NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes of the meeting held on April 5, 2011
Present: Chairman Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby, Paul Cohen, Dennis Fisher, Larry Galley and Michael Iapalucci, members. Also in attendance were Michele Fountain, Township Engineer, Kevin Kochanski, Township Planner, John Torrente, Township Solicitor and Philip Calabro, Township Supervisor.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Whartenby moved to accept the minutes of March 1, 2011. Mr. Iapalucci seconded and the motion passed 4-0-2, with Messrs. Cohen and Fidler abstaining.
NAC Fitness Club Addition, 209 Penns Trail - Final Plan: Engineer Luke Letter of Langan Engineering was in attendance to review the revised final plan for land development of an 11,450 square foot expansion of the existing Athletic Club, with associated parking, access drive improvements, landscaping and stormwater management facilities. The plan also includes consolidation of Tax Map Parcels 29-10-137, 29-10-138 and 29-10-139 to form lot 29-10-137-1.
Mr. Teller said that the applicant will comply with the consultants' review letters. He noted that CKS has requested the purpose of monitoring wells on the plan. He has not yet been able to determine the purpose, but former property owner Dunmore thinks that the wells were required by the DEP to monitor removal of underground storage tanks. He will obtain letters from the Water and Sewer Authorities to show the wells are not theirs. Dunmore is trying to find appropriate documentation, as well.
In response to questions from the Commission, Ms. Fountain said that she has seen similar monitoring wells on the Promenade property. Monitoring wells might have been a more common practice some years ago.
Ms. Fountain said that she would like to clarify the Township's position on the storm pipe which runs under Penns Trail. The Township would like the entire pipe televised under Penns Trail to the connecting pipe, and should the pipe be inadequate, the applicant should repair or replace it, on the applicant's property or beyond it where it will connect.
Mr. Teller agreed, noting that the pipe is scheduled to be televised on April 12, 2011.
Ms. Fountain noted that with construction of the new driveway, a drainage swale will be pushed onto an adjoining property.
Mr. Teller said that an easement agreement with the adjoining property is being drafted.
Mr. Kochanski said that the plans show that the applicant is not able to provide a staggered row of plantings along the drive due to spatial constraints. This will require a waiver from SALDO section 529.4.C.
Mr. Teller said that they are planning on a retaining wall along the drive. The wall would be three feet high and would satisfy the screening intent of the ordinance.
Mr. Kochanski suggested possibly placing some plantings on top of the wall, creating higher screening.
Mr. Whartenby moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the final plan of Newtown Athletic Club Fitness Addition, for the premises located at 209 Penns Trail, Newtown, Pennsylvania, 19840, being Bucks County Tax Parcel Numbers 29-10-137, 29-20-138, 29-10-139-1, to be consolidated to create TMP 29-10-137-1, and 29-10-140, prepared by Langan Engineering, 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. March 17, 2011 and March 25, 2011 correspondence from CKS Engineering, except for the following comments, which shall be resolved as indicated:
o A drainage swale easement to TMP 29-10-141 is to be obtained and submitted to the Township Solicitor for review;
o Closure reports for monitoring wells are to be presented to the Township;
o Storm pipe under Penns Trail and connecting pipe will be televised and repaired or replaced if needed.
B. March 4, 2011 correspondence of Boucher and James, except for the following comment, which shall be resolved as indicated:
o A waiver from SALDO section 529.4.C is to be obtained.
C. March 25, 2011 correspondence from Carroll Engineers, Inc,
D. March 19, 2011 correspondence from Bucks County Planning Commission,
E. December 16, 2010 correspondence from Newtown Emergency Services Department.
2) The applicant shall comply with all terms and conditions of revised preliminary plan, as outlined in a letter from Township Solicitor Jeffrey Garton dated October 19, 2010;
3) The applicant shall comply with all terms and conditions of any variances, conditional uses and/or special exceptions granted by the Zoning Hearing Board,
4) The applicant shall supply all permits required by all Township, County, State and Federal governmental agencies.
5) The applicant shall supply and execute all financial security documents in a form satisfactory to the Township Solicitor.
6) Applicant shall provide a will serve or appropriate agreement from the appropriate water and sewer authorities.
7) The applicant shall provide an adequate letter from the Bucks County Conservation District as to erosion and sediment control.
8) All lighting shall comply with all Township Ordinances and no glare shall extend onto adjoining properties and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating.
9) 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.
10) 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.
11) The applicant shall execute a declaration of unilateral restrictions and covenants as to the notes of the plan.
12) All review and professional fees as required under the Township SALDO shall be paid.
13) Applicant shall provide sufficient landscape buffering so as to preclude headlights from impinging upon nearby intersections.
14) All signs shall be subject to and comply with Township sign Ordinances and shall only be placed after securing any and all permits from the Township.
15) A fee in lieu of open space as recommended by the Park and Recreation Board shall be paid;
16) The Plan shall be ADA compliant.
Mr. Iapalucci seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Road - Waiver of Land Development: Eric P. Gianelle and Jay Clough of KCBA Architects were in attendance to review this request for a waiver of land development to a project which will renovate the existing gymnasium deck and connect the Gym, Pemberton Hall and the Charles E. Rollins Center internally. The plans include the addition of a vestibule between the Wellness Center and Gym; a lower lobby addition to provide an elevator, making the facility ADA compliant; a server room addition, and a vestibule to provide a weather break for the IT workroom. The plan will add 4,591 square feet of impervious surface, but will remove 3,537 square feet of existing paving, meaning a total increase of impervious surface of 1,054 square feet, or 1% of the area of existing buildings being connected. No new instructional space is being added.
Mr. Fidler explained that the Township is in the process of reviewing stormwater ordinances to comply with recent DEP requirements. For this reason, he would suggest that the Township Engineer review the existing stormwater facilities to be sure they can handle the additional impervious.
Mr. Gianelle said that he would provide calculations to CKS and work with the Engineer to make sure stormwater facilities are adequate.
Mr. Whartenby asked about existing steps from the gym to the lawn.
Mr. Gianelle said that the plan is to enclose this plaza area.
Mr. Fidler asked about the addition of a lower level restroom. He questioned whether the EDU's would be adequate.
Mr. Gianelle said that they plan to move the handicapped restrooms to the lower level, closing the upstairs facility. He agreed to contact the Sewer Authority to ascertain that the EDU's are sufficient.
Mr. Iapalucci said that he did not recall seeing a request for a waiver of land development before. He was concerned about the review process if a waiver were granted.
Mr. Fidler explained that if a waiver of land development is granted, the applicant does not need to go before the Planning Commission and Supervisors with preliminary and final land development plans. The process will be quicker, but will still require permits and inspections by the Township.
Ms. Fountain said that the plans are still reviewed by the Engineer to confirm compliance with the JMZO and SALDO. The project does not involve street improvements.
Mr. Fidler said that, as the applicant has agreed to work with the Engineer on stormwater management, no new students or employees are anticipated with the construction and the plans help the College comply better with the ADA, he would be inclined to recommend the waiver.
Mr. Fisher moved to recommend that Board of Supervisors waive land development for renovation and additions to connect three buildings at the campus at 275 Swamp Road, subject to the following conditions:
1. That the applicant shall execute a waiver of land development agreement consistent with a form acceptable to the Township Solicitor;
2. The applicant will comply with CKS Engineers' review letter dated March 22, 2011;
3. Stormwater management and impervious surface calculations shall be submitted by Applicant and reviewed and approved by the Township Engineer for compliance with the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance and the Township Storm-water Management Ordinance;
4. Applicant shall obtain an approval from the Bucks County Conservation District for an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan;
5. That the applicant shall obtain any additional EDU's which might be needed from the Newtown Joint Sewer Authority;
6. That should the plans be changed the applicant will return to the Planning Commission for further review;
7. Applicant shall establish an escrow to pay for all review and inspection fees by the Township professionals and staff.
Mr. Iapalucci seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Stormwater Management Act 167: Ms. Fountain continued her review of the Neshaminy Creek Watershed Act 167 Stormwater Ordinance. The new ordinance will not have any exemption from applying volume controls in any new planned development. In addition the calculated capture runoff volume cannot leave the site and shall either be infiltrated, reused or evapo-transpired. The new ordinance does not consider parcel size, but only size of new impervious surface. The Plan allows municipalities to accept non-engineered small project site plans for residential projects between 1000 and 5000 square feet and to accept self-regulation of volume control requirements for residential projects under 1000 square feet. The Bucks County Planning Commission has approved the self-regulation concept for residential projects. Ms. Fountain provided a written summary, comparing the existing criteria to the new criteria.
Mr. Fidler asked whether small projects would require inspection and additional fees if the Township elected self -regulation.
Ms. Fountain said that the permit would ask what best management practices (BMPs) the applicant would use, but there would not be follow-up inspection or enforcement.
Mr. Galley asked whether any documentation of the BMPs would be required.
Ms. Fountain said this would be up to the Township to add as a requirement. She noted that in addition to self-regulation, the Bucks County Planning Commission also approved the option of a non-engineered plan for small residential projects under 5,000 square feet.
Mr. Cohen said that he is very concerned about the burden the new regulations would place on residents contemplating very small projects, such as small sheds and pads for barbecue grills. If projects are already in compliance with zoning, the Township should not have to be further involved and the resident should not have to present plans.
Ms. Fountain said that some municipalities have contemplated a fee in lieu, but the Bucks County Planning Commission does not feel this meets the intent of the new regulations.
Mr. Fisher asked what could be submitted in place of fully engineered plans for small projects under 5,000 square feet. He also questioned how to educate residents on these changes.
Ms. Fountain said that residents could draw their plans on graph paper themselves for small projects. She suggested that the Township Newsletter would be a good first step in educating the public, followed up with information on the Web site and the television station.
Mr. Whartenby suggested that the Township could develop a formula for calculating BMPs. Residents could insert the measurements of their improvement projects and the formula could give them the appropriate options, whether its rain gardens, seepage beds or plantings.
The members discussed other ways to help residents with the new regulations, including working with the EAC on a pamphlet with ideas and calculation formulas. Mr. Whartenby said that he has a pamphlet from the City of Philadelphia which might serve as a guide.
Mr. Fidler said that if the Township were to allow self-regulation, it would become difficult to monitor projects when properties are sold.
Mr. Cohen noted that this would not be any different than when homes are sold without the appropriate inspections for any home improvements.
Mr. Cohen and Mr. Iapalucci both said that they strongly favor self-regulation for small projects. The zoning ordinance would protect the Township in cases where the property owner is close to his impervious limit before starting a project. If a project requires zoning relief, then requiring the resident to address run-off might be appropriate as a condition of relief.
Mr. Iapalucci said that it does not appear that the new regulations take into account existing conditions. The same requirements seem to apply whether the property is large or small, whether it is new construction or a heavily wooded lot with mature trees.
Ms. Fountain said that the County has been discussing remedies such as protections for existing trees.
Mr. Fidler said that he is eager to discuss this at the Jointure. He noted that it is not unusual in Upper Makefield and Wrightstown to reach the 5000 square foot limit with simple projects such as repaving of a driveway on a very large flag lot.
Ms. Fountain asked the Commission for a consensus on self-regulation.
The members were in agreement that the Planning Commission would recommend to the Supervisors that Newtown should accept self-regulation for residential projects under 1000 square feet and non-engineered plans for residential projects under 5000 square feet. The members also agreed that the stormwater management and erosion and sedimentation control requirements in the SALDO should be moved to the Township's stand-alone stormwater management ordinance.
Subcommittee and Liaison Reports
EAC: Mr. Fisher reported that the EAC and Tree Tenders are sponsoring a tree planting at Clark Nature Center on April 9, 2011. The EAC is also compiling information on pesticides for the Township Newsletter's "Green Corner". The EAC will be screening the film "A Chemical Reaction" later in the month. The members are continuing work to draft a pamphlet on stormwater management for home projects.
Joint Historic Commission: Mr. Fidler noted that the Historic Commission had copied the Planning Commission on a letter to the Supervisors regarding demolition by neglect of some old buildings, including the house in front of Newtown Swim Club and the Toll House in the Village at Newtown. He said that the Planning Commission should await direction from the Supervisors before becoming involved with this issue.
Mr. Cohen noted that the next regular Planning Commission meeting would be held on the second night of Passover.
Mr. Fidler said that he would prefer to cancel the meeting and attempt to reschedule Lynn Bush's attendance when all of the members are in attendance. As the only other agenda items would be Zoning Hearing Board applications, he suggested that the members review and comment via e-mail with one another. He would report any comments or concerns to the Supervisors.
Resident Judith Norkin suggested that once the stormwater ordinance has been adopted, the various homeowners associations could help with the public education component.
Ms. Norkin asked about the procedure for McDonald's approvals.
Mr. Fidler said that the applicant would submit plans for land development. These plans would be reviewed by our professional consultants and scheduled for a review by the Planning Commission. The Supervisors must act on the plans within 90 days of the Planning Commission review. At this time no formal plans have been submitted to the Township.
Ms. Norkin asked whether any other locations had been considered by McDonald's.
Mr. Fidler said that this is a private matter between land owners and prospective tenants. The Township would not be involved in this.
Ms. Norkin said that she has visited the McDonald's in Chestnut Hill. It did not have a drive through and blended well in the Chestnut Hill historic district. A design like that should be considered for Newtown.
Mr. Fidler noted that McDonald's is considering a parcel which is not in the historic district.
Ms. Norkin said that she has researched a clause in the lease between Wendy's and Village at Newtown. It restricts other businesses whose income is 15% from hamburgers to the east side of Eagle Road in the shopping center.
Mr. Whartenby moved to adjourn at 9:45 PM. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary