ZONING HEARING BOARD
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF APRIL 4, 2013
The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, April 4, 2013 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Vice Chairman Brandon Wind, and members Timothy Potero and Michael Iapalucci. Also in attendance were: James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Esq., Solicitor, Martin Vogt, Code Enforcement Officer and Justine Gregor, Stenographer.
Call to Order: Mr. Wind called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.
The agenda was reviewed:
Application of Sunoco, Inc, 549 Washington Avenue
Application of N.D.F.K., LLC, 32-46 Blacksmith Road
Application of Barre 3, 2875 South Eagle Road
Approval of Minutes
Mr. Iapalucci noted that the motion in KVK Tech on page #2 should read, “Mr. Iapalucci moved to grant …”
Mr. Iapalucci moved to approve the minutes of March 7, 2013 as corrected. Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 3-0.
Application of Sunoco, Inc.
Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that the applicant will be submitting a revised application and has asked to continue this hearing until May.
Mr. Potero moved to continue the application of Sunoco, Inc. to May 2, 2013. Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 3-0.
Application of N.D.F.K., LLC
Mr. Potero read into the record the application of N.D.F.K. LLC., equitable owner, requesting variances from sections 803(D-1)(5)and (D-2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit a conversion of an existing 15,977 square foot building from office to medical office and to convert a 20,387 square foot warehouse building to office with 169 parking spaces (62 of which are reserved) where 209 are required. The subject property is 32 - 46 Blacksmith Road, Newtown, in the LI Light Industrial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel # 29-10-39.
Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicants.
Mr. Wind asked if anyone wished to be party to this application. There was no response.
Mr. Marshall entered as Exhibit A-1 the parking plan and as Exhibit A-2 the deed to the property. He asked whether the Board would need a unanimous vote for a variance to be granted since only three Board members were in attendance.
Mr. Auchinleck confirmed that the majority would rule on any decisions.
Scott McElroy of N.D.F.K. and Geoff Sadwith of Sadwith Industries, owner of the property, were sworn in.
Mr. Marshall explained that this tax map parcel contains two buildings on 6.54 acres; unit #2 is a 15,977 square foot single story building and unit #3 is 20,387 square feet. N.D.F.K will occupy the entire unit #2 with a dental practice for general, pediatric, orthodontic dentistry and oral surgery. Unit #3 is currently occupied by Lockheed Martin, using 5,000 square feet for office space and the remainder for warehouse. The current uses meet the parking requirement, but if unit #3 were later converted to all office use, it would require a total of 209 spaces as follows:
Unit #2 – d-2 medical office use, 1 space per 150 square feet, or 107 parking spaces
Unit #3 – d-1 general office use, 1 space per 200 square feet, or 102 parking spaces.
The applicant will repave and restripe the parking with 75% of the spaces measuring 9’ X 18’. There will be 169 total spaces, with 62 held in green. It is the applicant’s intent to leave the reserve spaces in green until such time as they are needed. When these spaces are required, the applicant would submit a new stormwater review. No impervious surface relief would be needed to install the reserve spaces.
Mr. McElroy confirmed Mr. Marshall’s summary. He said that the dental practice currently occupies 4,000 square feet on Penns Trail. The practice is merging with the general dentist currently located in the next unit on Penns Trail and moving together to the larger space. He said that the parking will be adequate at the new location.
Mr. Sadwith said that he intends to turn the two building into condominiums. The parking variance is needed in order to prepare the condo documents. He does not believe Lockheed Martin has plans to vacate unit #3 at this time.
Mr. Marshall said that the dental practice in unit #2 and the office/warehouse use in unit #3 require a total of 163 parking spaces. Lockheed uses about five parking spaces. The condo documents will allocate specific parking areas for each unit and designate some of the parking as common parking. He reviewed the parking configuration on Exhibit A-1, pointing out the limited common elements.
Mr. Iapalucci asked what would guarantee that the reserve parking would be installed when it is needed.
Mr. Marshall said that it is up to the Township to determine whether reserve parking should be installed. Generally the Township has preferred holding parking in green if it is not needed. It could be made a condition of approval that when unit #3 is converted to D-1 office use, the reserve parking should be installed.
Mr. Vogt said that if there is a change in use, a new certificate of occupancy would be needed; that could trigger installation of the reserve parking.
Mr. Auchinleck asked who would be financially responsible for paving and striping of the lot.
Mr. Marshall said that the property owner would be responsible for the repaving and restriping now and for the installation of the reserve parking if it becomes needed. The owner is eager to make a condominium a rrangement to avoid the need for cross-easements for the two units.
Mr. Vogt suggested that the Board consider who would be responsible for the expense of inspection of the parking lot when it is restriped. He also noted that d-1 office use is a permitted use and conversion of unit #3 would not require a variance.
Mr. Iapalucci move to grant variances from sections 803(D-1)(5)and (D-2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit a conversion of an existing 15,977 square foot building from office to medical office and to convert a 20,387 square foot warehouse building to office with 169 parking spaces (62 of which are reserved) where 209 are required subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 3-0.
Application of Barre 3
Mr. Potero read into the record the application of Barre 3, lessee, requesting variances from sections 1106(H)(4)(a) and (d)(2) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit 7 identification signs where only 3 are permitted and to permit a sign height of 16 feet where the maximum is 7 feet, the subject property is 2875/2877 South Eagle Road, Newtown, in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District, being further known as Tax Map Parcel # 29-3-24-6.
David Ziel was sworn in.
Mr. Wind asked if anyone wished to be party to this application.
Fran Poole, 157 Cliveden Drive, President of Cliveden Estates Homeowners Association, asked for party status on behalf of the Homeowners Association.
Mr. Auchinleck granted party status to Mr. Poole.
Mr. Ziel said that the Planning Commission had reviewed this application using 12 feet as the height of the sign. This is the bottom of the sign. He also noted that the sign is to be halo lit by LED lights, not face lit from inside the sign.
Mr. Vogt said that the Ordinance permits a height of 9 feet, which would be the top of the sign. The proposed sign’s top is 16 feet above grade.
Mr. Ziel reviewed the seven signs, noting that the building has been empty for a number of years and that Barre 3 is a new franchise in Pennsylvania. He wants the chimney sign to provide visibility from Durham Road. Brixmor, owner of the property, has given permission for all of the signs, including the chimney sign. He has heard that many of the businesses in the shopping center have been required to use gooseneck lights and he would be willing to change the lighting on the chimney sign if necessary, but he prefers the appearance of the halo lit sign. He entered as Exhibit A-1, a plan showing halo lit signs and as Exhibit A-2, a series of photographs comparing the chimney sign at 9 feet and at 16 feet. He said that he will be replacing the existing sign boxes with halo lit signs.
Referring to Exhibit A-1, Mr. Iapalucci asked to review the permitted signs and the signs for which variances are sought.
Mr. Ziel said that he is permitted the Barre 3 signs on the north and south elevations. He would also have been permitted a third Barre 3 sign on the east, but is, instead, substituting the chimney sign at a height of 16 feet. The sign itself is permitted, but a height variance is needed. The additional signs are the vinyl lettering on the windows on the north, south and east sides of the building which describe the services offered at Barre 3.He confirmed that the vinyl lettering is not lit.
Mr. Poole had no questions for Mr. Ziel.
Mr. Poole was sworn in. He said that Mr. Ziel has met with representatives of Cliveden’s Homeowners Association and has discussed his sign plans. The Homeowners Association is supportive of the plan and has no objection to the chimney sign. The residents whose homes face Durham Road also had no objection to the chimney sign.
Mr. Ziel said that he would be willing to place the B on the chimney at 9 feet and withdraw the request for the height variance.
Mr. Auchinleck explained that the Township considers the vinyl letters on the windows as signs. The Township has even considered signage inside of businesses but visible from the street as signs.
Mr. Potero suggested that the applicant not place the B on the chimney, but instead put a Barre 3 sign on the east side of the building instead.
Mr. Ziel said that he prefers the B on the chimney because it will be symmetrical; the chimney is in the center of the building.
Mr. Iapalucci said that he is concerned about the branding of the entire building by placing the B on the chimney. This building will have another tenant.
Mr. Wind asked whether Mr. Ziel would consider eliminating the lighting on the chimney sign.
Mr. Ziel said that he would.
Mr. Iapalucci said that he has no objection to the vinyl lettering if it is not to be illuminated and if no other signage appears in the windows.
Mr. Ziel noted that many other businesses in the shopping center have displays in the windows. He is trying to be honest and submit an application for all of the signs he would like. He does not plan to add any other signage or to have visible displays inside the studio.
Mr. Iapalucci moved to grant variances from section 1106(H)(4)(a) of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance of 2007 to permit 7 identification signs where only 3 are permitted , as follows:
Lighting is to be reverse halo LED. All lights are to be extinguished at 10:00 PM. No other internal signage or banners are permitted to be visible from the windows.
Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 3-0.Mr. Potero moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Iapalucci seconded and the motion passed 3-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary