NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
June 4, 2013
Present : Chairman Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby and Members Ted Chleboski, Paul Cohen, David Domzalski, Peggy Driscoll and Dennis Fisher (late) Also in attendance were: John Torrente, Township Solicitor, Township Engineer Michele Fountain, Township Planner Micah Lewis and Martin Vogt, Township Code Enforcement Officer and Philip Calabro, Township Supervisor.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Whartenby moved to accept the minutes of May 21, 2013. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
KVK Tech, 114 Pheasant Run: Architect Richard Walker and KVK Tech President Frank Ripp, Jr., were in attendance to review this application for conditional use G-1, manufacturing at their facility at 114 Pheasant Run. Mr. Walker reminded the Commission that KVK Tech had recently been granted variances for parking so that the facility can be expanded. Research and warehousing are already taking place at the site.
In response to Mr. Lewis’s questions, Mr. Walker confirmed that the number of employees will be 15, with a maximum of 20, and the hours of operation are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Mr. Lewis asked whether any hazardous materials would be stored on site.
Mr. Ripp said that the facility would manufacture small volume liquids; the main ingredient is water. No hazardous materials are to be used or stored. He said that the products will be packaged on site then shipped by the company’s small, secure van to 110 Terry Drive. Larger deliveries are brought to 110 Terry Drive and transported by the company van to 114 Pheasant Run.
Mr. Walker confirmed that the size of the expanded building will be 52,850 square feet. The parking will be buffered.
Mr. Fisher arrived at this point.
Mr. Fidler said that he is pleased to see businesses succeed and expand in the Township. The Commission’s only concern is that residents are not at risk by the presence of hazardous materials.
Mr. Walker said that the DEA regulates the facility and collects any waste for safe disposal. He noted that there are also plans to expand the facility at 110 Terry Drive and KVK expects to return with those plans shortly.
Mr. Torrente confirmed that all deliveries would take place during the business day.
Mr. Ripp said that the company van would make two deliveries/pick-ups each day in secure vans during the business day.
Mr. Chleboski asked about the size of the tanks in the facility.
Mr. Ripp showed pictures of the facility with large tanks and an automated packaging line. He said that the pharmaceuticals are tested about every 30 minutes for quality control, but the packaging is automated. There are very few employees needed at this site.
Mr. Whartenby moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve the conditional use application of KVK Tech, Inc. (114 Pheasant Run, LLC) 114 Pheasant Run, Tax Map Parcel 29-10-141, in the LI Light Industrial Zoning District for Use G-1, Light Manufacturing, subject to the following conditions:
Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 7-0.
IHM Properties, Newtown Bypass at Lower Silver Lake Road: Engineer Heath Dumack and applicant Monty Patel were in attendance to discuss a sketch plan for development of two parcels totaling 10 acres at the intersection of Newtown Bypass and Silver Lake Road as a 110 room, four story hotel, two restaurant pads, one 3100 square feet and one 5300 square feet and a two story, 25000 square foot medical office building with associated parking. Two access driveways are proposed off of Lower Silver Lake Road. Mr. Dumack noted that each lot is irregularly shaped with limited access by a local street. A stream intersects the parcels and there are woodlands. Utility lines cross the stream.
Mr. Dumack said that the applicants have met with the Township’s land use committee a number of times over the last year. At one point the applicant had proposed a bank use for one of the pads but had been discouraged. For that reason a second restaurant pad has been proposed.
Mr. Fidler suggested that the applicant consider how essential the two restaurants will be to the financial viability of the project. He reviewed the history of the Township’s resistance to restaurants in the OR and LI zoning districts or on the Bypass. Residents have expressed objections to other restaurant applicants, including the Cosi inside of the Business Commons and a recent caterer/cafeteria in the Waste Management building. The applicant may find the Township less resistant to a project with only one restaurant.
Mr. Dumack said that he is aware of and sensitive to the concerns of the Township. He and the applicant are certain that no E-6, take out/drive through restaurant would be considered.
Mr. Patel said that he has family members living in Newtown and is familiar with the Township’s concerns. He is considering a family style restaurant, something like Panera Bread or Red Robin, not a fast food chain. He has no agreement in place with a particular chain nor has he made a formal agreement with any hotel chain. He is considering the newest generation of Fairfield Inn, a division of Marriott. A similar hotel is located near the Baltimore Washington Airport. This is a mid-priced hotel, not an extended stay hotel like Homewood Suites.
Mr. Cohen asked whether the hotel would offer conference facilities.
Mr. Patel said that the hotel would have meeting rooms available for guests, but not formal conference facilities.
Mrs. Driscoll said that she did not see any difficulty with a hotel but suggested that the applicant consider placing the restaurant inside the hotel for the convenience of the guests. She also did not object to the medical office building. Her concern is with the signage the restaurants and hotel would require. She said that the Township has been very resistant to restaurant uses on the Bypass, particularly because of the additional traffic and signage.
Mr. Dumack said that the applicant had considered placing the hotel at the front of the property with the restaurants at the rear with entrances on Silver Lake Road.
Mr. Fidler said that the front of the property is a higher elevation. A four story building at that portion would appear even taller. At the rear, the hotel would have a lower profile.
Mr. Dumack discussed the subsurface of the property, which is solid rock. The buildings will not have basements for this reason. All mechanicals, laundries, kitchens, etc., would be on the first floor.
Mrs. Driscoll asked whether the hotel would have any banquet facilities for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.
Mr. Patel said that he had not been planning on offering banquet facilities.
Mr. Vogt noted that if the percentage of the meeting space measured more than 10% of the building it would be considered a mixed use facility under the ordinance.
Mr. Cohen said that some franchises require branding that includes larger signs than the ordinances permit.
Mr. Patel said that it is his intention to comply with signage as much as possible. His Comfort Suites in Exton has very small signs, for example.
Mr. Fidler said that this project will need some Zoning Hearing Board relief. He expected there would be some give and take before anything can be finalized. He again expressed concern about two restaurant pads.
Mrs. Driscoll agreed, noting that the total site is only ten acres.
Mr. Fidler said that he had some concerns about riparian buffers as the site has a stream and waters of the Commonwealth.
Ms. Fountain noted that the plans show utilities going across the stream and that Mr. Dumack had indicated that this would be a two inch pipe.
Mr. Dumack said that he has met with the DEP and the Army Corp of Engineers. The area has not been studied by FEMA.
Ms. Fountain said that the JMZO does have two riparian buffer zones and the property would need a flood study. The study could impact the base site calculations.
Referring to the Boucher and James letter dated May 29, Mr. Dumack said that there are 3 acres of wooded areas on the property that they have begun investigating. There will still need to be a tree count but it will take time.
Attorney Ed Murphy, representing the applicant, arrived at this point.
Mr. Lewis asked about alcohol sales.
Mr. Patel said that he has not contracted with a franchise or with an independent restaurant yet, but alcohol sales would be incidental to food sales. He did not intend to open a tavern.
Ms. Fountain asked about possible relief needed for parking.
Mr. Dumack said that he hoped to use a shared parking plan, as the uses contemplated would be complementary.
Mr. Fidler noted that in other areas of the Township where shared parking had been planned, over time, as uses changed, the parking has proved inadequate. He noted the Goodnoe’s Corner center as an example. When a shop closes and a restaurant takes its place, all of the shops are competing for parking at the same times. This could be a problem if, for example the medical office building were to become a medical office with primarily evening hours.
The members briefly discussed the requirement for loading berths and agreed that except for moving in, the businesses would not need loading berths, but suggested specific parking spaces, large enough for truck deliveries be allocated for deliveries for the office building and hotel.
Ms. Fountain asked whether the applicant has made any arrangement with PECO to use its land for parking.
Mr. Murphy indicated that there is a verbal agreement which will be formalized.
Mr. Fidler asked whether any roadway improvements are contemplated for access to the site.
Mr. Murphy said that a traffic consultant has been contacted but work has not begun.
Mrs. Driscoll asked the total square footage of the hotel.
Mr. Patel said that it is a four story building with a 12,500 square foot footprint or 50,000 square feet total. The height will be below the 50 foot maximum permitted.
Ms. Fountain said that no sidewalks are shown on the plan. She suggested that the applicant consider possibly including them on Lower Silver Lake Road as well as internally for safe pedestrian crossing from one location to another within the site.
Ms. Fountain asked whether the applicant intended to submit a revised sketch plan or seek zoning relief next. She noted that the project would need zoning relief for the uses which are proposed.
Mr. Dumack said that a number of items are to be resolved before they can proceed, including a FEMA study, traffic consultant input and a woodland study. He was not sure what the next step would be.
Mr. Fidler reminded the members that they would be discussing the sign ordinances on the second meeting of each month if time permits. He urged the members to review and become familiar with the signage requirements in the various commercial districts.
Ms. Fountain noted that a few land development applications might be ready for the next meeting and might not leave much time for the signage discussion.
Subcommittee and Liaison Reports
Board of Supervisors: Mr. Calabro said that the Supervisors have a number of concerns about the IHM plan just discussed, including the ongoing issues with the Sewer Authority and DEP. A hotel and two restaurants would require a large number of EDU’s.
Environmental Advisory Council : Mr. Fisher reminded the members that the EAC would host a quarterly forum on Fracking on Saturday morning at 9:30 AM.
Mrs. Driscoll moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Cohen seconded and the motion passed 7-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary