Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

January 15, 2001  


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 14, 2001. WORK SESSION OF 1/15/01:  Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the minutes of the 1/15/01 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 


Members Present:        Steve Sanderlin, Chairman; Tom Jirele, Vice Chairman; Frank Mendicino, Secretary; Scott R. Harp, Treasurer; Raymond W. Goodnoe, Member; Steve Harris, Township Solicitor; Bob Larason, Township Engineer; Cornell Hopkins, Township Manager.

Call to Order:                Mr. Sanderlin called the meeting to order at 7:35 PM.   

Police Department Firearms

Mr. Mendicino moved to accept Sergeant Matthews’ recommendation regarding the type of weapon within the budgetary constraints set in 2001.  Mr. Harp seconded; the motion passed unanimously.

 Community Comments

Warren Dallas, board member of the Newtown Place Association, Jim Manahan, John Conner, Jim Patton, and Dan & Madeline Faust, appeared looking for support from the supervisors concerning noise mitigation from the Bypass before approaching the state.  Mr. Patton said they have a petition signed by about 75% of the single-family homeowners, and have spoken to other residents in the development. 

He distributed and reviewed a handout with the history and facts about the traffic noise issue, noting the increased truck traffic on the Bypass and removal of vegetation with the Chandler Hall expansion, which had provided some sound barrier.  On the second page of the handout, the homeowners requested the assistance and support of the board in their efforts to lobby the state for a sound wall to be installed adjacent to the Newtown Bypass.  Mr. Patton said that they know that PennDOT will not approve the project, calling it a pre-existing condition.  There is another source of funding, sound wall demonstration funding, which several communities in the Delaware Valley have utilized.  It is a $15 M appropriation by the legislation set aside out of the general fund, which can be accessed by communities to mitigate traffic noise.  They would like a letter of support from the board before they approach Dave Steil.

Mr. Jirele complimented the group’s research, and asked if the sound wall would be concrete, similar to the one along the New Jersey Turnpike.  Mr. Patton said probably, and said that a portion of I95 near Ridley Park has bee funded already through the demonstration funding.

Mr. Jirele asked if the group had investigated natural vegetation re-establishment, which is more aesthetically pleasing, to screen noise and Mr. Patton said that, according to their research, they would need at least 100 – 200 feet of very thick vegetation to mitigate noise as well as a sound wall would.  He thought that a sound wall could be installed with little disturbance to existing vegetation.

Mr. Jirele suggested that they talk with other developments along the Bypass, such as Newtown Gate.  Mr. Patton said that they have not spoken to other developments.  

Mr. Goodnoe asked about the distance from the back of the property lines to the Bypass or the fence.  Mr. Patton said that there is about 30 feet.  Ms. Faust said that a clear zone of about 30 feet is required off the travel lane, and that the site distance would have to be checked.

Mr. Mendicino said he was concerned about the maintenance of the vegetation; Mr. Dallas said there is already a fence there which requires a lot of maintenance already.

Ms. Faust presented a site map from the Chandler Hall Project, and demonstrated a possible site for the sound wall, which would extend from the edge of the houses and run along the back of Chandler Hall.  They have not spoken to anyone at Chandler Hall.

Mr. Harp asked about the height of the sound wall; Mr. Patton guessed 20 – 25 feet high.

It was clarified that there are no matching funds required for the demonstration project.

Mr. Hopkins said that the only other subdivision he has heard from concerning this issue is Crown Point, who has approached him several times.  He informed them that PennDOT considered it an existing condition and that the township knew of no PennDOT funding available. 

Mr. Jirele said that before he could endorse a supporting letter, he would like to see the group approach the other communities, as well as Chandler Hall, to generate a lot of community support for the project.  Other board members concurred.

Mr. Sanderlin said he would like consideration given to the aesthetic impact.  He asked the group to investigate other options to a concrete wall that would be more aesthetically acceptable. 

Newtown Community Center Ad Hoc Committee

Committee members Allen Fidler, Sue Beasley, Laura Leigh Tomlinson, Bill Wert, Anne Marie Zambriczki, and Dave Povernick were present.  In response to earlier board questions, Chairman Fidler reviewed the number of participants in recreation programs, and presented handouts about program locations, program facilities utilized and the funds spent to utilize them.  Mr. Fidler said that the committee had agreed upon the critical needs and functions and were now beginning to consider physical parameters.  He asked if the board wished to have one or more recommendations.  He asked if the Acme should be considered, since it was cited in the committee’s original mission statement, as it had a limited lease period. 

Mr. Goodnoe said he felt that the Acme site was a good start:  it is available and in a good location.  Here the committee could get a good sense of what programs could be presented in house and discover the demands for programming from the community.  Consensus of the board was that the Acme could serve as a “lab” experience for the community center.   Mr. Harp noted that it offered flexibility. 

Mr. Harris reminded the board that no structural improvements could be made totaling more than $20,000 without written approval of the landlord.    Mr. Hopkins said that the bathrooms cannot be remodeled, and that there are great constraints on improvements allowed. 

Mr. Sanderlin suggested that portable partitions could divide the space, which is now open and undivided and could be configured to desired space.  He said that the Acme would provide a good pilot period for the community center.  Mr. Mendicino added that if the Community Center worked well in the Acme, further improvements could be made.  He said he thought that Acme would become commercial eventually, and what the township wants to do with Acme in the long term would have to be considered. 

Mr. Goodnoe said that perhaps there would be space for some recreational activities at an expanded municipal building and other sites; Chairman Fidler said that the committee has considered this.  He said that a multipurpose room would be a key piece of a community center. 

Ms. Beasley asked about ADA compliance, particularly with regard to restrooms; Mr. Harris said that there needs to be an analysis of the building, in terms of operating expense, repairs, and other issues.

Mr. Sanderlin said that at the work session following the prior board meeting the board made two policy statements, authorizing Mr. Harris, Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Sanderlin to secure assumption of the Acme lease, and that the township should try to take control of the Acme property as soon as possible when the lease is up. 

Ms. Beasley said she and Mr. Wert were excited by the security system in place.  Mr. Wert said that Acme’s intention was to leave in the state-of-the-art security system with cameras, and that there is a room with centralized equipment, such as recorders, TV screens and cameras. 

Mr. Hopkins said that the next steps are to obtain 2 appraisals of the property, and to employ commercial inspectors to go in and check out the systems and walls, as well as do an environmental scan of the plot.  This should take approximately 2 – 10 weeks, and should supply information not now available.  It was clarified that any asbestos would need to be removed.  Mr. Harris said a title search would be done as well.

Ms. Tomlinson asked if the committee should consider just the Acme site or other options as well.  The board felt that the committee should consider Acme, as well as perhaps 2 – 4 other options.   Mr. Sanderlin said that if the community center was begun in the Acme, he saw the committee meeting quarterly perhaps to assess its success.

There was discussion of possible sites and characteristics of a community, such as central location, accessibility to motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic, visibility, etc.  Mr. Mendicino said he felt that easy, walking accessibility was important.  Mr. Fidler said that the committee had discussed township owned properties and assessed pros and cons of each.  Limitations on each site of one kind or another made a recommendation difficult.  Mr. Goodnoe said it would be valuable to continually consider alternative locations. 

Mr. Fidler asked if the committee’s work would be most valuable concentrating on the Acme scenario or continuing with the mission statement questions.  Mr. Jirele said he would like the committee to present an idea of what the community center is, what it should house, what its size should be, and perhaps 4 sites within the township that could support activities, with pros and cons of each site.  The board said it would like to see the committee’s report in 6 months before stating a favorite location; more information concerning the Acme building should be available then.

Mr. Fidler said that at the end of the committee’s chartered time, in June, the board might wish to make this committee a regular committee to continue its work. 

Mr. Povernick asked if the board had any idea of the budget money that might be available for a community center.  Mr. Sanderlin said the scope and size of the facility is yet to be decided.  Mr. Hopkins said that $100,000 to $150,000 worth of improvements would probably be necessary to make the building inhabitable.  Mr. Harris pointed out that up front costs and costs at the other end would need to be considered, as well as rental funds.  Mr. Goodnoe said that he had a cost figure in mind of about $100 - $150 per square feet for the building; Mr. Jirele said that a $2M - $3M seemed a likely figure, given the projected space required (» 17,000 sq. ft.) for a township the size of Newtown.  These figures are strictly ballpark.

Ms. Beasley asked if a supervisor could attend the remaining meetings of the committee; Mr. Sanderlin said he would attend.

 Mr. Sanderlin asked that documents the committee has been working from be forwarded to the board.

 Mr. Fidler thanked the board for their input, and Mr. Wert for the helpful information he has gathered.

 Toll Brothers, Mike Palmer

John Mangano, John Padincoff, Jeff L’Amoreaux of Carroll Engineering, and Mike Frank were also present for the discussion.

Mr. Palmer presented a sketch of the McLaughlin Tract.  He said that, in discussions of sketch plans, the recommendations of both the Planning Commission and board members has been to realign Stoopville Road.   He reviewed the sketch and said that they met with Mr. Goodnoe, Mr. Sanderlin and then with Mike Frank and Jeff L’Amoreaux, to amend their plans to include their recommendations. 

He reviewed the sketch, considered to be a specimen, which showed the realignment of Stoopville Road and B-15 Village Homes, assuming a rezoning of the tract to an R-1 district.  It meets the criteria for open space for an R-1 district.  He said they are in discussions with the School District as well as Harvey Gray in regards to the acquisition of additional property.  The Melsky Tract is zoned CM; Gray is zoned R-2.  The sketch presented showed 60 age-restricted units on 36 acres.

Mr. Mendicino said the board needs to keep in mind the overall picture of what could happen here and how many accesses there would be onto Stoopville Road, which he feels should be limited.  Various scenarios for access points were discussed, contingent upon the possibilities of development on one or more of the tracts in question.

Mr. Harris confirmed with Mr. Palmer that, if the McLaughlin Tract was rezoned to R-1, Toll Brothers would be willing to pay for the realignment of Stoopville Road as shown on the plan.

Mr. Mangano presented a conceptual tissue paper sketch of the Melsky & McLaughlin tracts.  He said that the two tracts combined represented about 172-173 acres.  He said that they would like to have one dwelling unit per acre, which is permitted in the CM district, and put together a performance subdivision, which would be age-restricted, and realign Stoopville Road.  This plan would probably include setting aside 52 acres for a possible school site, which would allow for an elementary or middle school.  The balance of the tract would be open space dedicated to the townships.  There was discussion of zoning, number of age restricted v. single homes, and road improvements, particularly the realignment of Stoopville Road.

There was discussion of the realignment of Stoopville Road and its impact on property owners at the intersection of Stoopville and Linton Hill Roads.  There was a suggestion that the road be engineered to minimize impact on property owners.  Mr. Goodnoe said he thought the two biggest issues were whether the board was willing to 1) accept more houses to get the Stoopville Road curves fixed, and 2) use its authority to condemn property involved.  Mr. Sanderlin supported additional houses for the road improvements.  Mr. Mendicino was concerned with the condemnation of property on Linton Hill Road; Mr. Larason said that perhaps a way could be found to minimize possible condemnation. 

Mr. Hopkins asked Toll Brothers if the dead end streets and eyebrow cul de sac could be removed from the plans.  Mr. Jirele said that things would work well if a second access to the Melsky Tract, if purchased, could line up with Penns Preserve.  Mr. Mangano said that they have heard that the school district likes their plan. 

Mr. Sanderlin suggested that, conceptually, the board recommend to the Jointure the rezoning the McLaughlin Tract to R-1, with 60 age-restricted home density, providing that Toll Brothers fix both curves on Stoopville Road and redesign the development layout.  The board would exercise their power of eminent domain as necessary, at no cost to the township.  There was consensus of the board, on a conceptual basis.

There was discussion of the possible disposition of the Melsky Tract.  Mr. Sanderlin felt that Toll Brothers’ conceptual plan for the McLaughlin and Melsky Tracts was acceptable, with the codicil that a portion would be retained by Council Rock School District, and the parcel that would be subdivided would be deed restricted for a public school, or dedicated to a municipality for recreational use.  Mr. Goodnoe said that the open space in this scenario that would normally be retained by the homeowners’ association, and maintained by them, is contemplated to be accepted by the townships for use for recreation.  This would not include the retention basin.  There was consensus of the board, on a conceptual basis, based on the presented sketch.

Mr. Jirele was concerned with any historical preservation that might be involved; Toll Brothers intends to be in touch with the historical commission. 

Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Sanderlin will approach Mr. Bowman concerning the realignment of Stoopville Road. 

Mr. Sanderlin said he would like to attend any meeting Toll Brothers has with Upper Makefield, to relay the township’s view and concerns.

George J. Donovan & Associates, H. Joseph Phillips – Municipal Building Expansion

Mr. Phillips briefly reviewed the earlier process; last time he visited the board he brought design concepts.  Since then, he has revised the maintenance building plans to include lift bays and a storage mezzanine.  Construction of the red building for conversion to a record storage building was considered, to include climate control.  Restoration of the schoolhouse was considered.  Costs for the renovation of the administration building for police were figured. 

Mr. Phillips reviewed the packet of sketches.

In the maintenance building 

§         Offices and bays were added.  Area would be 6400 sq. feet.  The two floors were shifted, preserving the same square footage, to allow a   high space for lifts.

§         Offices were moved to the second floor, along with storage for small equipment.

§         Note:  all utilities would run in new construction, which is much easier. 

In the existing maintenance building, he has proposed a mezzanine for storage; they need to consider height in regard to usage.

Mr. Phillips reviewed the sketches of the existing Martindell House, schoolhouse and existing township building.  He explained the differences in usage and space after renovation. 

Mr. Phillips presented cost estimates, with specific work descriptions noted.  He also reviewed the different area calculations.

Mr. Sanderlin said it makes more sense to take on the entire project rather than build it piecemeal.  He said that the population in the township has doubled since the present township building was constructed, and that expansion of that building to catch up with growth and keep up with the final build out made great sense.  Mr. Phillips said they attempted to design the building to include adequate space for expansion.

Mr. Mendicino asked for detail on the funding; Mr. Hopkins explained that $400,000 is budgeted and the balance would come from unbudgeted cash carried forward money.

Mr. Sanderlin suggested that the carried forward funds be used to do a portion of the improvements, then identify additional improvements for a bond.  He felt that these kinds of improvements are related to such core services that the board should proceed on its own authority.  Mr. Jirele agreed, and said he would like to work with Elaine Gibbs, Mr. Harp, and the Capital Planning Committee to lay out all the long-term projects, their costs, and current budgeted amounts in terms of paying off debt, to develop a long range plan to move three or four projects along.  He felt that this is one of the higher priorities for the township.

Mr. Hopkins said that if the board wishes to proceed in phases, the first step would be to construct the garage building and renovate the storage facility. 

Mr. Mendicino and Mr. Jirele said they would like an investigation of state help with file storage and CD burning capability.  Mr. Goodnoe said that, despite consideration of a CD system, adequate record storage space is still needed.  Mr. Sanderlin concurred, noting that storage for irregular size documents was also involved. 

There was further discussion of record storage, including staff necessary for maintaining and accessing records.  Mr. Hopkins noted that each document would need to be evaluated in the organizational process.

It was clarified that $400,000 has been budgeted for this project.  Mr. Hopkins said that there should be no problem procuring the additional required funds, as the township has a very good end of the year revenue, which is still coming in. 

Mr. Phillips said that the next step would be to get Tom Gockowski’s input, and confirm structural feasibility.  He said that 7% of the cost of the project covers the engineering, architectural, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical fees, but not civil engineering fees or site issues.  Total costs are estimated at $700,000 - $750,000.

Mr. Phillips will get estimates for architectural fees and mechanical costs. 

Mr. Phillips will contact Mr. Gockowski for civil engineering fees.

Mr. Hopkins will determine the difference between the cash estimate at the budget time and the present cash to present to the board.

Mr. Hopkins will confirm that the state will assist with record organizations for no charge. 

Executive Session (matters of personnel)  The board went into Executive Session at 11:40 PM. 

Additional Business – continued after Executive Session

Mr. Harris discussed a matter of litigation regarding personnel that has resulted in a settlement offer.  Harris, Labor Solicitor Katz and Manager Hopkins recommend approval. 

Mr. Harp moved to settle a matter of personnel for $1,500 and a settlement agreement.  Mr. Goodnoe seconded; the motion passed unanimously.

The Board reviewed the steps underway in the matter of assuming the Acme Stores lease and investigation of acquiring the property.  Steve Harris said we would need:  two appraisals from qualified commercial, industrial

appraisers; comprehensive inspection of building and building systems from a qualified inspector, determination of building operating costs, phase II environmental survey, title search, complete negotiation of agreement to agree, and the determination of costs to make the building usable.  Steve Harris, Steve Sanderlin and Cornell Hopkins had been in a meeting with Acme representatives last week.  The Board concurred with these steps.  Cornell Hopkins and Steve Harris are to proceed.  The entire matter will take about 90 days.

Mr. Jirele reported on a meeting he had with Council Rock School district management personnel.  He described several options regarding the Preston Property, Roberts Ridge Park, Goodnoe School, and the Wrights road parcel.

Mr. Goodnoe made a motion to purchase the Preston property for $237,000. There was no second.  The motion was withdrawn.

 

Motion by Mr. Jirele, second by Mr. Goodnoe, to authorize the Township to enter into an agreement with the Council Rock School District in which

§         the Township would purchase the Preston property for $237,000, trade that property and two adjacent (undefined) acres of Robert's Ridge to the Council Rock School District in exchange for the approximately 20 acre site on the north side of Wrights Road now owned by the district and

§         in exchange for the district building, a driveway to the east of Preston and as yet undefined parking to be built on their Goodnoe School property, the Preston property and the additional two acres.  The parking to be 70 spaces with 20 spaces reserved for the township and a cross easement for all the spaces use by both parties during after school hours and weekends. 

§         The Township agrees in principle to approve an Alternative School on the Preston site subject to completion of application and technical reviews.

§         Mr. Harris and Mr. Jirele are to be the negotiating team and are directed to make contact with the District for additional talks. 

The motion passed unanimously.

There was discussion about having the board representative be chairman of the Park and Open Space Committee.

Motion by Mr. Mendicino, second by Mr. Jirele that Mr. Harp will chair Park and Open Space.  Vote 4-1, with Goodnoe voting against.

Adjournment

Mr. Goodnoe moved to adjourn at 1:25 AM January 16, 2001.  Mr. Jirele seconded;  the meeting was adjourned.

 

Respectfully Submitted by:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Leslie P. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary          2/5/01