NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2001

7:30 PM


APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF SEPTEMBER 6, 2001:  Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes of September 6, 2001. Mr. Carver seconded. The motion passed, unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Board met on Thursday, September 6, 2001 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Thomas Ragan, Vice-Chairman; John Lenihan, Secretary, Franklin Carver, member. Also in attendance were James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor and Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer.

CALL TO ORDER:  

Thomas called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM Ragan.

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

THE AGENDA WAS REVIEWED:  

Approval of Minutes

August 2, 2001

Continued Application of Paul Allen/Peppleman Tract 

Continued Application of Mr. and Mrs. Boris Kryss (503-01)

Continued Application of SEPTA (496-01)

Application of Jim and Mary Jo Garner (506-01)

Application of David Wexler (504-01)

Application of Veterans' Association of Newtown (505-01)

Application of Newtown Bucks Associates, LP/Blockbuster (508-01)

Application of Commerce Bank (509-01)

Adjournment

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF AUGUST 2, 2001:  

Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes of August 2, 2001, as amended. Mr. Carver seconded. The motion passed 4-0, with Mr. Lionetti abstaining.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF MR. AND MRS. BORIS KRYSS (503-01):

Mr. Auchinleck noted that the application had been read into the record on August 2, 2001.

Mr. and Mrs. Boris Kryss and Mr. Ron Murray of Niagara Swimming Pool Company were sworn in.

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

Mr. Murray explained that the Kryss's had contracted to install an in-ground swimming pool, spa and gazebo in their rear yard. No trees would be removed in this process. The yard has a 20.4% impervious surface ratio, and the Kryss' will need 22.6% ratio to add the pool.

Mr. Ragan, who had done a site inspection, asked if the creek bed to the rear of the yard is always dry. Mrs. Kryss said that it is.

Mr. Ragan asked if there were other homes behind the tree line to the rear of the property. Mrs. Kryss said that they could not see through the trees to neighbors on the other side. There are houses on either side of their house.,

Mr. Lenihan, who had also done a site inspection explained that the trees are 150 feet to the rear of the property, and that there are no neighbors visible.

Mr. Harwood had no comment on this matter.

Mr. Lenihan moved to approve the application for relief for a 22.6% impervious surface ratio, an increase of 2.2%. Mr. Carver seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

APPLICATION OF DAVID WEXLER (504-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of David Wexler by Schmucker Landscaping, Inc., requesting a variance from the Newtown Grant Final Plan and the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to grant relief from the 30% maximum permissible impervious surface ratio to permit a patio to be constructed which will bring the impervious surface ratio to a total of 31.57%. The subject property is 4 Crocus Lane in the R-2 (High density Residential) Zoning District..

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

Mr. David Wexler and Mr. Hal Morley of Schmucker Landscaping were sworn in.

Mr. Morley explained that he had been contracted to install a 406 square foot patio in Mr. Wexler's backyard. It will be constructed of E.P. Henry Pavers. The patio will increase the impervious surface to 31.57%.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was an existing patio to be removed. Mr. Wexler said that there is not.

Mr. Ragan asked what is to the rear of the property. Mr. Wexler answered that there is a berm, owned by Newtown Grant Homeowners, and then a corn field. He does not know who owns the cornfield.

Mr. Ragan asked if there had ever been a run-off problem with rainwater. Mr. Lenihan, who had done a site inspection explained that there is a swale to the other side of the berm, and then a large cornfield, probably owned by a Stoopville Road homeowner. There are no homes to the rear; there are homes on either side of the property.

Mr. Harwood had no comment on this matter.

Mr. Leone moved to grant relief for an impervious surface ratio of 31.57%, an increase of 1.57%. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

APPLICATION OF JIM AND MARY JO GARNER (506-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Jim and Mary Jo Garner requesting a variance from section 405(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to grant relief from the 20 foot setback to side yard requirement to permit a garage to be constructed with a five foot north corner side yard setback and a seven foot south corner side yard setback and to grant relief from the 13% maximum permissible impervious surface ratio to permit a garage to be constructed which will bring the impervious surface ratio to 22.1%. Applicant also requests a special exception under section 1208 (C)(2) to permit erection of a building on a non-conforming lot. The subject property is 511 Grant street in the R-2 (High Density Residential) Zoning District.

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

Mary Jo and Jim Garner were sworn in.

Mrs. Garner explained that they would like to erect a garage in the rear of the property, where a shed currently stands. The shed is to be removed. She explained that the house is 30 years old and pre-dates the ordinance. They currently have an impervious surface ratio of 17%.

Mr. Lionetti asked what they intend to do with the garage that is then now. Mrs. Garner explained that it is a one car garage, attached to the house and part of the structure of the house. It will remain as a garage.

Mr. Lenihan asked if any of the current impervious surface is to be removed. Mr. Garner said that the surface to be removed is already figured into the 22.1% calculation. The front porch is also to be extended along the length of the house. It will not be any wider than the current porch.

Mr. Lenihan had done a site inspection. He stated that the shed in the yard is 1 foot from the 6 foot high stockade fence, and is the same height as the proposed garage. The neighbors should not have a problem with the new garage.

Mr. Ragan asked if Mr. Garner had spoken to his neighbor, Mr. Barnett, and if Mr. Barnett had any concerns. Mr. Garner has informed Mr. Barnett of his plans, and Mr. Barnett has no objections.

Mr. Garner further stated that he will be widening the blacktop at the front of the garage to accommodate two cars. He would not be widening the entire length of the driveway.

Mr. Lionetti questions what the width of the 89 square foot walkway at the side of the garage would be? Mr. Garner said it would be three feet wide. Mr. Lionetti then asked if the garage were to be moved over three feet would that eliminate the need for the walkway.

Mr. Lenihan stated that if the proposed garage were to be moved over three feet, then the driveway would have to be extended, whereas the proposed location for the garage is at the end of the already existing driveway. Mr. Garner stated that he would rather put the garage as proposed and just no add the 89 square foot walkway.

Mr. Harwood was sworn in. he noted that the plan as submitted 7/18/01 did not indicate concrete and pavement to be removed. He asked that the plans be modified to show pavement to be removed. He asked that this be a condition for approval.

Mr. Ragan moved to approve the application for relief from Section 405(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance for an impervious surface ratio of 21.7%, a relief of 8.7% percentage points, eliminating the three foot walkway, also granting relief of 15 feet for a side yard setback on the north corner, and 13 feet for a side yard setback on the south corner, and a special exception to Section 1208(C)(2) to erect a building on a non-conforming lot with the condition that drawings be submitted stipulating to impervious surfaces to be removed. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF PAUL ALLEN/PEPPELMAN TRACT (485-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Paul Allen, equitable owner under Agreement of Sale for variances from Section 604(B)(1) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a subdivision which will create an undersized lot in Newtown Township which is not intended to be a separate building lot. This subdivision would result in a lot in Newtown Township with an area of 4,509 square feet instead of the minimum requirement of 20,000 square feet (with sewer facility), a width at the building setback line of 24 feet instead of the minimum requirement of 60 feet and a 0 foot side yard instead of the requirement of 10 feet for a side yard. The subject undersized lot in Newtown Township is to be combined with a larger lot in Newtown Borough and the combined lot will be a single building lot. In addition, the Applicant is requesting a variance to permit lot area calculations to be measured from a point 40 feet from the center line of South State Street rather than 60 feet from the center line, as required by the ordinance through section 271, by establishing the "future street right-of-way" for State Street as 40 feet or in the alternative a variance from section 249a of the Ordinance. The subject property, currently owned by Raymond G. Peppelman, Jr., Norman Peppelman, John Peppelman, David A. Peppelman and Nancy Stankunas, is located at 518 South State Street, in the TC-2 (Town Commercial 2) Zoning District and is further identified as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-20.

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

Mr. William Benner represented Mr. Allen in the matter.

Mr. Benner, Mr. Paul Allen, Ms. Mary Ellen Saylor, an engineer with the firm of Picking, Corts & Summerson, Inc., and Mr. Raymond G. Peppelman, Jr. the owner, were sworn in.

Mr. Benner asked Mr. Allen to explain the nature of his business. Mr. Allen explained that he develops real estate in the area. His offices are at 510 Floral Vale Blvd., Yardley. He is the equitable owner of the property in question. In addition he owns three other properties near this one, including the large Prudential Building at the corner of State Street and the Route 413 By-Pass. Mr. Allen plans to develop this property conforming to the TC-2 zoning guidelines.

Mr. Benner asked Mr. Allen what his plans were for this property. Mr. Allen stated that he had no formal plans at this time. The lot is to be divided into two lots. He is not interested in the building currently on the property, only the land. The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors have approved his plan for the subdivision of the lot.

Mr. Benner explained that the most recent plan submitted to the Zoning Hearing Board, dated 9/6/01 reflects the proposed setback lines approved by the Supervisors. This plan is submitted as Exhibit A-2.

Mr. Allen appeared at the Planning Commission to request a building setback line of 10 feet from the right-of-way. The Planning Commission recommended a building setback line in keeping with the lines of the adjoining buildings, which is 16 feet. Exhibit A-2 reflects the 16 foot setback.

Mr. Benner asked Mr. Allen if this is a request for an adjustment of the right-of-way on State Street. Mr. Allen said that it is.

Mr. Allen stated that the properties to the north and south of his are developed. To the South is the Mel Kardos law firm, in a converted home, and to the north is an older building.

Mr. Benner stated that Newtown Township classifies South State Street as an arterial road, and that the Ordinance requires a 60 foot setback from the ultimate right-of-way. The Kardos property, in the Township, encroaches on the right-of-way. The building on the property being retained by the Peppelman family also encroaches on this right-of-way. These buildings pre-date the current zoning ordinance.

Mr. Ragan asked if the Exhibit A-2 plan shows a building setback of 56 feet from the center line of State Street. Mr. Allen said that it does, and that he would accept this setback as a condition for his variance.

Mary Ellen Saylor of Pickering, Corts & Sommerson Civil Engineers, Inc. stated that she prepared the drawings submitted, and that she is the design engineer of the project. She confirmed that the property is zoned TC-2, and that the plan complies with the ordinance. She stated that the legal right of way for South State Street is 25 feet, and the road functions as a local road, although it is still listed as arterial in the ordinance. The State Street frontage is 179 feet. She stated that the front yard setback is measured from the ultimate right-of-way as 40 feet in TC-2 zones.

Mr. Ragan asked if the code allows for adjustments to the right-of-way.

Ms. Saylor answered that the code allows for an adjustment by averaging the setbacks of existing buildings within 300 feet of the property in question, but cannot be adjusted to less than 5 feet, as per section 602 of the Ordinance. Ms. Saylor also appeared before the Planning Commission, which recommended approval of the request, provided the Allen building not be set any closer to the street than the existing structures on either side. She explained that the difference between Exhibit A-1 and A-2 is that A-2 complies with the most recent recommendations of the Planning Commission.

Mr. Lenihan asked if Newtown Borough also designated State Street as an arterial road. Ms. Saylor was not sure.

Mr. Leone asked which buildings on the property would remain. Mr. Allen stated that Parcel A is staying, partially in the Township, partially in the Borough. Parcel B, entirely in the Borough, would remain. The two story dwelling on Lot 1 would be removed. Parcels 19 and 20, which are behind the Kardos building, would be developed according to TC-2 requirements. Mr. Allen does not need to appear before the Borough Zoning Board. Ms. Saylor had confirmed this with Wendy Margolies, the Newtown Borough Code Officer.

Mr. Ragan asked about the right-of-way of the railroad tracks to the rear of the property. Ms. Saylor stated that she believes the tracks to be abandoned, but is not sure of the right-of-way.

Mr. Raymond G. Peppelman, Jr. stated that he is one of the current owners of the property, and that he is authorized to speak on behalf of the other owners. He supports the relief requested.

Mr. Lenihan asked if there had been any plans drawn up for the property. Mr. Allen said that Pickering, Cort & Sommerson had done a sketch plan for a building that did not comply with TC-2 requirements, but he had abandoned the plan. He has no specific plans in development at this time.

Mr. Carver asked if the adjustment to the right-of-way would also apply to the Kardos property. Mr. Benner said that it would not.

Mr. Lenihan asked about the age of the building to be taken down. Mr. Benner answered that it is 50-75 years old, and that it predates the municipal ordinances.

Mr. Auchinleck stated that he was not sure if the Zoning Hearing Board has it in it's authority to remove a property from strict adherence to the ultimate right-of-way.

Mr. Lionetti asked Mr. Harwood for comment on this matter.

Mr. Harwood said that the application is in the right jurisdiction. The Zoning Hearing Board does have the authority to change the ultimate right-of-way as it affects this one property.

Mr. Auchinleck reread the request into the record.

Mr. Carver moved to grant a variance from Section 604(B)(1) to permit a minor subdivision which will create an undersized lot in Newtown Township which lot will be 4,504 square feet instead of the minimum required 20,000 square feet and have a width of 24 feet instead of the required 60 feet and one 0 feoot side yard instead of the minimum 10 foot side yard. this relief is subject ot the condition that the lot so created must be merged by deed with the adjoining lot located in Newtown Borough. Mr. Carver also moved to grant a variance from the Ordinance designation of South State Street as an arterial street requiring an ultimate right of way line to be established at 60 feet from the center line of South State Street and and establishing as the ultimate right of way for the subject property as 40 feet from th center line. This relief is subject to the condition that it is limited to Lot 1 and Parcel A as identified on the plans submitted with the application and that Lot 1 and Parcel A shall be subject to a 16 foot building setback line from the 40 foot ultimate right of way line established herein as depicted on a plan submitted as Exhibit A-2. Mr. Lenihan seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

APPLICATION OF NEWTOWN BUCKS ASSOCIATES, LP/BLOCKBUSTER (508-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Newtown Bucks Associates, LP/Blockbuster requesting a variance from Section 1106(H)(4)(d)(2); 1106(H)(4)(c)(2)(a); and 1103(C)(4) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to grant relief from the height size and location of permitted signs to allow two signs of 25.5 square feet each where only 20 square feet is permitted; to allow signs to be constructed at a height of 12 feet and 17 feet where a maximum sign height of 9 feet is permitted; and to allow signs to be permitted within 1000 feet of the Newtown By-Pass to face the By-Pass. The subject property is Pad site #4 in the Newtown Shopping Center in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District.

Mr. Timberlake M. Towns of Newtown Bucks Associates was sworn in.

Mr. Lionetti asked if anyone else wished to be a party to the application.

Mr. Auchinleck explained that people wishing to be a party would be sworn in and would have the right to question the applicant. They would also then be notified of all further action in the mater, and would have a right to appeal any decisions made. Residents would have an opportunity to address the board before a vote is taken, without being sworn in as parties to the application.

Mr. Towns explained that he is the landlord to the property in question and that he was appearing on behalf of his tenant, Blockbuster. Blockbuster will occupy pad number four of the Newtown Shopping Center. Blockbuster would like to affix its' trademark signs to the front and one side of the building. the front will face the Commerce bank, and the side faces the Medical Arts Building to the north end of the Village at Newtown. Mr. Towns further explained that the BLOCKBUSTER sign does comply with the Ordinance, but the 8 square foot torn ticket logo does not. He added that the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors had approved this proposed signage.

Mr. Ragan asked if there are any Blockbuster locations in the Delaware Valley that do not have the torn ticket logo. Mr. Towns explained that he is not a Blockbuster employee, but the landlord. He is not familiar with Blockbuster's signage policies, but that he has personally seen the complete sign in Bucks and in Montgomery Counties.

Mr. Ragan stated that the Ordinance requires smaller signs. Blockbuster is well recognized, and smaller signs would be visible. The clientele of Blockbuster would be local, repeat customers who are already aware of the Blockbuster location. He stated that he is not in favor of granting relief.

Mr. Leone asked, since the BLOCKBUSTER word sign does comply with the ordinance, is the torn ticket really necessary. Mr. Towns answered that the BLOCKBUSTER word is 17.5 square feet and that the torn ticket is 8 square feet, the two signs combined are 25.5 square feet. Mr. Towns said that the Board of Supervisors approved of the torn ticket portion of the sign.

Mr. Leone stated that he felt the signs were tastefully done and not a problem.

Mr. Ragan repeated that he is opposed to signs along the By-Pass. He stated that the oversized signs were not necessary.

Mr. Towns stated that Blockbuster has agreed to have no signs or neon lights in the store windows, only the tow proposed signs on the building.

Mr. Lionetti asked for public comment.

Mr. James Bowe was sworn in.

Mr. Bowe is a resident of Tyler Walk and a member of their Homeowners Association. He asked that the Zoning Hearing Board deny the application. He said that the light coming from the Shopping Center is disruptive to the Tyler Walk homeowners. Their homes are flooded with light until very late at night. Even a tastefully done sign, such as Blockbuster is proposing, would add to the already bright light. He felt that although the sign is just five feet larger than the Ordinance allows, any increase is very undesirable.

Mr. Michael Iapalucci was sworn in.

Mr. Iapalucci stated that he is a resident of 11 Skyview Way in Tyler Walk. He asked that the Zoning Hearing Board deny the application. He felt that every business coming in to the Shopping Center would eventually apply for variances for larger signs. He stated that everyone already knows the businesses are there and that the Ordinance allows for adequate signage. He is particularly concerned because Applebee's has added a neon light around the roofline of the building. He would like assurances that Blockbuster will not be allowed to do the same.

Ms. Mary Ellen Edwards was sworn in.

Ms. Edwards stated that she is a resident of 29 Parkview Way in Tyler Walk. Her bedrooms face the Shopping Center. She said that she hoped the Zoning Hearing Board would uphold the Ordinance. She said that light from the Shopping Center floods her bedrooms at night. Applebee's turns it's signs off very late, and Bed Bath and Beyond leaves their lights on all night. She is very concerned that each new store will just add to an already serious problem.

Mr. Harwood had no comment in this matter.

Mr. Towns repeated that the proposed signs do not face any residential areas. One sign will face the Bank, the other will face Village at Newtown.

Mr. Ragan asked the hours of operation for Blockbuster. Mr. Towns said he believed they would be 10AM to midnight seven days a week.

Mr. Ragan asked how the signs are lit. He also questioned whether burned out lights would be promptly replaced. Mr. Towns said they are lit from within by tube lights, as are the other signs in the Shopping Center. The lights would be replaced very quickly. As landlord, he would like all the stores to maintain a neat appearance. he repeated that Blockbuster would place no neon signs or televisions in the windows of the stores. There will be no neon lights along the top of the building.

Mr. Lenihan said that he thought these proposed signs would have the least effect on Tyler Walk, as they face commercial property. He asked if the torn ticket logo could be placed to the side of the Blockbuster sign on the west side sign as it is on the east side sign. By shifting the lettering and placing the ticket to the side rather than on top, both signs would be the same, and neither sign would be high.

Mr. Town said he would agree to that. He stated that the Board of Supervisors made it a condition of their approval that there would be no florescent lights in the windows of the store. They granted approval for two signs, not to exceed 20 square feet for the BLOCKBUSTER, and two signs, not to exceed 8 square feet, for the torn ticket logo.

Mr. Lenihan moved to approve the application for a variance for a sign within 1000 feet of the By-Pass, to allow signs to be constructed at a height of 12 feet where the maximum height of 9 feet is permitted, a relief of 3 feet, and to allow signs of 25.5 square feet, a relief of 5.5 square feet. Mr. Lionetti amended the motion to include the condition that no lights are placed in the store windows, and that no exterior perimeter accent lights be placed on the building. Mr. Lenihan moved to approve the application as amended. Mr. Leone seconded and the motion passed 4-1 with Mr. Ragan voting nay.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF SEPTA

Mr. Harwood explained that SEPTA sent a representative to meet with the Township on this matter, but that the person sent was not prepared to review all locations. SEPTA needs more time to review.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of SEPTA to the October 4, 2001 meeting. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

APPLICATION OF COMMERCE BANK (507-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Commerce Bank requesting a variance from Section 1106(H)(4)(d)(2); 1106(H)(4)(d)(1); 1106(H)94)(c)(2)(a) and 1103(C)(4) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to grant relief from the height size and location of permitted signs to allow two signs of 39.75 and 44 square feet where only 20 square feet is permitted; to allow signs to be constructed at a height of 11 feet 2 inches and 14 feet 2 inches where a maximum permitted height is 5 feet and to allow signs to be located within 1000 feet of the Newtown By-Pass and to face the By-Pass. The subject property is Pad site #3 of the Newtown Shopping Center.

Mr. Lionetti noted for the record that no one has appeared before the board in this matter.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Commerce Bank to the October 4, 2001 meeting. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

APPLICATION OF VETERANS' ASSOCIATION OF NEWTOWN (505-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Veterans' Association of Newtown requesting a variance from Section 1106(F)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to grant relief from the number of permitted signs to allow one additional sign. The subject property is 41 Linden Avenue in the CC Convenience Commercial Zoning District.

Mr. Carver recused himself in this matter as he is the applicant.

Mr. Franklin Carver appearing as representative of the Veterans' Association of Newtown was sworn in.

Mr. Carver explained that the Veterans' Association American Legion building wishes to add a sign to the side of the building facing Richboro Road. Although the building is not at the corner of Richboro Road, it is visible from it. As the building is the Voting District 2 Polling Place, and is also rented as a meeting place for parties and other social functions, it needs to be adequately identified. There had been some difficulty in the last election when voters were not able to find the building. The sign would comply with the 20 square foot requirement, and would be illuminated from the ground. It will be constructed of wood and painted blue.

Mr. Ragan stated that as Judge of Elections for District 2 he could confirm that the building was not easily located by some voters.

Mr. Harwood had no comment in this matter.

Mr. Lenihan moved to approve the application to grant relief to erect an additional sign. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

ADJOURNMENT

Mr. Ragan moved to adjourn at 10:25 PM. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully submitted, 

 

_________________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary