NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2004

7:30 PM


Approval of Minutes: Mr. Lenihan moved to accept the minutes of February 5, 2004. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 5-0.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, February 5, 2004, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Mario Lionetti, Chairman; John Lenihan, Vice-Chairman; Gail Laughlin, Secretary; Victoria Bowe and Franklin Carver, members; and William Wall, alternate member. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr. Solicitor; Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer; and John McHugh, Stenographer.

Call to Order

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

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Lionetti noted that on page 5, paragraph six should read, “Comment number one”, and on page 6, paragraph three,”(sic)” should be inserted after 350 feet.

Mrs. Laughlin moved to accept the minutes as amended, for January 8, 2004. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed 4-0, with Mrs. Bowe abstaining.

The Agenda was reviewed.

Continued Application of J. Loew and Associates

Continued Application of Newtown Yardley Road Associates

Application of Pete and Dianne Beisser

Application of Judah, Inc. d/b/a Holland Floor Covering

Application of Paul and Lydia Lewis

Application of Richard McManus

Continued Application of Stonehouse Holdings, LLC

Application of Stonehouse Holdings, LLC

Continued Application of J. Loew and Associates

Mr. Lionetti reminded the Board that this application had been read into the record at a previous meeting.

Mr. Auchinleck advised the Board that he had received a letter from Marc Kaplan, attorney for J. Loew and Associates, advising him that the Township was in negotiations with J. Loew and Associates to resolve this issue, and requesting a continuance until April 1, 2004.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of J. Loew and Associates until April 1, 2004. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of Newtown Yardley Road Associates

Mr. Lionetti reminded the Board that this application had been read into the record at a previous meeting.

Mr. Auchinleck said that he had received a letter from Don Marshall, attorney for Newtown Yardley Road Associates, informing him that another application for this property is under appeal pending a zoning ordinance change, and requesting a continuance until March 4, 2004.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Newtown Yardley Road Associates until March 4, 2004. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Pete and Dianne Beisser

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Pete and Dianne Beisser requesting a variance from Section 401B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an inground vinyl liner pool resulting in a 25% impervious surface ratio where the maximum permitted impervious surface ratio is 20%. The subject property is 15 Providence Court in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.

Mr. Pete Beisser and Mrs. Dianne Beisser were sworn in.

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

Mrs. Beisser said that she would like to install an in ground pool in her back yard, with cement around the edge of the pool. She said that she had already appeared before the Zoning Hearing Board and been granted a variance for setbacks for her patio.

Mr. Lenihan asked who owned the property to the rear of their property.

Mr. Beisser said that there is open space belonging to Newtown Meadows Homeowners Association and the PECO right of way.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site and thought that the proposed pool location would be appropriate. He said that the property slopes toward the rear and he did not think there would be any problem with run off of water.

Mr. Auchinleck asked if the proposed construction would interfere with existing swales on the property.

Mr. Lenihan said that it was difficult to tell because the ground is snow covered, however it did not appear to have any swales. He noted that the proposed construction is not close to any other residences.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 401B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an inground vinyl liner pool resulting in a 25% impervious surface where the maximum permitted impervious surface ratio is 20%. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Judah, Inc., d/b/a Holland Floor Covering

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Judah Inc. d/b/a/ Holland Floor Covering, Judy and Dave Harnsbarger, owners, requesting a variance from section 1106.F.4 of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 245.54 square foot (each side) double-faced sign where the maximum permitted sign is 12 feet. The subject property is 35 Swamp Road.

Mr. Auchinleck noted that the advertisement had a misprint and had been corrected and the sign size requested is 20 square feet.

Mr. David Gifford and Mrs. Pam Gifford were sworn in.

Mrs. Gifford explained that Mr. And Mrs. Harnsbarger, the applicants, are her parents.

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

Mr. Gifford said that he wished to place a sign in front of the building, and because there is a tree on one side he thought he would need a larger sign. He said that the sign he was requesting is similar in size to the Sparkle Car Wash sign, which is next door to his business. Mr. Gifford entered as Exhibit A-1 photographs of the Sparkle Car Wash sign.

Mr. Gifford said that he had appeared before the Zoning Hearing Board in 2002 for a variance to convert a daycare center to a carpet showroom. He said Holland Floor Covering also has a showroom in Holland.

Mrs. Bowe asked what the size of the Sparkle sign is.

Mr. Lenihan said that he thought it is about 7 feet high and 8 feet wide.

Mr. Lionetti said that he thought that at the previous hearing it had been established that this would be a low traffic business without much drive by and walk in business.

Mr. Gifford said that his business was mostly referrals from builders, who send homeowners to select flooring for new construction, when they do not keep a large variety of flooring samples at the development site. He said that there is some walk in business for replacement flooring. He said that the Holland location would remain in business, and their warehouse will remain in the Newtown Business Commons. As had been stated at the previous hearing, this location would be for display of samples only. Customers would place orders at the location, but flooring is warehoused at another location in the Newtown Business Commons.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site. He noted that although the site is zoned as R-1 residential, all of the immediate neighbors are businesses. He said that the sign would be smaller than the car wash sign and would improve the appearance of the property.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Carver moved to grant a variance from Section 1006.F.4 and Section 106.F.5 of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to construct a freestanding identification sign with a height of 41.5 inches and a width of 71 inches, with the condition that the maximum height of the erected sign not exceed five feet, two and one half inches. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Paul and Lydia Lewis

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Paul and Lydia Lewis requesting a variance from Section 1208 C, 408B, 1208C and 404B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 156 square foot residential addition to an existing single family house on a non-conforming lot resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 16% where the maximum permitted is 12%. The subject property is 424 Burns Lane in the R-1 Residential Zoning District.

Mr. Paul Lewis and Mrs. Lydia Lewis were sworn in.

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

Mr. Lewis explained that he wished to put a 156 square foot, two-story addition onto his home to extend his family room, master bedroom and bathroom. The existing screen porch will be removed to accommodate the addition.

Mr. Lewis said that the home was built in 1965, predating the current ordinance. He has owned the home since 1975. At the time of construction the maximum impervious surface ratio was 20%. The property is currently 14% impervious surface.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site and noted that there is open space next to the property.

Mr. Lewis said that it is his understanding that the property belongs to Frank Tyrol and it has been subdivided, and the portion next to his house is to remain open.

Mr. Lenihan said that the rear yard is at least 150 feet deep and he did not think there would be any problem with water run off.

Mr. Harwood had no comment on this matter.

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that if they are inclined to grant variances, a special exception is also needed because this is a non-conforming lot.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 1208 C, 408B, 1208C and 404B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 156 square foot residential addition to an existing single family house, and a special exception to build an addition on a house on a non-conforming lot, resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 16% where the maximum permitted is 12%. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Richard McManus

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Richard McManus requesting a variance from Section 404B and 404C of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a single family residence resulting in a 15.9% impervious surface ratio where 12% is the maximum permitted and a 20.2 foot front yard facing one road and 50.6 feet front yard on the second road where 60 feet is required and to permit a new building to be constructed 49 feet from an existing building where 60 feet between buildings is required and a special exception under 1208.C.2 to permit construction of a building on a non-conforming lot. The subject property is at the corner of Upper Silver Lake Road and Old Newtown-Yardley Road in the R-1 Medium Density Zoning District.

Mr. Edward Murphy represented the applicant in this application.

Mr. Richard McManus and Mr. John Genovesi were sworn in.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-1 the application for variances, and as Exhibit A-2 a Zoning Variance Plan prepared by J.G. Park Associates.

Mr. Murphy explained that the property is a corner lot on Upper Silver Lake Road. It has been zoned R-1, medium density residential since 1983. He said that the current ordinance requires that a lot in the R-1 district must be 40,000 square feet, however this lot is 16,057 square feet, making it a non-conforming lot. Because it is less than half of the required size, and as a corner lot has two front yards, the building envelope is insufficient for any size single-family house.

Mr. Genovesi said that he is a Civil Engineer with J.G. Park Associates of Washington Crossing. He has prepared the zoning variance plan submitted as exhibit A-2. He said that the plan includes a two-story house with a 1770 square foot footprint. There will be a short driveway to access Old Newtown-Yardley Road and a small sidewalk and porch.

Mr. Genovesi presented a color map that he said is the same as the one in the application. He noted on the map a 772 square foot triangle which would be the only possible structure that could be constructed in compliance with the current ordinance.

Mr. Murphy said that the building would need to be set back 20.2 feet from Old Newtown Yardley Road. This is to the ultimate right of way. There is an additional 25 to 30 feet to the cartway on the Upper Silver Lake Road side also.

Mr. Lionetti said that the proposed structure would be 75 feet from the cartway on the Upper Silver Lake Road side and on the Old Newtown Yardley Road side it would be about 30 feet.

Mr. Murphy said that 12% impervious surface is allowed on this property, and they are requesting 15.9%. He said that with the 1770 square foot building, including a two-car garage, this would only be 8% on a conforming lot.

Mr. Murphy noted that the zoning requires that buildings be separated by 60 feet, but at the closest point this building will be 49.6 feet to its neighbor to the north. This placement does meet the setback requirements.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-3 a two sheet set of drawings for the proposed structure, Exhibits A-4 and A-5, photographs of similar houses.

Mr. McManus said that he is the equitable owner of the property. He resides at 21 Crabapple Place in Newtown. He said that he plans to build a home with about 2200 square feet of living area, with a 32 by 35 foot foundation. The home will have four bedrooms and two baths. The 2200 square foot calculation does not include the 20-foot by 22-foot two-car garage.

Mr. Murphy asked the Board to also grant a special exception to construct on a non-conforming lot.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-6 the deed to the current owner, dated 12/22/77, showing the lot as existing prior to the current ordinance.

Mr. Auchinleck noted that the deed refers to the adjacent property as the Aizetti property, and confirms that they were separate in 1977.

Mr. Murphy said that there is an unsigned plan for Silver Lake Manor, dated 1951, which shows this lot at this size.

Mr. Auchinleck asked Mr. McManus if the building is to be his residence.

Mr. McManus said that he does not intend to live in this house.

Mr. Auchinleck asked if Mr. McManus had considered building a smaller house to allow for a longer front yard.

Mr. McManus said that he could reduce the house by about 5 feet if necessary, and rotate the house a little, but this would increase the impervious surface by making the driveway longer.

Mr. Murphy suggested that if the home is move to the west, and rotated slightly, the resulting side yard could be 29 feet instead of 24 feet.

Mr. McManus said that the location was chosen for its alignment with existing houses.

Mr. Auchinleck asked if relocation of the building would cause any drainage problems.

Mr. Genovesi said that there would be the same drainage pattern if the house were moved as suggested by Mr. Murphy. He said that a shift could be made in the location so that the side yard would be no less than 25 feet.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. John Iazetti and Mrs. Susan Iazetti were sworn in.

Mrs. Iazetti said that they live at 107 Upper Silver Lake Road, to the north of this property. She said that she hoped that the Board would not grant a variance for building less than 60 feet between buildings. She said that it will be too close to her house, especially if the owners want to put a deck on the house later. She is also concerned about the impervious surface. She said that the property is in a very wet area. She also said that the plans that Mr. McManus had shown her had a walk out basement, and the building appeared to be three stories high. She said that she was also dismayed to learn that this is not to be Mr. McManus’ home, as he had indicated to her in previous conversations.

Mr. Iazetti said that he is very concerned about the impervious surface. He said that on his own property the sump pump runs all of the time. He said that he has lived in the house for 35 years; his parents lived there for 45 years. He thinks that the plan should be for a much smaller house. He said that the neighborhood is all small, one-story houses, and this house is much larger than any others in the neighborhood. He said that he is very concerned about water backing up in the neighborhood.

Mr. Genovesi said that a culvert has recently been added to the neighborhood, and it has alleviated a lot of the water problems. He said that the plans call for grading to allow water to flow around the house and toward the front. The tall trees at the property line are to be preserved. The water from the Iazetti property will flow toward the McManus property to be captured in swales.

Mr. Auchinleck asked what the elevation above grade would be for the plan submitted.

Mr. Genovesi said that the highest elevation above grade would be 1.45.75 feet. There is no exterior basement entrance, no walkout basement, only casement windows.

Mr. Lionetti showed the plan submitted to the Board to Mr. And Mrs. Iazetti, saying that there is not a raised first floor on the plans.

Mr. Paul Deppi and Mrs. Bethany Deppi were sworn in.

Mr. Deppi said that they live at 103 Upper Silver Lake Road, to the west of the property. He said that he is very concerned about an increase in the water problem in the area with construction of this house. He said that he cannot walk to the front of his property because it is too wet. He has not been able to replace his driveway because of the water problem. He said that he is also concerned about noise problems in the neighborhood during construction. Many of the neighbors work the third shift and sleep during the day. He said that he is also concerned about the property values on surrounding homes because this plan shows a much larger home than any of those surrounding it.

Mr. Al Iazetti was sworn in.

Mr. Iazetti said that he has lived at 109 Upper Silver Lake Road for 45 years. He said that he is very concerned about flooding.

Mr. Lenihan asked if there had been any improvement in conditions since the culvert had been added.

Mr. Iazetti said that there has been some improvement, but during driving rains the lake fills up and backs toward his property and the McManus lot.

Mr. Harwood said that the Township Engineer would evaluate the property and Mr, McManus’ plans would have to satisfy the Township Engineer.

Mr. Lionetti said that he would like to grant some relief, and that the Engineers could reduce the size of the house and shift its location on the lot to conform with the relief granted.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 404B for an impervious surface of 16.2%, a relief of 4.2%; from section 404C to permit a front yard of 25 feet on the Newtown Yardley Road side of the property, a relief of 35 feet; from Section 404C to permit a front yard of 58 feet on the Upper Silver Lake side of the property, a relief of 2 feet; from Section 404C to permit a distance of 54.5 feet between buildings, a relief of 5.5 feet, and a Special Exception to build on a non-conforming lot. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-1 with Mrs. Bowe voting nay.

Continued Application of Stonehouse Holdings, LLC

Application of Stonehouse Holdings, LLC.

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that the continued application of Stonehouse Holdings, appealing the action of the Zoning Officer had already been read into the record.

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Stonehouse Holdings, LLC, requesting a variance from Section 802B and 806H-7 of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a temporary structure on the premises for a reasonable period of time to enable permanent structure to be constructed. The applicant appeals from Violation Notice dated December 18, 2003. The subject property is 552 Washington Crossing Road, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.

Mr. John Coopman represents the applicant in this application.

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

Mr. David Sander represents Newtown Township as a party in opposition to this application, and in support of the actions of the Zoning Officer.

Mr. Auchinleck explained to those residents in attendance that if they wish to be a party to the application they would have the right to cross-examine the applicant and any of his witnesses, present evidence and witnesses, and make any statement concerning the application. Should they disagree with the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board, party status would give them the right to appeal the decision. Anyone present not wishing party status would be allowed to make statements for or against the application after the hearing and before a decision is rendered.

Mr. Warren Keyser and Mrs. Kathleen Keyser of 201 Winding Lane wish to have party status in both applications.

Mr. Auchinleck advised the Board that they could hear testimony on both applications together and then render separate decisions.

Mr. Sander said that the Township, the neighbors and the applicants have been discussing the issues and that they are trying to work out some details, but that they hope to resolve the matter.

Mr. Coopman requested a continuance to the March meeting. He said that he hoped that all parties would be able to settle this matter before then.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the applications of Stonehouse Holdings, LLC to the March 4, 2004 meeting. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Adjournment

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

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

_____________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary