NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Minutes of the meeting held on October 18, 2011
Present: Chairman Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby, Paul Cohen, Peggy Driscoll, Larry Galley and Fred Olivari, members. Also in attendance were Michele Fountain, Township Engineer, John Torrente, Township Solicitor, Kevin Kochanski, Township Planner and Michael Hartey, Code Enforcement Officer.
Call to Order: Mr. Fidler called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes: Mrs. Driscoll moved to approve the minutes of September 20, 2011. Mr. Olivari seconded and the motion passed 5-0-1, with Mr. Olivari abstaining.
New Life Christian Church Daycare Center – 646 South State Street: Attorney Don Marshall and Pastor Norman Leve were in attendance to review this application for a daycare facility, Use C-10, at a 1.3 acre lot with a single family dwelling in the TC-2 Town Commercial Zoning District, adjacent to the Church. Associated parking and access drive improvements are also proposed.
Mr. Marshall explained that the residence consists of a 1500 square foot first floor and a 1200 square foot second floor and a 1500 square foot basement. The site complies with setback and impervious surface requirements. Among the proposed improvements are installation of 4 parking spaces, with an additional four held in green, handicapped ramp, and improvement to the first floor restroom for handicapped accessibility. The driveway will be 20 feet wide and one-way, although the applicant could show a 25 foot driveway on the plan and 5 feet held in green. The playground will be fenced with access through the house, only. The application will be amended to 24 children and eight employees working in two shifts of four employees each. Employees will park in the Church parking lot, leaving four paved spaces for parent drop off and pick up. The site is served by public water and sewer; an additional EDU is to be purchased. Deliveries will be once daily by the Church’s van.
The Commission reviewed the Boucher and James letter dated October 5, 2011. In response to comments in the letter, Pastor Leve explained that the second floor of the house will not be part of the daycare center, nor will it be a residential rental. There are some bedrooms on the second floor which may occasionally be used for lodging for visiting clergy and missionaries. The partially finished basement might be used for a daycare area, but the enrollment will not be expanded beyond 24 children. The building will have sprinklers throughout.
Mr. Fidler asked the basement would have access to the outside.
Mr. Marshall confirmed that there is an outside door to the basement. The facility will comply with the building inspection; the license is pending.
Ms. Fountain pointed out that if the two shifts of employees overlap, then the facility must provide eight parking spaces.
Mr. Marshall said that the employees will park at the adjacent Church’s parking lot.
Mr. Fidler said that such an arrangement will only work while the Church owns both properties.
Mr. Marshall said that the Church will enter into an easement agreement for the use of the parking lot.
Mr. Kochanski suggested that the four reserve parking spaces be located on the other side of the drive aisle and that the plan show a 25 foot drive aisle with 5 feet in reserve, so that the plan will be compliant.
The Commission reviewed the CKS letter dated October 10, 2011. Ms. Fountain said that she also had concerns about additional uses for the property.
Mr. Marshall said that the garage will be for storage only and the second floor use will be limited to occasional weekend use, not to a permanent residence.
Mr. Fidler suggested that this use be considered an accessory use to the Church.
Pastor Leve explained that the Church had been interested in acquiring the property and the daycare center is to help pay the mortgage on the parcel. There had been some concern about possible commercial use of the property when the original owner retired.
Mr. Kochanski and Mr. Fidler said that the upstairs rooms might need a separate entrance from the daycare. This is a matter for the building code inspector and the Department of Welfare.
Pastor Leve said that he has not begun the state approval process; he was waiting for Township approval first.
Mr. Cohen expressed some concern about stacking of cars at drop off and pick-up backing onto State Street. He asked whether the access should be one way with the exit on State Street instead.
Pastor Leve said that he would prefer the entrance on State Street because the Freedom Drive access will be difficult to find. He noted that this is daycare, not nursery school, so parent drop-off/pick-up would be more staggered.
Ms. Fountain asked about traffic on State Street in the morning and evening hours.
Pastor Leve said that he has not seen traffic back up as far as the entrance to this house. He did not think it would be a problem.
Mr. Whartenby suggested that the entrance access point be widened to 25 feet, with 2.5 additional feet shown on either side of the driveway.
Mr. Cohen moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the Conditional Use application of New Life Christian Church of Newtown for Tax Map Parcel #29-010-002, 646 South State Street, Newtown Township, Pennsylvania 18940 to operate a C-10 Child Care Facility within a TC-2 – Town Commercial District, subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Olivari seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mr. Marshall asked the Commission to consider a waiver of land development for this project. The only land development planned is the access driveway and the parking spaces.
Mrs. Driscoll moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve Applicant, New Life Christian Center of Newtown Inc.’s request to waive land development for the proposed operation of C-10 Child Care Facility within a TC-2 – Town Commercial District for TMP. 29-010-002, 646 South State Street, Newtown Township PA 18940, subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Whartenby seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Neshaminy Creek Act 167 Watershed Plan Revisions: Ms. Fountain explained that in response to the concerns of many municipalities about the time, effort and expense involved in implementing and enforcing the new Ordinance, DEP and Bucks County Planning Commission have revised some of the language in the Act 167 plan to state that volume controls for those activities that increase impervious surface by 1,000 square feet or less are “not applicable.”. Property owners will not be required to install stormwater management controls for small projects unless the activity is found to be a contributor of pollution to waters of the Commonwealth. Ms. Fountain provided the Commission with a memo which includes suggested language prepared to be used in amending the Stormwater Ordinance which the Township had adopted on May 25, 2011, a table of impervious surface exemption thresholds and a site plan checklist. There is also language to clarify cumulative activity.
Ms. Fountain explained that the original ordinance included any earth disturbance between 1000 and 5000 square feet. She said that there are times when the Township may want to take a look at such projects.
Mr. Fidler noted that this type of activity, such as occurs in agriculture, must be approved by the Conservation District.
Ms. Fountain noted that the Conservation District is only considering erosion and sedimentation controls.
Mr. Whartenby moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors advertise and hold a public hearing to adopt additional amendments to the Newtown Township Stormwater Management Ordinance to be consistent with the latest revisions to the Neshaminy Creek Act 167 Watershed Plan and as more fully outlined in Michele Fountain P.E.’s Memorandum dated October 12, 2011 to the Newtown Township Planning Commission which is incorporated herein by reference, and as supplemented as follows:
6. Section 206 of the “Newtown Township Stormwater Ordinance (Ordinance 2011-O-2)” is hereby amended to include a new subsection I. as follows:
Mr. Cohen seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Subcommittee and Liaison Reports
Board of Supervisors: The recording secretary reported that at its October 12, 2011 regular meeting, the Supervisors voted to seek party status in any conditional use hearing that might occur in Newtown Borough for the former Stockburger property on State Street. The Board approved the Corner Bakery Café conditional use and approved the police building improvements. At its work session on October 17, 2011, the Board reviewed a draft guideline of architectural style for the historic district, agreed to changes to the driveway apron and sidewalk repair and replacement ordinances and discussed possible adoption of a tree bank ordinance.
Joint Zoning Council: Mr. Fidler reported that the Council continued its review of proposed energy ordinances and agreed that since each Jointure partner has different issues to be addressed by such an ordinance, it might be more beneficial for each municipality to draft its own ordinance.
Historical Architectural Review Board: Mrs. Driscoll reported that HARB reviewed and recommended approval for two signs on Sycamore Street for an attorney at 281 N. Sycamore Street and for a new restaurant at Lily’s Cucina.
Park and Recreation Board: The recording secretary reported that the PRB met with the landscape architect on Veterans Park to discuss the problems with the grass and efforts being made to repair the playing fields.
Mr. Fidler explained that the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors had asked the Planning Commission to review the Borough’s traditional neighborhood ordinance some time ago. The Commission did discuss the ordinance in June of this year, but the Chairman is asking for a more thorough review. Mr. Fidler and Mr. Whartenby have carefully reviewed the ordinance and written some comments. Mr. Whartenby has also reviewed the parcels in the Borough where this ordinance could be applied. He asked the members to again consider this ordinance and discuss it further.
Mr. Fidler asked the recording secretary to add this discussion to the November 15, 2011 agenda and to provide copies of the Ordinance and its amendment, Mr. Fidler’s memo and Mr. Whartenby’s review in the November 15 packets.
The Commission members agreed to participate in the review.Mr. Cohen moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary