NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 2002

7:30 PM


Approval of the minutes of August 1, 2002: Mr. Ragan noted that on page 6, paragraph 7 should read "Mr. Ragan said that he and Mr. Lenihan had visited the site"  Mr. Ragan moved to accept the minutes as amended. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, August 1, 2002 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were Mario Lionetti, Chairman; Thomas Ragan, Vice-Chairman; John Lenihan, Secretary; and Franklin Carver, Member. Also in attendance were James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor, Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer and Ann Pratt, Stenographer.

CALL TO ORDER

Mr. Lionetti called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM 

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

THE AGENDA WAS REVIEWED

Application of Andrew Yakimiv

Application of George Harnsbarger and Julia Harnsbarger/Holland Floor Covering

Application of Bucks Central Church/The American Legion Post 440

Application of Kathleen Lesser

Application of John Buhr and Vanessa Lum

Application of Ilya Markman

Application of Scott and Nicole Blatstein

Application of WLM Management, Inc.

APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES OF JULY 11, 2002

Mr. Ragan noted that page 8, paragraph 9 should read "or bridge".

Mr. Ragan moved to accept the minutes of July 11, 2002, as corrected. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

APPLICATION OF ANDREW YAKIMIV

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Andrew Yakimiv requesting a variance from Section 803(H)(3)(1)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 6 foot high solid fence where such fence is not permitted. The subject property is 126 Chesapeake Drive in the R-1 Medium Density Residential District.

Mr. Andrew Yakimiv was sworn in.

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

Mr. Yakimiv explained that he wished to replace an existing six foot high stockade fence with a new fence in his yard, which backs onto Mill Pond Drive in the Newtown Crossing development. He said that the existing fence was there when he bought the house two years ago, and that it had not been given a variance. He said that the fence would enclose his yard and would be 35 feet from the road. He said that his yard slopes downward about two feet below the road bed.

Mr. Lenihan said that he and Mr. Ragan had done a site inspection of the property. He noted that the existing fence is in need of replacement, that Mill Pond Drive is a busy street, and that the other fences along the street are similar to the proposed fence.

Mr. Lionetti pointed out that Mr. Yakimiv's application shows a fence of 1021. feet in length. He believed that this was an error and should read 102 linear feet.

Mr. Yakimiv presented as exhibit A-1, a photograph of the existing fence, stating that the new fence would be the same style.

Mr. Harwood was sworn in.

Mr. Harwood asked Mr. Yakimiv if the portion of fence connected to the house would be six feet high.

Mr. Yakimiv said that the entire fence would be six feet high.

Mr. Auchinleck pointed out that the application listed only Mr. Yakimiv as owner of the property.

Mr. Yakimiv stated that the property is owned jointly with his wife, Lesya Yakimiv.

Mr. Ragan moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H)(3)(1)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a six foot high solid fence where such fence is not permitted. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

APPLICATION OF GEORGE DAVID HARNSBARGER AND JULIA HARNSBARGER/HOLLAND FLOOR COVERING

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of George David Harnsbarger and Julia Harnsbarger, trading as Holland Floor Covering, J.V. Properties, owners, requesting a variance from Section 405(A) and 803(E-1)(4) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit an E-1 retail shop in an existing 4,900 square foot building, formerly a child care facility, where only 18 parking spaces are provided. The subject property is 35 Swamp Road in the R-2 High Density Residential Zoning District.

Mr. Donald Marshall represented the applicants in this matter.

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

Mr. Auchinleck advised the Board and the applicant that there was a technical defect in the poster that appears on the property. This poster has a different address, although the tax parcel number and description of the property are correct.

Mr. Marshall said this was not a problem.

Mr. Roger Harnsbarger and Mr. David Gifford were sworn in.

Mr. Marshall state that Mr. Harnsbarger is the son of the applicants and would be the manager of the shop, and that Mr. Gifford is the son-in-law of the applicants and a real estate broker in the area, who could testify as to the salability of the property as currently zoned.

Mr. Marshall entered the following exhibits:

Exhibit A-1                  Deed dated May 24, 1983

Exhibit A-2                  Tax Map 29-10

Exhibit A-3                  Agreement of Sale dated April 1, 2002

Exhibit A-4                   Subdivision plan that divided the property into five lots, dated 

                                     3/17/80

Exhibit A-4a                 A scaled down version of the plan

Exhibit A-5                   A plan of the property showing the Kinder Care building

Exhibit A-6                  Portion of the Zoning Code, 1959-73, showing the property as C-1

                                     Convenience Commercial

Exhibit A-7                   Floor Plan of Proposed interior of shop

Exhibit A-8a, b, c         Photographs of Holland Floor Covering Showroom in Holland 

Mr. Marshall pointed out that the property is surrounded on all sides by commercial properties: to the west is a car wash, to the east is the Meglio's strip mall, to the south is Vince's Auto Service and to the north is Wendy's. 

Mr. Marshall stated that the property fronts onto Swamp Road, is 32,604 square feet with a 4,900 square foot child care center building and 18 parking spaces. It is zoned as R-2, High Density Residential, but had originally been zoned as C-1, Convenience Commercial. The Property is not suited for residential use, as it is surrounded by convenience businesses.  Although child care is a permitted use in the R-2 Residential District, variances are still required as child care is a permitted use on properties of two acres. The property has been on the market since June of 2001. 

Mr. Marshall stated that the Harnsbargers would like to develop the 4,900 square foot building as a carpet showroom. The floor space would be taken up with carpet and flooring samples and no retail sales or storage of product would take place on the property. There would be four employees at the showroom and there are only a few customers present at any given time selecting carpet. Warehousing of products is on Friends Lane. There are no truck deliveries to the property. Samples and display racks would be brought from Friends Lane in a Holland Flooring Van. The van is not parked on the premises overnight. 

Mr. Marshall said that a hardship existed in that the property had been developed as convenience commercial under the old ordinance. 

Mr. Lionetti asked what the hours of operation would be. 

Mr. Harnsbarger said that the showroom would be open 10AM to 6PM on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, 10AM to 8PM Wednesday and Thursday, and 9AM to 4PM on Saturday. 

Mr. Ragan asked if there was room on the property to expand the parking if necessary. 

Mr. Marshall said that there was a playground in the rear, surrounded by a fence, but he thought that if could probably be made into additional parking, with an entrance on German Avenue, if necessary.

Mr. Harwood asked if Mr. Marshall would agree that no storage of products be a condition of the variance, if granted. 

Mr. Marshall said that he would agree. 

Mr. Harnsbarger and Mr. Gifford both stated that they were in agreement with the facts as presented by Mr. Marshall. 

Mr. Auchinleck asked if there would be any dispatch of installers from this location. 

Mr. Harnsbarger said that all products were stored and cut at the Friends Lane location, and all installers were dispatched from there. 

Mr. Lenihan moved to approve a variance from Section 405(A) and 803(E-1)(4) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit an E-1 retail shop in the existing 4,900 square foot building formerly a child care facility, where only 18 parking spaces exist with the condition that there be no storage of inventory or product, excluding samples, on the premises. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed 4-0. 

APPLICATION OF BUCKS CENTRAL CHURCH/AMERICAN LEGION POST 440 

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Bucks County Central Church, The American Legion Post 440, owners, requesting a variance from Section 803(C-1)(1) and a Special Exception under 603(A)(3) of the Joint Municipal Code of 1983 to permit a place of worship to have access from a local street where a collector or arterial street is required and to permit a place of worship (C-1 use) in the CC District. The subject property is 41 Linden Avenue in the CC Convenience Commercial Zoning District.

Mr. Carver stated that as an Officer in the American Legion post he is an owner of the property, and recused himself. 

Mr. Bob Reiser, chairman of the Church and Reverend Bruce Finn, Pastor, were sworn in. 

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

Mr. Reiser noted that their Church is the Bucks Central Church, and the word "county" had appeared in the notice published in the paper.

Mr. Reiser explained that his Church would like to hold worship services in the American Legion building on Sunday mornings from 9:45AM to 11:00AM. The building would be occupied by Church members from 8:00AM to 1:00PM for set-up and clean-up of chairs. They would also occasionally use the building for Church related social events. The Church is currently meeting at Holy Family College while a permanent building is being built at Stoopville and Washington Crossing Roads in Lower Makefield. The College will not be available in the fall when classes begin. 

Mr. Ragan asked if the Church would be putting up a sign. 

Mr. Reiser said that the Church may apply for a permit for a sign at a later date, but currently intend to use temporary signs on Sunday mornings. These signs would be taken down and stored in the Legion building after services.

Mr. Ragan asked if Church activities would interfere with the social schedule of the Legion. 

Mr. Reiser said that an agreement had been worked out with the Legion to avoid conflicts in scheduling.

Mr. Lenihan asked if there is adequate parking. 

Mr. Reiser said that there are 77 parking spaces and that worship service attendance is about 60 to 80 people, mostly families. They do not expect more than 100 people and have never needed more than 30 parking spaces. 

Mr. Harwood had no comment on this matter. 

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 803(C-1)(1) and a Special Exception under 603(A)(3) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a place of worship to have access from a local street where a collector or arterial street is required and to permit a place of worship (C-1 use) in the CC District. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1 with Mr. Carver abstaining. 

 APPLICATION OF KATHLEEN LESSER

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Kathleen Lesser requesting a variance from Sections 1001(A)(7), 1001(B) and 1001(F)(6)(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to allow parking abutting a street without a required barrier and without a buffer, and handicapped spaces to be 10.5 feet wide instead of 12.5 feet wide. The subject property is 117 South Sycamore Street in the TC(HIS) Town Commercial (Historic Area) Zoning District. 

Mr. Ed Murphy represented the applicant in this matter. 

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

Mr. Murphy explained that he had discussed the application with Mr. Harwood, and that the matter would need to be re-advertised. He said that the relief advertised was no longer required. He stated that the applicant would require a variance from Sections 1000(E) and 1001(F)(4), to allow two parking spaces within the Sycamore Street right of way and to acknowledge the existence of parking spaces in the front yard. These requests were part of the original application but had not been included in the advertisement. Mr. Murphy said that he would like to present his testimony tonight and defer a decision to the next meeting, so that the request could be re-advertised. 

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-1 a land development plan approved by the Board of Supervisors on July 24, 2002, showing parking spaces one and six in the Sycamore Street right of way, and a second sheet showing the landscaping plan requested by the Sycamore Street Committee. 

Mr. Murphy said that at this time the only matter for which a variance is sought is for parking spaces one and six. He said that Sycamore Street has a 66 foot wide right of way because it had been a Penn DOT requirement. The street no longer has this requirement. He further explained that 16 feet of the building at 117 Sycamore Street are in the right of way now. Currently there is no curbing in front of the property, and the addition of curbing will better control ingress/egress to the property. The property is part of the Sycamore Street revitalization plan, and the plans are consistent with the Sycamore Street Committee's plans. The tenants will be an orthodontist on the second floor, and Chefs' Essentials, a cookware shop, on the ground floor. The curbing and parking plan are consistent with other parking arrangements along Sycamore Street. 

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-2 a house plan for the McMaster House, First National Bank of Newtown, showing four parking spaces in the right of way. 

Mrs. Kathleen Lesser was sworn in. 

Mrs. Lesser agreed that Mr. Murphy's testimony was accurate. 

Mr. Ragan said that he had done a site inspection and noticed cars were passing on the right when cars making left turns into 7-11 stopped. He asked if the plans would address this problem. 

Mr. Murphy said that the plans called for a curb in front of the building, and that the building sits ten feet back from the paved cartway. A sidewalk and buffer plantings will eventually be added in coordination with the Sycamore Street revitalization plans. Passing on the right would no longer be possible. 

Mr. Ragan asked if the issue of handicapped parking spaces had been resolved. 

Mr. Murphy said that the handicapped spaces would be 12.5 feet wide, as had been discussed with the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. The plan had also been approved by the Sycamore Street Committee at their July 25, 2002 meeting. 

Mr. Harwood had no comment. 

Mr. Del Purcell was sworn in. 

Mr. Purcell said that he lives at 127 South Sycamore Street, two doors down from the applicant. He had been a chairman of the Sycamore Street Committee. He said that the plans are in keeping with the Sycamore Street Committee plans, and that he hopes that the variances will be granted. 

Mr. Lionetti moved to hold the hearing open and to continue it to the September 5, 2002 meeting. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0. 

APPLICATION OF JOHN BUHR AND VANESSA LUM

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of  John Buhr and Vanessa Lum requesting a variance from the Final Plan of St. Andrew's Briar and under the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 16 foot by 24 foot open wooden deck in the rear of an existing house resulting in a minimum rear yard setback of 43 feet where a minimum of 50 feet is required. 

Ms. Vanessa Lum was sworn in. 

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

Ms. Lum stated that she wished to add a deck to her home, but without a variance she can only build a deck nine feet wide. She had begun construction before she discovered that she would need a variance. 

Mr. Ragan said that he and Mr. Lenihan had done a site inspection and that he noted the lumber placed in the yard at what would be the setback point. He said that the house backs to open space and that he did not think that the shorter setback would be a hardship for the neighbors. 

Mr. Harwood had no comment on this matter. 

Mr. Carver moved to grant a variance from the Final Plan of St. Andrew's Briar and under the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 16 feet by 24 feet open wooden deck in the rear of an existing house resulting in a minimum rear yard setback of 43 feet where a minimum of 50 feet is required. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed 4-0. 

APPLICATION OF ILYA MARKMAN

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Ilya Markman requesting a variance from the Final Plan of Rosefield and under the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 690 square feet paver patio and 2000 square feet of goose egg stone, resulting in 6,244 square feet of impervious surface where only 4,000 square feet is permitted. The subject property is 15 Susannah Way in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.

 Mr. Ilya Markman was sworn in.

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

Mr. Markman explained that he had visited the Codes Office and had applied for permits last year for a shed, fence and pool, but had been told in the office that he did not need permits for E.P.Henry Pavers or goose egg stone, as they are pervious. He said that he had not included the water surface of the pool in his calculations of the impervious surface of his yard. When he learned that he would be in need of a permit for the paver patio and goose egg stone, his application was denied when the water surface was added into the impervious surface calculation. All the work has already been completed.

Mr. Ragan asked if the work had been done by contractors. 

Mr. Markman said that the pool had been built by a contractor, and a landscaper delivered the goose egg stone, but he built the patio himself. He said that there is a mesh covering on the ground under the goose egg stones, which are in a one inch layer.

Mr. Ragan said that he noted on the application that Mr. Markman had said that there was a hardship because of his son's allergies.

Mr. Markman said that his son is allergic to grass clippings when he is very close to them, as when he is in the pool. He sneezes when he is in the pool when the grass is freshly mown. He is not severely allergic to grass on lawns that have not been not freshly cut, and is able to play outside.

Mr. Lenihan asked when Mr. Markman had done all of the work in his yard. 

Mr. Markman said that he had installed the pool in April and the goose egg stone and patio in August of 2001.

Mr. Lenihan stated that he and Mr. Ragan had done a site inspection and that the entire fenced-in yard is covered, with the pool, patio or stones. There is no pervious surface at all. 

Mr. Lionetti said that he does not think that the Zoning Hearing Board can allow so much impervious surface in this community.

Mr. Lenihan agreed with Mr. Lionetti, stating that he thought that there was a potential for flooding onto neighbors properties.

Mr. Harwood stated that the maximum impervious surface ratio for this home is 34.79%. With the existing conditions, the impervious surface is 54%. Mr. Harwood asked that the Board consider the ratio as well as the square feet when making a decision.

Mr. Markman asked Mr. Harwood if he recalled saying that the goose egg stone was pervious. 

Mr. Harwood responded that impervious surface is determined by the Township Engineer. He read from a letter from Pennoni Associates, determining that the stone was impervious. 

Mr. Lionetti said that the Board bases its decisions on the Ordinance, which considers stones impervious.

Mr. Francis Pyne was sworn in. 

Mr. Pyne stated that he lives at 13 Susannah Way, next to the Markman property. He said that he had chosen to live in a Planned Residential Development in Newtown because of the strict zoning and homeowner requirements, and hoped that the Board would uphold the Ordinance. He said that since the project in Mr. Markman's yard has been completed he has had drainage problems along the fence in his yard. The ground is damp and soggy after rain. He said that his sump pump is working much more since the completion of the project. 

Mr. Markman said that Mr. Pyne's property is to the west of his property and at an elevation about two feet lower, and water does run in the direction of Mr. Pyne's house, but that he did not see any serious flooding problem. 

Mr. Pyne said that water just sits along the fence in his yard. He also said that he believed that Mr. Markman's driveway has been widened. 

Mr. Lionetti advised Mr. Pyne that the Board can only consider the matter of the impervious surface in the application before them tonight. 

Mr. Pyne entered as Exhibits O-1 through O-8, photographs of his yard and the Markman yard. 

Mr. Ragan stated that Mr. Markman is allowed 4,000 square feet of impervious surface and he is requesting much more than the Ordinance allows. He said that Mr. Markman is allowed a 34.79% impervious surface ratio, more than in many other developments, and he thought this was a fair amount. 

Mr. Lenihan said that he thought that the Board should consider the health of Mr. Markman's son and should look for some compromise to allow some impervious surface surrounding the pool. 

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from the Final Plan of Rosefield and under the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to allow 5000 square feet of impervious surface, 1000 square feet over what is permitted. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 3-1, with Mr. Ragan voting nay. 

APPLICATION OF SCOTT AND NICOLE BLATSTEIN

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Scott and Nicole Blatstein requesting a variance from the Final Plan of Pheasant Point and under the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 16 foot by 34 foot open wooden deck with a rear yard setback of 22.63 feet where a 40 foot  minimum setback is required. The subject property is 6 Madison Court in the CM Conservation Management District. 

Mr. Scott Blatstein and Mrs. Nicole Blatstein were sworn in. 

Mr. Blatstein entered as Exhibits A-1 and A-2, photographs of his back yard, facing toward and away from his house. His property line is indicated by the lawnmower. He said that he wanted to put a deck on the house and that his yard is not deep enough. 

Mr. Lenihan stated that he and Mr. Ragan had done a site inspection of the property and noted that there is open space and a steep incline behind the house. He said that the deck is 200 feet from the nearest neighbors, and would not be visible to them. 

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from the Final Plan of Pheasant Point and under the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 16 foot by 34 foot open wooden deck with a rear yard setback of 22.63 feet, a relief of 17.37 feet. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0. 

CONTINUED APPLICATION OF WLM MANAGEMENT, INC.

Mr. Auchinleck advised the Board that he had not heard from the applicant since the matter had originally been continued. He did not know if the matter had been resolved, but suggested that it be continued to the September 5, 2002 meeting.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the Application of WLM Management, Inc. to September 5, 2002. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 10:20 PM. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

_____________________________
Mary Donaldson
, Recording Secretary