NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes of the meeting held on September 4, 2007
Present: Jay Sensibaugh, Vice-Chairman; James Bowe, Peggy Driscoll, Allen Fidler, Dennis Fisher, and Shannon Wilson, members. Chairman Shawn Ward and members Vincent Lombardi and Frank Mendicino were excused. Also in attendance were: Paul Beckert, Solicitor; Judith Stern Goldstein, Township Planner, Matthew Johnson, Traffic Engineer, Thomas Wilkes, Township Engineer; 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 21, 2007. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 4-0-2, with Mr. Bowe and Ms. Driscoll abstaining.
Traffic Engineer’s Report
Traffic Engineer Matthew Johnson updated the Commission on traffic issues. He reported that the traffic signal enhancement initiative – Newtown Bypass Traffic Responsive Signal System work is ongoing, with monitoring of the system taking place now.
Members discussed the short lights at Buck Road and at Lindenhurst Road for traffic entering the Bypass, but agreed that traveling on the Bypass has improved. The timing has been geared to keep Bypass traffic flowing. Mr. Johnson said that these intersections would be reviewed to determine whether more improvement could be made.
Oral presentations have been made to the State transportation Commission on the 2009 TIP. Written abstract of the TIP will be submitted to PennDOT by September 27.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that some residents have gotten letters stating that the Swamp Road improvement project is being reevaluated by PennDOT.
In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Johnson explained that the Board of Supervisors had requested that Pennoni review possible re-opening of Upper Silver Lake Road.
Resident Joel Grosso asked about timing of the light at Durham Road at Eagle Road, noting that it is very difficult to make a left turn onto Eagle Road.
Mr. Johnson said that he would investigate this; it is not part of the Bypass synchronization project.
Woll Tract Preliminary Plan for Land Development: Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine, Park and Recreation Board members Joel Grosso and Michael Clancy, Park and Recreation Director Bill Wert, and Sharon Dotts of Gilmore & Associates, engineers on the project, were in attendance to review the plans to construct a 47.6 acre active recreation park, utilizing the C-5 recreational facility use. The plans propose to build facilities for ballfields and sports courts, with associated concession and storage facilities, a trail system, parking and stormwater management facilities. The site has frontage along Durham Road and on Eagle Road. An additional access point is proposed to be provided from Wrights Road. Public water and sewer service is proposed.
Mr. Levine noted that the plans are the same as had been shown at the August 7, 2007 meeting, except that, in response to requests from St. Andrews Briar residents, the public works maintenance building has been relocated to the end of the Wrights Road parking area, with the turn-around modified to accommodate an entrance to the storage area. St. Andrews Briar residents have discussed deeding their retention basin to the Township.
Ms. Dotts said that there is an easement to allow the St. Andrews Briar Homeowners Association to maintain the basin; it is not needed for park stormwater management.
Ms. Dotts reviewed EMS comments on widening pathways to 12 feet. She suggested widening the main pathway that runs through the center of the park.
Mr. Fidler noted that the widened path would accommodate a fire engine; the nine-foot wide paths could accommodate public works, police and ambulance vehicles. He did not think fire engines would need to travel along all paths, so long as the main path was widened to accommodate them.
Ms. Dotts discussed the requirement for curbs in the parking lot. She indicated that the curbs could impede water flow. The ground perks well, and the design shows water run-off going onto the grass. Drainage flows away from playing fields.
The members discussed using parking bumpers to prevent cars from driving onto the grass. It was agreed that a split rail fence delineating the edge of the pave area would work without impeding water flow.
The Commission discussed access to the park from Durham Road. Mr. Johnson said that he did not believe that a traffic signal would be warranted. His suggestion is to seek a traffic signal with pedestrian crossing to the Clark Nature Center, along with a deceleration lane and a left turn lane to remove waiting cars from the traffic flow. If a signal is not approved, the Commission could consider a deceleration land and left turn lane only. If not road improvements are made, the entrance should be limited to right in/right out.
Ms. Dotts said that if the Durham Road entrance is right in/right out, without road improvements and traffic signal, a traffic study at the Wrights Road/Durham Road and Wrights Road/Eagle Road intersections would have to be done, as traffic patterns would be different.
After further discussion, it was agreed that Ms. Dotts and Mr. Johnson would meet with PennDOT to discuss the Durham Road entrance. The plans would be adjusted to show the traffic signal and road improvements, with costs for this estimated.
Ms. Dotts said that the remaining issues are technical, and would be resolved with the Township Engineer.
Mr. Bowe said that he would like some compromise on the parking lot. The circle has been eliminated to accommodate the public works building, and he is concerned that it will be difficult for cars to turn around if they drive to the end of the parking lot and find no available spaces. He suggested widening of the entrance to the maintenance building and not placing a chain across the entrance, to allow for turning around.
Ms. Dotts reviewed some overflow parking along the Durham Road side of the park, which would be re-enforced grass, not paved parking.
Ms. Goldstein suggested that the two parcels of the park be consolidated into one tax map parcel. This would eliminate some buffering and setback requirements. She said that consolidating the parcels would not affect the plan to request rezoning; one parcel could have two different zoning districts.
In response to questions from Mr. Beckert, Mr. Levine said that no amplified sound is planned, except for emergency announcements such as lost child announcements. The lights will be extinguished automatically at 10:00 PM. There would be a dimming period, to allow players to safely leave the field and the parking lot. It would be up to the police department whether parking lot lights would remain on for security after the park closes.
Tom Bush of Musco Lighting reviewed light plans for the fields. He said that improvements have been made since his first presentation, and now lights can generate more light with 40% fewer fixtures. This will bring energy savings of up to 50%. The plan shows 17 poles; 6 at 60 feet high, 6 at 70 feet high and 5 at 80 feet high. The baseball infield will be lighted to 50 foot candles, the outfields and soccer fields to 30 foot candles. At the boarder with any residential property the lights would be 1/10 of 1 foot candle.
Ms. Goldstein asked that property lines be shown on the lighting plan, which currently only shows field lines and lighting visibility lines.
In response to questions from the Commission, Mr. Levine said that the Park and Recreation Department would have contracts with sports organizations in order to determine when lights are needed. The lights would be programmed in accordance with game/practice schedules; no lights would be turned on when the fields are not being used.
Mr. Bush discussed the computerized monitoring of the lights. Musco’s contract includes maintenance for 25 years. If a light goes out, for example, that information is electronically transmitted to Musco. He said that the system can also be tied into weather alerts.
The Commission briefly discussed the possibility of bringing sewer lines to the Leck and Winery properties. There was some concern about sewer easements through the fields to these residences. Mr. Levine indicated that the Park and Recreation Board has no objection to these neighbors tying into the sewer lines. He suggested that the lines would be run to avoid being placed under fields.
Mr. Wilson moved to recommend preliminary land development approval for Newtown Township regarding the Woll Tract at Durham Road for a Use C-5 (Recreation Facility) on the following conditions:
- Except to the extent of waivers granted, variances secured, the plan shall be revised to comply with the following review letters:
- Boucher & James of 8/15/07;
- Remington, Vernick & Beach of 8/15/07;
- Bucks County Planning Commission of 8/01/07;
- Pennoni of 8/22/07;
- Newtown Emergency Management Services of 7/25/07;
- Suburban Lighting Consultants of 8/22/07.
- Approval is conditioned upon the subject zoning district being changed to EIR.
- No use shall be permitted which is noxious or offensive to the immediate surrounding area by reason of odor, dust, smoke, gas, vibration, illumination or noise or which would constitute a public hazard whether by fire, explosion or otherwise.
- Seventy-five parking spaces may be identified as reserve parking for overflow parking during times of extreme use and may be constructed of structurally reinforced turf.
- The applicant shall apply for a signal for the Durham Road entrance; if said permit is granted the signal shall be equipped with a pedestrian crossing signal; in the event the signal is approved a left turn lane shall be constructed south for Durham Road and a de-acceleration north on Durham Road subject to PennDOT permission. If a signal is not granted as to Durham Road further discussion shall take place as to the nature of the Durham Road intersection and the need for turning and de-acceleration lanes.
- The applicant shall secure a PennDOT Highway occupancy permit for access to Durham Road.
- There shall be no amplified sound associated with the use except for emergency announcement.
- No glare for lights shall extend onto adjoining property; all lights shall be extinguished by 10:00 p.m., however appropriate security lighting shall be provided.
- A Unilateral Declaration of Restrictions and Covenants shall be executed effecting the notes as to the plan.
- All traffic impact and park and recreation fees are waived. All review fees shall be paid by the applicant.
- All signs shall comply with all Township sign ordinances.
- All parking lots shall be screened in accordance with SALDO Section 534.8.
- Trash areas shall be appropriately screened and trash receptacles shall be provided near fields for patron use.
- All planting shall be guaranteed for 18 months and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating.
- The adjacent parcel shall be merged into the subject parcel but the adjacent parcel shall continue to be zoned CM.
The following waivers are recommended:
- From Section 402.3.B. and C. relating to features within 400 feet of the site;
- From Section 504.17 relating to right-of-way and cartway width for development streets.
- From Section 516 waiving the requirement to provide concrete curbs along Durham Road, internal drives and parking areas.
- From Section 517.1 to waive the requirement for sidewalks along both sides of Durham Road.
- From Section 521.3.B. and from Section 522.9.E(3) relating to the diameter of storm drains. The storm drains shall be 12 inches in diameter.
- From Section 521.C.1 and 2 relating to the design of storm water detention areas, modified rational method being proposed so as to reduce storm water runoff.
- From Section 521.5.0 to waive the requirement for a perforated riser at each outlet.
- From Section 522.7.C to waive the requirement for a soil conservation study TR55, the modified rational method is being proposed.
- From Section 530.3.C to allow street trees to be located within the ultimate right-of-way of Durham Road.
Mr. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
2007-04 POS to EIR: Mr. Beckert explained that the Woll tract is currently divided into two parcels, one zoned POS, one zoned CM. The 37.6 acre parcel currently in the POS zoning district is to be an active recreation facility, use C-5, which is a use by right in both the POS and EIR zoning districts. The POS zoning district has an 8% impervious surface ratio, best suited for passive recreational use. With the installation of playing fields and sports courts, the parking is expanded in excess of the 8% impervious surface. By changing to EIR, Educational Recreational and Institutional zoning, the impervious surface maximum will be 35%.
Mr. Wilson moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors authorize advertisement of JMZO 2007-04, POS to EIR zoning. Mr. Fidler seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Levine noted that the change of zoning had been suggested because the other members of the Jointure had been resistant to adding a POS 2 district for active recreational uses. The Park and Recreation Board does not expect to use 35% impervious surface; the current plan shows about 14% impervious surface, including parking lots, sports courts and walking paths and trails.
In response to a question from Mr. Wert, Mr. Beckert said that the draft amendment will be changed to include a legal description of the property to be rezoned, as the two parcels making up the Woll tract are to be consolidated, with only the POS section changed to EIR zoning, while the CM section remains as CM.
Resident James McCrane questioned why the property is being rezoned to permit 35% impervious surface if only 14% impervious surface is planned. He asked that the property only be rezoned for a 15% impervious surface.
Mr. Levine said that the plans show a little more than 14% impervious surface. If artificial turf is used, even though it has its own stormwater management features, it is considered impervious under our ordinances. The additional impervious surface could be needed for turf fields. For this reason, he would hesitate to limit the impervious surface.
Mr. Sensibaugh explained that EIR is an appropriate zoning designation for an active recreation park. In the EIR zoning district, active recreation is a use by right. The impervious surface maximum is 35%. The plans that are being reviewed and for which approval has been recommended have a 14% impervious surface ratio. If the plans were to change, for example to install artificial turf fields, the plans would have to be reviewed again. The plans already have a limit as to impervious surface.
Mr. Fidler questioned whether the area of parking that is re-enforced grass, that is designated as overflow parking, is considered impervious surface.
Ms. Dotts said that she was not sure.
The motion passed 6-0.
Mr. Fidler moved to adjourn at 10:00 PM. Ms. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary