ZONING HEARING BOARD
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF FEBRUARY 6, 2014
The Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board met on Thursday, February 6, 2014 in the Township meeting room. In attendance and voting were Members Karen Doorley, Michael Iapalucci, Timothy Potero and Brandon Wind. Also in attendance were James J. Auchinleck, Jr., Solicitor, Martin Vogt, Code Enforcement Officer and Justine Gregor, Stenographer.
Call to Order: Mr. Auchinleck called the meeting to order at 7:40 PM.
Reorganization of Board:
Mrs. Doorley nominated Mr. Wind to serve as chairman. Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Iapalucci nominated Mr. Potero to serve as vice-chairman. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mrs. Doorley nominated Mr. Iapalucci to serve as secretary. Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Wind moved to appoint Mr. Auchinleck as solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mrs. Doorley moved to appoint Mary Donaldson to serve as recording secretary. Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Wind moved to appoint Justine Gregor as stenographer. Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Potero moved to approve the minutes of January 2, 2014. Mrs. Doorley seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
The agenda was reviewed:
Continued Application of Newtown Racquetball Association, 118 Pheasant Run
Continued Application of Donald and Denise Queeny, 1 South Sycamore Street
Continued Application of Stonehaven Homes, 162 Durham Road
Continued Application of Newtown Racquetball Association
Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that he had received a letter from the applicant requesting a continuation to the April meeting.
Mrs. Doorley moved to continue the application of Newtown Racquetball Association to April 3, 2014. Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Continued Application of Donald and Denise Queeny
Mr. Auchinleck informed the Board that the applicant’s attorney has written asking that this application be continued to the March meeting.
Mrs. Doorley moved to continue the application of Donald and Denise Queeny to March 6, 2014. Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Continued Application of Stonehaven Homes
Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that this application had been opened and testimony had been given at the January 2, 2014 meeting. The Board and applicant had agreed to continue the application to allow the applicant to research stormwater management solutions for the proposed minor subdivision.
Attorney Ed Murphy informed the Board that he has become the attorney on this application. He was not representing the applicant at the January meeting.
Mr. Murphy reminded the Board that at the January meeting, Heath Dumack, engineer on the project, had been sworn and had been directed to develop a stormwater management plan for the project. Mr. Dumack has done a basic stormwater analysis and has designed a concept plan which would include 4 to 5 connected ballast pits to capture stormwater and allow for infiltration. This plan has been forwarded to the Township engineer, who has agreed that the concept would be adequate. She will do a thorough review of calculations at the land development phase of the project.
Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-5 the record plan with ballasts added.
Mr. Dumack said that Exhibit A-5 shows the ballasts under the shared driveway. The ground slopes from northeast to southwest and will act to capture run off from the northerly parcel as well as from this subdivision. The drywells will run the full length of the 500 foot driveway with full infiltration. Any possible overflow would run into the existing swale on Durham Road in the legal right of way. The downspouts on the new homes will be piped directly into the system. A swale will also be installed at the boundary with the southerly neighbors. He has discussed the plan with the southerly neighbors but due to power outages he was unable to include the swale on the updated plan. The Township Engineer has agreed that this stormwater plan will help alleviate problems coming from the property to the north of this subdivision.
Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that John McGrath had been sworn in at the previous meeting.
Mr. McGrath said that he had attended the meeting with the adjacent neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. King, and sent a letter to all of the adjacent property owners. He has spoken to Mr. Lechner and Mr. Love, offering to review the plans with them. Mrs. Wendy King has reviewed the plan shown in Exhibit A-5 and he has spoken to her about the proposed swale. They also discussed the possibility of an on-lot sewer system for lot #2 and agreed to withdraw that request for relief.
Mr. Murphy confirmed that the applicant will withdraw the portion of the application dealing with on-lot septic and will seek one EDU from Newtown Sewer Authority. The application now is for the reduced lot width at the street line and for increased impervious surface.
Mr. Auchinleck asked whether any specifics could be given about the size of the proposed swale.
Mr. Dumack said that it would be the same length as the ballast system. The berm would be at least one foot high and the swale at least one foot deep.
Mr. Auchinleck explained to Mr. and Mrs. King that at this point in the proceedings they could ask questions of the witnesses. He noted that neither of the Kings had been sworn in at the January meeting.
Wendy and William King were sworn in.
Mrs. King asked where the ballasts would end.
Mr. Dumack said that the ballasts would run the length of the shared driveway, stopping where the driveway ends. Downspouts from the new houses would go directly to the ballasts.
Mrs. King asked why the swale does not appear on the plans.
Mr. Dumack explained that they had only discussed the swale at Tuesday’s meeting with them. There has been a power outage throughout the Township, including at his office, and he has been unable to update the plan but the applicant will agree to its inclusion and will update the plan as soon as possible. The swale would be accepted as a condition of approval.
Mr. Murphy explained that if relief is granted, the plans will be fully engineered and reviewed by the Township staff and by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors at public meetings during the land development phase.
Mr. King asked if DEP approval is needed.
Mr. Murphy said that NEPDS and BCCD approvals are needed; permits would be sought as part of land development.
Mr. King asked about a sewer moratorium.
Mr. Murphy said that no new EDU’s are being issued at this time and the project cannot move forward for the second lot until the moratorium is lifted. He said that no construction easements would be needed for the adjacent properties.
Mr. Auchinleck explained to the Board that this property is zoned for medium density residential use; it can be subdivided. The project will still have to go through land development to address the issues of run-off and stormwater management.
Mrs. King asked whether the existing swale will be disturbed.
Mr. Dumack said that the swale is on the King property and will not be disturbed. Ms. Fountain, the Township Engineer, has asked for additional topographical information from the King property.
Mr. Auchinleck said that the new swale will be entirely on the McGrath property.
Mr. King expressed concern that the outlet pipe will discharge additional run-off into the street.
Mr. Auchinleck said that the outlet pipe is only for overflow from the ballasts. Most stormwater will be retained and infiltrated.
Mr. King asked about the distance between the stormwater system and his well and about the time needed to empty the system.
Mr. Dumack explained that the Department of Health requires a distance of fifty feet between the system and existing wells. This will be much more than the required fifty feet. He does not know the time it will take to recharge the stormwater, but the system is 3.5 times what would be required for stormwater management for a project this size.
Mr. Iapalucci asked whether Mr. and Mrs. King are comfortable with the proposed stormwater management.
Mrs. Doorley assured Mr. and Mrs. King that if the Zoning Hearing Board adds conditions requiring stormwater management and swales, they must be part of the plan.
Mr. Wind said that the Zoning Hearing Board must remain neutral and give property owners an opportunity to make good use of their properties.
Mr. Auchinleck reminded all that two residences are permitted in this zoning district. The owners of the property do have a right to subdivide for residential use.
Mr. Murphy said that the flooding at this site already exists. If the property is not subdivided and only one house is built, the existing problems will continue. No additional stormwater management will be done.
Mr. Iapalucci asked whether the proposed stormwater system will alleviate the problems seen in Exhibit O-1.
Mr. Dumack said that conditions will be improved. Much of the flooding comes from the PECO property along the high tension wires. About 4 to 5 properties north of the King property contribute to the flooding. The swale and stormwater management ballasts will slow and contain much of the water. Any overflow will be piped into the swale along Durham Road, but it will be less than is currently fed into the swale. The proposed new swale will also help to control run-off from properties north of the subdivision project. The swale will be at least one foot deep and five feet wide and will be built to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer.
Resident Jeff Frantz was sworn in. Mr. Frantz explained that he lives behind the proposed subdivision in Newtown Ridge. His development’s homeowners association has had difficulty with water in the common ground behind this property. The area has been difficult to maintain because the ground is always wet and soggy. The water seems to be coming from the northeast of the property.
Mr. Dumack assured Mr. Frantz that no additional run-off will flow to the Newtown Ridge common ground because it is uphill of the proposed subdivision.
Mr. McGrath said that his proposed stormwater management system should reduce the flow of water onto surrounding properties.
Mr. Frantz said that his concern is that if the system is not effective the other property owners will have no recourse.
Mr. Wind said that if relief is granted and Mr. Frantz can demonstrate that his development has suffered damage, his recourse is through the courts.
Mr. Murphy reminded Mr. Frantz that if relief is granted, the plans will be reviewed and inspected by the Township engineer to be sure the system is effective. There is an eighteen month period after completion when the Township holds a maintenance bond to address any problems which the builder has not adequately addressed.
Mr. Wind noted that conditions of land development are addressed by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Frantz can ask the supervisors to add a condition to maintain escrow for stormwater management.
Mr. Auchinleck said that the stormwater system proposed would hold 3.5 times what is required by the ordinance. If it is imposed as a condition of a variance granted, it must be built. This proposed system will not add to the existing problems and should alleviate some of the problems.
Mr. Dumack said that system will hold run off from this project and a substantial portion of the existing run off. It will help reduce the amount of water running from the properties north of Mr. McGrath’s property.
Mr. Auchinleck reminded the Board that if no variances are granted, only one house can be built and it will not require any new stormwater management. Water conditions will remain the same.
Mr. Murphy formally withdrew the portion of the application dealing with an on-lot septic system.
Mr. Iapalucci asked about the size of the houses and the need for increased impervious surface.
Mr. McGrath said that each house would be similar in size, about 4,000 square feet. The difference in impervious surface for lot #2 is the driveway, which is about 6100 square feet. If the driveway is not counted, each house would be less than 10% impervious surface.
Mr. Iapalucci expressed some concern that each house uses all of the allowable impervious, leaving nothing additional for the future homeowners to build any amenities to the houses.
Mr. Auchinleck pointed out that there is some additional impervious and each house has a porch and a large patio.
Mrs. Doorley moved to grant variances from Section 404B to permit an impervious surface of 13.25% on lot #1 and 17.2% on lot #2 and from Section 404.3, to permit a minimum lot width at the street of 39.24 feet, subject to the conditions that a stormwater system, as shown in Exhibit A-5 be installed and a berm at least 1 foot high, and a swale at least 1 foot deep and at least 5 feet wide be installed along the southerly border the length of the new common driveway, subject to the approval of the Township Engineer. These variances assume that lot #2 will need to purchase an EDU from the sewer authority. Lot #1 has one EDU. Mr. Potero seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mrs. Doorley moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Wind seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary