NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
April 1, 2014
Present: Chairman Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby and members Paul Cohen, Craig Deutsch, Peggy Driscoll, David Domzalski, Dennis Fisher and Larry Galley. Also in attendance were John Torrente, Township Solicitor, Michele Fountain, Township Engineer, Micah Lewis, Township Planner, Amy Kaminski, Traffic Engineer, Martin Vogt, Code Enforcement Officer and Supervisors Philip Calabro, Jennifer Dix and Ryan Gallagher (late.)
Call to Order: Mr. Fidler called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Fisher moved to approve the minutes of February 18, 2014. Mr. Cohen seconded and the motion passed 5-0-3, with Mrs. Driscoll and Messrs. Domzalski and Fidler abstaining.
Newtown Townhome PRD, 761 Newtown Yardley Road: Kevin Reilly of County Builders, Attorney Kelly McGowan and Engineer Robert Cunningham were in attendance to review the final plan for land development for a 56 townhome development (use B-15) on 16.61 acres in the R-2 residential zoning district, with associated parking, landscaping, access roads and open space.
The Commission discussed the CKS review letter dated March 19, 2014. Mr. Reilly indicated that County Builders will comply with most of the points in the letter. He said that although the plans do not currently show a sufficiently dense buffer planting barrier around the perimeter, he would like to work with Mr. Lewis and Ms. Fountain to comply with this requirement after the Planner and Engineer have met at the site to discuss appropriate plantings between the already mature trees near the property lines. He would like to discuss possible escrow of funds for the trees. He would be amenable to planting trees elsewhere in the Township using the escrowed funds rather than crowd the mature trees and risk damaging their roots. He would also want to coordinate with the Headley landscapers on selecting plantings.
Mr. Cohen confirmed with Ms. Fountain that the developer must provide the barrier even if the adjacent parcel is wooded. The plantings must be on the property to be developed.
The Commission discussed the per-lot impervious surface. Mr. Reilly said this would be included on the final plan. The homes would have decks and no patios would be permitted because of the impervious surface allotments.
Mrs. Driscoll asked that this be disclosed to buyers.
Ms. McGowan said that the “no patio” proviso would be included in the offering statement, homeowners association documents and agreements of sale.
Mr. Vogt confirmed that because of the spacing between boards of decking, water can pass through and decks are not counted in our Ordinance in impervious surface calculations.
Ms. Fountain briefly discussed impervious calculations, noting that porous paving is counted as impervious but can be considered as part of stormwater management. Proposed rain gardens and other stormwater management are not counted as part of undeveloped open space.
Mr. Galley asked about stormwater management pipes coming from The Ridings development.
Mr. Cunningham reviewed the stormwater that moves through the property, noting that some water is directed to the rain gardens, which will be fenced, and some is diverted to the Wiltshire Walk detention basins. These basins were built to accommodate both developments and an easement agreement is in place. The rain gardens are not included in the open space base site calculations, which still meet the open space requirement. There is no change to the Ridings run-off.
Ms. Fountain briefly discussed the basins’ emergency spillways, which are designed to hold stormwater or direct it to other stormwater facilities in extreme weather events. Maintenance of the basins is part of the easement agreement and the homeowners associations carry liability insurance in the event of damage or injury at the site.
Ms. Fountain asked about lighting for the parking areas.
Mr. Cunningham said that the applicant will comply to meet the required foot candles. He is aware of the brightness of LED lights.
In discussing the steep slopes, Mr. Reilly and Mr. Cunningham explained that all of the steep slopes are manmade. One is an arrangement of boulders to create a water slide. The others are landscape berms, which will be increased to create a buffer between the adjacent properties. He did not think any measure more than 3000 square feet so would not require zoning relief. These numbers will be confirmed.
The Commission reviewed the Boucher and James letter of March 14, 2014. Mr. Lewis said that he would like to see a provision for some shade trees in the proposed playing field area.
Mr. Reilly said that he will comply with this. He briefly discussed the placement of street trees, noting that because of the placement of driveways and utilities it may be difficult to comply with the requirement to place trees every 25 feet, however, he will plant the required number of trees along the streets, perhaps adding more to the entrance drive and near the parking areas.
Mr. Lewis said that he would support a waiver for the placement of street trees.
Mr. Cohen asked about a community impact statement referenced in the Boucher and James letter.
Ms. McGowan said that this has been done and a copy will be provided to the Township.
Mrs. Driscoll said that she would like documents for these homes to include a restriction against converting the garages to living space.
Mr. Reilly said that the homeowners documents require trash cans to be kept inside so he was sure the homeowners documents could also prohibit such conversion. The garages will be approximately 20’ X 20’, but they are not included in the parking calculations. Each driveway will accommodate two cars and there are a number of additional parking areas, so that each unit has three parking spaces. The houses will have 2900 square feet of living space.
Mr. Reilly explained that he had forwarded his response to the review letters earlier in the week, but did not have his traffic engineer’s responses until late this afternoon.
Ms. Kaminski said that she had not seen the traffic responses, as they were not included in the copy of the response she had been given. She would like to meet with the developer’s traffic engineer to discuss plans to work with the proposed PennDOT TIP project on Newtown Yardley Road or to provide an alternative if that project does not move forward. She did have some questions about movement of large trucks in and out of the development which would also need some clarification.
Resident Christine Shoenwolf asked whether a traffic light is included in this plan; she is very concerned about traffic in the area. She would also like the speed limit adjusted on Newtown Yardley Road.
Ms. Kaminski said that a traffic light is planned on the TIP at the Headley/Friends Lane intersection with Newtown Yardley Road. A second light would not be placed that close. She suggested that Ms. Shoenwolf speak to the Supervisors or Township Manager about the speed limit, as that would not be a part of this project.
Mr. Cunningham said that his firm has not seen the TIP plans but asked to be provided a copy. The developer intends to place a deceleration lane at the entrance and would coordinate other improvements based on the TIP project.
Mr. Fidler suggested a left turn lane to enter the development to avoid back-ups.
Mr. Reilly said that he is not sure there is sufficient right-of-way, but he would look into it. He has also attempted to align the entrance with the office park opposite his property.
Ms. Dix asked if any traffic study had been conducted with the inclusion of some of the future development proposed for the area and for Newtown Borough.
Ms. Kaminski said that known future plans were considered.
The Commission members were reluctant to offer a recommendation to the Supervisors at this point and asked that the applicant return after Ms. Kaminski has had an opportunity to meet with the applicant’s traffic engineer. The members would also like to see the community impact statement and the traffic study. Mr. Fidler asked that the plans be revised to show compliance with the review letters before the applicant returns.
Mr. Reilly and Ms. McGowan agreed to submit revisions to the plan and the community impact study and traffic study by Friday afternoon. The Township consultants would attempt to review the changes so that the applicant could return to the Planning Commission on April 15 and appear before the Board of Supervisors on April 23, 2014.
Mr. Fidler reminded the members that he would like to continue discussion of the Township’s sign ordinances on the second meeting of each month. He asked that the members consider inviting representatives of the Newtown Business Association, Newtown Business Commons Association and the Sycamore Street Community Association to attend the meeting of May 20 to give their views on the current Ordinance and what changes are important to their businesses.
Mr. Galley provided the members with copies of the Doylestown Township ordinance, which he suggested could provide some guidance to them on possible changes and adjustments.
Mr. Vogt said that he would like to address temporary signs and banners by creating a more enforceable time limit. He noted that he has no difficulty with the A frame, sandwich board signs, as they have annual permits.
Mr. Galley thanked Ms. Fountain for her help with the lights at the Birches.
Subcommittee and Liaison Reports
HARB: Mrs. Driscoll reported that Meglio’s has asked to meet informally with HARB to discuss its project at numbers 1 & 5 North Sycamore Street.
Environmental Advisory Council: Mr. Fisher reported that the EAC will sponsor an environmental forum on solar energy on Saturday morning, April 12 at 9:30 AM at the Township building and will have a booth at the County Earth Day celebration on April 26 at Core Creek Park. The EAC will have birdhouse kits for older children to assemble and completed birdhouses for younger children to decorate.
Joint Historic Commission: Mr. Deutsch reported that the Commission has continued its discussion of demolition by neglect. The members are particularly concerned about a barn on State Street.
Mr. Cohen moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 8-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary