NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes of the meeting held on October 16, 2007
Present: Shawn Ward, Chairman; Jay Sensibaugh, Vice-Chairman; James Bowe, Peggy Driscoll, Allen Fidler, Dennis Fisher, Vincent Lombardi and Shannon Wilson, members. Member Frank Mendicino was excused. Also in attendance were: Paul Beckert, Solicitor; Judith Stern Goldstein, Township Planner, Thomas Wilkes, Township Engineer; and Michael Solomon, Code Enforcement Officer.
Call to Order: Chairman Ward called the meeting to order at 8:00PM
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Bowe moved to accept the minutes of October 2, 2007. Mr. Lombardi seconded and the motion passed 8-0.
Zoning Hearing Board Applications
KLS Ryan LP (Rite Aid), 1 Ice Cream Alley, Goodnoe’s Corner: Attorney Kelly McGowan represented the applicant. Also in attendance was Darren Hapbell of Blair Sign Company. Mr. Hapbell’s firm designs and installs signage for the entire Rite Aid chain.
Mr. Hapbell reviewed the proposed signage for the Rite Aid store, which includes a large sign with the words “Rite Aid” and “Pharmacy” of 95.58 square feet, with back lighting on the individual letters of the sign, three wall mounted “drive thru” signs, directional signage for the drive-through drop-off and pick-up windows and informational signage for “1 hour photo” and “food mart”. He showed a sample of the back lighting on one of the letters.
Ms. McGowan reviewed the relief being sought for the signage, noting that this is a free standing 10,000 square foot building with 4 facades facing streets or parking lots. Rite Aid would be permitted a total of 4 signs, 20 square feet on each of the 4 sides of the building. Relief is sought to allow three signs on the front entrance side of the building, increased size for the main sign, additional directional signage and height for all signs. The proposal does not match up well with the Ordinance. The proposed signage has not yet been reviewed by the Historic Architectural Review Board, although HARB has seen the proposal. No recommendation can be made for certificates of appropriateness until Zoning Hearing Board relief has been granted.
Mr. Lombardi said that the building is very large, and the large sign is proportionate to the size of the building. He did not have any objection to the large sign, nor did he object to the additional signage for “food mart” and “1 hour photo” because of the length of the wall of the building.
Mr. Bowe said that he does not support any of the requests, and would like to recommend that the solicitor be sent to the Zoning Hearing Board to oppose the application.
Mr. Sensibaugh disagreed, and suggested that the application be forwarded without comment.
After further discussion the Planning Commission agreed that there is no objection to the height request, nor to the request for drive-through directional signage, which is to be lighted by gooseneck fixtures.
Mr. Fidler said that he did not think that the additional signage for “1 hour photo” and “drive thru” should be permitted because they are advertising. He pointed out that the Planning Commission had recommended that the Supervisors oppose Petsmart’s request for additional outdoor signs for the veterinary and grooming services, as there were not separate entrances. He considered this a similar circumstance.
Mr. Bowe and Mr. Fidler had some concern that if approval were given, other businesses would seek similar signage, such as supermarkets advertising bakery and deli departments.
The Commission agreed that there were no serious objections to the size of the main large sign.
Mr. Wilson expressed some serious concern that signage is not treated consistently throughout the Township.
After further discussion, Mr. Ward said that it is clear there is no consensus among the Board. The Commission agreed that Mr. Ward should inform the Board about all of the reservations the Commission discussed when he gives his report.
Friends Lane, LLC – 104 Penns Trail: David Kahn and engineer Walter Bronson were in attendance to review this application for relief to not provide curbing on interior driveways and to permit parking spaces within 5 feet of the side property line for a storage facility consisting of a 36,180 square foot 2-story building and a 27,000 square foot 2-story building with associated parking and stormwater management in Newtown Business Commons.
Mr. Bronson said that circulation plans would be included with land development documents, as Ms. Goldstein had expressed some concern about turning radii. In response to questions from the Commission, Mr. Bronson discussed the stormwater management plans. He noted that the buildings are to be 275 feet long. The applicant is asking to eliminate curbing to help with the flow of stormwater.
Mr. Wilkes said that he did not foresee any problems with stormwater if curbs ere eliminated.
Mr. Bowe had some concern about the loading areas proposed. In response to his questions, Mr. Kahn said that each storage unit would have a door. Tenants would typically park in front of the unit adjacent to theirs and load/unload their cars. The second story is accessed through a lobby elevator at the center of each building. He noted the proposed parking for people using the lobby entrance.
Mr. Bowe said that he would not like to see cars parked on the grass areas, and suggested that fencing be placed closer to the end of the paved area.
The Commission had not comments for the Board of Supervisors other than the suggestion to locate the fence to prevent parking on the grass.
M&N Homes LP, 136 Hidden Valley Lane: no comment
109 Pheasant Run, LLC (Johnson Kendall Johnson) 109 Pheasant Run: no comment
JMZO 2007-03 Electronic Graphic and Video Signage: Ms. Goldstein read the letter from the Bucks County Planning Commission, which stated that electronic and video signage should not be permitted at all, as they are not in keeping with the character of the Jointure. She said that the issue of concern seems to be a challenge in another Bucks municipality, but it deals with billboards, not smaller signs.
Mr. Beckert pointed to recent revisions to the draft that now have added the LI district to the locations where such signage would be permitted.
The Commission agreed that the LI zoning district should be removed from the list of areas where the signage is permitted. The Commission also agreed that such signage should not visible from the historic district.
The Commission suggested that Mr. Beckert report to the Jointure that it is in agreement with the Bucks County Planning Commission, that such signage should not be permitted at all, and the proposed draft is not yet ready for adoption.
JMZO 2007-05 Landscape Contractor Wrightstown Overlay District: Mr. Wilson said that the ordinance is overly restrictive, and is opposed adoption of the ordinance at all.
The Commission briefly discussed whether Upper Makefield would create an overlay district, or whether Newtown should add an overlay district. The size parcel required for a landscape contractor was reviewed, with Mr. Solomon noting that there are usually not problems with landscape contractors on parcels of 3 or more acres.
Mr. Lombardi and Mr. Ward each expressed concern that the ordinance was discriminating against a specific business. They were also concerned that additional regulations would then be proposed for other types of contractors such as painters or electrical contractors.
Ms. Goldstein said that this cannot be addressed in the SALDO because it is concerned with zoning, but many of issues could be resolved in a nuisance ordinance.
The Commission agreed that Mr. Beckert should convey the content of this discussion to the Jointure Solicitor, with the suggestion that nuisance ordinances in the individual municipalities might better address the issue.
Mr. Ward asked the Commission to consider holding a meeting on October 30, 2007 to review the preliminary/final plans for the Woll tract. The Park and Recreation Board members are concerned that, should the Commission make further revisions, there would not be sufficient time to get the plans on a Board of Supervisors agenda and into the 2008 budget before year end. The Park and Rec Board would like to break ground in the spring of 2008.
The Commission agreed to attend a meeting on Tuesday, October 30, 2007, beginning at 7:30 PM. The members wanted to start the meeting earlier than usual because they expected that residents might want to attend to see the plans, and possibly have input.
Mr. Beckert indicated that there would also be a conditional use review at that meeting.
Mr. Fidler moved to adjourn at 9:30PM. Mr. Wilson seconded and the motion passed 8-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary