NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF NOVEMBER 2, 2006

The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, November 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; Michael Solomon, 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

Ms. Bowe moved to approve the minutes of October 5, 2006. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

The agenda was reviewed.

  • Continued Application of Steven DiMeglio – 150 Wrights Road
  • Continued Application of Chetan and Reshma Patel – 140 Wrights Road
  • Continued Application of DeLuca Enterprises – 138 South Sycamore Street
  • Continued Application of Center Club of Newtown – 11 Friends Lane
  • Application of Eleanor & Scott Brennan – 269 N. Lincoln Avenue
  • Application of Stanley Dwight – 4 Claire Drive
  • Application of Jason & Joyce Laviscout – 24 Amy Circle
  • Application of Geraldine Lewis – 46 Maple Lane
  • Application of Paul J. Muller III – 23 Claire Drive
  • Application of Christian & Mary Katherine Seiler – 13 Hillside Road
  • Application of Shannon & Nancy Wilson – 861 Newtown Yardley Road
Continued Application of Steven DiMeglio

Mr. Katz moved to continue the application of Steven DiMeglio until December 7, 2006. Ms. Laughlin seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of Chetan and Reshma Patel

Ms. Bowe moved to continue the application of Chetan & Reshma Patel, until December 7, 2006. Mr. Katz seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of DeLuca Enterprises

Ms. Bowe moved to continue the application of DeLuca Enterprises, 138 S. Sycamore Street, until December 7, 2006. Mr. Katz seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.

Continued Application of Center Club of Newtown

Mr. Auchinleck read into the record a letter dated November 2, 2006 received from attorney Don Marshall, which stated that Center Club of Newtown, 11 Friends Lane, is withdrawing its application. The case was declared closed.

Application of Jason & Joyce Laviscout

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Jason and Joyce Laviscout, Jason and Joyce Laviscout owners requesting a variance from Section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 746 square foot pool with 846 square feet of decking and 118 square feet of coping resulting in 26.7% impervious surface ratio instead of 20%. The subject property is 24 Amy Circle, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-19-57.

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.

Mr. Wall asked if anyone wished to be party to the application. Solicitor Paul Beckert, representing the Township, read a statement from the Board of Supervisors opposing the variance unless the following condition was met: any additional water would be retained on the property to the satisfaction of the Township engineer.

Jason and Joyce Laviscout were sworn in. Mr. Laviscout said the Township’s condition was acceptable. He explained they wished to have an in ground pool constructed.

Ms. Bowe said she had visited the property and asked if any neighbors had objections; Mr. Laviscout said there were no objections they were aware of. Ms. Bowe noted there had been flooding problems behind the property; Mr. Laviscout said they have not experienced any problem, noting there are woods in the rear of the property. Mr. Lenihan said that if the conditions required by the Board of Supervisors were met, other properties should not be impacted.

In response to questions from Mr. Katz, Mr. Laviscout said that the property is surrounded by single-family homes, and that the development is cluster homes where 20% impervious surface is allowed. Mr. Wall said the additional 6.7% impervious surface would require additional water to be contained on the property. Mr. Beckert said he believed stormwater management techniques had been discussed; Mrs. Laviscout said the Township had recommended self-contained piping, such as a French drain, with sizing of pits to be determined by the amount of impervious surface. She said they are working with Boucher & James and that plans would include a sump pump in the system. Mr. Beckert said the Township had not specified the location for the system.

Mr. Katz said that given the Township’s position and the applicants’ willingness to work with the engineer, his concerns were allayed.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Mr. Katz moved to grant a variance from Section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 746 square foot pool with 846 square feet of decking and 118 square feet of coping resulting in 26.7% impervious surface ratio instead of 20%, subject to the condition that all additional water run-off be contained on the property to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer. Mr. Lenihan seconded , and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Eleanor & Scott Brennan

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Eleanor and Scott Brennan by Ivyland Builders LLC, Eleanor and Scott Brennan owners requesting a special exception under Section 1208(C)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 19 feet by 18.33 feet addition to a single family residence on a non-conforming lot. The subject property is 269 North Lincoln Avenue, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-12-43.

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

Marty Schaefer of Ivyland Builders was sworn in. He explained the applicants would like to build a larger addition, resulting in a smaller deck; there would be in no increase in impervious surface.

The Board had no questions.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a special exception under Section 1208(C)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 19 feet by 18.33 feet addition to a single family residence on a non-conforming lot. Mr. Lenihan seconded , and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Stanley Dwight

Ms. Bowe read into the record Appeal #752-06, the application of Stanley Dwight, Love Fellowship Tabernacle, Love Fellowship Tabernacle owner requesting a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a)(e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 760 linear feet of 4.5 feet high picket fence on reverse frontage lot along Upper Silver Lake Road where 4 feet is the maximum height permitted. The subject property is 4 Claire Drive, Newtown, in the OR Office Research Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-77-17.

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

Church representatives Joe Henderson and Stacey Bullock were sworn in. Mr. Henderson said they had received no objections from neighbors, and noted that a neighbor had recently installed the same fence. He said they have a large pet on the property and clarified that the fence would be inside the berm.

Mr. Auchinleck suggested including the type of fence as a condition for approval; the applicant agreed. The Board had no further comment.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Ms. Bowe moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a)(e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 760 linear feet of 4.5 feet high picket fence on reverse frontage lot along Upper Silver Lake Road where 4 feet is the maximum height permitted, on condition that the fence be an open picket type fence where vision is not obstructed, as per the drawing submitted. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Geraldine Lewis

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Geraldine Lewis, Jeffrey and Geraldine Lewis owners requesting variances from Sections 404(B), 902(B), 1005, 404(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit subdivision of one lot into two lots resulting in an 8.2% impervious surface ratio instead of 8%, no open space instead of 10%, 61 foot front yard set back instead of 75 feet, and 136.78 feet and 127.65 feet lot widths instead of 150 feet The subject property is 46 Maple Lane, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-4-3.

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

Bill Deon was present representing the applicant; owners Jeffrey and Geraldine Lewis; and Bob Snyder from Pickering, Corts and Summerson were present. Mr. Deon noted that the Lewis’s wished to subdivide the property and build a handicapped accessible home on the newly created lot. He noted the challenges of subdividing the property, and that without relief from the minimum building setback subdivision would result in an undesirable lot, such as a flag or pie shaped lot. Mr. Deon said that the Planning Commission had suggested the applicant seek variances.

The Board had no questions. It was clarified that the property had public sewer, capacity had not yet been purchased, but a new well would be required.

There was no sworn testimony.

Mr. Solomon had no comment

Ms. Laughlin moved to grant variances from Sections 404(B), 902(B), 1005, 404(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit subdivision of one lot into two lots resulting in an 8.2% impervious surface ratio instead of 8%, no open space instead of 10%, 61 foot front yard set back instead of 75 feet, and 136.78 feet and 127.65 feet lot widths instead of 150 feet. Ms. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Paul J. Muller III

Mrs. Bowe read into the record the application of Paul J. Muller III, Paul J. Muller III owner requesting a variance from Section 501(B)(1) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a pool pavilion, arbor, decking and walls resulting in a 17.9% impervious surface ratio instead of 15%. The subject property is 23 Claire Drive, Newtown, in the OR Office Research Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-77-6.

Attorney Ed Murphy and owner Paul J. Muller were sworn in.

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

Mr. Murphy distributed Exhibit A-1, noting lot 12 on the plan, which is a 2.5 acre parcel in the OR district where minimum lot size is 1 acre, and referring to the shaded portion showing a drainage easement, representing 16% of the total lot area. He said the impervious surface was calculated without the shaded area and is equal to 15.2%, less than .6% increase over the current impervious surface. He said the impervious surface excluding the easement would be 17.9%, and would be just under 15% if the easement area were included in the calculations. Mr. Murphy noted that the required notices had been sent and no objections from neighbors had been received.

In response to Mr. Murphy’s questions, Mr. Muller agreed he had been present for the testimony of Mr. Murphy and that Mr. Murphy had correctly summarized his request.

Mr. Wall made a motion to grant Appeal #754-06. Application of Paul J. Muller III, Paul J. Muller III owner requesting a variance from Section 501(B)(1) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a pool pavilion, arbor, decking and walls resulting in a 17.9% impervious surface ratio instead of 15%. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Christian & Mary Katherine Seiler

Ms. Bowe read into the record the application of Christian and Mary Katherine Seiler, Christian and Mary Katherine Seiler owners requesting a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 17 feet by 19 feet addition resulting in a 13.6% impervious surface ratio instead of 12% and a special exception under section 1208 (C)(2) to permit expansion of a building on a non-conforming lot. The subject property is 13 Hillside Road, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-13-8.

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

Ron James of R James Construction was sworn in. He explained that impervious surface is presently at 11.6%, and that the construction of an addition to fill in the rear corner would put the impervious surface 1.6% above the 12% limit.

The Board had no questions.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Mr. Katz made a motion to grant the a variance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 17 feet by 19 feet addition resulting in a 13.6% impervious surface ratio instead of 12% and a special exception under section 1208 (C)(2) to permit expansion of a building on a non-conforming lot. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Shannon & Nancy Wilson

Ms. Bowe read into the record the application of Shannon and Nancy Wilson, Shannon and Nancy Wilson owners requesting a variance from Section 1106(G)(4)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit installation of two wall mounted individual establishment identification facade signs 30 square feet each where the maximum is 2 square feet. The subject property is 861 Newtown Yardley Road, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential and LI Light Industrial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-52-8 & 29-10-40-2.

Mr. Auchinleck noted that this matter has been before the Board before, and that his son is employed by the applicant.

Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant and was sworn in.

Mr. Marshall presented the following exhibits:

  • Exhibit A-1 and A-2 – copies of two deeds
  • Exhibit A-3 – past decision regarding rental use
  • Exhibit A-4 – past decision regarding original signage
  • Exhibit A-5 – past decision of a variance related to impervious surface, and others
  • Exhibit A-6 – past decision of 1/6/05 related to the construction and use of the new building
  • Exhibit A-7 – Sketch of the market building and sign
  • Exhibit A-8 – sketch of the rental building and sign
  • Exhibit A-9 – Zoning Variance Plan for Newtown Rental Center dated 10/27/04

Mr. Marshall said the Wilsons became aware of Section 1106(G)4b of the Zoning Ordinance which limits the size of wall mounted signs for each individual use to 2 square feet each. He said they believe that under Section 1106(F) two façade signs are allowed and that their size is allowed to be up to 10% of the façade area.

Mr. Marshall said that the front façade of the market building is rectangular and that a 100 square foot sign would be allowed if the size is based on 10% of the façade area; and that the sign on the west side of the building towards the borough could be 160 square feet in size, based on the same allowance of 10% of the façade area. Mr. Marshall said they are proposing two signs, each 15” in height and 24’ in length – a total of 30 square feet each. He noted that this size is necessary for the signage to be readable.

William DeGrasse of Yorkshire Drive, Newtown, partner in the market, was sworn in. In response to Mr. Marshall’s questions, he said he had heard the testimony of Mr. Marshall and that the matter had been correctly stated.

The exhibits were accepted.

It was clarified that the new signs would be illuminated by up-lit light fixtures, and that the market’s business hours would be 6:00 am to 9:00 pm; the signage lighting to be turned off with the parking lot lights at 10:00 pm.

It was clarified that the sign for the market depicted in Exhibit A-7 was to scale in the drawing and that there would be approximately 1” of space around the edges of the lettering; and that the sign would be mounted on the building below the canopy with spotlight lighting under the canopy.

It was noted that the rental store closes at 5:00 pm. Mr. Marshall said the applicant could agree to turn off the light to the rental sign.

Tom and Helene Morgan of 67 Vera Avenue were sworn in. Mr. Auchinleck explained that if the Morgans wished to have the ability to pursue an appeal of the decision they would need to be a party to the application; they said they just wished to make comment. Mr. Morgan said their home was approximately 250’ away from the rental center and that the site had plenty of signs already. Ms. Morgan said the site looks too commercial in the residential neighborhood and that the signs were unattractive.

In response to Ms. Morgan’s question about road configuration at the site, Mr. Marshall said the access across from Commerce Bank was required at land development by the Township and included the abandonment of old Newtown Yardley Road.

Ms. Laughlin stated that six years ago the site housed a nonconforming home occupation which has become a full blown commercial application. She said she had been opposed to its use at the time and still opposed the use, saying that it was improper for the surrounding neighborhood.

Mr. Marshall noted that the site frontage is on Newtown Yardley Road, with half the property located in the LI District. He said that the use was approved earlier as proper in the LI district. Mr. Marshall said the additional market sign was necessary for the success of the business, and that the applicant would reduce the size of the rental sign if necessary.

Ms. Bowe said that a 30 square foot sign for the market seemed excessive, but that the market would need a sign larger than 2 square feet.

Mr. Marshall said that 12” x 20’ would be an acceptable size for the market sign, and noted that the view of both signs would be unobstructed. He said the size of the rental center sign could be reduced to 2 square feet. Mr. Marshall said that the applicant would agree to the condition that the market sign would be turned off at 10:00 pm and would not be turned on before 6:00 am.

Mr. Katz moved to grant a variance from Section 1106(G)(4)(b) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit installation of two wall mounted individual establishment identification facade signs, noting that the market sign will be 12” high by 20’ in length, and allowing 2 square feet for the rental center sign, on the condition that the lights of either sign will not be turned on before 6:00 am and will be turned off by 10:00 pm. Mr. Lenihan seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Laughlin voting nay.

With no further business and without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 9:05 pm.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Leslie Dunleavy, Acting Recording Secretary