Newtown Township’s Planning Commission has recommended that the Board of Supervisors deny Beneficial Bank’s Conditional Use application for a branch on Sycamore Street.
In a 7-1 vote, the commission took the stance based on issues with the site configuration and the fact that it is inconsistent with the township’s vision for that portion of town.
The bank is seeking to construct a branch with three drive-through windows at the site of the former Stockburger showroom. The applicant proposed to face the bank towards Richboro Road and 7-11, much to the dismay of the Planning Commission members.
“Place the building facing Sycamore Street. There were a lot of dollars spent to beautify that street. I don’t think a wall and a bunch of bushes was the intent,” said Planning Commission member Michael Iapalucci.
But bank officials said the plan as proposed is aimed to accommodate three drive throughs on the oddly configured site. Plus, if it faced the other way, customers would have to walk around the back of the building from the parking lot to get to the front doors.
Planning Commission member Paul Cohen said the township ordinances for this district don’t reference drive throughs. “There is no automatic right to drive throughs,” he said, adding despite what they may say, “the applicant is not necessarily entitled to the drive through.”
Members of the public agreed and urged the Planning Commission not to support the use.
“After all the money that was spent to fix up Sycamore Street what we want to see, they don’t want to do. Sycamore Street wants to be one of the beauty streets of Newtown,” said John D’Aprile, who urged the applicant to change the orientation of the building to face Sycamore Street.
“This situation is really distressing because it compromises everything we’re trying to achieve in this town,” said resident Judy Norkin.