NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Synopsis Minutes of the meeting held on May 15, 2012
Present : Chairman Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby and Members Ted Chleboski, Craig Deutsch, Fred DeVesa, Peggy Driscoll, Dennis Fisher and Larry Galley. Also in attendance were: Michele Fountain, Township Engineer, Stacy Yoder, Township Planner, John Torrente, Solicitor and Martin Vogt, Code Enforcement Officer.
Call to Order: Mr. Fidler called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Whartenby moved to approve the minutes of April 17, 2012. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 6-0-1, with Mr. Fidler abstaining.
Walsh Minor Subdivision, 385 Stoopville Road: Mr. Fidler explained that at the April 17, 2012 meeting the Commission had voted to recommend approval of this minor subdivision. Since that time, a discrepancy was discovered.
Mr. Vogt said that Ms. Fountain and Ms. Yoder noticed a problem with the survey for the property, and it is not six acres. To subdivide will create one non-conforming lot of less than three acres. The applicant will need zoning relief for the non-conforming lot.
Mr. Torrente suggested that the Commission formally rescind its recommendation.
Mr. Whartenby moved to rescind the Planning Commission recommendation to the Board of Supervisors to approve the Walsh Minor Subdivision at 385 Stoopville Road. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 8-0.
Mr. Fidler said that the recommendation will be revisited if the applicant is granted zoning relief.
Zoning Hearing Board
Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Gillespie, 626 E. Penn Street: Richard Walker, architect and Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Gillespie were in attendance to review an application for a special exception to expand a building on a non-conforming lot and variances to increase the impervious surface to 21.8% and to allow a side yard setback of 14 feet. Mr. Walker explained that the Gillespies are planning to put a new kitchen on their house.
Mr. Fidler explained that the Township adopted the current zoning map in 1983, designating this neighborhood as high-density residential. The neighborhood had already been developed; the Township met its burden to provide high density housing, but this placed a burden on the existing homes, making them non-conforming.
Mr. Fisher asked the architect to review the location of the addition.
Mr. Walker pointed out the addition at the side and rear, noting that the existing kitchen is 8’ X 10’.
The members discussed stormwater management for the increased impervious surface.
Mr. Walker said that the property does not have any water problems at this time, but a rain garden will be planted to address the additional run-off.
Mr. Fisher suggested that the Gillespies bring letters of support from their immediate neighbors.
Mr. Gillespie explained that the houses next door are unoccupied. He did not think his neighbors would have any objections.
Mrs. Driscoll said that she would like to recommend that the Supervisors support this application. The Commission members agreed.
Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Meehan, 5 Hillview Drive: Anthony Meehan was in attendance to review his application for a variance to increase the impervious surface on his property to 8117 square feet where 6,000 square feet is permitted by the Foxhall Estates final plan to install an in-ground swimming pool with associated coping and decking. He intends to incorporate best management practices to address the additional run-off.
Mr. Fisher asked about the slope of his property.
Mr. Meehan said that the ground slopes away from the rear of his home toward some common ground and a stand of trees and then toward his rear neighbor.
Mr. Fisher suggested that Mr. Meehan bring letters of support from his surrounding neighbors to the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Fidler asked Ms. Fountain whether the Township would inspect the construction entrance to be sure it has been reverted to a porous condition.
Ms. Fountain said that the Township does not check this, but she thought it is something that should be considered.
Mr. Whartenby said that he has conducted perk tests on commercial construction or developer entrances but has not seen it done on residential projects such as this.
Ms. Fountain asked whether the Township had done work on Mr. Meehan’s property.
Mr. Meehan said he believed work was done on lot #7, his neighbor’s property.
Mr. Whartenby suggested that the applicant consider using porous pavers for the patio area to further reduce the impact of increased impervious surface.
The Commission agreed to forward this application to the Supervisors without comment.
Edward F. Murphy Esq. (Meglio’s), 15 Swamp Road: Attorney Ed Murphy was in attendance to review this application for zoning relief to construct a 2112 square foot restaurant and 960 square foot retail space in the CC Convenience Commercial District. Relief from parking, setback and impervious surface is sought. Mr. Murphy reminded the Commission that some two years ago Messrs. Robert and William Delia had come to the Planning Commission with a sketch plan to construct a new restaurant on this 30,000 square foot property. Both the Commission and the Supervisors were supportive of the plan but favored an entrance at the signalized intersection of Swamp and South Eagle Roads. He and the Township Solicitor have attempted to gain an access easement from the owner of the Newtown Plaza shopping center to the intersection but have been unsuccessful. One year ago the Township began a condemnation proceeding, but the issue is still unresolved. Rather than wait for resolution of the condemnation, the Delias have engineered a plan which would access the property through the paper street Howard Avenue. This street is 38 feet wide and has never been opened. Ownership to the center line belongs to this lot and the other side, 19 feet, belongs to the owners of the Luk Oil property. He will attempt to gain an access easement for the Luk Oil portion of Howard Avenue and will improve it for a wider entrance.
Mr. Murphy explained that the Supervisors have favored a building closer to the street. The building will comply with setback requirements. The Delias are contemplating possibly adding an outdoor deck to the front of the building and that would require setback relief. The deck would have seating for twenty.
Mr. Robert Delia said that the new restaurant will be the same size as the current location. Business is slower in the warmer weather, so his is considering possibly adding a deck in order to offer an outdoor dining option. When the deck is in use, there will be fewer diners inside the restaurant.
Mr. Murphy reviewed the relief sought, noting that the parking will be at the rear and at the side. All parking is on site; the on-street parking is not part of the calculations. No loading berth is planned, but deliveries are made in the morning when the restaurant is not open. The deck would add twenty seats and would require additional EDU’s from the sewer authority, which could prove prohibitively expensive.
Mr. Fisher asked whether the Howard Avenue entrance would be aligned with the entrance to Rita’s. He expressed some concern about stacking.
Mr. Murphy said the traffic studies done did not show a stacking problem. The Howard Avenue access will be right out only, which will help to reduce possible congestion.
The members discussed the condemnation proceedings. Mr. Torrente said that the proceedings are still in the discovery stage. There is no time line for response once the case is submitted to a judge. After a decision is reached, there is also the possibility of appeals.
Mr. Murphy said that because resolution of the condemnation is very open ended, the Delias have elected to proceed with this plan. Should an easement be granted, that entrance would be installed.
Mr. Torrente asked how many parking spaces are at the Meglio’s existing location.
Mr. William Delia said that there are about 70 spaces for the entire shopping center.
The Commission reviewed the proposed emergency access from the adjacent shopping center.
The Commission members were in agreement that they are supportive of the application and recommend that the Supervisors support, however, they urged the Supervisors to continue their efforts to gain an easement through the signalized intersection. They also urged the Supervisors to help the applicant negotiate use of the Luk Oil portion of Howard Avenue.
Subcommittee and Liaison Reports
Historic Architectural Review Board: Mrs. Driscoll reported that Luna Chick on Swamp Road presented a plan to move its sign.
Mrs. Driscoll said that she has noticed a great deal of storage in the service bays at Luk Oil. She asked if this is permitted.
Mr. Vogt said that the business would be subject to fire inspections. He would speak to the Fire Marshal to find out what is being stored.
Mr. Fisher reported that a group of residents from the Swamp Road area attended the TIP meeting at Delaware Valley Planning Commission to oppose improvements to the bridge at Temora Farm. PennDOT indicated that the bridge had only temporary repairs done. They are still functioning, but the repairs will not last and will have to be addressed at some point. State Representative Santarsiero and Senator McIlhinney both supported the residents’ opposition.
Mr. Fidler reported that he had learned at the Newtown Business Commons Association meeting that the proposed extension of Terry Drive to the Newtown Bypass has been approved by PennDOT. It is hoped that this project will alleviate some of the internal congestion and traffic in the Commons, particularly at Pheasant Run and Penns Trail and on the residential portion of Fountain Farm Lane. PennDOT is requiring a second left turn lane from Woodbourne Road to the Bypass as part of the improvement. It is Mr. Fidler’s understanding that some final engineering is still to be done before the project is put out to bid.
Mrs. Driscoll moved to adjourn at 9:00 PM. Mr. Galley seconded and the motion passed 8-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary