NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

SPECIAL MEETING

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2005

7:30 PM


Approval of Minutes: Mrs. Laughlin moved to accept the minutes of November 3, 2005. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-0. 


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, November 3, 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 Raymond James & Associates – 223 N. Sycamore Street

Application of Third Federal Bank – 950 Newtown Yardley Road

Application of Third Federal Bank – 3 Penns Trail

Application of Larry and Linda Depew – 88 Twining Bridge Road

Application of Ellen Hou – 30 Sibelius Road

Application of Steven and Theresa Karschnik – 6 Hayes Court

Application of Mr. & Mrs. Lakswminaryanan – 1 Delaney Drive

Application of John Phung – 15 Delaney Drive

Approval of Minutes

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

Application of Raymond James & Associates

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Raymond James & Associates, Frank Tyrol owner, requesting a variance from Section 1106 of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 14 sq. ft. wall-mounted, individual use sign where 2 sq. ft. is the maximum permitted. The subject property is 223 North Sycamore Street, Newtown, in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-12-20.

Mr. Joshua Anderson of Raymond James & Associates was sworn in.

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

Mr. Anderson explained that Raymond James & Associates is a retail financial services firm with space in the Tyrol Insurance Building on Sycamore Street. The business location is noted as part of the larger Tyrol Building sign, but there is no specific sign for Raymond James. In addition, the Tyrol Building sign is placed such that the driveway entrance for the Raymond James parking lot has already been passed before the sign is readable. The firm would like to add a wall-mounted sign to the stucco portion of the building to help it be more easily identified from the street, as clients have been unable to locate the business. Mr. Anderson provided a sample of the painted wood sign with gold trim and lettering. He said that there is a similar sign on the Carriage House on Sycamore Street.

Mr. Lenihan said that he visited the site and agreed that the identification of the location is difficult, and the portion of the larger Tyrol sign is not easily visible from the street

In response to Mrs. Bowe’s questions, Mr. Anderson said that he did not know whether his partner had been given HARB approval for the sign, although he did know that his partner has spoken to HARB representatives. He noted that a picture of the proposed sign is included with his application. He said that the sign is to be placed below the second story windows on the stucco portion of the building. It is not illuminated, although there might be landscaping lights shining up onto the sign. In response to Mr. Lenihan’s question, he said that the hours of operation are 9:00AM to 5:00PM and so illumination is not critical. He again referred to the Carriage House sign as similar to that for which he is asking a variance.

Mr. Lionetti questioned Mr. Anderson about the sections of the building and the number of tenants in each section.

Mr. Anderson said that his firm occupies the stucco portion of the building, which is about 20 feet wide. There is a front entrance and a communal entrance at the rear of the building. Tyrol Insurance occupies another portion of the building, and at the lower level is a third tenant. He usually informs clients in advance that the offices can be entered through the rear parking lot. There is not a sign to indicate parking in the rear.

Mr. Harwood was sworn in.

Mr. Harwood said that the Carriage House did not require a variance, as it is single-tenant occupancy, and complies with the Ordinance. A different section of the Ordinance addresses multi-tenant buildings.

In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s questions, Mr. Anderson said that Tyrol Insurance uses the communal entrance at the rear of the building. His firm occupies about 1,900 square feet, primarily in the stucco portion of the building.

Mr. Anderson said that he would need to discuss the matter with his partner before he could agree to a smaller sign.

Mr. Lionetti said that he was concerned that each tenant could request a similar variance. He suggested that the application be continued to the next meeting so that Mr. Anderson could consult with his partner to determine whether a smaller sign could be used. He suggested asking HARB for comments as well.

Mrs. Bowe agreed with Mr. Lionetti, noting that there could be four to six tenants in this building in the future. She said that it is important that a sign variance be consistent with the long-term goals of the Township for the improvement of Sycamore Street.

Mr. Anderson said that, while he would be willing to consider a smaller sign, and would seek input from HARB, his primary concern is visibility.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Raymond James and Associates to December 1, 2005. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Third Federal Bank – 950 Newtown Yardley Road

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Third Federal Bank, The Ney Partnership owner, requesting a variance from Section 1103(C)(4), 1106(F)(4)(b), & 1106(F)(5)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 49.28 sq. ft., 10 ft. high, free standing sign and free standing ATM sign facing the Bypass where the maximum size permitted is 16 sq. ft. and the maximum height is 5 ft. and no sign are permitted to face the Bypass. The subject property is 950 Newtown Yardley Road, Newtown, in the OR Office Research Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-75.

Ed Murphy represented the applicant.

Mr. Auchinleck advised the Board that he had correspondence from Mr. Murphy requesting that this application be continued.

Mr. Murphy said that the Board of Supervisors had some concerns about this application, and his client would like to work with the Supervisors to find a mutually satisfactory solution to their concerns.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Application of Third Federal Bank – 950 Newtown Yardley Road to December 1, 2005. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Third Federal Bank – 3 Penns Trail

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Third Federal Bank, owner, requesting a variance from Section 1106(F)(5)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a free standing sign with a height of 6 feet where the maximum is 5 feet. The subject property is 3 Penns Trail, Newtown, in the O-LI Office Light Industrial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-98.

Mr. Murphy represented the applicant.

Mr. Kent Lufkin, President and CEO of Third Federal Bank, was sworn in.

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

Mr. Murphy said that Third Federal would like to replace its existing monument sign with a granite pedestal sign with the Bank’s logo. It is a three-sided sign that is 75 feet from the cartway of Newtown-Yardley Road. The application asks for a variance for height, as the new sign, with brand logo, would stand one foot taller than permitted. The additional height is to allow motorists to see the sign, which is set back from the road. The sign is internally illuminated. Spotlights illuminate the existing sign.

Mr. Lufkin affirmed Mr. Murphy’s statements.

Mr. Lenihan said that he has visited the sign and has seen a green logo sign already in place.

Mr. Murphy said that there is another sign at the entrance to the building. This sign has not yet been erected.

In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Mr. Lufkin said that there are no plans for additional signage at this location.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

In response to Mrs. Bowe’s question, Mr. Harwood said that the only variance needed is for height. Although this is a three-sided sign, it meets requirements for total square footage of allowable signs.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 1106(F)(5)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a free standing sign with a height of 6 feet where the maximum is 5 feet. Mr. Lionetti seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Larry and Linda Depew

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Larry and Linda Depew,, owners, requesting a variance from Section 401 (B) and (C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 14' by 44' addition and a 14' by 57.25' garage with an impervious surface ratio of 17.33% where 15% is the maximum, with a 40' side yard, 85.22' front yard and 92' between buildings where 50', 100' and 100' are required, and a Special Exception under 1208(C)(2) to permit construction of a non-conforming lot. The subject property is 88 Twining Bridge Road, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-1-22.

Mr. Larry Depew was sworn in.

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

Mr. Depew explained that he would like to put an addition onto his home. His home predates the current Ordinance, and so does not meet current side yard setback requirements. His two ornamental ponds, totaling 360 square feet, are part of his impervious surface calculation. He noted that his neighbors had written letters in support of his plans.

Mr. Lenihan said that he had visited the site. He asked if the rear portion of the addition would replace the existing concrete patio.

Mr. Depew explained that the rear would cover the patio, and he was also intending to build a larger garage along the side of his house.

Mrs. Bowe said that she too had visited the site. She asked about the long narrow garage on the plan.

Mr. Depew said that he intends to have a rear door on the garage to serve as a storage area for his lawn tractor and lawn equipment. He does not intend to park a car at the rear, or to use the rear door for driving cars in and out. The door will only be large enough to accommodate the lawn tractor. In response to Mrs. Bowe’s question, he said that he would have a door between the existing garage and the new garage.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 401 (B) and (C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 14' by 44' addition and a 14' by 57.25' garage with an impervious surface ratio of 17.33% where 15% is the maximum, with a 40' side yard, 85.22' front yard and 92' between buildings where 50', 100' and 100' are required, and a Special Exception under 1208(C)(2) to permit construction of a non-conforming lot. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Ellen Hou

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Ellen Hou, owner, requesting a variance from Section 401(B) and 1000(E)(4) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 140 sq. ft. pergola on a small deck with 25.55% impervious surface ratio where 20% is the maximum permitted by ordinance and Eagle Glenn Final Plan and with a 10 ft. side yard where 12 ft. is required. The subject property is 30 Sibelius Road, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-20-6.

Mrs. Ellen Hou and Mr. Don Hou were sworn in.

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

Mrs. Hou explained that she had been granted a variance for 25% impervious surface in 2001 to build a swimming pool. She now has 24.96% impervious surface. She would like to build a pergola in the yard, with an open lattice like roof and a 133 square foot, 11.5-foot square patio.

Mr. Lenihan said that he visited the site. The property backs onto the detention basin for this development. There are no neighbors behind this property, and the proposed pergola would not be visible to any other neighbors.

Mrs. Hou provided the Board with a photograph of the proposed pergola.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 401(B) and 1000(E)(4) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 140 sq. ft. pergola on a small deck with 25.55% impervious surface ratio where 20% is the maximum permitted by ordinance and Eagle Glenn Final Plan and with a 10 ft. side yard where 12 ft. is required. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Steven and Theresa Karschnik

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Steven and Theresa Karschnik, Steven and Theresa Karschnik owners requesting a variance from Section 404(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 24 ft. by 26 ft. irregularly shaped paver patio with no rear yard set back where a 30 ft. rear yard is required by ordinance and New Haven Final Plan. The subject property is 6 Hayes Court, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-29-251.

Mrs. Theresa Karschnik and Mr. Steven Karschnik were sworn in.

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

Mrs. Karschnik explained that she had a patio installed by a contractor and did not know that she would need a variance for a rear yard setback. The lot is an unusual shape and the patio was built right to the property line. The house backs to 300 feet of open space.

In response to Mrs. Bowe’s question, Mrs. Karschnik said that her development does have a Homeowners Association but does not have an architectural review board. Her pool was built in 1997, but Father Nature Landscaping of Cherry Hill installed the patio this summer.

In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Mrs. Karschnik said that the patio is built on grade, and is not built across a swale.

Mr. Lionetti said that he is not comfortable granting a variance for a 0 foot setback. He said that there should be some minimum buffer between the patio and the property line.

Mrs. Laughlin agreed with Mr. Lionetti. She noted that the pool decking is already very close to the property line.

Mr. Lenihan said that he agrees with Mr. Lionetti that there should be some setback, but he has visited the site, and because of the shape of the lot, and the open space behind, he did not think it was a significant factor.

Mr. Lionetti said that he would like to require at least a 3-foot side yard setback. He would like to require the applicant to reconfigure the patio to accommodate a 3-foot setback.

Mrs. Bowe agreed with Mr. Lionetti.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

In response to Mrs. Karschnik’s questions, Mr. Auchinleck explained that she would have to reconfigure the patio and the Township Inspector would verify that it meets requirements. She would not need to come back to the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 404(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an irregularly shaped paver patio with a 3-foot rear yard setback where a 30 ft. rear yard is required by ordinance and New Haven Final Plan. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Laughlin voting nay.

Application of Mr. & Mrs. Lakswminaryanan – 1 Delaney Drive

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Mr. and Mrs. Lakswminaryanan, owners requesting a variance from Section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 31 ft. by 16 ft. irregular open wooden deck with a rear yard set back of 20 feet where 30 feet is required. The subject property is 1 Delaney Drive, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-48-46.

Mr. Mani Lakshminaryanan and Mrs. Radha Lakshminaryanan were sworn in.

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

Mr. Lakshminaryanan corrected the spelling on his name for the record. He said that he would like to add a deck to his home in the Linton Hill Chase development. He has been given approval by his Homeowners Association and his neighbors do not object.

Mr. Lenihan said that he has visited the site. The property backs to open space, and the placement of his home on the lot makes it impossible to place a deck on the house without encroaching on the setback requirements. This deck would not be visible to the neighbors.

Mr. Lenihan said that he is very concerned that this developer has designed the subdivision so that every homeowner must pay fees and apply for variances in order to make full use of their yards. He said that the developer has imposed a hardship on these homeowners.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mrs. Bowe moved to grant a variance from Section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 31 ft. by 16 ft. irregular open wooden deck with a rear yard set back of 20 feet where 30 feet is required. Mr. Lionetti seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of John Phung – 15 Delaney Drive

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of John Phung owner requesting a variance from Section 401(C) Linton Hill Chase of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an 18 ft. by 22 ft. irregular shaped open wooden deck with a 22 ft rear yard set back where 30 feet is required. The subject property is 15 Delaney Drive, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-30-37.

Ms. Vo Phung was sworn in.

Ms. Phung said that she wishes to put a deck on her new home to make use of the backyard. There is not room to build a deck within the setback requirements.

Mr. Lenihan said that he visited the site and the home backs onto open space, and as with the Lakshminaryanan home in the previous application, it would not be possible to have any deck without encroaching on the setback requirements.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from Section 401(C) Linton Hill Chase of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of an 18 ft. by 22 ft. irregular shaped open wooden deck with a 22-ft rear yard set back where 30 feet is required. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Adjournment

Mr. Lenihan moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

_______________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary