NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes of the meeting held on June 16, 2009
Present: Chairman Allen Fidler, Peggy Driscoll, Dennis Fisher, Fred Olivari, Jay Sensibaugh, Robert Whartenby and Brandon Wind members. Also in attendance were: Michele Fountain, Township Engineer, Michael Galla, Codes Enforcement Officer and Jennifer McGrath, Township Solicitor.
Call to Order: Mr. Fidler called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Sensibaugh asked that in the minutes of May 19, 2009, page 9, paragraph 3, read, “… to recommend that the Supervisors send the solicitor, but not to oppose the application.”
Mr. Whartenby moved to accept the minutes of May 19, 2009 as amended. Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mr. Fidler moved to accept the minutes of June 2, 2009. Mr. Sensibaugh seconded and the motion passed 5-0-1, with Mr. Fisher abstaining.
Traffic Engineer’s Report: The Commission reviewed a written update submitted by Carroll Engineering. Ms. Fountain noted that installation of a signal at South Eagle and Swamp Road is being done by Gilmore with CKS Engineering working on sidewalks. The project will go to bid on June 24, 2009 with work to begin within one month. The project is funded by impact fees and liquid fuel funds.
Mr. Fidler said that PennDOT has required a more detailed study for the Terry Drive Extension project.
Mr. Sensibaugh asked whether Terry Drive should be added to the TIP. He also noted that there is some grant money available for rapidly growing communities that this project could have qualified for.
Mr. Fisher said that he has updated Carroll Engineering on correspondence between the Township and PennDOT on the Swamp Road project. PennDOT said that letters sent were not adequate and a more formal request for changes to the project would be required.
Lockheed Martin, 100 Campus Drive – Preliminary and Preliminary as Final Plan for Land Development: Attorney Don Marshall and Timothy Stout and Christopher Hager of Langan Engineering were in attendance to review this two phase plan for expansion of the Lockheed Martin site on 52.25 acres in the OR Office Research Zoning District. The applicant is seeking preliminary as final plan approval for Phase I, which includes construction of a 16,616 square foot conference center with stormwater basin, an 800 square foot chiller expansion and a 19,045 square foot High Bay PIM with modification to existing stormwater basin. The applicant is seeking preliminary plan approval for Phase II, which will include a three-story, 40,974 square foot office building and a two story, 40,974 square foot office building with revisions to the existing parking lot.
Mr. Marshall noted that portions of this plan, including 211 parking spaces held in reserve, had been previously approved. The Zoning Hearing Board had granted relief for the setbacks and the height for the new high bay.
Mr. Whartenby said that he had been the landscape architect for Langan on the original construction.
The Commission reviewed the letter of CKS Engineering of June 9, 2009.
Regarding comments in the letter, Mr. Marshall said that the applicant will comply with most. He noted that the Zoning Officer has confirmed that the propose offices and conference center are for use by employees and are accessory uses to the research facility. The applicant does not want to add a loading berth because the new high bay is an expansion of the existing high bay and will be used for testing of antennae. The same employees will use the facility using the same doors and loading berth. The plans will be revised to show the base site area and net buildable area calculations. The impervious surface ratio is based on the gross site area because a variance to allow an impervious surface ratio of 49.9% was obtained in 1996 based on the 1996 ordinance which used base site area for calculations. Some grading will be done on the bio-retention basin for utilities, which are below grade, as shown on the deed, a copy of which will be provided.
Mr. Marshall said that because this is a restricted access facility which only connects to the Newtown Bypass, the applicant is seeking a waiver from the requirement to install sidewalks on Campus Drive.
Mr. Fidler said that the Township has been attempting to fill in gaps in sidewalks and trying to create connections to the trail system. Perhaps a connection to the Silver Lake terminus of the trail to the parking lot or a fee in lieu could be discussed.
Mr. Marshall asked for a waiver at Phase I with a review at Phase II. The applicant is also seeking waivers to allow a 3:1 ratio on excavation and to allow a 12 inch storm pipe because it will connect with a 12 inch pipe and a partial waiver to allow portions of the site to be considered as meadow for determination of flow rate.
Ms. Fountain agreed that these waivers would be reasonable.
Mr. Marshall explained that no new access point is planned for the high bay chamber; all access would be through the existing entrance, so no new parking spaces would be required. He noted that the high bay would be LEEDS Silver and the conference center would be LEEDS Gold certified.
In reviewing the letter of Carroll Engineering dated June 8, 2009, Mr. Marshall said that there would be no change in driving patterns for Phase I of the project, so there would be no traffic impact. The applicant is asking for a waiver of the traffic impact study until Phase II. Phase I would begin construction shortly; it is not yet determined when Phase II will be built.
Mr. Fidler said that he would expect the Board of Supervisors to have some questions about the waiver of a traffic impact fee. He suggested that Mr. Marshall explain to the Supervisors that the plans for Phase I are to be internal improvements for existing employees only, which will not generate additional trips.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that the Board of Supervisors had some concerns during the hearing for a conference center at Cricklewood Green on the other side of the Bypass. There was some concern about cooking facilities and about using the facility as a center bringing in employees from other locations for training or seminar meetings, or possibly using the facility on weekends for other than employee uses.
Mr. Marshall said that he would discuss this with the Supervisors; the applicant is not seeking a full waiver, but a postponement until Phase II.
Mr. Fidler asked whether the applicant’s dedication of four acres of open space for a Township Park had been based on the full build out of the facilities.
Mr. Marshall said that he would research this further; he was not sure whether the conference center and chiller expansion had been included.
Ms. Fountain suggested that the applicant write a letter explaining that there would be no new peak hour trips with Phase I and an estimate of possible new trips anticipated with Phase II. She said that the original traffic study may have included Phase II. She also advised that any motion to recommend approval should include the Commission’s recommendation of approval of the parking spaces to remain in reserve, to be installed if needed.
Mr. Marshall advised that the Bucks County Conservation District application has been resubmitted.
Ms. Fountain said that she would be satisfied with a recommendation of preliminary as final plan approval for Phase I with the understanding that the plans would clearly show which parts of the plan are to be postponed until Phase II.
Mr. Sensibaugh moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant Preliminary as Final Land development approval for Phase I and Preliminary Land Development approval for phase II the plan of Land Development of LMC Properties, Inc. for the premises located at Campus Drive, being known as Bucks County Tax Parcel No. 29-10-75-4, prepared by Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, comprised of Sheets 1-40, dated May 19, 2009, with no revisions, subject to the following conditions, all of which the applicant has agreed to:
Zoning : Paragraph 10 B loading berths B A loading berth will be added in front of the MPMF. The high bay building and chiller building expansions will continue to use the existing loading berths.
Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance : With the comment that Paragraph 4 is a waiver request.
Stormwater Management : With the comment that Paragraphs 4, 5 and 12 are waiver requests.
General Comments : With the comment with respect to Paragraph 6 that Users of the High Bay expansion will continue to use the existing entrance in front of the PTB building, which has the required accessible parking spaces.
With the comment that Paragraph 2 is a waiver request.
The following waiver requests were recommended for approval, in part:
The following waiver requests were recommended for approval, in full:
Lastly, the Planning Commission approves the use of the reserved parking spaces.
Mr. Whartenby seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Subcommittee & Liaison Reports
Joint Zoning Council: Mr. Sensibaugh reported that the upcoming agenda will have a recommendation to adopt the JMZO amendment removing auto dealerships and service stations from the permitted uses in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District. Wrightstown’s and Upper Makefield’s Planning Commissions and Supervisors have approved the change and it should be recommended for advertisement to adopt shortly. It should appear on an upcoming Newtown Township Board of Supervisors agenda soon.
Historic Architectural Review Board: Resident Harriet Beckert, a member of HARB, explained that Newtown’s historic district is part of the National Park Service’s historic districts and comes under supervision of the Department of the Interior. A Historical Architectural Review Board is mandated where a historic district exists. Mrs. Beckert agreed to keep the Planning Commission informed of any discussion as to possible expansion of Newtown’s historic district.
Continued Discussion of Sycamore Street
Mr. Fidler said that at a future meeting the Commission should review the performance standards for large retail businesses. While large retail is not permitted in the TC Zoning District, the Commission might want to discuss some modified large retail uses for some of the larger parcels in the TC district.
Mr. Fidler said that he would like to consider a use similar to a PRD for a mixed commercial development, possibly creating a new Planned Commercial District (PCD) use for the TC Zoning District.
Ms. McGrath said that a new use such as this could be created that would only be permitted in the TC district.
Ms. Fountain suggested possibly an overlay for the PCD. She said that she has begun reviewing ordinances in other municipalities where such uses exist. Some PCD’s have modified performance standards; certain concessions are made to developers in exchange for conforming to certain other standards such as façade standards or energy efficiency.
Mr. Sensibaugh suggested that the PCD have a minimum lot size rather than creating an overlay or separate Zoning District..
Mr. Fidler noted that there have been sketch plans presented in Newtown Borough for redevelopment of the Stockburger property and the Centre Ave. parking lot and state store area. If those plans are developed it might make extending the PCD use to the south end of Sycamore Street a good idea.
The Commission briefly discussed possible performance standards for a PCD, including requiring varied heights on buildings, a limit on impervious surface ratio, or a limit on the largest size building permitted. Mr. Sensibaugh expressed some concern about stormwater management close to Newtown Creek on the south end of Sycamore Street.
Ms. Fountain said she would provide the current ownership and lot sizes for the larger parcels on Sycamore Street to help with developing performance standards.
Ms. McGrath asked the Commission to give some consideration to which uses they would like to include in the mixed use or in the PCD. Referring to Mr. Fidler’s earlier mention of large retail, she noted that CVS drug stores, for example, are typically 11,000 square feet.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that perhaps single, stand alone, retail businesses of about 12,000 to 15,000 square feet could be permitted if they did not take access directly onto Sycamore Street but had a side entrance or an internal drive. He talked about a building configuration with the shorter wall parallel to Sycamore Street and the longer wall perpendicular.
Members considered this but agreed it would still be important to try to avoid front yard parking, creating strip mall appearance on Sycamore Street.
The Commission reviewed uses that had been considered at past meetings. They agreed that some performance standards should be reviewed for large retail, office and larger residential uses. The members might also want to give additional consideration to drive-through windows for certain low impact businesses.
Mr. Fidler suggested inviting a member of the Newtown Corporation Board to participate in some of the discussion. When Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation was formed, before it became Newtown Corporation, a great deal of research had been done on revitalization of the downtown, particularly on State Street.
Ms. Fountain suggested creating a new type of residential use, incorporating some of the standards for garden apartment, either as a use or as part of a mixed use development.
Mrs. Driscoll said that she would be supportive of a larger residential use, which would contribute to a vibrant, pedestrian friendly community, but suggested that if performance standards required larger units, for example 1500 square feet or above, might encourage ownership. The members discussed this and agreed that small rental units might not bring stability to the Street.
The members briefly discussed adding performance space, performing arts center and/or live music venue to permitted uses.
Mr. Sensibaugh pointed to a narrow lot adjacent to Newtown Ambulance Squad. He said that this parcel might be Village at Newtown’s dedicated open space, but he is not sure whether it is owned by the Township or Village at Newtown. It is very overgrown now, but could possibly be cleaned up and made into a walking path joining Village at Newtown with Newtown Presbyterian Church’s gardens and Sycamore Street. It could possibly be made into a linear park.
Ms. Fountain agreed to research ownership of this parcel.
Mr. Fidler said that perhaps some Park and Recreation impact fees could be specifically dedicated to improvements to this parcel or to enhance a possible creek walk area in conjunction with Borough efforts for a similar feature.
Mrs. Beckert said that HARB would be supportive of working on architectural standards similar to those for the historic district for any PCD use created.
Old Business: Mr. Sensibaugh reported that the updated open space comprehensive plan draft has been returned to the Township by the Bucks County Planning Commission for review by the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Sensibaugh moved to adjourn at 10:30 PM. Mr. Fidler seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary