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De Lorenzo's Application Review Postponed Until February

The Zoning Hearing Board will likely review the famous pizzeria's application in February.

De Lorenzo's wants to demolish the former veterinary hospital to construct a restaurant.
De Lorenzo's wants to demolish the former veterinary hospital to construct a restaurant.

A Zoning Hearing Board review of De Lorzeno’s Tomato Pies' application for a Newtown Township restaurant has been postponed until February.

The Zoning Hearing Board was initially scheduled to review the famous pizzeria’s request for variances needed to open a 4,500 square-foot restaurant during its January meeting.

However, the review was postponed and will most likely be taken up in February, officials said.

Representatives from the famous pizzeria came before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors last month to present plans for a one-story restaurant at the former Newtown Veterinary Hospital site. De Lorenzo's wants to demolish the former animal hospital and construct a new, one-story brick building where it will serve its famous tomato pies.

However, De Lorenzo’s will need zoning permission to construct a restaurant in the “Office/Light Industrial” zone. An eating place is a permitted use by condition in that zoning area.

In addition to conditional use approval, variances for parking and buffers will also be needed to construct the restaurant. Current plans call for 75 off-street parking spaces.

If approved, the restaurant will be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m. for dinner.

De Lorenzo’s tomato pies are famous throughout the region. The pizzeria, which first opened in Trenton in 1947, last year closed its restaurant in the city’s Chambersburg section. 

It currently operates a restaurant in Robbinsville, N.J.

Rob Ciervo January 07, 2014 at 02:57 PM
Stand firm on our zoning. Let's not turn Newtown-Yardley Road into Fast Food Restaurant Row!
The Illuminati January 08, 2014 at 06:26 AM
Yes...A vacant building that does absolutely nothing for our township is much better. It was this mentality that kept the Acme site as a public eyesore for over a decade. Is it any wonder why businesses bypass Newtown?
Gary Roberts January 08, 2014 at 07:23 AM
DeLorenzos will enhance the community, bring in tax revenues, benefit other businesses and replace the eyesore that sits there now. In addution, it will be frequented by almost every resident including every single politician who opposes it because the food is just that spextacular. Suggesting that it will make Newtown-Yardley Road look like fast food row is simply inaccurate.
Jordan January 08, 2014 at 08:37 AM
I don't want to put words in Rob's mouth, but I don't know if he is necessarily saying don't let DeLorenzo's come in at all, but just to stand firm to zoning and make sure it is built with the community in mind. I for one would like to see the walkability of that part of town improved. It might not seem that walkable right now, but there is a townhouse community right there that if this was done right, could walk to it. The way you create more walkable communities is one project at a time, so I hope we take this opportunity to make this project one that is walkable along with it being held to the high standards it should be. I am encouraged to hear it will be a "brick" building, but want to see more renderings before I pass judgement.
Rob Ciervo January 08, 2014 at 09:05 AM
First, I have nothing against De Lorenzos or fast food for that matter. We do though have certain zoning districts where these uses are allowed, and for a good planning reason. The reason that the Newtown Bypass and Newtown-Yardley Road are not restaurant after restaurant is because of our zoning. There is a 300 foot set back restriction with regards to restaurant uses on those roads AND any restaurant use in the Business Commons can only go in if it solely caters to the workers and patrons of the business commons. For example the Cosi on Pheasant Run meets both of these conditions in that it is more than 300 feet from these roads AND it closes at 6pm. If the Zoning Hearing Board grants this variance we can definitely expect big restaurant chains to ask for the same thing on some of the open parcels on the Bypass and on Newtown-Yardley Road. But I am actually more worried about the parcels that are already developed where a big chain like McDonalds (who definitely wants to come in to Newtown) or Chillis or Burger King buys up parcels right on the road. This area of Newtown is the way it is because of the zoning. The original planners of our modern zoning were very smart to place office and industrial uses close to I-95 so workers could come into to Newtown to work and exit easy without having to drive through the middle of the borough. They were also wise to keep the commercial districts close to the center of the borough to develop a commerical hub and not have these uses spread througout Newtown and especially not in the middle of a residential hub which now Newtown-Yardley road is. So I welcome De Lorenzo's to come to Newtown and find a place in our existing commercial districts along Sycamore and Durham Roads. Currently there is no hardship preventing De Lorenzo's from opening a restaurant in Newtown and thus their request to essentially break the zoning of the industrial district where they have entered into a purchase agreement does not qualify for a variance of this magnitude. The idea that parcels such as Rick Steele's Gulf or the Lutheran Church have to stay that way forever is short term thinking. Those parcels immediately jump in value when there is a chance that a McDonald's or a Burger King or a TGIF can be built on them because another applicant, was allowed this type of huge variance.
Frank January 08, 2014 at 09:38 AM
Well said, Rob. I totally agree with your logic that approving this would potentially open a pandora's box for the other fast food chains.
mark January 08, 2014 at 12:34 PM
Why would you offer "Stand firm"? It almost seems as a judgment has been made. IF it has a "Conditional use" clause, the declare those conditions for approval. If Delorenzos find those conditions acceptable they will proceed, if not they will move on. "Huge variance" what "Huge variance" are you speaking about? I caution you when you write not to use inflammatory words prior to them even coming before the board in FEBRUARY. If they don't even present for another month, how does one know how large of a variance they are requesting? Also "variance" is part of the planning and conditions. Let's see what they REQUEST before you determine if this acceptable or not. Finally, future value of exiting business, or non profit organization. I would suggest that your crystal ball is as cloudy as anyone else. You have no knowledge what the market will be. It may not be in the best interest of a governing official to offer market pricing up or down.
Jordan January 08, 2014 at 12:36 PM
The article states what variances they need. Their plan was already submitted.
Rob Ciervo January 08, 2014 at 12:40 PM
Mark, they have already requested the variance of the Newtown Twp Zoning Hearing Board. I am not a member of that board nor any other board in Newtown Township. The variance they are asking for is to waive the limitation of restaurants being on Newtown-Yardley Road or the Newtown Bypass in the industrial districts. That is a huge variance in terms of its impact on the community. Certainly the zoning hearing board can grant a variance even though no hardship exists for this applicant, but that can be appealed and overturned in court. Additionally it could be granted and not appealed and then another applicant, let's say Fast Food USA restaurant, requests the exact same variance at a different location along Newtown-Yardley Road. The zoning hearing board could deny this use because perhaps its members don't like the name of that restaurant, but I can tell you that then the denial would be appealed and most likely overturned in court given what was previously allowed in a very similar situation. The other thing to really watch out for is that variances "run with the land" meaning the applicant could get the variance, intend to open a certain type of restaurant and then turn around and sell the land to a totally different restaurant. I'm not stating that this applicant would do that, but that approach has been done before and to success as well. Always be careful of what you wish for when it comes to variances of zoning laws. What is good for Newtown is that we have 5 individuals on our Zoning Hearing Board who understand the impact of their decisions. That was not always the case, especially in the late 90s to early 2000s.
The Illuminati January 08, 2014 at 02:33 PM
While I hear what you are stating, let's not forget that McDonald's wanted to build a restaurant in the shopping center and the Nimbly's prevented it. The zoning in Newtown only works when it's convenient.
The Illuminati January 08, 2014 at 02:34 PM
Sorry, Nimby's. ..auto correct.
Rob Ciervo January 08, 2014 at 02:51 PM
McDonald's wanted to build a drive through lane smaller than what the zoning permits. Thus they needed a variance for the project. They could have built without a variance but without a drive through lane but chose, on their own not to do it. Then they chose on their own not to go forward with the variance request. The main issue here is that the parcel size was too small to accommodate what they wanted to do at that particular location. Note that the parcel sizes are much larger in the Business Commons and thus granting a variance like what De Lorenzo's wants places that portion of the township at risk for future restaurant development.
The Illuminati January 08, 2014 at 03:17 PM
Let's remember we are talking about restaurants here...not strip clubs. I don't think we will invite blight into the Twp if we build restaurants
Jordan January 08, 2014 at 03:19 PM
Glad you are setting your sights high Illuminati. Next you will say that loansharks are not okay, but "cash for gold" places are.
The Illuminati January 08, 2014 at 04:57 PM
Worse case scenario...Two or three restaurants get built on Newtown Yardley Road. Please explain to me how this is going to ruin this section of Newtown? We are talking restaurants here? The way some of you are talking it sounds like once you build a restaurant, South Central Los Angeles is to follow. That area of the township does not really have any eateries other than Cosi in the Commons. If anyone in that area of township wants to eat dinner, they either go into the borough or drive through the borough to get to the area restaurants...or worse, they take their hard earned money and spend it in Middletown. Why not allow some options for those who work in the commons or live in that area?
the VOICE January 09, 2014 at 06:28 PM
Let them have the variance, the area is nothing but variances for the Toll Bro's Development and the Trailor Park, I mean Townhouse development going in at the swim club.
Man Landers January 09, 2014 at 08:24 PM
Irrational fear of the future (ooh, restaurants) is no reason to deny this type of zoning variance. It's just not a logical argument.
Rob Ciervo January 09, 2014 at 09:24 PM
It is all about what you want the future of that road to be. If you don't mind it turning into food courts and chain restaurants then that is fine. Something tells me all of the residents who live right on that road did not buy their homes to see the road turn into that. But hey that is just me and I'm just a citizen with an opinion on how he'd like his hometown to be.
Jay January 10, 2014 at 11:25 AM
What is deemed acceptable for this location by the posters on this board? And who gets to make that call? I love that whenever a space opens up in Newtown, people immediately begin to say things like "We need a Trader Joe's" or "Whole Foods needs to go in that space" As if it is up to the public to decide what goes there. I've heard people comment that the Supervisors "Should do something to get a Super Fresh in the old ACME site" as if they should get on the phone and tell them about it. Void of say, the landlord, lease agreements with other tenants, etc. etc. People are silly creatures sometimes.
the VOICE January 11, 2014 at 02:22 PM
Silly Creatures Indeed, got any more Names ?
Jay January 11, 2014 at 10:52 PM
Names, I've got more names. Space Cowboy, The Little Giant, Nacho Libre, and many call me the Gangster of Love. Also, Cowboy Bill, and Dr. Feel Mediocre. Some of these were stage names and some the media pinned on me. It was the early 90's--what can I say?

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