NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
September 3, 2013
Present: Chairman Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby, and members Ted Chleboski, Paul Cohen, David Domzalski, Peggy Driscoll, Dennis Fisher and Larry Galley. Also in attendance were Township Planner Micah Lewis, Township Solicitor John Torrente and Code Enforcement Officer Martin Vogt.
Call to Order: Mr. Fidler called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Cohen moved to approve the minutes of August 20, 2013. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 7-0.
Conditional Use (Mr. Fisher arrived at this point)
Oishi Restaurant, 2808 -2810 South Eagle Road: Architect Harold Lichtman and Oishi owner Sae Min were in attendance to review this application for a restaurant, uses E-5 and E-6, in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District. Mr. Lichtman explained that the owners of Oishi wish to open a second location in Village at Newtown shopping center in the spaces formerly occupied by Basil Leaf Thai Restaurant and Lee’s Hoagie House. The two spaces will be combined and renovated.
Mr. Lichtman reviewed the Boucher and James letter dated August 21, 2013, noting that the restaurant will have seating for 150 patrons, not 179. The Newtown Sewer Authority has reduced the number of seats to meet the EDU’s already assigned to these two units. Parking would be the same as for the two former restaurants.
Mr. Lewis noted that the Zoning Hearing Board had granted a variance for this shopping center’s shared parking in 1991.
Mr. Lewis noted that the application lists the hours of operation as 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 12:00 AM. He asked whether anyone would remain on the premises during the afternoon.
Mr. Fidler suggested that the application could be amended to remain open from 11:00 AM to midnight.
Mr. Min said that during the afternoon, someone might remain on site for clean-up and set-up, but most staff goes home and no customers are served. He did not want to change the hours.
Mr. Lichtman said that these hours are on the Sewer Authority application. He noted that separators will be added to the kitchen and a new HVAC system will be placed on the roof, capturing any cooking exhaust. There will be no outside seating or music.
Mr. Fidler asked whether the new location would serve alcohol.
Mr. Min said that no alcohol would be served; it will be BYO.
Mr. Fidler asked about outside trash receptacles, which are required for any drive-in restaurant.
Mr. Lichtman said this will not be a drive –in. There may be some orders carried out and taken home, but that is not a large part of the business. He believed there are already trash receptacles outside of the two restaurant sites, but he would confirm their location with the shopping center owners.
Mr. Chleboski asked if there would be dedicated parking spaces for take-out customers.
Mr. Min said that this will be primarily an eat-in restaurant. He expected parking to be better here than at his other location in Village at Newtown, which has fewer parking spaces and a number of other restaurants competing for space. There are not any other restaurants in this section of the shopping center. Take out customers would park in the lot.
Mr. Chleboski asked about disposal of cooking oils.
Mr. Lichtman said that a grease interceptor tank will be installed and will be inspected regularly by the Health Department. A contractor will clean the tank as needed.
Mr. Chleboski asked whether there are any height restrictions for the roof mounted HVAC.
Mr. Lichtman said that the unit would be placed on an existing column for support. The height would be the same as other units in the shopping center and not visible from the street. A structural engineer would determine the location for the unit.
Mr. Vogt said that Newtown Sewer Authority regularly inspects all grease interceptors. He also noted that Uniform Construction Code for the State of Pennsylvania regulates the location of rooftop heating and air conditioning. Regarding parking, this new restaurant’s parking cannot exceed that allotted by the landlord for Lee’s and Basil Leaf. This will be in the lease.
Mr. Fidler advised the applicant that sometimes the Board of Supervisors has concerns about parking and may ask for some concessions, such as employees parking off-site.
Mr. Min said that there is employee parking at the rear of the building and many of his full time employees carpool in a company owned van.
Mr. Torrente asked about deliveries.
Mr. Min said that deliveries are at the rear of the building. He does not have tractor trailer deliveries, only vans and box trucks. The times of delivery vary throughout the day.
Mr. Whartenby moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant approval of the conditional use application of Oishi, 2808-10 South Eagle Road in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District for an E-5 eating place and E-6 eating place take out, subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Fisher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Lichtman noted that the Boucher and James letter references a comparison of seating with the two previous restaurants to determine allocation of parking. Both restaurants are closed; the sandwich shop had been remodeled after Lee’s left and some seating was removed.
Mr. Vogt said that the seating and occupancy for the previous tenants and its parking allocation would be based on the square footage of the two building units.
Mr. Fidler said that the EDU’s permitted are the same so it might be assumed that seating was for 150 patrons. He suggested that the applicant be prepared to discuss parking with the Supervisors.
The motion passed 8-0.
Mrs. Driscoll asked whether the restaurant is moving or opening a second location.
Mr. Min said that this will be a second location. Once the new space opens, he will remodel the old space and perhaps offer a different menu.
Mr. Fidler said that he received Mr. Vogt’s report on frequent signage issues after the last meeting. It had apparently been returned to the Township by the Post Office. He would arrange for electronic copies to be placed in members’ next GoogleDocs packets.
Mr. Fisher said that he has heard from some residents that properties are being surveyed along Eagle Road for a trail. He asked the recording secretary whether the Park and Rec Board has been considering trail extensions.
The recording secretary said that perhaps this is part of the second phase of the Stoopville Road improvement, which was to have extended the trail from Stoopville Road to join the trail at Jonquil Drive.
Mr. Fisher said that a number of residents have complained that the left turn arrow from Eagle Road onto Durham Road is not functioning.
Mr. Vogt said that he believed this was modified by PennDOT when new crosswalk signs were installed. He would follow up.
Mr. Fidler asked Mr. Vogt to ask Traffic Engineer Amy Kaminski if this is part of a new traffic plan for the Birches.
Subcommittee and Liaison Reports
Board of Supervisors: Mrs. Driscoll reported that she gave the Planning Commission report at the Board’s August 28 meeting. A resident in attendance complained about the Zoning Hearing Board application for 135 Swamp Road. He felt residents should have been notified that the Planning Commission would be discussing the application.
Mr. Fidler said that the MPC and the JMZO require that residents within 500 feet of a Zoning Application be notified of the hearing, only. The Planning Commission does not always review Zoning applications in every municipality. In Newtown at one time only applications which would impact Township planning were reviewed. In recent years the Commission has been asked to review applications for the benefit of the applicant and to advise the Board of Supervisors of any planning concerns.
Mr. Vogt said that the MPC only requires notice of the Zoning Hearing Board meeting by advertisement and posting of the property. This has been done for 135 Swamp Road.
Mrs. Driscoll said that the resident had concerns about drainage onto properties in his development. Attorney Don Marshall did inform the Supervisors that the applicant had reduced the increase in impervious surface from 19% to 15%, as suggested by the Planning Commission.
Environmental Advisory Council: Mr. Fisher announced that the EAC would co-sponsor an electronic recycling event at the Public Works building on September 21, 2013 from 8:00 AM to noon. Leck & Son is hosting the event, but it is open to all residents, not just Leck customers. At the same time the EAC will be holding a native plant swap at the Township building. Native species will be available for swapping or for purchase.
Mr. Chleboski moved to adjourn at 8:45 PM. Mr. Galley seconded and the motion passed 8-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary