NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF MAY 6, 2010

The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, May 6, 2010 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Chairman David Katz, Vice Chairman Karen Doorley, Secretary Mario Lionetti, William Wall and Brandon Wind, members. 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

The Agenda was reviewed:

  • Application of Paul Lang, by DMJ Associates – 201 Pheasant Run
  • Application of Smith/Ace Hardware – 2670 South Eagle Road
  • Remanded Hearing on the Application of Leo A. Holt, Aggrieved Party
  • Applicant challenges the Validity of Ordinance No. 2006-18 an Amendment of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 creating a Federal Cemetery Overlay District.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Lionetti moved to accept the minutes of April 1, 2010. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Wall abstaining.

Remanded hearing on the application of Leo A. Holt

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that the intervenor, Toll Brothers, has filed an appeal in Commonwealth Court. The Zoning Hearing Board will await the Commonwealth Court decision.

Application of Paul Lang, by DMJ Associates

Mr. Lionetti read into the record the application of Paul Lang, by DMJ Associates, owner, requesting a variance from Section 803(H-12)(2)(f)of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit installation of a 2.4M (8 feet) diameter roof-mounted satellite dish without screening which exceeds the 3 feet maximum diameter permitted for a roof-mounted satellite dish. The subject property is 201 Pheasant Run, Lot 53, Newtown Business Commons, Newtown, in the L-I Light Industrial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-133.

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

Sal Campo was sworn in.

Mr. Katz asked Mr. Auchinleck to clarify the request for a variance.

Mr. Auchinleck said that the request is for a variance to allow a satellite without screening.

Mr. Boyle confirmed that a dish greater than three feet is permitted but a dish larger than three feet requires screening.

Mr. Campo explained that the applicant wants to install an 8 foot dish, but the owner of the building will not permit the roof to be penetrated for installation of screening. He noted that this is an industrial area and the dish is not near any other building. When the Board of Supervisors reviewed the application, the members agreed that it would not be visible from the Bypass.

Mr. Lionetti asked why such a large dish is necessary.

Mr. Campo said that the applicant conducts diagnostic testing of data from a particular satellite, requiring an eight foot dish.

Mr. Wind asked whether the Township has any concerns about the weight of the dish. He noted that the dish would be supported by ballasts and asked whether screening could be similarly supported.

Mr. Boyle said that the engineer would review the installation and architectural concerns as part of the permit process, should a variance be granted.

Mr. Campo said that if a variance is granted and architectural engineer would prepare the permit application with supporting documentation. The applicant has investigated screening which would not need to penetrate the roof for installation, but none is available.

Paul White was sworn in. Mr. White is the owner of the building. He said he has owned the building for 35 years, The roof is a steel deck. He does not want holes drilled into the surface because he is concerned about leaks.

Mr. Katz asked whether any parapets on the building would serve to screen the dish.

Mr. Campo said that the parapet would not completely screen the dish because of the location on the roof.

James Schmidt was sworn in. Mr. Schmidt explained that his firm gets direct feeds from networks, requiring the larger dish. Small dishes are for consumer use. His firm develops software for advertising for cable systems. This is lower power data from an older satellite; it is not operating in the same band as consumer dishes.

In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Campo pointed out the exact location of the dish on the aerial photograph attached to the application. He explained that the dish will be in the center of the building about 25 feet from the edge. The top of the dish is about six feet high. It will be over unit 205. The applicant’s office is in unit 201 of the building. The engineer will determine the exact location of the dish. It will be partially screened by surrounding trees.

Mr. Lionetti expressed some concern about the one ton weight of the dish.

Mr. Campo said that the load is about 18.6 pounds per square foot.

Mr. Katz asked about possible future removal of trees. He asked who owns the surrounding wooded area. He said that he has concerns about granting a variance because the dish is screened by trees which could be removed.

Mr. White said that the building pre-dates the Bypass. Some of the wooded area is now in the right of way. He noted that the area is all commercial and industrial. The property is not visible from any residential area. Such dishes are commonplace in business districts.

Mr. Wind asked if the dish is necessary for the applicant’s business and if failure to get a variance would be a hardship for the business.

Mr. Schmidt explained that the business works with hotel chains providing content for the television service in hotels. The dish is necessary.

Mr. Lionetti asked how long the business has been in Newtown.

Mr. Schmidt said that he has been at this location about one year. There is a temporary dish in the parking lot.

Mr. Wind asked if this will be the only variance required going forward.

Mr. Campo said explained that this dish is not like the large residential dishes that people used to see in neighborhoods. It can be steered to pick up signals.

Mr. Lionetti asked if the owner would agree to restricting the variance to this tenant only.

Mr. Auchinleck said that a condition could be added if the property owner agreed.

Mr. White and the applicants agreed that this would be acceptable.

Mr. Boyle noted that property had been posted on April 21, 2010.

Mr. Wall moved to grant a variance from Section 803(H-12)(2)(f)of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit installation of a 2.4M (8 feet) diameter roof-mounted satellite dish without screening which exceeds the 3 feet maximum diameter permitted for a roof-mounted satellite dish. The variance is for one satellite dish only. Mr. Lionetti seconded.

Mrs. Doorley amended the motion to grant subject to the condition that the variance would be extinguished when Invidi Technologies Corporation vacates the property.

Discussion of amendment: Mr. Wall said that he did not think the condition was necessary. He said that the dish variance could be used by this business and future tenants.

Mr. Wind and Mr. Lionetti agreed that it is unlikely that another tenant would need the same 8 foot satellite dish.

The amendment passed 4-1, with Mr. Wall voting nay.

The motion as amended passed 5-0.

Application of Smith Ace Hardware

Mr. Lionetti read into the record the application of Smith Ace Hardware, lessee, Newtown Center Associates, owner, requesting variances from Sections 1106(H)(4)(c)(2)(a) and 1106(H)(4)(d) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 84.2 square feet, 22 feet high façade sign where 20 square feet is the maximum permitted size and 9 feet is the maximum permitted height. The subject property is 2670 South Eagle Road, Village at Newtown at Newtown South, Newtown, in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-85.

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

Mike Fleishman was sworn in.

Mr. Fleishman said that he is the manufacturer of the proposed signage for Ace Hardware. The applicant would like an 84 square foot sign where only 20 square feet is permitted. The larger sign is necessary because the shop is set back from Eagle Road. For safety and visibility a sign this size is necessary. It will be similar in size to the Petsmart sign in the same shopping center. He said that the Petsmart sign is 219 square feet, 7.6 feet tall, while the Ace sign will be 7.4 feet tall.

Mrs. Doorley said that the size is excessive. She would want to see the size greatly reduced.

George Smith was sworn in. He said that the Ace letters are 48 inches tall, as are the Petsmart letters.

Mr. Katz pointed out that the “A” in Ace is actually 62 inches with the others 48 inches.

Mr. Fleishman said that sign would be lighted at night. He said that it is his understanding that in calculating the size of the sign a box is drawn around the letters and that is what is measured.

Mr. Lionetti said that he did not object to the size because the Petsmart sign is also very large. It is set back significantly from the road and would not be noticed if it were much smaller than the Petsmart sign.

Mrs. Doorley noted some smaller sample signs in the packet provided with the application. She said she favors the 52 inch sign.

Mr. Katz noted that the dimensions of the letters are the same, the calculations are different because one does not consider the white area surrounding the letters.

Mr. Wind asked if the applicant knew the dimensions of the Olly Shoes sign in the shopping center next to Ace Hardware.

Mr. Fleishman did not know.

Mr. Boyle said that the property was posted on April 21, 2010.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant variances from Sections 1106(H)(4)(c)(2)(a) and 1106(H)(4)(d) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 1983 to permit a 84.2 square feet, 22 feet high façade sign where 20 square feet is the maximum permitted size and 9 feet is the maximum permitted height. Mr. Wall seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Doorley voting nay.

Other Business

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that the court has ordered the OHB Homes application back to the Zoning Hearing Board to consider whether variances were not previously granted by an earlier application for the same property. The property had been granted variances for disturbance of agricultural soils and steep slopes for an application for a different development project. The judge asked whether OHB Homes needed to return to the Zoning Hearing Board or whether the variances already existed from the previous project. The Township had taken the position that the variances had expired after six months. The applicant has claimed that the provision whereby variances expire is invalid.

Mr. Auchinleck said that this might be on the June agenda, but he is not sure whether all parties will be ready. He will contact the Board once a date for the hearing has been determined.

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 9:00 PM. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary