The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, September 21, 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; Michael Solomon, Zoning Officer and Jackie Boss- Robbins, Stenographer.

Call to Order

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

The Pledge of Allegiance

Continued Application of Promenade at Sycamore

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that attorneys for the applicant have requested a continuance while plans are being revised.

Mr. Lenihan moved to continue the application of the Promenade at Sycamore to December 7, 2006. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of Joseph W. McGrath

Attorney Michael Carr said that during the weeks since the last hearing the applicant has reviewed his plans in an attempt to reduce the variance requests. The applicant has agreed to install a monitoring/alarm system for the underground stormwater retention system similar to those used for holding tanks. In an attempt to reduce the impervious surface coverage, he has considered a few small measures to reduce coverage from 85% to 83%, however below 83% would require sacrifice of too many of the architectural features that make the plan an attractive compliment to the Sycamore Street streetscape and the project becomes economically unfeasible. There is also some question as to whether further reductions in some areas would meet with the approval of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Carr reviewed the existing stormwater management system built for the Village at Newtown. This system was designed to accommodate the 60% impervious surface already in existence on this property. The system being designed for the project is needed for the additional impervious surface only, not the entire 85%.

Daniel Chieco, a landscape architect with Pickering, Corts and Summerson, had been sworn in at the previous meeting. Mr. Wall reminded him that he is still under oath.

Mr. Chieco said that he has reviewed the plan to remove some impervious coverage, but has concerns about whether some options would be acceptable to the Township Planning Commission, which has already recommended approval of the plan.

Mr. Carr entered as Exhibit A-13, a copy of the plan in black and white, with impervious surface that could be removed shaded in color.

Mr. Chieco pointed out that the sidewalk on the north side of Silo Drive could be eliminated, reducing the impervious surface to 83%. This might meet with Planning Commission approval because there is an existing sidewalk on the south side of Silo Drive to Village at Newtown. If certain parking spaces are reduced to 10 feet by 18 feet, an additional four feet of impervious surface could be gained on the parking islands. Another possible paved area that could be eliminated is the by-pass lane of the drive-through bank teller window. Mr. Chieco did not feel that the Planning Commission would approve of this.

In response to Mr. Katz’s question, Mr. Chieco said that the total area of the project is 156,427 square feet, measured from the ultimate right-of-way.

Mr. Carr entered as exhibit A-14 a photograph of a sample storefront design.

Mr. McGrath, who had been sworn in at the previous meeting, said that he had spoken with architects about using the storefront featured in Exhibit A-14 as the façade of one of the buildings on Sycamore Street. He noted that the detailed and decorated facades he is proposing are far more expensive to construct than a standard strip mall with plate glass shop windows.

Mr. Solomon had no comments.

Mr. Lenihan said that he has carefully reviewed the plans, and appreciates the efforts Mr. McGrath has made to enhance the appearance of Sycamore Street. After careful consideration, he said he feels comfortable approving the requests as originally presented.

Mr. Wall moved to grant variances to Joseph W. McGrath from Sections 602(A), 602(B), 803(E-15)(1) and (9), 1001(A)(6), 1001(B)(3), 1001(C)(2), 1002(1) and 1003(B)(1) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 30,600 square foot retail center with apartments where dwellings are not permitted with an 85% impervious surface ratio where 35% is the maximum, with a 10 foot front yard where 20 feet are required, with a 3.96 acre lot size where 4 acres are required, with 146 parking spaces where 207 are required, with relief from parking lot buffering and landscaping requirements, with parking stall size of 9 feet by 18 feet instead of 10 feet by 20 feet with relief from curbing in parking areas, loading berths and buffering between districts as set forth in the application. The relief is granted subject to the following conditions:

  • That the applicant shall order and pay for a copy of the transcript of the testimony of the hearings;
  • The project must be constructed in accordance with the testimony, plans and exhibits submitted at the hearing;
  • The underground stormwater management system shall provide for a monitoring system satisfactory to the Township Engineer;
  • The impervious surface ratio shall not exceed 85%;
  • The total size of buildings shall not exceed 30,600 square feet.

The subject property is 298 Sycamore Street, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-3-24-002.

Mr. Lenihan seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Bowe said that she would prefer to keep the impervious surface relief at 83%.

Mr. Katz said that the applicant has demonstrated that the impervious surface could be reduced to 83% without sacrificing the aesthetics, so he would prefer to grant the variance for 83%.

Mr. Katz amended the motion to grant a variance for an 83% impervious surface ratio where 35% is the maximum. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion, as amended, passed unanimously.

Mrs. Bowe said that she appreciated Mr. McGrath’s efforts to being an aesthetically pleasing addition to the Sycamore Street area, and his efforts to reduce impervious surface without sacrificing the integrity of the project. She welcomed him to Newtown.

Mr. Katz moved to adjourn at 8:15 PM. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


Respectfully Submitted:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary