NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF JUNE 4, 2009

The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, June 4, 2009 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: John Lenihan, Chairman; David Katz, Vice Chairman, Karen Doorley, Secretary, Mario Lionetti and William Wall, members. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor, John Boyle, Assistant Township Manager and Justine Gregor, Stenographer.

Call to Order

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

The Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Lionetti moved to accept the minutes of May 7, 2009. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

The Agenda was reviewed:

  • Continued Application of Friends Lane LLC – 104 Penns Trail
  • Application of Rona Appelbaum by Timothy Cojocaru – 7 East Park Road
  • Application of Richard and Grace LeMay – 8 Clearview Drive
  • Application of 200 N. Sycamore Street, LP – 200 N. Sycamore Street

Application of Richard and Grace LeMay

Mrs. Doorley read into the record the application of Richard and Grace LeMay, owners, requesting a variance from section 404 (B) & (C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 34' by 16' addition and a 8' by 16' patio resulting in a 30.3' aggregate side yard where 60' is required and a 15.97% impervious surface ratio where 12% is permitted; and a Special Exception under Section 1208(C)(2) to permit construction on a nonconforming lot. The subject property is 8 Clearview Drive, Newtown, tax map parcel #29-13-19 in the R-1 Medium Density Residential District.

Richard LeMay was sworn in.

Mr. Lenihan asked if anyone wished party status for this application. There was no response.

Mr. LeMay said that he would like to add a first floor master bedroom and bath and activity room with handicapped access to his home; due to illness, his wife is having difficulty with the stairs to their second floor. He has lived in this home for 34 years. It is located across from Goodnoe Elementary School in a development once known as the Keller tract. There is no homeowners association. He has the support of his neighbors, whose only concern is a possible drainage issue. Mr. LeMay entered as Exhibit A-1, a letter of support from his neighbors Lorraine Jerman and Rudolf Chalupa and as Exhibit A-2 a letter from Henry and Julie Parry.

Ron James, contractor on the project, was sworn in. Mr. James presented a revised plan, marked as Exhibit A-3. This plan addresses some drainage concerns the neighbors had discussed in their letters. The plan shows the existing patio, which is to remain, making the impervious surface total 16.2% An underground drainage system is planned to direct run off to the street. This should correct an already existing problem with run off. Other homes on Clearview Drive direct run off toward the street. The property is served by public water and sewer.

Mr. Boyle noted that the property was posted on May 28, 2009.

Mr. Katz moved to grant a variance to Richard and Grace LeMay, 8 Clearview Drive, from section 404 (B) & (C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 34' by 16' addition and a 8' by 16' patio resulting in a 30.3' aggregate side yard where 60' is required and a 16.2% impervious surface ratio where 12% is permitted; and a Special Exception under Section 1208(C)(2) to permit construction on a nonconforming lot subject to the condition that drainage is directed toward the street as shown on Exhibit A-3, to minimize impact on neighbors’ properties. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Application of Rona Appelbaum by Timothy Cojocaru

Mrs. Doorley read into the record the application of Rona Appelbaum, by Timothy Cojocaru agent, appealing the action of the Zoning Officer imposing a condition on a gun repair home occupation dated February 19, 2009. The subject property is 7 East Park Road, Newtown, tax map parcel #29-32-124 in the R-1 Medium Density Residential District.

Timothy Cojocaru was sworn in.

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

Mr. Cojocaru presented a written statement to the Board members and explained that he is a U. S. Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War. He has recently been laid off from his position as a tool and die maker and is seeking a home occupation use H-1 as a gunsmith. He is trained in repair and modification of firearms and has received certification from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). It has been his intention to convert his garage to a workshop. To conduct this business he would need a license from the ATF, which license is issued for repair and retail sales of firearms. There is no other license available.

Mr. Cojocaru explained that when he was given a permit from the Township for an H-1 home occupation use, there was a condition attached to the permit, which states that “no articles shall be sold or offered for sale from the premises….” With this condition attached to his home occupation permit, the ATF will not issue a license. This condition is not in keeping with the Township’s H-1 use, which does permit retail sales from the home if, “produced, repaired, refinished or assembled on the premises.” Although he said that he does not intend to sell firearms, it is necessary that the condition be removed from the permit in order to qualify for the ATF license.

Mr. Cojocaru said that his application has been reviewed by the Township Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors and each has expressed support.

In response to Mr. Katz’s questions, Mr. Cojocaru said that the Tyler Walk Homeowners Association has indicated that until he has a permit from the Township he cannot get permission for the home occupation from the HOA. He has a bolted safe in his home for storage of firearms with an alarm directly to the police department.

Mr. Auchinleck said that he has received a letter from the Township Solicitor stating that the Board of Supervisors does not wish to oppose this application, but requesting that if the Zoning Hearing Board is inclined to grant the appeal, that it have a condition that the relief granted is for this applicant only and not for the property.

Mr. Boyle noted that the property had been posted on May 28, 2009.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant the appeal of Timothy Cojocaru, of the action of the Zoning Officer imposing a condition on a gun repair home occupation dated February 19, 2009, modifying the permit to allow the sale of articles produced, repaired, refinished or assembled on the premises, subject to the condition that the relief granted is solely for this applicant and does not run to the property. Mr. Lionetti seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Continued Application of Friends Lane LLC – Penns Trail Storage

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

Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant. Mark Haver of Pickering Corts and Summerson and Richard Shore were sworn in.

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

Mr. Marshall explained that this applicant has already been to the Zoning Hearing Board for the development of this project, a 3.47 acre self storage facility with two 2-story storage buildings, use G-4, served by public water and sewer in the LI Zoning district. The application is to be amended to disturb 5700 square feet in the floodplain.

Mr. Marshall entered the following exhibits:

  • Exhibit A-1 – deed to property
  • Exhibit A-2 – Plan as attached to the application
  • Exhibit A-3 – Formal Flood Study
  • Exhibit A-4 - Previous decision of the Zoning Hearing Board dated August 24, 2007
  • Exhibit A-5 – Previous decision of the Zoning Hearing Board dated December 14, 2007
  • Exhibit A-6 – Letter from Township Solicitor requesting that the prior variance granted for impervious surface be withdrawn
  • Exhibit A-7 – Plans showing floodplain
  • Exhibit A-8 – Plans showing proposed driveway entrance

Mr. Marshall explained that the previous attorney for the applicant had requested impervious surface relief that was not needed because the calculations used for that application had included a general utility easement. The impervious surface will be below the 65% permitted. During the preliminary plan approval phase of the project, the Planning Commission had requested that the driveway be relocated on the plans to align with the driveway on the opposite side of the street, which would require disturbance of the floodplain.

Mr. Haver said that his firm had a flood study performed. This is not a FEMA mapped floodplain. The drainage from the entire development flows through the property. There would be a total of 5700 square feet of disturbance, with 3400 square feet on site and the remaining portion off site. A special exception is required for installation of utilities in a floodplain. The disturbance will not cause an increase in flooding; this is a man made floodplain. There will be no hazard to properties downstream. The Township Engineer has reviewed the plans and has had no issue with them. Both the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission prefer the aligned driveway rather than locating the driveway outside of the floodplain.

In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s questions, Mr. Marshall explained that because the utility easement was included in the base site calculations, a 76% impervious surface had been calculated and a variance had been granted. The project will be less than 65% impervious surface and the applicant will withdraw the impervious surface variance.

In response to Mr. Katz’s questions, Mr. Haver said that wetlands will not be disturbed for this project. All necessary permits have been issued.

Mr. Boyle said that the property had been posted on May 28, 2009.

Mr. Lenihan moved to grant a variance from Section 902(B)(2)(b) and 903(B)(1) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a self-storage facility with a disturbance of 5,200 square feet of floodplain; and a Special Exception under section 905(IV)(B)(1) to permit construction within the floodplain, subject to the condition that the applicant withdraw the variance granted on August 24, 2007, for increased impervious surface. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

200 N. Sycamore Street LP

Mrs. Doorley read into the record the application of 200 N. Sycamore Street LP, owner, for The Promenade at Sycamore Street requesting variances from sections 603. 903, 1001 and 1002 f the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit construction of a 3-story, mixed use retail retail and residential facility resulting in 12,485 square feet first floor, single retailer space and 27 second and third floor residential condominiums with a building height of 45.1' where 30' is permitted; 6.5 feet front yard where 20' is required; 1.5 and 3' side yards where 6' is required; excess steep slope and woodland disturbances; undersized parking stalls; reduced width drives and parking isles, and reductions in loading berths. The subject property is 200 N Sycamore Street (Acme site) tax map parcel #29-10-7 in the TC- Town Commercial Zoning District.

Attorney Ed Murphy represented the applicants. Architect Peter Stampfl and Engineer Scott Mill were sworn in.

Mr. Lenihan asked if anyone in attendance wished party status in this application. 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.

Vincent A. Lombardi, 125 N. Sycamore Street, 300 feet from the project, asked for and was granted party status.

Kara Godwin, 129 Liberty Street asked for party status. In response to Mr. Murphy’s questions, Ms. Godwin said that she is a resident of Newtown Borough where she rents her home. She located her home on a tax map and said that she is seeking party status because she is concerned that no traffic study has been done for this application and she is concerned about traffic impact on her street. She is also concerned that the project comply with existing ordinances.

Mr. Murphy objected to her request, noting that she does not have direct and substantial interest in the application.

Ms. Godwin said that her parents live at 144 Liberty Street and she asked for party status on their behalf.

Mr. Murphy objected to granting status on hearsay.

Mr. Auchinleck asked for more information on Ms. Godwin’s concerns.

Ms. Godwin said that there has already been an increase in traffic on her street in recent years and it is becoming dangerous. This project will increase the traffic.

Mr. Murphy said that the concerns are remote and speculative. The courts have ruled against granting party status to those not aggrieved.

Mr. Auchinleck denied Ms. Godwin party status as she was not sufficiently affected. He assured her that she would be given an opportunity for public comment.

Ruth(?) Hutchinson, 318 Centre Street asked for party status for her sister, Ann Hendricks of 17 Jefferson Street, who was not in attendance due to illness.

Mr. Murphy objected as hearsay and Mr. Auchinleck denied Ms. Hutchinson party status for herself and her sister, Ms. Hendricks.

Henry DeSilva, 6 Jefferson Court, Newtown Borough, asked for party status because he is concerned about an increase in traffic if the project is built, noting already increased traffic and parking problems caused by other recently completed Sycamore Street projects. In response to Mr. Murphy’s questions, Dr. DeSilva said that he does not know whether his home is 1000 feet from the site.

Mr. Murphy objected to granting Dr. DeSilva party status. He noted that traffic is not an issue before this Zoning Hearing Board but would be addressed at land development.

Mr. Auchinleck denied Dr. DeSilva party status.

Marty Ginty, 149 State Street, Newtown Borough, asked for party status. In response to questions from Mr. Murphy, Ms. Ginty said that she owns her home and business one block from the project. She will be impacted as the proposed project will affect the historic nature of the neighborhood.

Mr. Murphy objected.

Mr. Auchinleck granted Ms. Ginty party status.

Raymond Mathis, 114 Liberty Street, Newtown Borough, asked for party status as the variances requested will impact the look of the neighborhood. He located his home on the tax map.

Mr. Murphy objected and Mr. Auchinleck denied Mr. Mathis party status.

Rosemarie Tottoroto, 114 Liberty Street, Newtown Borough asked for party status.

Mr. Murphy objected and Mr. Auchinleck denied party status.

Ms. Tottoroto said that she had gotten a notice about the hearing in the mail and felt this gave her a right to party status.

Mr. Auchinleck said that the notice is sent to property owners within a certain distance from the site of the application. This does not automatically mean that party status will be granted Only those adjoining and/or adversely impacted by the project are granted party status.

Donald Spector, 41 Green Street, Newtown Borough, asked for party status because he is concerned that the requested variances, if granted, would change the character of the town. He owns his home, which is farther away from the project than the Godwin home.

Mr. Murphy objected and Mr. Auchinleck denied party status.

Attorney Shawn Ward asked for party status for the Sycamore Street Community Association, whose membership includes residents, property and business owners within 300 feet of the subject property.

Mr. Murphy did not object and party status was granted to Sycamore Street Community Association.

Frank Tyrol, owner of a business at 223 N. Sycamore Street, across the street from the subject property, asked for party status. In response to Mr. Lenihan’s question, Mr. Tyrol said that although he is represented as a member of Sycamore Street Community Association, he was seeking party status for himself and his brother individually.

Mr. Murphy had no objection and Mr. Auchinleck granted party status to Mr. Tyrol, but not to Mr. Tyrol’s brother.

Attorney Bradford Lare asked for party status for Newtown Borough.

Mr. Murphy had no objection and party status was granted.

Mr. Lenihan assured those in attendance denied party status that they would be given an opportunity to make public comment. As this is a quasi-judicial procedure, those granted party status would be given an opportunity to cross examine witnesses and present witnesses of their own.

Ms. Godwin said that she was aware of other people who wish party status but were unable to attend this evening’s hearing.

Mr. Lenihan said that if this hearing is not completed this evening, those not in attendance could seek party status at any continued hearing that might take place.

Isabel Godwin, 144 Liberty Street, Newtown Borough, asked for party status. She is concerned about the detrimental impact the project will have on the historic nature of Newtown and she is concerned about increased traffic. She objects to the height variance and the proposed length of the building.

Mr. Murphy objected and Mr. Auchinleck denied party status.

Mr. Murphy said that the applicant would like to amend the application, and is now asking for an E-2 retail use of 11,500 square feet. In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, he explained that the project size is not reduced, but the one large retail space is reduced, with that space allocated to one of the other retail spaces. The height variance request has been reduced to 41 feet 7 inches and the request for relief from 903(B)(9), to permit the existing site conditions to be utilized in stormwater run-off calculations has been withdrawn.

Mr. Murphy offered as Exhibit A-1 the curriculum vitae of Scott Mill of Van Cleef Engineering. Mr. Mill is a landscape architect who prepared the site plans for this application. He is familiar with the site and has testified as an expert before this Board for the previous owner of this property.

Mr. Mill was accepted as an expert witness.

Mr. Auchinleck entered for the Zoning Hearing Board Exhibit B-1 the application and plan.

Mr. Mill said that this is a 1.963 acre parcel in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District with an existing one story 16,800 square foot structure. The balance of the property is paved. It has been an Acme supermarket and had two access points to the Acme store. The property has a 318 foot frontage on Sycamore Street. The property is surrounded by Newtown Presbyterian Church, Newtown Ambulance Squad and Village at Newtown Shopping Center’s stormwater basins. The site is currently 88% impervious surface, or 75,068 square feet. The vegetation at the north, west and south boundaries is Norway maple an invasive, non-native tree. The topography is flat except for the steep slopes at the north, west and south boundaries, which were created when the property was originally excavated for improvements.

Mr. Mr. Mill reviewed the plan to redevelop the property with a three-story mixed use, retail and residential building with underground and at grade parking. There will be two access points, with the main access aligned with Jefferson Street. This access will be a 24 foot wide drive with two-way traffic. The second access will be at the north, which will be a 12 foot wide ingress only next to the existing retention basin. While the property will have only one building, it will look like two buildings because the entrance aligned with Jefferson Street divides the first floor of the building. There will be 103 at grade parking spaces, including 6 handicapped spaces and 69 underground spaces. The underground spaces will be allocated to tenants of the residential portion of the building and business owners or managers of the retail portion. Access to the underground garage will be near the north entrance and loading berth.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-2 a plan showing the proposed setbacks for the building dated may 27, 2009.

Referring to Exhibit A-2, Mr. Mill reviewed the requests for setback variances, noting the shaded areas on Exhibit A-2 show the points where the building goes beyond the setback requirements. The front façade of the building has different setbacks because of architectural design. Each segment of the building encroaches differently. The greatest non-conformity is at the northeast corner of the building, where it encroaches 6.5 feet for a linear distance of 20.33 feet; the average encroachment is 16.66 feet. This is a weighted average, which gives more value to sections that extend for wider intervals, for example the segment assigned to tenant “E” is 45.65 feet long.

Mr. Mill reviewed the side yard setbacks, pointing out that the lot has a slightly triangular shape so that the setback encroachment varies, with an average encroachment of 6.6 feet on the south and 4.67 feet on the north.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-3 a resource disturbance exhibit.

Mr. Mill explained that Exhibit A-3 shows existing features with steep slopes of 15-25% shaded in light grey and steep slopes of 25% or greater shaded in darker grey. A site survey of the property was done and an investigation of the boundaries has shown that the slopes that currently exist were the result of excavation for the improvements done in 1956. USGS maps done in 1942 show that the slopes did not exist. The Ordinance requires protection of 75% of slopes of 15-25% and 85% of slopes greater than 25%. The applicant proposes to disturb 100% of slopes in both categories and to remove non-native invasive species. Exhibit A-3 notes that the Norway Maples on the site are listed in the publication “Invasive Plants in Pennsylvania.” He explained that the Norway Maples are weed pests that displace other plants and invade existing ecosystems. Photographs on Exhibit A-3 show the trees are definitely Norway Maples. Mr. Mill reviewed the ordinance definitions of woodlands and noted the site has 3/10 acre of wooded area. The applicant proposes to remove all and replace as the current ordinance requires for buffers.

Mr. Murphy said that the applicant is seeking variances for parking stall size. The plan has 103 at grade parking spaces which the Ordinance requires to be 10’X20’ with 6 handicapped spaces. There is no relief sought for the handicapped spaces. The applicant proposed 9’X18’ spaces for all but 16 of the at grade spaces. This is permitted in other zoning districts, including the LI Light Industrial Zoning District. Goodnoe’s Corner has this size and the original Elliot Building Group Promenade was granted this variance. The 9’X18’ spaces would be double striped.

Mr. Mill explained that double striping of parking spaces helps drivers to better center the cars into the spaces to allow sufficient room on either side for opening of car doors. Stalls are measured from the center of the space to the center of the double striped area.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-4 an underground parking/turning template.

Mr. Mill explained that the in underground parking garage, the 69 parking spaces will be angled and each space will be 9’X16’7” with a one-way parking aisle measuring 14.5 feet. The spaces measure 19 feet from wall to aisle. The angled space makes it easier to back out of the spaces into the 14.5 foot aisle. The diagram of maneuvering shown in Exhibit A-4 shows a 19 foot long SUV exiting a parking space.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-5 the Planning and Urban Design Standards parking space dimensions and as Exhibit A-6, the Dimensions of Parking from the National Parking Association.

Mrs. Doorley asked whether any handicapped parking spaces would be located below grade.

Mr. Mill said that the Ordinance requires at grade handicapped spaces. There is an elevator at grade and below grade. Near the elevator bank in the garage it would be possible to designate handicapped spaces with the hatched area shown in Exhibit A-4 on the passenger side of the vehicles. In response to Mr. Katz’s questions, he said that the underground garage has a 7 foot clearance. He has not calculated the size or height of an ambulance, but if an ambulance could not fit into the garage a stretcher and emergency personnel could enter through the ramp or the elevator.

Mr. Katz asked whether the Ordinance specifies the number of parking spaces required for the residential units.

Mr. Murphy said that this use does not fit into any permitted use in the TC Zoning District; there are no specific parking requirements. The use is not addressed in any district within the Jointure. The applicant has allotted two underground spaces per unit with 15 additional underground spaces.

Mr. Katz noted that the parking allotment does not account for residents with more than two cars or for guests. The garden apartment use requires 3 parking spaces per unit. Two spaces might not be sufficient.

Mr. Murphy said that the applicant is seeking a variance to provide a single 20’X43’ loading berth at the north west corner of the building near the ramp. The ordinances requires 3 loading berths 15’X50’.

Mr. Stampfl explained that the loading berth has been located away from the entrances to the shops and residential entrance. Anthropologie will have the largest retail space; the other retail tenants have not yet been determined. The berth will be sufficient, as most deliveries will be in step vans.

Mr. Katz asked which space would take the 900 square feet removed from Anthropologie’s space.

Mr. Stampfl said that this space would probably be transferred to retail space “E”.

In response to Mr. Katz’s questions about the existing woodlands of Norway Maples, Mr. Mill said that there had been a large Norway Maple on the Presbyterian Church property, which has since been cut down. The other trees are volunteers from that original tree.

Mr. Lare asked who prepared the plan for Exhibit B-1 and whether it is a fair and accurate depiction.

Mr. Mill said that he prepared the Exhibit B-1 for Van Cleef Engineering, and it is fair and accurate.

Mr. Lombardi asked for copies of exhibits for himself and the other parties to the application.

Mr. Murphy agreed to provide copies to all parties.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-7 the curriculum vitae of Peter Stampfl, AIA, architect on the project. Mr. Stampfl had been accepted by this Board as an expert witness for the Elliot Building Group’s Promenade application and for Goodnoe’s Corner.

Mr. Stampfl was accepted as an expert witness.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-8 a floor plan of the first floor retail space dated April 22, 2009.

Mr. Stampfl said that this exhibit predates the reduction in the large retail space. He reviewed the six proposed retail spaces, the lobby and elevator bank for the residential units and the fire stairs and stairwells.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-9 a lease with Anthropologie for space “F”.

Mr. Stampfl noted that the reduction in space “F” could be added to any of spaces “C,” “D,” or “E”.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-10 a conceptual perspective of the front of the building with the Newtown Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Stampfl reviewed Exhibit A-10, pointing out the access points, the mix of architectural styles as requested by the Acme Visioning statements, the ADA ramps and stairs. He noted that the JMZO regulations measure height as from average grade to mean of roof. This building does not have consistent heights. The mansard roof nearest Newtown Presbyterian Church is 38 feet high.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-11 a depiction of the evolution of the project since first presented to the Board of Supervisors in 2008.

Mr. Stampfl reviewed Exhibit A-11, noting the red line which shows the highest point in each iteration of the project. In 2008 the plan was for a 4 story building with a highest point of 59’4.5” .

In response to Mr. Lenihan’s questions, Mr. Mill said that Newtown Presbyterian Church’s peak is 52.5 feet from the street, but sits at an 8-10 foot elevation. From grade to roof the building is 42 feet high.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-12, a plan of the conceptual sections of the height of each story of the building.

Mr. Stampfl reviewed Exhibit A-12, noting that the retail floor is 15’1” and each residential floor is 9’6” with 2 feet of structure, including tresses for support, between each of the floors. This will bring the height to 41’7” as shown in Exhibit A-10. The architectural features are continued on all four sides, using different materials, including brick, stucco and some precast metals. Balconies will either be wood or a synthetic with the appearance of wood. There have been many changes in the façade to create a more pedestrian friendly appearance, including pushing back of sections to create common space and green spaces. There is a raised walkway to access the tenant space. The portion of the building over Jefferson Street will contain common areas for the residential tenants.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-13 a depiction of the pass through drive aligned with Jefferson Street.

Mr. Stampfl reviewed Exhibit A-13, noting that the retail spaces and residences have access doors along the pass through drive’s sidewalks. Sidewalks are extended on both sides of the drive. The heights as shown in Exhibit A-12 allow for 9.5 foot ceilings in the residential units, which will provide more light, larger windows and more varied fenestration. The height allows for more architectural details within the units to make them more marketable.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-14 the Acme Visioning Committee Report.

Mr. Stampfl reviewed points made by the Acme Visioning Committee in its report in March of 2003, and referenced in the findings of fact dated May 12, 2007 in the previous application for this property. Item #24 of the findings notes that the existing structure on the site had outlived its usefulness. There is no opportunity for reuse of the building. The Visioning Committee had recommended a number of points to be accomplished with the redevelopment of the site, including:

  • demolition of the existing building, which will be done;
  • clean-up of the site and incorporation of the existing steep slopes into walls of the building, which will be done by creating retaining walls;
  • creating a design that compliments the historic church on the south side, which will be done by setting the south side back and adding a mansard roof with dormers to reduce the scale of that portion of the building and the continued architectural treatment of that side of the building by adding recessed balconies and a jog in the façade;
  • redevelopment of the site for a mix of uses, which, with this plan, will be residential and retail;
  • a signature attraction with a focal point, which the developers will continue to work with the Township Supervisors to create;
  • a forward edge close to the sidewalk with parking at the rear;
  • creating a pedestrian friendly atmosphere, which has been done, with a scaled back promenade and additional greenspace.

In response to Mr. Lare’s questions, Mr. Stampfl said that he prepared Exhibits A-10, A-11, A-12 and A-13.

In response to Mr. Wall’s questions, Mr. Murphy said that the Church is supportive of this plan. When looking at the sky, the Church and the Promenade will be at about the same height.

In response to Mr. Katz’s question, Mr. Stampfl said that Exhibit A-10 was prepared from the perspective of someone standing in or above Newtown Creek, although he agreed that other buildings on the east side of Sycamore Street would partially obstruct this view if someone were standing at the location used for the depiction.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-15 the decision of a previous Board on a previous plan for a promenade development at the site.

Mr. Lenihan said that public comment would take place after all parties have completed their presentations. Due to the late hour and the next meeting being scheduled on the Thursday evening before the 4 th of July holiday weekend, Mr. Auchinleck said that if the Board wished, it could allow public comment from those who would be unable to attend the next meeting. A written statement could be forwarded to the Board for those unable to attend.

Rosemarie Tottoroto was sworn in. She asked if any three dimensional architectural models of the plans had been created. She said that a model should be made because the project borders the historic district.

Mr. Stampfl said that there were none and probably none would be prepared.

Mr. Auchinleck said that the Zoning Hearing Board cannot require exhibits but must infer the concepts from exhibits presented.

In response to questions from Ms. Tottoroto, Mr. Mill said that a fire truck could access the rear of the building. The height of the Church as measured from the sidewalk is 52’5”. Mr. Auchinleck said that the Zoning Hearing Board does not know whether a restaurant will occupy any of the retail spaces or whether the plants will be replaced. Employees of the businesses will park in the rear lot or on the street.

In response to Ms. Tottoroto’s questions, Mr. Stampfl said that he is not sure of the exact height of the shops at Goodnoe’s Corner but they are in the low 40 foot range.

Mr. Murphy noted that Goodnoe’s Corner is a different zoning district.

Mike Maven was sworn in. Mr. Maven said that he lives in Lower Makefield and owns a business in Newtown Borough. He said that this is a magnificent project. While it does not meet the zoning requirements, the zoning ordinance allows for variances. He expressed concern that if this project does not move along the developer will withdraw his plans. The developer will cooperate with the Township to create a successful, economically viable plan and will work with HARB to compliment the neighboring historic district.

Resident Karen D’Aprile was sworn in. Mrs. D’Aprile said that she is a business owner in Newtown as well as a resident. She said that the builder has worked with the Board of Supervisors compromise on this project. It is a wonderful opportunity to bring business and revenue to Newtown and to help Sycamore Street flourish. The Church, which is immediately impacted, is supportive of the plan.

Raymond Mathis was sworn in. He noted that the current site is very ugly, but urged the Zoning Hearing Board to carefully consider what is being asked. It is not the Board’s responsibility to see that the applicant makes a lot of money.

Mr. Wall moved to continue the application of 200 N. Sycamore Street to July 2, 2009. Mr. Lionetti seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that at the July 2, 2009 meeting the members would decide on the OHB Home, Inc. application. Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law would be submitted by June 22, 2009. No new applications would be on the July agenda.

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 11:00 PM. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary