NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, JULY 19, 2001

7:30 PM


APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE JULY 19, 2001 MEETING: In the minutes of July 19, page 6, in the italicized motion, the parking space size should read 9X20 feet.
Mr. Lenihan moved to approve the minutes as amended. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion carried unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday July 19, 2001 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Thomas Ragan, Vice-Chairman; John Lenihan, Secretary; Franklin Carver, Member and Michael Leone, Member. Also in attendance were James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq. Solicitor, and Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer.

CALL TO ORDER:  

Thomas Ragan called the meeting to order at 7:40 PM.

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

After The Pledge, Mr. Ragan asked for a moment of silence for the speedy recovery of Mario Lionetti, Chairman.

THE AGENDA WAS REVIEWED:  

Approval of Minutes

June 7 and July 5, 2001

Continued Application of Jeffrey Franz (494-01)

Application of Paul Allen/Peppleman Tract (485-01)

Application of Francis Tyrol and John Tyrol (499-01)

Application of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (496-01)

Application of Orleans Homebuilders (492-01)

Application of First National Bank and Trust Company of Newtown (493-01)

Adjournment

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF JUNE 7, 2001 and JULY 5, 2001:  

Mr. Ragan suggested that the minutes be reviewed at the end of the meeting.

APPLICATION OF PAUL ALLEN/PEPPLEMAN TRACT (485-01):

Mr. Auchinleck advised the board that Mr. Allen had revised his plans and would like to postpone his hearing to August 2, 2001.

Mr. Ragan moved to continue the Paul Allen Application to August 2, 2001. Mr. Lenihan seconded, and it passed unanimously.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF JEFFREY FRANZ (494-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Jeffery Franz of 11 Kuhars Way for relief of Ordinance Section 404(B) to construct an in ground swimming pool, shed and wall which will exceed the maximum allowable impervious surface ratio by 5.1%

The Applicant represented himself.

Mr. Lenihan reiterated his recusal in this matter.

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

Mr. Franz, his wife Sandra Franz and Michael Mayers of Sylvan pools were sworn in.

Mr. Franz, submitted a letter from Newtown Ridge HOA approving his plans (Exhibit A-1) He then stated that he had chosen to build on his lot specifically because it is larger than others in the development and adjoins common ground and a wooden area. His rear neighbor is on a 2 acre lot with woods between them. He has planned the pool very carefully, with a wall as part of the landscaping of the decking surrounding the pool. The shed is intended to serve as half storage and half cabana.

Mr. Franz then entered into evidence the Order granting a variance to his neighbors, Denis A. and Kathleen M. Ritz of 2 Kuhars Way, for a pool, patio and walkway resulting in an impervious surface of 17.43%. (Exhibit A-2). Mr. Franz stated that this is .42% more impervious surface than he is requesting.

Mr. Ragan said that not all cases are the same and for that reason each application is reviewed separately. Mr. Ragan stated that he had done a site inspection and asked where the common ground of his development began, and if the wooded area was part of it.

Mr. Franz stated that his is a pie-shaped lot and that part of the common area extends into the woods, but that the tall trees belong to the property owner to the rear of his lot.

Mr. Leone stated that he had copies of letters to the Board of Supervisors from the Planning Commission recommending that the application be denied.

Mr. Auchinleck stated that such letters are not meant to be shared with the Zoning Hearing Board. The Planning Commission reviews applications, and makes suggestions to the Board of Supervisors and the Code Enforcement Office, and that office would be asked for input at the Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Copies of these letters should not be sent to the Board members, and should not be used in making decisions tonight.

Mr. Leone asked if there were any plans for trees and shrubs and landscaping for the rear yard, and whether there would be a fence.

Mr. Franz stated that he would comply with the Township requirements for fencing around pools, and that since he has small children of his own, and is surrounded by small children, safety is of utmost importance to his family. He again stated that the placement of the pool had been the primary motivator in his lot selection. He stepped forward and showed a sketch plan of the pool, patio and landscaping.

Mr. Ragan asked if the shed would house the pool filter pumps.

Mr. Franz state that the shed was only storage and Cabana.

Mr. Ragan asked if his neighbors objected to the placement of such a large shed so close to the property line. He noted that no neighbors had come forward in opposition to the plan.

Mr. Franz stated that he had discussed the plan with all of his adjoining neighbors. None objected. Mrs. Franz said that they wanted the shed placed as close to the side property line as allowable because she wanted to leave lawn area for her children to play.

Mr. Ragan noted that the side yard setback requirement is 12 feet, and that for this plan no variance is needed for the shed placement.

Mr. Ragan asked if the Zoning Officer had any comment.

Mr. Thomas Harwood was sworn in.

Mr. Harwood stated that this application had been discussed by the Board of Supervisors, and that they oppose the variance because the Planning Commission feels that it is an excessive increase in the impervious surface ratio.

Mr. Ragan asked if Mr. Harwood was familiar with the 2 Kuhars Way variance.

Mr. Harwood stated that he was not. He also confirmed that the shed/cabana is in compliance with the side yard setback requirements.

Mr. Franz asked if the shed is included in the impervious surface calculations.

Mr. Harwood said that it is included. He asked if the applicants could reduce the paved area surrounding the pool.

Mr. Leone noted that the concrete decking is 1400 square feet, 50% more than the pool.

Mr. Harwood stated that if a portion of the deck area were made of wood, without stones underneath, that it would be counted as pervious.

Mr. Ragan asked if the applicants could revise their plans and use a ratio of 15% impervious surface, perhaps making the patio smaller, or using wood for a portion of it.

Mr. Franz said he did not want to use wood for the entire area, but would be willing to work out a different plan with less poured concrete.

Mr. Leone made a motion to grant a variance for 15% impervious surface, a relief of 3%. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 3-0 with Mr. Lenihan abstaining.

APPLICATION OF SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY (496-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) for variances from Sections 1003(C) and 1004(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit seven SEPTA Route 130 bus signs within the right-of-way of various local streets in the township which signs may be placed on street traffic control signs and street light poles.

Mr. Ragan stated that he had recently been appointed to the Board of Advisors of SEPTA, and therefore recused himself. Mr. Lenihan acted as chairman for this matter.

Mr. Raymond Parecka, Jr. appeared for SEPTA.

Mr. Parecka was sworn in.

Mr. Lenihan asked if there were any other parties wishing to be heard in this matter. There was no response.

Mr. Parecka stated that SEPTA had already placed the seven bus signs in question around the township, unaware that while the Pennsylvania Public Roads Act grants SEPTA the right to use the streets, nothing exempts them from the zoning requirements of the municipalities as regards signage. Mr. Parecka apologized for the misunderstanding and said that he was now seeking appropriate variances for the signs. He pointed out that on the application there is one mistake. On page one of the addendum it is stated that SEPTA would consider other signs. Mr. Parecka said that this is not true. These are the only signs SEPTA will use.

Mr. Parecka stated that the civil matter Harwood v. SEPTA has been placed on hold pending the resolution of this hearing.

Mr. Parecka referred the Board to Exhibit E, a route map. He pointed out that the "squiggle" lines indicated that seven signs in question.

Mr. Lenihan asked how long the signs have been up.

Mr. Parecka indicated that he was not exactly sure, but at least six months.

Mr. Leone questioned whether this was not the same matter that had been brought up before the Board about a year ago. He said that at that time the Board had ridden a SEPTA bus through town, noting sign placement. At that time it was decided that SEPTA signs could not be placed on traffic control poles or in rights-of-way.

Mr. Ragan informed the Board that the 130 Route is new for SEPTA, absorbing the route of a licensee, Lion Tours. It was the Lion Tour Route that they had seen.

Mr. Auchinleck asked if the signs indicated the bus route or a stop.

Mr. Parecka said that the signs were at bus stops, but showed the route of the bus.

Mr. Harwood confirmed that the Lion Tours Route was a different matter. The SEPTA signs in question are on traffic control signs, such as stop signs.

Mr. Carver asked if it was acceptable to have stand alone signs.

Mr. Harwood said that would be allowable if they did not create a visual obstruction or distraction.

Mr. Auchinleck asked if a Town Representative could meet with a SEPTA representative and tour the route and decide on sign locations that are acceptable to both.

Mr. Harwood and Mr. Parecka agreed to arrange a meeting.

Mr. Lenihan moved to continue the matter to September 6th, when the Township and SEPTA will have toured the sights and will have recommendations as to acceptable sign placement. Mr. Carver seconded. The motion carried 3-0 with Mr. Ragan abstaining.

APPLICATION OF MR. FRANCIS TYROL AND MR. JOHN TYROL (499-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Francis J. Tyrol and John E. Tyrol for a variance from section 1001(B)(3) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 22 parking spaces with dimensions of 9 feet by 20 feet instead of 10 feet by 20 feet.

Mr. Don Marshall represented Mr. Francis Tyrol in this matter.

Mr. Marshall and Mr. Francis Tyrol were sworn in.

Mr. Ragan asked if there were any other parties wishing to be heard on this matter. Melba Vittoriano said that she may want to make a statement or ask a question later, but not at this time.

Mr. Marshall offered the deed dated 4/9/91 showing the Mssrs. Tyrol as owners as exhibit A-1. He said that the land development plan was to add onto the small stucco house currently on the property. He offered as Exhibit A-3 the Township approval of said land development plan. He stated that Mr. Tyrol is seeking relief to reduce the size of the parking spaces by 1 foot in width. He stated that by so doing he would reduce the impervious surface and also gain two parking spaces.

Mr. Marshall stated that the land is currently zoned D-1 commercial.

Mr. Tyrol stated that he has an insurance brokerage business that would be housed in the building; that he expects to have ten employees working 9-5PM Monday through Friday; that they take lunch breaks, frequently walking to lunch; and that he has no "off the street trade." He said that his property was partially in the flood plain and that some parking would be permitted there. He has been granted a waiver for the sewer easement at the rear of the property. he has also granted Newtown Township Park and Recreation Board an 8 foot section along the creek for a possible walking trail.

On Tuesday the Newtown Township Planning Commission agreed to conditional use for additional parking if needed, but Mr. Tyrol did not anticipate such a need.

Mr. Marshall mentioned that the Zoning Hearing Board had already granted variances for the smaller parking spaces for Lockheed Martin and what is now Sovereign Bank.

Ms. Melba Vittoriano of 227 North Sycamore Street came forward and asked if this application only covered the size of the parking spaces.

Mr. Harwood had no comment on this matter.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant the application allowing for 22 parking spaces of 9ftX12ft, a 1 ft. relief. Mr. Leone seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

APPLICATION OF ORLEANS HOMEBUILDERS (492-01)
APPLICATION OF FIRST NATIONAL BANK AND TRUST OF NEWTOWN (493-01)

Mr. Ragan suggested these matters were dealing with adjoining properties, and that their applications were for some of the same reliefs, that they present and be reviewed together.

Mr. Ed Murphy appeared for Orleans Homebuilders, and as agent for The Lutheran Church of God's Love (The Church).

Mr. Don Marshall appeared for First National Bank and Trust Company of Newtown (The Bank).

Mr. George Skladang of The Ridings Homeowners Association stated that he was here to observe the proceedings and he may want to comment after the Orleans presentation.

Mr. Murphy and Mr. Marshall were sworn in.

Mr. Lenihan read into the record Orleans Homebuilders application for variances from Section 404(B), 404(C) and 1001(F)(4)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a property exchange with a neighboring property which will result in an impervious surface ratio of 60% where the maximum permitted is 35%, a 45 ft. front yard setback where 100 ft. minimum is required and off-street parking located 13 ft. from Penns Trail North right-of-way and 15 ft. from Newtown-Yardley Road right-of-way where no parking is permitted within 20 feet of any public street right-of-way. The property, owned by Lutheran Church of God's Love, located at 791 Newtown-Yardley Road is zoned R-1 (residential).

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of First National Bank and Trust Company of Newtown for variances from sections 401(B), 404(B), 804(E-4)(4), 1001(F)(4), 1002(1), 1208(A) and 1209 (A) and special exceptions under Section 1208(A), 1208(B) and 1208(C)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit demolition of an existing branch bank building and construction of a new bank building which is a non-conforming use on a non-conforming lot. Variances are requested to permit a 60% impervious surface ratio instead of the maximum permitted 35%, to permit a 65 ft. front yard setback instead of the minimum required 100 feet, to permit 21 on-site parking spaces instead of the required 31 parking spaces, to permit parking in the 100 ft. front yard setback where no parking is permitted, to eliminate one required loading berth and to permit expansion of a non-conforming structure on a non-conforming lot, such expansion to exceed the 25% maximum permitted expansion and resulting in a new building which does not conform to the Zoning Ordinance regulations. The property is located at 773 Newtown Yardley Road and is zoned R-1 (Medium Density Residential).

Mr. Murphy provided some color coded maps, Exhibits A-1 and A-2, which show the current existing properties of Orleans, the Church, the Bank, and Platt Properties and PECO, and the proposed changes for which variances are sought. Mr. Murphy then explained that Orleans is intending to build a development north of the Church, called Wiltshire Walk. Their intention is to exchange property with the Church, extend a new road, Penns Trail North, and build a large detention basin to the east side of the Church. Through a system of pipes the detention basin will provide drainage for Wiltshire Walk, the Church, The Bank, The Platt Property (Newtown Swim Club) and The Ridings development. By means of the exchange the Church would expand it's parking facility, the Bank property would expand, and the drainage would be improved. The exchange would also improve Penns Trail by extending it through Newtown Yardley Road, across what is currently Church property, and into the Wiltshire Walk development.

The Newtown Yardley Road entrances to the Bank and the Church would be consolidated into one entrance, and an additional entrance would be provided on the new Penns Trail North.

The Bank and the Church have agreed to shared parking, as they do not share hours of operation.

Mr. Murphy stated that the construction of the new storm water detention basin will relieve the failing structure in the Ridings, will replace the current small Church storm basin, and will alleviate problems that the Bank and Swim Club currently have with storm water.

Mr. Carver asked if this would be a dry basin in dry weather.

Mr. Murphy said that it would.

Mr. Leone asked if the Church was just reconfiguring it's current parking or adding.

Mr. Murphy explained that the Church would be adding one additional parking spot to the front on the Newtown Yardley right-of-way, but that some spots are already there. He said that there were no changes to the Church itself, just the parking lot.

Mr. Ragan asked if cars would be cutting through the parking lot to the new Penns Trail North rather than waiting for the new traffic light.

Mr. Murphy thought that it would be difficult to get out of the lot without waiting for the light to change and that this would not be a problem.

Mr. Ragan asked if Mr. Marshall would like to add anything or present the Bank's portion of the applications.

Mr. Marshall presented exhibits, marked A-4, a sketch plan of the new bank, and A-5 a letter from the Bank Solicitors dated 1966 showing the land use review. At the time of the original construction the zoning had been B-2 (Highway Business). It is now zoned residential, hence the non-conforming use status.

Mr. Marshall stated that the bank currently is a non-conforming use, and that the front yard setbacks are already non-conforming. The Ordinances currently limit the expansion of non-conforming buildings to 25%, and do not permit reconstruction of a destroyed building.

The Bank will purchase an 85 X 275 foot piece of property from the Church. With the larger property, the Bank will rebuild a larger bank, further back than the current bank, with only one entrance. By placing the building back, there will be room for a drive-through window turn-around, eliminating the need for an entrance and exit onto Newtown Yardley Road.

Mr. Marshall stated that although the new building will be considerably larger than the current bank, the front yard setback will be improved to 60 feet from the current 33 feet. The impervious surface ratio will be improved to 60% instead of the current 73% because of the shared parking arrangement with the Church. Employees will use Church parking, customers the 21 spaces belonging to the Bank.

Mr. Marshall stated that this will be a branch bank and does not have any need for a loading berth.

Mr. Michael Vesey, President of Orleans Builders was sworn in.

Mr. Vesey stated that he was in agreement with all that had been presented by Mr. Marshall and Mr. Murphy. He then explained that the joint driveway for the Church and Bank would have a deceleration and acceleration lane as well as a left turn lane on the eastbound side of Newtown Yardley Road.

Mr. John Parry, President and CEO of the Bank was sworn in.

Mr. Parry confirmed the plans and agreements with Orleans and the Church.

Mr. Ragan asked if Mr. Skladang had any questions or comments. He did not.

Mr. Ragan asked if Mr. Harwood had any comments. He did not.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant relief to Orleans Homebuilders as read in the application. Mr. Leone seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant relief to The Bank and Trust Company of Newtown as read in the application. Mr. Carver seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES

For the minutes of May 5, 2001, Mr. Ragan noted that his name is spelled RAGAN, and should appear consistently.

Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes of May 5, 2001. Mr. Leone seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes of July 5, 2001. Mr. Leone seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT

Mr. Lenihan moved to adjourn at 10:10PM. Mr. Carver seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully submitted, 

 

_________________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary