NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF AUGUST 2, 2007

The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, August 2, 2007 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: William J. Wall, Chairman; Victoria Bowe, Vice-Chairman; David Katz, Secretary; Gail Laughlin, member. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor; Michael Solomon, Zoning Officer and Justine Gregor, Stenographer.

Call to Order

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

The Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of Minutes

Mrs. Bowe moved to accept the minutes of July 5, 2007. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mr. Wall abstaining..

The Agenda was reviewed:

  • Application of Julie Lambert – 11 Clearview Drive
  • Application of Frank and Cindy McLane – 495 Linton Hill Road
  • Application of KLS Ryan (Goodnoe’s Corner) - Durham Rd & Sycamore St.

Application of Julie Lambert

Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Julie Lambert, Julie Lambert owners requesting a variance from Section 404B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 15 feet by 24 feet above ground swimming pool resulting in a 16.24% impervious surface ratio where 12% is permitted. The subject property is 11 Clearview Drive, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-13-10.

Mr. Wall asked if anyone wished party status. There was no response.

Julie Lambert was sworn in. Ms. Lambert said that she would like to install an above-ground pool for her family to enjoy. She entered as Exhibit A-1 a packet of 12 letters of support from surrounding neighbors. In response to Mrs. Bowe’s question, she said that Family Pools Services will be the contractor on the installation.

Richard Le May was sworn in. Mr. Le May said that he is here to express support for this application.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Mr. Katz moved to grant a variance from Section 404B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 15 feet by 24 feet above ground swimming pool resulting in a 16.24% impervious surface ratio where 12% is permitted. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Application of Frank and Cindy McLane

Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Frank and Cindy McLane, Frank and Cindy McLane owners requesting a variance from Section 401C of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 637 square feet left side addition and a 483 square feet right side addition resulting in 70.4 and 59.1 feet front yard set backs where 100 feet is required. The subject property is 495 Linton Hill Road, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-3-67.

Mr. Wall asked if anyone wished party status. There was no response.

Frank McLane, Cindy McLane and Jay Maxwell, contractor, were sworn in.

Mr. Maxwell explained that the McLane’s wish to extend their house to include a dining room and study, and to construct a detached garage. The existing garage is to be converted to a playroom. Mr. and Mrs. McLane have lived in the house for ten years. This is a non-conforming lot. The house, constructed in 1966 is already inside of the 100 foot setback. Because the existing driveway is to be removed, the impervious surface is within the permitted ratio, and is somewhat reduced. The neighbors have had no objection to the plans. In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Mr. Maxwell showed the building envelope on the plan, again noting that the existing house is not within that permitted envelope.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Mrs. Bowe moved to grant a variance from Section 401C of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 637 square feet left side addition and a 483 square feet right side addition resulting in 70.4 and 59.1 feet front yard set backs where 100 feet is required. Mrs. Laughlin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Application of KLS Ryan LP

Mr. Katz read into the record the application of KLS Ryan LP, KLS Ryan LP owners requesting a variance from Section 1106(H)(2)(d), (4)(a), (4)(c)(2)(a) & (4)(d) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of proposed signage for Goodnoe's Corner Shopping Center resulting in height, number, and size variances. The subject property is Durham Road and North Sycamore Street, Newtown, in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-3-24-2.

Attorney John VanLuvanee represented the applicant. Joseph McGrath was sworn in.

Attorney Paul Beckert, representing the Township, said that the Board of Supervisors had asked that he appear, noting that the Township had discussed the sign variance with the applicant, who has agreed to make certain amendments to this application.

Mr. Van Luvanee said that the applicant has final plan approval and conditional use approval for the shopping center; construction is begun. In accordance with discussions with the Board of Supervisors, the application will not include buildings 1 and 7, the pharmacy and the Irish pub. In the Township’s final land development approval, the applicant is required to have the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) approval for all signage fronting Sycamore Street. The tenants for buildings 1 and 7 will apply for variances separately. One tenant with a very long name might return for additional relief; another tenant might return for a variance for its name to appear on an awning. FirsTrust Bank has agreed to back lighting, rather than internal lighting on its signs; its ATM sign complies with the Ordinance.

In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Van Luvanee explained that an internally lighted sign would be a box with lighting tubes inside, so that the sign would light up. A Back lighted sign would have each letter mounted to the building, with lighting behind the lettering, so that the area around the letters would be illuminated. This is different than signs with lights shining up or down from the exterior.

Mr. Solomon said that the Ordinance allows lighting outside of the historic district.

In response to Mr. Katz’ questions, Mr. Van Luvanee said that the applicant has been to a HARB meeting to discuss the signs. HARB has expressed support for the additional signage and for the monument signs.

Mr. Beckert said that nothing in any variance would influence the Board of Supervisors or HARB. The Board does not object to the two monument signs, each 15 feet 9 inches high, to the individual establishment signs placed 9 feet high, to the 2-foot square blade signs with two façade signs, to façade signs 2 feet by 16 feet with 15 inch high lettering, to the two FirsTrust signs. The ATM sign conforms to the Ordinance. The Township is not opposed to these conditions, provided that buildings 1 and 7 are not part of the application or of relief granted.

In response to Mr. Katz’ questions, Mr. VanLuvanee said that the lighting on the FirsTrust sign is not part of the application, but the applicant is complying with a request from the Township to use back lighting rather than internal lighting for the Bank’s signage. The applicant has agreed that any variance granted would not influence the Supervisors in granting conditional use approval, nor would it influence HARB. Because the signage would be visible from the historic district, the applicant has agreed to review signage with HARB. Mr. VanLuvanee entered as Exhibit A-1 a plan for an externally, back lighted sign.

Edward Benz, senior advisor for FirsTrust, was sworn in. He said that he was present at the Board of Supervisors meeting at which this application was reviewed, and is familiar with the original application. He described back lighting as lighting behind the individual letters attached to the building. This sign will be read during the day; at night the wall around the letters will be lighted, so that the red letters are visible framed against the wall. He pointed to the EXIT sign in the meeting room, which is a box with the word EXIT printed on Plexiglas, lighted from within, explaining that this is what an internally lighted sign looks like.

Mr. McGrath said that he has gone to a HARB meeting, where the overall appearance of the sign was presented, however, once size has been established the individual tenant signs will be designed and colors will be chosen. At that time, HARB approval will be sought.

Mrs. Bowe commented that she has concerns about the aggregate effect of the signage on neighboring properties within the historic district.

Mr. Van Luvanee reiterated that the applicant met with HARB on the general size and design issues, and the individual tenants would return to HARB to discuss aesthetics.

Mr. Beckert confirmed that HARB has approved the monument sign structure and size, but would review each tenant’s individual name sign.

Mr. Van Luvanee entered the following exhibits:

  • Exhibit A-2 – design plan for the monument sign, which is 15 feet 9 inches, not 15.9 feet in height
  • Exhibit A-3 - detail of monument sign
  • Exhibit A-4 – design of individual tenant signs
  • Exhibit A-5 - plan showing the scale of the signs in relation to the architecture on Sycamore Street façade, buildings 2 A and 2 B
  • Exhibit A-6 - plan showing the scale of the signs in relation to the architecture on parking lot side, buildings 2 A and 2 B
  • Exhibit A-7 - plan showing the scale of the signs in relation to the architecture on Sycamore Street façade. building 3A
  • Exhibit A-8 - plan showing the scale of the signs in relation to the architecture on parking lot side, building 3A
  • Exhibit A-9 - plan showing the scale of the signs in relation to the architecture on Sycamore Street and Durham Road, buildings 4A and 4B
  • Exhibit A-10 - plan showing the scale of the signs in relation to the architecture on parking lot side, buildings 4A and 4B
  • Exhibit A-11 – FirsTrust south elevation
  • Exhibit A-12 – FirsTrust north elevation

Mr. Van Luvanee noted that, although the Irish pub sign appears on the exhibits, it has been withdrawn from consideration for this application.

Richard Crawford was sworn in. Mr. Crawford is employed by Mercer Sign Consultation in Doylestown. He has been qualified as an expert witness in many states, including Pennsylvania, and has been accepted as an expert by Newtown Township’s Zoning Hearing Board.

Mr. VanLuvanee entered as Exhibit A-13 Mr. Crawford’s Curriculum Vitae.

Mr. Crawford was accepted as an expert witness.

Mr. Crawford said that this applicant has attempted to design signage that would be very much in keeping with the historic district and with the architectural style of each building. He reviewed the request for size and height variances, noting that the signs need to be placed in the appropriate space on the façade. The size variance is necessary for the façade signs to help motorists read them while driving. The blade signs are for pedestrians. HARB has requested that each blade sign be slightly different. Regarding the monument signs, the size is necessary to make the individual signs legible to motorists, and the height is on the Sycamore Street monument because it will be set back from the street slightly and the bottom will be behind the steps of the Irish pub. The length variance is sought for the façade signs so that tenants with long names do not have difficulty.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Mr. Wall move to grant variances from JMZO Sections1106(h)(2)(d) for two monument signs with a total height of 15 ' 9”, from Section 1106(H)(4)(a) to permit each retail establishment to have two facade signs (a 2 sq. ft pedestrian sign and a 2'x16' panel) on each facade fronting a street, common parking area or pedestrian way, from Section 1106(H)(4)(c)(2)(a) to allow 2' wide x 16' long wooden sign panels with 15" high letters not to exceed 16 ' in length or 80% of the wall length, from Section1106(H)(4)(c)(2)(a) to allow 2 signs for the financial establishment to be externally back-lit letters measuring 2'4" in height and 16' 6 3/4" in length. Mrs. Laughlin seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Wall noted that variance requests for the Irish Pub have been withdrawn, and that building 7 had not been included in the application, nor is it included in the variance relief granted.

The motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Katz moved to adjourn at 9:45PM. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary