NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, AUGUST 7, 2003

7:30 PM


Approval of Minutes: In the minutes of August 7, 2003 Mr. Lionetti noted that on page three, paragraph 9, which repeated paragraph 7, should be removed. Mr. Carver moved to accept the Minutes of August 7, 2003, as amended. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, August 7, 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, and Connie D'Arginio, Stenographer.

Call to Order

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

The Pledge of Allegiance

The agenda was reviewed.

Application of Piccolo Trattoria

Application of KJMED, LLC.

Application of Liberty Property trust

Application of Pryda LLC.

Application of Richard Frick

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.

Application of Piccolo Trattoria

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Piccolo Trattoria, J.Loew and Associates, owners, requesting a variance from Section 1002(D) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 10 foot by 18 foot walk-in freezer/cooler within the required loading area, leaving a 15 foot by 20 foot berth where 15 feet by 50 feet are required. The subject property is 32 West Road in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District.

Mr. Fami Piccolo was sworn in.

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

Mr. Piccolo said that he is the owner of Piccolo Trattoria at the Newtown Shopping Center. He said that he would like to install a 10-foot by 18-foot freezer/cooler in the rear of his restaurant, in order to extend his kitchen and prep areas. He said that he would pave a portion of grass and install a new curb cut, if necessary. He said that he has permission from Jack Loew, the owner of the shopping center.

Mr. Ragan asked if this was a standard size for this type of freezer, or if a smaller freezer is available.

Mr. Piccolo said that this is the standard size for such a freezer. It will be a new unit. He is not moving the one that is currently in his kitchen. He will be removing the old freezer. He said that the volume of his business is such that he needs the added kitchen prep space and a larger freezer. He will not be expanding the dining room.

Mr. Ragan said that he had visited the site and he said that he had concerns about delivery trucks getting through if the loading berth area were moved or made smaller. He also said that he was not comfortable granting a variance without confirmation from the property owner that he approved of the alteration to the driveway and loading area. He also noted that there was employee parking in the rear area, making it somewhat crowded.

Mr. Lenihan said that he agreed with Mr. Ragan that making the loading area smaller could be a problem. He said that paving part of the grassy area could alleviate the problem, but he also would like to see confirmation from the shopping center owner.

Mr. Piccolo said that his business is the only one for which deliveries would be made through this area. He said that the Acme had a separate loading area and entrance, and that his other neighbors, the eyeglass shop and the dry cleaners did not have large delivery trucks, and that to deliver to the cat and dog supply shop would not require passing the narrower area. He said that he only has large truck deliveries twice a week, and he would make sure the area was clear for his deliveries.

Mr. Auchinleck advised the Board that this shopping center had already been granted a variance for impervious surface, and although the suggested paving was small, it would increase impervious surface, and that this had not been part of the application.

Mr. Ragan said that the Zoning Hearing Board must also consider that this could set a precedent, and that the other shops will also want to get variances for additional storage areas.

Mrs. Laughlin said that the Zoning Hearing Board must consider that future tenants might be affected by the change in loading area.

Mr. Lionetti said that he had spoken with the codes department and had been assured that the outdoor freezer meets all health code requirements.

Mr. Lenihan said that he would like to work with Mr. Piccolo, but that he would like to know about the impervious surface ratio if the grassy area is paved, and would like confirmation from the owner of the property that he gives permission.

Mr. Lionetti advised Mr. Piccolo that the Zoning Hearing Board would like to work with Mr. Piccolo. He said that they would like to support his very successful business, but that the Board needed to address the issues of impervious surface and permission of the owner. He suggested that the matter be continued to the September 4, 2003 meeting.

Mr. Auchinleck advised Mr. Piccolo that he would need to prepare a detailed drawing of the loading area with the freezer and the area he intends to pave, and to provide written confirmation from Mr. Loew that he gives permission for this project. He said he would send Mr. Piccolo a letter detailing these requirements.

Mrs. Laughlin moved to continue the application of Piccolo Trattoria to September 4, 2003. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of KJMED, LLC., Karen J. Miller, Owner

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of KJMED, LLC., Karen J. Miller, owner, requesting a variance from Section 702 A, 1001(B)(3) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit use of 6,470 feet of space within a multi-use building as Use D-2, medical office, and reduce the size of parking spaces from 10 feet by 20 feet to 9 feet by 19 feet. The subject property is 12 Penns Trail, in the LI Light Industrial Zoning District.

Mr. Don Marshall represented the applicant in this matter.

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

Ms. Karen Miller, Dr. Christine Landes and Dr. George Kivowitz were sworn in.

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

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-1, the Deed to Lot Number 43, Newtown Industrial (Business) Commons, Exhibit A-2, Plan of Ralph C. Dumack dated 6/23/03 and Exhibit A-3, Approval Letter from Harris and Harris dated 12/13/01.

Ms. Karen Miller said that she is the owner of Platinum Executive Suites on Penns Trail, and of the adjoining lot. She said that the 2.29 acre lot is zoned LI. The property on the corner of Newtown Yardley Road and Penns Trail, adjoining her property is zoned OLI. She would like to expand her space by adding another 6,470 square foot, two story building, which would have access to her Platinum property .She explained that she had been given conditional use approval for this proposed building as D-1 office use. She had previously been granted relief from the Zoning Hearing Board to allow a blanket conditional use for Platinum Executive Suites clients. The new building will be an office building with tenants, not a license agreement as with Platinum Associates.

Ms. Miller said that she has been trying to market her building before construction, and has been approached by two dentists who would like to occupy the lower floor of the building. She is asking for variances for medical use and for a reduction in parking space size to accommodate the required parking for medical use.

Mr. Marshall said that the property next to hers is zoned for medical use. He said that he had understood that the main concern with allowing medical use in the Business Commons is traffic. He noted that a new traffic light has just been installed at Penns Trail and Newtown-Yardley Road.

Ms. Miller said that she is asking for the variances for the first floor of the building only.

Mrs. Laughlin asked if she had a tenant for the second floor.

Ms. Miller said that an existing client in the investment business has expressed interest in the new space.

Mr. Marshall said that the medical office use requires 1 parking space per 150 square feet of offices, while D-1 office use requires 1 parking space per 200 square feet of offices. He noted that medical office use is a permitted use in the Planned Commercial Zoning District and in the Town Commercial Zoning District, where the same parking requirements are not met. He said that by reducing the size of the parking spaces, they are able to meet the number of spaces required within the impervious surface ratio required. He said that the D-1 offices at Platinum Associates and the second floor of the new building would require 82 parking spaces and the first floor medical offices would require 43 spaces.

Mr. Ragan asked if the plan submitted to the Zoning Hearing Board is the same as the plan approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Marshall said that the plan is the same, except that the parking has been reconfigured to accommodate the additional parking spaces required for medical use.

Mr. Ragan asked if the handicapped spaces are also smaller.

Mr. Marshall said that the three handicapped spaces are full size spaces.

Dr. Christine Landes, a pediatric dentist, stated that she is in practice at the Village at Newtown medical offices. Her lease is up in two years and her landlord is not willing to renew. She would like to remain in practice in Newtown, and has been unable to find a suitable location with 4,000 square feet of office space. She said that she has eleven employees and four treatment areas. At any given time there are eight patients on the premises, either in treatment or waiting. She said that she requires 19 parking spaces. Her hours of operation are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, and Friday from 8:00AM to noon.

Mr. Lenihan asked if Dr. Landes had investigated any of the existing empty offices in the Newtown Business Commons.

Dr. Landes said that she had made inquiries, but found that these older buildings were not adequate for her needs.

Dr. George Kivowitz, a dentist with offices in New York and Village Shires in Holland, said that he has been looking for a new location for his practice. He said that the property in Village Shires has not been well maintained. He said that he has a professional relationship with Dr. Landes, and would like to move his practice to this same location. He said that he has five employees and six patients at any given time. He would require a maximum of 12 spaces. His office hours are Monday 8:00 AM to 7:00PM, some flexible hours on Wednesday and Friday morning only. He said that his practice is restorative dentistry with a specialty in treating dental phobic patients.

Resident Nancy Crescenzo was sworn in. Mrs. Crescenzo said that she has been following the efforts of the Board of Supervisors to fill vacancies in the Business Commons, and thinks that dental offices would be a good use. She said that she thinks that businesses that are thriving in Newtown should be helped to remain in Newtown.

Mr. Marshall said that medical uses have been removed from permitted uses in the Business Commons, primarily because of traffic and parking. He said that most of the medical offices in Newtown are in the shopping centers, where parking requirements are less. He said that there is a new traffic light at the corner of Penns Trail to control traffic, and that the proposed site is next to medical offices. He pointed out that the prospective dental tenants require 31 spaces, but the plan provides 43 spaces.

Mrs. Laughlin asked if three handicapped spaces are enough.

Mr. Marshall said that three spaces meet the requirements.

Mr. Ragan said that he would be more inclined to grant relief for fewer parking spaces rather than smaller spaces. He asked if it is possible to reduce the size of spaces for employees and to place those spaces farther from the building, while leaving the patient parking, close to the building at full size.

Mr. Marshall said that if they were granted relief for five spaces, then all spaces would be full size, as the original plan provides 118 full size spaces for D-1 office use.

Mr. Lionetti pointed out that the application asks for reduced spaces, and that this is what had been advertised.

Mr. Carver moved to grant a variance from Section 702(A), 1001(B)(3) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit use of 6,470 square feet of space within a multi-use building as USE D-2, medical office and reduce the size of parking spaces from 10 feet by 20 feet to 9 feet by 19 feet. Mr. Lenihan seconded.

Mr. Ragan and Mrs. Laughlin said that they were willing to vote for medical use for part of the building, but did not support the reduction in parking space size.

The motion passed 3-2, with Mr. Ragan and Mrs. Laughlin voting nay.

Application of Liberty Property Trust

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Liberty Property Trust, Liberty Property Trust Limited Partnership, owners, requesting a variance from Section 1001(B)(3) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 9 foot by 18 foot parking stalls instead of the required 10 feet by 20 feet. The subject property is 6 Terry Drive in the LI Light Industrial Zoning District.

Mr. Jason Borrelli was sworn in.

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

Mr. Borrelli said that his firm is owner of the former ATI Research Building. The space is 32,922 square feet. The firm has secured two tenants: Arcadus Environmental Engineers, who will occupy 10,000 square feet; and Clinical Connection, who will occupy 19,404 square feet. All of the existing 106 parking spaces have been allocated to these two tenants. He would like to reduce the size of the spaces to provide parking in order to market the remaining 3521 square feet. He said that both tenants require parking for employees, not customers or clients. He said that Arcadus had 27 employees and Clinical Connection has 55 employees.

Mr. Ragan asked what types of deliveries are expected.

Mr. Borrelli said that deliveries would primarily be UPS type trucks, but that Arcadus sometimes has deliveries of engineering tools in a 14-foot truck.

Mr. Borrelli said that both of the tenants have expansion rights for the extra space, but that he has no proposed tenant at this time.

Mr. Lionetti asked if anything is gained by reducing the parking space length to 18 feet.

Mr. Borrelli said that nothing is gained; that what is needed is a reduction in width.

Mr. Auchinleck noted an area on the plan marked "no parking."

Mr. Borrelli said that this is a storage shed that has since been removed, and parking is permitted.

Mr. Ragan asked if the reduction is for the two handicapped spaces.

Mr. Borrelli said that these spaces are also reduced, but there is a hatched loading area next to the spaces to allow lowering of a lift.

Mr. Ragan said that he feels differently about reducing parking space size for employees, because these cars are not moved in and out all day, as they are with medical patients and customers.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 1001(B)(3) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit parking stalls of 9 feet by 20 feet instead of the required 10 feet by 20 feet. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Richard Frick

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Richard Frick, Richard and Melanie Frick, owners, from Section 401(B), Newtown Meadows Final Plan of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 919 square foot pool, spa and patio, resulting in a 22.89% impervious surface ratio, where 20% is the maximum permitted impervious surface ratio. The subject property is 37 Providence Court in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.

Mr. Richard Frick was sworn in.

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

Mr. Frick said that he wants to install a pool, spa, patio and walkway on his property.

Mr. Lionetti asked if the fence is already installed.

Mr. Frick said that the fence is part of the pool project, and has not been installed yet.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site. He noted that Mr. Frick's property is next to a retention basin, and that the property slopes away from the buildings.

Mrs. Laughlin said that she had visited the site and noted that Mr. Frick has only one neighbor, a farm and woods.

Mr. Ragan moved to grant a variance from Section 401(B) Newtown Meadows Final Plan, of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 919 square foot pool, spa and patio resulting in a 22.89% impervious surface ratio where the maximum permitted is 20%. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Pryda LLC

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Pryda LLC requesting a variance from Section 1001(F)(4) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit parking in the front yard where it is not permitted and within 3 feet of the side property line where a 5 foot setback is required. The subject property is 159 Sycamore Street in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District.

Mr. Douglas Maloney represented the applicant in this application.

Mr. Jeff Skinner, engineer on the project was sworn in.

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

Mr. David Sander said that he represents the Township. He said that he had been authorized by the Board of Supervisors to point out that Section 1001(F)(4) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance applies to commercial properties. He said that 159 Sycamore Street is currently a residential use, and is being renovated with a residential permit. He also noted that on the application the applicant has indicated on note 9 that he intends to lease parking spaces from an adjoining property, but that this arrangement has not yet been made.

Mr. Auchinleck advised the Board that a variance is not needed to park in the front yard of a residential property.

Mr. Maloney said that Pryda, LLC has begun renovation of the property under a residential permit. It is the owner's intention to apply for a conditional use as D-1 office use. In order to apply for this conditional use, he must show that he is in compliance with the requirements for conditional use. He is not asking for a variance for 15 parking spaces that are required, but is in negotiations to lease 5 spaces from a property within 300 feet of this property.

Mr. Maloney entered as Exhibit A-1 a site plan prepared by Mr. Skinner dated 6/20/.03.

Mr. Maloney noted that there is an existing frame building and that the one story garage has been removed. There is a small triangular lot, parcel 29-12-44, which is bisected by the creek. He said that they would like to place eight parking stalls facing Jefferson Street. There will be a depressed curb and cars will enter and exit on Jefferson Street. The rear yard variance is to allow parking within 3.45 feet of the property line. He said that only one corner of the lot is not in compliance with the 5 foot requirement.

For the front yard variance, Mr. Maloney noted that the ultimate right of way on Jefferson Street is 100 feet. He said that 3/4 of the existing building, the Township House Restaurant, and all of the proposed parking are in the ultimate right of way. He said that the proposed parking will not be closer to Jefferson Street than the existing building or the torn down garage. They will meet all buffering and screening requirements. He said that the parking lot proposed along Jefferson Street will be for eight cars; there is parking for two cars at the Sycamore Street front of the building, and the additional five are in negotiation. All proposed improvements are approved by PennDot and the Sycamore Street renovation committee.

Mr. Lenihan asked what the applicant intends for the proposed office use.

Mr. Maloney said that the owner is an attorney and developer. He intends for this to be his own office, with low client traffic, and two employees.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she wished to comment on this application.

Mr. Lionetti reminded Mrs. Crescenzo that she is still under oath.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she had attended meetings of the Planning Commission, and that she had concerns about this property. She said that she has observed that trees have been removed from the property and that the creek bed may have been destabilized. She said that she is concerned that parking so close to the creek will endanger the creek. She said that she is also concerned about parking on Jefferson Street, which is narrow and busy and has short sight distances.

Mr. Auchinleck said that there will be no parking along Jefferson Street, but in a small parking lot. There will not be through traffic in this lot. He said that in the plans presented all parking is above the creek bank. He said that concerns about the creek, and the moving of dirt near the creek should be addressed to the Bucks County Conservation District.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 1001(F)(4) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit parking in the front yard on Jefferson Street, where it is not permitted, and within 3 feet of the side yard property line where a five foot setback is required, with the condition that the applicant obtain D-1 office conditional use for the property. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Lenihan moved to adjourn at 10:15 PM. Mr. Ragan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

_____________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary