NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

SPECIAL MEETING

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2005

7:30 PM


Approval of Minutes: Mr. Lionetti moved to approve the minutes of October 6, 2005. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, October 6, 2005, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: William Wall, Chairman; Mario Lionetti, Vice-Chairman; Victoria Bowe, Secretary; Gail Laughlin and John Lenihan, members. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor, Thomas Harwood, Zoning Officer and Jackie Robbins, Stenographer.

Call to Order

Mr. Wall called the meeting to Order at 7:30 PM.

The Pledge of Allegiance

The agenda was reviewed.

Application of Mitchel Fass – 26 Bayshore Drive

Application of Peter B. and Susan V. Rand – 28 Delaney Drive

Application of PNC Realty Services – 2500 South Eagle Road

Application of Anne Twining – 178 Durham Road

Continued Application of Frank Mastromarco/Gregory Smith – 135 Swamp Road

Approval of Minutes

Mrs. Bowe noted that in the minutes of September 1, 2005, the last sentence of page 10 should read, “ Mr. Rich Cirucci…” On page 11, the first paragraph should read, “ …it should not connect with Penns Trail North for through traffic”.

Mr. Lionetti moved to accept the minutes of September 1, 2005, as corrected. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mrs. Laughlin noted that the minutes of September 12, 2005, did not accurately reflect her comments. She asked that page 6, paragraph seven state, “ …quality of life for the residents of the Township. ‘My concern is that the Ordinance had been amended seemingly to accommodate this developer. My greatest concern is for the residents adjacent to this project. The fact that the majority of Supervisors ignored their own Ordinance when they required the developer of Wiltshire Walk to build Penns Trail North greatly disturbs me’”

Mr. Lionetti moved to accept the minutes of September 12, 2005, as amended. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Mitchel Fass

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Mitchel Fass, requesting a variance from Section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 and Rosefield Final Plan to permit a 676 sq. ft. rear patio and walk resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 19.24% or 7,989 sq. ft. where 15% is permitted (7,316 sq. ft. per Rosefield Final Plan). The subject property is 26 Bayshore Drive, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-3-48-19.

Mr. Lionetti noted the advertisement for this application should have placed Bayshore Drive in Hidden Lake, not Rosefield.

Mitchel Fass and Eric Freeman of Rolling Green Landscaping were sworn in.

Mr. Wall asked if anyone in attendance wished to be party to this application. There was no response.

Mr. Fass explained that his house had burned down last year and it is being rebuilt. He is trying to replace the landscaping the way it had been. It was discovered that he needed a variance for impervious surface, and had been misinformed the first time he had gotten permits for his pool and patio. The mistake was discovered when he was re-applying to rebuild his home and yard.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site. He said that while he does not usually like to grant a variance to increase impervious surface by more than 25%, he thought that these were unusual circumstances.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 and Rosefield Final Plan to permit a 676 sq. ft. rear patio and walk resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 19.24% or 7,989 sq. ft. where 15% is permitted (7,316 sq. ft. per Hidden Lake Final Plan). Mr. Lionetti seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Peter B. and Susan V. Rand

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Peter B. and Susan V. Rand, Toll PA VI LP owner, requesting a variance from Section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 26.5 ft. by 52 ft. patio in the rear of a village house resulting in a 10.5 minimum side yard where 30 feet is required. The subject property is 28 Delaney Drive, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-20-44.

Peter B. Rand and Susan V. Rand were sworn in.

Mr. Wall asked if anyone in attendance wished to be party to this application. There was no response.

Mrs. Rand explained that she and her family will be moving into their new home in Newtown shortly. It is a village home.

Mr. Rand said that they had changed their agreement of sale to purchase this lot, which backs onto open space, because it is ½ acre, considerably larger than any other lot in the development. The builder had assured them that there would be room for a deck or patio in the rear yard. This is an oddly shaped lot, and there would be no impact on the neighbors as there is no home directly to the left or to the rear. They are within the impervious surface requirements.

Mr. Wall asked if the builder had specifically assured them that there would be room for additions to the property without need for variances.

Mr. Rand said that the lot is larger than the others and the builder said that there would be space for a patio, but had not specifically said that no variances would be required.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site and confirmed that the property backs onto a large area of open space. He noted that it is a rear yard setback, not a side yard setback that is not meeting the minimum requirements on one side of the patio.

In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Mrs. Rand said that there is a neighbor to the left, but because of the shape of the cul-de-sac, and the location of the two homes, the rear yards are not side by side, and the patio would not be in the left side neighbor’s sight line.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant requesting a variance from Section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 26.5 ft. by 52 ft. patio in the rear of a village house resulting in a 10.5 minimum rear yard where 30 feet is required. Mr. Lenihan seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Lenihan said that he is very concerned that every home in this development is built to the maximum setback and impervious surface limits. He said that the Zoning Hearing Board has heard a number of applications in this development. He asked if this should be called to the attention of the Supervisors.

Mr. Auchinleck said that it is difficult to regulate this. If larger setbacks and greater impervious surface is permitted, the builder will use the additional space. The Ordinance cannot be written to allow a percentage of space for the builder and a percentage reserved for the homeowner

Mr. Lenihan said that he is not usually inclined to grant such a large variance, but because there is so much open space, and because this lot is larger than average for this development, this is an unusual circumstance.

The motion passed unanimously.

Application of PNC Realty Services

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of PNC Realty Services, Robert Shasha owner, requesting a variance from Section 1106(H)(4)(d)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 20 square foot wall-mounted individual identification sign over window on South side of building with a height of 11.5 feet where the maximum height is 9 feet. The subject property is 2500 South Eagle Road, Newtown, in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-85.

David Baker was sworn in.

Mr. Wall asked if anyone in attendance wished to be party to this application. There was no response.

In response to Mr. Lenihan’s question, Mr. Baker said that he is here on behalf of L&H signs, which made this application.

Mr. Auchinleck explained that the sign company has made the application on behalf of the applicant, the lessee of the property, PNC Bank. L&H Signs is an agent of the applicant.

Mr. Baker explained that he is seeking a variance for height for the bank identification sign for the south side of the building, facing oncoming traffic on South Eagle Road, heading north. That side of the building has windows, and the he would like to place the sign above the windows. The other side of the building meets the requirements of the Ordinance, and the sign meets the size requirement. It is important to the Bank to be identified to traffic coming in either direction.

In response to Mr. Lionetti’s question, Mr. Baker said that the windows are about eight feet high. The sign is identical to the one being placed on the other side of the building.

Mr. Harwood was sworn in.

Mr. Harwood asked that the sign for which relief is granted be specifically noted in the motion as sign R-1 of the plan.

Mr. Auchinleck accepted as Exhibit A-1, the plan, and noted that the sign is R-1 on page SP of the plan.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 1106(H)(4)(d)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 20 square foot wall-mounted individual identification sign over window on South side of building, identified on Exhibit A-1, page SP as R-1, with a height of 11.5 feet where the maximum height is 9 feet. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Anne Twining, Executrix of the Estate of N. Stanley Twining

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Anne Twining, Executrix of the Estate of N. Stanley Twining, Estate of N. Stanley Twining owner, requesting a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a driveway on lot one to service lot two resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 15.2% where the maximum permitted is 12%. The subject property is 178 Durham Road, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-4-37-1.

Mr. Don Marshall represented the applicant.

Mr. Wall asked if anyone in attendance wished to be party to this application. There was no response.

Anne Twining was sworn in.

Mr. Marshall entered the following exhibits:

Mr. Marshall said that the plan shows the subdivision of this R-1 property into two lots. The approval of the subdivision has been conditioned on providing an easement connecting the driveway on lot #2 to the existing driveway on lot #1 to provide access to and from lot #2, which will permit left hand turn lanes to and from Durham Road. The PENNDOT permit for the second driveway to lot #2 is right in, right out only. This limitation is because the second driveway does not provide adequate sight distances. The connecting portion of the driveway to lot #2 is located on lot #1 and increases lot #1’s impervious surface. The existing driveway has adequate sight distances for left hand turns.

In response to Mr. Lionetti’s question, Mr. Marshall said that the second driveway cannot be eliminated because the purchaser does not want to use the existing driveway, and does not object to the left turn restrictions. He intends to only use the new driveway entrance. The connection to the existing driveway is a condition of subdivision approval. If the variance is granted, cross-easements will be drawn up, with maintenance included in the cross-easement.

Mr. Lenihan said that this is an unusual circumstance and he is inclined to grant a variance above what he is usually comfortable with.

Mr. Marshall asked that any motion should note that it is granted to accommodate the extension of the driveway of lot #1.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a driveway on lot one to service lot two resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 15.2% where the maximum permitted is 12%. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued application of Frank Mastromarco

Don Marshall represented the applicant.

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that this application has already been read into the record, and Mr. Marshall and Mr. Mastromarco had agreed to continue until tonight because of the heavy agenda in September.

Mr. Frank Mastromarco was sworn in.

Mr. Wall asked if anyone wished to be a 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.

Allen Gamble asked for party status. He resides at 15 Sawmill Lane.

Mr. Marshall had no objection to granting Mr. Gamble party status.

Mr. Marshall explained that this is a three-acre parcel that the applicant would like to subdivide into three lots. He entered as Exhibit A-1, the deed to the property, and as Exhibit A-2 the agreement of sale. In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Mr. Marshall said that the settlement date of the agreement of sale is 60 days after a variance is obtained.

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-3 an aerial photograph of the area. On the photograph he noted the entrance to Tyler State Park and Sawmill Lane in the Walnut Ridge development. He said that Walnut Ridge is a cluster development of 18 homes on a cul-de-sac. This property adjoins the Walnut Ridge open space and beyond the open space is Tyler Park. There are also a few neighboring properties near this property. Mr. Mastromarco wishes to subdivide the property to create three single-family homes for himself and his two daughters.

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-4 a plan showing the existing features and existing home, and as Exhibit A-5, a plan showing the proposed subdivision. The plan would comply with the Ordinance except that the property must dedicate the right-of-way 60 feet from the center line of Swamp Road. Because of this dedication, each lot would measure 36,060 square feet, not the full 40,000 required by the Ordinance.. During the September 1, 2005 Zoning Hearing Board meeting, Mr. Marshall had spoken to the Township Solicitor, who had expressed some concern about placing three curb cuts on Swamp Road so close to the entrance to the park.

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-6, a letter from the Sewer Authority confirming that the property is serviced by public sewers. Mr. Mastromarco intends to connect all three lots to the public sewers. Mr. Marshall entered a series of photographs as Exhibit A-7 as follows:

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-8, an engineered plan served by one central driveway, and as Exhibit A-9, an engineered plan with a different shared driveway for two of the lots. Mr. Marshall said that with the plan shown on Exhibit 8, lot #2 exceeds the maximum impervious surface. In all other regards, both plans comply with the Ordinance, meeting all setback requirements and with 60 feet between buildings. Each of the three lots is three times larger than the Walnut Ridge lots. The next-door neighbor to this property has been informed of the plans and has no objections. Except for the dedication of the right-of-way, the subdivision would exceed the Ordinance requirements.

Mr. Gamble said that he and his neighbors had received copies of the advertisement in the mail. The advertisement had stated that the property is zoned PC, Planned Commercial. He is very concerned about commercial development of the property.

Mr. Auchinleck said that there had been a typographical error in the advertisement. The property is zoned for residential use only, and there cannot be any commercial use of the property, although the R-1 Residential Zoning District does permit some home occupations.

Mr. Gamble asked about drainage.

Mr. Marshall said that drainage would be addressed when the plan is fully engineered. If a variance were granted, the subdivision would have to be reviewed by the Township Engineer.

Mr. Wall said that the Zoning Hearing Board is only addressing the subdivision question posed by this application.

n response to Mr. Gamble’s questions, Mr. Mastromarco said that he would remove as few trees as possible, and would attempt to keep the property as close to the way it is now, with the tree line acting as sound barrier for truck traffic along Swamp Road.

Mr. Auchinleck asked which plan Mr. Marshall is asking approval for.

Mr. Marshall said that if the Board will only approve the plan shown in Exhibit A-8, with one shared driveway, then he would ask a continuance to amend the application to include an impervious surface variance for lot #2. There would not be any sight distance problems with driveways from this property, and the Board could approve the subdivision without reference to a specific plan.

In response to Mr. Lenihan’s question, Mr. Marshall said that the impervious surface on lot #2 would be 19.42% if the plan on Exhibit A-8 were developed. If taken as a whole, there is not a problem with impervious surface, but when subdivided into three lots, lot #2 exceed the maximum allowed because it the access driveway

Mr. Harwood was shown Exhibits A-8 and A-9. He said that the Supervisors do not oppose this plan, but have some concerns about three curb cuts. They asked that he convey to the Zoning Hearing Board their preference for one shared driveway.

In response to Mrs. Bowe’s question, Mr. Mastromarco said that he is going to demolish the existing house and build three new houses. He hopes to save the swimming pool.

In response to Mr. Lenihan’s question, Mr. Mastromarco said that the only time he has ever requested a variance before was about thirty years ago in Bensalem, where the side yard setback on a corner lot had been a problem. He intends to live on this property with his two married daughters and their families.

Mr. Lionetti commented that he is not in favor of a shared driveway for the three lots. He thought it could decrease the properties’ value.

Mr. Wall said that this section of the road is not really heavily trafficked.

In response to Mr. Lenihan’s questions, Mr. Marshall said that the driveways would be located near the point where the road begins to widen into two lanes. He said that there is a very wide right-of-way, and PENNDOT could require a deceleration lane.

Mr. Gamble said that at this point in the road there are clear sight distances in both directions, and he was not opposed to three driveways.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a subdivision creating 3 lots - 36,060 square feet each where 40,000 square feet is required. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 3-2, with Mrs. Bowe and Mr. Lenihan voting nay.

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted

 

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Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary