NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF JULY 3, 2008

The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, July 3, 2008 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: John Lenihan, Chairman; Victoria Bowe, Vice Chairman; David Katz, Secretary; Karen Doorley and William Wall members. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq. and Donna D’Angelis, Stenographer.

Call to Order

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

The Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of Minutes

Mrs. Doorley moved to accept the minutes of June 5, 2008. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

The agenda was reviewed:

  • Continued Application of Mike & Michelle Reilly - 4 Hillview Drive
  • Application of Congregation Brothers of Israel – 530 Washington Crossing Road
  • Application of Todd Goldberg – 13 Delaney Drive
  • Application of Jaime and Scott Sysler – 2 South Lancaster Lane
  • Application of 11 Friends Lane LLC – 11 Friends Lane

Continued Application of Mike and Michelle Reilly

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that this applicant has asked to continue the application to the August meeting.

Mr. Wall moved to continue the application of Mike and Michelle Reilly to August 7, 2008. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Congregation Brothers of Israel

Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Congregation Brothers of Israel, owner, requesting a special exception under sections 401(A)(3)(b) and 1208(C)(2) in association with section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit expansion of a C-1 use (synagogue) by allowing a modular classroom on a non-conforming lot. The property is 530 Washington Crossing Road in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District also known as Tax Map Parcel #29-3-73-6.

Attorney Ed Murphy represented the applicant.

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

Mr. Auchinleck noted that the Congregation’s property is on two lots, and that tax map parcel 29-3-73-7 was not listed in the advertisement. All appropriate adjacent neighbors to both parcels have been notified of the application.

Leslie Floyd was sworn in.

Mr. Murphy explained that the applicant is seeking a special exception for construction of a modular classroom on a non-conforming lot. The lot is 7.7708 acres and a place of worship requires 10 acres in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District. The modular classroom, similar to those used by Council Rock School District, is needed for religious classes of grades 4-6 on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday for two hours. He entered as Exhibit A-1 a preliminary/final waiver plan dated May 5, 2008.

Mr. Murphy said that the property has a special exception for a place of worship granted in September, 1974, and in May of 1975 for an addition for a Church Education Building, and variance for a side yard setback. These special exceptions were granted to tax map parcel 29-3-73-7, which is 3.42 acres. The Congregation has acquired tax map parcel 29-3-73-6, which is 4.34 acres. Although still non-conforming, the property now totals 7.77 acres. The parcels are to be consolidated. The Congregation is asking for special exception for the modular classroom. The classroom will be located at the rear of the Synagogue and will not be visible from the street or from adjoining properties.

In response to questions from the Board, Ms. Floyd, Vice President of the Congregation, said that the building will house three classrooms for 4 th through 6 th grade children. There will be 10 to 14 children in each after-school class, and once a month on Saturday mornings. The Congregation is updating its master plan and had not yet determined future needs. The classroom would be needed for about four years, and she would accept a four year limit on the special exception.

Mr. Murphy said that the house on the property is currently occupied by a tenant, but the Congregation may use it for a rectory for the Rabbi in the future. The temporary classroom is expected to hold up for about twenty years.

Ms. Floyd said that the classroom is being planned for religious instruction only. No nursery school or other activities are planned.

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that he had correspondence from an adjacent neighbor expressing concern that the temporary classroom could deteriorate over time.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Mr. Katz moved to grant a special exception under sections 401(A)(3)(b) and 1208(C)(2) in association with section 401(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit expansion of a C-1 use (synagogue) by allowing a modular classroom on a non-conforming lot subject to the conditions that the two tax map parcels be consolidated that that the temporary classroom be replaced with a permanent structure after four years. Mrs. Bowe seconded.

Discussion of motion: In response to Mrs. Doorley’s question, Mr. Murphy said that the Congregation would be appearing before the Board of Supervisors seeking a waiver of land development.

Mr. Auchinleck said that the application does not reference a special exception for a place of worship for tax map parcel 29-3-73-6.

Mr. Murphy said that Mr. Solomon had advised that it would not be necessary.

Mr. Katz amended his motion to include a special exception for C-1 place of worship use to tax map parcel 29-3-73-6. Mrs. Bowe amended her second and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Todd Goldberg

Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Todd Goldberg, owner, requesting a variance from section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 608 square feet patio in the rear of an existing village house resulting in a rear yard set back of 24 feet where 30 feet is required. The property is 13 Delaney Drive in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District also known as Tax Map Parcel #29-48-52, Lot 7 in Linton Hill Chase.’’

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

Todd Goldberg was sworn in. Mr. Goldberg explained that he would like to install a patio at the rear of his house. In response to questions from the Board he said that there is open space, which is part of his development, at the rear of his property. His neighbors are supportive of his plan. He entered as Exhibit A-1 a letter from the Linton Hill Chase Homeowners Association granting approval of the patio. The only variance required is for rear yard setback; he is within the permitted impervious surface.

Mr. Lenihan noted that the Zoning Hearing Board has heard from many residents of this development because the houses fill almost the entire building envelope, leaving very little space for outdoor amenities.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Mr. Wall moved to grant a variance from section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 608 square feet patio in the rear of an existing village house resulting in a rear yard set back of 24 feet where 30 feet is required . Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of Jaime and Scott Sysler

Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Jaime and Scott Sysler, owner, requesting a variance from section 803(H-3)(1)(a)(e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of 124 linear feet of six feet high fencing where the maximum permitted fence is 3 feet. The property is 2 South Lancaster Lane in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District also known as Tax Map Parcel #29-24-211.

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

Scott Sysler and Barry Sysler were sworn in. Mr. Scott Sysler explained that he wants to replace an existing 6-foot fence with a replacement fence. The existing fence is in very poor condition. He has a child and dog and the fence is needed for their safety and for privacy. He entered as Exhibit A-1 a petition of his neighbors in support of the application and a photograph of the existing fence.

Mr. Solomon had no comment.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from section 803(H-3)(1)(a)(e) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of 124 linear feet of six feet high fencing where the maximum permitted fence is 3 feet. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Application of 11 Friends Lane LLC.

Mr. Katz read into the record the application of 11 Friends Lane LLC., owner, requesting a variance from section 803(D-2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 and relief from previous zoning board decisions dated April 6, 2006 and January 4, 2008 to permit 34,076 square feet of existing office space to be used for medical uses without increase parking where the condition of the prior decisions limited medical uses to 19,343.5 square feet and providing 155 parking spaces where 227 parking spaces are required. The property is 11 Friends Lane in the L-I Light Industrial Zoning District also known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-105.

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

Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant.

Paul Salvatore was sworn in.

Mr. Marshall said that this applicant has appeared twice before the Zoning Hearing Board and been granted variances to permit 155 parking spaces subject to the condition that only 19,343 square feet of the 34,832 square foot building be used for medical uses. This is an adaptive reuse of an existing warehouse/manufacturing space. Mr. Marshall entered the following exhibits:

  • Exhibit A-1 – The as built plan for 11 Friends Lane
  • Exhibit A-2 – The Deed to the property
  • Exhibit A-3 – Zoning Hearing Board decision dated April 2006
  • Exhibit A-4 – Zoning Hearing Board decision dated January 2008

Mr. Marshall referred to Exhibit A-3, which granted relief to allow 155 parking spaces provided only ½ of the space were used for D-2 medical use and ½ for D-1 office use. At that time, Dr. Joseph Kipp, a family medical practitioner, was occupying 16,891 square feet of space. Exhibit A-4 is the decision to allow Dr. Lantzy, a dentist, to move into 2,452 square feet of space, leaving 19,343 square feet for D-1 office use.

Mr. Marshall explained that the owners of the property are having a difficult time finding general office tenants, however have been approached for medical tenants. If the entire building were D-2 medical use, 227 parking spaces would be required.

Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-5, a letter agreement with Lutheran Church of Goad’s Love, allowing 11 Friends Lane to lease 72 parking spaces on weekdays, and as Exhibit A-6, a parking study performed for the applicant by McMahon and Associates, Traffic Engineers. The Church is 500 feet from the office building. The spaces would be used for employee parking if necessary.

Mr. Salvatore said that he is a principle in 11 Friends Lane, LLC. He is actively involved in the renovations of the building and visits the site daily. The parking spaces have already been installed. Dr. Kipp occupies 16,891 square feet with a medical practice. This is 49.4% of the building. Dr. Kipp moved an existing medical practice to the building 7 months ago. He referred to Exhibit A-6 and noted that on June 26, 2008, the traffic count, which was conducted over a full day, every ½ hour, found that at its peak hour, Dr. Kipp’s practice used 59 parking spaces. The actual need for this building would be 118 parking spaces. The Parking Generation Manual recommends 121 parking spaces. If needed, the Church parking lot would be used for employee parking. Employees would be provided with a shuttle across Newtown Yardley Road. Mr. Salvatore said that as a real estate professional, he has been involved in marketing the remaining space in the building, and the response for non-medical use has not been good.

Mr. Marshall said that the Planning Commission reviewed this application and recommended that the Board of Supervisors oppose it, however the Board had no comment on the application.

Dr. Joseph Kipp was sworn in. Dr. Kipp said that he is a primary care and geriatric care physician. Also in his office space are a foot care practice, an arrhythmia clinic, a pulmonary/sleep clinic, a clinical lab and a psychologist. Dr. Lantzy’s general dentistry practice has not opened yet.

In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Salvatore said that there is a non-compete clause in the lease, prohibiting another general practice medical office to move in.

In response to the Board’s questions, Dr. Kipp said that he has 22 employees, and he is not sure of the number associated with the other practices in his space. He expects Dr. Lantzy to need about 6-8 parking spaces. He said that the total might be about 48 employees, however they are not all on the premises at the same time. He had approached other businesses closer to his office but no other business was willing to lease parking, only the Church.

The Board discussed the parking study, which contained counts for a full week, and reviewed Dr. Kipp’s and Dr. Lantzy’s office hours. They had some concern that if a busy practice, such as pediatrics, were to move in, the parking would not be adequate. Employees might be reluctant to park so far away, on the other side of busy Newtown Yardley Road.

Mr. Wall said that he is very concerned about lack of parking in the Business Commons. He noted that the Board had reviewed parking studies that indicated that Goodnoe’s Corner would have adequate parking, but it is always overcrowded there.

Mr. Wall moved to deny the application of 11 Friends Lane, LLC for a variance from section 803(D-2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 and relief from previous zoning board decisions dated April 6, 2006 and January 4, 2008 to permit 34,076 square feet of existing office space to be used for medical uses without increase parking where the condition of the prior decisions limited medical uses to 19,343.5 square feet and providing 155 parking spaces where 227 parking spaces are required. Mrs. Bowe seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Doorley said that the Township has been attempting to be “business friendly” and has encouraged the adaptive reuse of the industrial buildings in the Business Commons. She would like to support this effort by accommodating the applicant.

Mr. Lenihan said that he agreed with Mrs. Doorley and noted that the applicant has made arrangements to provide the additional parking off-site.

The motion failed 1-4, with Mr. Katz, Mrs. Doorley, Mrs. Bowe and Mr. Lenihan voting nay.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant the application of 11 Friends Lane, LLC for a variance from section 803(D-2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 and relief from previous zoning board decisions dated April 6, 2006 and January 4, 2008 to permit 34,076 square feet of existing office space to be used for medical uses without increase parking where the condition of the prior decisions limited medical uses to 19,343.5 square feet and providing 155 parking spaces where 227 parking spaces are required, subject to the condition that the applicant enter into an agreement to lease 72 parking spaces from the Lutheran Church of God’s Love, and to provide an alternate off-site parking area should the Church become unavailable, and to provide a shuttle when needed to safely transport for employees. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Wall voting nay.

Mrs. Doorley moved to adjourn at 9:00 PM. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary