Sy­camore St. vi­sion takes leap for­ward

The Advance of Bucks County - - FRONT PAGE - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

NEW­TOWN TOWN­SHIP - The town­ship su­per­vi­sors have ap­proved a long-awaited or­di­nance to help Sy­camore Street de­velop into a town cen­ter with shops and pedes­trian walk­ways.

At its Oct. 10 meet­ing , the board voted 4-0, with su­per­vi­sor Philip Cal­abro ab­stain­ing, to pass an or­di­nance mod­i­fy­ing the town com­mer­cial (TC) zon­ing, which is out­lined un­der the joint mu­nic­i­pal zon­ing agree­ment with neigh­bor­ing Wright­stown and Up­per Makefield.

Both the New­town Town­ship and Bucks County Plan­ning Com­mis­sions had rec­om­mended that the or­di­nance be ap­proved with some mi­nor changes.

“This has been a long time com­ing” said Vice Chair­man Matthew Bench­ener, “This is a way for us to take the vi­sion of Sy­camore Street ... to be­come part of a long term vi-

sion.”

That vi­sion, ac­cord­ing to Bench­ener is “a pedes­trian town cen­ter,” and he said that the Prom­e­nade on the old Acme site is “a step in that di­rec­tion.”

Chair­man Mike Gal­lagher agreed. “It took a lot of work to get it done and we think it makes Sy­camore Street a bet­ter place over the next 20, 30, 40 years.

The changes to the TC or­di­nance state that any new build­ing can be no higher than two sto­ries, un­less a zon­ing vari­ance is sought. In ad­di­tion, new busi­nesses must have a re­quired min­i­mum pub­lic space, for such things as: out­door seat­ing and eat­ing ar­eas, as well as plazas.

Also au­to­mo­bile sales will not be an al­lowed use with­out a zon­ing waiver, and driv­ethrough lanes for banks will no longer au­to­mat­i­cally be per­mit­ted.

“We’re try­ing to make Sy­camore Street more pedes­trian friendly,” said Su­per­vi­sor Rob Ciervo. “to have it be our down­town.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ciervo, there’s a few big parcels on Sy­camore Street that if sold will change New­town for­ever.

“I see one of them as Bill Marsh cord,” he added, “Our zon­ing will pro­tect a big lot like that and en­sure that it can’t just be 300 con­dos.”

Un­der the or­di­nance, the com­mer­cial area in a mixe­duse prop­erty in the TC zon­ing would be lim­ited to be­tween 40 per­cent and 50 per­cent of the des­ig­nated floor space.

“What we didn’t want is a build­ing where only 25 per­cent is com­mer­cial and the rest is con­dos,” Ciervo ex­plained.

In other ac­tion, the su­per­vi­sors also unan­i­mously ap­proved to en­ergy-re­lated or­di­nances, one deal­ing with so­lar pan­els and the other with wood-burn­ing boil­ers used to pro­vide a build­ing with heat and hot wa­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to town­ship so­lic­i­tor Jef­frey Gar­ton, these or­di­nances were dis­cussed for a long time by the other joint zon­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, which have since passed sim­i­lar mea­sures.

“The pur­pose is to pro­vide some reg­u­la­tion for so­lar en­ergy,” Gar­ton de­clared.

He noted that the or­di­nance reg­u­lat­ing so­lar en­ergy pro­hibits the pan­els from be­ing placed in the front yard or along prop­erty lines, and they can be no higher than 10 feet. In ad­di­tion, rooftop pan­els can­not ex­ceed the max­i­mum height al­lowed for a build­ing or struc­ture.

“These pan­els can’t be an­other 50 feet in the air,” he said.

Un­der both or­di­nances, so­lar pan­els and wood-burn­ing boil­ers are al­lowed by right as ac­ces­sory uses.

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