The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors wrapped up a conditional use hearing for a proposed Beneficial Bank on Sycamore Street after three sessions and hours of testimony.
However, no decision was made. The board asked for final plans to be submitted to the township by next Wednesday, Dec. 14. A decision will be made at a board meeting later this month.
Philadelphia-based Beneficial Bank, who was represented last night by Doylestown attorney John VanLuvanee, is seeking to build a 3,200-square-foot branch with three drive-through lanes at the site of the former Stockburger dealership at Sycamore Street and Richboro Road.
However, there have been objections to the plan by the township's Planning Commission as well as the Sycamore Street Community Association. The Sycamore Street Community Association was granted "party status" in the hearing and was represented by attorney Bradford Lare.
Lare said the organization has concerns that the plan is inconsistent with the township’s vision for that portion of town. Lare said there are also concerns related to traffic.
The community association hired Philip Wursta, a traffic engineer, to testify regarding the plan. Wursta said the bank’s parking lot and drive-through design has the potential to put pedestrians at danger. He said the site could have been designed to protect pedestrians better.
Wursta, who visited the site several times to view traffic at the intersection, said the bank’s two entrances could be dangerous for cars that try to turn in and out of the bank site onto the already busy Sycamore Street.
Township Traffic Engineer Amy Kaminski agreed with many of the points Wursta raised and said a more extensive traffic study should have been conducted by Beneficial Bank.
It's not just traffic that is causing the Sycamore Street Community Association to oppose the plan.
Shawn Ward, Sycamore Street Community Association President and owner of the Green Parrot, said the proposed bank doesn't fit the vision for the street.
“The design of the building is not in harmony with Sycamore Street,” Ward said.
Ward called the proposed bank building a “two-story billboard.” He said after all the hard work put into making Sycamore Street what it is today, the bank in its current design would set back that progress.
In November, the Planning Commission for the bank because the proposal did not match the township’s vision for that section of town.