NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION

100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940

Internet: http://www.twp.newtown.pa.us

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Minutes of the meeting held on November 21, 2006

 

Present: Chairman Shawn Ward, Vice Chairman Vince Lombardi and members, Jay Sensibaugh, Allen Fidler, Shannon Wilson, Jim Bowe and Mike Piazza. Frank Mendicino and Beth Sanderlin-Weachter were excused. Also present were Solicitor Paul Beckert, Township Engineer Herb Gery, Township Planner Judy Stern Goldstein, Traffic Engineer Matt Johnston and Director of Codes and Zoning Mike Solomon.

1. Call To Order–Chairman Ward called the meeting to order at 8:07 p.m.

2. Minutes of Previous Meeting 10/17/2006 - Item #3 first paragraph is corrected to reflect that the historical barn will be “preserved” in lieu of being recycled. Allen Fidler motioned to accept the minutes with this change and Mike Piazza seconded; members voted unanimously in favor of the motion, with Shannon Wilson and Vince Lombardi abstaining.

3. Traffic Engineer’s Report – Matt Johnston advised there was nothing to report.

4. Land Development

b. First Evergreen, 825-828 Newtown-Yardley Road – Preliminary Plan for Land Development

Ed Murphy, Esq., McBride and Murphy, counsel for the applicant advised that this was for discussion only. Mary Ellen Saylor, P.E. of Pickering, Corts and Summerson, Inc. participated in the discussion. They are in the process of reviewing the consultant’s letters and Mr. Murphy felt that the issues could be dealt with.

One of the issues that has been raised is the internal circulation in the parking area. The concept plan has not been changed, proposing a 32,000 SF 2-story building on the corner of Rt. 332 and the Bypass. However, the building has been moved closer to the intersection. With the repositioning of the building, Vice Chairman Lombardi asked if there were adequate setbacks to allow for the widening of Rt. 332 and Ms. Saylor confirmed there were.

Chairman Ward asked if motorists would be able to make a left-hand turn into the parking lot and Mr. Murphy advised that it was restricted to a right-turn in and a right-turn out only. Matt Johnston noted that no traffic study has been done as yet and the intended occupancy of a medical office will generate significant amounts of traffic. Allen Fidler mentioned that the BCPC was concerned about parked vehicles backing out into a main traffic corridor; however, the area in question is a fair distance from the building and the likelihood of its use for parking is insignificant. These parking spaces can be held in reserve for later use if needed. Vice Chairman Lombardi asked Matt Johnston if a traffic signal was needed at the intersection, but Mr. Johnston, without traffic information, could not render an opinion. Mr. Murphy confirmed that the applicant would do a traffic study on the 3 intersections involved.

d. Rockbridge Drive (formerly Mitzvah Way), Washington Cross Road – Final Plan for Major Subdivision

Don Marshall of Stuckert and Yates, counsel for the applicant, presented the final plan for this property, revised into 3 lots with a private access road. This received preliminary approval on June 19, 2004 with the following conditions:

1) Low intensity lighting on the roadway;

2) Conservation easement would be established in the open space;

3) Serviced by public water and sewer;

4) Fee would be paid in lieu of the Park and Rec;

5) No centralized trash pickup;

6) Homeowner’s association would be created to handle the maintenance of the private road;

7) An easement would be granted to the Township along Washington Crossing Road; and

8) Reflectors on the barrier along the creek would be installed.

Mr. Marshall continued, advising the following regarding the review letters:

1) Items 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the Township Engineer’s letter are “will comply”. Item 3 is no longer applicable since it applied to the proposed cul-de-sac that is now, in the final plans, a private access road;

2) All items in the Boucher and James letter are “will comply”, except that a variance has been granted and the trees in question will remain on the property;

3) The applicant will comply with the Suburban Lighting letter providing low lighting along the access road; and

4) The applicant will comply with any issues requested by EMS.

Chairman Ward asked if any members of the public wished to speak. Judith Norkin, a resident of Cliveden, asked if any of the stormwater runoff from this property would infringe upon the stormwater basin maintained by the Homeowners Association of Cliveden. Mr. Marshall advised that there would be storm water facilities on this property to handle it.

Roger Taylor, also a member of the public, spoke concerning the size of the homes and the resulting serious drainage problems that he foresaw occurring. He noted that in the repositioning of the homes in the final plans, the building on Lot #3 is now partially on alluvial soil that is prone to frequent flooding 5 months out of the year. He presented the planning commission with photographs showing the flooding that has occurred on the property. He added that there were disagreements over the property lines and the ones being used were throwing a lot of the drainage issues onto his property. Herb Gery noted that the Township Engineers were satisfied with the stormwater management proposed by the applicant. Paul Beckert added that the applicant couldn’t be held responsible for water run-off from other properties in the area. Mr. Taylor wanted assurances that this development would not impede upon his property. In response to Chairman Ward, Mr. Gery noted that allowing water to run off naturally was better than piping it underground. He added that since trees were not being removed from the property, the area in question would not be compromised; he did not see anything unusual in the plans. However, Mr. Gery felt moving the house on Lot #3 off of the alluvial soil was a good idea and noted that other things could be done in the foundation drains to alleviate basement flooding. Mr. Gery added that his concerns were if there was any impact on neighboring properties and at this time he was not convinced there was.

Janet Adamusco, also a member of the public, asked about the proximity of the connecting driveway to the creek line. From an engineering standpoint, Jay Sensibaugh asked about the conservation of the banks along the creek. Mr. Gery responded by advising that there was a 5ft. wide underground stone bed to assist in the stormwater management, as well as, a deterrent to soil erosion; the Conservation District will be dealing with this issue. Mr. Sensibaugh suggested that some erosion control should be put in place to avoid the deterioration of the roadbed by the creek and Mr. Gery concurred.

Lastly, Roberta Taylor, a member of the public and resident of an adjacent property, stated that residents did not see the need to have an emergency access road cut into Route 532. Mr. Marshall advised that he would revisit the issue with the Fire Marshall and would do whatever was required.

Paul Beckert framed a motion to recommend approval by the Board of Supervisors subject to the following conditions:

1. Compliance with the Boucher and James letter of July 20, 2006, Remington and Vernick letter of July 21, 2006, Bucks County Conservation District letter of October 19, 2006, Suburban Lighting letter of September 21, 2006, Newtown Emergency Services Department letter of July 12, 2006 and the Preliminary Approval letter of Harris and Harris dated June 11, 2006;

2. All approvals, permits and certificates will be presented to the Township prior to the final plan being recorded;

3. Proof of financial security;

4. Present executed water and sewer agreement;

5. Applicant will grant a conservation easement to the Township to protect the open areas of the stream;

6. Low intensity lighting on the driveway;

7. Fee paid in lieu of dedicated Park/Rec land;

8. No centralized trash pickup note will be added to the plans;

9. Access by private road that is not dedicated to the Township;

10. Compliance with the Township Zoning decision of November 6, 2003;

11. Homeowner Associations documents will provide for the maintenance of the private road, stormwater management and street lighting;

12. Easement will be granted to the Township for future sidewalks along Washington Crossing Road;

13. Easement agreement will be submitted to the Township for the private road;

14. Reflectors will be installed on the barrier near the creek;

15. No further subdivision of the property will be permitted;

16. Regarding Lot #3, the building shall not encroach on the Rowland soils;

17. No additional disturbance of land will be permitted outside of those areas shown on the plans;

18. Fence abutting Lot #1 shall be relocated to the final plan boundary line;

19. Township Engineer will review plan to see if any additional erosion control along the creek is needed;

20. Emergency access road will be provided if deemed necessary by the Township Fire Marshall; and

21. Waivers shown in the Harris and Harris letter of June 11, 2004 are granted along with a waiver from SALDO 505.5. relating to curves and legends.

Vince Lombardi made the motion and Allen Fidler seconded it. Members voted unanimously to approve the motion.

a. Fidler Tract, Newtown-Yardley Road – Revised Preliminary Plan for Major Subdivision

Chairman Ward advised that this item had been tabled to provide members not present at the previous meeting the time to review the plans; Vice Chairman Lombardi and Shannon Wilson have completed their reviews.

Vice Chairman Lombardi advised that in his opinion, the speed limit along Newtown-Yardley Road should be reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph; however, Matt Johnston noted that the speed study that has been done would not support the reduction.

Due to difficulties with pedestrian use of the Newtown Trail and proposed extensions to it, Matt Johnston asked if the Commission would consider eliminating the trail. Judith Stern Goldstein advised that either alternative to the trail would be acceptable.

Mike Piazza reiterated his concerns with the size of the development and the traffic impact. Leo Fitzpatrick, a member of the public, concurred with Mr. Piazza.

Vice Chairman Lombardi motioned to recommend approval by the Board of Supervisors, considering the preliminary plan as the final plan. Shannon Wilson seconded the motion and members voted 4 to 1 to approve it, with Allen Fidler and Mike Piazza abstaining from the vote due to a conflict of interest.

c. Shoppes at Sycamore Street, 298 North Sycamore Street – Preliminary Plan for Land Development

Mr. John A. Van Luvance, Esq. of Eastburn and Gray, P.C., counsel for the application, advised that the plans had been revised, per the comments of the Planning Commission, to provide access to the building from Sycamore Street, as well as, from the parking facilities in the rear. Further, a building cut-through has been added to accommodate pedestrian traffic. The uses proposed are retail (30,600 SF), bank, restaurant and apartments (second floor of primary building) with a separate building to the rear for a drug store.

Mr. Van Luvance advised that the applicant would be submitting a Conditional Use Application for the development. Regarding the Boucher and James Review Letter of November 13, 2006, he noted the following:

1. Item #3 – None of the buildings would exceed 2 stories;

2. Item #4b – For discussion, all of the slopes existing on the property are man-made and therefore, in his opinion, were not applicable to the requirements in the ordinance; however, Jay Sensibaugh felt that the issue could not be just ignored and that relief was on a case-by-case basis.

Mike Piazza asked if there was a basement proposed and Mr. Van Luvance advised that there was under a portion of the building for maintenance equipment only; a basement under the restaurant is being looked at for dry goods storage only. He confirmed to Chairman Ward that no banquet or meeting room under the restaurant is being considered. All deliveries will be made from the parking area in the rear – no deliveries will be made via Sycamore Street.

Continuing with the review letters:

3. Item #4c – Plans will be revised to show that there will be no tree replanting issues; trees will be replaced;

4. Item #4d is a “will comply”;

5. Item #4e – Judith Stern Goldstein advised Mr. Van Luvance that if the applicant had documentation addressing the floodplain soils, the issue would be mute; Mr. Van Luvance agreed;

6. Item #6 – Parking and Circulation is a matter for the Zoning Hearing Board; there will be no shopping carts on the property and Paul Beckert asked for confirmation that that would be in the lease.

7. Items 7a and 7b are “will comply”; Item 7c requires a waiver;

8. Item 8 is a “will comply”;

9. Item 9 – Lighting will need to be down-lit in the parking area after business hours;

10. Item #11 – Vice Chairman Lombardi advised the applicant to confer with HARB for the signage along Sycamore Street;

11. Item #12 – was refuse screening needed from the exterior of the site or the interior? A facility would be provided;

12. Item #13 – a fee would be paid in lieu of the Park/Rec dedication of land;

13. In the Comments section, items 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 are “will comply; location of utilities, Item #3 are yet to be determined;

Regarding the Remington and Vernick letter of November 10, 2006:

1. Section IV Subdivision Ordinance, Items #1 through #4 and Item #6 are “will comply”; Item #5 will require a waiver;

2. Section V Stormwater Management, Items #1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are “will comply”; Conditional waivers will be requested on Items #2 and #3;

3. Section VIII General Comments, Items #1, 4, 6 and 7 are “will comply”; Item #2 and 3 - Handicap spaces will be relocated to a centralized area; Item #5 applicant will raise retaining wall by 18 inches and install a railing;

Regarding the Pennoni letter of November 16, 2006:

1. Revisions will be made for Item #1;

2. Items #2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are “will comply;

3. Item #8 and #9 involving the drug store location will be reviewed;

4. Item #10 – location of stop signs will be discussed;

5. All items dealing with the traffic impact study comments are “will comply”;

Regarding the Newtown Emergency Services Department letter of November 3, 2006 all issues are “will comply”.

Paul Beckert noted that on properties that did not pay a Park/Rec fee and are being demolished, the Park/Rec fee is based on the entire new gross square footage.

Paul Beckert framed a motion to recommend approval to the Board of Supervisors for Preliminary Land Development subject to the following conditions:

1. Compliance with the review letters, subject to any waivers requested, of Boucher and James dated November 13, 2006, Remington and Vernick dated November 10, 2006, Newtown Emergency Services Department dated November 3, 2006, Pennoni dated November 16, 2006 and subject to any issues so noted by Suburban Lighting;

2. Notes added to the plans indicating any variances granted by the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board;

3. Conditional Use be granted for the E-15 Community Shopping Center use;

4. No noxious or offensive odors will be generated on the site;

5. Copy of the water and sewer service agreements;

6. Provide financial security agreements;

7. Copies of all required approvals, permits and certificates be provided;

8. Park/Rec fee is paid;

9. Traffic Impact fee is paid;

10. Signs must meet Township Ordinances and along Sycamore Street are subject to review by HARB;

11. Provide adequate letter from the Bucks County Planning Commission;

12. Execute a declaration of covenants and restrictions regarding the notes to the plan;

13. Lighting will be to the satisfaction of Suburban Lighting, no glare will be extended beyond the property boundary and after shops/stores are closed, security lighting only will be provided;

14. Removed trees will be replaced with like kind and quality, and planting will be guaranteed for 18 months;

15. Appropriate storage and signage will be provided for any tenant’s shopping carts/mobile baskets or a lease that does not permit the use of shopping carts/mobile baskets.

16. Dumpsters will be screened in accordance with SALDO 534.10;

17. All legal engineering and review letter fees will be paid;

18. Apartments will not be subject to any non-residential uses;

19. Basements will be subject to mechanical and/or storage uses only;

20. Arrangement for loading/unloading of tractor trailers is subject to approval;

21. Comply with Zoning Ordinance 903.d relating to floodplain soils by providing a letter from a soil scientist indicating that the soils are urban soils vs. BO soils;

22. Zoning Ordinance Section 1000.E,1 is covered by the variance granted by the Zoning Hearing Board;

23. Proof of acceptance by adjoining property owners of any buffering;

24. Waivers set forth on the waiver sheet shall be granted; and

25. No deliveries other than UPS/Fed-Ex type trucks will be permitted on Sycamore Street.

Mike Piazza made the motion and Jim Bowe seconded it. Members voted unanimously in favor of the motion except for Allen Fidler who abstained.

Regarding the Conditional Use Application, Paul Beckert framed a motion to recommend approval by the Board of Supervisors subject to:

1. Each individual user will be required to apply for a separate Conditional Use approval;

2. Hours of operation and employees will be as each individual’s application provides;

3. Operation of the shopping center will be 7 days per week;

4. Comply will all requirements except for any variances granted under Section 803.E.15;

5. Conditions of Preliminary Land Development apply to parking and loading/unloading;

6. No noxious/toxic fumes, smoke or dust, loud noise or vibration, objectionable glare or creation of any objectionable conditions will be generated;

7. No storage of hazardous materials or wastes on site; and

8. All review fees will be paid as a part of the application.

Shannon Wilson made the motion and Mike Piazza seconded it. Members unanimously voted to approve the motion with Allen Fidler abstaining from the vote.

5. Ordinance Reviews

a. JMZO 2006-04 – Livestock and Poultry

This review was deleted from the agenda.

b. JMZO 2006-06 – Winery Accessory to a Vineyard

Paul Beckert advised that changes were being made to this Ordinance: 1) Wrightstown and Upper Makefield require a minimum of five acres, and 2) when an event exceeds 50 attendees a minimum of 14 contiguous acres is required. Jay Sensibaugh motioned to table this item until the next meeting and members unanimously agreed.

6. Zoning Hearing Board – The Promenade at Sycamore Street, North Sycamore Street (Revised Appeal)

Paul Beckert advised that the Board of Supervisors had voted 3 to 2 to send him to the Zoning Hearing Board with the following direction to support:

1. The front and rear yard variances;

2. The variances for steep slopes and wooded lots;

3. The height variance at 2-stories;

4. The 9 x 14 parking stall variances;

5. The off-street loading variances as long as all refuse and trash collection are off-hours, all 32-ft box truck (or larger) deliveries are off-hours and UPS size vehicles are only permitted during office hours;

6. North side of property variance conditional on all parking stalls being double stripped; and

7. Parking variance calling for second floor to be D-1 use only of 30,440SF and first floor retail use, E-1 only of 20,900SF and restaurant of 5,940SF, with parking garage at 3-stories providing 200 parking stalls.

The apartments have been eliminated.

Mr. Beckert advised that the Conditional Use would be back before the Planning Commission since the Board of Supervisors scheduled it for review on December 13, 2006. He advised that under the redevelopment plan, the Board of Supervisors had an obligation to do something in respect of this issue and this is the result. Members expressed their concerns over this decision.

7. Subcommittee Reports – Due to the length of the meeting, members unanimously agreed to defer reports until the next meeting.

8. General Discussion

a. Veterans Cemetery – Paul Beckert advised that Mr. Holt has filed a validity challenge to the Federal Cemetery Ordinance in Newtown Township; Mr. Holt is a resident of the Township.

b. Comprehensive Plan – Paul Beckert advised that the Board of Supervisors has asked Judith Stern Goldstein to review the plan to report the effect it would have on Newtown Township.

c. Newtown Creek – Jay Sensibaugh advised that he and Vice Chairman Lombardi had attended a meeting of individual’s concerned over the creek. Other participants were representatives of the Newtown Boro Planning Commission, the Boro EAC, the Township EAC, the JDNC. They are interested in having a committee including members of all of these groups and a liaison with the Planning Commission. Mr. Sensibaugh and Mr. Lombardi advised the group that they would discuss this at the Planning Commission meeting. Mr. Lombardi advised that they were interested in dealing with the area between Center and Sycamore Streets. Members agreed to refer this to the Board of Supervisors.

9. Adjournment – Members unanimously agreed to adjourn the meeting at 11:30 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Susan M. Dalman, Recording Secretary