NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, JUNE 7, 2001

7:30 PM


APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE JUNE 7, 2001 MEETING: In the minutes of June 7, 2001, page 4, third paragraph from the bottom should read "...could move the addition over 3ft., which would NOT required a variance"
Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes as amended. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
In the minutes of June 7, 2001, page 4, third paragraph from the bottom should read "...could move the addition over 3ft., which would NOT required a variance"
Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes as amended. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion carried unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, May 3, 2001, in the Newtown Township Municipal Building. In attendance and voting were: Mario Lionetti, Chairman; Thomas Ragan, Vice-Chairman; John Lenihan, Secretary; and Franklin Carver, Member. Michael Leone was absent. Also in attendance were James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor; Tom Harwood, Interim Township Manager.

CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Lionetti calls the meeting to order at 7:39 PM

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

THE AGENDA WAS REVIEWED

Approval of Minutes: none

Continued Application of Sun Oil Company

Continued Application of Rona Waters

Application of Vladimir Outkin and Marina Shindel

Application of Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Morrissey

Application of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Lamberti

Application of Mr. & Mrs. Richard Dubin 

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF SUN OIL COMPANY

Mr. Auchinleck said that at the last meeting he had suggested to the applicant that they speak with the borough and the township to see if any agreement could be reached.

Mr. James Bosakowski, resident of 534 Washington Avenue, Newtown Borough, stepped forward and requested to be made a party to the application. He said his property lies across the street from the Sunoco station.

Timothy Jones, Scott DeFlavis and Paul Friel appeared for Sunoco. Mr. Jones said that, as requested by the board, they had revised their plans to remove the pole mounted advertising signs. He presented Exhibit A-6, a color rendition of the revised plan; black & white copies were distributed to the board. Mr. Jones explained that the horizon graphics had been removed, and that signage had been reduced by 75%. He said that diffusers had been added to the lights, in response to the lighting issue. Mr. Jones felt that these changes were compatible with other gas stations in the township and borough.

Mr. Jones cited a recent precedent case, the Hertzberg case, which ruled the economic detriment could be used as a reason for granting of a variance. He asked the board to approve the plan Exhibit A-6.

The board reminded Mr. DeFlavis that he was still under oath from the last meeting. He said that, in the revised plan, the previously proposed horizon graphics have been removed from the canopy, resulting in the removal of about 235 square feet of signage. They are still proposing color changes in the graphics, which was part of the original application. Horizon graphics will remain on the side of the building.

Mark Craig, Newtown Borough Council Vice-President, was sworn in. He testified that the Council had reviewed Exhibit A-6 at a recent work session on June 6, 2001, and the Council was unanimous in its recommendation that no signage be permitted in excess of the ordinance. They did not feel that a hardship situation exists.

Mr. Auchinleck noted that the property is completely surrounded by the borough, that it is the only parcel zoned for Professional Services (PS) in the township, and that the station is surrounded by residential on two sides and across the street. Mr. Craig said that the historic district comes up to the building adjacent to the Sunoco station. He noted that there are other Sunoco's in historic districts that are required to follow the ordinances of historic districts.

Mr. Ragan questioned the claim of potential economic loss if signage changes are not made. Mr. Friel and Mr. DeFlavis said that the horizon graphics, color scheme and signage are important for recognition and a consistent image for Sunoco.

Mr. DeFlavis clarified that the total square footage of existing signs is 114.87 square feet, and that new signs, containing the new horizon graphics, would total 109.38 square feet.

Two residents were sworn in for public comment. Adrianne DiGiovine, resident of Centre Street, recognized the need for image and signage consistency, but asked the board to consider the proximity of the station to the historic district. Mr. Bosakowski said he had heard no evidence that changes in signage would benefit Sunoco economically. He said he was authorized to speak for Karen Spinner, who resides across the street from the station and opposes any changes to signage.

In his closing statement, Mr. Sander noted the requested changes and variances previously granted, and said that the application meets none of the requirements for a variance. On behalf of the township, he requested the denial of the variance requested, saying that any change in signage may have a seriously detrimental effect on the neighborhood. Mr. Walsh concurred, and also requested the denial of the variance on behalf of the borough.

Mr. Lionetti saying that the building does not fit into the character of the community, moved the application be denied in its entirely. Mr. Ragan seconded; the motion passed unanimously.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF RONA WATERS

This application had not been heard, as it needed to be re-advertised. Mr. Lenihan read the application of Rona Waters requesting a variance from the Final Plan of Newtown Grant to permit construction of a Florida room addition which will result in a 25 ft. rear yard setback instead of the required 30 feet. The property is a townhouse located at 4 Holly Circle in Newtown Grant in the R-2 (Residential) Zoning District being further known as Tax Map Parcel No. 29-44-73.

The following residents appeared as party to the application and were sworn in: Matthew Schwartz of 1 Holly Circle, Paul Goldberg of 3 Holly Circle, and Brandon Wind of 22 Magnolia Drive.

Ms. Waters, representing herself, was sworn in, and said they were requesting the variance to build a Florida room in order to enjoy the outdoors, as she is allergic to bees. She said that before they moved into the township she contacted both the township and their homeowners association about having the room built. The township told her that an 11' x 14' room would probably be OK. The association told her it probably would not be a problem, but she would need to apply; she subsequently received permission form the association to build the room.

Mr. Auchinleck cited a letter from the Willow Creek Eagle Trace Board of Directors to Ms. Waters, dated March 28, 2001, allowing the installation of a fence and construction of a Florida room, on condition of a permit issued by the township.

Ms. Waters presented Exhibit A-1, a photograph from a catalog, which showed a room similar to her proposed Florida room, which included a 28" high knee wall, skylights, and a slider to the rear of the house.

Mr. Goldberg said that the architectural changes would cover a section of wall he needed access to, and that the homeowners association bylaws required an unimpeded 10 foot distance between all rows of homes.

Mr. Wind, a member of the HOA board, said that Ms. Waters did apply to the board, but the plans presented were for a smaller room and no decision had been rendered. He has asked for a second fax of the photograph and said that the board has not seen any architectural plans.

Mr. Auchinleck said that the ZHB can approve or not approve variances, but cannot rule on anything not covered by the ordinances; otherwise the cluster or master rules must be adhered to. In this case, the ZHB can only deal with the rear yard setback. He suggested that the applicant determine if a 5-yard side yard setback applied to her property, and get back to him regarding what the rear yard setback would be. He would advertise the application promptly for the June ZHB meeting and no additional fees would be required. He said he would like to see a letter authorizing building on the property line.

Mr. Ragan moved to continue the application of Rona Waters to the June 21, 2001 Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Mr. Lionetti seconded: the motion passed unanimously. Mr. Wind confirmed that the homeowners association would be meeting before June 21, 2001.

APPLICATION OF VLADIMIR OUTKIN AND MARINA SHINDEL

Mr. Lenihan read the application of Vladimir Outkin and Marina Shindel for a variance from the Final Plan of Newtown Grant for permission to construct a patio and a two story addition on a residential dwelling lot resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 34.4% instead of the maximum allowable 30% and an 18 ft. rear yard setback instead of the minimum required 25 ft. setback. The property is located at 16 Poppy Court, Newtown Grant in the R-2 (Residential-High Density) Zoning District and is further identified as Tax Map Parcel #29-19-283.

Vladimir Outkin and Marina Shindel were sworn in. Ms. Shindel said they needed to expand their home to accommodate a child coming to live with them, and that they had reviewed various plans and options to find one that met all of the homeowners association rules. She cited a letter to her and her husband from the Fawn Hollow Single Family Homes Association, dated April 4, 2001, which gave approval for the addition. Plans have been submitted.

John Martinez of 15 Poppy Court appeared as party to the application, and was sworn in. Mr. Martinez said he had purchased his property with reliance on the 25 ft. setback, and chose his lot specifically because it has open space on each side. He likes the restrictions on impervious surface.

Ms. Shindel said she had mentioned the construction to Mr. Martinez previously and he had indicated he had no problem with it, as long as it was on her property. She said he would probably only see about 8 feet of the addition; they cut a corner to comply with easement and setback rules.

Mr. Lenihan reported that he had made a site visit and asked about comments from neighbors; the couple's daughter told him she didn't think there were any objections. He said that, considering the angle, there didn't seem to be any significant impact on Mr. Martinez's sight line.

Michael Contreras, 10 Bridal Rose Court, said that the problem was that previous construction done by Mr. Outkin was done after normal working hours and too early and too late on weekends, and over a six-month period was a long time. Ms. Shindel asked what acceptable times were for construction work; Mr. Leone said that Newtown Grant rules were 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

Mr. Martinez asked about the criteria for granting a variance, and Mr. Lionetti explained that the Zoning Officer and other township officials review plans, and that the ZHB only deals with setback and impervious surface requirements. He said that the rights of the property owner usually prevail within the context of the community. Mr. Auchinleck questioned the side yard setback requirements and said that there may be a problem with the setbacks.

Mr. Ragan moved to continue the hearing of Vladimir Outkin and Marina Shindel to June 21, 2001, at which time the zoning office can determine what the final plans of Newtown Grant are in order to proceed in an orderly fashion. Mr. Lenihan seconded. Mr. Ragan amended his motion by changing the date to "July 5, 2001". Mr. Lenihan amended his second; the amended motion carried unanimously.

APPLICATION OF MR. & MRS. RONALD MORRISSEY

Mr. Lenihan read the application of Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Morrissey for a variance from Section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit the construction of a deck and ramp to access a swimming pool for a wheelchair bound child for physical therapy, on a residential dwelling lot. This variance would result in a setback of 76 ft. on the west side of the front yard and a setback of 75 ft. on the east side of the front yard instead of a minimum requirement of 10 ft. for a front yard setback. The property is located at 327 Wrights Road, Mardot Village, in the CM (Conservation Management) Zoning District, and is further identified as Tax Map Parcel #28-8-5.

Oscar Schermer was present as guardian for Ronald Morrissey; he and the First Union Bank serve as Ronald's trustess. Ronald is wheelchair bound, and the house is in his name.

Mr. John Finnegan of JJ Finnegan Contractors was sworn in and said that the purpose of the extension of the deck, which includes a proposed ramp, is to make the pool area wheelchair accessible. He asked for relief in the form of a variance to allow the construction of the ramp and deck as proposed in the plans.

Mr. Lenihan reported that he had done a site inspection and observed that the need was evident. There was no further comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved that the board grant the application of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Morrissey for a variance from Section 401(C) to permit a 76 ft. west side setback, granting relief of 24 feet and a 75 ft. east side setback, granting a relief of 25 feet from the 100 ft. minimum front yard setback. Mr. Carver seconded; the motion carried unanimously.

APPLICATION OF MR. & MRS. ROBERT LAMBERTI

Mr. Lenihan read the application of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Lamberti for variance from the New Haven Court Ordered Stipulation Agreement to permit the construction of a sunroom addition on a residential dwelling lot resulting in a 12 ft. side yard setback instead of the minimum required 15 ft. The subject property is located at 2 Keston Court, New Haven, in the R-1 (Residential-Medium Density) Zoning District and is further identified as Tax Map Parcel #29-29-262.

Mr. Lamberti represented himself. Michael Sommers of 5 Devon appeared as party to the application.

Mr. Lamberti presented four points:

Mr. Sommers said one reason that they had moved to their lot was the historic farmhouse in their view and said that the builder told them a smaller home would be built on the Lamberti property. He said he would see the entire sunroom from his home. Mr. Lamberti said they planned to landscape, and that he has spoken to Mr. Sommers about making things more aesthetically pleasing. There are plantings between the homes.

Mr. Lenihan reported that he had completed a site inspection, and he agreed with Mr. Lamberti's assessment of the best location for the addition. He said that Mr. Lamberti could move the addition over 3 ft., which would require a variance, but Mr. Sommers would still see the house. He felt that the request of the applicant was reasonable, because of the di minimus amount of relief requested and the applicant's willingness to landscape.

Mr. Lamberti and Mr. Sommers both said they should be able to work out an agreeable landscaping plan to minimize the impact of the addition.

Mr. Ragan moved to approve the application of Mr. & Mrs. Robert Lamberti, owners of 2 Keston Court, New Haven Newtown, PA further known as Tax Parcel #2929-262. The applicant is requesting relief of 3 feet; where the minimum side yard setback is 15 feet; the applicant is requesting 12 feet. Adequate and acceptable buffering were to be prepared and submitted to Mr. Sommers for his approval. Mr. Leone seconded. Mr. Ragan amended his motion to remove the approval by neighbor, and add "adequate buffering would be provided by the applicant." Mr. Leone amended his second; the amended motion passed unanimously.

APPLICATION OF MR. & MRS. RICHARD DUBIN

Mr. Lenihan read the application of Mr. & Mrs. Richard Dubin for a variance from the Final Plan of Newtown Grant to permit the construction of a patio on a residential dwelling lot resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 31.37% instead of the maximum allowable 30%. The subject property is located at 27 Crocus Lane, Newtown Grant in the R-2 (Residential-High Density) Zoning District and is further identified as Tax Map Parcel #29-19-250.

Mr. Leone moved to grant the application of Mr. & Mrs. Richard Dubin as presented. Mr. Lenihan seconded. Mr. Lenihan reported that he had performed a site inspection and that the property slopes backs to a wooded area, and so there should be no run off problem. He said the relief requested was di minimus. The motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn the meeting, with second by Mr. Ragan. The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 PM.

 

Faithfully submitted by:

 

__________________________________
Leslie P. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary
June 18, 2001