NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF SEPTEMBER 3, 2009

The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, November 5, 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. Katz moved to accept the minutes of September 3, 2009. Mr. Lionetti seconded and the motion passed 3-0-2, with Mr. Wall and Mrs. Doorley abstaining.

Application of Edmund Clark Grimes

Mrs. Doorley read into the record the application of Edmund Clark Grimes, owner requesting a variance from section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 14 feet by 28 feet patio resulting in a 16 feet rear yard set back where 30 feet is required. The property is 12 Harmony Way, Newtown, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-23-191.

Jeff Miller, contractor on the project, was sworn in.

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

Mr. Miller explained that the applicant wishes to add a 14’X28’ patio with sitting walls to his rear yard. This patio will be very similar to those of the neighboring houses.

Mr. Lionetti asked what is to the rear of the property.

Mr. Miller said that the house backs to about 60 feet of common ground and then a wooded area. There is an easement to the side. In response to Board questions, he explained that the homeowner had not yet gotten permission from his homeowners association. The owner is away on a lengthy vacation. Mr. Miller spoke to the homeowners association president who indicated that there would not be a problem with the HOA provided that the variance is granted for the setback.

Mr. Katz asked about a prior variance mentioned in the application.

Mr. Miller said that it is his understanding that the entire development has a variance for rear yard setback; this request seeks an additional five feet. He has not had any feedback from neighbors on the plans.

Mr. Boyle said that the property was posted on October 28, 2009.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from section 401(C) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 14 feet by 28 feet patio resulting in a 16 feet rear yard set back where 30 feet is required, subject to the applicant’s obtaining approval from the homeowners association. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Application of George and Julia Harnsberger ( Holland Floor Covering)

Mrs. Doorely read into the record the application of George and Julia Harnsberger (Holland Floor Covering, owners (by Charles Tompkins, agent) requesting variances from sections 1104(B)(7)&(F)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 20 square feet roof sign in addition to the existing 12 square feet freestanding sign where roof signs are not permitted and only one sign is permitted, or in the alternative a façade sign. The property is 35 Swamp Road, Newtown, in the R-2 High Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-11-80.

Charles Tompkins was sworn in.

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

Mr. Tompkins explained that Holland Floor Covering would like one additional sign either over the front door or to the side of the door. Currently the only sign is a freestanding sign near the curb. The building is set back about 150 feet from the road. Customers from outside of the area have difficulty locating the building, particularly since the street name changes from Washington Avenue to Swamp Road to the Newtown Bypass. The building had been a daycare center, so does not have the appearance of a showroom. Because of the location on a very busy street, it can be dangerous for customers to try to look for the showroom while driving. The sign would help customers more easily find the showroom.

Mr. Lionetti agreed that there is a safety concern and the second sign would be a good idea. He would prefer that the sign be placed at the side of the door and not over the entrance.

Mr. Katz asked about lighting.

Mr. Tompkins said that the front entrance is already lighted. The location next to the door would be lit by the entry lighting; if the roof sign is chosen it would be lit by the light already shining on the flagpole.

The members agreed that they prefer the sign to be on the façade, next to the door.

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

Mr. Wall moved to grant variances from sections 1104(B)(7)&(F)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 20 square feet roof sign in addition to the existing 12 square feet freestanding sign and only one sign is permitted subject to the condition that the additional sign be a façade sign, as shown in Exhibit B of the application. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Application of Stephen R. Saurman

Mrs. Doorley read into the record the application of Stephen R. Saurman, owner requesting variances from sections 404(B)&(C) and 1209(A) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit demolition of existing dwelling and construction of a new residence resulting in a 30 feet front yard set back where 60 feet is required (33.14 feet existing), a 17 feet rear yard set back where 40 feet is required (34.92 existing), 34 feet between buildings where 60 feet is required (52 existing) and a 25.7% impervious surface ratio where 30% is permitted (21.1% existing) and permitting reconstruction on a non conforming lot of a building damaged to the extent of 50% where such is not permitted and a special exception under section 1208(C)(2) to permit construction on a non conforming lot. The property is 81 Vera Avenue, Newtown, in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-15-4-1.

Attorney Ed Murphy represented the applicant.

Mark Haver of Pickering Corts and Summerson and Stephen Saurman were sworn in.

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

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-1 the application and as Exhibit A-2 a plan for the proposed dwelling. He explained that one year ago, a home heating oil delivery was pumped into the basement of the Saurman home, overflowing the oil tank, leaving 200 gallons of oil in the basement. In order to clean the spill, the heat was turned off, causing additional damage and making the home uninhabitable. The Saurman family has been forced to live in rental homes in Newtown because they have school age children. The house must be demolished and a new home built on the site.

Mr. Murphy noted that this is the R-1 Zoning District where the minimum lot size is 40,000 square feet. This is an 18,350 square foot lot, an existing non-conformity. The lot is on the corner of Vera Avenue creating two front and two side yards. The original house had a front yard setback facing Vera Avenue of 33.14 feet where 60 feet is required. The side yards are currently conforming. The maximum impervious surface in the R-1 district is 12%, the existing is 21.1% and the proposed new construction is 25.7% . No Township records could be found to explain how the impervious surface increased from 12% to 21.1%. The Saurmans have not added to the impervious surface since they have owned the property.

Mr. Haver said that he prepared the plans entered as Exhibit A-2. He confirmed Mr. Murphy’s summary. Referring to the plans he said that the current home has a 33.14 foot setback on the Vera Avenue side; the new dwelling will have a 30 foot setback. The setback on Upper Silver Lake Road currently complies and as will the new dwelling. The side yard next to the Morton residence will continue to comply with the 24 foot setback requirement. On the side facing the Scott property, the existing deck is 17 feet from the property line This deck will be replaced by the new house, and will maintain the current setback.

Mr. Haver reviewed the impervious surface. Some walkways, patios, a shed and portions of the driveway will be removed, however the new building will have a larger footprint, bringing the impervious from the current 21.1% to 25.7%. The new walkway will be smaller, removing 515 square feet of impervious surface.

Mr. Murphy said that both the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission forwarded this application to the Zoning Hearing Board without comment other than to request that no additional impervious surface relief be granted in the future. The Saurmans would agree to that condition. As part of the permitting process a review of the stormwater management, including on-site testing for seepage beds, is being conducted. Stormwater infiltration and/or connection to stormwater drains will be done. Currently the property has no detention or retention of stormwater.

Mr. Wall asked whether there are any problems with stormwater now.

Mr. Saurman said that he does occasionally have water in the basement.

Mr. Haver reviewed the distance between buildings, noting that there are currently non-conformities on the west of 43 feet and the north of 52 feet where the minimum required is 60 feet. The new structure will still be 43 feet on the west and will be 52 on the north, but portions of the deck will be 34 feet.

Mr. Saurman confirmed Mr. Murphy’s and Mr. Haver’s summaries. He said that he has spoken to his neighbors at a recent neighborhood event. All expressed support for the project and there was no objection to the additional impervious surface.

Mr. Katz and Mrs. Doorley expressed some confusion as to the proposed impervious surface, noting that the footprint of the old building is shown on Exhibit A-2 as 1920 square feet and the new building will have a 3526 square foot footprint.

Mr. Haver reviewed the portions of impervious surface to be removed which would be subtracted from the original impervious surface.

Mrs. Doorley questioned the total size of the building if it is to be a two story house with such a large footprint.

Eric Bennington was sworn in. Mr. Bennington said that he prepared the initial application and plan, which has since been revised. He reviewed the proposed building’s footprint of 3526 square feet, which includes a large garage and storage area, mudroom and laundry and half-bath. The second floor will not extend over the entire first floor. The garage will be 35’X36’.

Mr. Murphy said that the living space would be about 4,000 square feet.

Mr. Saurman said that the large garage would replace his old garage and some storage sheds, which he will remove and not replace.

Mr. Lenihan asked whether any trees would be removed.

Mr. Saurman said only the tree near the shed would be removed.

Mr. Murphy showed the Board a plan of Vera Avenue, pointing out that the new building will be in keeping with the existing homes on the street.

Mr. Boyle said that the property was posted on October 28, 2009.

Mr. Katz moved to grant variances from sections 404(B)&(C) and 1209(A) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit demolition of existing dwelling and construction of a new residence resulting in a 30 feet front yard set back where 60 feet is required (33.14 feet existing), a 17 feet rear yard set back where 40 feet is required (34.92 existing), 34 feet between buildings where 60 feet is required (52 existing) and a 25.7% impervious surface ratio where 30% is permitted (21.1% existing) and permitting reconstruction on a non conforming lot of a building damaged to the extent of 50% where such is not permitted and a special exception under section 1208(C)(2) to permit construction on a non conforming lot subject to the condition that a stormwater management system be designed and installed to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer, to contain additional run-off above the 12% impervious surface and that no additional impervious surface relief shall be granted in the future. Mr. Lionetti seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary