NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF DECEMBER 1, 2011

The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, December 1, 2011 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Karen Doorley, Chairman, Brandon Wind, Vice Chairman, Mario Lionetti, Secretary. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor, Michael Hartey, Code Enforcement Officer and Justine Gregor, Stenographer.

Call to Order

Mrs. Doorley called the meeting to order at 7:30PM.

The agenda was reviewed:

Application of Brian Mills, 1 Hillside Drive

Application of Chris Bilski, 5 Amy Circle

Application of Newtown Racquetball Association, 209 Penns Trail

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Lionetti moved to accept the minutes of November 10 , 2011. Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Application of Brian Mills

Mr. Lionetti read into the record the application of Brian and Joanne Mills, owner, requesting a variances from sections 404 (B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit a 615 square feet 2-story addition resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 16.45% where the maximum permitted is 12%; and a Special Exception under section 1208 to permit construction on a non-conforming lot. The subject property is 1 Hillside Road, in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District, being known as tax parcel number 29-13-12.

Mrs. Doorley asked if anyone wished party status.

John Beurach, 304 Linton Hill Road, asked for party status and was sworn in. Mr. Beurach said that he lives directly behind the applicant and is concerned that the project will increase impervious surface by more than 27% and will cause flooding on his property, as the applicant’s property slopes down toward his home.

Mr. Mills said that he would like to put a two story addition on his home because he has three children under three years of age and his home is getting very crowded. He grew up in Newtown and would like to stay here and will need the additional room. Mr. Mills entered as Exhibit A-1 a series of eight letters from his surrounding neighbors in support of his application. He also pointed out that the Beurach home is on a two acre parcel, and the house is behind Mr. Mills’ neighbor’s house. He has worked to reduce the size of his addition to keep it below an additional 1,000 square feet.

Mr. Auchinleck suggested that the Board might consider continuing the application to allow the members to visit the site to better understand the topography.

Mrs. Doorley said that she had concerns about visiting the site without an engineer to help evaluate the topography.

Mr. Lionetti suggested that the Board might consider adding as a condition of approval that the applicant mitigate additional runoff to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer.

Mr. Wind suggested that if the hearing is continued the applicant should bring his contractor to the next hearing.

The members discussed the additional costs for full scale engineering and mitigation of runoff as well as possible fees for a continuance.

Mr. Mills said that he had learned of some costly engineering requirements for projects larger than 1,000 square feet which have been added to the Township’s Stormwater Ordinance. He has tried to keep this project below 1,000 square feet for that reason.

Mrs. Doorley asked Mr. Beurach whether he has flooding inside his house.

Mr. Beurach said he has addressed stormwater runoff close to the house; the problems he has are with standing water ponding on his lawn.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant variances from sections 404 (B) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit a 615 square feet 2-story addition resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 16.45% where the maximum permitted is 12%; and a Special Exception under section 1208 to permit construction on a non-conforming lot, subject to the condition that the applicant discuss with the Township whether stormwater mitigation is necessary.

Mr. Hartey said that when the Township reviews a stormwater plan for a zoning applicant, $750 is escrowed to cover the professional services of the Township Engineer. The applicant would be refunded any escrow money not used. In addition, the applicant would be responsible to pay his own engineer to develop the stormwater plan.

Mr. Lionetti withdrew his motion.

The members discussed continuing the application with the applicant and agreed that if the application were continued, the members would visit the site and walk around the properties.

Mr. Beurach said that he would like to be notified in advance if the members would need to also visit his property, which has a fence.

Mr. Lionetti moved to continue the application of Brian Mills to January 5, 2012. Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Application of Chris Bilski

Mr. Lionetti read into the record the application of Chris Bilski, owner, requesting a variance from the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 as affected by Eagle Glen Final Plan to permit a 18 feet by 36 feet in-ground swimming pool resulting in an impervious surface ratio of 25.4% where the maximum permitted is 20%. The subject property is 5 Amy Circle, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being known as tax parcel number 29-19-14.

Chris Bilski and Joe Migliacciacco, contractor on the project, were sworn in.

Mrs. Doorley asked if anyone wished party status. There was no response.

Mr. Bilski said that he recently purchased this home and had known that the house was already at the maximum allowable impervious surface. He understood that this has been a problem for the other homes on his street, which all needed variances for pools. Both 1 and 3 Amy Circle were granted variances for 25% impervious surface.

Mrs. Doorley noted that the patios shown on the plan seem large at 1600 square feet. Perhaps they could be reduced in size to reduce the size of the variance required.

Mr. Bilski noted that the patios were on the property when he purchased his house. There has been no problem with run-off.

Mr. Lionetti suggested that the Board consider a 25% impervious, the same as was granted to the neighbors. It would be up to the applicant to reduce the patio or pool to comply with 25%.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 as affected by Eagle Glen Final Plan to permit an impervious surface ratio of 25% where the maximum permitted is 20%. Mr. Wind seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Wind asked whether the setbacks comply with the Ordinance.

Mr. Auchinleck said that the setbacks do not require a variance.

and the motion passed 3-0.

Application of Newtown Racquetball Association, 209 Penns Trail

Newtown Racquetball Association t/a Newtown Athletic Club, owner, requesting variances from sections 702(A)(3)(e), 702(B), 803(E)(5), 803(C)(6), 803(C-6), 803(C-6)(3), 803(C-6)(5), 1101(B)(3), and 1102 of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit construction of a new outdoor swimming pool facility, Use 803(C-6), outdoor athletic field, 41,490 square feet baseball academy building and new parking and related facilities including a snack bar use 803(E-5) which is not a permitted use; resulting in encroachment in the 75 feet front yard setback; an athletic field larger than 4,000 square feet with lights on poles over 15 feet closer than 500 feet from property line; 692 parking spaces in lieu of 3,512; 9 feet by 18 feet parking spaces; and a loading berth sharing a parking aisle. The subject property is 209 Penns Trail, Newtown, in the LI Light Industrial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel ## 29-10-137, 29-10-138, 29-10-139, 29-10-39-1, and 29-10-140.

Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant. Engineer Luke Teller and applicant Jim Worthington were sworn in.

Mr. Marshall reviewed the variances sought, noting that all of the parcels are to be merged into one 17.08 acre lot. The existing baseball academy is located in the Dunmore building, which is to be demolished and the medical use at that building is to be removed. The plans show a new, 41,890 square foot baseball academy and an outdoor pool and snack bar. A 66,000 square foot multi-purpose practice field with lights is to be added. The plan will bring the property into compliance for impervious service at 63.12%, where now it has a variance for 71% impervious surface.

Mr. Marshall entered as exhibit A-1 the application and plan for the property and as Exhibits A-2, A-3 and A-4 the deeds for the properties.

Mr. Teller showed a plan, pointing out the proposed baseball academy, pool area and playing field. The pool will have a building for changing rooms.

Mr. Marshall reviewed the relief being requested:

  • From Section 803(C)(6)(5), a parking variance to permit 692 spaces where 3,512 are required and previously granted variances are for relief of 2886 spaces have been granted. The new relief would be for 2820 spaces. Mr. Marshall noted that the facility has complimentary uses, with different areas having greater use in different seasons. The club is busiest in the winter early mornings, while the pool would not be open until late morning.
  • From Section 1001(B)(3) for parking stalls to be 9’ X 18’, with 79 spaces held in reserve, as per a previous variance in 2003. There are 71 parking spaces held in reserve.
  • From Section 1002 to allow the baseball academy to share a loading berth and drive aisle with the main building; this variance was granted in 2003. The baseball academy expects no deliveries.
  • From, Section 803(C-6)(3) to allow a 24 foot setback for an athletic field with lights on poles higher than 15 feet. The applicant would agree to conditions the Supervisors might set for the use of the lights during land development.
  • From Section 702(B) to allow a front yard setback of less than 75 feet; a portion of the pool area will be 60 feet from Penns Trail.
  • From Section 803(C-6) for an outdoor pool if the Zoning Hearing Board determines that this is not an athletic facility use. No other section of the ordinance addresses this use; this is an interpretation of the Ordinance.
  • From Section 803 (E-5) for an eating place snack bar. A variance for an eating place had already been granted for the snack bar inside the health club.

Mr. Marshall said that the relief for the athletic field with lights is a setback variance. It is not seeking any particular lights.

Mr. Auchinleck noted that the field would be permitted if there were no lights.

Mr. Worthington agreed with Mr. Marshall’s iteration of the variances.

Mr. Wind asked whether the existing variance for impervious surface is being vacated.

Mr. Marshall said that it is; after the merging of the lots the impervious will be below the permitted 65%.

Mrs. Doorley asked Mr. Teller to review the pool area.

Mr. Teller showed a larger copy of the plan and noted that the pool will include a “lazy river”, various water slides, fountains and sprinklers and a swimming area.

Regarding the proposed lighting of the practice fields, Mr. Worthington noted that the nearest residences are over 0.6 miles away; the lights will not be visible from homes. This will be a multi-purpose practice field. No games will be played and the lighting will not be the kind used on football and baseball fields.

Mrs. Doorley asked to review the screening of the pool.

Mr. Teller pointed out that there will be fencing as well as plantings along the Penns Trail side of the pool so that it is not visible from the road.

Mr. Auchinleck asked whether this is the plan for the pool or whether there could be major modifications.

Mr. Worthington said that the plans depend on the economy, but he does not expect major modifications. If it is built, it will be as depicted.

Mr. Auchinleck explained that a variance is being sought for the outdoor pool as part of an athletic facility. He said that when considering the pool as part of “athletic facility” it is envisioned as a competitive pool and/or diving tank. This plan shows a recreational facility. If the Board is inclined to grant relief it should include an outdoor water play area. The specific square footage should be noted. The Board would want to be clear that the variance is for this plan, or something similar to it, not a water park like Sesame Place.

Mr. Worthington said that he has been traveling around the country visiting health clubs with similar pool facilities. There are not any in our area, but this type of facility as part of a health club is becoming very popular elsewhere. The pool will be for members only, and there will not be a seasonal membership or a pool membership offered.

The Board discussed possibly granting relief for the pool with a restriction that it is for NAC members only.

Mr. Worthington said that while it is his intention to offer the pool to members only, he has partnered with the Township on a number of programs which are available to non-members and he allows various charities to use the facilities for fundraising events. He would not want to limit these partnerships.

Mr. Wind moved to grant variances from sections 702(A)(3)(e), 702(B), 803(E)(5), 803(C)(6), 803(C-6), 803(C-6)(3), 803(C-6)(5), 1101(B)(3), and 1102 of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit construction of a new outdoor swimming pool facility not to exceed 76,600 square feet, Use 803(C-6), outdoor athletic field, 41,490 square feet baseball academy building and new parking and related facilities including a snack bar use 803(E-5) which is not a permitted use; resulting in encroachment in the 75 feet front yard setback; an athletic field larger than 4,000 square feet with lights on poles over 15 feet closer than 500 feet from property line; 692 parking spaces in lieu of 3,512; 9 feet by 18 feet parking spaces; and a loading berth sharing a parking aisle, subject to the following conditions:

  • The design for field lighting and hours of use are subject to review by the Township;
  • All parcels are to be consolidated;
  • Impervious surface variances are to be vacated.

Mr. Lionetti seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Lionetti said that he wanted to be clear that the variance is for setback only, and that the height of lights on the field is part of the land development.

The motion passed 3-0.

Mr. Wind moved to adjourn at 9:10 PM. Mr. Lionetti seconded and the motion passed 3-0.


Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary