NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

ZONING HEARING BOARD

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF APRIL 5, 2012

The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, April 5, 2012 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Chairman Karen Doorley, Vice Chairman Brandon Wind, Secretary Mario Lionetti and members Timothy Potero and Michael Iapalucci. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor, Martin Vogt, Code Enforcement Officer and William Campbell, Stenographer.

Call to Order: Chairman Doorley called the meeting to order at 7:32 PM.

Approval of Minutes: Mr. Lionetti moved to accept the minutes of March 1, 2012. Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 5-0..

The agenda was reviewed:

Continued Application of Brian and Joanne Mills, 1 Hillside Road

Goodnoe Elementary School Addition (Council Rock School District), 298 Frost Lane

Congregation Brothers of Israel, 530 Washington Crossing Road

Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Road

Application of Goodnoe Elementary School (Council Rock School District)

Mr. Lionetti read into the record the application of Council Rock School District, owner, requesting variances from Sections 803(C-2)(3)(b) and (C-2)(4), 1101(C)(1) and (D)(2) and 1102(I) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit construction of a 16,370 sq. ft. building with parking playground, storm water and other site improvements resulting in a fencing in playground 190.44 feet from street line where 200 feet is required, parking closer than 100 feet from street line, and to allow only partial curbing and only one loading berth. The subject property is 928 Frost Lane, in the EIR, R-1, and POS Zoning Districts, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-10-45-1.

Mrs. Doorley asked if anyone wished to be party to this application. There was no response.

Attorney Michael Carr represented the School District in this application. He reviewed the plans, which include a 16,000 square foot addition and reconfiguration of parking and pickup-/drop-off lanes for parents and school busses. Some interior renovations are also planned. The number of classrooms will be the same; no new students are anticipated with the addition. The changes involve removal of the modular classrooms. Sketch plans and preliminary plans have been presented to both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. Neither body recommended any action regarding this application.

Mr. Carr entered as Exhibit A-1 an existing features plan and as Exhibit A-2, the plan currently proposed. He noted that the parking will be in the same location, but will be striped. The parking spaces are 42 feet from the street and the drive aisle is 17 feet from the street. This is an existing non-conformity which will continue with the renovations. He explained that the kindergarten playground is to be moved to be nearer the kindergarten classroom door. It will have a 109.48 foot setback from the street.

Mr. Carr reviewed the curbing, noting that curbing would surround the building. The engineers are seeking relief from curbing at the outside of the parking lot to satisfy stormwater requirements. The variance will allow some flexibility in developing plans.

Mr. Carr said that the plans will not increase the number of students or change the delivery needs of the school. The Ordinance requires two additional loading berths for an addition of this size, but they are not needed, as the planned addition is replacing modular classrooms. A variance is needed to eliminate the requirement to provide the additional loading berths.

Mr. Carr said that the hardship is that these are existing non-conformities.

Doug Taylor was sworn in. He said that he is the supervisor of operations for the School District and is overseeing the renovations. He confirmed Mr. Carr’s review of the plans.

Mrs. Doorley asked about the proposed detention basin.

Mr. Taylor said this basin already exists.

Mr. Auchinleck asked about the parking setbacks.

Mr. Carr said that the Township Engineer considered the drive aisle as parking. At its closest, the drive aisle is 15.5 feet from the street.

Mr. Iapalucci asked about additional parking spaces and increase in impervious surface.

Mr. Carr said that the parking lot already exists, but will be restriped to add some spaces. The additional impervious is for drop-off aisles. The plans are still within permitted impervious surface requirements.

Mrs. Doorley asked about bus drop-off.

Mr. Carr said that the bus area is being reconfigured to better accommodate traffic patterns.

Mr. Iapalucci asked about barriers between the playground and the parking lot.

Mr. Lionetti said that the Zoning Hearing Board had required a guardrail between Newtown Yardley Road and the Montessori School playground. Perhaps the Board should consider a similar requirement for this playground.

The members discussed the request for relief from curbing requirements.

Mr. Carr said that the engineers for the District will work with the Township on stormwater management. The request is to allow flexibility for the stormwater plan. If the Township Engineer favors curbing, it will be installed.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant variances from Sections 803(C-2)(3)(b) and (C-2)(4), 1101(C)(1) and (D)(2) and 1102(I) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit construction of a 16,370 sq. ft. building with parking playground, storm water and other site improvements resulting in a fencing in playground 190.44 feet from street line where 200 feet is required, parking closer than 100 feet from street line, and to allow only partial curbing and only one loading berth subject to the following conditions:

  • That curbing will be installed to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer if deemed necessary,
  • That an appropriate guardrail be placed between the kindergarten playground and the parking lot to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer.

Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Continued Application of Brian and Joanne Mills

Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that this is a continued application, first presented to the Board on December 1, 2011. The application seeks increased impervious surface to put an addition on Mr. Mills’ house. The Board had some concerns about additional run-off and conducted a site inspection.

Mr. Auchinleck reminded Mr. Mills that he is still under oath.

Mr. Mills said that he has spoken to Township Engineer Michele Fountain about the increase in impervious surface and methods of controlling additional run-off. She said that she would work through possible solutions to address the Board’s concerns. He noted that the front roof of his house slopes toward Hillside Road, where run-off is directed toward an orchard at the end of the street. When considering the percentage of run-off to be contained, he asked that the Board only consider the portion which would run toward the rear of his property and might eventually run toward his neighbors’ properties. The increase in impervious surface includes both the addition at the rear and a 400 square foot increase to his driveway at the front of his house.

Mr. Auchinleck explained to the Board that the applicant is seeking an increase of 4.45% impervious surface above the permitted 12%. It is within the Board’s discretion to require stormwater management for all or a partial amount of the additional run-off above the permitted 12%.

Mrs. Doorley said that the Board had concerns about the run-off toward the rear of the property, only.

The members discussed whether to require the entire 4.45% increase to be contained but agreed that addressing the additional stormwater run-off at the rear was of most concern.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a variance from section 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 design and construct stormwater management to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer to contain excess run-off from increased impervious surface above 12% less 304 square feet. Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Congregation Brothers of Israel, 530 Washington Crossing Road

Mr. Lionetti read into the record the application of Congregation Brothers of Israel, owner, requesting a special exception under 401(A)(3)(b) and 1208(C)(2) in association with 401(B) to permit continued use of a temporary modular classroom trailer and an expansion on a non-conforming lot. The subject property is 530 Washington Crossing Road, in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-3-73-6 and 29-3-73-7.

Mr. Wind said that he is a Board member at Brothers of Israel and so would recuse himself from the hearing.

Mr. Auchinleck explained that Mr. Wind’s position with the Congregation is more than as a congregant.

Mrs. Doorley asked if anyone wished to be party to this application. There was no response.

Dianne Strauss, Vice President of the Congregation Brothers of Israel, was sworn in. She explained that the Congregation has been granted a variance to install a temporary modular classroom four years ago, which is about to expire. The classroom is in pristine condition, is not visible from the road, is used twice weekly for religious instruction and is still needed by the Congregation.

Mrs. Doorley asked how long the Congregation would continue to need the classroom.

Ms. Strauss said that she would ask that the variance be granted for as long as possible. The Congregation had hoped to build a permanent structure, but those plans are a long way off due to the current economy. Mr. Auchinleck asked if any of the facts of the original decision have changed.

Ms. Strauss agreed that the facts are the same. The classroom is used only for religious instruction. There are no plans for a daycare facility or other accessory uses.

Mr. Lionetti asked whether the Congregation is growing.

Ms. Strauss said that the Congregation moved here from New Jersey and has both lost and gained membership. New growth has been slow. She did not anticipate being able to build a permanent structure in the next five years.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant a special exception under 401(A)(3)(b) and 1208(C)(2) in association with 401(B) to permit continued use of a temporary modular classroom trailer and an expansion on a non-conforming lot for a period of five years from the expiration of the previous special exception. Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Bucks County Community College, 275 Swamp Road

Mr. Lionetti read into the record the application of Bucks County Community College owner requesting variances from Sections 1006(E)(2), (E)(4)(b), (E)(5), and (E)(7) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit four freestanding brick entry feature signs replacing existing wood signs at the same locations where only one sign is permitted and resulting in signs that exceed the maximum permitted height and size for signs in the zoning district and resulting in two announcement boards where only one is permitted and the announcement boards exceed the maximum size permitted. The subject property is the 275 Swamp Road, Newtown, in the EIR Education, Institution Recreation Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel #29-3-3.

Attorney Ed Murphy represented the applicant.

Mrs. Doorley asked if anyone wished to be party to the application. There was no response.

Dennis Matthews, Chief Operating Officer of the College and Matt Davenport, landscape architect for the project were sworn in.

Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-1, photographs of the east and west entrances to the College as they exist and as Exhibit A-2, enhanced photographs with the proposed signage.

Mr. Murphy said that he is chairman of the Bucks County Community College Authority and as such has been aware that the College needs improvements in signage and wayfinding. This application seeks relief for the number of signs permitted. The College would like to place two monument signs at each entrance creating an entrance gate appearance. The larger sign at each entrance will face the direction of traffic coming toward the College, with the east entrance sign facing Newtown and the west entrance sign facing Wrightstown.

Mr. Wind asked about the proposed announcement boards.

Mr. Davenport said that there will be space on the monument to hang special announcement signs. These will not have LED lights or an electronic message board. The lighting package will illuminate the signs from the ground.

Mr. Matthews said that the College already posts these banners for special events such as Tyler Tasting, the golf outing, summer camp registration and school registration. These same banners will be reused. There are not always message banners; when they are removed the sign will have a blank wall space.

Mr. Wind asked if the College would accept as a condition that no electronic of LED message board would be added.

Mr. Matthews agreed.

Mr. Iapalucci asked about a smaller wall on the west gate.

Mr. Davenport said that this is a retaining wall. It will remain.

Mr. Wind asked if the banner area would ever be used for advertisements.

Mr. Matthews said that only College sponsored or affiliated events would have banners.

Mr. Iapalucci asked about street light poles shown in the exhibits.

Mr. Murphy said that no relief is needed for the streetlights.

Resident Lisa Viernicki said that she has concerns that the large walls will impede sight lines for drivers exiting the College.

Mr. Murphy said that the signs are set back and are not in the sight triangle.

Mr. Davenport confirmed that the signs are outside of the right of way; they are 53.9 feet from the cartway.

Mr. Auchinleck said that drivers have a sight line 450 feet from the entrances.

Mr. Lionetti moved to grant variances from Sections 1006(E)(2), (E)(4)(b), (E)(5), and (E)(7) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit four freestanding brick entry feature signs replacing existing wood signs at the same locations where only one sign is permitted and resulting in signs that exceed the maximum permitted height and size for signs in the zoning district and resulting in two announcement boards where only one is permitted and the announcement boards exceed the maximum size permitted subject to the condition that there is no intrusion of signs into sight triangle and no LED or electronic message board is installed.

Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Other Business

Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that McDonald’s USA, LLC has withdrawn its application to the Zoning Hearing Board. The special meeting scheduled for April 12 has been canceled. He asked the recording secretary to write letters to the parties in this application informing them of the withdrawal.

Mr. Lionetti moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Respectfully Submitted:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary