NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 2001

7:30 PM


APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE APRIL 5, 2001 MEETING: Mr. Lionetti moved to postpone the approval of the minutes until the next meeting. Mr. Carver seconded: the motion carried unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, April 5, 2001, in the Newtown Township Municipal Building. In attendance and voting were: Mario Lionetti, Chairman, Thomas Ragan, Vice-Chairman, John Lenihan, Secretary, Franklin Carver, Member and Michael Leone, Member. Also in attendance is James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Solicitor.

CALL TO ORDER

Mario Lionetti, Chairman calls the meeting to order at 7:40 p.m.

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

THE AGENDA WAS REVIEWED

Approval of Minutes Thursday, March 1, 2001

Continue Application of Pheasant Point Associates

Continue Application of Debra Sparks Allison t/a Debra Sparks Dance Works

Application of Charles and Deborah Sweigard

Application of Ron and June Parodi (owner) by County Club Pools, Inc.

Application of Paul McLean

Application of Mr. & Mrs. John Kane

Adjournment

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE MARCH 1, 2001 MEETING

Mr. Ragan made the following amendments and/or changes to the March 1, 2001 minutes:1

Page 1, AGENDA and Page 3 (title):

Application of Pleasant Point Associates changed to "pheasant."

Page 4, last paragraph, second line:

...to make a record on the issued of economic... change to read:

...to make a record on the "issue" of economic...

Page 5, last Paragraph:

...the attorney representing Newtown Racket Associates changed to read:

...the attorney representing Newtown "Raquet" Associates.

Mr. Lionetti asked if the Board if they had any further amendments and/or changes to the minutes. The Board had no further comments.

Motion was made by Franklin Carver to approve the minutes as amended. John Lenihan seconded motion.

Motion granted unanimously.

1Amendments and/or changes are made in the "italic" print.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF PHEASANT POINT ASSOCIATES

Mr. Lionetti asked Mr. Auchinleck if he had any items to discuss with regard to this application. Mr. Auchinleck indicated that he received correspondence from the Township Solicitor's office advising that the Township Engineer would not be available this evening; therefore, the application would not be able to conclude without this witness. In addition, Mr. Auchinleck received a fax from the applicant's attorney today advising that his engineer was unavailable due to an unavoidable commitment and requested this matter be continued to the May 3, 2001 zoning hearing.

Motion was made by Mr. Lionetti to continue the Application of Pheasant Point Associates, L.P. to the May 3, 2001 zoning hearing board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Motion seconded by Mr. Lenihan.

Mario Lionetti asked if there was any further comment by Board members. There was no response.

Motion granted unanimously.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF DEBRA SPARKS ALLISON t/a DEBRA SPARKS DANCE WORKS

Mr. Auchinleck indicated that this application has been read at a prior hearing and evidence was taken. The matter was continued for a site inspection and possible revisions to the proposal. This application is ready for additional testimony.

Mr. Lionetti advised that the site inspection was performed at 5:00 p.m. this evening. Present at this inspection were the Zoning Board Members, Mr. /Harwood, the applicant, Mr. Tanner and their representative, Mr. Murphy.

Mr. Murphy advised that was not present at the prior hearing; however, since that time, he has had an opportunity to discuss this matter with the Solicitor to get a better nature of the prior testimony presented and the issues of concern to the Board members.

Following this discussion, Mr. Murphy spoke with the applicant and Mr. Tanner.

Mr. Murphy provided into evidence as Exhibit "A-1" which is a Plan of Survey for Tax Map Parcel 29-11-47 dated August 11, 1988. This plan was last revised on April 4, 2001. This survey demonstrates the various parking statistics and the dance studio's requirement. Mr. Murphy indicated that even though the dance studio would require 17 parking spaces under the ordinance, the studio only needs 2 parking spaces. This plan also reflects the prior variances and relief that has been granted with respect to the parking spaces. This plan demonstrates a man door located on the western side of the building. One of the Board's concerns was where the children entered the building conflicted with the vehicles being utilized by Vince's Auto Repair. This man door would be eliminated on the western side of the building and relocated to the north side of the building. In addition, the overhead doors on the north side of the building, two of the three would be removed and replaced with either all siding or siding and windows. A third condition would be that the newly relocated man door from which the instructors and children would enter would be protected with either fencing or other materials. In addition, the concrete apron, which is the area 25 ft. from the space of the north side of the building would be restricted from any parking and appropriate signage would be installed to ensure that the vehicle would be able to pull up to the protected area and the children could get in and out of their vehicles. There was also a plan for circulation in front of the vehicle so that the Township could ensure the safety of the children entering and exiting the building. In order to do this, the parents would be able to make a circle or u-turn without having to park. All of these conditions would be subject to the review and approval of the Township Code Enforcement Officer. Lastly, it was discussed that a condition of no classes would start prior to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Mr. Lionetti discussed that the door to the studio was to be moved as close as possible to the far east of the overhead doors. Mr. Murphy concurred with Mr. Lionetti that this was discussed and agreed on by the parties.

Mr. Ragan asked Ms. Sparks if she would be holding any recitals/events at the facility. Ms. Sparks indicated that she does not hold her recitals on the premises. She holds them at a theater which she rents for this purpose. Mr. Ragan asked if this should be made a condition. Mr. Lionetti asked Ms. Spark's if she would object to this condition. Ms. Sparks indicated that she has no objection to making this a condition.

Mr. Ragan asked if the condition that the overhead doors be removed needed to be placed as a condition or could Mr. Tanner and Ms. Sparks block them off from inside? Mr. Auchinleck indicated that there is no reason to have the doors removed except to make certain that there is no vehicle conflict with entering and exiting the building. They are to be inoperable during Ms. Spark's lease of the property. There was also some concern be inoperable during Ms. Spark's lease of the property. There was also some concern with the overhead doors as they relate to fire safety. Ms. Sparks said that she met with the Township Fire Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer on this subject and there is no violation or concern with either office.

Mr. Lionetti inquired as to the relief of parking spaces. He indicated that the application requested that there be 7 spaces available and for relief of 59 spaces. Mr. Murphy indicated that based on the uses of the site, and calculation would require 104 parking spaces. A review of A-1 demonstrates that they can provide 92 spaces.  The relief would then require relief for 12 parking spaces. Mr. Murphy indicated that the actual parking spaces needed for Ms. Spark's dance studio is only 2 parking spaces. They are obtaining 3 additional spaces then needed.

Mr. Lionetti asked if the Board members had any other questions. There was no response. Mr. Lionetti asked Mr. Auchinleck if he had any further questions. Mr. Auchinleck indicated that A-1 depicts 8 parking spaces opposite the garage door off German Avenue. Mr. Murphy indicates that the Deed line only incorporates parking spaces that are on their deed. The German Plan of Subdivision from late 1800's to early 1900s shows 290 lots. The Tanner's parcel was originally 5 separate lots to the original subdivision. Mr. Murphy entered the Deed as Exhibit "A-2"

The Board discussed making the two parking spaces for the dance studio on the easterly side of the building and designated for the dance school only.

Mr. Lionetti asked Mr. Harwood if he wished to comment on this application. Mr. Harwood clarified that if a new use was to be requested for this space, the tenant would have to apply for a condition of use at the Code's Office. At that time, the parking requirement for the new use would be reviewed. Mr. Harwood would also like a condition to be placed that no more than 20 students per class and at any one time be placed as a condition so there is no confusion as to the number allowed on the premises at any time.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was anyone who wished to make comment for or against the applicant's application. There was no response.

Mr. Auchinleck proposed that the Board adopt a motion granting a variance from section 651(a) of the zoning ordinance to permit a dance school on the subject property and variances from 803(3)(2) to permit a 86 parking spaces on the entire property rather than the 104 parking spaces subject to the following conditions: (1) that the pedestrian entrance on the west side of the building is removed and relocated on the easterly end of the north side of the building, (2) there shall be installed in the vicinity of the pedestrian door a protected are screening the access door from the vehicles, (3) there shall be no parking on the concrete apron in front of what is now the overhead doors; (4) a circulation turn around shall be designed for vehicle access to drop off students at the door, which design will be subject to the review and approval of the Township Code Enforcement Office; (5) that there be no dance recitals or similar events on the subject property which would require vehicles to remain on the property; (6) that there be two parking spaces provided for the employees in the northeast corner of the property; (7) there be a maximum of 20 students at any one time on the property; and (8) that there be no classes from Monday through Friday, prior to 5:00 p.m.

Motion made by Thomas Ragan granted the above stated motion with the conditions, which was seconded by Mr. Carver. (Anita double check)

Motion granted unanimously.

APPLICATION OF CHARLES AND DEBORAH SWEIGARD

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the Application of Charles and Deborah Sweigard requesting a variance from Section 401(b) of the joint municipal zoning ordinance of 1983 to permit the addition of a in-ground swimming pool with patio and deck which will result in an impervious surface ratio of 24.26% instead of the maximum permissible of 20% impervious surface ratio. The subject property is located at 26 Andy Circle in Newtown in the CM (Conservation Management) Zoning District being further known as Tax Map Parcel 29-019-059.

The applicant Charles Sweigart represented himself.

Mr. Lionetti inquired if anyone else wished to be a party to this application. There was no response.

Mr. Sweigart sworn in.

Mr. Sweigart indicated that he and his wife are applying for relief to install a concrete in-ground swimming pool The installer of the pool is Blue Haven.

Mr. Ragan inquired if Mr. Sweigart intended to put shrubbery around the property. Mr. Sweigard indicated that there is a 5 ft. fence that runs the length of the property. That was installed by Orleans, the Building. The back of his property is all wooded and has chicken wire to keep the deer out of the back of his property.

Mr. Lenihan indicated that he performed a site inspection of this property. He observed the landscape and where the pool is supposed to be. There are no dwelling to be considered down sloped from it. It is an open wooded area. He did not see any infringement on other property owner's rights and the impervious surface requested is the minimal and he does not see a problem with this application.

Mr. Auchinleck asked Mr. Sweigart what is to the rear of his property. A review of the plan demonstrates two lots in the back of his property. Mr. Sweigart indicated that the homes are probably at least 200 ft. of more from the back line of his property. In the front of his property there is an open space of 6 to 10 feet.

Mr. Lionetti asked if the Board members had any further questions.

Mr. Leone confirmed with Mr. Sweigard that the pool would follow code with regard to the enclosure of the property.

Mr. Lionetti asked Mr. Harwood if he had any question or comments. Mr. Harwood had none.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was anyone else present who wished to comment either for or against the application? There was no response.

Mr. Lionetti made a motion granting the application of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Sweigard from Section 401B of the Municipal Zoning Ordinance to permit an impervious surface ratio of 24.6% where 20% is the standard, which was seconded by Mr. Ragan.

Motion carried unanimously.

APPLICATION OF RON & JUNE PARODI

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the Application of Ron & June Parodi (owners) by Country Club Pools Inc. for a variance of Section 401B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983, to permit the addition of an in-ground swimming pool and walk way which will result in an impervious ration of 22.82% instead of the maximum of 20% impervious surface ratio. The subject property is located at 31 Providence Court, Newtown Meadows, Newtown, in CM (Conservation Management) Zoning District, known as Tax Map Parcel 29-37-28.

Mr. Ronald Parodi represented himself.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was anyone else present who wished to be party to this application. There was no response.

Mr. Parodi was sworn in.

Mr. Parodi advised that he is requesting a relief of 20% of the impervious surface for the pool and patio with decking around the pool which will be for a total of 22.82%.

Mr. Lenihan advise that he did a site inspection. He indicated that this is a property similar to the prior application heard. It is a property with the sloping away from the house. Behind the property is a swell and behind that is a retention basin behind a wooded area. Mr. Lenihan does not see where the pool would provide any difficulty for any adjoining neighbors or the lay of the land.

Mr. Auchinleck asked what type of property sits behind his. Mr. Parodi said there is brush behind his property and then a retention basin.

Mr. Lionetti asked Mr. Harwood if there is a requirement for fences around these pools in the Township. Mr. Harwood indicated yes.

Mr. Ragan asked about the neighbor in lot 17. Mr. Parodi indicated this lot is presently under construction. The house is being built similar to Mr. Parodi's and the pool will sit far behind their structure as well.

Mr. Lionetti asked if the Board had any further questions. There was no response.

Mr. Lionetti asked Mr. Harwood if he had any further comments he wished to make? He had none.

Motion was made by Mr. Leone granting the application of Ron and June Parodi for a relief of 22.82% from the ordinance 401B where the maximum allowable impervious surface is 20%, which was seconded by Mr. Lenihan.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was any further discussion by Board members at this time. There was none.

Motion granted unanimously.

APPLICATION OF PAUL MCLEAN

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Paul McLean for a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(e) and the final plan of Newtown Grant to permit a portico addition to cover a front step which will result in a 31.5 ft. front yard setback instead of the required 35 feet and to permit a fence with a height of 5 feet where a maximum height of 3 ft. is permitted. The property is located at 55 Snapdragon Drive in the Newtown Grant Subdivision in the R2 (Residential Zoning District) being further know as Tax Map Parcel 29-019-082.

The applicant Paul McLean represented himself.

Mr. Lionetti inquired if there was anyone else who wished to be a party to this application. None noted.

Mr. McLean sworn in.

Mr. McLean first thanked Mr. Lenihan for coming to the property today and apologized for their dog's behavior. Mr. McLean indicted that he and his wife, Christine, have applied for a two-part variance. The first part is for a portico on the front porch, over the front step. The second part is for a 5 ft. fence variance on the corner of the property where only a 3 ft. fence is allowed. The proposed changes to the property have been submitted to the Homeowner's Association for approval two months ago, who have approved all of the changes as with the Township. He and his wife have discussed these changes with their neighbors who like the changes they intend to make.

Mr. McLean indicated that when the home was built in 1988 or 1989, concrete slab was placed on the front of the house at the entrance. The portico requested would cover the step, which would be widened to hold up the portico and the front step will be curved. The portico is being placed, because when the sun hits the hardware on the front door, the hardware gets extremely hot. The portico will supply shade to the door. Presently the fence is a post and rail fence which sits on the right rear corner of the house, which extends to the property line. Mr. McLean would like to remove this post and rail fence and replace it with the new fence. The intent is to have the new fence to go to the right of this fence and to the side yard over to the existing trees. The new fence would come over to the right of the existing fence, approximately half of the distance between the corner of his property and Snap Dragon Drive. The distance of this fence from Snap Dragon Drive, would be about 21 feet from the rear of the yard. The fence will sit parallel to North Drive. The fence will be a scalloped picket fence. The request for the fence is to give his children more room and to contain the dog.

Mr. Lionetti inquired as to what is behind his property? Mr. McLean indicated lot 108 is a neighbor and to the right is another neighbor.

Mr. Lenihan indicated that he performed a site inspection of this location today. Based upon this inspection, the portico that they are requesting to cover their front step will in no way cause any problems to the neighborhood, it will provide relief to the applicants without infringing on any other property owners. As to the requested proposed fence, would be an improvement over the fence that they currently have. Mr. Lenihan believes that where it would be situated, behind the line of trees, would not create a problem any unsightly appearance from North/South Drive and would allow them to keep their children and dog contained.

Mr. Lionetti addressed Mr. Leone as he also resides in Newtown Grant. Mr. Lionetti asked if the Zoning Board would be setting a precedent in the community by allowing fences this close to the road that might become a difficulty in the future. Mr. Leone indicated that they only problem he has with the fence is driving down North/South Drive Mr. McLean's house looks like a front yard. In view of the trees blocking the sight of the fence and he understands why the McLean's want this fence and they are all good reasons, however, he can see a whole line of fences popping up. Mr. McLean indicated that on North/South Drive, not the homes that actually have driveways on North/South Road, but similar to his neighbor behind him, there is about a dozen of homes that already have a 5 ft. shadow-box style fence in their backyard. Additionally, the line of townhomes at Raven's View they all back up to North/South Drive.

Mr. Ragan inquired if there is any other home in Newtown Grant that has an unique situation like the McLean's lot. Mr. McLean indicated not on South Drive, but there are similar lots on Snap Dragon and Tea Berry on the corner. The residents on Tea Berry have a five foot shadow box style fence coming up their sideyards.

Mr. Lionetti indicated that the zoning board could not put restrictions on fences from an aesthetic point of view. The community association if they have a prerogative with establishing rule and regulation as to the types of fence and location but could be more restrictive. The problem is that everyone's fence style is not similar and continued allowance of fences and if everyone put up fences, from an aesthetic point of view, it does take away property value eventually. Mr. Auchinleck indicated from reading the ordinance, it does indicate that if the lot fronts on two or more streets, 3 ft. maximum foot height shall apply along all of the streets, which unless Mr. Harwood interprets this differently, would seem to mean that all of the properties fall within this restriction. Mr. McLean indicated that the Newtown Grant Homeowner's Association does not have a problem with this request. The Board is concerned that in the future, you could end up with a row of mismatched fences that from an aesthetic standpoint will bring the value down.

Mr. Lionetti asked Mr. Harwood if there is a reason for only a 3 foot fence on a front yard or yard facing the roadway? Mr. Harwood said it is primarily for aesthetics as well as a safety issue for vehicles traveling on the roadway.

Mr. Lionetti asked the Board if they had any further questions or comments with regard to this application. There was no response.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was any public comment with regard to this application. There was none. 

Mr. Lionetti made a motion granting the relief of 3 1/2 feet on the front yard set back based on the Newtown Grant Final Plan from the 35 feet and the request is for 31 1/2 feet and denied the request for the 5 ft. fence from the ordinance of 803(H-3)(I)(e). Motion was seconded by Michael Leone.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was any further discussion by Board Members? There was none.

In favor of motion were Mr. Lionetti and Mr. Leone. Opposed were Mr. Lenihan, Mr. Ragan and Mr. Carver. Motion did not carry.

Mr. Ragan re-entered a motion that the Board grant both variance as requested area, which was seconded by Mr. Carver.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was any further comment at this times. Mr. Leone indicated that in this neck of the woods it is going to be a bad thing for 5 ft. fences. Mr. Ragan discussed that in the past they have granted 5 ft. Fences in this development and this creates a hardship to this applicant. Mr. Lionetti indicated it is not going to create a hardship with the denial of the 5 ft. fence. He has a 5 ft. fence and is looking for more relief. Mr. Leone said each case should be viewed differently. Mr. Lionetti asked if there was any further comment.

 Motion granted 3-2. Voting in favor were Mr. Ragan, Mr. Lenihan and Mr. Carver. Not in favor were Mr. Lionetti and Mr. Leone.

Motion passed 3-2.

APPLICATION OF MR. & MRS. JOHN KANE

Mr. Lenihan read into the application of Mr. and Mrs. John Kane for a variance from Section 401B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance and the Final Plan of Norwalk Subdivision to permit an addition of a screened porch and two bedrooms which would result in an impervious surface ration of 18.26% where a maximum of 15% is permitted. The subject property is located at 39 Autumn Lane in Newtown in the OR (Office Research) Zoning District being further identified as Tax Map Parcel #29-16-11-22.

Mr. Kane, the owner, represented this application. Also present was Joseph Marrazzo, the builder.

Mr. Kane and Mr. Marrazzo were sworn in.

Mr. Marrazzo indicated that Mr. and Mrs. Kane reside at 39 Autumn Lane in Newtown, in the Norwood subdivision. Their family has grown and requires additional space for there home. For one bedroom and a bath, a sun room on the first level and a screened porch on the existing deck that is there now. Due to impervious surface and drainage, they went down to a little over 30,000 square feet, which makes them the smallest lot in the subdivision. Open space is great, but with this small addition, they exceeded their impervious surface ratio and seeking relief from that. They would like to remain in this development and same township and would like to relief so they do not need to move. Mr. and Mrs. Kane's lot is number 23, on the Subdivision Plan submitted with their application. The addition will be below the existing deck which already sits on this property. This will be a two story addition, 20 x 14. Two bedrooms upstairs, sunroom below. Mr. Auchinleck  inquired as to where the increase to the impervious surface is. Mr. Marrazzo indicated that the deck is considered as an impervious surface. At one time, the Kanes asked for relief to put on an existing patio. When the application went through, Mr. Harwood had picked up that the existing impervious would exceed the 16.6 allowed which was granted at a previous hearing. Now they would be at 18.26 impervious.

Mr. Lenihan advised that he did a site inspection on this date and as described the addition would be constructed over an existing hardwood deck. Their lot backs up to open space and does not create any site problems for any of their neighbors or in any one cause any problems for adjourning property owners.

Mr. Lionetti asked if Mr. Harwood would like to make any comments to this application?

Mr. Harwood clarified for the record that there was a note on their work sheet that pointed out that there was 120 square feet that was unaccounted as an impervious surface. The first lot calculation was not properly. The memorandum does not include the deck, which already exist on this property as impervious which gives the history on the application's calculations. Technically, all of the deck will remain as an impervious surface; this is not being changed as it already exists.

Mr. Lionetti made a motion to grant the request of an 18.26 percent impervious ratio, grant the relief from the previously granted increase of impervious surface ratio of 16 percent and to help clarify some pervious erroneous calculation by adding the memorandum from Thomas J. Harwood, dated March 9, 2001 subject variance request number 479-01, included as Exhibit T-1, which clarifies all of the impervious surfaces on this property, which was seconded by Mr. Lenihan.

Mr. Lionetti asked if anyone had any comments or further discussion on this application. There was none.

Motion granted unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT

Motion made by Mr. Lionetti to adjourn meeting, which was seconded by Mr. Leone.

Motion carried unanimously.

Meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

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Anita P. Arndt, Recording Secretary