NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2003

7:30 PM


DRAFT - SUBJECT TO AMENDMENT BY THE ZONING HEARING BOARD UNTIL APPROVED


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, October 2, 2003 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were Mario Lionetti, 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 Jackie Robbins, Stenographer.

CALL TO ORDER

Mr. Lionetti called the meeting to order at 7:40 PM.

The Agenda was reviewed.

Application of Samuel T. Kirk

Application of Pryda LLC.

Application of 660 Tudor Square L.P.

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.

Mrs. Laughlin moved to accept the Minutes of September 4, 2003. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Application of Samuel T. Kirk

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Samuel T. Kirk, Samuel and JoAnn Kirk, owners, requesting a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 24 foot by 18 foot paver block patio, resulting in a 13.46% impervious surface ratio where the maximum permitted is 12%. The subject property is 9 Maple Avenue, in the R-1 Zoning District.

Mr. Samuel Kirk, Mrs. JoAnn Kirk and Mr. Louis Procaccino, contractor, were sworn in.

Mr. Lionetti noted that there were no members of the public present at the hearing.

Mrs. Kirk stated that the subject property is located at 9 Maple Lane, in Newtown Township, not Maple Avenue, as appeared in the advertisement.

Mr. Procaccino said that the Kirks wish to remove a worn out wooden deck from the rear of their home and replace it with a raised paver block patio with a retaining wall. The deck to be removed is 12 feet by 12 feet. The planned patio will be 18 feet by 24 feet.

Mr. Carver said that he feels that the increase in impervious surface is de minimus, and that the request for a variance should be granted.

Mr. Harwood had no comment in this matter.

Mr. Carver moved to grant a variance from Section 404(B) of the joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 24 foot by 18 foot paver block patio resulting in a 13.46% impervious surface ratio where the maximum allowed is 12%. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Application of Pryda LLC.

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Pryda LLC, owner, requesting a variance from Section 803(D-1)(5) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit reduction in parking spaces from 15 spaces required for proposed office use to 10 spaces. The subject property is 159 N. Sycamore Street, in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District.

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that this is the third application that the Board has heard for this property. The first application had requested permission for office use in a residential building, which had been referred to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. The second application had requested a variance to allow front and side yard parking, and had been granted. At the time of the second application, the applicant had indicated that he would be negotiating for the five additional parking spaces required from a neighboring property. He has since learned that he will not be able to acquire the additional parking spaces.

Mr. Auchinleck said that our Ordinance has a provision allowing an owner to pay a fee in lieu of providing the required parking. Mr. Auchinleck said that he felt that it is inappropriate for the Board to consider granting a variance that would preclude the Township from collecting a fee. Mr. Auchinleck said that he has had conversations with the attorneys for the applicant and they have agreed to address this matter with the Board of Supervisors first, and continue the application until the Board of Supervisors has made a decision.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Pryda LLC until further notice. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Application of 660 Tudor Square L.P.

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of 660 Tudor Square L.P., 660 Tudor Square owners, requesting a variance from Section 705(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an additional office building with 45,456 square feet of parking and improvements, resulting in a 59.3% impervious surface ratio where the maximum permitted is 50%. The subject property is 660 and 638 Newtown Yardley Road, in the O-LI Office Light Industrial Zoning District.

Mr. Don Marshall represented the applicant in this matter.

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

Mr. Doug Terry was sworn in.

Mr. Terry stated that he is a resident of Waterford Place, Newtown, and a partner in 660 Tudor Square, owners of the existing two story buildings on the property.

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-1 the title for the second lot at 660 Tudor Square, and as Exhibit A-2, the deed to the first lot at 660 Tudor Square, which establish ownership of the properties.

Mr. Marshall stated that the two lots are contiguous parcels in the Newtown Business Commons. The two lots combined are 9.17 acres. The building at 638 Newtown Yardley Road is 19,200 square feet of offices, mostly medical use. The building at 660 Newtown Yardley Road has 19,320 square feet of office space, with 3,320 square feet of medical offices and 16,000 square feet of general office use.

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-3 the preliminary plan for a third office building, 45,456 square feet, devoted to D-1 office use. The applicant is requesting relief for an increase in impervious surface only. The parking plan fully complies with the ordinance in both number of spaces and 10 foot by 20-foot size of parking stalls.

Mr. Terry said that he is a member of the Newtown Township Economic Development Council (EDC) and the Business Development Council. He said that the EDC has been charged with looking at ways to improve the Newtown Business Commons and make it more competitive to neighboring municipalities' business parks. He said that the EDC has been studying the impervious surface ratio and will be recommending to the Board of Supervisors that the impervious surface ratio at the Newtown Business Commons be increased to 65%.

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-4 the Economic Development Council members' packet for August 21, 2003, which includes the comparisons and recommendations of Judith Stern Goldstein, Newtown Township Planner, for increased impervious surface.

Mr. Marshall pointed out that the property is in the O-LI zoning district, with an impervious surface ratio of 50%, however the LI zoning district of the Newtown Business Commons has an impervious surface ratio that can be 60%. He said that the plans meet all requirements for the 60% impervious surface ratio, as shown to the Planning Commission, including the drainage requirements.

Mr. Marshall said that to fully utilize this lot will require a large driveway to reach the rear of the property, where the new building is to be located. If this were a standard shaped lot, the buildings would comply with the 50% impervious surface requirement.

Mr. Terry noted that on page 2 of Ms. Goldstein's memo to the EDC, she recommends an increase in impervious surface ratio for the entire Business Commons to 65%. The EDC will be recommending this increase to the Board of Supervisors along with other changes in the Ordinance regarding parking and use by right. The Board of Supervisors has tabled a decision on this matter until the EDC has completed its recommendations on all zoning matters for the Newtown Business Commons.

Mr. Marshall said that the Zoning Hearing Board has granted variances in the past for reduced parking stalls, which would have satisfied the impervious surface had this applicant sought such variances, however they would prefer to comply with full size parking stalls and an increase in impervious surface.

Mr. Auchinleck noted that Exhibit A-2 is not a recorded deed.

Mr. Marshall said that Exhibit A-1 shows the acquisition of the second parcel and references the first parcel. Both parcels were acquired in 2001.

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record portions of Ms. Goldstein's report. (Italics represent emphasis placed on words by Mrs. Laughlin):

"the current maximum permitted impervious surface ratio in both the LI and O-LI districts is 0.50, with the option for an increase to 0.60 by Conditional Use in the LI district. This appears to be generally consistent with other municipalities within the region, as shown below. However, it should be noted that some municipalities that tend to be more "developed" and contain a greater amount of business parks and industrial parks tend to permit a slightly greater amount if impervious surface. ..

"If the intent is to provide opportunities for existing buildings in the Business Commons to be converted to office use in their entirety, then we would recommend that the Township consider an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance that would permit an impervious surface ratio of 0.65 within the LI and O-LI Districts, either by right or by Conditional Use.

"If the intent is to encourage redevelopment of the parcels with new buildings and parking configurations to reflect more the style of a contemporary office park than the existing industrial park, then we would not recommend any changes to the zoning ordinance relative to impervious surface."

Mrs. Laughlin said that the Board of Supervisors has not made a decision yet as to these proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance, and she does not feel that the Zoning Hearing Board should grant variances in anticipation of these proposed changes.

Mr. Marshall said that the applicant is seeking a variance because of a hardship unique to this property in that the shape of the lot requires additional paving of driveway area to access the rear portion of the property.

Mr. Lenihan said that there has been much discussion in the Township about vacancies in the Business Commons, and questioned whether Mr. Terry should not be considering making use of the existing space rather than creating new spaces.

Mr. Terry said that much of the vacant property is warehouse space, not office space.

Mr. Lenihan asked if the plans meet water management requirements.

Mr. Terry said that they will go through the land development process, which will require that the plans meet all storm water management requirements.

Mr. Auchinleck asked if the proposed building will be in the current detention basin area.

Mr. Terry said that the plans will increase the detention area to accommodate all three buildings.

Mr. Lionetti asked Mrs. Laughlin to comment again on her concerns regarding Ms. Goldstein's recommendation.

Mrs. Laughlin said that Ms. Goldstein has stated that the increase to impervious surface is recommended if it is the intent of the Board of Supervisors to "provide opportunities for existing buildings in the Business Commons to be converted to office use", but that the Board of Supervisors has not yet stated what its intent is. Mrs. Laughlin said that she feels that it is not the place of the Zoning Hearing Board to make decisions that change the Ordinance, that this is a matter for the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Lionetti said that the Zoning Hearing Board is not changing the Ordinance but granting variances to the Ordinance.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Auchinleck asked Mr. Terry who the immediate neighbors to the property are.

Mr. Terry said that to the east is Sovereign Bank, to the west is the cemetery, to the rear is LSAC, and on the opposite side of the street is Roberts Nursery.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 705(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an additional office building with 45,456 square feet, parking and improvements, resulting in 59.3%impervious surface ratio where the maximum permitted is 50%. Mr. Lenihan seconded.

Mr. Lenihan stated that he felt that the request was consistent with other variances granted in the Business Commons, and that the land development process would assure that the development would meet all storm water management requirements.

Mrs. Laughlin said that she did not know how many other variances had been granted by this Board for increased impervious surface in the Business Commons.

The motion passed 3-1 with Mrs. Laughlin voting nay.

Mr. Lenihan moved to adjourn at 8:50PM. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

 

Respectfully submitted:

 

_____________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary