NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD
MUNICIPAL BUILDING - 100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE
NEWTOWN, PA 18940
THURSDAY, MAY 4, 2006
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Lenihan moved to approve the minutes of May 4, 2006. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, May 4, 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 7:37 PM.
The Pledge of Allegiance
Approval of Minutes
Ms. Laughlin moved to approve the minutes of April 6, 2006 as presented. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
The agenda was reviewed. Mr. Wall announced that application #723-06, Swamp Road, had been withdrawn, and that the continued Application of Applegate Wood Floors, Inc. would be moved to last on the agenda.
Applications reviewed were:
Application of Beth and Michael Lapat – 5 Delaney Drive
Application of James and Ann McKenzie – 406 Merion Drive
Continued Application of Applegate Wood Floors, Inc. – 8 Pheasant Run
Mr. Auchinleck noted the arrival of Ms. Bowe at 7:42 pm.
Application of Beth and Michael Lapat
Mr. Lenihan read into the record the application of Beth and Michael Lapat, Beth and Michael Lapat owners requesting a variance from Section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 27 ft. by 30 ft. paver patio with walkway and walls resulting in a rear yard setback of 19 feet on one side and 15 feet on the other side where 30 feet is required. The subject property is 5 Delaney Drive, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-48-48 lot 3.
No one wished to be party to the application.
Mr. Lapat was sworn in. He explained that the rear of his home was a few feet away from the 30’ rear setback requirement, and said he would like to add a paver patio and walkway. It was clarified that the white flags Mr. Lenihan had observed on the property roughly outlined the proposed location of the patio.
Mr. Lenihan observed that it was 15’-20’ from the end of the applicant’s property line to an 8’-10’ high berm, behind which there is foliage. He said the proposed location of the patio should not cause a problem for anyone occupying the adjacent property. It was further clarified that there is open space and woods in the rear of the property; the applicant’s rear property line is approximately 100’ from the community property line; the Board felt there would be no drainage issues.
Mr. Katz moved to grant a variance from Section 401(c) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 27 ft. by 30 ft. paver patio with walkway and walls resulting in a rear yard setback of 19 feet on one side and 15 feet on the other side where 30 feet is required. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Application of James and Ann McKenzie
Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of James and Ann McKenzie, James and Ann McKenzie owners requesting a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 464 Sq. ft. in ground swimming pool with 5,460 sq. ft. of decking, 250 sq. ft. of driveway addition, 150 sq. ft. of walkway resulting in 23.55% impervious surface ratio where the maximum permitted is 12%. The subject property is 406 Merion Drive, Newtown, in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-13-47.
James McKenzie was sworn in. He explained that they wished to add a pool, noting that there was an error in the application’s description: the size of the pool decking is over 500 sq. ft. instead of over 5000 sq. ft. Mr. McKenzie said they are proposing to add a walkway from the patio to the driveway and to extend the driveway to allow for two cars to park. He noted that the zoning of the property had previously allowed for 20% impervious surface, and then had been changed to R-1 after they moved into their home to allow only 12%; they are currently at 18% impervious.
Mr. Wall asked if anyone present wished to be party to the application. There was no response.
In response to Mr. Wall’s concern with the effect of water run off, Mr. McKenzie said that his property slopes into the back corner and run off should not affect any neighboring property. He noted that the Tyrol’s property is located behind them, with woods and a stream between, and that the Tyrol house sits approximately 500’ behind their rear property line. Mr. Lenihan confirmed that the topography of the property pitches back toward the rear and the stream behind the property, noting that the closest home is located at least 1000 feet away.
In response to Mrs. Laughlin’s inquiry about contact with neighbors, Mr. McKenzie said he had not spoken directly with his neighbors, but that they would have seen the posting; he noted that one neighbor has a pool.
Mr. Katz said that the impervious surface regulations in place were set to address the concern of streams and drainage throughout the Township, and noted that the applicant was requesting twice the allowable impervious surface. In response to Mr. Katz’s question, Mr. McKenzie suggested he could shorten the driveway or reduce the distance between the pool and patio to reduce the impervious surface area. He said that the property is small and it is difficult to keep impervious surface area to 12%.
Mr. Lenihan noted that the property had previously been zoned for 20% impervious surface and the applicant is only requesting 3% over that; he felt there should be no drainage problems. Ms. Laughlin said that, considering the location, she had no objection to the variance request.
Mr. Harwood had no comment.
Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 464 Sq. ft. in ground swimming pool with 5,460 sq. ft. of decking, 250 sq. ft. of driveway addition, 150 sq. ft. of walkway resulting in 23.55% impervious surface ratio where the maximum permitted is 12%. The subject property is 406 Merion Drive, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-13-47. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Katz voting nay.
Continued Application of Applegate Wood Floors, Inc. – 8 Pheasant Run
Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that this application has already been read into the record, noting that the hearing was originally scheduled for April 6, 2006, at which time the request for continuance was received.
Attorney Scott Petri represented the applicant, Brian P. Applegate, who was present. It was noted that they had previously been sworn in.
Mr. Wall asked in anyone present wished to be party to the application. There was no response.
In response to Mr. Petri’s questions, Mr. Applegate explained that his company installs and refinishes hardwood floors, and that he rents approximately 1/3 of the building, approximately 6000 of the total 15,000 square footage. He said he would like to consolidate his business, presently in three locations, into a single location at the site, noting that all the interior improvements have been completed. It was clarified that four staff persons would work at the offices, with 3-5 subcontractors crews reporting to work sites. Mr. Applegate said that presently sales persons take samples to clients’ homes and that he hoped to allow clients to come to a showroom to view products; he said they would like to do regular business during the day and have hours Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday for retail, perhaps by appointment only. Mr. Applegate noted that that Direct Buy, located in the development, has a similar business and said he believed that they had particular hours for retail pickup and delivery.
Mr. Petri entered the following exhibits:
In response to Ms. Bowe’s questions, Mr. McKenzie said that property owner Cameron Troilo was the aware of the variance request and had signed the original application. Mr. McKenzie clarified that he planned to cease operations at his other locations upon consolidation at the Pheasant Run site, noting that approximately the same allotment of space would be utilized for each part of the business: 1200 sq. ft. for showroom (and possibly retail), 900 sq. ft. for offices, and 3000 sq. ft. for warehouse.
Mr. Petri said that wholesale business and warehouse use with no retail sales was an allowed use, noting that this business is not a “cash and carry” business. Mr. Applegate noted that presently a salesperson would take samples to show a customer and would write up the sale at the customer’s home.
Mr. Auchinleck noted that Direct Buy is available to members only, and said what makes a business retail is its direct dealings with customers; he said that wholesale sales to contractors would be an allowed use. Mr. Auchinleck questioned what Mr. Applegate would do if homeowners came into the showroom. He said that advertising the showroom would constitute retail. Mr. Wall noted that Mr. Applegate had stated specifically in his application that he wished to sell products to customers.
Mr. Petri said he could not argue hardship in the legal sense, as the issue has diminimis rather than a hardship. He said they had considered a “membership only” scenario. In response to Mr. Wall’s question, Mr. Applegate said he was told by his landlord that there should be no zoning problem; he noted that he could keep his showroom in Washington Crossing, but that he would rather not carry that expense.
In response to Mr. Lenihan’s question, Mr. Applegate said presently his showroom is open by appointment and he has 2-3 customers a week. He said he would like to have the showroom open by appointment only during the afternoons and be closed for office work other hours; he stated he had no problem with the showroom being open by appointment only.
Mr. Harwood was sworn in. In response to Ms. Laughlin’s question, Mr. Harwood said that no retail is allowed in the LI district, noting that Direct Buy is not retail because of the members-only requirement; it is considered limited retail. He said that Sir Speedy is a service, a use permitted in the LI. Mr. Auchinleck noted that this Board has not granted variances for retail use. In response to Mr. Katz’s question, Mr. Harwood said that if the showroom were to be open by appointment only, the zoning office would be responsible for follow up, including tracking ads, etc.
Mr. Petri said the applicant would be willing to have conditions, such as members only or appointment requirements. Mr. Lenihan suggested that advertising be disallowed, but Mr. Petri said that the business needed to be able to advertise. Mr. Auchinleck said that if the Board were to grant limited retail use, by appointment only and/or restricted hours, advertising could say “by appointment only.”
Ms. Laughlin strongly recommended that no retail be allowed in the LI district.
A number of suggestions were offered by Board members:
Mr. Harwood clarified that warehouse was a permitted use in the LI district.
Mr. Petri requested that the hearing be adjourned so that he could confer with the applicant and solicitor.
Ms. Bowe made a motion to continue the application of Applegate Wood Floors, Inc., as requested by the applicant, to the Zoning Hearing Board meeting on June 1, 2006, to be held at 7:30 pm. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Lenihan moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:53 PM. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Leslie P. Dunleavy, Acting Recording Secretary