NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 2004

7:30 PM


Approval of the Minutes: Mrs. Laughlin moved to approve the minutes of August 5, 2004. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Wall abstaining.


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

Call to Order

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

The Agenda was reviewed.

Continued Application of David and Beverly Fleming

Application of Toll Brothers, Inc.

Application of William A. Barrier

Approval of Minutes

Mrs. Laughlin moved to approve the minutes of July 22, 2004. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of David and Beverly Fleming

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that he had received a letter from Don Marshall, attorney for the applicants, requesting a continuance to September 2, 2004. Mr. Marshall’s letter indicated that the matter is being resolved with the Township, however the Township wishes to participate in the hearing. Mr. Sander, the Township Solicitor is not available to attend this evening’s meeting.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of David and Beverly Fleming to September 2, 2004. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Toll Brothers, Inc.

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Toll Brothers, Inc., Toll PA, LP, owner, requesting a variance from Section 1000(E)(3)(b)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of decks on 25 lots in Overlook Development within the required 15 feet rear yard setback with setbacks varying from 5 feet to 13.5 feet. The subject property is 25 lots on Julianne Court and Alyssa Drive, Newtown, in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as tax map parcel numbers 29-4-263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 269, 271, and 29-6-210, 212, 213, 214, 218, 219, 220, 224, 225, 227, 228, 229, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, and 236.

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that he had received correspondence from Glen Sharko, Senior Project Manager for Toll Brothers, requesting a continuance to September 2, 2004. Mr. Auchinleck said that the letter did not give a reason for the request, but that he thought that Mr. Sander, the Township Solicitor, might wish to attend the hearing.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Toll Brothers, Inc. to September 2, 2004. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of William A. Barrier

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of William A. Barrier, requesting a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of 180 linear feet of 6 foot height solid, board-on-board fence in the rear of property, which exceeds the maximum permitted fence height of 5 feet for solid fence. The subject property is 13 Blaze Court, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.

Mr. William A. Barrier and Mrs. Judith Barrier were sworn in.

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

Mr. Barrier entered as Exhibit A-1, page 24 of the Declaration of Covenances for the St. Andrews Briar Homeowners Association.

Mr. Barrier said that he had recently moved into his home, and had checked the by-laws of his Homeowners Association regarding fence heights. The by-laws allow solid fences up to 6 feet in height. He purchased the fence, and later learned that solid fences must be 5 feet or less in Newtown Township. He attempted to return the fence for a lower fence, but was not able to do so.

Mr. Barrier entered as Exhibits A-2 and A-3, photographs of his rear and side yards, showing his proximity to St. Andrew’s School, and Newtown Elementary School soccer fields.

Mr. Barrier explained that he wants a high, solid fence for privacy, and to prevent trespassing of children going to the fields and playgrounds.

Mr. Lionetti asked Mr. Barrier to point out the property lines and distances to the schools on his photographs.

Mr. Barrier noted that in Exhibit A-2, the trees at the extreme right are at the property line, approximately 60 feet from the rear corner of his house.

Mr. Auchinleck noted that Mr. Barrier’s plan does not show the fence connecting with his house at any point.

Mr. Barrier explained that the fence was for privacy, but that he does not want the yard completely enclosed. In answer to Mrs. Laughlin’s question, Mr. Barrier said that his adjoining neighbor has expressed support for this fence.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site, as had Mrs. Bowe. He noted that the house is very close to the schools and playing fields. He also visited the schools to view the Barrier home from the playing fields. He said that he felt that the lack of privacy seemed a reasonable hardship. He also noted that the fence, which is already installed, is lower than some of the hedgerows used to shield neighboring properties, and that the fence is partially obscured by plantings.

Mr. Barrier entered as Exhibits A-4 and A-5, photographs taken from the schools looking toward the fence, and as Exhibit A-6 a letter from his adjoining neighbor, expressing support for this application.

In answer to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Mr. Barrier explained that the bushes blocking the fence have grown significantly since the photograph was taken.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mrs. Laughlin moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of 180 linear feet of 6 foot height solid, board-on-board fence in the rear of property, which exceeds the maximum permitted fence height of 5 feet for solid fence Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

The Zoning Hearing Board discussed the proposed changes to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 that had been forwarded to them by the Planning Commission. The Board agreed that some of the proposed changes would place a burden on the applicants for Special Exceptions, and would also present a burden to the administrative staff of the Township; however, the Board also agreed that they do not feel that it is appropriate to issue a formal comment to the Planning Commission on changes to the Ordinance. Mr. Auchinleck will communicate this to the Solicitor for the Planning Commission.

 

Respectfully Submitted

 

_____________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary