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 June 3, 2008

Present: Chairman Allen Fidler, Vice-Chairman Jay Sensibaugh, Secretary James Bowe and Members, Peggy Driscoll, Dennis Fisher, Vince Lombardi, Jim Ott, and Brandon Wind. Also in attendance were: Timothy Duffy, Solicitor; Michele Fountain, Township Engineer and Amy Kaminski, Township Traffic Engineer and Supervisor Liaisons Thomas Jirele and Jerry Schenkman.

Approval of Minutes: Mr. Ott noted that on page 3 of the minutes of May 20, he had asked that the parking spaces at the turning radius be reviewed at land development. Mr. Sensibaugh moved to accept the minutes of May 20, 2008, as corrected.. Mr. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 6-0-2, with Messrs. Lombardi and Fisher abstaining.

Land Development

Grainhouse Developers – 11 Penns Trail Preliminary Plan: Attorney Don Marshall was in attendance to review this application for the adaptive reuse of a 47,819 square foot warehouse building for flex use, with 15,000 square feet dedicated to use D-1, office use and 30,000 square feet dedicated to G-3, warehouse use on a 4.316 acre parcel in the LI Light Industrial Zoning District. Mr. Marshall said that since the Commission had reviewed the sketch plan, demand for office space has changed; the plan now shows considerably more warehouse space. Loading berths are now shown on the plan. The applicant would like the Commission to consider preliminary as final plan approval.

The Commission reviewed the CKS Engineering review letter of May 7, 2008. It was noted that the applicant has been granted a variance by the Zoning Hearing Board for impervious surface up to 70%; the plan shows 69% impervious surface. A variance had been granted for 194 parking spaces where 239 were required. The applicant had planned for 43,200 square feet of office use. With the change to flex space, only 15,000 square feet has been allocated for office use. Now 135 parking spaces are required. An extension for these variances is required.

Mr. Marshall briefly discussed the 100-foot utility easements, which run through the entire Business Commons. The original terms of these easements allow for development opportunities.

Mr. Bowe asked about the storage of vehicles on site, for example if a tenant were to have a fleet of company cars or vans.

Mr. Marshall said that a condition could be added to any approval to address this. If a prospective tenant were to need to store some small number of vehicles, the ratio of parking to warehouse could be adjusted to provide a few additional parking spaces for stored company cars.

Mr. Marshall said that the applicant will comply with the CKS review letter, with the exception of a few items for which waivers will be requested.

The Commission reviewed the Carroll Engineering letter dated April 15, 2008. Mr. Marshall said that the applicant is seeking a waiver from the requirement for a traffic study, as this is a re-use of an existing building.

Ms. Kaminski said that a letter would be needed providing information on PM traffic counts.

The Commission briefly discussed calculating a traffic impact fee. It would be necessary to determine whether any traffic fee had been paid in the past for this location, which pre-exists the collecting of impact fees.

Mr. Jirele said that the Board of Supervisors had determined that full traffic impact fees would be collected on redevelopment of properties that had never contributed impact fees.

The Commission reviewed the requests for waivers, as presented in a letter from Karl B. Janetka of Van Cleef Engineering dated June 3, 2008.

The Commission agreed to the request for a waiver from a traffic study, provided an updated PM traffic count is provided to the traffic engineer. There was no objection to granting waivers for front yard parking or parking within 20 feet of the walls of the building. In discussing the waiver from the requirement that all basins have slopes less than four horizontal feet to on vertical foot because of the tight site constraints, Ms. Fountain said that the applicant should demonstrate that maintenance equipment will be able to access the basins for this waiver.

Mr. Fidler suggested that, rather than grant a waiver from the requirement to provide street trees, the Board should consider collecting either a fee in lieu or requiring the applicant to plant the required number of trees elsewhere in the Township.

Mr. Bowe asked about prospective tenants, and again mentioned the storage of vehicles on site.

Mr. Marshall said that the applicant would comply with the parking ordinance; an area would be found for storage of fleet vehicles if necessary, possibly by adjusting the flex space allotments.

The Commission discussed the applicant’s request for preliminary/final plan approval. Ms. Fountain noted that because there are a number of zoning comments that the applicant has agreed to comply with, it would be better for the plans to be revised to prove that they can in fact comply before granting final approval.

Mr. Bowe moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisor grant preliminary approval of land development to Grainhouse Developers, LLC for the premises located at 11 Penns Trail, being Bucks County Tax Parcel Number 29-010-097 (the “Premises”) prepared by Van Cleef Engineering Associates, comprising sheets 1 through 13 dated March 21, 2008 (the “Plans”), the Planning Commission recommends that the Board of Supervisors grant preliminary land development approval, subject to the following conditions, all of which the applicant has agreed to:

  1. Subject to the waivers granted and the variances secured, the Plans shall be revised to comply with the following professional consultants’ review letters:
  2. A. May 27, 2008 correspondence from CKS Engineers, Inc., except for the following comments which shall be resolved as indicated:

      (1) Zoning Issues:

      ¶ 1 – Comment only;

      ¶ 6 –A note shall be added to the Plans stating that the Premises shall be compliant with all zoning requirements applicable to parking at all times.

       ¶ 7 – The exclusion of the referenced easements from the base site area calculation shall be subject to the approval of the Township Engineer and Township Solicitor following their review of the applicable recorded easement(s).

      (2) Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance:

      ¶ 8 – The applicant shall provide the Township Engineer with a letter from the Township Fire Marshal approving the fire lane(s) as shown on the Plan to demonstrate compliance with the cited section of the SALDO.

      ¶ 14 – The applicant shall provide the Township Engineer with written confirmation from Bucks County Water & Sewer Authority that this project is exempt from the planning module requirement.

      (3) General Comments:

      The applicant will pay such fee as the Township’s Traffic Engineer determines will be due and also will provide the Traffic Engineer with a letter report identifying the expected afternoon and evening trips.

    B. April 15, 2008 correspondence from Carroll Engineering’s Traffic and Transportation Department:

    C. April 23, 2008 memorandum from Bucks County Planning Commission, with the following exceptions which will be resolved as indicated:

    ¶ 1 – Comment only;

    ¶ 2 – Comment only;

    ¶ 4 – The Plans shall be deemed compliant with requirements for fire lanes upon the Township Engineer’s receipt of a letter from the Township Fire Marshal approving the fire lane(s) as presently shown on the Plans.

    ¶ 6 – The applicant shall provide the Township Engineer with written confirmation from Bucks County Water & Sewer Authority that this project is exempt from the planning module requirement.

    D. April 1, 2008 correspondence from Township Fire Marshal Donald A. Harris.

  3. The applicant shall comply with all terms and conditions of any variances, conditional uses and/or special exceptions, and extensions thereof, granted by the Zoning Hearing Board or the Township Board of Supervisors.
  4. The applicant shall supply and execute all required financial security documents in a form satisfactory to the Township Solicitor.
  5. The applicant shall supply all permits required by all Township, County, State and Federal governmental agencies.
  6. All lighting shall comply with all Township Ordinances (except to the extent any waivers or variances have been granted) and no glare shall extend onto adjoining properties and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating.
  7. Signs shall be subject to and comply with Township Sign Ordinances (except to the extent any waivers or variances have been granted).
  8. The applicant shall comply with all storm water management ordinances and the Township Engineer recommendations and the applicant shall execute a storm water management agreement in a form acceptable to the Township’s professionals.
  9. No use shall be permitted which is noxious or offensive to the immediate area by reason of odor, dust, smoke, gas, vibration, illumination or noise or which constitutes a public hazard by fire, explosion or otherwise and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating.
  10. Confirmation that a fee in lieu or of providing open space is not required upon the basis of the Park and Recreation Board’s action at its May 7, 2008 meeting.
  11. All review and professionals fees as required under the Township SALDO shall be paid.
  12. Waivers from the following SALDO sections as indicated:
  13. A. ¶ 402.5 – To waive the requirement of a transportation impact study but in lieu thereof, payment of such traffic impact fee as is determined by the Traffic Engineer on the basis of information to be provided by the applicant;

    B. ¶ 402.3.B & C – To accept an aerial photograph of the site and surrounding area in lieu of topography within 400 feet of the site;

    C. ¶ 514.2 – To waive the requirement that all off-street parking is to be located on the side and rear of all buildings;

    D. ¶ 514.9 – To waive the requirement that parking areas be located a minimum of twenty feet from the outside wall of the nearest building;

    E. ¶ 520.5 - To waive the requirement that nothing be placed within the area of an easement provided, however, that applicant provides written confirmation sufficient in the opinion in the Township Engineer and Township Solicitor that existing recorded easements permit such uses as are proposed;

    F. ¶ 521.3.C.6 & 521.05.G – To waive the requirement that all basins have slopes less than four horizontal to one vertical;

    G. ¶ 521.5.H – To waive the requirement that the minimum top of berm lip of detention basin provides written confirmation sufficient in the opinion of the Township Engineer and Township Solicitor that existing recorded easements permit such uses as are proposed;

    H. ¶ 521.3.C.6& 521.5.G – To waive the requirement that all basins have slopes less than four horizontal to one vertical;

    I. ¶ 521.5.H – To waive the requirement that the minimum top of berm lip of detention basin be ten feet;

    J. ¶ 522.4.B – To waive the requirement that all grading and proposed slopes be a minimum of five feet from all property lines;

    K. ¶ 530 – To waive the requirement that new street trees be planted at intervals not to exceed twenty-five feet, but that in lieu thereof, the applicant contribute to an amount the Township Engineer determines compliance with this section would have cost.

Mr. Ott seconded and the motion passed 8-0.

Newtown Township – 100 Municipal Drive – Preliminary/Final Plan: Township Engineer Michele Fountain presented the plans for a municipal complex expansion which includes a 17,644 square foot administration building, a 20,438 square foot maintenance building, a 4,125 salt shed and a 4,745 square foot addition to the police administration building with associated parking and stormwater management facilities on a 21.2 acre tract in the MS Municipal Services Zoning District. Ms. Fountain showed the plan and architectural rendering of the proposed buildings. She noted that the Township will be seeking a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board for a front yard setback on the Municipal Drive side of the administration building. The administration building will be a two story building, however the second story will only house the audio/visual equipment room.

The Commission reviewed the draft letter of the Bucks County Planning Commission, discussing the waiver requests. The members did not object to the waiver to substitute an aerial photograph, or the traffic impact study. It was noted that no additional employees are planned immediately, looking ahead, the maximum increase in number of employees would be 22, with most of these seasonal Park and Recreation and Public Works employees. In discussing the request for a waiver for sidewalks along Durham Road, the members agreed that there was no objection to a waiver, but saw a need for a system of internal sidewalks to allow employees and residents to park and walk from one location to another, particularly at times when more than one event is taking place on site. Ms. Fountain pointed out proposed locations for such connecting sidewalks. Parking has been calculated for the entire complex, not for each individual building.

The members asked about the second story of the new administration building.

Ms. Fountain said that the building has only 200 square feet of finished space on the second floor. The roof is pitched, so she did not think the entire second floor could be finished and the space used.

The Commission was not in favor of granting a waiver of the requirement to provide street trees, but suggested that trees be planted as funds become available. Mr. Jirele and Mr. Schenkman agreed that the Board of Supervisors would probably require street trees. They also talked about planting a specimen tree, such as a sycamore or copper beech in front of the meeting room window.

Ms. Kaminski reviewed the Carroll Engineering letter dated May 16, 2008. She discussed the possible need for an additional access point to the complex for emergency use, particularly for emergency personnel to exit.

The members discussed an emergency access point in front of the old schoolhouse or at the Martindell house, as each location had driveways at one time. They also considered whether the main entrance might need widening and some kind of flashing lights that would stop traffic in both directions on Municipal Drive and on Durham Road during an emergency.

Ms. Fountain noted that the Fire Marshal’s review letter dated May 30, 2008 does not discuss any emergency exit improvements, only fire hydrant connections. She suggested that the Commission confirm with the Fire Marshal that the existing entrance is adequate and wide enough for emergencies.

Mr. Fidler noted that the plans presented are not fully engineered. He expressed some concern about recommending final approval without the usual review of a second engineer, since the Township Engineer has prepared the plans.

Mr. Jirele said that the Supervisors are eager to put this project out to bid and to get started on the building.

Ms. Kaminski suggested that if the Planning Commission would want to make changes to the plans after review by a second engineering firm, those changes could be made by change orders. She suggested that her firm, which is already familiar with the project, could provide a second review.

The members agreed that they would prefer an independent engineering review with a second Planning Commission review to follow. Mr. Fidler suggested that this be added as a condition of final approval, so as not to delay the bidding process.

Mr. Fisher moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant preliminary/final plan approval for land development plan of Newtown Township, Bucks County, for the Newtown Township Municipal Complex, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, being Bucks County Tax Parcel Number 29-003-018-02 (the “Premises”) prepared by CKS Engineers, Inc., comprising Sheets 1 through 11 dated May 9, 2008 (the “Plans”), subject to the following conditions, all of which the applicant has agreed to:

  1. Subject to the waivers granted and the variances secured, the Plans shall be revised to comply with the following professional consultants’ review letters:

    a. May 16, 2008 correspondence from Carroll Engineering Corporation- paragraph number 1 only;

    b. May 30, 2008 correspondence from Newtown Township Fire Marshal Donald A. Harris;

    c. June 4, 2008 draft of memorandum from Bucks County Planning Commission and the final version thereof once approved by County Commissioners - paragraphs 5 (b), 5(c), and 6, only.

  2. The applicant shall comply with all terms and conditions of any variances granted by the Zoning Hearing Board, including a variance from the front yard set back requirement applicable to frontage along municipal drive.
  3. The applicant shall supply all permits required by all Township, County, State and Federal governmental agencies including, but not limited to the following:

    a. Newtown Artesian Water Company;

    b. Newtown Bucks County Joint Municipal Authority;

    c. Bucks County Conservation District;

    d. NPDES Storm water Permit; and,

    e. Receipt from DEP of planning module exemption

  4. Applicant shall provide a will serve or appropriate agreement, or confirmatory correspondence, from the appropriate water and sewer authorities.
  5. The applicant shall provide an adequate letter from the Bucks County Conservation District as to erosion and sediment control.
  6. All lighting shall comply with all Township Ordinances (except to the extent any waivers or variances have been granted) and no glare shall extend onto adjoining properties and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating.
  7. Signs shall be subject to and comply with Township Sign Ordinances (except to the extent any waivers or variances have been granted).
  8. The applicant shall comply with all storm water management ordinances and the applicant shall execute a storm water management agreement in a form acceptable to the Township’s professionals.
  9. No use shall be permitted which is noxious or offensive to the immediate area by reason of odor, dust, smoke, gas, vibration, illumination or noise or which constitutes a public hazard by fire, explosion or otherwise and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating.
  10. In lieu of providing open space or a fee in lieu thereof, the Township shall provide community meeting space free of charge.
  11. Tree protection fencing shall be provided subject to prior approval of the Township and all planting shall be guaranteed for eighteen months and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating.
  12. All review and professionals fees as required under the Township SALDO shall be paid.
  13. Additional specific conditions upon the approval of the Plans are as follows:

    a. Connect the sidewalk between the proposed new Administration Building and the Martindell House, and connect the parking areas in front of the Administration Building and the Maintenance Building with a sidewalk;

    b. Revise the Plans to include a note that the Township shall explore the improvement of emergency vehicular access on the site by means including a secondary access way limited to emergency vehicles and/or improvement of Municipal Way at its intersection with Durham Road (Route 413);

    c. Expedited review of Plans by a second engineering firm and issuance of a written engineering plan review letter, which comments shall be provided to the Planning Commission for Planning Commission’s review and comment, if warranted, issuance of additional recommendations to Board of Supervisors (it being understood that the grant of this opportunity for review and recommendation by the Planning Commission shall in no way prevent the project from being put out to bid, if otherwise appropriate, and that any changes recommended by the Planning Commission and approved by the Board of Supervisors will be addressed by amending the bid documents or contract);

    d. Planting of specimen trees of a type to be determined by the Board of Supervisors outside of the Municipal Meeting Room between the Administration Building and Durham Road (Route 413).

  14. Waivers from the following sections of the Newtown Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance:

a. Section 402.3.B & C – To accept an aerial photograph of the premises and surrounding area in lieu of providing topography within 400 feet of the site;

b. Section 402.5 – To not require a Transportation Impact Study;

c. Section 516.2 – To not require curbing along Durham Road (Route 413) frontage;

d. Section 517.1 – To not require a sidewalk along Durham Road (Route 413) and Municipal Drive frontage;

e. Section 521.5.I – To allow less than two percent slope for the basin bottom.

In addition, the Planning Commission recommends a waiver from Section 222.1 of the Storm Water Management Ordinance to not require the two-year post-development flow to be reduced to the one-year pre-development flow.

Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 8-0.

 Conditional Use Application

OLLY Shoes Fit for a Kid – 2690 South Eagle Road: Kyle Hipple was in attendance to review this application for conditional use approval for use E-1, retail store in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District. The shop will occupy 2,568 square feet in the Village at Newtown South, next to Petsmart. Mr. Hipple said that OLLY Shoes is a chain of fourteen stores selling shoes for infants and young children up to about 8 years old. Some of the branches of the chain carry private school uniform shoes; he was not sure whether this store would make such arrangements with the local private schools.

In response to questions from the Commission, Ms. Fountain said that as part of final dedication of the shopping center, the developer is to have addressed the issues regarding parking and screening of dumpsters.

In response to Mr. Duffy’s question, Mr. Hipple indicated that the maximum number of employees at any one time would probably not be more than four, and the hours listed in the application are the maximum hours of operation; the shop would probably not remain open every evening until 9:00 PM.

Mr. Bowe moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the conditional use application of OLLY Shoes Fit for a Kid (OLLY USA, LLC) for a E-1 retail use at 2690 South Eagle Road ,subject to the following conditions, which were discussed with and agreed to by the applicant:  

  1. That the applicant comply with the review letter of CKS Engineering dated May 22, 2008,
  2. That the maximum number of employees will be 5 at any one time,
  3. That the hours of operation will be 10:00 to 9:00 PM, Monday through Sunday,
  4. No hazardous, flammable or explosive material shall be stored or used in the building,
  5. No noxious, hazardous or offensive impact upon surrounding areas be created by the proposed use by reason of dust, odor, smoke, gas, vibration, illumination or noise, or which constitutes a public hazard by fire, explosion or otherwise,
  6. Loading and unloading of deliveries will be by box trucks with no tractor trailer deliveries,
  7. The applicant shall supply a true and correct copy of the lease as a condition of approval.
  8. The premises shall be ADA compliant.
  9. All signage must meet Township requirements.
  10. All review fees must be paid.

The Commission found that applicant meets the requirements of JMZO Section 1301.B. applicable to all conditional uses, as well as the specific use regulations applicable to the E-1 retail use in the Planned Commercial Shopping District as set forth in section 803 of JMZO.

Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 8-0.

Liaison Reports

Board of Supervisors: Mr. Schenkman reported that the Board would like to consider the best way for the Planning Commission to report to the Supervisors. He noted that while the written synopsis is usually adequate, there have been times when the Board would like additional information or an explanation of the Planning Commission’s recommendations or concerns.

Mr. Jirele said that at the start of the new year, the Board and administration had attempted to streamline the committee report process by requiring written reports and limiting oral reports from chairmen or members of committees. It had recently become apparent that without a member in attendance, it is difficult to get clarifications. He suggested that the Planning Commission discuss this matter with the Board at a work session. He noted that when routine issues are presented the written synopsis is probably adequate, but the Commission and Board might want to discuss some adjustments, particularly when the Commission is not unanimous in its recommendation or when complicated plans are reviewed.

The Commission members agreed that they would prefer the Chairman or Vice Chairman to be present to answer concerns of the Board. The written synopsis had always been used only as a guide for the oral report, and rarely includes subtle points of discussion.

Joint Regional Planning Commission: Mr. Sensibaugh reported that the Joint Planning Commission has begun discussing possible revisions to the JMZO for the B-1, B-12 and B-14 uses. There has been some concern about very large homes on very small lots in the CM district. The advantage to the B-14 use is preservation of contiguous open space.

Mr. Jirele said that the Board of Supervisors had requested that the Township Engineer investigate the B-14 use in Newtown.

Mr. Fidler and Mr. Lombardi briefly discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the B-14 use, and agreed that there might be a need for possible modifications to the lot sizes permitted.

Historical Architectural Review Board: Mr. Lombardi reported that HARB has been reviewing signage for businesses on Sycamore Street. They will also be reviewing possible changes to the paint on the shops at Goodnoe’s Corner.

Environmental Advisory Council: Mr. Fisher reported that the EAC sponsored a “Cool Cities” information program with Newtown Borough and the Sierra Club.

Open Space Comprehensive Plan: Mr. Sensibaugh reported that a committee formed of members of the Planning Commission, EAC and Park and Recreation Board will hold its first meeting on June 9, 2008 to update the plan in order to qualify for County Open Space grants.

Without objection the meeting adjourned at 10:30 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary