NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD
MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE
NEWTOWN, PA 18940
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2004
Approval of Minutes: Mrs. Laughlin moved to approve the minutes of October 7, 2004. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Lionetti abstaining.
Mr. Lionetti asked that in the minutes of October 14, 2004, page three, the last sentence read “…6 foot high”.
Mrs. Laughlin moved to approve the minutes of October 14, 2004, as amended. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, October 14, 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 Connie D’Arginio, Stenographer.
Call to Order
Mr. Lionetti called the meeting to Order at 7:35 PM.
The Pledge of Allegiance
The agenda was reviewed.
Application of Joseph and Lois Feliciani
Application of Sharon Ricca
Application of Joseph and Lois Feliciani
Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Joseph and Lois Feliciani requesting a variance form Section 803(H-8)(1)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a swimming pool, deck and equipment resulting in rear yard setbacks of 3 feet for equipment, 2 feet for decking and 5 feet for pool and a side yard setback of 7 feet for equipment. The subject property is 8 Devon Road in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District.
Mr. Joseph Feliciani and Mrs. Lois Feliciani were sworn in.
Mr. Lionetti asked if anyone present wished to be party to the application. There was no response.
Mr. Feliciani explained that he wished to install an in-ground pool in his yard. He said that his property backs to open space. He has a note from his adjoining neighbor in support of his application. He noted that the advertisement shows a side yard setback of 7 feet, however the setback is actually 3 feet.
After examining the plans that had been submitted to the codes office, Mr. Lionetti noted that the setback measurement was not clearly visible.
Mr. Auchinleck said that the advertisement is defective. He said that the Board could consider a 7-foot setback, or they could continue the application to November 4, 2004 and re-advertise the application.
Mr. Feliciani said that he would be unwilling to locate the equipment in another location, and would rather re-advertise the application. He asked that he be allowed to review the application before it is published.
Mrs. Laughlin moved to continue the application of Joseph and Lois Feliciani to November 4, 2004. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Application of Sharon Ricca
Mrs. Laughlin read into the record the application of Sharon Ricca requesting a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an 8 foot high double gate with two stone columns within a 50 foot wide access and landscaping easement in Open Space Area C of Lakeview Estates, set back 40 feet from Harmony Way. The subject property is 149 Eagle Road, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District.
Mrs. Sharon Ricca and Mr. Robert Ricca were sworn in.
Mr. Lionetti asked if anyone present wished to be party to this application.
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. Michael Zev and Mr. William Cowen asked for party status in their capacity as officers of the Lakeview Estates Homeowners Association.
Mrs. Ricca explained that she would like to erect a gate on her driveway, 40 feet in from Harmony way. She said that she had a long driveway with access to Eagle Road, however, when Lakeview Estates was built, 25 feet of her frontage on Eagle Road was taken to create a deceleration lane for entrance to Harmony Way. Her driveway was rerouted onto Harmony Way. At the time that this occurred, Township Supervisor Skip Goodnoe and DeLuca Builders’ attorney Ed Murphy met with her and explained that she would be granted an easement for landscaping on the Lakeview Estates open space. She said that she had told Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Murphy of her plans to install gates on her driveway on Eagle Road, and they had assured her that she could do the same thing on the Harmony Way driveway.
Mr. Zev and Mr. Cowen were sworn in.
Mr. Zev asked is Mrs. Ricca had spoken to Mr. Murphy about installing a wall.
Mrs. Ricca said that she had explained exactly what she wanted to do, which is a gate with pillars as it appears in the application.
Mr. Zev said that he understood the easement to be for landscaping.
Mr. Auchinleck said that the Access and Landscaping Easement presented with Mrs. Ricca’s application states on page 2 that Mrs. Ricca has a right to “…excavate within the limit of the aforesaid easement for the purpose of maintenance, repair, installation, removal, replacement, etc. of any and all improvements either now existing or hereafter constructed within the aforesaid easement”. Mr. Auchinleck said that the Board must decide if the gates are part of “landscaping”. He noted that the easement does give Mrs. Ricca the right to install improvements.
Mrs. Bowe said that she thought that improvements such as gates and walls are part of “landscaping”.
In response to questions from Mr. Wall, Mrs. Ricca said that she had purchased her property in 1999. When she was approached by Mr. Goodnoe about taking her frontage for the deceleration lane she told him that she had intended to install large gates with a small wall fanning out from the pillars. He had assured her that she could do this on a driveway that accessed Harmony Way.
Mr. Cowen said that he would like the gate moved back an additional 40 feet from Harmony Way. He said that the gate will be very large and in the middle of an open field, not attached to any house. He said that the Ricca Driveway is lined with trees and he would like the gate moved behind these trees, making it less visible from Harmony Way. He said that if the gate is not moved, he would like the Board to uphold the ordinance that requires fences to be 3 feet or less.
In response to questions from Mrs. Laughlin, Mrs. Ricca said that her house is about 250 feet from Harmony Way. She said that she had a line of Bradford Pear trees planted along the driveway, beginning about 40 feet in from Harmony Way. She said that she would like the gates to be in front of the trees, then, upon entering the gates, the line of trees would lead up to the house. She said that she wanted to install the gate there because it would look good. She also noted that she wanted the gate closer to the street to keep out cars. She said that she has had problems with cars entering her driveway and driving up to her house, thinking it is a clubhouse for Lakeview Estates. She said that this was happening a few times a day when Lakeview Estates was being constructed but now it only happens a few times on weekends.
Mr. Lionetti explained that the Board could not rule on the location of the gate, only on its height.
Mrs. Laughlin noted that the Board had granted variances for fences of 6 feet in front yards.
Mr. Lionetti asked if Mrs. Ricca would be willing to compromise on the height of the gate.
Mrs. Ricca said that she would not want to locate the gate any closer to the house, but that she would be willing to accept a compromise of 6 feet on the height.
Mr. Cowen said that this would not be acceptable to the Lakeview Estates Homeowners.
Mr. Harwood was sworn in.
Mr. Harwood asked that if the Board is inclined to grant a variance, that a condition be made that the Fire Department be consulted about emergency access.
Mrs. Laurie Levine was sworn in.
Mrs. Levine said that she is a resident of Lakeview Estates and she was speaking only for herself. She said that she thought that the gate should be placed farther back from Harmony Way. She said that she did not think it would look nice standing in the middle of an open field and that it is too large. She said that she did not agree with Mrs. Ricca that the gate would look nice. She suggested that a sign be placed on the driveway showing the direction to Lakeview Estates.
Mrs. Ricca again said that she would be willing to compromise on the height of the gate, but that she wanted to locate it in front of her line of Bradford Pears.
Mr. Auchinleck said that the Board could only address the zoning question, and could only consider the granting of a variance for the height of the gate. He said that the Zoning Hearing Board could not determine what constitutes “landscaping”, and that another court might disagree that a gate is landscaping.
Mr. Wall moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an 8 foot high double gate with two stone columns within a 50 foot wide access and landscaping easement in Open Space Area C of Lakeview Estates, set back 40 feet from Harmony Way with the condition that the Fire Department be consulted to determine emergency access. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Laughlin voting nay.
Mr. Lenihan moved to adjourn at 9:00PM. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary