NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2003

7:30 PM


Approval of Minutes: Mr. Ragan moved to accept the minutes of July 3, 2003. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0, with Mr. Lenihan abstaining.


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

Call to Order

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

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Agenda was reviewed.

Application of Anthony and Concetta Steffani

Application of Wenhua Wang and Liping Zhou

Application of Friends Village

Application of Ray Kim

Application of Donald W. Huff and Carol Giemza Huff

Approval of Minutes of June 5, 2003

Application of Anthony and Concetta Steffani

Mr. Carver read into the record the application of Anthony and Concetta Steffani requesting variances form Section 405(B) and 405(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 (Newtown Grant) to permit construction of an 18 foot by 13 foot, one-story addition with a 16 foot rear yard setback where 30 feet is required by the Ordinance and 25 feet by the Newtown Grant Final Plan, and resulting in a 31.27% impervious surface ratio where the maximum permitted impervious surface ratio is 30 %. The subject property is 62 Jonquil Drive in the R-2 High Density Residential Zoning District.

Mrs. Concetta Steffani was sworn in.

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

Mrs. Steffani explained that she has three children, and they have outgrown their kitchen. She would like to add a breakfast nook, enlarging her kitchen.

Mrs. Steffani entered as Exhibit A-1, a letter from the resident of 64 Jonquil Drive supporting the project.

Mr. Ragan said that he noted that the house backs to open space, and he asked who owns the open space.

Mrs. Steffani said that Newtown Grant Homeowners Association owned the open space and that there is a home beyond the trees on Stoopville Road, but it is not visible from her house.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Ragan moved to grant variances from Section 405(B) and 405(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 (Newtown Grant) to permit construction of an 18'X13' one-story addition with a 16 foot rear yard setback where a 30 foot rear yard setback is required by ordinance and 25 foot rear yard setback is required by Newtown Grant Final Plan, and resulting in a 31.27% impervious surface ratio where the maximum permitted impervious surface ratio is 30%. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Application of Wenhau Wang and Liping Zhou

Mr. Carver read into the record the application of Wenhau Wang and Liping Zhou requesting a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a fence with a height of five feet instead of the maximum permitted three feet. The subject property is 329 Crittenden Drive in the R-2 High Density Residential Zoning District.

Mr. Wenhau Wang and Ms. Liping Zhou were sworn in.

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

Mr. Wang explained that his yard backs onto Eagle Road and he is concerned for the safety of his son and the neighborhood children that run around the houses playing. He said that his next-door neighbor had gotten a similar variance recently, and he intends to purchase the same fence in the same color.

Mrs. Laughlin asked if his neighbor on the other side also has a five-foot fence.

Mr. Wang said that his other neighbor has planted a line of trees.

Mr. Ragan said that he had visited the site at the time that Mr. Wang's neighbor had applied for a variance, and he recalls that the properties are about three feet above the roadbed and a fence is necessary. He said that if this fence is the same as the one next door, that it will look fine.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Carver moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a fence with a height of five feet instead of the maximum permitted three feet. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Application of Friends Village

Mr. Carver read into the record the application of Friends Village, Friends Boarding Home of Bucks Quarterly Meeting, owners, requesting a variance from Section 803(B-17)(4) and a special exception under 1208(A) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 69 parking spaces instead of the required 79 and expansion of a non-conforming use. The subject property is 331 Lower Dolington Road in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District.

Mr. Don Marshall represented the applicants in this matter.

Mr. Lionetti asked if anyone wished to be a party to this application.

Mrs. Maureen Cooper of 245 Stanford Place said that she would like to be a party to this application.

Mr. Frank E. Norris, a member of the Board of Directors of Friends Village and chairman of the building committee, was sworn in.

Mr. Marshall explained that Friends Village is requesting a special exception for a non-conforming use. Friends Village would like to add a 3200 square foot building with three two-bedroom units.

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-1, the deed to the property, and as Exhibit A-2 the plan for the expansion.

Mr. Marshall said that the property is 7.0269 acres in the R-1 Residential Zoning District, originally built in 1979 as the Newtown Boarding Annex. He said that at the time of construction, elderly housing was a permitted use.

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-3; a letter from Township Planner Judith Goldstein dated April 28, 2003. Mr. Marshall noted that the letter confirms that expansion by less than 25% is permitted by special exception. He said that the property currently has five buildings totaling 30,594 square feet. The proposed expansion of 3200 square feet is a 12.7% expansion.

Mr. Marshall noted that the expanded facility requires a total of 79 parking spaces, the expansion requiring 5 additional spaces. He said that there are currently 69 parking spaces. As the average age of the residents is 85 years, most no longer drive. Most of the time only about 20 parking spaces are occupied by employees and visitors. To add the required parking spaces would create more impervious surface, and the spaces are not needed.

Mr. Marshall said that except for the parking, the expansion complies with all zoning codes.

Mr. Norris affirmed Mr. Marshall's testimony.

Mrs. Cooper asked to look at the plan.

Mrs. Cooper was sworn in.

Mrs. Cooper said that she had understood that her development, Country Bend, had donated open space to Friends Village in 1985. She asked if the debris on the property would be removed.

Mr. Norris said that he was unaware of any debris on the property, but would remove any that is found.

Mrs. Cooper asked how many stories the planned addition will be.

Mr. Norris said that it would be a one-story building, consisting of three two-bedroom units.

Mrs. Laughlin asked if Friends Village hosted any activities for non-residents, as Chandler Hall does.

Mr. Norris said that all activities are for residents only. He said that Friends Village is not a nursing facility, only elderly housing.

Mr. Ragan asked if the new building would change the setbacks.

Mr. Marshall said that except for the parking, the new building complies with all zoning requirements.

Mr. Lionetti asked how many people lived at Friends Village now.

Mr. Norris said that currently there are 40 residents living in 30 units. No nursing care is provided.

Mr. Ragan asked how far Mrs. Cooper lives from the proposed addition.

Mr. Marshall said that her home is about 300 feet from the new building.

Mr. Marshall pointed out that the Fire Marshal had altered the configuration of the seven parking spaces on the plan to include a fire lane.

Mr. Lionetti asked if the walkway around the property is included in the impervious surface calculations.

Mr. Marshall said that it had been included.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mrs. Cooper said that she was concerned that the chain link fence around the property is in bad condition. She asked if it would be replaced. 

Mr. Norris said that the fence would be kept in good repair. 

Mr. Lionetti said that the Zoning Hearing Board could not address these issues. He said that they could only address the matter of the additional parking. 

Mr. Norris affirmed the additional testimony given by Mr. Marshall.

Mrs. Laughlin moved to grant a variance from Section 803(B-17)(4) and a special exception under 1208(A) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 69 parking spaces instead of the required 79 and expansion of a non-conforming use. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0. 

Application of Ray Kim 

Mr. Carver read into the record the application of Ray Kim requesting a variance from Section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 (Newtown Meadows Final Plan) to permit construction of a 32 foot by 20 foot paver patio and wall, resulting in a 21.2% impervious surface ratio instead of the maximum permitted 20%. The subject property is 5 Dorchester Lane in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.

Mr. Ray Kim was sworn in. 

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

Mr. Kim said that he would like to add a patio to his back yard for entertaining family and friends. 

Mr. Ragan asked the height of the proposed wall. 

Mr. Kim said that the wall would be 18 to 24 inches high around the edge of the patio, to be used as seating. 

Mr. Ragan asked if Mr. Kim intends to enclose the patio. 

Mr. Kim said that it would be an open patio. 

Mr. Lionetti asked if the width of the surrounding wall is included in the 20'X32' calculation. 

Mr. Kim said that it is included; that the wall is to be placed on top of the perimeter pavers. 

Mrs. Laughlin asked if there is an existing patio or deck. 

Mr. Kim said that there is nothing in his yard right now. 

Mr. Harwood had no comment. 

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 32 foot by 20-foot paver patio and wall, resulting in a 21.2% impervious surface ratio where 20% is the maximum permitted. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed 4-0. 

Mr. Lionetti advised Mr. Kim to apply for permission from his Homeowners Association before he begins construction. 

Mr. Auchinleck advised Mr. Kim that if the Homeowners Association has not given permission, they could require that the patio be removed. 

Application of Donald W. Huff and Carol Giemza Huff 

Mr. Carver read into the record the application of Donald W. Huff and Carol Giemza Huff, requesting a variance from Section 1000(E)(3)(b)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an 18 foot by 14-foot open wooden deck with a side yard setback of 1 foot where 3 feet is required. The subject property is 502 Atwood Court in the R-2 High Density Residential Zoning District. 

Mr. Donald W. Huff and Mrs. Carol Giemza Huff were sworn in. 

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

Mrs. Huff said that she would like to add a deck with sliding doors to the rear of her attached townhome. She said that they would like the sliders to align with the sliders on her walk out basement. If she attempts to build a deck in compliance with the ordinance, the sliders would not be on the deck. 

Mrs. Huff showed the Board some photographs of the rear of her property and of other homes on her street that have similar decks. She said that her deck would be one story above ground level, over her walk out basement. 

Mrs. Huff said that her Home Owners Association advised her to apply to the Township for a variance before submitting her plans to them. 

Mr. Harwood had no comment. 

Mr. Ragan moved to grant a variance from Section 1000(E)(3)(b)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an 18 foot by 14-foot open wooden deck with a side yard setback of 1 foot where a 3-foot setback is required. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0. 

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. 

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

_____________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary