NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, MAY 6, 2004

7:30 PM


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


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, May 6, 2004 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Mario Lionetti, Chairman; John Lenihan, Vice Chairman; Gail Laughlin, Secretary; Franklin Carver and Victoria Bowe, members. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Solicitor; Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer and Justine Gregor, Stenographer.

Call to Order

Mr. Lionetti called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM

The agenda was reviewed.

Continued Applications of Stonehouse Holdings, LLC

Continued Application of J. Loew and Associates

Application of Eric D. Wahrhaftig

Application of Gary and Paula Hopkins

Application of La Stalla Restaurant

Application of James and Donna Baniewicz

Application of Vincent Sanginiti

Application of David and Beverly Fleming

Application of Kathryn and Craig Kausch

 

Continued Applications of Stonehouse Holdings

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that he had spoken to Mr. Coopman, attorney for the applicant, and Mr. Sander, the Township Solicitor, and they have reached an agreement. Mr. Auchinleck said that this has been confirmed with Mr. and Mrs. Keyser, parties to the application. He said that Mr. Coopman has asked that the applications be continued. When a final agreement has been signed by all parties, the applications will be withdrawn.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the applications of Stonehouse Holdings, LLC to the meeting of June 3, 2004. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of J. Loew and Associates

Mr. Auchinleck said that he has spoken with Mr. Kaplin, attorney for the applicant, and it is their understanding that an agreement with the Township has been reached.

Mr. Harwood said that there has been agreement, however it has not yet been finalized.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of J. Loew and Associates to the meeting of June 3, 2004. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Eric D. Wahrhaftig

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Eric D. Wahrhaftig requesting a variance from Section 1000(E)(b)(2) of the Joint municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 17 foot 5 inch by 8 foot deck, resulting in a 3 foot rear yard setback where the minimum setback is 15 feet. The subject property is 64 Hillcroft Way in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District.

Mr. Eric Wahrhaftig was sworn in.

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

Mr. Wahrhaftig said that he wishes to build a deck within the perimeter of his fence, which is set back three feet from the property line. He said that the deck would be at ground level, and would not be visible to his neighbors. Mr. Wahrhaftig entered as Exhibit A-1, a sheet of six photographs of the rear of his home; as Exhibit A-2, a sheet of four photographs of the rear of his home; and three letters from his adjoining neighbors, entered as Exhibit A-3, from Mr. Timothy Stout, 62 Hillcroft Way; Exhibit A-4, from the neighbor at 63 Hillcroft way; and Exhibit A-5, from Ray Lopez of 64 Hillcroft Way. Mr. Wahrhaftig said that the by-laws of his homeowners association allow decks within the fences, which are all set three feet from the property line.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site. He said that the existing fence would obscure the deck from view, and that many of the neighboring townhomes had decks.

Mr. Wahrhaftig said that decks such as the one he plans do not require permission from the homeowners association. He said that a walking path runs behind his house, which then backs onto a wooded area, and a church is beyond the woods.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 1000(E)(b)(2) of the Joint municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 17 foot 5 inch by 8-foot deck, resulting in a 3-foot rear yard setback where the minimum setback is 15 feet. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Gary and Paula Hopkins

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Gary and Paula Hopkins requesting a variance from Section 401(c) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 23-foot by 26-foot addition with a side yard setback of 24 feet where 50 feet is required. The subject property is 196 Twining Bridge Road in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.

Mrs. Paula Hopkins and Mr. Gary Hopkins and Mr. Brett Nelson, contractor on the project, were sworn in.

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

Mr. Hopkins said that he would like to put an addition on his detached garage. He said that the garage has an in-law suite, consisting of a small kitchen on the garage level, and a bedroom/sitting area above. The addition will be two stories, to be used for storage. Mr. Hopkins said that the in-law suite is used by his father-in-law.

Mr. Nelson said that the property is about 3.25 acres. He entered as Exhibit A-1 a photograph of the side of the house; Exhibits A-2 and A-3, photographs of the drainage tie-in from the garage; Exhibit A-4, a photograph of the driveway; and Exhibit A-5, a photograph of the entire property.

Mr. Nelson said that the drainage tie-in does not drain into the sewer, but into a swale behind the property. He said that the addition would be two stories, with a six hundred square foot footprint.

Mr. Hopkins said that he is surrounded by houses on similar size lots, and to the rear is farmland owned by Council Rock School District.

Mrs. Bowe asked if it is possible to put the addition in such a way that it would not require a variance for setback.

Mr. Nelson explained that the existing structure had never been granted a variance, and would be needed. He said that the location chosen was best for Mr. Hopkins’ father-in-law, who is elderly, because it is more easily accessible. He said that this location would require a minimal increase in impervious surface. Other locations around the existing structure would require more paving of paths.

Mr. Nelson explained that this is an addition to the existing unit, and that they would share a roofline, and would have the same siding.

Mrs. Laughlin asked if this addition, as a second residential use, would need a certificate from the Department of Health. She also asked if this existing in-law suite has the necessary permits.

Mr. Lionetti said that at this time the Zoning Hearing Board can only act on the requests in this application. He said that granting permission for the in-law suite is not within their jurisdiction.

Mr. Harwood was sworn in.

Mr. Harwood said that the Township files to not show any record of a setback variance having been granted to the existing structure.

Mr. Hopkins said that he purchased the house in 1992. At the time of purchase he had been assured that all permits were in order. He said that the main house was built in 1987, with the auxiliary structure having been constructed in 1989. He said that his father-in-law has occupied the auxiliary structure since 1992.

Mr. Harwood said that the township was unaware of the secondary structure. He said that no permits have been issued for a residential accessory unit.

Mrs. Laughlin asked if the Zoning Hearing Board should require that the residential accessory structure comply with the Ordinance for parking, separate utilities, and Board of Health approval as a condition of granting a variance.

Mr. Auchinleck said that the Zoning Hearing Board can only act on the setback request. He suggested that Mr. Hopkins work with the Township to determine what permits and inspections are required. He said that the public must be notified. He said that he would suggest that the application be continued and re-advertised for any additional variances that might be required.

Mr. Lionetti said that he did not think that this Board is opposed to the expansion that is proposed, and he agreed with Mr. Auchinleck that Mr. Hopkins should work with Mr. Harwood and the Codes Department to obtain necessary permits and inspections, amend his application and re-advertise for the June meeting.

Mrs. Laughlin moved to continue the application of Gary and Paula Hopkins to June 3, 2004. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of La Stalla Restaurant

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of La Stalla Restaurant, Vincent Masso, owner, requesting a variance from Section 803(H)(7) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 30 foot by 30 foot temporary seasonal canopy from May to October, where only no-recurring temporary structures are permitted. The subject property is 18 Swamp Road, Lovett Barn, Village at Newtown, in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District.

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

Mr. Vincent Masso, owner and Mr. Roger Monk, manager, were sworn in.

Mr. Masso said that he had purchased the restaurant six weeks ago. He would like to place a canopy over the outdoor bar. He said that the canopy belongs to the restaurant, however it is professionally installed. He said that it was his understanding that the canopy had been placed over the bar in summer months by the previous owner. He said that there are stools around the bar, but there are not tables. There is no cooking under the canopy, and the kerosene heaters are outside of the covered area. He said that he wanted the canopy to keep the sun off of the daytime and early evening customers, and to keep the outside area open during light summer drizzle.

Mr. Lenihan asked if this would require HARB approval since the restaurant is in the historic district.

Mr. Auchinleck said that if a variance were granted that the canopy would still be subject to HARB review, as well as inspections by the fire marshal.

Mr. Lenihan asked what was meant by non-recurring events.

Mr. Auchinleck said that if a business were to erect a tent for one event, and remove it, and erect it again at a later event, it would be non-recurring. This application is requesting permission to leave the tent up for the entire summer.

Mr. Lionetti asked if there would be any outdoor entertainment.

Mr. Masso said that there is no outside entertainment.

Mrs. Laughlin asked if there are side flaps on the canopy.

Mr. Masso said that there are flaps on the sides of the tent, surrounding the bar. He said that there are no wet sinks, or taps; all beer and soda is bottled. He busses the dirty glasses to the kitchen dishwasher.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H)(7) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983, to permit a 30-foot by 30 foot temporary seasonal canopy from May to October where only non-recurring temporary structures are permitted, with the condition that a certificate of appropriateness be obtained from HARB. Mr. Carver seconded.

Mr. Lionetti commented that he did not recall ever making HARB approval a condition of a variance. He said that he did not think it was within the Zoning Hearing Board’s purview to place such a condition on the granting of a variance.

Mr. Auchinleck said that the property is within the historic district and might require a certificate of appropriateness from HARB. He said that if a certificate of appropriateness is not required then it should not be a condition of granting a variance.

Mr. Lenihan amended his motion to remove the condition that a certificate of appropriateness be obtained. Mr. Carver seconded the amended motion and the motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Bowe voting nay.

Application of James and Donna Baniewicz

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of James and Donna Baniewicz, requesting a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a) and (e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of 315 lineal feet of five foot high three rail fencing, 153 feet of which will be located in the front yard where the maximum permitted height is three feet. The subject property is 94 Greenbriar Lane in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District.

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

Mr. James Baniewicz and Mrs. Donna Baniewicz were sworn in.

Mr. Baniewicz explained that he wishes to erect a five foot high split rail fence around his rear yard to allow his children to play safely and to keep neighborhood dogs out of his yard. He said that his is a corner property and one side of his yard is considered a front yard. He said that he does not own a dog, however a walking trail is behind his property and he has observed unleashed dogs wandering into his yard. He said that he would like to place the fence two feet from the sidewalk and that the fence would be shielded from view by shrubbery.

Mr. Baniewicz entered as Exhibit A-1, a photograph of a neighbor’s home with a similar fence, and as Exhibit A-2, a photograph of the same property taken close up.

Mr. Baniewicz said that he had requested a five foot high fence, however the fence that he has selected is only four feet high.

Mr. Auchinleck explained that the ariance is for the property, and that the fence can be replaced with other fences, so the variance would specify a height.

Mr. Harwood commented that the fence must be located out of the right-of-way.

Mrs. Laughlin moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a) and (e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of 315 lineal feet of not more than five foot high three rail fencing, 153 feet of which will be located in the front yard where the maximum permitted height is three feet. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Vincent Sanginiti

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Vincent Sanginiti requesting a variance from Section 401B and 401C of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 1,140 square foot in-ground swimming pool resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 17.21% where the maximum permitted is 15%. The subject property is 75 Autumn Drive in the OR Office Research Zoning District.

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

Mrs. Mary Sanginiti was sworn in.

Mrs. Sanginiti said that she is the owner of the subject property, with her husband, Vincent Sanginiti. Her name did not appear on the application. She said that she would like to install an in-ground swimming pool with cement surrounding it. She said that she has a fence around that portion of her yard where she intends to place the pool. She said that the fence meets the requirements for pool fencing.

Mr. Lenihan said that he visited the site. He noted that the property slopes up and water run-off would not be a problem. He said that the house is surrounded by other single family homes on large lots, and that it backs to a buffered area. Beyond the buffering is a new development.

Mr. Auchinleck asked if the propane tank shown in the plans is already installed.

Mrs. Sanginiti said that the propane tank is already on her property. She said that she will run a line underground to heat the pool. It will attach either directly to the tank or will hook up to the gas line inside her house.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Harwood did note that he would check to confirm that the existing propane tank has the necessary permits. He said that the fire marshal would inspect the connection from the pool to the propane tank.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 401B and 401C of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 1,140 square foot in-ground swimming pool resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 178.21% where the maximum permitted is 15%. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of W. David and Beverly Fleming

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of W. David and Beverly Fleming requesting a variance from Section 803(H-7) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a temporary tent to conduct functions accessory to a lawfully existing winery in which may be recurring where temporary structures for recurring events are not permitted. The subject property is 258 Durham Road in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.

Mr. Auchinleck said that he had received a letter from Don Marshall, attorney for the applicants, requesting to continue the application until the June meeting. He said that the applicants were trying to negotiate some conditions with the Township.

Mrs. Laughlin moved to continue the application of W. David and Beverly Fleming to June 3, 2004. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Kathryn and Craig Kausch

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Kathryn and Craig Kausch requesting a variance form Section 803(H-8)(1)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 424 square foot in-ground swimming pool, with 800 square feet of decking and 60 square feet of pool equipment resulting in a 1.5 foot rear yard setback and 1.3 foot side yard setback for the pool equipment area and a 6 foot rear yard setback for the pool where a minimum side and rear yard setback for such facilities is 10 feet. The subject property is 29 Devon Road, New Haven, in the R-1 Medium Density Zoning District.

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

Mrs. Kathryn Kausch was sworn in.

Mrs. Kausch said that she wanted to install a swimming pool in her yard. She said that she already has a deck, and that the pool equipment will be hidden from her neighbors’ view by existing shrubbery. She said that her property backs onto common ground of her development, then to a large undeveloped parcel.

Mr. Lionetti asked if the pool equipment would be in a shed.

Mrs. Kausch said that the equipment would be shielded by bushes only.

Mr. Lenihan said that he visited the site and noted that the property is backing to open space and the pool would not be visible to neighbors. He asked if the fence is on the property line.

Mrs. Kausch said that the fence is on the property line and will be replaced by a four foot fence. She noted that she had been granted a variance a few years ago for a shed, which is in the opposite corner from the pool equipment.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lionetti asked if this property would meet impervious surface ratio requirements. He said that with the pool addition the impervious surface would be 34%.

Mr. Harwood said that he would check into this.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance form Section 803(H-8)(1)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 424 square foot in-ground swimming pool, with 800 square feet of decking and 60 square feet of pool equipment resulting in a 1.5 foot rear yard setback and 1.3 foot side yard setback for the pool equipment area and a 6 foot rear yard setback for the pool where a minimum side and rear yard setback for such facilities is 10 feet. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Lionetti noted that on page 1 of the minutes of April 7, 2004, “S” in solicitor should be capitalized. He also asked that on page 3 references to “confirmed with” be changed to “confirmed to”.

Mr. Lionetti moved to accept the minutes of April 7, 2004, as amended. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Adjournment

Mr. Lenihan moved to adjourn at 9:45 PM. Mr. Carver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully submitted

 

______________________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary