NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes of the meeting held on September 19, 2006
Present: Chairman Shawn Ward, Vice Chairman Vince Lombardi and members, Jay Sensibaugh, Allen Fidler, Shannon Wilson, Jim Bowe, Frank Mendicino, Beth Sanderlin-Weachter and Mike Piazza. Also present were Solicitor Paul Beckert, Township Engineer Edward Koehler, Township Planner Judy Stern Goldstein and Director of Codes and Zoning Mike Solomon.
1. Call To Order– Chairman Ward called the meeting to order at 8:00 p.m.
2. Minutes of Previous Meeting:
3. Land Development – DeLuca Corporate Center, 138 and 135 North Sycamore Street (Preschool and Convent Sites) – Preliminary Plan for Land Development, Minor Subdivision and Petition to Rezone
Ed Murphy, Esq., counsel for the applicant, advised this item includes a petition to rezone this parcel of land, a land development plan for the Preschool site and a Minor Subdivision for the Convent site. The Preschool property, across the street from St. Andrews Church, has been vacated this year and the Convent property, next to the church, has been vacant for 4 to 5 years. DeLuca intends to relocate their headquarters to the proposed 2-story office building on the Preschool property and has granted a parking easement to the Church. The Convent property will be renovated and refurbished, in accordance with the requirements of HARB, for general office use.
Regarding the Preschool site the preliminary plans show the tree/green buffer to the rear of the property remaining and a stair tower that is 48.6ft in elevation. The average elevation of the rest of the building is 33.8ft and will require a variance. Due to the inadequate parking proposed and the requirements in the TC District for setback, Vince Lombardi noted that the building could be, and should be, moved closer to the street. The number of required parking spaces is based on the gross square footage of the building. The applicant contends that the basement will be used for storage only and would prefer not to include that area in the calculations; it was later revealed that a portion of the basement will be used as a training facility which is included in the 36,000SF the applicant is using to determine the parking. Mark Havers, P.E. of Pickering, Corts and Summerson, advised that 175 spaces, including 38 in reserve for the rear buffer, were proposed. Paul Beckert advised that the Township was agreeable, in the TC District, to discuss payment in lieu of required parking; there could be a conflict if a variance, requested by Mr. Murphy, was granted. Mr. Beckert suggested restricting the applicant so as not to allow the use of the basement for offices. Allen Fidler noted that current parking, future parking and traffic impact issues in the TC District were going to continue to be a problem. With respect to Mr. Beckert’s suggestion, Frank Mendicino expressed his concern over monitoring and inspecting the property for compliance. Jay Sensibaugh suggested parking alternatives i.e., elevated or underground parking.
Mr. Havers advised that the Sycamore trees along the rear of the property were being preserved. Mr. Murphy confirmed that the lighting would be down-lit, with no glare and turned off at 9:00 p.m., except for security lighting and special functions by the Church. Vice Chairman Lombardi advised that the architecture of the building needed to be compatible with St. Andrews Church and the facility would need to be pedestrian friendly. Paul Beckert advised there would be a Park/Recreation fee based on the gross square footage and that waivers would be needed for stormwater management and steep side slopes. Both Ed Murphy and Mark Havers confirmed to Mike Piazza that the new sidewalks along Sycamore Street would be refurbished if any construction damage occurred. Mr. Havers confirmed to Frank Mendicino that the size of the parking spaces around the perimeter of the building would be 9ft X 18ft and that all others would be 10ft X 20ft. Vice Chairman Lombardi expressed his concerns about the streetscape and Judith Stern Goldstein mentioned that an 18inch wall along Sycamore Street might be appropriate. Ed Koehler questioned the garage/storage building shown in the rear corner of the property; it will be used to store 2 vehicles and files. Two 2-way entrance/exits to the property are proposed.
Frank Mendicino motioned to table this item pending revisions to the plans by the applicant. Jim Bowe seconded the motion and members unanimously approved it. Ed Murphy will request a continuance from the Zoning Hearing Board for the extension of the TC District to include this property.
Regarding the Convent site, Ed Murphy advised that there would be a new roof, the stained glass windows would be removed along with any religious symbols, the rear deck will be replaced with an addition to the building and the façade will be in compliance with HARB recommendations. Parking on this site is sufficient for the ordinance. The Minor Subdivision is to separate the proposed office from the existing church. Judy Stein Goldstein advised that since there would be an easement between the proposed office and the church, the subdivision request was not needed and Ed Murphy advised he would request a waiver.
Paul Beckert framed a motion to recommend approval by the Board of Supervisors subject to compliance with the Boucher and James letter of 08/15/2206, the Bucks County Planning Commission letter of 08/16/2006 and the following conditions:
Further, that variances will be granted for:
Mike Piazza made the motion and Jim Bowe seconded it. Members unanimously approved the motion.
As a side note during this discussion, Paul Beckert advised members that the Jointure had a new view of the process involving ordinances. The originating Township and Planning Commission does not have to authorize the advertisement of an ordinance, if there are no changes to it; the other Township’s will have to advertise it, but the originator is presumed to have advertised it by generating it. Members were not comfortable with this.
4. Conditional Use – Lang Ski and Scuba, 107-109 North Sycamore Street
Judith Stern Goldstein advised that her concerns over the parking at this location were in error. Bob Lyons, applicant, that this would be a secondary location to his main operation in Ewing, NJ; the front building will be strictly retail sales and the other building will remain residential. There will be no changes to the footprint of the building, nor the exterior; however, parking will be extended to the rear of the property. Jim Bowe and Allen Fidler were concerned about gases used in the filling of scuba tanks; however, Mr. Lyons advised that it was purely air, non-flammable and would be done at the Ewing, NJ location only. Heath Dumack, of Dumack Engineering advised Allen Fidler that the shed in the rear of the property has already been removed. Judith Stern Goldstein asked about delivery vehicles and Mr. Lyons advised that there would be no semi-trailers involved; delivery is typically by UPS, FedEx and other smaller type vans.
Paul Beckert framed a motion to recommend approval by the Board of Supervisors, subject to the following conditions:
Allen Fidler made the motion and Mike Piazza seconded it. Members voted unanimously to approve it.
5. Ordinance Reviews:
6. Zoning Hearing Board
7. Subcommittee Reports - Due to meeting length, Shannon Wilson motioned to waive the review of reports; members unanimously approved.
8. Old Business – Veterans Cemetery
Frank Mendicino motioned to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that they support Jerry Schenkman’s suggestion to obtain documentation of intent from the various parties involved in the Veterans Cemetery and that a more in depth review of the Overlay Ordinance be done. Chairman Ward noted that the Board of Supervisors has already considered this; however, Mr. Schenkman advised that it was on the Board of Supervisor’s agenda for the next meeting. Mr. Mendicino added that authorization to advertise does not necessarily mean approval and Jay Sensibaugh noted, in his opinion, that the Planning Commission had not spent enough time reviewing it. Chairman Ward disagreed. Frank Mendicino felt that too much time had been spent on the sole issue of traffic impact when there were other concerns to be addressed.
Vice Chairman Lombardi noted that development of the property was inevitable and with the cemetery, there appeared to be less traffic impact than if the entire property was residentially developed somewhere down the line. He felt that this was strictly an Upper Makefield land deal and would be more advantageous to Newtown Township than if the cemetery were not built. Frank Mendicino noted that in discussions, Ed Murphy refers to what the Melsky Tract will look like in Newtown; however, on their portion of the Melsky Tract, Upper Makefield is still in discussion over the number of homes to be built there. He was concerned about Newtown Township taking on the density and expressed the fact that there are no traffic impact fees in Upper Makefield, resulting in no road improvements to Stoopville Road. Mr. Mendicino wanted to see “more open space uses” removed from the ordinance, noting that Upper Makefield wanted fewer homes on larger lots or more open space. If Newtown Township agrees to the Ordinance as it now stands the township will be stuck with it. Chairman Ward noted that the Overlay Ordinance does not take effect if the cemetery is not developed.
Frank Mendicino reiterated his motion and Shannon Wilson seconded it. Mr. Schenkman thanked members for reconsidering this issue and noted that a lot is done on faith; his intent is to have the various concerns involved in this state their intent in writing. Regardless of whether 3 rd parties comply with the request, at least it will go on record that it has been asked for.
Chairman Ward polled members and the general consensus was that there was no reason not to ask for the documentation. Chairman Ward noted that he was in agreement with everything except for the requests from U.S. Representative Fitzpatrick (item #4 of Mr. Schenkman’s email), the Council Rock School District (item #5) and Tolls Brothers (item #6). Phil Calabro, Vice Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, also in attendance, noted that leaving anything out of the request could be detrimental in the long run. Unanimously, members voted to approve the motion.
9. Adjournment – Chairman Ward adjourned the meeting at 11:00 p.m. with unanimously approval by members.
Respectfully submitted by:
Susan M. Dalman, Recording Secretary