NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes of the meeting held on August 21, 2007
Present: Jay Sensibaugh, Vice-Chairman, Allen Fidler, Dennis Fisher, Vincent Lombardi and Shannon Wilson, members. Chairman Shawn Ward and members James Bowe, Peggy Driscoll and Frank Mendicino, were excused. Also in attendance were: Jerry Schenkman, Supervisor, Paul Beckert, Solicitor; Thomas Wilkes, Township Engineer, Judith Stern Goldstein, Township Planner and Michael Solomon, Code Enforcement Officer.
Call to Order: Vice-Chairman Sensibaugh called the meeting to order at 8:05PM
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Fidler moved to accept the minutes of August 7, 2007. Mr. Sensibaugh seconded and the motion passed 3-0-2, with Messrs. Fisher and Wilson abstaining.
Conditional Use Application
Bucks County Creamery 254 N. Sycamore Street: Attorney John Van Luvanee was in attendance to review this conditional use application for an E-6 eating place in building 2B of the Shoppes at Goodnoe’s Corner. Bucks County Creamery will occupy 1200 square feet, and will be owned and operated by Vincent Marinelli, who is also the owner of Taste of Philly Soft Pretzels. The two businesses will operate side by side. There will be 24 seats, with some shared seating for the two businesses upstairs. The shop will only sell ice cream and candy.
Mr. VanLuvanee indicated that the applicant will comply with all points in the Boucher and James review letter of August 6, 2007. The applicant agrees to a condition that all signage have certificates of appropriateness from HARB.
Mr. Beckert said that he would investigate the EDU’s which are based on the number of seats. In response to questions from the Commission, he explained that an E-6 eating place use better describes this particular use, which has a large take-out component, even though there is not a drive-through window.
Mr. Wilson moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the conditional use application of KLS Ryan LP, owner, and Bucks County Creamery & Confections at Goodnoe’s Corner, tenant, 254 North Sycamore Street, Newtown, Pennsylvania, for a Use E-6 (Eating Place/Drive In) on the following conditions:
- The use is approved for a E-6 Use for ice cream and confection dining and take out consisting of 1200 square feet of demised premises and 24 interior seats.
- The owner/tenant shall provide a screened trash storage area.
- The owner/tenant shall provide trash receptacles outside the restaurant.
- The maximum number of employees is 3, the average is 2.
- The hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., seven days a week.
- No hazardous, flammable or explosive materials shall be stored or used in the building.
- All loading or unloading of deliveries by tractor trailer or similar sized vehicles shall be at off hours between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. and no deliveries of any type shall take place along Sycamore Street or Durham Road.
- No noxious or hazardous impact shall be generated by the uses proposed.
- Parking is found to be adequate for the use.
- The conditional use criteria pursuant to 1301.B. of the JMZO are met by the proposed use.
- The tenant shall submit a true and correct copy of the lease.
- All signage shall meet Township sign requirements and a Certificate of Appropriateness shall be secured for all signage.
- All façade and exteriors shall be subject to review and comment by the Historic Architectural Review Board and any dispute shall be resolved by the Board of Supervisors.
- All conditions of final land development, variances and previous conditional use approvals for KLS Ryan shall be incorporated herein.
- Outside deck seating shall be common to the entire center and shall not be deemed part of the demised premises.
- No loud noise shall be generated on site and no music shall be permitted to be audible from the premises.
- The premises shall be ADA compliant.
- All review fees shall be paid.
Mr. Lombardi seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Zoning Hearing Board Applications
- Richard F. Dickinson – 4 Millstone Drive: The Commission reviewed this application for a variance for an additional 350 square feet of impervious surface and passed it to the Board of Supervisors without comment.
- Jeanine Gracey – 131 Hartford Lane: The Commission reviewed this application for a variance to construct a fence in a front yard that exceeds the height maximum, and passed it without comment except to note that a portion of the fence would be located in a gas company easement. In the event that the gas company were to need access to the pipes running underneath the fence, it would be the homeowner’s responsibility to remove the fence.
- Newtown Artesian Water Company – 490 Linton Hill Road: The Commission reviewed this application for a variance to permit drilling of a well on property that already has a condition imposed on a special exception, not permitting drilling. Mr. Beckert said that outstanding questions about the size and height of the well and the number of storage tanks have already been addressed. The Zoning Hearing Board will notify all surrounding neighbors of the application.
Mr. Fidler discussed requirements of the Delaware River Basin Commission imposed on private property owners when drilling and questioned whether public entities must meet the same requirements of testing and other procedures. Mr. Solomon agreed to research this question. The Commission passed this application to the Board of Supervisors without additional comment.
- JMZO 2006-02 – Accessory Contractor
- JMZO 2006-11 – Landscape Accessory Contractor: Mr. Beckert reported to the Commission that the Jointure Council has asked the Planning Commission to review these drafts again. Wrightstown does not have any accessory use defined in any ordinance, although there are currently some accessory uses in existence. Wrightstown would like to have a way to permit the operation of accessory uses.There have been some differences of opinion between Upper Makefield and Newtown about acreage necessary for an accessory use, with Newtown wanting to permit accessory uses on smaller parcels than Upper Makefield would want. The suggestion had been to permit accessory uses on smaller parcels by conditional use. This cannot be addressed in the SALDO, as it is a zoning issue.
Mr. Lombardi expressed some serious concern about limiting many small business owners.
Mr. Wilson noted that the drafts as written require the owner of the business to own and reside at the residential property. He said that this would prevent owners of large parcels from renting space to landscapers and other contractors. He said that this could be a hardship for some owners of large lots.
In response to questions from the Commission, Mr. Solomon said that he receives a few complaints from neighbors about accessory contractor businesses each month. Most of the complaints are about commercial vehicles or about congregating of employees in the mornings before they begin work. Most of the time, these issues are easily resolved. He noted that within developments there are usually homeowner association rules that regulate accessory contractor vehicles, etc.
Mr. Beckert noted that the drafts, as proposed, do not provide for conditional use approval except in the CM, Conservation Management Zoning District.
The Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors not adopt these ordinances as written for the following reasons:
- There is a requirement that the owner of the business must own the land, which would prohibit certain landowners from renting space for equipment storage, etc
- The acreage requirement does not fit with Newtown and would create non-conforming uses.
- Sites not located in the CM, Conservation Management zoning district would not be eligible for conditional use approval.
Mr. Lombardi suggested that Upper Makefield and Wrightstown should consider rezoning certain parcels to permit accessory contractor uses.
Environmental Advisory Council: Mr. Fisher reported that the EAC has begun to inventory open space, first with the use of maps. He said that at its next meeting the EAC would look at Rockbridge Way, which had been a topic of discussion at a recent Newtown Creek Coalition meeting.
Mr. Beckert asked Mr. Fisher to convey to the EAC that the EAC cannot impose obligations on the developer that exceed the JMZO or SALDO requirements.
Parks and Recreation Board: Mr. Wilson reported that he had attended a Park and Recreation sponsored demonstration of skate board equipment at the NAC. He was impressed with how well run the event was, how well behaved the children were, and how much fun everyone had.
The Commission briefly discussed the Park and Recreation Board’s presentation on possible locations for a skate park in Newtown. The members had some reservations about the PRB’s preference for Helen Randle Park because there is no safe pedestrian access. The members agreed that a location with some safe pedestrian access would be preferable.
Newtown Creek Coalition: Mr. Sensibaugh reported that the Rockbridge Way development was discussed at the coalition’s August meeting, as some attendees have concerns about its location close to the Newtown Creek, and downstream of the Hidden Lake dam.
Historic Architectural Review Board: Mr. Lombardi reported that HARB has met with representatives of McGrath about the signage for Goodnoe’s Corner. Approvals for individual businesses would be recommended at a later time, when colors have been chosen. Overall size and design issues were discussed.
General Discussion: Mr. Sensibaugh reported that there had been some recent questioning by the public of calculations used in determining the permitted number of houses and required acres of open space to be preserved at the Goodnoe tract.
Ms. Goldstein said that resident Robert Ciervo had questioned the net buildable site area calculations, and felt that more open space should have been required, with fewer homes permitted. The original submission of Orleans Homebuilders, dated October 27, 2006, contained incorrect calculations. The Boucher and James review letter dated November 28, 2006, pointed out this error, and calculations were subsequently corrected, with the plan revised on February 23, 2007. Supervisor Jerry Schenkman and Acting Township Manager John Boyle had requested that Boucher and James clarify any misinformation. In further reviewing all pertinent information, Ms. Goldstein said that it would appear the Dr. Ciervo has used information from the earlier filed plan. Using all corrected information from the plan as revised on February 23, 2007, 35 dwelling units would be permitted. This development proposes 21 new homes and three existing homes. Ms. Goldstein has written a detailed letter outlining all calculations used and forwarded copies to Mr. Solomon, Mr. Boyle, the Board of Supervisors and Dr. Ciervo. She provided copies for the members of the Planning Commission.
Mr. Fidler moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Wilson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary