NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Present : Chairman Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby and Members Ted Chleboski, Paul Cohen, Fred DeVesa, Peggy Driscoll, Dennis Fisher and Larry Galley. Also in attendance were: Michele Fountain, Township Engineer, Micah Lewis, Township Planner, Amy Kaminski, Traffic Engineer, John Torrente, Solicitor and Supervisor Liaison Michael Gallagher.
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 October 16, 2012. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 8-0.
Mr. Cohen moved to approve notes taken at the meeting of November 20, 2012. This meeting lacked a quorum. Mr. Fidler seconded and the motion passed 3-0-5, with Mrs. Driscoll and Messrs. Chleboski, DeVesa, and Fisher abstaining.
Zoning Hearing Board
Vecchia Osteria, 20A Richboro Road: Attorney Don Marshall was in attendance to review this application for relief for 53.85% impervious surface where 50% is the maximum permitted and 52.52% is an existing non conformity and to provide 40 parking spaces where seventy are required to accommodate a patio with tent for ten tables and 40 seats for use E-5, eating place. Mr. Marshall explained that the patio already exists, although it does not appear on the record plan; the tent was erected with a permit issued by the Township last summer.
Mr. Marshall briefly reviewed the history of this property, noting that when the Township wished to expand the retention basin, it was deeded to the Township in exchange for an abbreviated approval process for the businesses in the shopping center.
In 2009, Vecchia Osteria added some tables to the already existing patio. Then code enforcement officer John Boyle had issued a letter asking the owner to remove the tables, however that letter was never acted upon further by the Township and was apparently forgotten. In 2011, Mr. Pasquale was issued a permit for a tent over the patio, which has been installed. Some time later the current code enforcement officer researched the history of the property, finding some discrepancies. Mr. Pasquale is asking to correct some existing issues, including the already existing patio’s impervious surface. He is also asking for a parking variance to allow 40 parking spaces where 70 are required. It appears that the individual business was assigned 40 parking spaces under a previous ordinance. The shopping center record plan shows 102 parking spaces. The patio impervious surface does not appear on the record plan, so a variance is requested for that as well, although the patio was not installed by the applicant and also predates the ordinance. The increased impervious appears to have been grandfathered into approvals as part of the Township’s agreement regarding the stormwater basin.
Mr. Marshall indicated that the applicant intends to use the patio on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons and evenings. He reviewed the hours of operation of the other shopping center tenants, noting that most close between 5:00 and 7:00 in the evenings and are closed on Sundays. Only Dunkin Donuts is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It is located at the opposite end of the shopping center. The extra seating at the restaurant would only be in use when the other businesses are closed.
Mr. Fidler noted that the impervious surface increase is de minimis and he did not think it would be of concern to the Township. He asked whether the applicant would be willing to require employees to park off-site.
Mr. Pasquale said that he has ten employees, five of which are family members coming to work together in one car. His employees park behind the shopping center now and there appears to be adequate parking for customers. He would seek an off-site location if necessary.
Mr. Whartenby said that residents seem to favor outdoor dining in the warm weather, so suggested that the applicant not limit the patio’s use to weekends only.
Mr. Fidler noted that this would be consistent with the other restaurants offering outdoor dining.
Mr. Cohen asked why the restaurant has an assigned 40 parking spaces and not shared parking for the entire shopping center lot.
Mr. Marshall said that the lot does contain 102 spaces but the original conditional use approvals allocated spaces to the individual businesses. This shopping center was zoned highway commercial before the current ordinance was adopted and its approvals were grandfathered into the current ordinance.
Mr. Galley asked about the use in the two story building adjacent to the restaurant.
Mr. Marshall said that it is a tutoring school; children are dropped off for tutoring in the late afternoon.
Mr. Chleboski asked if the tent is permanent.
Mr. Pasquale said that it is seasonal but there were no restrictions on the permit.
Mr. Marshall noted that the tent does meet all other requirements, including setbacks.
Mrs. Driscoll moved to recommend that the Supervisors support this application, with use of the tent permitted Monday through Saturday evenings and all day Sunday. Employees will seek off-site parking if it becomes necessary.
The Commission unanimously agreed to this recommendation.
Goodnoe Elementary School, 298 Frost Lane – Revised Preliminary as Final Plan: Attorney Michael Carr, Engineer Terry DeGroot, School District Facilities Manager Doug Taylor and Superintendent Mark Klein were in attendance to review this revised final plan for land development to build a total of 16,924 square feet of additions, reconfigured parking and driveways and a playground. Mr. Carr explained that the property currently strides three different zoning districts, but an application has been made to the Jointure to rezone the entire parcel as EIR. All site calculations are based on that zoning.
Mr. Torrente confirmed that a petition to change the zoning had been submitted to the Jointure on December 5, 2012.
Mr. Carr said that during the review process, the need for some additional zoning relief was discovered as was some discrepancy in the relief already granted. The recent variance mistakenly granted a 190.44 foot setback, rather than a 109.44 foot setback for the playground. The applicant will seek a variance to correct that as well as a variance for parking within 10.5 feet of the property line and an internal, one-way drive aisle of 20 feet rather than the required 25 feet. The project will also seek a construction easement from the Township.
Ms. Fountain asked to review the square footage of the project.
Mr. DeGroot confirmed that the total for the full project is 16,924 square feet; that is 12,092 for eight classrooms, 1826 square feet for two additional classrooms, 2034 square feet for a stage addition to the all-purpose room and 972 square feet for a new entrance area.
Mr. Fidler said that he has some concerns about the freeboard for stormwater management, as this could be an issue for residences downstream of the project, although Ms. Fountain said that this should be acceptable if best management practices are performed to maintain the basins.
Ms. Kaminski reviewed the proposed turning radii, noting that buses must stop before passing one another.
Mr. DeGroot said that the design made this area tighter to accommodate a wider radius for parent drop-off.
Regarding roadway improvements, Mr. Carr said that a traffic study has been submitted to the Township, but it does show that no improvements should be necessary, as this project will not impact traffic.
Ms. Fountain confirmed that Township staff has discussed the traffic study, but it is still to be reviewed by the Supervisors.
Mr. Carr said that stormwater issues will be worked out to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer. A waiver is sought for the freeboard. Otherwise the applicant will comply with the CKS review letter dated December 7, 2012.
Mr. Carr said that the applicant will comply with the Boucher and James letter of December 5, 2012.
Ms. Kaminski said that she has not fully reviewed the traffic study submitted, but did not see any issues with stacking or queuing with the new entrance design and procedures. She pointed out that of particular concern in her review letter dated November 28, 2012 is the ADA compliance of certain of the crosswalks. One of these crosswalks is in Newtown Borough and not on school property. It should still be made handicapped compliant. She also questioned the location and design of crosswalks at Andrew Drive.
Mr. DeGroot explained that the diagonal crossings were installed to match the paths used by children walking to school. In response to Mr. Fidler’s questions, he confirmed that these crosswalks do have crossing guards in the morning and at dismissal time. These guards are Township employees. In response to Mr. Galley’s question, he said that these are not new crosswalks but have existed for many years.
Mr. Carr noted that speed bumps were added to the parking lots at the recommendation of the Planning Commission. The traffic engineer questioned the design and location.
Mr. Fidler said that as non-professionals, the members based this recommendation on personal experience as a solution to speeding. The Commission will agree with recommendations of our professional consultants in this regard. He asked the applicant to work with the Township professionals to address this concern to their satisfaction.
Mr. Whartenby said that as a resident he would not want to see this applicant pay a traffic impact fee or park and recreation fee. The School District is funded by the same tax dollars as the Township and the fee would be a burden to the same taxpayers.
The other Commission members agreed with this statement.
Mr. Fisher asked to review the school’s current and projected population.
Mr. Klein said that the school currently has 796 students. No new students are anticipated with the addition, although the capacity would be 850 students. The district has done some population projections, but these could change with increased residential land development in the Township.
Ms. Kaminski again stated that the crosswalks must be made ADA compliant. During her visit to the site, she did witness handicapped, children using the crosswalks. At one point the crossing guard needed to lift a wheelchair over a grassy area.
Borough Resident Nancy Carroll said that she objects to the plans as the school is too big for this lot. She objected to the additions at a time when enrollment is decreasing. She did not think parking is adequate for staff and visiting parents, particularly on days when special events are scheduled. She questioned whether emergency access is adequate during these special events. She asked whether this process would need to be repeated if the District decided to not do the full classroom project, but returned at a later date.
Mr. Carr said that the application seeks approval for the full project. If the District does not build the entire project, it would be treated as a pad site and only new permits would be needed at the later time.
Mr. Fisher asked about the variance for the narrow drive aisle.
Mr. DeGroot said that this already exists and the district wishes to maintain it. The Ordinance does not differentiate between one-way and two-way drive aisles. This is a one-way aisle and has functioned as such for some time. He again reviewed the proposed parent pick-up and drop-off procedures.
Mrs. Carroll asked whether any parking spaces would remain as reserved for visitors to the Township playground at Roberts Ridge Park.
Mr. Fidler said that he would ask the Township to do this.
Mr. Cohen moved to recommend that the Supervisors grant Preliminary as Final Land Development of Council Rock School District (Goodnoe Elementary School) for the property located at 298 Frost Lane, Newtown, Tax Map Parcel no. 29-10-45-1, consisting of fourteen (14) pages, prepared by Terraform Engineering LLC, dated September 14, 2012, with a revision dated November 9, 2012 and a post construction stormwater management report also prepared by Terraform Engineering, LLC, dated Spetpember 14, 2012 with a revision dated November 2, 2012 and a transportation impact study prepared by Traffic, Planning and Design, Inc., dated November 12, 2012, subject to the following conditions:
1. Compliance with the CKS Engineers review letter dated December 7, 2012, subject to the variances secured, except for the following comments, which will be resolved as indicated:
In addition, the following waivers are recommended:
4. Compliance with review letter received from the Newtown Emergency Services Department dated November 20, 2012.
5. Compliance with the November 7, 2012 letter from the Bucks County Conservation District. Additionally, the applicant will secure a new adequacy letter if the Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan is revised and/or required by the Bucks County Conservation District.
6. Applicant shall comply with any and all conditions of variances previously granted by the township ZHB.
7. This recommendation for approval is contingent upon applicant securing additional zoning relief from the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board for the property as outlined in variance application 932-12. With that said, Applicant shall comply with any and all future conditions of zoning approval by the township ZHB.
8. This recommendation for approval is also contingent on the Jointure rezoning the R-1 and POS portions of the property. If the rezoning is not approved by the Jointure, Applicant shall revise the plans as recommended by the township professionals.
9. Applicant shall fund and execute development and financial security agreements in a form satisfactory to the Township Solicitor and the Board of Supervisors.
10. Applicant shall secure any and all permits required from any agencies having jurisdiction over this project, including the Township, Bucks County, the State and Federal governments, including, but not limited, to the Bucks County Conservation District and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
11. Applicant shall provide a will serve or appropriate agreement from the appropriate water and sewer agencies confirming the availability of public water and public sewer to the project.
12. Applicant shall comply with the Township Engineer’s recommendation as to storm water management and best management practices. Applicant shall execute a storm water management agreement in a form acceptable to the Township.
13. 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.
14. Any signage proposed to be placed shall comply with the applicable Township Sign Ordinances and shall only be placed after securing any and all permits from the Township.
Mr. Whartenby seconded and the motion passed 8-0.
Mr. Fidler noted that the three Zoning Hearing Board issues had already been discussed as part of the land development review. All agreed that they would recommend that the Supervisors not oppose the application.
Subcommittee and Liaison Reports
Board of Supervisors: The recording secretary reported that at its last meeting, the Supervisors reviewed the budget and agreed to ask the Jointure to consider changing the requirement for mobile home development from 15 to 25 acres.
Plan Expirations: Mr. Vogt reported that the McDonald’s application has been withdrawn. Other businesses have been into the office to discuss use of the existing building at the location previously sought by McDonald’s.
Mrs. Driscoll reported that she had attended the PUC hearings for the Newtown Artesian Well proposal for the Tanner property. Also in attendance were some representatives of Wrightstown and Upper Makefield’s boards of supervisors.
Mr. DeVesa said that his term is expiring and he has not sought reappointment. While he has enjoyed his time on the Planning Commission and working with the members, he did not think he had made a meaningful contribution, as his experience with law had been in criminal and law enforcement and he might better serve the community in other areas.
Mr. Fisher moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Galley seconded and the motion passed 8-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary