applicant, that the Board support the requested relief conditioned upon revisions to the plan which would provide direct, primary access to the commercial units from Sycamore Street in accordance with Town Commercial zoning and to explore the possibility of creating additional on-street and off-street parking on the site. Mike Piazza seconded the motion. Members approved by a vote of 3 to 1.
a. Michele A. White, 399 Eagle Road – Members unanimously voted to refer this item to the Board of Supervisors without comment.
c. Rakesh Shah, 2 Ainsley Court – Members unanimously voted to refer this item to the Board of Supervisors without comment.
6. Ordinance Reviews
a. JMZO 2006-09 Revising Impervious Surface Limitations and Dimensional Criteria in the VR-1 and VC-1 Zoning Districts – Members unanimously voted to recommend disapproval to the Board of Supervisors.
b. JMZO 2006-05 Agriculture Accessory Use – Members unanimously voted to recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors.
7. Subcommittee Reports - Due to the length of the meeting, Chairman Ward did not review any of the reports.
8. Adjournment – Members unanimously agreed to adjourn the meeting at 12:30 a.m.
Respectfully submitted by:
Susan M. Dalman, Recording Secretary