NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2004

7:30 PM


Approval of Minutes: Mr. Lenihan moved to approve the minutes of September 2, 2004. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, September 2, 2004 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Mario Lionetti, Chairman; John Lenihan, Vice-Chairman; Gail Laughlin, Secretary; Victoria Bowe and William Wall, Members. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr. Esq., Solicitor; Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer and John McHugh, Stenographer.

Call to Order

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

Pledge of Allegiance

The Agenda was reviewed

Application of Randal K. Beck – 25 Harmony Way

Application of Five Below – 2822 S. Eagle Road

Application of Newtown Venture V Associates, LP – Silver Lake Road

Application of Michael McCartney – 33 Jonquil Drive

Application of Melissa Profy – 100 Winchester Lane

Application of Justin and Mary Lou Snarponis – 21 Warwick Court

Application of Brandywine Realty Trust – Silver Lake Road

Continued Application of David and Beverly Fleming – Durham Rd.

Continued Application of Toll Brothers, Inc – Allyssa Dr. & Julianne Court

Continued Application of Pryda, LLC – 159 N. Sycamore Street

Mr. Lionetti noted that although it had not been advertised, the application of J. Loew and Associates had been continued to the September 2, 2004 meeting.

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.

Application of Randal K. Beck

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Randal K. Beck, Randal K. Beck and Theresa Beck, owners, requesting a variance from Section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 (Lakeview Estates) to permit construction of a 12 foot by 16 foot paver patio in the rear yard of an existing village house. The subject property is 25 Harmony Way in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.

Mr. Auchinleck noted that the correct address for the property is 35 Harmony Way. He said that the property had been advertised by tax map parcel, and notices had been sent to homes within 500 feet of the correct tax map parcel. The property had also displayed the notice, and so the misprinted address would not be a problem.

Mr. Randal K. Beck was sworn in.

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

Mr. Beck explained that he would like to build a patio in his backyard, large enough to hold a table and chairs. He would like to landscape around the patio. He currently has a small deck with a staircase at the rear of his home. The proposed patio will extend about two feet beyond the existing stairs.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site. He noted that the house backs to open space, is not visible to his neighbors, and he did not observe any drainage issues.

In response to Mr. Lionetti’s question, Mr. Beck said that his deck and staircase would remain in place.

Mr. Beck entered as Exhibit A-1 a letter from the Lakeview Estates Homeowners Association approving the plans.

Mr. Auchinleck asked if Mr. Beck’s adjoining neighbors had approved his plans, and if they also had patios.

Mr. Beck said that his neighbors had approved of his plan. He noted that Mr. McGowan, his next door neighbor, had signed the letter of the Homeowners Association. Mr. McGowan does not have a patio, however the neighbor on the other side, Mr. Roberts, does have a patio.

Mrs. Bowe said that she had visited the site and that she agreed with Mr. Lenihan’s observations.

Mr. Harwood had no comment on this application.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 (Lakeview Estates) to permit construction of a 12 foot by 16 foot paver patio in the rear yard of an existing village house, resulting in a rear yard setback of 18 feet where 30 feet is required. Mrs. Laughlin seconded.

Mrs. Laughlin asked if the variance should mention side yard setbacks. The Board agreed that the applicant had only asked for a rear yard setback variance, and mention of side yard setbacks is not necessary.

The motion passed 5-0.

Mr. Lionetti advised the members of the public in attendance that a number of applications on this evening’s agenda had been withdrawn or would be continued.

Application of Five Below

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Five Below, Kramont Realty Trust, owner, requesting a variance from Section 1106((H)(4)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit two additional identification signs where only one identification sign is permitted. The subject property is 2822 South Eagle Road in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District.

Mr. Matthew Ciprich was sworn in.

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

Mr. Ciprich said he is the director of design and construction for the Five Below store. He would like to put two additional signs into the panels over the Five Below store in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center. The panels are two feet tall and twelve feet wide. He said that Five Below is a new chain of 17 stores with other locations in King of Prussia, Springfield and Oxford Valley. He said that the Village at Newtown store is taking the space of Great Traditions collectibles. The storefront is 60 feet long, and there are three panels for names already in place.

The Board members noted that other larger shops at Village at Newtown have more than one sign over their businesses. Mr. Lionetti said that he did not think it was inappropriate to place signs in all of the panels.

At Mr. Lionetti’s request, 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 makeany statement concerning the application. Should they disagree with the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board, party status might 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. Harwood had no comment in this matter.

Mr. Michael Iapolucci was sworn in. Mr. Iapolucci said that he would like to see the picture of the sign that was proposed. He said that he was concerned that the signs be consistent with the other signs in Village at Newtown, and not any larger. He also expressed concern that the signs not be neon or beam lights, that they conform to the timing allowed for lighted signs and that there be some control of the signs in the windows and those interior signs that are visible from the street.

Mr. Ciprich showed the sign design to Mr. Iapolucci. He said that the temporary vinyl sign is larger than the proposed sign. The permanent signs would be the same size as the other signs in the shopping center, would fit into the existing panels, and would be lit from behind by florescent tubes.

Mr. Lionetti said that the Zoning Hearing Board could only rule on the three signs for which a variance was sought, and could not address the other issues raised by Mr. Iapolucci.

Mr. Wall moved to grant a variance from Section 1106((H)(4)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit two additional identification signs where only one identification sign is permitted. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Michael McCartney

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Michael McCartney requesting a variance from Section 405(C) and 1000(E)(3)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 (Newtown Grant) to permit construction of a 16 foot by 20 foot roof over an existing deck. The subject property is 33 Jonquil Drive in the R-2 High Density residential Zoning District.

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

Mr. McCartney said that he would like to put a roof on his existing deck. He said that the deck meets the rear yard setback requirement of 15 feet, however a structure with a roof requires a setback of 25 feet in Newtown Grant’s final Plan and 30 feet under the Ordinance. He said that the deck has an 18 foot rear yard setback.

Mr. Lenihan asked why Mr. McCartney thought a roof is necessary.

Mr. McCartney said that the rear of his home faces directly west, and in the summer, from noon until sunset, his deck is in direct sunlight. He said that the floor of his deck becomes too hot to walk on. He said that his home is a single family home on a 9,426 square foot lot. The proposed roof would be 15 feet high, modeled after the roof on his rear neighbor’s deck.

Mr. McCartney entered as Exhibits A-1 through A-6, photographs of his rear yard and deck, taken at 2:15 PM. He explained that the roof would conform to the line of the rear windows in the photographs. In response to Mr. Wall’s questions, Mr. McCartney said that the deck would not be enclosed.

Mrs. Bowe asked the Homeowners Association had approved Mr. McCartney’s plan.

Mr. McCartney said that he had been advised by his Homeowner’s Association to submit his plans along with theZoning Hearing Board’s decision. They advised him that if the plans would show the same roofing materials as his home and was similar in color to his home it would be approved.

Mrs. Bowe said that she had visited the site and noted that the yard is private, surrounded by mature trees and hedges, and she felt that it would enhance Mr. McCartney’s home. She said that she had noted similar covered decks in Mr. McCartney’s neighborhood.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had also visited the site, and noticed that his home was exposed to full sun. He said that he thought that a roof would be necessary to use the deck in the afternoon and evening.

In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Mr. McCartney said that his property backs directly onto his surrounding neighbors and there is no common ground or open space to the rear of his property.

Mr. Harwood had no comment on this application.

Mr. Wall moved to grant variance from Section 405(C) and 1000(E)(3)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 (Newtown Grant) to permit construction of a 16 foot by 20 foot roof over an existing deck with an 18 foot rear yard setback where 30 feet is the minimum required by the Ordinance and 25 feet is the minimum in Newtown Grant’s Final Plan. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Newtown Venture V Associates LP

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Newtown venture V Associates, LP requesting a variance from Section 1001(B) (3) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 10 foot by 17 foot parking stalls where 10 feet by 20 feet is required. The subject property is Silver Lake Executive Campus, Silver Lake Road in the OR Office research Zoning District.

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that he had a telephone conversation with Mr. Edward Murphy, attorney for the applicant requesting a continuance, as Mr. Murphy is unable to attend this evening.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Newtown Venture V Associates LP to October 7, 2004. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Melissa Profy

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Melissa Profy requesting a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a),(b),(e), & (f) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 (Newtown Place) to permit construction of a solid fence six feet in height where three feet is the maximum in the front yard and five feet is the maximum in other yards, and portion of the fence is located in a drainage easement. The subject property is 100 Winchester Lane in the R-2 High Density Zoning District.

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that he had received a letter from T.J. Profy, who represents the applicant, requesting a continuance, as he is unavailable to attend tonight’s hearing.

Mr. Lenihan moved to continue the application of Melissa Profy to October 7, 2004. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Justin and Mary Lou Snarponis

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Justin and Mary Lou Snarponis requesting a variance from Section 1000(E) (3)(b)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 (Wiltshire Walk) to permit construction of a 300 square foot patio resulting in a rear yard setback of 10.9 feet where 15 feet is required. The subject property is 21 Warwick Court in the R-1 Medium Density Zoning District.

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that Mr. Harwood had received a letter asking that the application be withdrawn and that the Board need take no action.

Application of Brandywine Realty Trust

Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Brandywine Realty Trust, Upper Silver Lake Associates, LP, requesting a variance from Section 905(IV)(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a bridge and public road within the floodplain. The subject property is Silver Lake Road in the OR Office Research Zoning District.

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that they had already heard this application and granted a variance, however their decision had been appealed and reversed by the Court of Common Pleas. The reversal had been upheld in Commonwealth Court. Subsequently, the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance had been amended to allow this Board to grant relief in certain circumstances, and Brandywine Realty Trust has applied for such variance.

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that he has received a letter from Michael P. Coughlin, attorney for the applicant, requesting a continuance to October 7, 2004. He said that at that time the Board would also hear a challenge to the validity of the amended ordinance. He would provide the Board with copies of the amended ordinance in preparation for the October 7, 2004 hearing.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Brandywine Realty Trust to October 7, 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 applicant, requesting a continuance to October 7, 2004, as the Township and the applicant are trying to come to an agreement before the Township decides whether to support this application.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of David and Beverly Fleming to October 7, 2004. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of Toll Brothers, Inc.

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that he had received a letter dated August 23, 2004 from Glen Sharko, Senior Project Manager for Toll Brothers, withdrawing this application. The Board need take no action on this request.

Continued Application of J. Loew and Associates

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that this application, read into the record on November 3, 2003, has been continued several times, while the Township attempts to work out an agreement with the applicant regarding the cooling units on the roof of the Newtown Shopping Center. At this time an agreement has been reached but has not been approved by the Board of Supervisors. The Township has requested that the application be continued to October 7, 2004.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of J.Loew and Associates to October 7, 2004. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of Pryda, LLC

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

Mr. Douglas Maloney represented the applicant in this matter.

Mr. Thomas Crawford was sworn in.

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

Mrs. Nancy Crescenzo of 8 Bridal Rose Court, Newtown Township requested party status for this application.

Mr. Maloney noted his objection to granting party status to Mrs. Crescenzo.

Mrs. Nancy Crescenzo was sworn in.

Mr. Maloney asked Mrs. Crescenzo the distance from her home to the subject property.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she lives about 1.5 miles from the subject property.

Mr. Auchinleck said that this Board grants party status to any Township resident who wishes to be a party, however, he told Mrs. Crescenzo that she might not be considered an aggrieved party in the Court of Common Pleas.

Mr. Maloney told the Board that Mr. Crawford is restoring the property at 159 N. Sycamore Street. He had recently received conditional use approval for office use of the property.

Mr. Maloney entered the following Exhibits:

Referring to the exhibits submitted, Mr. Maloney said that Mr. Crawford had first applied for a variance for office use to the Zoning Hearing Board (A-5) but had been advised to seek conditional use approval, as a variance was not necessary. He had been granted a parking variance (A-1) to allow parking in the front and side yards, and had received conditional use approval from the Board of Supervisors (A-3), with the condition that he receive a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board for a reduction in the number of parking spaces required, or pay a fee in lieu of providing 15 parking spaces. This application had originally been presented to the Board on October 2, 2003, at which time the Board had continued it because they felt that it was inappropriate for the Board to consider granting a variance that would preclude the Township from collecting a fee.

Mrs. Crescenzo noted that Exhibit A-4 is an unsigned copy.

Mr. Auchinleck said that the Zoning Hearing Board would ascertain whether this has been signed by the Board of Supervisors, and has been adopted.

Mr. Crawford explained that he had purchased the house two and one half years ago. It is a single structure built in 1893 at the corner of Sycamore and Jefferson Streets. He said that this is a very busy street at a very busy intersection. He noted that the building is surrounded by other commercial buildings, going north by the Township House Restaurant, a dental office, retail shops and business offices. Opposite his building is the former Acme building, a car dealership and Goodnoe’s Restaurant.

Mr. Crawford said that he has two parking spaces in front of his building on Sycamore Street, and has created a parking lot in the rear of his building that can accommodate eight cars. He said that he cannot possibly provide any additional parking because his property is bisected by Newtown Creek. He noted that the parking in the rear had once been a patio, garage and parking pad. He removed all concrete and blacktop and repaved with a stamped concrete surface. All of the resurfaced area had always been impervious.

He said that the Newtown Township Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) had approved the stamped concrete and the other improvements to his property. He said that there are two outstanding issues with the HARB that he hopes to resolve shortly. He said that the property has been significantly improved since he has begun working on it. He said that the building is on the National Register of Historic Buildings, and he has tried to keep with the historic requirements for improvement and restoration.

He noted that, as he had discussed at his previous appearances at the Zoning Hearing Board, this property had been a commercial property up until he purchased it. It had been Joe’s Ice Cream Parlor until the mid 1940’s, when it became and electric repair and supply shop. The owner of the electric shop had lived on one side of the building, with the shop on the other side. After the owner of the electric shop had died, his wife continued to use only one half of the building as a home, and retained the other half as an art gallery. He noted that at the time of his previous appearance, this history was confirmed by the late Board member, Franklin Carver, who had lived in Newtown for many years. He said that because of the primarily commercial nature of the surrounding neighborhood, and the heavy traffic at this intersection he feels that this property is only appropriate for commercial use, and not residential use.

Mr. Crawford said that during the time that he has owned the property he has removed a heavy guardrail from the front of the building, replacing it with boulders to protect the building from traffic. He has expanded the building by 76 square feet at the rear, where he has enclosed what had once been a patio and outdoor stairs. The building contains 2900 square feet of office space, with a basement suitable for storage only, and unusable attic space. The Ordinance requires 15 parking spaces for 2900 square feet of office, or a fee of $7125 per space.

Mr. Crawford said that he had been told in informal conversations with township employees that the fee would be about $3000 per space. He said that he thought that this increase in the amount of the fee was specifically directed at this property. He said that he is not able to provide the additional space, as there is no available space on the property that could be paved. He noted that the Sycamore Street improvement plans call for on-street parking, and during business hours he has observed a great deal of available on-street parking on North State Street, just one short block from his building.

Mr. Crawford said that he has renovated and leased similar older buildings and has not found that businesses looking for such space have use of more than the ten spaces that he is able to provide. He has leased a 1500 square foot building to an executive search firm that has need for only four spaces. He said that it has been his experience that businesses with heavy parking needs would not be interested in a building like this one, in a location like this one. He said that he felt that this would be a “self policing” situation, in that businesses that feel the need for more that the ten spaces would not be interested in leasing this building. Mr. Crawford noted that at this time he does not have a tenant for the building, but that any prospective tenant would be required to go through the Township’s conditional use process, at which time the parking needs would be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked if Mr. Crawford had any letters from HARB confirming his statements that his improvements met with their approvals.

Mr. Maloney said that these documents are public record but that he did not bring copies this evening. He noted that Mr. Crawford had received all necessary approvals except for the painting of the railings, and the glass front doors. He said that the railings would be painted shortly, after the required six month waiting period for pressure treated wood. Mr. Crawford has been in discussion with HARB about whether his new front doors are in compliance with the requirement that they be “Victorian” doors, however it is his intention to satisfy the HARB requirements.

Mr. Auchinleck reminded Mrs. Crescenzo that at this time she is only permitted to ask questions of the applicant. He also commented that the Board could only address the application before them and had no jurisdiction over HARB compliance.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that Mr. Crawford had presented Exhibit A-3 as conditional use approval and yet she felt that the conditions had not been met.

Mr. Auchinleck explained that Exhibit A-3 had been presented to the Board for consideration of Paragraph 7, which refers to the unresolved parking issue.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked if the handicapped parking space in front of the building was ADA compliant and if it had been approved by the Codes department.

Mr. Crawford said that it had been approved by the Codes department and is ADA compliant.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked what type of business would be located in the building, noting that the conditional use application indicates 6 to 9 employees.

Mr. Crawford said that the building was to have been his law office, and the application had been completed based on his own employee needs, however he did not feel that the application should be changed, as based on the size of the building, only a business employing fewer than ten people would be appropriate.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked if Mr. Crawford had expanded the building.

Mr. Crawford repeated that he had extended the building an additional 76 square feet. This did not change the number of required parking spaces.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked if Mr. Crawford had been told that the fee in lieu of providing the additional parking spaces would be allocated to the Sycamore Street improvement fund.

Mr. Maloney said that the fee would be placed in the general fund, and might possibly be used for the Sycamore Street improvements.

Mrs. Bowe asked what the old parking area was made of, and if any portion had been crushed stone.

Mr. Crawford said that the area that is now a concrete parking pad had been the floor of the garage, which was cement, the parking area, which had been blacktop, and the patio, which had been cinderblock.

In response to questions from Mrs. Bowe and Mr. Wall, Mr. Crawford said that he is a civil practice attorney and had intended to use the nine rooms as his own office. Businesses that have expressed interest in this building are similar in nature to his own, and prospective tenants have been satisfied that ten parking spaces would adequately meet their needs. He again noted that he is not able to provide any additional parking spaces. He said that he would have been willing to provide those spaces if there was any room, but he is constrained by the creek.

Mrs. Laughlin expressed concern that Mr. Crawford had been told that the fee in lieu of the spaces would be $3000.

Mr. Crawford said that he is not attempting to “buy “ a variance by paying a fee. He said that he has sought relief from compliance with the Ordinance because he feels that there is a hardship with this property complying with the requirements of the Ordinance. He said that he feels that the fee in lieu should be imposed on properties unwilling to provide the parking spaces, however he is unable to provide the spaces.

Mr. Lenihan commented that the hardship was in part of Mr. Crawford’s own creation, as the Township’s parking requirements for commercial properties were known at the time of purchase. He said that he questioned Mr. Crawford’s contention that the lack of additional spaces would be “self-policing” as prospective tenants might view the open parking lot of the Township House restaurant across the street as available for use. He also noted that while Mr. Crawford is willing to monitor his own tenants’ use of the property, any variance granted would carry to future owners of the property, and future tenants might have more intensive uses than those proposed by Mr. Crawford.

Mr. Crawford said that he would be satisfied with a variance that would only be for the period of his ownership.

Mr. Auchinleck asked Mr. Crawford to review the square footage of the property at the time of purchase, and the percentage of the property used as a residence by the former owner.

Mr. Crawford explained that at the time of purchase the building was 2,824 square feet. He has since added 76 square feet. This number does not include the basement, which is only suitable for storage, and the attic, which is not suitable for any use at all. Hallways and restrooms are included in this calculation. Mrs. Plummer, the former owner used about 50% as her residence.

In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Mr. Crawford said that he was not aware of any residential uses along Sycamore Street going north from his property, or on the opposite side of the street going south. He said that there are a few homes and apartment buildings on his side of the street going south. He said that he did not know if there were any residential uses on the second floors of any of the commercial buildings. He also noted that the house behind the shopping center on North Sycamore Street had recently been purchased to be converted to an office.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she is very concerned about the on-street parking provided by Mr. Crawford, especially the handicapped space, as these spaces are very dangerous to exit. She said that she also feels that the parking pad provided behind the house will be difficult to exit onto Jefferson Street when the lot is full. She said that she was concerned that Mr. Crawford has not fully complied with the requirements of HARB, and that she is not sure that the stamped concrete parking area has met their approval, as she thought that it was supposed to comply with the surface planned for Sycamore Street. Mrs. Crescenzo acknowledged that while a vacant building at this location is not good for the community, she feels that Mr. Crawford has attempted to circumvent the requirements of the Township and has not been cooperative with HARB.

Mr. Maloney responded that the on-street parking is ADA compliant, and that the requirements of HARB are not an issue for this Board to consider. He said that compliance with HARB is a requirement for conditional use approval, and an occupancy permit would not be issued until compliance has met with HARB’s approval.

Mr. Harwood was sworn in.

Mr. Harwood said that conditional use approval had been granted at the Board of Supervisors meeting of July 14, 2004, and had been mailed July 30, 2004. He asked Mr. Maloney if the conditions of that approval had been the subject of an appeal in the Common Pleas Court.

Mr. Maloney responded that an appeal had been filed to preserve the issues in a timely fashion, pending the outcome of this evening’s hearing.

Mr. Harwood said that he felt that the Board should be aware that although conditional use had been granted, not all conditions had been met. He also noted that the Ordinance bases its parking requirement on the gross square footage of the building, not on leaseable space. Mr. Harwood also commented that there is a residential apartment above one of the restaurants on Sycamore Street.

Mr. Auchinleck asked Mr. Harwood how building permits were issued without the parking variances or adequate parking spaces.

Mr. Harwood said that permits were issued as residential permits.

Mr. Crawford said that prior to the purchase of the property he had inquired about an administrative conditional use for renovation of the property, but after having purchased the property he learned that he did not qualify for administrative conditional use. He said that residential permits were issued for the work, although all work is compliant with the commercial codes.

Mr. Brandon Wind was sworn in.

Mr. Wind said that he felt that Mr. Crawford knew or should have known that 15 parking spaces would be required for commercial use of this property at the time of purchase. He said that he felt that Mr. Crawford had created this hardship. He challenged Mr. Crawford’s statement that the parking would be “self-policing” noting that if parking was “self-policing” there would be no need for parking regulations in the Ordinance or for a Zoning Hearing Board. He said that the building has nine rooms, and if each room is occupied by one employee, then all but one parking space is used, leaving only one space for a visitor. He also commented that while the applicant has stated that the parking pad in the rear has eight spaces, they are not marked on the plan, and so we do not know that this pad can accommodate eight cars.

Mr. Lionetti said that he agreed with Mr. Lenihan’s statement that the hardship is in part of Mr. Crawford’s own creation. He said however, that he is a strong supporter of the rights of the owner, and he agrees that the location is more suitable as a commercial location. He said that because he is interested in seeing this property as a viable commercial property he is inclined to seek a compromise of twelve spaces, and to grant a relief of three spaces.

Mr. Auchinleck said that if the Board is inclined to grant relief, they might like to condition that relief on requiring that the basement and attic not be used.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 803(D-1)(5) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit reduction in the number of parking spaces from 15 required spaces for office use to 12 parking spaces, a relief of three spaces, with the condition that the basement of the property used only for storage and the attic not be used. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Other Business

Mr. Auchinleck said that he had received a communication from Mr. Harris, Township Solicitor, advising him of a practice in New Hanover Township of adding a condition to variances granted, that the applicant must pay for costs of transcription of the hearing. He said that Newtown Township only transcribes the hearing if a decision is appealed. He suggested that the Board discuss this at a future meeting.

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 10:30 PM. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully submitted

 

_____________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary