NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD

MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE

NEWTOWN, PA 18940

THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2006

7:30 PM


Approval of Minutes: Mrs. Laughlin moved to approve the minutes of March 2, 2006. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, March 2, 2006 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: William Wall, Chairman; Gail Laughlin, Vice Chairman; Victoria Bowe, Secretary; David Katz 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

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Lenihan moved to approve the minutes of February 2, 2006. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Katz abstaining.

The agenda was reviewed.

Application of 11 Friends Lane, LLC – 11 Friends Lane

Application of Dean Harley and Beth Okomski – 95 Richboro Road

Application of Steven Partridge – 77 Gettysburg Lane

Application of Richard and Laura Tomlinson – 145 Upper Silver Lake Road

Continued Application of Newtown Industrial Commons, Inc. – 111-115 Pheasant Run

Application of Dean Harley and Beth Okomski

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Dean Harley and Beth Okomski, Dean Harley and Beth Okomski owners requesting a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a) and (b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 1,286 sq. ft. of pool, decking and walks with a 6 ft. high fence resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 20.5% where the maximum permitted is 13% and the maximum fence height is 3 feet. The subject property is 95 Richboro Road, Newtown, in the R-2 High Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-11-2-1.

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

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.

Heath Dumack, Engineer for this project, was sworn in.

Mr. Dumack explained that this property has two frontages, one along the Newtown By-Pass, the other on Richboro Road. This is a one-acre parcel that is currently at 15.4% impervious surface. A variance had been granted in 2003, to permit 15.8% impervious surface. Additional impervious surface is requested for a pool, decking and walkway. A variance had been granted in January for a 6-foot stockade fence along the Newtown By-Pass side of the property. The applicant would like to extend that fence to enclose the pool.

Mr. Katz asked what the hardship is in this case, as the property can be used without the tall fence and pool. He also questioned why the applicant had requested only a portion of the fence in January instead of asking for all needed variances at the same time.

Mr. Dumack explained that because the frontage along Rte 413 could not be accessed, the property has an extremely long driveway to access Richboro Road, using a large portion of the impervious surface allowance.

Dean Harley was sworn in. He said that his father-in-law recently passed away. His extended family had enjoyed the use of his father-in-law’s pool in Yardley for family gatherings and recreation. He would like to keep up this family tradition by adding a pool to his own property. It had not been his intention to come before the Board in this manner. In response to Mr. Lenihan’s question, Mr. Harley said that the equipment stored on his property is used for his business, installing and repairing gymnasium floors in the summer.

In response to questions from Mr. Auchinleck and Mrs. Laughlin, Mr. Dumack said that the property is surrounded by single-family homes, and to the south is the open space belonging to a neighboring development. That open space will never be developed.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a) and (b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 1,286 sq. ft. of pool, decking and walks with a 6 ft. high fence resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 20.5% where the maximum permitted is 13% and the maximum fence height is 3 feet. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Steven Partridge

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Steven Partridge, Mr. and Mrs. Steven Partridge owners requesting a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a)(e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 6 foot high fence and a 4 foot high fence where only 3 feet is permitted. The subject property is 77 Gettysburg Lane, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-25-237.

Steven Partridge was sworn in.

Mr. Wall asked in anyone present wished to be party to the application. There was no response.

Mr. Partridge explained that his property is at the corner of Mill Pond Road. He would like to install a fence along the Mill Pond Road side and the rear of his property. The top of the fence will have 18 inches of lattice. The other side of his yard would have a four-foot picket fence. Along Mill Pond Road is a row of arbor vitae trees. The fence would be inside of the tree line, shielding the fence from the road. His rear neighbor has no objection to the fence, as Mr. Partridge will be removing a hedge that has fallen into disrepair.

In response to Mrs. Bowe’s question, Mr. Partridge said that his Homeowners Association has deferred to the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board.

In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Mr. Partridge said that the high fence is necessary because he has a large dog that he wishes to contain and that he would not want any children to be able to reach in and touch.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Katz moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a)(e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 6 foot high fence and a 4 foot high fence where only 3 feet is permitted. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously

Continued Application of Newtown Industrial Commons, Inc. – 111-115 Pheasant Run

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that this application has already been read into the record.

Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant.

Doug Terry was sworn in.

Mr. Wall asked in anyone present wished to be party to the application. There was no response.

Mr. Marshall said that this application is for signage for a 3.9-acre parcel in the Newtown Business Commons. The property has three office buildings: a new building, and existing farmhouse and an existing carriage house. There is also a storage barn on the property. The Board of Supervisors had asked the applicant to come to a work session to discuss this application, and as a result there has been some reduction of the request. While still seeking three signs where only one is permitted, the size of the signs has been reduced to 20 square feet, which is in compliance with the Ordinance. The height has been reduced to six feet, one foot higher than permitted. The information sign request is the same, and the request to include tenants names is the same.

Mr. Marshall entered the following exhibits:

Mr. Terry, Vice President of Newtown Industrial Commons, Inc., owner of the property, explained that this is one tax map parcel, with one main entrance and a smaller side entrance, but three separate office buildings. The Ordinance allows only one sign per property, not per building. He would like these signs to direct the public to the location of tenants, as each building has multiple tenants. There will be fourteen tenants on the site. He has worked with the Board of Supervisors to satisfy their concerns, and has reduced the size of the signs to conform to the Ordinance. He would like the signs to remain at 6 feet in height to better accommodate the tenant name slots with a size that would be legible to motorists. The third sign would be a directional sign on the interior of the property, and would replace an existing directional sign.

In response to Mrs. Laughlin’s questions, Mr. Terry said that the 20 square feet on each sign includes the pitched top. These are two sided signs, as permitted under the Ordinance, and would be perpendicular to the street. He was not sure of the size of each individual tenant’s entry on the signs.

Mrs. Laughlin questioned the need for an eight square foot internal sign, as motorists will have already entered the property and would have no difficulty reading a smaller sign that they would approach slowly, head-on.

Mr. Marshall said that the Board of Supervisors had not commented on the internal sign at the work session, and had not requested any reduction in its size.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant variances from Section 1106(G)2, to permit three identification signs, from section 1106(G)5, to permit free standing signs with a height of six feet, Section 1106(G)(7)(a) to permit an informational sign 8-square feet in size and from Section 1106(G)(7)(b) to permit the message to include tenant names, with the condition that the signs be placed as indicated on Exhibit A-6. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of 11 Friends Lane, LLC

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of 11 Friends Lane, LLC., 11 Friends Lane, LLC. owner requesting a variance from Section 803(D)(2), 1001(A)&(F), and 1002(C)&(1) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit revising and enlarging parking areas for existing building resulting in 155 spaces where 232 are required, providing no loading berth, buffering or screening and to permit parking to the side property line. The subject property is 11 Friends Lane, Newtown, in the LI Light Industrial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-105.

Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant.

Paul Salvatore and Richard Knudsen were sworn in.

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

Mr. Marshall explained that this property is a 3.683-acre parcel in the Newtown Business Commons in the LI zoning district. There is already a one-story industrial building on the site that Mr. Salvatore intends to retrofit and renovate as offices. He will be adding stormwater management facilities. Mr. Salvatore would like to amend the application to request relief of 50 parking spaces. Mr. Salvatore has agreed to dedicate 50% of the building to medical uses and 50% to business office use, reducing the relief by 20 spaces. With this change in his request, the Board of Supervisors has agreed not to oppose the application.

Mr. Marshall entered the following exhibits:

Mr. Knudsen, of Knudsen Engineering, reviewed the existing plan and the plan with the additional parking. He said that a stormwater facility is to be installed, and the drainage channel and volunteer trees to the rear of the property will not be disturbed. The parking within ten feet of the side yard already exists, and the plan will continue that line of paving.

Mr. Knudsen said that the plan would extend parking to the front of the building, and all spaces will comply with the ordinance as to size, with 6 ADA compliant spaces, 54 10X20 spaces and 95 9X18 foot spaces. The stalls would be double striped and the larger spaces would be closer to the building. The impervious surface will be 61% where 65 % is permitted. Mr. Knudsen said that because the existing building is at the center of the site, the only way to address parking is to place some spaces in the front of the building.

Mr. Marshall said that the other variance requests are for relief from buffering requirements where the parking already exists. The new parking area will be buffered. Because this will be an office, not an industrial use, the existing loading berths are to be removed and only a loading area would be provided. All deliveries would be by UPS style trucks.

In response to Mr. Wall’s question, Mr. Marshall said that all properties in the Business Commons have 50-foot utility easements. These easements can be developed, but the property owner is responsible for repair if the area must be disturbed for utility work.

In response to Mrs. Laughlin’s questions, Mr. Marshall said that the stand of evergreen trees on the north side of the property belongs to the adjacent parcel and will not be disturbed. The Planning Commission has requested that 25% of parking spaces be 10 X 20 feet and be closest to the building, to be used by visitors. In order to comply with the Ordinance on parking stall size the applicant has not requested smaller parking stalls. Even if all stalls were reduced, not many spaces would be gained.

Mr. Auchinleck explained that the larger spaces are intended for visitors or customers, and would turn over quickly. The smaller stalls would be for employees. It is the understanding of the planners that the larger stalls would be safer for frequent turnover.

In response to Mr. Katz’s question, Mr. Knudsen said that an underground stormwater detention system is to be installed. The system has not yet been designed but would reduce current levels of run off.

Mr. Wall expressed concern that the building might become and entirely medical facility.

Mr. Salvatore said that he has already been approached by some non-medical businesses. The building is to be converted to condominiums.

Mr. Marshall said that he would hope that the Zoning Hearing Board would give Mr. Salvatore some latitude to convert an existing empty building to a permitted business use. He noted that one prospective tenant with a medical practice is currently seeking larger quarters, not to expand but for additional space for an existing practice. That tenant would occupy 50% of the building and uses 63 parking spaces.

Dr. Joseph Kipp was sworn in. Dr. Kipp said that his business is currently located at 2700 South Eagle Road. His practice includes a number of specialties, including primary care, urology, gynecology, radiology, and physical therapy. The practice occupies 10,000 square feet and has 25 employees. He intends to add a conference room, a staff kitchen/lunchroom, a larger waiting room and an office for each physician. His current practice has 75 parking spaces, and there has never been a parking problem. Not all 25 employees are on site at the same time, but are there in shifts throughout a 12-hour day.

Mr. Harwood had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 803(D)(2), 1001(A)&(F), and 1002(C)&(1) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit revising and enlarging parking areas for existing building resulting in 155 spaces where 205 are required, providing no loading berth, buffering or screening and to permit parking to the side property line, with the condition that medical uses are not to exceed 17,415 square feet of the building. Mrs. Bowe seconded.

Mrs. Laughlin said that she feels that the request is too large and she is uncomfortable granting relief for fifty parking spaces.

The motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Laughlin voting nay.

Application of Richard and Laura Tomlinson

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Richard and Laura Tomlinson, Richard and Laura Tomlinson owners requesting a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit front porch, two-car garage, walk and driveway resulting in 18.67% impervious surface ration where the maximum permitted is 12%. The subject property is 145 Upper Silver Lake Road, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-51.

Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant.

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

Richard Tomlinson was sworn in.

Mr. Marshall explained that this property is at the corner of Upper Silver Lake Road and the new extension of Penns Trail. The property is 40,024 square feet in the R-1 zoning district.

Mr. Marshall entered the following exhibits:

Mr. Tomlinson explained that he is currently a non-conforming lot with 15.2% impervious surface. His parents built the house in 1948. The property has only had a double frontage for three years, since Penns Trail was extended through the Wiltshire Walk development. He would like to modify his front porch, which now faces a road, and add a garage and walkway. He will be removing a portion of the existing driveway. His plan would add 1400 square feet of impervious surface. The plan meets all setback requirements. With improvements, his home would be 3,000 square feet, the same as his adjoining neighbors.

In response to Mr. Katz’s question, Mr. Tomlinson said that he is leaving some paved driveway toward the front of the house because he wants visitor parking, and space for cars to turn around, rather than back down the driveway. He said that Orleans Builders has constructed stormwater inlets that have eliminated run-off problems for his property.

Mrs. Laughlin moved to grant a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit front porch, two-car garage, walk and driveway resulting in 18.67% impervious surface ration where the maximum permitted is 12%. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Katz voting nay.

Mrs. Bowe moved to adjourn at 9:35 PM. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

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Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary