NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2001

7:30 PM


APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF THE NOVEMBER 1, 2001 MEETING: Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes of November 1, 2001. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion carried unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, November 1, 2001 in the Township 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 were James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Solicitor and Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer.

CALL TO ORDER: 

Mario Lionetti called the meeting to order at 7:32 PM

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

THE AGENDA WAS REVIEWED: 

Approval of Minutes

October 4, 2001

Continued Application of SEPTA (496-01) 

Amended Application of Keller-Williams Preferred Real Estate (511-01)

Application of Karen Demont and John J. Keller III (512-01)

Application of James D. Burns III and Gwen C. Burns (513-01)

Adjournment

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF OCTOBER 4, 2001: 

Mr. Ragan noted that on page 8 a reference should read Johnny Apple, and on page 9, Mr. Leone stated. Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes of October 4, 2001 as corrected. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF SEPTA (496-01)

Mr. Auchinleck explained that SEPTA had submitted an amended application for variances too late for advertisement in a timely fashion, and that the matter should be continued to December 6, 2001.

Mr. Ragan asked 

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF COMMERCE BANK (508-01)

John Coopman, counsel for the bank, and Carol Forman, manager of the Newtown North branch were sworn in.

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

Mr. Lionetti asked if there were any changes to the original application.

Mr. Coopman said that the signs had been made smaller, as per agreement with both the Newtown Township Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. He submitted exhibit A-1, designs of the signs for which variances are requested.

Mr. Coopman stated that the first sign, a "C" logo would be on the front of the building, facing into the shopping center. The sign has been reduced to 29.5 square feet. The height variance requested is still 11 feet 2 inches. The height variance is being sought because the sign would not be visible behind lanscaping.

The sign on the drive through windows, sign 2 on exhibit A-1 has not changed.

Ms. Forman explained that the drive through window had three driveways under a canopy. Two lanes had posts with pneumatic tubes, the third uses the window. The "C" logo would be on the outside edge of the canopy, three car widths away from the building. It will be 14 feet high, the height of the canopy. The size of the the sign is less then 20 feet and does not require a variance. This sign faces Applebees.

Mr. Coopman said that the application for the free standing sign had been withdrawn. The third sign would be on the back of the building, facing Durham Road. It is 9 feet high, which does not require a variance. The sign has been custom designed to be 29.75 feet. The entire bank has been custom designed to be brick to match the Newtown Shopping Center. It is not the bank's standard design.

Mr. Ragan asked if the elevation of the bank is below the road grade.

Mr. Coopman said that it sits below the road, but is visible to cars on the road. It does not face Tyler Walk, but there is a house on the other side of Durham Road.

Mr. Ragan asked if there are signs on the tubes in the drive through.

Ms. Forman said that there are not bank signs on the tubes, but there are small signs that change, giving instructions for use of the tubes, bank hours of operation, account information, interest rates. These slip into a protected sleeve next to the tube, and the information changes regularly. They are only visible to the cars in the lanes.

Mr. Coopman submitted exhibit B-2, which shows the entire shopping center, and he pointed out the bank's orientation in the center. The side that faces east, to the bank's parking lot ant them to Blockbuster, will have a sign that does comply with the Zoning requirements. No variances are sought for this sign.

Mr. Ragan asked if the bank has logos on the front doors.

Ms. Forman said that the handles on both the outside doors to the MAC machine, and the inside doors are "C" logos.

Mr. Coopman noted that the signs are not drawn to scale on Exhibit A-1; that sign #3 for the rear of the building is 29.75 square feet and is the only sign with the words "Commerce Bank".

Mr. Lionetti asked if Mr. Harwood had and comments.

Mr. Harwood answered that the amended application was consistent with what the Board of Supervisors had discussed and approved on September 26, 2001.

Mr. Lionetti asked that the bank consider limiting the sign on the rear of the bank, facing Durham Road, to 20 square feet, as the red "C" logo, as it appears on the other Newtown branch is very glaring.

Mr. Coopman stated that, while he is not sure of the exact square footage of the signs on the other Newtown Commerce branch, these are considerably smaller, and that the "C" alone is not 29.75 square feet; it is the "C" and the words "Commerce Bank".

Mr. Leone moved that variances be granted from Section 1106(H)(4)(d)(2); 1106(H)(4)(d)(1); 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 29.75 and 29.5 square feet where 20 square feet are permitted; to allow signs to be constructed at a height of 11 feet 2 inches and 14 feet 2 inches where the maximum sign height of 9 feet is permitted; and to allow signs to be located within 1000 feet of the by-pass to face the by-pass, the application for a free standing sign having been withdrawn. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

APPLICATION OF NEWTOWN BUCKS ASSOCIATES/CHICK-FIL-A (501-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Newtown Bucks Associates, L.P., owner on behalf of Chick-Fil-A, Inc., lessee, for a variance from section 1103(4) and 1106(H)(4)(d)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit signs which face the Bypass where no signs are permitted to face the Bypass and to permit signs with heights of 16 feet 20 inches (2), 16 feet 3 inches and 14 feet 5 inches where the maximum permitted height is 9 feet. The property is located at 4 West Road, Pad 1 in the Newtown Shopping Center in the PC (Planned Commercial Zoning District, being further identified as Tax Map Parcel 329-3-24.

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

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

Mr. Towns explained that Chick-Fil-A would occupy Pad 1 of the Newtown Shopping Center, adjacent to Staples, with the front entrance facing the Bypass. This is an amended application. There is an X through one of the signs on the application attachments. Mr. Towns showed a picture of the proposed building, and noted that the "Original Chicken Sandwich" sign had been eliminated, as per the Board of Supervisors request. All signs have been reduced in size to less than 20 square feet, to conform with the Ordinance.

Mr. Towns stated that the applicants were asking for relief on the height of the signs. The two signs on the front of the building are at angles so they face both the Bypass, and Applebees to the east and Staples to the West, and are 16 feet 9 inches. the sign on the rear of the building faces the Acme and is 14 feet 5 inches high. Because of the design of the building the signs look better centered higher.

Mr. Towns stated that the main entrance will be toward Applebees, with the drive through pick-up on the staples side. There will be directional signs around the building which comply with the ordinance.

Mr. Auchinleck marked for Exhibit 1-A, a drawing of the building.

Mr. Towns said that the business is opened until 10:00PM six days a week, closed on Sundays. The signs would not be lit when the business is closed.

Mr. Lionetti asked if Mr. Harwood had any comments.

Mr. Harwood stated that the plan being shown conforms with the plan that the Board of Supervisors had given conditional use approval for on September 26, 2001.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant relief to the application as amended to permit signs within 1000 feet of the Bypass with a height of 16 feet 10 inches (2) a relief of 7 feet 10 inches, and 14 feet 5 inches, a relief of 5 feet 5 inches. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

APPLICATION OF KELLER-WILLIAMS (511-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the application of Keller Williams Preferred R.E., lessee (William Tanner, owner) requesting a variance from Section 1106(G)(2) and 1106(G)(4)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit an additional free standing individual use sign where only one such sign is permitted and that the sign be 24 square feet in size where only 2 square feet is permitted. The property is located at 36 Newtown Richboro Road in the CC (Convenience Commercial) Zoning District, further identified as Tax Map parcel #29-11-47.

Ms. Ruth Brustle of Keller-Williams and Mr. William Tanner, owner, were sworn in.

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

Ms. Brustle stated that Keller-Williams will be tenants in a newly renovated building formerly occupied by Tanners. It sits back from the road and is not visible from the road because of large trees. Mr. Tanner is putting a brick facade on the building, and there will not be any signage on the building itself. The sign that has been designed will be dark read with gold lettering. It is similar in appearance to a sign on Buck Road, opposite Mill Race Inn, for Johnny Appleseed. Ms. Brustle said that Keller-Williams is a very upscale Real Estate Agency and that the sign is very important to the business.

Mr. Leone stated that he has visited the site and that does not think there is a need for additional free standing signs. He would rather see a joint use sign for all the tenants of the property.

Mr. Tanner stated that Creighton's Auto Repair would move their sign so that Keller Williams sign would not be crowded.

Mr. Tanner stated that he would have a tenant on the second floor, above Keller-Williams office.

Mr. Auchinleck stated that there may potentially be 4 tenants in the space over Keller-Williams office.

Ms. Brustle repeated that the building is not visible from the street because of trees, and that the sign is essential to give an upscale appearance to Keller Williams. Her parent organization would not approve a joint use sign shared with an auto repair business. The parent organization feels that they must have a separate sign.

Mr. Lionetti stated that the property had a number of tenants already, with the potential of adding four more, and that the board could not grant every tenant permission for a free standing sign.

Mr. Lione stated that the joint use sign that is permitted is 20 square feet. He sighted the Village at Newtown Medical Building sign as an example. He said that there is no problem with giving a single tenant a larger share of the joint use sign. Perhaps that should be considered.

Mr. Lionetti asked if Mr. Harwood had any comments.

Mr. Harwood said that the Zoning Hearing Board had discussed this issue before with regard to the dance studio tenant.

Mr. Leone said that because the property had approval for one tenant on the lower level and four on the upper, Mr. Tanner needed to present a comprehensive plan for signage for the entire property.

Mr. Ragan stated that if the Zoning Hearing Board granted relief for this very attractive sign, then they would have to grant the same relief to all five tenants.

Mr. Leone said that the board has considered signage on the building itself, as they have done with the center with Meglio's and Manhattan Bagels.

Mr. Auchinleck suggested that the application be continued and that Mr. Tanner and Ms. Brustle come up with a joint use sign.

Mr. Ragan stated that he wanted to make it clear to Mr. Tanner and Ms. Brustle that the Zoning Hearing Board would not permit free standing single use signs at this property. They may consider a larger than permitted joint use sign.

Ms. Brustle again stated that in order to be visible from behind the tree, her business needed the free standing sign and that her business occupied an office building adjoining an auto repair business; they are not tenants of the same building.

Mr. Ragan stated that both the tree and the ordinance were in place when Ms. Brustle contracted for the property.

Mr. Auchinleck suggested that the matter be continued and that Mr. Tanner submit a design for a joint use sign. He may consider giving Keller Williams a larger share of the sign. It is permissible to give them, for example 50 % of the sign, with the other four tenants sharing the other 50%.

Mr. Tanner asked what size would be acceptable.

Mr. Harwood responded that the Board of Supervisors had expressed concern about additional signage.

Mr. Auchinleck advised Mr. Tanner that if he decided to ask for anything different he would need to reply for variances. The new applications submitted by October 12, 2001 would be advertised for the November 1, 2001 meeting.

Mr. Ragan moved to continue the application to November 1, 2001. Mr. Leone seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 9:50 PM. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully submitted, 

 

_________________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary