NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2001

7:30 PM


APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF JUNE 21, 2001: Mr. Lionetti moved to approve the minutes. Mr. Carver seconded. Motion approved unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board held a special meeting in the lower level meeting room of the Municipal Building on June 21, 2001.  In attendance were:  Chairman Mario Lionetti, Vice Chairman Thomas Ragan and Secretary John Lenihan.  Also in attendance were Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor James Auchinleck and Codes Department Administrative Assistant Kristie Kaznicki (representing Public Works Director Thomas Harwood). 

CALL TO ORDER:  

Mr. Lionetti called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM; the Pledge of Allegiance followed this. 

THE AGENDA WAS REVIEWED:  

Mr. Lionetti announced that the Board would address the following applications at this meeting:

Continued Application Rona Waters - 4 Holly Circle

Application Paul Allen - Peppleman Tract

Application Joint Municipal Authority

Application Orleans - Penns Preserve - 3 Millstone Drive

Application Mr. and Mrs. Reading - 13 Millstone Drive

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF RONA WATERS - 4 HOLLY CIRCLE:  

Applicant Rona Waters and Mr. Goldberg, adjacent property owner, were present.  Ms. Waters seeks a variance from the final plan of Newtown Grant to permit construction of a 11’ X 17’ Florida room addition which will result in a 25’ rear yard setback instead of the required 30’.  Ms. Waters and Mr. Goldberg were sworn in at the 6/7/01 meeting and remained under oath. 

Mr. Auchinleck stated that the applicant has submitted an amended application since the 6/7/01 meeting, but the Board will deal only with the original application tonight.  He said that the hearing had been continued to enable the applicant to investigate the side yard setback requirements of the Newtown Grant Master Homeowners’ Association and the Cluster Homeowners’ Association.  

Ms. Waters submitted a 6/21/01 letter (Exhibit A1) from the Newtown Grant Homeowners Association, which stated that the Association does not have any rules or requirements for individual homes regarding side yard setbacks.  Ms. Waters also showed the Board a 5/28/01 letter from the Willow Creek Cluster Homeowner Association stating that the proposed Florida room was acceptable to the Association, subject to the Township issuing a permit. 

Mr. Goldberg, the owner of 3 Holly Circle, said that two issues are important to him:  1) the Florida room will leave only 6” between Ms. Water’s wall and an 18” portion of his house, making it difficult to clean or make repairs on that portion; and 2) he is concerned about runoff from Ms. Waters’ gutters onto his house. 

Ms. Waters stated that her gutters would drain to the rear of her property, well away from Mr. Goldberg’s house.  She also said he could access that portion of his house through a window.  

Mr. Goldberg showed the Board several documents, which he said contain the current rules for the Willow Creek Cluster Association.  Mr. Auchinleck examined the documents and questioned whether they are relevant.  He also said that one passage referred to by Mr. Goldberg is only a summary of another document. 

Kristie Kaznicki, Codes Department Administrative Assistant, was sworn in.  She stated that it is her opinion that the documents provided by Mr. Goldberg apply only to easements at the rear of properties and are irrelevant to this application. 

Mr. Lionetti said that he had a problem with the proposed addition being only 6” from the property line and making 18” of the neighbor’s house inaccessible. 

Mr. Ragan asked Mr. Goldberg what his preference would be. 

Mr. Goldberg responded that he would like the addition to be at least 5’ from his property line, or be redesigned to extend from the rear of Ms. Waters’ house. 

Ms. Waters stated that if this application is denied, she could build an 11’ X 14’ room, but making it extend from the rear would present major construction and aesthetic problems. 

Mr. Lenihan said that the application is for a variance that applies to the rear yard setback.  There does not appear to be any rules or ordinances regarding the side yard setback.  He stated he did not want the Board to extend their jurisdiction. 

Mr. Lionetti said side yard setbacks are not addressed, but suggested the application be continued so that the Board can consider the original design and the revised one submitted with the amended application. 

Ms. Waters said she prefers the original design and will not pursue the amended application if the original one is denied.  

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant Ms. Waters relief from the final plan of Newtown Grant to allow a 25’ rear yard setback instead of the required 30’ rear yard setback.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ragan and passed 2-1, with Mr. Lionetti voting “nay”. 

APPLICATION OF PAUL ALLEN - PEPPLEMAN TRACT:   

Mr. Auchinleck stated that he has received a 6/12/01 letter from Mr. Allen’s attorney, Bill Benner, requesting that this application be continued.  Mr. Auchinleck suggested it be continued to the 7/19/01 meeting. 

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Paul Allen regarding the Peppleman Tract to the 7/19/01 meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lenihan and passed unanimously. 

APPLICATION OF NEWTOWN JOINT MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY:  

Kenneth Finger, of Gannett Fleming Engineers, and Marcus Di Pasquale, of the Joint Municipal Authority, were present and were sworn in.  Mr. Finger stated the applicant is seeking a special exception under Section 1208(A) for an expansion of a nonconforming use, to permit the construction of an accessory building to the existing wastewater treatment plant site.  The building will provide additional storage for the Authority’s vehicles. 

Mr. Finger stated that the Authority is not currently using the treatment plant, although there is an interceptor and a metering chamber on the site.  He also said there are no plans to remove the dormant plant.  

Mr. Lenihan said he visited the site this afternoon and found the information in the application to be correct.  He stated he felt the proposed special exception does not present a hardship for any of the adjoining properties. 

Mr. Auchinleck asked Mr. Finger to show the location of the cell tower placed on this property since the plan was drawn up; Mr. Finger did so. 

Mr. Lionetti asked if anyone else wished to offer comments on this application; no one came forward. 

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant the Joint Municipal Authority a special exception under section 1208(A) in accordance with the Authority’s application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ragan and passed unanimously. 

APPLICATION OF ORLEANS CORPORATION:  

Attorney Ed Murphy and Richard Holler, of Tri-State Engineers, were present.  Mr. Holler was sworn in.  Mr. Murphy explained that the application concerns the property at 3 Millstone Drive.  He stated that during construction of the house, data were improperly communicated and the house was built with a 50’ front yard setback instead of the required 60’ setback.  The mistake was not discovered until the houses on the two adjoining lots were staked out and the difference in the setback became obvious.  Mr. Murphy said that a portion of the garage intrudes into the setback.  He noted that there are benefits to this mistake: fewer trees were disturbed and less impervious surface was built. 

Mr. Holler said that Mr. Murphy’s summary was essentially correct. 

Mr. Ragan said he was concerned about the applicant asking the Board to remedy something that has already been done.  He asked what choice the Board has. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that the Township could issue a citation and impose a fine.  If the Board grants relief, the Township cannot take this action; if the Board denies relief, the Township could (but is not required to) take this action.  

Mr. Murphy asked the Board to consider that the relief sought is de minimus. 

Mr. Lenihan stated he inspected the site this afternoon, and confirmed that the relief sought is de minimus and provides other benefits as described by Mr. Murphy. 

Mr. Lionetti asked if anyone else wished to offer comments on this application; no one came forward. 

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant the relief sought in the application of Orleans Corporation.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ragan and passed unanimously. 

APPLICATION OF MR. AND MRS. READING - 13 MILLSTONE DRIVE:  

Attorney Don Marshall and William Reading, the property owner, were present.  Mr. Reading was sworn in.  Mr. Marshall stated that the applicant is seeking a variance from the Penns Preserve Final Plan to permit construction of an in-ground swimming pool and patio, resulting in impervious surface coverage of 6,226 square feet instead of the maximum allowable 5,292 square feet.  Mr. Marshall said that the figure for the total impervious square footage proposed is a conservative one.  If the Board does not consider the water surface to be impervious, the total is reduced to 5533 square feet, less than 300 square feet over the maximum. 

Mr. Reading explained that one of his sons is being treated for leukemia and cannot swim in a pool used by others because of his vulnerability to infection.  He stated that swimming has been an important activity for the whole family, and his son is being excluded from it now.  He said that the pool couldn’t be built closer to the house because the builder has advised this would create the opportunity for someone to jump into the pool from a window or a roof.  Mr. Reading submitted a copy of a letter (designated Exhibit A1) from his son’s doctor, describing his son’s condition and medical needs.  

Mr. Auchinleck noted that the ordinance allows the individual lot owners to include the development’s open space in calculating their impervious surface ratios.  He also acknowledged there seems to be some discrepancies in the definition of the impervious surface of a swimming pool in the ordinance. 

Mr. Marshall stated that the water surface does not percolate or run off, so there are no storm water management issues involved. 

Mr. Lenihan said he inspected this site this afternoon in the rain, and observed that drainage is adequate.  The houses on either side of the lot are on higher ground.  He stated he did not see that the proposed pool and patio would create any problems for adjacent properties. 

Mr. Lionetti asked if anyone else wished to offer comments on this application; no one came forward. 

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant the variance requested by the Readings in accordance with their application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Ragan and passed unanimously. 

MINUTES FROM APRIL, MAY AND JUNE 2001 MEETINGS:  

Mr. Lionetti said that approval of the minutes from April, May and June 2001 will be considered at the 7/5/01 meeting. 

ADJOURNMENT: 

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Lenihan and passed unanimously. 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 PM. 

 

Respectfully submitted, 

 

_________________________________
Gretta Stone, Acting Recording Secretary