NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2001

7:30 PM


APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF DECEMBER 6, 2001 - Mr. Ragan noted that on page 7 the word "where" should replace the word "more" in the first paragraph. Mr. Lenihan moved to accept the minutes as amended. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, December 6, 2001 in the Newtown 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. Justine Gregor was the stenographer.

CALL TO ORDER

Mr. Lionetti called the meeting to order at 7:30PM

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

THE AGENDA WAS REVIEWED:

Approval of Minutes

November 1, 2001

Amended Application of SEPTA (496-01)

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

Application of Gerald Katzoff/Durham Rd. Assoc. (514-01)

Application of ICT Group (515-01)

Adjournment

APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 4, 2001:

Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes of November 1, 2001. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

APPLICATION OF ICT GROUP (515-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of ICT Group for a variance from Section 1106(F)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to erect one additional sign on the building instead of the standard that no more than one sign shall be placed on any property held in single and separate ownership unless such property fronts upon more than one street in which event one additional sign may be erected on each additional frontage; and from section 1106(F)(4)(B) to permit the additional sign to be 59.5 square feet instead of the maximum allowable 16 square feet if it is 35 feet or more from edge of cartway or relief of 43.5 square feet. The property is located at 1005 Lindenhurst Road.

Mr. Billy Pearson, Facilities manager of ICT Group and Mr. Philip Doerle of Compass Sign were sworn in.

Mr. Pearson explained that ICT Group, a telemarketing firm, would be leasing the building from Brandywine Associates. ICT would like a sign that would be on the curved front of the building that would be visible from both Lindenhurst Road and Route 332. They had chosen an elegant, backlit sign that would be above the front entrance.

Mr. Doerle further explained that the sign would be made up of individual stainless steel letters, each letter mounted to the building and lit from behind so that the letter would be haloed by light; the letters themselves will not light up.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there were any other signs on the building.

Mr. Pearson said that there were no other signs on the building, but that there were two other signs at the entrances to the property. Brandywine had applied for variances of "100 Newtown Commons Blvd" and "Newtown Commons" to be mounted on walls at the entrances.

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that these signs had been granted variances at the April 5, 2001 meeting, for three signs within 1000 feet of the by-pass.

Mr. Lenihan asked if ICT would be the only tenant.

Mr. Pearson said that ICT had leased the entire building. There will be one day shift working from 8:30-6:00 Monday to Saturday, with round the clock presence of a small staff in the computer room. The sign will be lit all the time, although these are not bright lights. The firm does not expect clients to visit in the evening.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was any public comment on this matter.

Mr. Michael Iapalucci stated that he feels that complying with the ordinance as written would not "create a hardship" for ICT group, and that the Zoning Hearing Board should not grant the variance.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant the variances applied for. Mr. Leone seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF KELLER-WILLIAMS PREFERRED REAL ESTATE (511-01)

Mr. Harwood stated that Keller Williams had written requesting a continuance to January 3, 2002.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Keller-Williams to January 3, 2002. Mr. Ragan seconded. The motion passed unanimously.

APPLICATION OF GERALD KATZOFF/DURHAM RD. ASSOC. (514-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Gerald Katzoff on behalf of Durham Road Associates for variances from Section 502(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit an impervious surface ratio of 32.1% instead of the maximum allowable 30%; from section 803(D-1)(5) to permit one (1) off-street parking space for every 250 square feet of gross floor area instead of the standard one (1) space for every 200 square feet of gross floor area, or relief of 81 spaces; from Section 1001(B)(3) to permit a reduction of size for parking spaces to 9 feet by 18 feet for 157 spaces and to 9 feet by 20 feet for 12 spaces instead of the standard size of 10 feet by 20 feet; and from Section 1002(I) to provide a delivery drop off zone for each building in lieu of requiring loading berths where standard requirement for 3 buildings each being over 10,000 square feet is 2 loading berths per each facility. The property is located at 434 Durham Road. In the PS-2 (Professional Services) zoning district also known as tax map parcels #29-3-35 and #29-3-36-2.

Mr. John VanLuvanee represented the applicant in this matter.

Mr. VanLuvanee and Mr. Gerald Katzoff were sworn in.

Mr. Katzoff stated that he is the managing partner of Durham Road Associates. They manage the Greenhouse Group Spas in Texas and two nursery schools in Trevose. Mr. Katzoff will occupy the property and it will be the company headquarters.

Mr. VanLuvanee stated that approval for a single office building on the property on tax map parcel 29-3-36-2 had been granted in 1998. The decision is entered as exhibit A-1. After a second, adjoining, property was purchased a conditional use was approved for development of the combined properties. A condition of the approval is that new zoning variances must be applied for on the combined property. The Conditional Use approval is entered as Exhibit A-2.

Mr. VanLuvanee entered the plan for the development of the combined property as Exhibit A-3.

Mr. VanLuvanee pointed out on the plan that the proposed parking will be toward the rear of the property. The road illustrated on the plan is to connect with another project on an adjacent property. There will be a traffic light at the intersection of this road, Durham Road (Rte. 413) and Municipal Drive.

Mr. Harwood explained that the location for this entrance to the proposed project was chosen to align with Municipal Drive and that Durham Road Associates will contribute to the cost of the traffic light.

Mr. Katzoff explained that with the purchase of the second parcel, the property is allowed to erect a building of 80,000 square feet. Durham Road Associates prefers to build three smaller buildings, rather than one large building. One building would be used as Durham Headquarters, the other two would be leased to tenants. This plan would allow Durham Road Associates to leave the trees and maintain a rural atmosphere. The tenants sought would be business tenants, not medical.

Mr. Katzoff explained that his business would not have any need for a loading berth, nor would his desired tenants. He expects that his only deliveries would be mail, and occasional office supplies.

Mr. VanLuvanee further explained that any tenants would need to apply for conditional use of the property, so businesses that need loading berths would not be approved.

Mr. Auchinleck stated that the property is only zoned for office space, and could not be used for such activities as warehousing.

Mr. Leone asked if the existing buildings would be demolished.

Mr. Katzoff stated that he would occupy the existing building until building C, the first to be constructed, was complete, at which time his firm would move into it, and then demolish the existing structure. The present driveway would be abandoned at that time.

Mr. VanLuvanee explained that, working with the Township Engineers, they have developed that plan to include two entrances to the property, the one opposite Municipal Drive, and one farther north on Durham Road. The driveway above Municipal Drive will have right turn only egress.

Ms. Mary Ellen Saylor of Pickering Corts and Sommerson was sworn in.

Ms. Saylor is the Civil Engineer on the current Durham Road Associates Project. She stated that the plans have been drawn in accordance with the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance. She stated that the boundaries are accurate.

Ms. Saylor stated that Delaware Valley Soils was contracted to flag any wetlands on the property. Woodlands were viewed from aerial photography and site field verification. The woodlands are marked by scalloped lines on the plan. This is standard procedure.

Ms. Saylor confirmed that the existing buildings are not visible from Durham Road.

Ms. Saylor determined that the plan would require variances for increased impervious surface. Prior to drawing this plan, Ms. Saylor had drawn a plan for a three story building with close parking that would comply with all ordinances. This is entered as Exhibit A-4.

Ms. Saylor stated that the current proposed parking plan is consistent with The Parking Generation Plan Guide used by Civil Engineers to determine adequate parking facilities for general office use. The relevant pages are entered as exhibit A-5.

Exhibit A-3 describes the average parking ratio for general office use as 2.79 spaces per 1000 square feet of office space.

Ms. Saylor said that the plan called for the larger parking spaces and the handicapped spaces to be located close to the building.

Mr. Katzoff explained that most cars would be parked in the morning and would leave in the evening, and that the smaller spaces are adequate for that kind of parking.

Mr. Ragan noted that at the rear of the property is a creek. He asked if it was running or dry.

Ms. Saylor said that it is dry and that it carries run off from Durham Road to Newtown Creek in an easterly direction. There will be an underground storm water system that will carry the water away from the adjoining veterinary property. The natural buffer of trees between the property and Newtown Grant will remain.

Mr. VanLuvanee entered Exhibit A-6, the development plan for the property adjacent to Durham Rd. Associates to the south.

Mr. Harwood had no comment in this matter.

Mr. Leone moved to grant the variances applied for. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF SEPTA (496-01)

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the amended application of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority for a variance from Sections 1003(C) and 1004(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit thirty-two (32) bus route signs within the right-of-way of various streets in the Township which signs include locations on traffic light standards and street light poles.

Mr. Ragan recused himself in this matter.

Mr. Raymond Parrecka and Mr. John Calnan were sworn in.

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

Mr. Parrecka stated that there are currently signs in the rights-of-way for the Route 130 bus line. SEPTA has a formula for placing the signs along a route to help inform the public of the existence of the route, to make said route viable. Because SEPTA wants to comply with the zoning codes, which are concerned with clutter, they have a longstanding agreement with PECO to place signs on their poles. They would also like to use existing sign poles whenever possible.

Mr. Lionetti asked if SEPTA had been working with Mr. Harwood on the placement of the signs.

Mr. Calnan said that he had made a tour of the signs on Columbus Day, when Mr. Harwood was not in the office, however he has spoken by telephone with Mr. Harwood on this matter.

Mr. Auchinleck asked if the signs are for Bus Stops.

Mr. Calnan said that the signs are placed at locations where the bus will stop, but that they show the route. The Bus can be flagged at any point along the route, and the driver will stop in a safe location to pick up the passenger.

Mr. Lionetti asked that Mr. Harwood be sworn in. He said that the Zoning Hearing Board would support the Township on any signs that were problematic to the Township.

Mr. Harwood was sworn in.

Mr. Harwood presented an inventory of the signs with comments as Exhibit A-1.

Mr. Harwood noted the following signs as problems:

Sign 6     Newtown-Langhorne Road and By-pass        on Traffic Light

Sign 7     State Street at Prudential Property                  on PECO pole           

Sign 8     State Street and Fountain Farm Lane              on PECO Pole          

Sign 9     Summit Trace and Newtown Gate                  on Traffic Light        

Sign 15   Newtown-Yardley Road and Terry Dr.          on No Parking Sign         

Sign 16   Jefferson St. and Sycamore Street                   on Street Sign                             

Sign 18   Silo Drive and Eagle Road                              a Private Road           

Sign 42   State Street and Freedom Drive                       on PECO pole          

Sign 46   Pheasant Run and Penns Trail                         on Stop Sign             

Sign 48   Newtown By-pass and Summit Trace              on Traffic light        

Because SEPTA has an agreement with PECO, Signs 7, 8 and 42 can be removed from this list.

Mr. Harwood noted that signs numbered 6, 9, 16 and 48 are obstructing views for drivers and that the SEPTA application calls for the signs to be placed on aluminum channel poles 75 feet back from the Stop sign. Mr. Harwood feels that each sign should be looked at, and new location be determined individually, as he is not sure that 75 feet is the best location in each case.

Mr. Calnan said that he would locate the aluminum poles for signs 6, 9, 16 and 48 with the code officer present at a mutually agreed upon location.

Mr. Thomas Ragan was sworn in.

Mr. Ragan asked if the signs along Terry Drive were being removed.

Mr. Calnan responded that at this time no passengers are getting on or off the bus on Terry Drive. There are other areas within the industrial area more the bus is regularly used. He repeated that the bus would make a stop on Terry Drive, or anywhere else along the route, if flagged by a passenger.

Mr. Carver moved to grant a variance to permit bus signs in the right-of-way as outlined in exhibit 1-A, Newtown Township Bus Stop Inventory, with the exception of signs 6, 9, 15, 16, 46 and 48. These signs are to be relocated to a location, subject to approval of the Code Enforcement Officer, with respect to sight line visibility. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-0, with Mr. Ragan abstaining.

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 9:45PM. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully Submitted______________________________
                                   Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary