ZONING HEARING BOARD
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF JANUARY 7, 2010
The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, January 7, 2010 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Karen Doorley, David Katz, Mario Lionetti, William Wall and Brandon Wind. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor, John Boyle, Code Enforcement Officer and Justine Gregor, Stenographer.
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.
The Pledge of Allegiance
Organization of Board
Mrs. Doorley moved to nominate Mr. Katz to serve as chairman. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Katz moved to nominate Mrs. Doorley to serve as vice-chairman. Mr. Lionetti seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Katz moved to nominate Mr. Lionetti to serve as secretary. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Wall moved to retain James J. Auchinleck as solicitor and Mary Donaldson as recording secretary. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Former Zoning Hearing Board Chairman said that he has enjoyed his many years of service to the Township and is confident the newly organized Board is in good hands. He thanked the members for their support over the years.
Mr. Lionetti said that Mr. Lenihan would be greatly missed; it had been a pleasure to serve together.
Mr. Katz thanked Mr. Lenihan for his kind words.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Lionetti moved to accept the minutes of December 3, 2009. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Wind abstaining.
Application of Ralph E. Holland and Clare Marie Kronemeyer
Mr. Lionetti read into the record the application of Ralph E. Holland and Clare Marie Kronemeyer, equitable owners, requesting a variance from section 404(B)&(C) to permit a 31 ft by 20.5 ft attached garage and 30 ft by 20.5 ft master bedroom addition, a 15 ft by 13 ft deck, 13 ft by 13 ft wet room, a 10 ft by 10 ft covered porch and a driveway expansion on a non conforming lot resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 19% where the maximum permitted by prior variance in 13.9%; a side yard of 12 feet where 24 feet is required; and an aggregate side yard of 32 feet where 60 feet is required. A Special Exception under Section 1208(C)(2) to permit alteration of a building on a non-conforming lot is also requested. The property is 185 Durham Road in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-4-5.
Attorney Richard Danese represented the applicant.
Clare Marie Kronemeyer was sworn in.
Mr. Katz asked if anyone present wished to be party to the application.
Mr. Auchinleck 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.
There was no response to the request for party status.
Mr. Danese explained that Ms. Kronemeyer and Mr. Holland would be moving from Arizona and purchasing the house at 185 Durham Road, currently owned by Dorothy Steel. He entered the following exhibits:
Mr. Danese explained that the applicants wish to demolish the existing garage and install a new 2-car attached garage and a first floor bedroom, bath and utility room addition. A special exception is needed because this is a non-conforming 20,000 square foot lot in the R-1 zoning district. The plan also calls for connecting with public water. Side yard variances are needed, but Mr. Danese noted that the proposed attached garage will have a greater setback than the existing detached garage. The existing garage has a 19.6 foot setback; the new construction will have 12.4 and 19.4 feet. The 12.4 foot setback is on the side of the building facing Durham Lea development’s open space. Impervious surface will increase from 13.9% to 19%.
Mr. Danese entered as Exhibit A-4 a proposal showing the new garage and addition, and as Exhibit A-5 the impervious surface breakdown.
Mr. Danese said that the undersized lot creates a hardship, as the improvements are only a modest increase to the size of the house. The applicants are creating a bedroom/bath suite for an elderly sister who must have her room on the first floor.
Ms. Kronemeyer said that her sister is 76 years old. She also said the garage is needed as the existing garage is too small for her family’s two cars.
Mr. Danese stressed that the new garage will not be as close to the side yard as the detached garage, which has different setback requirements under the Ordinance. The proposed construction is not on the side of the house facing the neighbor.
Mr. Danese entered as Exhibits A-6, the plan for renovation, A-7, a letter from the Zoning Hearing Board solicitor confirming a 1992 decision granting variances for this property’s current impervious surface and setbacks, and A-8 a plan for Durham Lea showing open space.
Mr. Auchinleck noted that A-6, A-7 and A-8 are part of the application.
Mr. Danese said that both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors reviewed this application and forwarded it without comment.
Ms. Kronemeyer confirmed Mr. Danese’s summary of the application.
Mrs. Doorley asked how the house will be connected to public water.
Ms. Kronemeyer said that the connection is on the opposite side of Rte 413. The line will be run under the road.
Mr. Danese noted that a similar variance was granted to 181 Durham Road in 2002. He entered as Exhibit A-9 the Zoning Hearing Board minutes of November 7, 2002.
Mr. Katz asked if the applicanthad contacted the Durham Lea homeowners association, and if any plans had been made for stormwater management for the additional impervious surface.
Mr. Danese said that Durham Lea had not been contacted directly by the applicant. He said that stormwater management had not been considered, but he would speak to the Township about this.
Mr. Auchinleck asked what property is directly behind the house.
Ms. Kronemeyer said that it is open space and farther away is a house which fronts Maple Avenue
Mr. Auchinleck noted that the paperwork submitted demonstrates that the property’s non-conformity predates the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983.
Mr. Boyle said that the property had been posted on December 29, 2009.
Maria Lescas was sworn in. Ms. Lescas said she resides at 181 Durham Road. She purchased the property in April of this year. She supports the plans and had attended to learn what was being proposed. The addition will not be on the side of the property facing her property. In response to Mr. Auchinleck’s question, Ms. Lescas said that she has had no problems with flooding on her property.
Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from section 404(B)&(C) to permit a 31 ft by 20.5 ft attached garage and 30 ft by 20.5 ft master bedroom addition, a 15 ft by 13 ft deck, 13 ft by 13 ft wet room, a 10 ft by 10 ft covered porch and a driveway expansion on a non conforming lot resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 19% where the maximum permitted by prior variance in 13.9%; a side yard of 12 feet where 24 feet is required; and an aggregate side yard of 32 feet where 60 feet is required and a special exception under Section 1208(C)(2) to permit alteration of a building on a non-conforming lot. Mr. Wall seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Katz asked that the motion be amended to include a condition that a stormwater management system be designed and installed to contain run-off above the 13.9% permitted by prior variance, should it be necessary.
Mrs. Doorley seconded Mr. Katz’s amendment.
Mr. Wall said that the phrase “should it be necessary is too vague, as it does not state who would determine necessity and what would make the system necessary. Because of the expense involved in stormwater management he would want any condition to be very clear on who would determine the necessity and that it would be deemed necessary only if it had significant impact on the adjoining neighbor.
Mr. Lionetti said that the amendment is unnecessary; the proposed improvements are not harmful to the surrounding area. He would not support adding any conditions.
Mr. Katz amended his amendment, granting variances subject to the condition that the applicant design and install a system to contain excess stormwater that exceeds 13.9%, provided the Township Engineer determines that the excess impervious surface would have significant impact on surrounding adjacent homeowners.
The amendment was voted on and failed 2-3, with Messrs. Lionetti, Wall and Wind voting nay.
Mr. Lionetti moved to amend his motion to include a condition that the homeowners check with the Township Engineer about possible additional run-off impacting residential neighbors. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Katz voting nay.
Sycamore Restaurant Group LLC t/a Green Parrot Restaurant & Pub
Mr. Lionetti read into the record the application of Sycamore Restaurant Group LLC t/a Green Parrot Restaurant & Pub, owners, requesting a variance from section 1106(H)(4)(a) to permit six signs where a maximum of four are permitted located at Goodnoe’s Corner, 240 North Sycamore Street in the P-C Planned Commercial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-3-24-2.
Attorney Shawn Ward represented the applicant. As he is also part of Sycamore Restaurant Group, he was sworn in.
Mr. Katz asked if anyone wished to be party to the application.
Vince Lombardi, on behalf of Sycamore Street Community Association asked for party status. There was no objection.
Mr. Ward explained that the Green Parrot is seeking variances for signs already installed, including three blade signs, one each on Sycamore Street, at the rear parking lot and in the breezeway over the entrance, two letter signs, one facing Silo Drive, on facing Sycamore Street, and an additional logo sign to be placed over the patio steps on the corner of Silo and Sycamore Streets. The total square footage of all signs is 52 feet where 80 feet is permitted. The letter signs are 17 square feet and the blades are 2 square feet. The letter signs have been placed in a sign band along the outside of the building at a height of 13 feet, where the Ordinance requires a 9 foot maximum height.
Mr. Ward said that both the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors reviewed the applications, sending them to the Zoning Hearing Board without comment. The Planning Commission members were in agreement that the Parrot logo is an architectural feature, not an additional sign.
Mr. Auchinleck said that the advertisement is sufficient, and the Board should consider relief for height as well as number of signs.
Mr. Katz asked if there have been any complaints about the signage.
Mr. Ward said there have been no complaints.
Mr. Lombardi was sworn in. Mr. Lombardi said that Mr. Ward has shown his blade signs and logo to the Sycamore Community Association’s executive committee. All of the members supported the signage. They agreed the additional signage is necessary, particularly the logo sign. Recently during the Christmas Parade, visitors were having a difficult time locating the Green Parrot for the after parade party.
Mr. Lenihan was sworn in. Mr. Lenihan asked that the record show that at one time Mr. Ward had served as Zoning Hearing Board solicitor. If the Board is of a mind to grant any variances, it should be noted that such relief is based on the merits of this application and not on Mr. Ward’s personal knowledge of the Board.
Mr. Ward confirmed that he had served as solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board in 2000.
Mr. Wall moved to grant variances from section 1106(H)(4)(a), 1106(H)(4)(c)(2)(a) and 1106(H)(4)(d)to permit six signs where a maximum of four are permitted at a height of 13 feet where 9 feet is the maximum. Mrs. Doorley seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Lionetti asked why the signage was not approved as part of Goodnoe’s Corner, and why it was installed without proper approvals in place.
Mr. Ward said that the building had been constructed separately and its signage was not part of the original Goodnoe’s Corner application. The letter signs were placed in the sign band by the contractor as part of the development’s contract. The blade signs were installed by Shaw signs after the design was approved but without the knowledge of the Green Parrot management. The logo sign has not yet been installed.
The motion passed 5-0.
Mrs. Doorley moved to adjourn at 8:45 PM. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary