Plan­ners put liquor store re­lo­ca­tion plan on hold

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

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.

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