NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
January 15, 2013
Reorganization of Commission: The Commission members introduced themselves to new member David Domzalski and welcomed him.
Mr. Fidler thanked former member Fred DeVesa for his service to the Commission.
Mr. Whartenby nominated Mr. Fidler to serve as chairman. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 9-0.
Mr. Fidler nominated Mr. Whartenby to serve as vice-chairman. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 9-0.
Mr. Fidler nominated Mrs. Driscoll to serve as secretary/treasurer. Mr. Whartenby seconded and the motion passed 9-0.
Joint Planning Commission: Mr. Cohen
Joint Zoning Council: Mr. Fidler and Mr. Cohen
HARB: Mrs. Driscoll (the Board of Supervisors has appointed Mrs. Driscoll as a voting member of HARB)
Park and Recreation Board: Mr. Whartenby
Environmental Advisory Council: Mr. Fisher
Joint Historic Commission: Mr. Deutsch
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Whartenby moved to accept the minutes of December 18, 2012. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 7-0-2, with Messrs. Deutsch and Domzalski abstaining.
Zoning Hearing Board
Barre 3, 2875 South Eagle Road: Applicants David and Lauren Zeil were in attendance to review this application for a use variance for a commercial school in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center in the PC district, use C-3.
Mr. Zeil explained that Barre 3 is an exercise studio franchise new to the area. The facility will hold one-hour classes which combine exercise, dancing and yoga. The building will have a reception area, two classrooms, a room for childcare and locker rooms/showers. Each class will have a maximum of 15 students. The shopping center has allotted 35 parking spaces to this tenant. The hours of operation are yet to be established but he expected that classes would be held for a few hours in the morning and at lunchtime and possibly in the early evening.
Mr. Fidler said that it would be best to ask for approval for maximum hours so that if the business requires additional hours, the applicant does not have to return to the Township for revised approval.
Mrs. Driscoll asked whether this would be a membership health club.
Mrs. Zeil said that users can purchase yearly memberships or pay per class.
Mr. Fidler asked whether any signage relief would be needed.
Mr. Zeil said that he had not yet met with the signage company to discuss signage. He was aware of the Township’s strict signage regulations.
Mr. Fidler suggested that Mr. Zeil prepare his signage permit as quickly as possible so that if zoning relief is required, his current application could be amended rather than coming back a second time to the Zoning Hearing Board with an additional application.
Mr. Fisher asked whether the studio would provide daycare.
Mrs. Zeil explained that the studio will offer a supervised playroom for little children while their parents are exercising. The parents must be on site. There will be an employee who will supervise the children and act as receptionist.
Mr. Torrente asked whether Mr. and Mrs. Zeil have signed a lease, as the landlord has filed the application.
Mr. Zeil said that he is still in negotiation for the space and needs the use variance before moving forward.
Mr. Torrente said that the Zeils will need some form of authorization to represent the landlord at the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Zeil said that the landlord would attend the Zoning Hearing Board meeting.
Mr. Deutsch asked the proposed number of employees.
Mrs. Zeil said that she expects to work herself, have a second instructor and a receptionist who will supervise the childcare as well. There may be a third instructor.
Mr. Chleboski asked about the plans for class schedules. He said that he was concerned with arrivals and departures overlapping, creating a need for as many as 60 parking spaces.
Mr. Zeil said that this section of the shopping center has 70 parking spaces. The classes would be staggered so that everyone is not arriving/departing at the same time.
Mr. Cohen noted that all other uses in the PC zoning district are by conditional use. The Supervisors and Planning Commission have an opportunity to discuss and regulate hours of operation, number of employees and parking issues. If a variance is granted, this becomes a permitted use without and conditional use review. He suggested that the Supervisors may want to review the application and ask the Zoning Hearing Board to put certain conditions, such as hours and number of employees, on any variance.
Mr. Fidler said that since the JMZO was written, the concept of commercial school has changed. The Ordinance had envisioned more of an educational facility, such as a private elementary school. Now we have seen this use applied to dance classes, yoga studios, karate studios.
Ms. Fountain asked whether the parking is to be reconfigured. She noted the shading on the plan attached to the application.
Mr. Zeil said the shading references the 35 spaces the shopping center owner has allotted to this use. The remaining spaces are for the other side of the building.
Ms. Fountain asked whether the applicant would need to return if the business were to expand into the other side of the building.
Mr. Torrente said that the variance would be granted for the use at this address. The applicant would not have to return if the business expanded.
Mr. Vogt noted that this application has been advertised. He said that if the applicant were to amend the application to include signage, if needed, the application would have to be continued and re-advertised.
Resident Judith Norkin, representing Cliveden Estates Homeowners Association, said that Cliveden residents are supportive of this application and urged the Commission to recommend that the Supervisors support it.
Mr. Cohen said that he would like to recommend that the Supervisors not oppose this application at the Zoning Hearing Board but that they review the proposed use and make recommendations to the Zoning Hearing Board regarding hours of operation, number of employees and parking, to be added as conditions of any approval granted.
The Commission members were unanimous in their agreement with Mr. Cohen’s recommendation.
Mr. Zeil said that he also works for Urban Outfitters. It has recently been announced that the Antropologie division of Urban Outfitters has withdrawn from the Promenade. Urban Outfitters is still very interested in having a presence in Newtown and continues to look for locations, including possibly reconsidering Promenade.
Mr. Fidler said that Newtown Swim Club has moved forward with a land development application for a trailer park, use B-13. This will probably be on the February 5, 2013 agenda. He urged the members to review the JMZO regarding both use B-13 and B-15, Planned Residential Development, before the meeting. He asked Ms. Fountain to help to outline the criteria for this use to help guide the Commission through its review. He noted that such criteria as setbacks, cartway widths, etc., are different than in other types of developments which the Commission has experience with.
Joint Zoning Council: Mr. Cohen reported that the Council has been revisiting the energy ordinances, as Upper Makefield has some concerns about solar panels being visible from the street. Also of concern is some clarification of language regarding the JMZO and the local municipal regulations. The other municipalities are not in agreement with Upper Makefield on this.
Mr. Whartenby said that he heard that the Jointure was being asked to review the minimum lot size requirement for trailer parks, to raise the minimum to 25 acres from the current 15 acre minimum.
Mr. Torrente said that the Jointure has concerns about this as there might not be any lots available for development which would meet the 25 acre restriction. This could be seen as exclusionary and could open the Jointure to a challenge.
Mr. Cohen said that it was his impression that the Jointure partners were not supportive of the proposed change.
Mr. Cohen reported that the Council reviewed the Goodnoe Elementary zoning change he expected this to move quickly.
Mr. Cohen said that Bucks County Planning Commission Executive Director Lynn Bush has been comparing the text of the ordinance with the tables and charts to eliminate discrepancies. Once her review is completed, suggested corrections will be circulated among the member Planning Commissions.Mrs. Driscoll moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Mr. Chleboski seconded and the motion passed 9-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary