NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, APRIL 3, 2003

7:30 PM


Approval of the Minutes of April 3, 2003: Mr. Ragan noted that page 1, paragraph four should read, "1983", page two, paragraph one should read, "subdivide the lot into two lots", and page four, paragraph two should read, "is open"  Mr. Lenihan moved to accept the minutes of April 3, 2003, as amended. Ms. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, April 3, 2003, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were Mario Lionetti, Chairman; Thomas Ragan, Vice-Chairman; John Lenihan, Secretary; Franklin Carver and Gail Laughlin, members. Also in attendance were James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor; Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer; and James McHugh, Stenographer. 

Call to Order 

Mr. Lionetti called the meeting to order at 7:33 PM 

Pledge of Allegiance 

The Agenda was reviewed. 

Approval of Minutes of March 6, 2003

Application of Joseph Szarko

Application of Brett and Dawn Tanner 

Approval of Minutes of March 6, 2003 

Mr. Ragan moved to approve the minutes of March 6, 2003. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0, with Ms. Laughlin abstaining. 

Application of Joseph Szarko 

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Joseph Szarko, requesting variances from Sections 504 (B) &(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2983 to permit subdivision of one lot into two, and construction of a single family residence on the new lot. Lot 1 will have a 16.34% impervious surface ratio and lot 2 will have 15.8% where the maximum permitted is 13% and lot 2 will have 30 feet width at the building setback line where 100 feet is required. The subject property is 93 Richboro Road in the R-2 High Density Residential Zoning District. 

Mr. Joseph Szarko and Mr. Heath Dumack, his surveyor and engineer were sworn in. 

Mr. Lenihan recused himself from this application, as Mr. Szarko is his neighbor. 

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

Mr. Dumack explained that 93 Richboro Road is a 1 3/4 acre lot with two frontages, one on Richboro Road and one on the Newtown By-Pass. Because the By-Pass is a limited access road, the property can only be accessed through Richboro Road. The owner wished to subdivide the lot into two. Lot two will have a nine-foot wide driveway with access to Richboro Road. The lots will each exceed the impervious surface ratio of 13%. 

Mr. Dumack said that the Planning Commission had recommended that the two properties share a driveway, rather than have two driveways onto Richboro Road. He said that the original lot had a house on it, and that house has been refurbished. 

Mr. Ragan said that he had visited the site and felt that the sight distance exiting the driveway at the street line was very poor when looking west because of the high grading. 

Mr. Dumack pointed out that, should approval be granted the frontage is to be re-graded to create a lower slope to the roadway, increasing the sight distance. Mr. Dumack entered as Exhibit A-1 a Building Layout Final Plan, showing the proposed re-grading. 

Mr. Ragan asked if the Zoning Hearing Board could create what will be a non-conforming lot. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that by granting variances to create the flag lot, it would not be a non-conforming lot. 

Mr. Carver asked if the impervious surface ratio had been calculated from the ultimate right-of-way. 

Mr. Dumack said that it had been calculated from the ultimate right of way. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that he believed that an easement is needed for lot one, and that an agreement must refer to maintaining the driveway. 

Mr. Dumack said that an agreement as to maintenance would be part of the deed. 

Mr. Dumack entered, as exhibit A-2 a letter from George A. Forsyth, Jr. stating that he approves of the application provided it does not put any limits on his property. 

Mr. Lionetti asked the length of the proposed driveway, and the direction of its slope. 

Mr. Dumack said that the driveway is 325 feet and slopes toward the ultimate right of way at Richboro Road for 20 feet, and the rest of the driveway slopes toward the house. The plans call for an 18 X35 foot by 3 feet deep ballast pit basin for storm water run-off. This is a storm water retention system, which allows the water to slowly be absorbed back into the ground. It is not an open surface, but underground. There is no ponding with this system. The system will hold 7000 gallons of water. This is not required by code but is an extra precaution. To the rear of the property is the open space for an adjacent development. 

Mr. Harwood had no comment on this application.

Ms. Elizabeth Oronski, a resident of 93 Richboro Road, said that she is in favor of the sub-division of the property. She said that she lives in the home on lot one. 

Mrs. Laughlin moved to approve variance from Sections 504(B)&(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit subdivision of one lot into two and construction of a single family residence on the new lot. Lot 1 will have a 16.34% impervious surface ratio and lot 2 will have 15.8% where the maximum permitted is 13% and lot two will have 30 feet width at the building setback line where 100 feet is required. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 3-1, with Mr. Ragan voting nay. 

Application of Brett and Dawn Tanner 

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Brett and Dawn Tanner requesting a variance from Section 401(A)&(B) and a Special Exception under Section 1208(C)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit two principal uses on a single, non-conforming lot, including an E-1/E-7 retail lawn service and B-1 single family dwelling with an impervious surface ratio of 32.7% where the maximum permitted is 15%. The subject property is 554 Washington Crossing Road, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District. 

Mr. Terry Clemons represented the applicants in this matter. 

Mr. Brett Tanner and Mr. Paul R. Wojciechowski, Land Surveyor, were sworn in. 

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

Mr. Clemons entered as Exhibit A-1, a color plan showing existing and planned impervious surface from the legal right-of-way; Exhibit A-2, a black and white plan showing existing and proposed impervious coverage from legal right-of-way; Exhibit A-3, a floor plan for proposed house; Exhibit A-4, the Curriculum Vitae of Paul R. Wojciechowski; Exhibit A-5, a petition in support of this application, and Exhibit A-6, the 2000 grading plan for the property..

 

Mr. Clemons explained that the property, Tanners Lawn and Snow Equipment, a 2.5-acre property, has been a non-conforming use on this property since 1969. The applicants would like to build a home for themselves at the rear of the business. He said that the increase in impervious surface is only 2.7%, as the property is currently at 32.7%. He said that the addition of the house will require 4000 square feet of driveway, however, the plan calls for removal of some impervious surface at the front of the property, to be replaced by pervious landscaping. 

Mr. Clemons said that the property is in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, and residential use is permitted. He said that the proposed landscaping improvements will reduce some of the non-conformity in the parking. The plans also call for replacement of the existing septic system with a sand mound that will be shared by both the house and business. 

Mr. Tanner said that he owns and operates the lawn mower and snow blower business, and lives in Ivyland, 20 minutes away. His business in opened six days a week, and he typically works 10 to 12 hours a day. His wife also works in the business. He wishes to build a home on the property so that he and his family can keep an eye on the business. He said that this will be his home, and he is not asking to subdivide the property. He said that his customers are local residents and they have signed a petition in support of his application. He said that he had forgotten to ask his immediate neighbor, Barry Roberts, to sign the petition, but has spoken to Mr Roberts about his plans. 

Mr. Ragan said that he recalled that when Mr. Tanner had last appeared at the Zoning Hearing Board for approval to move his business to this property, Mr. Roberts had appeared with a complaint about drainage from the Tanner property. He asked if this issue had been resolved to Mr. Roberts' satisfaction. 

Mr. Tanner said that he had removed a berm to improve the drainage, and there is no longer a problem. He said that his other immediate neighbors would also not be affected by the variances sought. To the north is Newtown Township open space, to the west is Mr. Roberts, to the east is the parking lot for The Stonehouse Restaurant (formerly Lavender Hall), and across the street is the Yamamoto farm. 

Mr. Tanner said that he will be removing some of the impervious surface in the retail area, as the parking spaces are not used. He would also gain parking spaces because he will not park his own cars at the business, but would leave them in the garage of his house. He said that he had shown plans to the Planning Commission and they approved the reduction in impervious surface by adding the landscaping. 

Mr. Ragan said that he visited the site and thought it looked adequate to accommodate both the home and business, if the drainage issue with Mr. Roberts has been resolved. 

Mr. Wojciechowski said that he is a professional Land Surveyor and Planner, and he has calculated the existing impervious surface as 8,000 square feet of retail building space. The loading docks and a stone parking area bring the total impervious surface to 34,789 square feet, or 32%. 

Mr. Wojciechowski said that the new driveway will be 3,800 square feet, and the house will be 3,200 square feet. By reducing the parking area with the addition of pervious landscaping, the increase in impervious surface is 2.7%. 

Mr. Clemons asked Mr. Wojciechowski what costs would be involved in converting this property to a residential lot. 

Mr. Wojciechowski said that the lot is long and narrow, and is less than the required three acres, so would remain a non-conforming lot. Removal of the retail building and regrading of the parking area would probably cost about $35,000. 

Mr. Lionetti said that in 2000, the Zoning Hearing Board had granted a special exception to change the retail use of the property to lawn mower and snow removal equipment sales and service. He said that he is concerned that the increase in impervious surface ratio to more that 34% is not good. He expressed concern about sub-division of the lot. 

Mr. Clemmons said that the applicant would file a deed restriction to prevent sub-division. 

Mr. Wojciechowski explained that there would be a new storm water management system installed which is an infiltration container that re-charges the water run-off slowly. He said that the system would satisfy any requirements of the Township Engineer.  

Mr. Lionetti questioned whether the new parking configuration, eliminating some impervious parking area, would still meet the Ordinance for parking. He also questioned the calculation for impervious surface, saying that the application was advertised for a 32% impervious surface ratio, but that the requested ratio will be 34%. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that the parking is already approved for a non-conforming use. He said that the applicant cannot be required to provide more parking, but that he does not have a right to remove parking. He said that the 1969 plan required 30 parking spaces, and the new plan shows 24 spaces. 

Mr. Lionetti said that he thought that parking should be addressed. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that the Zoning Hearing Board calculations of impervious surface ratios are from the ultimate right-of-way, and that the calculations submitted were from the legal right of way. 

Mr. Harwood was sworn in. 

Mr. Harwood said that a review of the minutes of the July 2000 Zoning Hearing Board meeting showed that parking was not addressed, and that the Zoning Hearing Board did not require any change in parking. He said that at that time the Zoning Hearing Board determined that the same size parking lot was acceptable for both the Yamamoto farm market use and the Tanner lawn mower sales use. 

Mr. Lionetti said that because the plan submitted removes some parking area, that parking should be addressed at this time. 

Mr. Clemons said that when he discussed this application with Mr. Harwood, he was not advised to apply for parking variances. 

Mr. Lionetti said that he did not want to ignore the parking issue, and suggested that the matter be continued and the application be amended to include a reduction in parking. 

Mr. Auchinleck asked how many parking spaces are required for this property. 

Mr. Harwood stated that he could not determine at this time how many parking spaces would be required. He said he would need time to prepare an answer. He said that all calculations should be made from the ultimate right-of-way. 

Mr.Clemons stated that he was not changing the non-conforming use, so there should not be a change in parking requirements. He said that the residential use will provide a two-car garage for the owner's parking. 

Mr. Clemons entered as exhibit A-7, grading plans for the property. He said that the plans show 30 parking spaces. He pointed out that these are not paved parking spaces with measured lines, but that the parking is a gravel lot with room for up to 30 vehicles. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that if the use stays the same, that the parking must stay the same. 

Mr. Ragan said that he felt that the original intent of the variance granted was to restrict the retail use of the property to lawn mower and snow blower sales and services, and no other retail uses. He questioned whether the residential use can be added. He also noted that when he visited the site, fourteen parking spaces were taken up by lawn mowers. 

Mr. Tanner said that the lawn mowers would be gone, picked up by customers, within a week or two. He said that at his busiest time, a Saturday morning in the spring, that the most he will have is six to eight cars at a time. 

Mr. Harwood said that the Ordinance requires buffer planting between a residential and commercial use, and that the applicant should comply with the Ordinance. He said that Lavender Hall waived the requirement between the two non-residential lots. 

Mrs. Laughlin asked if the sewers that will be brought to the Yamamoto property development will be hooked up to the Tanner property. 

Mr. Clemons said that the sewer would not be installed for at least a year and a half and so a sand mound has been planned. 

Mr. Lenihan said that the 2000 variance limited the use restriction to retail uses. He said that he did not have a problem with adding a residential use. He said that the Township plans show an increase in impervious surface from 26.7% to 29%, and the matter was advertised at 32.7%. He said that he did not think the matter needed to be continued. 

Mr. Clemons said that the applicant would require 31.773% impervious surface and would take out the planting beds. This would be calculated from the ultimate right of way. 

Mr. Lenihan said that in the past the Zoning Hearing Board has agreed to a maximum impervious surface ratio, and it has been up to the applicant to determine where he will place the impervious surface. Mr. Lenihan asked if all the restrictions in the 2000 variance were still acceptable. 

Mr. Clemons said that they are acceptable. He said that Exhibit A-7 shows the existing impervious surface as 26.7%. It is currently 25,882 square feet. The improvements will add 7069 square feet of impervious surface. He said that if the impervious surface is calculated from the ultimate right of way, and 4000 square feet of impervious surface are given back with landscaping, then only 3000 square feet are being added. 

Mr. Lionetti said that he felt that the calculations are becoming confusing, and that he would like them cleared up. He also would like to address the parking if some impervious surface is to be taken away from the parking area. 

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Brett and Dawn Tanner to May 1, 2003. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Other Business 

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that the Application of John W. Melsky, Estate of Ruth Melsky had been remanded to the Zoning Hearing Board for a decision on the variance and special exception. He reminded the Board that at the time of application the Board had determined that the use permit submitted to the Codes Department had been deemed approved. The decision had been appealed and the court has asked the Zoning Hearing Board to make a decision on the variance and special exception. He said that the application would be re-advertised for a decision only; no further testimony would be given. He asked that the Zoning Hearing Board review the minutes of the original hearing for the May 1, 2003 meeting. 

Mr. Ragan moved to adjourn at 10:00 PM.  Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary