NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF SEPTEMBER 4, 2008

The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, September 4, 2008 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: John Lenihan, Chairman; Victoria Bowe, Vice Chairman; David Katz, Secretary and Karen Doorley, member. 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

Mr. Katz moved to accept the minutes of August 7, 2008. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

The agenda was reviewed:

  • Continued Application of Michael Sullivan – 178 Durham Road

  • Continued Application of Neil Morris – 429 Taylor Avenue

  • Application of Emmanuel Fashakin - 11 Waterford Place

  • Application of Roger Hughes & David Rominiecki - 82 Swamp Road

  • Application of Erik & Stephanie Molden - 4 Foxhall Road

  • Application of Vahakan Derassouyan ( Newtown Plaza) - 21 -33 Swamp Road

  • Application of Alex Zhitomirsky - 12 Old Frost Road Continued Application of Neil Morris

    Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that the applicant has requested that the application be continued to the October meeting.

    Mrs. Doorley moved to continue the application of Neil Morris to October 2, 2008. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

    Application of Erik & Stephanie Molden

    Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Erik and Stephanie Molden, owners, requesting a variance from Section the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 as applies to Foxhall Estates to permit construction of an swimming pool, spa, coping, decking, and equipment pad resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 8,925% where the maximum permitted is 6,000 square feet. The subject property is 4 Foxhall Road, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-16-2-20.

    Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that the applicant has requested that the application be continued to the October meeting.

    Mr. Katz moved to continue the application of Erik and Stephanie Molden to October 2, 2008. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

    Application of Alex Zhitomirsky

    Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Alex Zhitomirsky, Bradley J. McGowan owner, requesting a variance from Sections 404(A),(B)&(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit conversion of an existing 2-story house into professional use software development with a 19.9% impervious surface ratio where 17% is permitted, and side yard set back of 4 feet and aggregate side yard of 34 feet where 24 feet and 49.58 feet are required. The subject property is 12 Old Frost Lane, Newtown, in the R1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-52-12.

    Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that the applicant has requested that the application be continued to the October meeting.

    Mr. Lenihan moved to continue the application of Alex Zhitomirsky to October 2, 2008. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

    Continued Application of Michael Sullivan

    Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that this application has already been opened and read into the record.

    Attorney Susan Piette represented the applicant.

    Mr. Lenihan asked if anyone wished party status. He 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.

    Edward Joseph Twining asked for party status for himself and on behalf of Anne Louise Twining, for whom he holds a power of attorney.

    Michael Sullivan and Edward Twining were sworn in.

    Ms. Piette explained that Michael Sullivan is now the owner of 178 Durham Road. Ms. Piette said that the original application for a variance has been changed. This property has been subdivided, with Mr. Sullivan taking lot #2 and Mr. Twining retaining lot #1. In the original application, the applicant had sought an increase in impervious surface for lot #2 in order to pave a driveway for a flag lot, creating a right in/right out access to Durham Road. The Board of Supervisors urged the applicant to create a shared driveway access with Mr. Twining, eliminating the flag driveway and second access onto Durham Road. An access easement has been agreed to and the flag will only be used for utilities. The plan will widen the existing driveway from 8 to 12 feet. A variance is now needed for lot #1 for increased impervious surface. The permitted impervious is 12% and a prior variance allows 15.2%. The applicant is now seeking an increase to 17%. Mr. Sullivan did not create this subdivision, and he has been asked by the Board of Supervisors to create this driveway and access to Durham Road.

    Mr. Sullivan agreed with Ms. Piette’s summary, as did Mr. Twining. Mr. Twining also noted that he has an ongoing dispute with another property owner from a prior subdivision. A survey conducted in 1932 shows an additional 33 inches of property on his side of the property line, but at the time of subdivision, a survey placed the property line differently. He is disputing this line with Mrs. Rentz. He noted that he is in support of this application. He said that a portion of the access easement is within this disputed area.

    In response to Mr. Katz’s questions, Mr. Twining said that the ground gets muddy during a heavy rain.

    Ms. Piette noted that the driveway is pitched so that run-off flows to the street. By creating this driveway, a curb cut and additional driveway have been eliminated. This proposal eliminates 3000 square feet of impervious surface from the previous plan.

    Ms. Piette said that the plan before the Zoning Hearing Board is the record plan. The property is not currently in dispute.

    Mr. Katz said that there has been testimony of significant run-off problems from neighbors of this property in other applications. He said that the entire area, and not the individual lots, should be considered. He suggested that stormwater management should be installed so that it would be as if it were a 12% impervious surface.

    Mrs. Doorley said that she was not on the Zoning Hearing Board during the neighbors’ applications; she had no comment.

    Mr. Lenihan said that while Mr. Katz made a good point about the area, he did not think that this applicant’s request would cause an undue hardship, and there are already hardships for the use of the property. Some of the neighbors’ problems are self-imposed.

    Mr. Solomon said that the adjoining property is currently in land development; stormwater management is being reviewed by the Township.

    Mr. Katz moved to grant a variance from section 404 B of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to allow an increased impervious surface of 17% subject to the condition that a stormwater management system be designed and installed to contain run-off above the 15.2% permitted by prior variance.

    Mrs. Bowe seconded.

    Discussion of motion: In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s comment, Mr. Katz said that the system should be installed on lot #2.

    The motion failed 1-3, with Mrs. Bowe, Mrs. Doorley and Mr. Katz voting nay.

    Mr. Lenihan moved to grant avariance from Section 404(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a driveway resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 17% where the maximum permitted by ordinance is 12% and by prior variance 15.2%.. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed 3-1, with Mr. Katz voting nay.

    Application of Emanuel Fashakin

    Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Emanuel Fashakin, owner, requesting a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 10 feet high tennis court fence where the maximum fence height is 7 feet. The subject property is 11 Waterford Place, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-7-17-7.

    Emanuel Fashakin was sworn in.

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

    Mr. Fashakin explained that at his previous appearance before this Board for variances to install a pool, patio and tennis court, he had failed to include the request for a variance for fence height. The pool installer had prepared his application.

    In response to Mrs. Doorley’s question, Mr. Auchinleck said that in this particular case, the variance is needed because it is in what is considered a front yard.

    Mrs. Doorley moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H-3)(1)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit 10 feet high tennis court fence where the maximum fence height is 7 feet. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

    Application of Robert Hughes and David Rominiecki

    Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Robert Hughes and David Rominiecki, owners requesting a variance from Section 405(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a swimming pool resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 18.52% where the maximum permitted is 13%. The subject property is 82 Swamp Road, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-3-11-1.

    Robert Hughes and David Rominiecki were sworn in.

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

    Mr. Rominiecki said that he and Mr. Hughes want to install a pool in their back yard. Theirs is the only residential property on the street; next door is Council Rock High School North and across the street is St. Andrew’s Church. The application includes a request for impervious surface for a garage, which will not be built right away.

    Mr. Hughes explained that the pool company had been told by the Codes Department that the property was 8-9% impervious surface, but after a survey was done they learned that the property is currently at 15.4% impervious surface. A 400 square foot addition had been built, and appropriate permits had been issued, but no variance had been sought for the addition.

    Mr. Solomon confirmed that the applicant had been given a permit for the addition. That was not a surveyed plan, and it was thought that the impervious was 8-9%. The current application includes all impervious surface, the addition plus the pool and garage. The property is in the R-2 Zoning District, not the CM district.

    In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Hughes said that at some point in the future the existing garage will be converted to a family room. No additional driveway will be needed for the planned new garage. Portions of the old driveway will be removed and lawn will be planted. They understand that they will have to seek extensions for variances granted if they do not proceed with the garage right away.

    Mrs. Bowe moved to grant a variance from Section 405(B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a swimming pool resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 18.52% where the maximum permitted is 13 %. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

    Application of Vahakn Derassouyan

    Mr. Katz read into the record the application of Vahakn Derassouyan, owner, requesting a variance from Sections 1106(G)(4)(a)&(b)&(G)(5) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 54.5 square feet freestanding joint use sign, where 20 square feet is the maximum permitted, with individual use panels of 6.67 square feet where 2 square feet are the maximum permitted and a height of 9.33 feet where the maximum height is 5 feet. The subject property is 21 - 33 Swamp Road, Newtown, in the CC - Convenience Commercial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-11-83.

    Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant.

    Vaugh Derassouyan, son of the applicant, was sworn in.

    Mr. Marshall explained that the applicant is the owner of Newtown Plaza Shopping Center. The applicant received a waiver of land development for re-aligning the entrance to the shopping center so that it aligns with the planned traffic light at South Eagle Road. The applicant has to relocate the sign, and had decided to replace it with a new sign. Mr. Marshall entered the following exhibits:

    • Exhibit A-1 – full size copy of plan
    • Exhibit A-2 – Deed to property
    • Exhibit A-3 – Conditional Use application
    • Exhibit A-4 – Zoning hearing Board Decision dated June 5, 2008 for wall mounted sign
    • Exhibit A-5 – Photograph of existing sign
    • Exhibit A-6 – Proposed sign design
    • Exhibit A-7 – Comparison chart of old sign to new sign measurements.

    Mr. Marshall said that the strip mall has five tenants but seven units. The proposed sign would have eight panels, one for the shopping center and one for each possible tenant. Metro Cleaners and Meglio’s restaurant occupy two units each right now.

    In reviewing Exhibit A-7, the Board discussed whether the open areas between each panel are included in calculating the sign size.

    Mr. Marshall noted that the height of both the old and new signs are the same; the length of each new panel is longer but the width is shorter, so that the completed signs each total almost the same number of square feet. The old sign will be removed, as it will interfere with the proposed new driveway, which is being installed in cooperation with Township road improvement plans. The sign at the entrance is necessary as the wall mounted signs are not easily read by passing motorists.

    Mr. Katz, Mrs. Bowe and Mrs. Doorley all had concerns about the size of the sign, with the brick pillars giving it an even larger appearance.

    Mr. Marshall and Mr. Solomon confirmed that the pillars are not included in the size of the sign. The Ordinance only considers the size of the sign itself.

    The Board discussed an appropriate sign variance. Mr. Auchinleck said that he is not sure whether the Township would interpret the Ordinance to include the space between panels in calculating size.

    Mr. Marshall suggested that the panels could be placed directly on top of each other without any space in between, which would total 44 square feet.

    The Board agreed that they preferred the appearance of the sign with some space between each panel. At the Board’s direction, Mr. Auchinleck entered Exhibit ZHB-1, a picture of the proposed sign with 8 panels, one panel at 10”x96” and the remaining panels at 8”x96”, placed with a space between each panel, with the panel surfaces totaling 44 square feet.

    Mr. Solomon had no further comment.

    Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from JMZO Section 1106(G)(4)(a) to allow a freestanding multiuse sign totaling 44 square feet, consisting of 8 panels, as shown in Exhibit ZHB-1, from Section 1106(G)(4)(b) to allow individual panels of 6.67 square feet, from Section 1106(G)(5) to allow a maximum heights of 9.33 feet and from Section 1106(G) to allow a freestanding sign on a shopping center lot of less than 5 acres. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

     Mr. Lenihan moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Mrs. Bowe seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary