NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 2003

7:30 PM


Approval of Minutes of June 5, 2003: Mr. Ragan noted that on page 7, the penultimate paragraph should read "increased traffic would use".
 Mr. Lionetti moved to accept the minutes of June 5, 2003, as amended. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
 Mr. Ragan moved to adjourn at 9:00PM. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, June 5, 2003. 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 Ann Pratt, Stenographer.

Call to Order

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

 The Pledge of Allegiance 

The agenda was reviewed. 

Continued Application of Fedor and Susan Derek

Application of Toni and Michael Cestero

Application of Merle and Glenn Fels

Application of C.E.D. Ltd.

Application of Norman Moorhead

Application of Newtown Racquetball Association 

Approval of the Minutes 

Mr. Ragan moved to accept the minutes of May 1, 2003. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of Fedor and Susan Derek 

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that this application had been continued in order to correct the advertising and mailing of notices to residents. 

Mr. Lionetti reminded Mr. Fedor Derek, the applicant, and Mr. Gerald Higgins, the architect on the project, that they are still under oath. 

Mr. Lionetti called Mr. Michael Peters and Ms. Jean Peters, parties to the application to come forward. He reminded them that they are still under oath. 

Mr. Derek submitted as Exhibit A-6 four stapled pages including grading plans for his and the Peters' properties and a petition of Mr. Derek's Sibelius Road neighbors, confirming that they have received notice of his application and support it. 

Mr. Derek said that he has invested $13,000. in side yard buffering in anticipation of this project and that pools and decks are common in Eagle Glen development. He said that five similar variances have been granted to Eagle Glen residents. He also said that his home was to have used 18.5% of its impervious surface allowance, except that a mistake by the builder caused his driveway to need an extension. 

Mr. Derek said that he had reviewed the minutes and transcript of the May 1, 2003 hearing, at which the Peters' indicated that they were concerned about drainage issues. He said that the Peters property does not have a drainage problem, as their house sits two feet higher than his property. He has also discussed the issue of building in a swale with Mr. Harwood, and has confirmed that there are not any major swales on his property, only grading that will be addressed during construction of the project. 

Regarding the setback variance, Mr. Derek said that the setback variance is for a portion of his property facing open space, not facing the Peters property. He has planted 48 trees to provide buffering around his property. Mr. Derek showed enlarged photographs of the rear and side of his home, to indicate that his proposed project will have little impact on the Peters home. 

Mr. Derek said that at the previous meeting, Mr. Carver had asked what the distance was from the driveway to the curb, and Mr. Derek had measured 140 feet. 

He said that in response to Mr. Lionetti's request, he has re-examined the plan to attempt to reduce the impervious surfaces. He submitted as Exhibit A-7 a revised plan by G. Higgins and Associates, which reduces the impervious surface to 26.2%,  and shifts the project slightly toward the Peters property, reducing the encroachment into the setback by four feet, now requiring a 20 foot rear yard setback. He pointed out that if his driveway had been paved according to the "as built" plan, his request would be for 24.2% impervious surface. He said that the water surface is 224 square feet. 

Mr. Peters asked if the additional blacktop had been added before the Dereks had moved into the house. 

Mr. Derek said that the builder had added the blacktop after the Dereks had moved in and found that they could not turn into their garage. No variance was applied for to add this additional impervious surface. 

Mr. Peters said that he thought that the shortest distance from the driveway to the curb is 115 feet, not 140 feet, and not the 75 feet that he had estimated at the May 7, 2003 meeting. 

Mr. Peters said that he has only had a few minutes to review the revised plan submitted as exhibit A-7, and while it seems somewhat improved, he still opposes the setback variance and the impervious surface variance. He said that he feels that the Conservation Management standards must be maintained. He said that he does have some soggy ground along the border with the Derek property. He said that because the land is zoned as Conservation Management, he has had to make concessions to comply with zoning requirements in orienting his home and in not removing trees, and he feels that everyone should have to comply. 

He said that he felt that the Dereks have not shown a hardship since they chose the irregular shaped lot when other lots in the development were available. 

He said that the setback requirements provide an open feeling in the Conservation Management Zoning District and should not be encroached upon. He said that while the Dereks have planted some buffering the project will still be in view from his home. 

Mrs. Peters said that she is very concerned about lights and noise. She is also concerned about the impervious surface issue, not specifically on her own property, but throughout the area, in streams and sewers. 

Mr. Ragan asked if any of the trees and plants has already been planted, and if they provide privacy with the new location of the pool. 

Mr. Derek said that he has done some planting, but more will be part of the project. The plantings do provide privacy with the new location of the pool. 

Mr. Lionetti asked if there was any accumulation of water along the property line. 

Mr. Peters said that the lawn is soggy 24 hours after a rain. 

Mr. Harwood had no comment. 

Mr. Auchinleck suggested that if the Board is inclined to grant a variance, they should refer to the plan entered as exhibit A-7 in their motion. 

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 401(B) and 401(C) (Eagle Glen Final Plan) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 29 by 40 foot deck, an 8 foot by 8 foot hot tub, a 12 foot by 14 foot addition, a 562 foot patio, 170 square foot pool, 301 square foot walk and 116 square feet of planters and stones resulting in a rear yard setback of 20 feet where 40 feet is required and an impervious surface of 26.3% where the maximum permitted impervious surface is 20%, with the condition that the pool be places as it appears in Exhibit A-7. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Application of Toni and Michael Cestero 

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Toni and Michael Cestero requesting a special exception from Section 1208(C)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit expansion of a non-conforming building. The subject property is 128 Stoopville Road in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District. 

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

Michael and Toni Cestero were sworn in. 

Mr. Cestero explained that he would like to put an addition onto his home to expand his kitchen to accommodate his disabled mother-in-law. He will also be adding a space to store the furniture built by his late father-in-law. He will not need any variances for setbacks or impervious surface, only the special exception because his house pre-dates the current zoning ordinance and is a non-conforming building. 

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site and felt that the addition would be appropriate. 

Mr. Harwood had no comment. 

Mr. Carver moved to grant a special exception to Section 1208(C)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit the expansion of a non-conforming building. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Application of Merle and Glenn Fels 

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Merle and Glenn Fels requesting a variance from Section 405(B)&(C) (Newtown Grant Final Plan) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 20 foot by 11 foot, one-story roofed porch addition resulting in a rear yard setback of 19.5 feet where the Ordinance requires 30 feet and the Newtown Grant Final Plan requires 25 feet. The subject property is 10 Crocus Lane in the R-2 High Density residential Zoning District. 

Mrs. Merle Fels was sworn in. 

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

Mrs. Fels said that she had expected her contractor to attend but he had cancelled. 

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site. He asked Mrs. Fels to describe the project. 

Mrs. Fels said that the porch would be at the rear of her house, with the existing sliding doors in the middle of the proposed porch. The porch will be about 1/3 the width of the house. She said that the existing rear steps will be removed. She said her property backs to a wooded area, partially Newtown Grant Common Ground and partially belonging to her rear neighbor on Stoopville Road. 

Mr. Lenihan confirmed that the nearest home to the rear of the Fels property is at least 200 feet. 

Mr. Ragan asked if the wooded area belongs to the Newtown Grant Homeowners Association or to the Stoopville Road Property owner. 

Mrs. Fels said that she believed that the woods are Newtown Grant property and that the Stoopville Road property is at the other side of the woods. 

Mr. Ragan asked if the Newtown Grant Homeowners Association had approved her project. 

Mrs. Fels said that she had submitted her plans, but had not heard back from the Homeowners Association yet. 

Mrs. Laughlin asked if the porch would be enclosed by windows or screens. 

Mrs. Fels said that it would be an open porch with a roof only.

Mr. Harwood had no comment. 

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 405(B)&(C) (Newtown Grant Final Plan) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 20 foot by 11 foot one-story roofed porch addition resulting in a rear yard setback of 19.5 feet where the Ordinance requires 30 feet and the Newtown Grant Final Plan requires 25 feet. Mr. Ragan seconded.

Mrs. Laughlin asked if the motion should include a condition that the porch not be enclosed. 

Mr. Lenihan said that he did not want to set a condition that the porch not be enclosed because if the homeowners wish to enclose the porch at a later time it would require another application for a variance. 

The motion passed 4-1 with Mrs. Laughlin voting nay. 

Application of Norman Moorhead 

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Norman Moorhead requesting a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 14.5 foot by 25.5 foot patio with a 27 foot long, 16 inch high block wall, resulting in a 23.65% impervious surface ratio where 12% is the maximum permitted, and a special exception under Section 1208(C)(2) to permit expansion of a building on a non-conforming lot. The subject property is 165 Durham Road in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District.

Mr. Norman Moorhead and Mr. Louis Procaccino, the contractor on the project, were sworn in. 

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

Mr. Moorhead explained that his back steps are too high and he would like to extend his patio and change the steps, using E.P. Henry Pavers. There will be a 16-inch high wall surrounding the patio. He said that the existing concrete patio will be removed.

Mr. Lenihan said that he visited the site and confirmed that the steps are very high and that the pavers will help. He noted that the increase in impervious surface is less than 2%, as it is already at 21.47%. 

Mr. Harwood was sworn in.

Mr. Harwood pointed out that the original advertisement for the application had referred to this property as lot number 29-40-12, but it had been corrected to 29-4-12 in the second advertisement. All neighbors of lot 29-4-12 had been notified in a timely fashion.

Mr. Carver moved to grant a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 14.5 foot by 25.5 foot patio with a 27 foot long, 16 inch high block wall resulting in a 23.65% impervious surface ratio where 12% is the maximum permitted, and special exception under Section 1208(C)(2) to permit expansion of a building on a non-conforming lot. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Application of Newtown Racquetball Association 

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Newtown Racquetball Association requesting a variance from Sections 702(B), 803(C-6)(5), 1001(B)(3), 1002(A)(1) and 1002(D) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 16,938 foot swimming pool addition resulting in a 69.25% impervious surface ratio where 60% is the maximum permitted, a side yard setback of 13 feet where 30 feet is required, 39 additional parking spaces where 149 are required, 9 foot by 20 foot parking stall size where 10 feet by 20 feet are required, and to permit the required loading berth to share a parking aisle where a separate loading berth is required. The subject property is 209 Penns Trail in the LI Light Industrial Zoning District. 

Mr. Charles Herring represented the applicant.

Mr. Jim Worthington and Mr. Bert Heinricci, engineer on the project were sworn in. Mr. Lionetti reminded Mr. Gerald Higgins that he was still under oath from the Derek hearing. 

Mr. Lionetti asked if anyone wished to be a party to the application. Mr. Alan Harvison of 21 Kanon Court said that he wished to be a party to the application. 

Mr. Higgins said that Newtown Athletic and Aquatic Club (NAC) wished to build an addition to the pool area to include two pools, a weight training room and some party rooms. He explained that the aquatics program was very successful  and Mr. Worthington would like to separate the recreational from the instructional areas. 

Mr. Worthington said that he has a five-lane pool right now that is used for fitness, recreation and for therapy. Many senior citizens are using the pool for therapy. He said that one part of the new pool would be an instructional pool and one would be recreational. He said that he wanted to separate the children from the adults in the pools. All pools would be close to the locker rooms. 

Mr. Heinricci explained that in 1998 the NAC got a variance for impervious surface coverage, at which time modifications were made to the storm water management system. The basin, with low flow channels, spillways and landscaping, shared with the YBM Magnetics property, can accommodate 70% impervious surface. He said that an additional underground basin will handle run-off, with overflow going to a storm water sewer system and into a detention basin. 

Mr. Heinricci said that the addition would be 12,560 square feet, but that 6,300 square feet is already impervious surface. This patio is to be removed, and the driveway moved over. 

Mr. Higgins said that they were requesting 9X20 foot parking spaces because the existing parking spaces in the lot are 9X20 feet. 

Mr. Worthington said that he was requesting the shared driveway loading berth because his business does not receive tractor trailer deliveries. He had mostly UPS and Federal Express deliveries, and a laundry truck, never industrial deliveries. 

Mr. Worthington said that he was requesting 39 parking spaces because the Ordinance requires additional parking spaces. He said that he currently has about 50 spaces that are never used, and the pool addition will not generate additional cars. He said that he does not expect an increased membership, and the new features are for the enjoyment of the current membership. 

Mr. Worthington said that the side yard setback variance requested is for the area facing the by-pass. He said that 51,000 square feet of land had been taken for the by-pass, and that if it had not been taken, no variance would be required. 

Mr. Higgins said that the new building will be the same height as the existing building except for a dome over the proposed waterslide. 

Mr. Harvison asked how increased traffic would be managed. 

Mr. Higgins said that he did not think that there would be any increased traffic.

Mr. Worthington said that he had widened Penns Trail at the entrance at the time of the last expansion.

Mr. Harvison said that he was concerned because increased traffic uses Fountain Farm Lane, in Newtown Gate. He said that to exit the NAC and drive through the Industrial Commons is a one mile trip to the by-pass. 

Mr. Worthington said that he would like to separate the recreational pools to accommodate the aging population with warm water aquatics programs. He said that currently 60% of the community uses the NAC, either as members or through community and Park and Rec programs. His aquatics program is ranked third in the country. 

Mr. Auchinleck asked if access to the property from Penns Trail will be relocated.

Mr. Heinricci said that they have presented the plans to Penn DOT. He said that Penn DOT has verbally indicated that a permit will be granted.

Mr. Higgins said that if Penn DOT does not grant a permit, the plan would be re-designed. 

Mr. Harvison said that he feels that if the NAC is expanded that memberships and traffic will increase.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there are a maximum number of memberships allowed. 

Mr. Worthington said that the maximum would be 4000 memberships. They currently have 3,800 individual and family memberships, about 10,000 people. 

Mr. Heinricci said that after discussing the plans with the Planning Commission, they have added to the existing storm water management system. It is currently designed for 70% impervious surface. 

Mr. Higgins said that they would not consider a multilevel parking facility because it is too expensive. He said that if the Board of Supervisors requested, they could keep some of the parking in reserve. 

Mr. Worthington said that he feels he does not need additional parking, and as a service business he wants to have parking available for his members. He said that he feels that the current parking is adequate. 

Mr. Ragan asked if the new building would require any additional signs. 

Mr. Worthington said he would not need any additional signage. 

Mrs. Laughlin asked the square footage of the existing pool area. 

Mr. Worthington said that the existing pool area is 8,000 square feet. 

Mr. Auchinleck marked as exhibits the previous parking variances: SK-1 as Exhibit A-1, SK-2 as Exhibit A-2, and C-1 as Exhibit A-3. 

Mr. Harwood asked what is currently loaded at the existing loading dock. 

Mr. Worthington said that he parks his own car in the loading dock. He said that janitorial supplies are delivered in a panel truck and exercise equipment is delivered to a rear door in the gym. He said that he feels the Ordinance was designed for Light Industrial businesses and factories. He does not have deliveries in tractor trailers. 

Mr. Harwood asked if the existing trash receptacle is being enclosed. 

Mr. Worthington said that it is being enclosed and that trash pick-up would be at the same location. 

Ms. Suzanne Judd of 37 Kanon Court said that she agrees with Mr. Harvison that traffic is a serious problem in their development, and she is also concerned that an expansion at the NAC will increase traffic. 

Mr. Lionetti said that the traffic concerns of the neighbors were not anything that the Zoning Hearing Board could resolve this evening. 

Mr. Auchinleck suggested that if the Zoning Hearing Board is inclined to grant the requested variances, that access through Penns Trail be a condition of the variances. 

Mr. Lionetti asked if leaving parking spaces in reserve until needed could be a condition. 

Mr. Don Marshall, an attorney present in the hearing room, said that the Board of Supervisors grants requests to leave parking spaces held in reserve. 

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant variances from Sections 702(B), 803(C-6)(5), 1001(A)(I) and 1002(D) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 16,928 square foot swimming pool addition resulting in 69.25% impervious surface ratio where 60% is the maximum permitted, a side yard setback of 13 feet where 30 feet is required, 39 additional parking spaces where 149 are required, 9 foot by 20 foot parking stall size where 10 foot by 20 foot spaces are required, and to permit the required loading berth to share a parking aisle where a separate loading berth is required, with the condition that the Penns Trail entrance remain open as an entrance and for emergency vehicles. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Application of C.E.D., Ltd. 

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of C.E.D., Ltd, requesting a variance from Section 405(C) and 1208(A) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983  to permit expansion of  a non-conforming building in excess of the 25% maximum permitted expansion resulting in a side yard setback of 36.55 feet instead of the required 50 feet and a special exception under Section 1208(A) to permit expansion of a non-conforming use. The subject property is Swamp Road at Walnut Avenue, Newtown in the R-2 Residential Zoning District. 

Mr. Don Marshall represented the applicant in this matter. 

Mr. Ed Ulanoski, general partner in C.E.D., Ltd., was sworn in. 

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-1 the Deed, Exhibit A-2, the Plan, and Exhibit A-3, the original Shopping Center Plan, and Exhibit A-4, the requirements of C-1 Zoning which were in effect when the business was built. 

Mr. Marshall explained that the property is Sparkle Car Wash, and it had originally been zoned C-1. It is now zoned R-2, and is a non-conforming use. Mr. Marshall said that the car wash was built in 1981, and acquired by Mr. Ulanoski in 1985. 

Mr. Marshall said that Mr. Ulanoski would like to enclose a 20 foot by 96 foot, 1932 square foot area next to the car wash. He said that the area is now under a canopy and is used for the detailing and waxing of cars. The use will not change. There will be no increase in impervious surface, as the area is already paved. Mr. Ulanoski only wishes to enclose the area and heat it so that work can be done in all weather. 

Mr. Lenihan said that he visited the site and confirmed that the work is being done under a tent. He said that the neighbors are Holland Flooring, Vince's Auto Service and a Dance Studio. 

Mr. Lionetti asked if the tent would be removed. 

Mr. Ulanoski said that the tent would be removed, and that the work would be done in the building instead. The cars would drive in and out following the same pattern they do for the tent. 

Mr. Harwood asked what was meant by "expansion of use" in the application. 

Mr. Marshall said that the request is for an expansion of the building by more than 25%. He said that the use would not be expanded. The waxing and detailing of cars is being done under the tent now, and would be done inside the building when it is completed. 

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 405(C) and 1208(A) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit expansion of a non-conforming building in excess of 25% maximum permitted expansion resulting  in a side yard setback of 36.55 feet instead of the required 50 feet and a special exception under Section 1208(A) to permit expansion of a non-conforming use. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 10:30PM. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.                       

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

______________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary