NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> The Newtown Borough Council on Dec. 10 voted unanimously to approve preliminary plans for the redevelopment of the former Stockburger property at State and Court streets.
In 2018, Court and State LLC purchased the remaining four parcels of the George and Nancy Stockburger property at the south end of State Street. The transaction included 215 South State Street (the former garage and service station), 209 and 211 Court Street housing four apartments and a rear gravel parking lot.
The plan proposes the demolition of the auto repair garage at 215 South State Street, remediation of the site’s environmental hazards and the redevelopment of the property with two twin dwelling units, four detached garages and eight parking spaces.
The plan, said attorney Joe Blackburn, will drastically reduce the existing impervious coverage of the property and improve stormwater runoff.
In addition, the plan envisions the renovation and re-invigoration of two single family dwelling units at 209 and 211 Court Street, now housing four rental units, and the conversion of both back to single family homes.
And finally as part of the plan, four twins containing two units each would be built behind the single family homes on what is now a gravel parking.
According to Blackburn, the developer has agreed to all outstanding engineering and planning issues and has secured the relief required from the borough’s zoning board for the project.
During Tuesday night’s review and subsequent approval, the developer agreed to a number of additional conditions including the installation of period street lighting on South State Street and on the east and west side of Court Street; providing four trees to the borough to be planted in other areas of the borough in lieu of planting them on site; and evaluate the relocation of enclosed dumpsters away from neighboring properties at the Court Street property or find an alternative.
The developer also agreed to consider a crosswalk on State Street linking the project to the Steeple View development across the street; evaluating the feasibility of on street parking on South State Street; and attempt to resolve property encroachment issues by final plan approval, including an historic outhouse and a number of fences that may have to be relocated.
Council also asked the developer to limit second floor baths to powder rooms in the four proposed garages planned behind the proposed State Street twins. The councilors were concerned that full baths would make them ideal candidates for Air BNBs.
While Blackburn said a note on the plan and a corresponding Homeowners Association declaration would adequately prohibit the spaces from being used as rentals or Air BNBs, Councilor Julia Woldorf suggested a change in the plumbing to ensure it doesn’t happen.
Woldorf suggested the plumbing include just a sink and a toilet and not a shower and bath, which Blackburn said would be an acceptable condition.
A lot of discussion centered around a proposal by the developer to add on street parking along its South State Street frontage. The developer is proposing the additional parking in response to concerns over the lack of parking in the general area.
PennDOT, however, told the developer the day before the meeting it would need another foot of roadway for that happen. That would require the developer to shift the proposed twin houses to the east by one foot on an already tight property. One of the twins has already been granted relief for rear yard setback.
“We haven’t fully evaluated the implications. It’s certainly something we need to look into - what impacts it has and to what extent we are going to be able to accommodate that on street parking,” said Blackburn. “We can remove all the on street parking and the development would still meet all our parking requirements, but it remains our goal and desire to maximize the on street parking for the community.”
In granting the approval, Councilor Marvin Cohen noted that the massing and density on the rear portion of the property is “not consistent with the designs of the borough and our zoning. However, the appropriate variances were granted by the zoning hearing board and that is the law.”
The development has stirred a lot of concern in the neighborhood, especially over the density of the project and the loss of parking.
The preliminary plan is available for public review during regular business hours at the Newtown Borough Hall.