Board of Supervisors
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting March 14, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 2/28/01: Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the minutes of the 2/28/01 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, February 28, 2001, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Stephen Sanderlin, Vice Chairman Tom Jirele, Treasurer Scott Harp, Secretary Frank Mendicino and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Recreation Board Chairman Bernie Bires, Planning Commission member Vince Lombardi, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Bob Larason, Police Chief Martin Duffy, Township Manager Cornell Hopkins and Theresa Halper, representing Township Finance Director Elaine Gibbs.
GENERAL INTEREST SECTION
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Sanderlin called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence.
INVOCATION: Given by Reverend Harry Pearson of the Newtown Assembly of God. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Hopkins announced that there will be special presentations regarding an employee, the Park and Open Space Committee and the Newtown Library Company. He also stated that the Treasurer’s report will follow the Minutes and Bills list.
POLICE CHIEF MARTIN DUFFY - 25 YEARS OF SERVICE: Mr. Sanderlin presented a framed print of J. D. Scott’s 1876 map of Newtown Township to Chief Duffy in honor of his 25 years of service to the Township. Chief Duffy thanked the people who have worked for and with him.
PARK AND OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE - CLARK PORTRAIT: Mr. Harp and several members of the Park and Open Space Committee introduced Mr. and Mrs. Milnor and Gloria Greenfield, who presented to the Township a portrait of Lyman Clark. The late Mr. Clark donated his estate to the Township. The portrait will be hung in the Clark house.
NEWTOWN LIBRARY COMPANY: Mr. Sanderlin presented a $15,000 contribution to the Newtown Library Company from the Township in recognition of the Company’s service to Township residents. A representative of the Library Company accepted the contribution and thanked the Board of Supervisors for helping the library to achieve some much needed improvements.
MINUTES & BILLS LIST:
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
REGULAR MEETING OF 2/14/01: Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 2/14/01 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
PAYMENT OF BILLS: Mr. Harp moved to pay bills totaling $262,532.18; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.
INTERFUND TRANSFERS: Mr. Harp moved to approve $8,679.93 in interfund transfers; the motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS:
PLANNING COMMISSION: Planning Commission member Vince Lombardi reported on the Commission’s 2/20/01 meeting, at which they reviewed conditional use applications regarding the 413 Office Center at 398 Durham Road and McBride Motors/Stockburger, Inc. at 4-8 Sycamore Street. The Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the both applications, with several conditions. Mr. Lombardi stated that the Commission discussed the access driveway for this and two other properties along Route 413, but this will be addressed in the land development process later. Their recommendation concerns only the conditional uses for the buildings, since the tenants are not yet identified.
The Commission reviewed a signage plan for the Newtown Shopping Center, but they concluded that they could not make a recommendation because the plan was clearly out of compliance with the ordinance. The Commission also decided to invite the Recreation Board to present their Comprehensive Plan at a future meeting.
Mr. Lombardi said that the Commission reviewed upcoming Zoning Hearing Board applications for the first time. They recommended that the Supervisors not oppose applications from the Brandywine Realty Trust and JAM Enterprises, and that the Supervisors defend the ordinance regarding the applications from Dance Works and Pheasant Pointe.
Mr. Harp asked what problems the Commission saw in the Dance Works application. Mr. Lombardi responded that the owners of the property previously received several variances from parking requirements; another variance will make the noncompliance even worse. Mr. Harp also suggested that copies of the Comprehensive Recreation Plan be given to the Commission.
CONDITIONAL USE - 413 OFFICE CENTER - AUTUMN LEAF DEVELOPMENT INC. - 398 DURHAM ROAD - TMP# 29-3-34: Attorney Frank Dillon, engineer Wayne Johnson and Paul Allen were present to discuss their application to use two proposed buildings at this site in the PS-2 District for D-1 Professional Office and D-2 Medical Office Uses. There was no court stenographer present, but Mr. Dillon stated the applicants will accept the videotape of the hearing as the official record.
Mr. Dillon asked why the Supervisors are not also reviewing the applicants’ sketch plan. Mr. Harris noted that the Planning Commission report specifically excluded land development issues.
Mr. Allen displayed an architectural drawing of the two proposed office buildings. The medical office use, up to 8,000 square feet, will be confined to the larger building in the front. He said that the plan for the service road still needs to be worked out. Mr. Allen stated that parking requirements are met, and all spaces are 10’ X 20’. Mr. Harris asked if the applicants would agree to a conservation easement on the land in the rear, where they have no proposed development. Mr. Allen said they would agree to this, provided they could extend the sewer line through the area. Mr. Harris also asked if the applicants understand that tenants of the buildings will have to make conditional use applications for their specific activities, and Mr. Allen stated they understand this. Mr. Allen said that it is difficult to determine how much parking will be needed until tenants are identified. Mr. Mendicino asked if the applicants will cap the total number of employees so that the parking is adequate; Mr. Dillon responded that they cannot cap the number right now, but they will track the numbers and ensure the available parking remains appropriate. Mr. Mendicino pointed out that if the rough estimate of 160 employees is accurate, there are only 65 spaces available for patients and clients of the offices.
Mr. Jirele asked if certain parking spaces will be set aside for patients of the medical offices. Mr. Allen responded that they will do this if necessary and feasible. Mr. Sanderlin commented that the Supervisors can also make this a condition when a medical tenant comes in for conditional use approval.
Mr. Sanderlin asked for comments from the public. One person asked about fire lanes; Mr. Sanderlin responded that this will be addressed during the land development process. Mr. Mendicino asked if the impervious surface ratio calculation will be within the limit with the access driveway included; Mr. Johnson said it will.
Mr. Jirele moved to approve the conditional use application for the 413 Office Center, with two buildings totaling 40,000 square feet of D-1 and D-2 uses. The D-2 use will be limited to 8,000 square feet and be located only in the larger front building. The buildings will appear substantially as shown in the architect’s drawing displayed tonight. An access road or the opportunity for an internal connecting road with the adjacent properties will be provided. The development of the property will meet the requirements of the JMZO and the subdivision and land development ordinance. Individual conditional use applications will be required for each tenant. There will be a conservation easement on the undeveloped portion of the property to the rear and south of the buildings, excluding the detention basin and access to it. The costs of reviews will be paid by the applicants. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
RECREATION BOARD: Chairman Bernie Bires suggested that he and Mr. Weaver could present the Comprehensive Plan to the Planning Commission at their next meeting. Mr. Bires also reported on the Recreation Board’s meeting on 2/7/01, at which the Board decided to eliminate one of their four mass mailings and discussed collaborative activities with Bucks County Community College, Bucks County Department of Parks and Recreation and Newtown Swim Club. The financial report for 2000 showed that the Department was 79.5% self supporting. The next meeting will be 3/7/01.
“NORTHERN BYPASS”: Mr. Mendicino stated he wanted to clarify the issue of the so-called “Northern Bypass” which has been discussed recently in the press and at previous Supervisors’ meetings. He stated that earlier the Board of Supervisors rejected all five options presented to them for providing access to the Bypass from the OR District, but one option, showing a proposed road through the Sterling farm, has resurfaced recently. Mr. Mendicino stated he does not support condemning a farm in order to construct this road. The Board has discussed how to provide access between the OR District and the Bypass because it is concerned about the OR District traffic going onto local roads.
Mr. Sanderlin stated he has met with representatives of Lower Makefield, PennDOT and Representative Steil, and has written a letter to Lower Makefield describing the Township’s efforts to resolve traffic problems. Mr. Sanderlin said that Lower Makefield wanted assurances that an access road would not connect Lindenhurst Road and the Bypass. The road shown on the Bucks County Planning Commission (BCPC) map is a schematic road, and is intended to be built only if the Sterling farm is sold to a developer, who would then pay for the construction. Mr. Sanderlin stated that the Sterling farm is the only sizeable parcel left in the OR District which is not under agreement with a developer. He also stated that he was disappointed to see that the BCPC map shows this schematic road connecting Stoopville Road with the Bypass.
Mr. Jirele referred to an article in the Courier-Times and said that the Board of Supervisors has not discussed the plan shown on the BCPC map.
VISIONING MEETINGS: Mr. Goodnoe announced that the second Visioning Meeting will be held on 3/1/01 at Goodnoe Elementary School. He invited all Newtown Township and Borough residents to attend and participate.
Gary Oxenburg expressed his anger about the proposed road on the BCPC map. He stated it will bring undesirable people into his neighborhood.
Gail Laughlin, a former Supervisor and former member of the Bucks County Agricultural Preservation Board, asked several questions about when the Supervisors discussed the options for providing access from the OR District to the Bypass.
Jed Zaremba questioned why the Supervisors stated last fall that the northern bypass idea was a dead issue. Mr. Goodnoe said that as far as he knew then it was a dead issue.
Paul Sterling said the Supervisors should not refer to the issue of the Preston property as “pending litigation”. Mr. Harris said it was threatened litigation, not pending. Mr. Sterling asked about plans to hire a new Township Manager. Mr. Sanderlin responded that the Township plans to fill the position in 2001. Mr. Sterling said the Director of BCPC told him the map with the proposed road through the Sterling property was prepared at the direction of officials from Lower Makefield and Newtown Townships.
Andrew Bowman, a longtime resident who lives at the corner of Stoopville and Linton Hill Roads, expressed concern for an historic tree endangered by the road widening project. Mr. Sanderlin said the developer doing the work has been asked to minimize the impact on Mr. Bowman’s property. He said the Township will keep Mr. Bowman informed of the planning for this project. Mr. Bowman also asked that trucks be directed to use Route 413 instead of Stoopville Road.
A new Township resident complained about the volume and speed of truck traffic on Stoopville Road.
George Van Der Horn said he represents over 500 local residents concerned about truck traffic. He said that if the proposed northern bypass is built the truck traffic will all be on Stoopville Road.
Mr. Sanderlin suggested that people concerned about speeding traffic should contact Representative Steil and Senator Conti and ask them to work to permit local police departments to use radar for speed enforcement.
Jim Ott, a resident of Stoopville Road, advocated getting the speed limit on his road reduced. He said he has seen Township police officers patrolling the area at times, and traffic seems to slow when the officers are visible. Mr. Ott asked the Supervisors to write to PennDOT and request that the speed limit be lowered to 35 MPH on Stoopville Road. Mr. Larason advised that the Township can either do a traffic study and send it to PennDOT with their request, or request that PennDOT do a study. Mr. Larason recommended asking for a study of the entire length of Stoopville Road, which would be different from the study PennDOT conducted about two years ago. Mr. Jirele suggested asking PennDOT to make restrictions on Stoopville match those on Route 413.
Mr. Jirele moved to send a letter to PennDOT requesting a traffic study of the entire length of Stoopville Road, with a request to lower the speed limit to 35 MPH. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.
Discussion of the motion: Steve Hutchins, a resident of Stoopville Road, asked about the possibility of prohibiting the use of “jake brakes”. Mr. Harris said he could find no authorization in the Municipalities Planning Code for the Township to regulate this practice. Mr. Larason said it is possible to erect an advisory sign to this effect.
Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.
Hannah Cain stated she does not want to see a road through the Sterling farm. She asked the Supervisors how they would feel in Mr. Sterling’s place.
A resident of Silver Lake Road asked about the effects of the proposed Bypass access road on the proposed Wiltshire Walk development. Mr. Mendicino said that there were many residents present when the sketch plan for this development was reviewed by the Planning Commission in the summer of 2000, and it is still being discussed.
Paul Beckert, a resident of Lower Dolington Road, said the proposed Bypass access road goes through the Conservation Management portion of the Sterling farm. He also said that it makes no sense to put this road through an area being developed for residential use. Mr. Sanderlin said he opposes the plan to put the road through the CM portion of the farm, and he opposes putting the road through an area being developed for residential use. Mr. Sanderlin said he expects to have another opportunity to discuss this proposed road with Representative Steil, Lower Makefield and PennDOT.
A Township resident requested that the Supervisors state in writing their concerns about the proposed access road on the BCPC map.
Mr. Jirele moved to return the plan to the Bucks County Planning Commission with a letter stating that the Supervisors are not in support of a road connecting the Bypass with Stoopville Road and Twining Road. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino.
Discussion of the motion: A Township resident asked who has the ultimate authority regarding the building of the proposed road; Mr. Harris responded that the Township does. Mr. Mendicino commented that the Township still needs to plan for getting traffic from the Bypass to the OR District.
Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.
Anne Goren thanked the Supervisors for this motion and asked for a copy of the letter when it is sent.
Tom McGowan, a resident of Twining Road, said the proposed road was on the Lower Makefield Supervisors’ agenda for 2/18/01. He stated that a federal aviation tower and several gas pipelines are near the proposed route.
Brian Way, a resident of Stoopville Road, stated that the road widening project will encourage speeding.
Ron Weber, a Stoopville Road resident, said he fears the road widening will impact on his stone wall, which protects his house from traffic. He suggested putting more stop signs on the road to slow traffic and using unmarked police cars for speed enforcement.
Gail Laughlin asked Mr. Jirele to look at the impact on Newtown residents of proposed increases in school taxes.
Bob Gayner provided the Supervisors with copies of his letter protesting the widening of Stoopville Road and further development along the road.
Madeline Faust, a resident of Newtown Place a development at the Bypass and Sycamore Street, asked everyone to remember that the Bypass has residential uses near it too. She stated that residents of her development are seeking to have a sound barrier constructed along the Bypass. Mr. Sanderlin said he is concerned about the appearance of such a wall. He would like to explore some other options for protecting the residents from traffic noise.
Jim Ott provided the Supervisors with copies of a letter from Mr. and Mrs. Hill, residents of Stoopville Road.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:
BOARD WORK SESSION: Mr. Sanderlin reported on the February 19, 2001 Board work session, at which the Supervisors discussed personnel issues, Penns Preserve, the Acme assumption agreement, a policy regarding private memorials on public lands, Pheasant Pointe, litigation regarding Applebee’s, the ISTEA Trail, the proposed Municipal Maintenance building and a sketch plan from Brandywine Realty Trust. They also met in executive session for personnel matters.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS:
HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD: Mr. Jirele reported that no action items resulted from last week’s work session.
PARK AND OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE: Mr. Harp reported on the Committee’s recent meeting at which they voted to accept a fee in lieu of open space regarding Wiltshire Walk, discussed participating in Arbor celebrations, and reviewed grant applications.
MANAGER: No items for this section.
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS - 3/1/01: Mr. Harris reviewed the five applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) on 3/1/01. Mr. Hopkins noted that the Sun Oil Company hearing should be continued to the April meeting, and that Dave Sander has done a great job on the Township’s behalf in this matter. Mr. Mendicino asked why the ZHB Solicitor does not provide more information in the notice of applications. Mr. Sanderlin said the ZHB Solicitor should at least describe the relief being sought by the applicant.
Mr. Harris said that in accordance with previous instructions, his firm will represent the Township in opposing the applications from Sun Oil and Pheasant Pointe. Mr. Sanderlin said he disagrees with the Planning Commission’s recommendation to oppose the Dance Works application. Mr. Harris said he will monitor the hearing on the Newtown Swim Club.
ACME ASSUMPTION AGREEMENT: Mr. Harris reported that Albertson’s, ACME’s parent company, is reviewing the revised agreement.
PROJECT STATUS REPORT: Mr. Larason provided the Supervisors with a report on all active and planned engineering projects as of 2/22/01.
LAND USE SECTION
NEW BUSINESS: None.
SIGNAGE PLAN - NEWTOWN SHOPPING CENTER: Jack Loew of J. Loew Associates was present to discuss his plan for signage in the center, located at Durham Road and the Bypass. Mr. Loew displayed a drawing of the signage he would like to install, and a drawing of the signage permitted by the ordinance. He explained that he is discussing his proposal with the Supervisors to give them a chance to review variances he plans to seek from the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Loew explained that his proposal differs from the ordinance requirements in regard to the height of individual store signs, the size of the anchor store and entrance signs, the size of the information and public service signs, and the signs’ orientation to the Bypass. Mr. Harwood’s memo of 2/28/01 states that the type of sign illumination proposed is acceptable.
Mr. Sanderlin and Mr. Jirele said they were comfortable with the height and size of the building signs, as they are similar to signs approved for other locations. Mr. Loew stated there will be no signs on the sides of the buildings perpendicular to the Bypass.
Mr. Jirele said he is concerned about the signage for Unit F, which is currently vacant. Mr. Loew said Acme is planning to expand into it in the future, and he is willing to make the sign smaller. Mr. Loew also agreed to make the entrance sign no more than nine feet high and 50 square feet in area. He said that the tenants of the pod sites will be dealt with separately; the tenants listed in the signage plan will abide by the terms of the plan presented tonight. Mr. Loew agreed to put everything discussed tonight into a letter to the Supervisors for their review before their next meeting. He also said he would revise the drawings accordingly.
CORRESPONDENCE: Mr. Larason provided copies of recent correspondence regarding the 413 Office Center Revised Sketch Plan and the Kramer subdivision.
ESCROW RELEASE - PICKERING CHASE: Mr. Mendicino moved to release $51,286.38 in escrow funds for Pickering Chase in accordance with Certificate of Completion #7. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
SOLICITOR: No items for this section.
MANAGER: No items for this section.
SUBDIVISION - SEGAL/BRILLIANT: Mr. Jirele moved to deny this application for subdivision pending receipt of an extension from the applicant. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
MANAGER: No items for this section.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Sanderlin stated there will be no need for an executive session.
ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Harp moved to adjourn. With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 1:25 AM, 3/1/01.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary
Minutes Approved as submitted _______ as corrected _______
Stephen D. Sanderlin, Chairman
Thomas Jirele, Vice Chairman
Scott R. Harp, Treasurer
Frank Mendicino, Secretary
Raymond Goodnoe, Member