Planners put liquor store relocation plan on hold
NEWTOWN BOROUGH - Parking, trees and access roads were just a few of the concerns that the borough planning commission raised on Monday night as they reviewed plans by developer Allan Smith for a new Wine & Spirits store, along with specialty retail and condominiums, proposed for South State and Penn streets.
In a 6-0 vote at its Nov. 12 meeting, the planners tabled the developer’s preliminary/ finDO SODn WR JLvH 6PLWh PRUH WLPH WR finH WunH WhH SURMHcW. They will take it up again at the commission’s Dec. 3 meeting.
Smith, who grew up in Newtown Borough and has spearheaded a number of highSURfiOH SURMHcWs hHUH LncOuGLnJ WhH 6WRcNLnJ :RUNs RIficH complex, agreed to the delay to address the concerns.
During the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, borough engineer Mario Canales read a list of more than 80 comments that he had prepared about the proposed development.
Smith wants to build a threestory free standing, mixed-use structure that would surround the Sedia House at the corner of South State and Penn streets, adjacent to the former Stockburger auto dealership.
The Wine & Spirits Shop (State Store) would be on the JURunG flRRU wLWh 13 PuOWLfamily condos on the two upSHU flRRUs, sHvHn RnH-EHGURRP and six two-bedroom units. The site would also house the Newtown Beer Store on the lower level, which would wrap around the Sedia House, a single-family 18th century historic dwelling which will remain.
One of the planning commission’s key concerns is whether the narrow Penn Street, which is now two-way, should be made a one-way street. In addition, the commission discussed whether a planned driveway from the site onto State Street should be 24 or 26 feet wide.
Canales was also worried about the size of the delivery trucks entering Penn Street and if they would have trouble reaching the building’s loading dock, which will serve the liquor store and beer distributorship.
“Penn Street doesn’t meet the two-way street width,” said planning commission chairman Mark Craig. “Right now it’s dangerous.”
“I like the idea of Penn Street being made a one way,” commission member Warren Woldorf concurred.
“Truck deliveries can be scheduled off hours,” Woldorf added.
Another issue is to ensure that the current 75 permit holders using the parking lot on the site are not displaced. The borough leases the spaces and in turn issues parking permits to residents. The spaces are located behind the existing State Store at 10 Centre.
“I would feel more comfortable if there was a lease built in this plan for 75 spaces,” Craig contended, “so the borough won’t be caught in a loss.”
Smith assured the commission that there would be parking spaces on the site for permit holders, but that they might have to be relocated during construction.
The width of a private access road was also addressed at Monday’s meeting.
According to the developer’s attorney, Timothy Duffy, PennDOT wants the driveway to be at least 24-feet wide in order to tie in with South State Street.
However, the borough engi- neer advised that it should instead be 26-feet wide, a recommendation to which developer Allan Smith objected.
“We want this to be more pedestrian friendly,” Smith maintained. “It’s more intimate in keeping with the borough.”
Meanwhile, Duffy noted that the existing Penn Street, which runs though the property, is only 18-feet wide.
“I know it’s a driveway, but it’s going to be a road when it’s developed,” Canales interjected.
Just before the vote to table the application, the commission chairman advised the developer to look into making Penn Street one way. However, Craig indicated that a 24-foot driveway would be acceptable to the planning commission.
Among the other concerns that the planners asked Smith were: shopping cart storage in the parking lot, screening mechanical units and recycling dumpsters from public view, curb dimensions, signage and landscaping.
The Bucks County Planning Commission and the borough’s Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) will also need to look at the development plans. HARB has already given the project conditional approval.
The borough engineer also pointed out that several very large trees on the property will be affected by the installation of storm sewers.
Because of that, the planning commission recommended that the borough’s Shade Tree Commission review the tree issue.
“The shade trees should also be discussed with borough council,” Canales advised.
Under the proposed develRSPHnW, fivH sWUHHW ODPSs DUH WR be installed along State Street in front of the building. Smith asked that yellow lights be used instead of the white bulbs that the borough now uses along the business district.
“Light has a great affect on mood when going down the road,” Smith said. “State Street is much too white and much too harsh.”
The developer will return to the planning commission once the recommended changes are incorporated into the plan.
The new Wine & Spirits Store would wrap around the Sedia house on South State Street.