NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
July 2, 2013
Present : Chairman Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby and Members Ted Chleboski, Paul Cohen, Peggy Driscoll, Dennis Fisher and Larry Galley. Also in attendance were: John Torrente, Township Solicitor, Township Engineer Michele Fountain, Township Planner Micah Lewis and Martin Vogt, Township Code Enforcement Officer.
Approval of Minutes: The recording secretary noted a correction on page two regarding a statement of Mr. Cohen attributed to Ms. Fountain mistakenly.
Mr. Whartenby moved to accept the minutes of June 18, 2013 as corrected. Mr. Cohen seconded and the motion passed 6-0-1, with Mrs. Driscoll abstaining.
Beneficial Bank, 42 South Sycamore Street: Attorney John VanLuvanee, Engineer Joel DellaCarpini and Bank official Joseph Coyle were in attendance to review the preliminary as final plan for a 3,186 square foot bank building on a 1.829 acre parcel in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District. Mr. VanLuvanee provided the members with copies of the recently signed stipulation agreement between Beneficial and the Township and other intervenors. He noted that the plans being reviewed this evening have attempted to address the concerns the Commission had expressed when it reviewed earlier plans as part of a Conditional Use application. The building has been re-oriented to angle toward Sycamore Street and one of the drive through aisles has been removed. Most of the traffic concerns have been addressed, with only the matter of the left turn lanes on Richboro Road still unresolved.
Mr. VanLuvanee provided the Commission with copies of two letters from Township Solicitor Jeffrey Garton dated June 27, 2013, regarding the Richboro Road traffic concern and the vacation of Howard Avenue. Mr. Garton has confirmed to Traffic Engineer Amy Kaminski that Beneficial Bank must provide a “focused analysis”, not a full traffic study. He further confirmed to Ms. Fountain that a court stipulation entered many years ago has stated that no private rights remain on Howard Avenue and that there is no right-of-way.
Mr. Torrente asked whether the Richboro Road entrance to the Bank is right-in only.
Mr. DellaCarpini said that the entrance is right and left in but left-out only. The road will be restriped for the two left turn lanes at the bank entrance and at the intersection with Sycamore Street. Cars will be able to pass those stacked to enter the Bank to proceed to the intersection. Beneficial has offered the Township two possible solutions to any traffic issues at the two turning lanes; the Township will decide which solution is preferable.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that the applicant will comply with most of the CKS review letter dated June 20, 2013. A note shall be added to the plan referencing that Howard Avenue is not shown on the plan and no right-of-way exists.
Mr. DellaCarpini said that reference to Howard Avenue on the adjacent property will also be removed. He noted that when Howard Avenue is removed, requirements for buffering for Howard Avenue will no longer be required.
Ms. Fountain asked for a geotechnical report on the asphalt paving. She also agreed to the waiver for an aerial photograph but asked for more details, including street names, utilities and driveways.
Referring to the Boucher and James review letter of June 21, 2013, Mr. VanLuvanee said that the applicant will comply with most of the comments. He noted that as part of the stipulation agreement, no loading zone is required. The Bank does not wish to assign a specific loading area for armored cars for security and safety reasons.
Mr. Coyle said that other than the armored car, only occasional UPS deliveries are expected at the building.
Mr. Fidler suggested that an assigned parking space be noted on the plan for UPS type deliveries.
Mr. Lewis said that the assigned parking space will require additional signage.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that the applicant will submit a signage package separately at a later time.
Mr. Galley asked about the fence on the north-east corner.
Mr. DellaCarpini explained that this is a continuation of the existing fence and wall. The rain garden area will not be deep; this is not a safety fence.
Mr. Cohen asked about trees to block the sight of the drive through from Sycamore Street.
Mr. DellaCarpini said that 4-5 foot evergreens will be planted to block the view.
Mr. Cohen asked about the proposed “welcome to Newtown Township” sign and wall.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that this was part of the stipulation agreement. The Bank will be installing it at the suggestion of the Sycamore Street Community Association.
Mr. Whartenby asked whether the utilities would be underground.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that this has been researched but would not be permitted by the utility companies.
Mrs. Driscoll asked about the Bank’s proposed hours of operation.
Mr. Coyle said that the hours are tentatively proposed as 7:30 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday through Friday and some hours on Saturday, but the times will be adjusted once the bank has opened and evaluated the needs of customers.
Mr. Cohen asked whether the parking lot would be chained and marked as private property.
Mr. Coyle said that the parking lot would be available for community events and evening parking.
Mr. Cohen moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant conditional preliminary as final land development approval to Beneficial Bank for its property located at 34 South Sycamore Street, Newtown, tax map parcel no. 29-11-56, consisting of twenty (20) pages, prepared by Bohler Engineering, dated May 6, 2011, with last revision dated May 20, 2013, and a general project description and stormwater calculations report dated May 6, 2011 and last revised May 20, 2013, and a Transportation Impact Study prepared by McMahon Transportation Engineers and Planners dated May 2013, subject to the following conditions:
In addition, the following waivers are recommended and shall be added as notes on the final plans:
Mr. Whartenby seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Cohen said that he is still not pleased about the use for this property and continues to have some reservations about the orientation of the building, however, he is very impressed with the efforts the applicant has made to address the Commission’s initial concerns.
Mr. Fidler said that he agreed with Mr. Cohen. While the plan may not be perfect, a very good effort at compromise has been made.
Mr. Whartenby asked whether this project will be impacted by the ongoing sanitary sewer issues.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that the prior use’s EDU’s would be about the same as the proposed Bank’s.
Mr. Fidler said that the Sewer Authority had said that after a use has been abandoned for three years, those EDU’s are taken away.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that he would discuss this with the Sewer Authority and the DEP.
The motion passed 7-0.
Fence Ordinance: The members reviewed a proposed amendment to the fence ordinance to allow 5 foot and 6 foot fences. The change is recommended because these fences are commercially available but currently prohibited in the Jointure, while the permitted 4 foot fence is not commercially available.
Ms. Fountain noted that the Ordinance and this amendment only refer to residential uses.
Mr. Vogt said that perhaps the Ordinance should be for all uses, as currently the Township refers to the residential regulations for commercial use fences. He suggested perhaps a separate fencing standard for all zoning districts.
Mr. Cohen said that it is currently part of use H-3, accessory residential. He suggested that it become a new use, H-19.
Mr. Vogt said that he would recommend leaving walls as part of use H-3, as he did not think the Jointure would want to see 6 foot walls around properties without some review on a case by case basis.
The members all agreed to Mr. Vogt’s suggestions. Mr. Fidler and Mr. Cohen would bring these ideas to the Joint Planning Commission for discussion.
Mr. Fisher said that the Swamp Road residents group would be appearing before the Board of Supervisors at its next meeting to ask that the Temora Farm bridge be removed from the PennDOT TIP list.
For the benefit of newer Commission members, Mr. Fidler briefly explained that PennDOT keeps a twelve year list of proposed projects for roadway improvements. The Temora Farm Bridge has been on the list for many years.
The Commission will continue its review of the sign ordinances on the second meetings of the month as time permits. Mr. Vogt said that he would prepare copies of all relevant ordinances for the members; they will be distributed at the second July meeting.
Mr. Fidler said that he hoped to dedicate a portion of the second meeting of each month to further discussion of the sign ordinances where time permits.
Subcommittee and Liaison Reports
HARB: Mrs. Driscoll reported that HARB is currently working to improve the certificate of appropriateness application.
EAC: Mr. Fisher reported that he discussed the Flores project with the EAC. The EAC members were interested in following these plans as there are many environmentally sensitive areas on this property.
Joint Historic Commission: Mr. Cohen asked whether there is any historic significance to the Stockburger building to be removed for the Beneficial Bank project.
Mrs. Driscoll said that the building is not historic, but that the Historic Society has been permitted to photograph it, inside and out. She did not know whether this has been done.
Mr. Fisher moved to adjourn at 9:00 PM. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 7-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary