NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2003

7:30 PM


Approval of Minutes:

Mrs. Laughlin moved to accept the minutes of November 6, 2003. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Mrs. Laughlin moved to accept the minutes of November 13, 2003. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, November 13, 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., Solicitor; Thomas Harwood, Codes Officer and Justine Gregor, Stenographer,

Call to Order

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

The Pledge of Allegiance

Application of Claudio Franceschelli

Continued Application of J.Loew and Associates

Continued Application of Steven F. Frey

Continued Application of Anne Twining

Application of Claudio Franceschelli

Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Claudio Franceschelli requesting a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (Pheasant Pointe Final Plan) to permit construction of 4 foot by 8 foot concrete stair walkout resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 13.85% instead of the maximum permitted 12%. The subject property is 18 Alexander Way in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District.

Mr. Claudio Franceschelli was sworn in.

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

Mr. Franceschelli said that he would like to install stairs from his basement to the outside of his home. The stairs will be enclosed, and the exterior addition with door will be the same siding and roofing as his house. He said that because the builder set his house so far back on his lot, he has an extremely long driveway, which uses up his impervious surface. He said that he did not have plans to show the Board, just the drawing that his contractor put on the lot plan with the application. 

Mr. Ragan said that he and Mr. Lenihan had visited the site. He confirmed that the driveway is very long. He said that he did not think that the request was excessive. 

Mr. Lenihan said that he agreed with Mr. Ragan that the driveway length made it difficult for the homeowner. 

Mr. Lionetti noted that his home has already exceeded the impervious surface maximum, and that the builder did not receive a variance for the excess. 

Mr. Auchinleck asked the length of the driveway and what is to the right of his home. 

Mr. Franceschelli said that his driveway is about 200 feet long. He said that his house backs to Eagle Road, and to the right is the PECO easement. 

Mr. Ragan moved to grant a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (Pheasant Pointe Final Plan) to permit construction of 4 foot by 8-foot concrete stair walkout resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 13.85% instead of the maximum permitted 12%. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Continued Application of J. Loew and Associates 

Mr. Auchinleck told the Board that he had a telephone conversation with Mr. Kaplin, attorney for J. Loew and Associates. Mr. Kaplin indicated that he was meeting with the Township Solicitor in an attempt to resolve the problems. He said that he would like to continue the matter to January 8, 2004. 

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the Application of J. Loew and Associates to January 8, 2004. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Continued Application of Steven F. Frey 

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that this application for a variance to allow a commercial school in the R-2 High Density Residential Zoning District had already been read into the record and continued at the November 6, 2003 meeting. 

Mr. Mark Riley represented the applicant in this matter. 

Mr. Steven F. Frey and Mr. David Platt were sworn in. 

Mr. Frey said that he owns and operates Steve Frey Instruction, LLC. This is a baseball and softball instruction business. He would like to relocate to the pole barn on the property of Newtown Swim Club as a sub-contract with Mr. Platt. He said that he would like to install two batting cages in the 50-foot by 90-foot pole barn, and conduct private and semi-private instruction in pitching, batting and fielding. He said that most of the time there are two children with two instructors and parents on the premises. Occasionally a team will rent the facility. There are never more than 15 people on the premises at one time.  His hours of operation are Monday to Friday 4:00PM to 10:00PM and Saturday 10:00AM to 3:00PM. 

Mrs. Laughlin asked if the facility will be used in summer. 

Mr. Frey said that he would be open from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and closed in the summer months, when he conducts baseball camps at other locations. 

Mrs. Laughlin asked if there would be much noise. 

Mr. Frey said that the instruction would always be indoors, and that he did not think that the sound of a bat hitting a ball would be heard outside of the building. 

Mr. Ragan asked if Mr. Frey would be hosting any tournaments. 

Mr. Frey said that he almost always gives private and semi-private instruction, but occasionally would have as many as ten children present for a group or team instruction. He has run this business at Carousel Gardens for four years, where he has never had a large number of people attend at the same time. 

Mr. Ragan asked if there would be any retail sales associated with the school. 

Mr. Frey said that there would not be any sales. 

Mr. Lionetti asked if there would be noise from the pitching machines. 

Mr. Frey said that the machines are very quiet. He said that he does not always use the machines, as he frequently pitches to batters himself. 

Mr. Platt said that in the summer months he uses the pole barn for summer camp activities such as arts and crafts, and lunches on rainy days. He has never had complaints about noise from the pole barn. He has adequate parking for his swim club and day camp in summer months, and in winter, even when Newtown Township Park and Recreation conducts classes at his gym facility, there is never a problem with parking. He said that he met Mr. Frey through swim club members whose children attend the Frey clinic at Carousel Gardens. He thought that his facility would be a good match for Mr. Frey. 

Mrs. Laughlin asked if the Zoning Hearing Board could limit the commercial school use. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that the variance would be limited to educational uses, for any type of commercial school, and that the variance would be for the building and would be transferable to another school. He said that conditions could be placed on the variance, such as seasons of operation. 

Mr. Michael Best, Mrs. Leslie Skolnick and Mr. Jeffrey Best were sworn in. 

Mr. Michael Best said that he had been attending the Frey school at Carousel Gardens for four years. He said that his game has improved and that he thought that the school would be a valuable asset to the community.

Mrs. Skolnick said that her 12-year-old son has been attending the clinic for three years. During his one-hour lessons, she and her son are usually the only people there. She said that while she waits for her son she sits on a bench outside the barn, and has not been able to hear the lessons going on inside. 

Mr. Jeffrey Best said that he is Michael Best's father. He said that his son attends the school for pitching lessons, so the batting machines are not on when he is there. He said that there is not any increase in traffic, since there are only two children on the premises at a time, and the appointments are spread throughout the evening. He said that he thinks that Mr. Frey's school is a valuable asset to the community. 

Mrs. Victoria Bowe, a resident in attendance, asked if, when Mr. Auchinleck said that the variance would be transferable, if any kind of commercial school, such as a cooking school or a dancing school could move in. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that the variance would be for the property, and would be for any commercial school that might move in. 

Mr. Harwood had no comment. 

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 405(A) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit C-3 commercial school use for private softball lessons and a baseball clinic where such use is not permitted, with the conditions that activity be limited to the pole barn, indoors only, and that the time of operation of the school be limited to Labor Day through Memorial Day. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously. 

Application of Anne Twining 

Mr. Auchinleck reminded that Board that this application of Anne Twining, executrix for N. Stanley Twining, owners, requesting a variance from Section 404(B) and 404(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning District to permit subdivision into two lots and construction of a single family dwelling on the additional lot with an impervious surface ratio of 15% instead of 12% and a lot width of 25 feet instead of 100 feet had been opened at the November 6, 2003 meeting and continued to this evening. 

Mr. Nicholas Rose of Protract Engineering said that Mr. Don Marshall, who is representing the applicant in this matter, was late, and had advised him to begin the hearing by presenting the plans to the Board. 

Mr. Nicholas Rose was sworn in. 

Mr. Rose said that he is a professional engineer in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. He is a licensed engineer in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Rose explained that the Twining property on Durham Road is 2.5 acres. It is a 600-foot deep lot, with only a 174-foot frontage onto Durham Road. Mrs. Twining would like to sub-divide the lot, creating a flag lot. To pave the long driveway to reach the rear lot creates a hardship, as it requires a very large increase in impervious surface, leaving no impervious surface for construction of a second house. He explained that the existing driveway to the existing house, which is on the southern portion of the property, will remain. He said that the applicant would be willing to share one driveway if necessary. 

Mr. Ragan asked Mr. Rose to calculate the impervious coverage if a shared driveway is used instead of two separate driveways. 

Mr. Edward Twining was sworn in. Mr. Twining said that he did not want to share the existing driveway on the southern portion of the property because it is very dangerous. He said that the location chosen for the new driveway allows better sight lines, and will be much safer. He said that if he must share a driveway, he would prefer to eliminate the existing driveway and use the proposed driveway on the northern end of the property. 

Mr. Rose said that regardless of whether the common driveway was to the north or south, there would still be a need for a variance for increased impervious surface. 

Mr. Auchinleck explained that sharing a common driveway would require agreements for maintenance and snow removal. 

Mrs. Anne Twining was sworn in. Mrs. Twining said that the existing driveway is only paved at the street entrance, about ten to fifteen feet into the property. 

(At this point in the proceeding Mr. Marshall arrived and Mr. Auchinleck reviewed what had already been presented) 

Mr. Marshall said that he would review the calculations for impervious surface if the applicant were amenable to a shared driveway. 

Mr. Lionetti said that he thought that the plan that had been submitted with the application is the cleanest and safest, and that he would like to deal with the application as submitted. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that he thought that the safest location for a driveway is an issue that will come up in the land development process. 

Mr. Harwood was sworn in. He said that the Board of Supervisors had requested that he make the Zoning Hearing Board aware that they would like to see a condition attached to any variance granted requiring that the property be cleaned up to the satisfaction of the Code Inspector. There have been many violations. There is debris in piles on the property, along with abandoned automobiles, boxes, steel and landfill material. He said that some of the violations have been recently been addressed, but that there is still debris to be cleaned. 

Mr. Twining said that he would like to know exactly what the Code Inspector would like cleaned up. He said that he has a pile of fireplace bricks that he is not using, but that he has been in contact with the Board of Supervisors and the Code Inspector and he would like to know exactly what else they would like to have cleaned up. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that the Board can make the clean up a condition of the variance if they would like. 

Mr. Marshall suggested that this matter be addressed as part of the sub-division process. 

Mr. Harwood said that he thought that this is a reasonable request that should be addressed at the local level. He said that there are outstanding fines on this property, and that there is a court order requiring that the property be cleaned to the Code Enforcement Officer's satisfaction within a certain number of days. The order is against the Estate of Stanley Twining. 

Mr. Auchinleck suggested that if the Board is inclined to grant the variance, to avoid any confusion in the language used in the conditions attached to the variance, they might word the condition "that any outstanding court orders must be satisfied prior to sub-division". 

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 404(B) and 404(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning District to permit subdivision into two lots and construction of a single family dwelling on the additional lot with an impervious surface ratio of 15% instead of 12% and a lot width of 25 feet instead of 100 feet, with the condition that any outstanding court orders on the subject property be satisfied and complied with prior to sub-division. Mr. Carver seconded. 

Mr. Ragan asked if this would satisfy the Township's request, and if there was any other problem beyond this court order. 

Mr. Auchinleck said that the Zoning Hearing Board had no evidence of any other problems. 

The motion passed 4-1 with Mr. Ragan voting nay. 

Mr. Ragan moved to adjourn at 9:35. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully submitted:

 

 ______________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary