NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
February 4, 2014
Present: Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby, Secretary Peggy Driscoll and members Paul Cohen, Kyle Davis, David Domzalski and Larry Galley. Also in attendance were John Torrente, Township Solicitor, Michele Fountain, Township Engineer, Micah Lewis, Township Planner, Martin Vogt, Code Enforcement Officer.
Reorganization: Mr. Whartenby nominated Allen Fidler to serve as chairman. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mr. Whartenby nominated Mr. Cohen to serve as vice-chairman.
Mr. Cohen declined the nomination.
Mrs. Driscoll nominated Mr. Whartenby to serve as vice-chairman. Mr. Cohen seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mr. Whartenby nominated Mrs. Driscoll to serve as secretary. Mr. Cohen seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
The members agreed to serve as liaisons to the Township’s various committees, boards and commissions as follows:
Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission – Mr. Cohen
Joint Zoning Council – Mr. Fidler (with Mr. Cohen sharing responsibilities as needed.)
Historic Architectural Review Board – Mrs. Driscoll (it was noted that the Supervisors have already appointed Mrs. Driscoll as a voting member of HARB.)
Park and Recreation Board – Mr. Whartenby
Environmental Advisory Council – Dennis Fisher (the recording secretary noted that Mr. Fisher had expressed interest in remaining in this position.)
Joint Historic Commission – Mr. Deutsch (it was noted that although not in attendance this evening, Mr. Deutsch had indicated to other Commission members his interest in remaining as liaison)
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Cohen asked that in the minutes of December 17, 2013, page 5, paragraph 13 be changed to read, “Mr. Cohen disagreed…..did not think residents’ input should be required.”
Mr. Cohen moved to approve the minutes of December 17, 2013 as amended. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 4-0-2, with Messrs. Davis and Domzalski abstaining.
Dilks/Meglio’s, 1-5 North Sycamore Street – Sketch Plan: Attorney Ed Murphy, Engineer Scott Mills and applicants Bob Delia and Bill Delia were in attendance to review a sketch plan for redevelopment of two properties at 1 and 5 North Sycamore Street.
Mr. Murphy briefly reviewed past attempts of the Delia brothers to purchase the property at 15 Swamp Road to build a free-standing Meglio’s restaurant. He said that when it became apparent that difficulties in attaining access to the signalized intersection of Swamp and South Eagle Roads would not be resolved favorably, the Delias looked for another suitable property for redevelopment. This concept plan involves combining two tax map parcels at 1 and 5 North Sycamore Street, renovating the two existing buildings and building an addition onto the existing building #1 for the 2000 square foot restaurant with patio and a 750 square foot retail space. The office in building #1 will be converted to third apartment and building #2 will remain as two residential apartments.
Mr. Murphy said that the Delias have consulted with Jeffrey Marshall of the Heritage Conservancy and are aware of the historic significance of the two existing buildings and the need to comply with HARB on the new addition. All historic aspects of the existing buildings are to be preserved. The restaurant will comply with requirements for new construction in a historic district. The proposed patio will face Sycamore Street with entrance to the restaurant through the rear parking lot. Take out service will be through the same rear entrance. No building will be in the newly mapped 100-year floodplain. There is no sewer capacity at the site for a restaurant use now, but hopefully the DEP issues will be resolved shortly. The applicants are hoping for a fall 2015 opening.
Mr. Mills said that an architect will be consulted to be sure the new addition complies with historic appearances. He also noted that the applicant proposes to install some benches at the corner of Washington Avenue and Sycamore Street to enhance the streetscape.
Mr. Murphy said that the applicants have met with the Township’s land use committee and with the Sycamore Street Community Association, which has been supportive of the plan.
Mrs. Driscoll asked about improvements to the two existing houses.
Mr. Bob Delia said that he had not toured the interiors of the buildings but they do plan to do some renovations and hope to make some improvements to the exteriors.
Mr. Cohen asked about traffic flow through the site.
Mr. Murphy said that the intent is to use the two existing curb cuts to the parking lot.
Mr. Cohen suggested that the applicants consider a one way traffic pattern similar to that at Newtown Pizza.
Mr. Mills noted that the two parking lots are separated now but the plan would join them. The one way concept will be investigated further.
Mr. Cohen asked what variances might be needed.
Mr. Murphy said that Ms. Fountain and Mr. Lewis have done a preliminary review of the plans under the newly adopted TC zoning district changes. He believed that some variances might be needed for the new apartment, either as part of a mixed use development, as an accessory or as an existing non-conformity. Take out restaurants are not permitted in the TC, but this restaurant would not have a drive through window. The plan shows parking for 47 spaces where 49 are required and for parking in a floodplain.
Ms. Fountain noted that the plan shows no landscaping.
The Commission discussed possible access to Newtown Creek, which had been contemplated by the Newtown Creek Coalition.
Mr. Vogt expressed some concern for safety as there is a severe drop off at the rear of the parking lot.
Mr. Bob Delia said that he would look into possibly placing benches to view the creek. He also wanted to place bike racks near the creek. There is no location in town for bicyclists to park their bikes to walk through the shopping area or stop for a meal.
Mr. Galley asked about the size of the restaurant and about designating parking for residents.
Mr. Bob Delia said it would have 50 seats, the same as the existing Meglio’s. Resident parking would be designated by signage.
Mrs. Driscoll asked about the size of the apartments.
Mr. Murphy said that they would be touring the inside of the buildings tomorrow, but he believed that building #1 has one-bedroom apartments and building #2 has two bedroom apartments.
Mr. Galley asked about the dumpster location, as it might be difficult to access when the parking lot is full.
Mr. Bob Delia said that currently trash is picked up before the restaurant is open, so the area near the dumpster will be easily accessible.
The Commission members expressed support for the concept plan, with the understanding that any renovations, new construction, signage and lighting would comply with HARB requirements. All felt this plan would be an enhancement to the historic district and by including residential units was in keeping with the Township’s vision for Sycamore Street.
Amendment correcting inconsistencies in the JMZO: Mr. Torrente explained that he and Mr. Vogt have reviewed the proposed ordinance and have outlined a few inconsistencies, outlined in his letter dated January 15, 2014, which should be addressed before final adoption. Included in the list are an inconsistency regarding outside storage in the LI zoning district and it points out that changing accessory retail from CU to not permitted in the POS district would move jurisdiction from the Supervisors to the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Cohen moved to recommend that the Board of Supervisors authorize advertisement of the JMZO amendment correcting inconsistencies in the ordinance, subject to the condition that Mr. Torrente’s letter dated January 15, 2014 be incorporated into the proposed changes. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
In response to questions from the members, Mr. Vogt informed the Board that the Donald and Denise Queeny Zoning Hearing Board application has been continued to March 6, 2014. No changes to the application have been submitted to the Township.
Mr. Galley moved to adjourn at 8:20 PM. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary