BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
MAY 9, 2001
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting May 23, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 5/9/01: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 5/9/01 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously, with Mr. Jirele abstaining.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, May 9, 2001, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Stephen Sanderlin, Treasurer Scott Harp, Secretary Frank Mendicino and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Planning Commission Chairperson Karen Doorley, Recreation Board Co-Chairman Dick Weaver, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Bob Larason and Township Finance Director Elaine Gibbs, who was also substituting for the Interim Township Manager.
GENERAL INTEREST SECTION
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Sanderlin called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence, and announced that Mr. Jirele and Mr. Harwood are out of town on family business.
INVOCATION: Given by Pastor Regan Savage of the Mill Creek Community Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: Ms Gibbs announced three changes: on page two, the Solicitor will have an item regarding the Acme Lease Assumption Agreement; on page one, the Blockbuster signage plan is deferred to 5/23/01; and on page two, Land Use Section, the Sketch Plan for the McLaughlin Tract is deferred to 5/23/01.
MINUTES & BILLS LIST:
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
WORK SESSION OF 4/16/01:Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the work session of 4/16/01; the motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
REGULAR MEETING OF 4/25/01: Mr. Mendicino moved to approve the minutes of the 4/25/01 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
PAYMENT OF BILLS: Mr. Harp moved to pay bills totaling $226,096.67; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
INTERFUND TRANSFERS: Mr. Harp moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $310,897.43.46; the motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
TREASURER: Mr. Harp said that the first quarter financial report will be available soon. He will be meeting with department heads to review the report.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS:
CODES COMMITTEE: Finance Director Elaine Gibbs reported that the Codes Committee met on 4/12 and heard two appeals, from Margiotti and Kroll Pediatrics and from DeAngelo Construction. The Committee did not have a quorum and therefore did not vote on the appeals. There will be no May meeting.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Chairperson Karen Doorley reported on the Commission’s 5/1/01 meeting. She reported that the Township Engineer discussed possible revisions to the Traffic Improvement Plan with the Commission. The Commission continued its review of the Wiltshire Walk development, and expects to consider preliminary plan approval in June. The Commission voted to recommend approval of three conditional use applications from tenants in the Newtown Shopping Center: Toppers Salon and Health Spa, Blockbuster Video and Longhorn Steakhouse. They also recommended approval of revised conditional use applications from Bed, Bath and Beyond in the Shopping Center and from Manhattan Bagel on Swamp Road, and approval of conditional use applications from Pheasant Pointe and Newtown Office Commons for soil stripping. The Commission also reviewed a signage plan for Blockbuster Video in the Newtown Shopping Center and expressed concerns about the size and visibility of the signs.
Parks and Recreation Director Bill Wert and Park and Open Space Committee member Russ Strover presented plans for planting trees in Roberts Ridge and Swamp Road Parks. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of these plans, suggesting that the trees in Swamp Road Park be planted in a more random pattern.
The Commission received with regret the resignation of James Baldwin, who is moving out of the Township. Mrs. Doorley asked the Board of Supervisors to appoint another member to the Commission. The Commission voted unanimously to appoint Frank Mendicino as the Commission’s representative to the Swamp Road Study Citizen Advisory Committee.
Commission member Sue Beasley attended a Council Rock School District Facilities Meeting on 4/24/01 as a representative of the Planning Commission; she will report on the meeting later.
The 5/15/01 Planning Commission meeting is canceled; the next meeting will be 6/5/01.
REVISED CONDITIONAL USE - MANHATTAN BAGEL - 31 SWAMP ROAD - TMP# 29-11-83: Brian Wood was present to discuss his request for approval of Use E-5, Eating Place, for this site in the Convenience Commercial District, because he plans to have seven tables for eat-in customers. He is also requesting permission to open the business at 6:00 AM instead of 7:00 AM seven days a week.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the request to change the conditional use of this property from E-15 to E-5, provided there are no more than seven tables for eat-in customers, operating hours are from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM seven days a week, the applicant complies with the Heritage Conservancy review letter of 4/18/01, and other conditions in the original approval are met. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
PRELIMINARY PLAN - TYROL’S SYCAMORE - 223 SYCAMORE STREET - TMP# 29-12-20: Attorney Don Marshall and Frank Tyrol were present to discuss the proposed renovations and additions to a building in the Town Center District to be used for D-1 Office Use. Mr. Marshall said the plan has been reviewed by HARB. The plan was also reviewed by the Park and Open Space Committee, which recommended a walking trail easement along the Newtown Creek in lieu of a fee.
Mr. Marshall said that the applicant will comply with the Carroll Engineering and Heritage Conservancy letters, except for eight points on which waivers are requested: the plan scale, required features on the plan (an aerial photo was supplied), parking less than 20 feet from the building, curbs and drainage improvements on internal drives and parking areas, parking in a Water and Sewer Authority easement, some stormwater management requirements, planting on the sewer easement, and the fire lane (subject to approval from the Fire Marshal).
Mr. Marshall stated that 31 parking spaces are required. The plan shows 22 spaces on site and two spaces on the street. He said the applicant should get a credit of two more spaces for making an offer of joint parking, although the adjoining property owner is not interested in shared parking at this time. Mr. Marshall proposed that the applicant pay a fee of $1500 in lieu of each of the five remaining required spaces.
Mr. Marshall said the applicant will need to go to the Zoning Hearing Board for permission to install 9’ X 20’ parking spaces and to allow parking within five feet of the building. He also said that the applicant will seek conditional use approval for the D-1 Office Use and for building a driveway in a floodplain area.
Mr. Goodnoe said the applicant is asking for a number of waivers and exceptions, but this is a unique site and the requests are reasonable. He thanked the applicant for working with Township advisory boards and committees.
Mr. Mendicino asked if there are two access points for the parking area; Mr. Marshall responded that there are.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to grant preliminary plan approval, subject to the Carroll Engineering letter of 3/21/01 and the Heritage Conservancy letter of 3/7/01. Before final approval the applicant will obtain variances regarding the size of the parking spaces and parking within five feet of the building, and the required conditional use approvals. The applicant will also obtain financial security agreements, secure required permits and approvals, provide a trail easement along the Newtown Creek, pay the appropriate traffic impact fee, provide water and sewer agreements, comply with the recommendations of HARB, and pay all costs of review. The waivers described in the Planning Commission letter of 4/19/01 are granted; a fee of $1500 each in lieu of five parking spaces will be paid by the applicant; and the applicant will receive credit for two additional parking spaces based on his offer of joint parking. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
COUNCIL ROCK FACILITIES MEETING: Sue Beasley, a member of the Planning Commission, reported on the 4/24/01 Council Rock School District Facilities Meeting which she attended at Goodnoe Elementary School. Plans for expanded parking at Goodnoe Elementary were discussed, as well as plans for the adjacent Alternative School. Mrs. Beasley reported that the District is anxious to complete the parking improvements before school re-opens in September.
At the meeting the District announced that only four parking spaces are allocated to the Roberts Ridge Park during school hours; this is inconsistent with plans the Township has seen, which show 16 spaces allocated for Roberts Ridge Park. Mr. Harp and Mr. Mendicino said it is important that the larger number of spaces be allocated, so that residents can have full use of the park. Mrs. Beasley said that many residents attended the meeting, and expressed concerns about the location of the Alternative School and the safety of changes in how students access the school.
Mr. Sanderlin said that the School District must go through a review process with the Township, although it will be expedited. He asked Mr. Larason and Mr. Harris to contact the District and ensure that the District’s plans are consistent with the Township’s understanding. Mr. Sanderlin also asked that this plan be a regular item on the Board of Supervisors agenda until it is implemented.
RECREATION BOARD: Dick Weaver, Co-Chairman of the Board, reported on their 5/2/01 meeting. Bill Wert reported on revenues and enrollment in summer programs. Mr. Weaver said that enrollment seems to be down because the Township’s programs for children end at 3:00 PM, and parents need programs that go to 6:00 PM. Mr. Mendicino said this has been a concern of his for some time. Mr. Weaver said the Board also discussed the Clark property, the Arbor Day celebration, the proposed skate park, and plans for the First Fourth celebration.
SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Mr. Mendicino reported that the 5/8/01 meeting was canceled. He said that construction has started and is taking place at night.
Mr. Larason asked the Board of Supervisors to approve two change orders described in his letter of 5/4/01 (items D and E).
Mr. Mendicino moved to approve Change Order #3 for additional services in the amount of $4,270.00, and Change Order #4 for additional copies of documents costing $2,734.99. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
PARK AND OPEN SPACE GRANTS: Russ Strover, a member of the Park and Open Space Committee, presented the plan for using two grant awards for planting trees in Roberts Ridge and Swamp Road Parks. Supervisors had received copies of the plan in their packets. Mr. Strover noted that the Planning Commission had recommended approval for the plans, provided that the trees are not planted in a straight line at the Swamp Road Park. Eight of the trees at the Roberts Ridge Park are not specifically mentioned in the ordinance, and therefore require the approval of the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Strover said that the Township will maintain the trees.
Mr. Harp moved to approve the Park and Open Space Committee’s tree planting plans for Roberts Ridge and Swamp Road Parks, including the Planning Commission’s suggestion that the trees in the Swamp Road Park be planted in a staggered pattern. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.
Discussion of the motion: Mr. Goodnoe commented that the plan for Roberts Ridge Park does not match the School District’s plan, and asked Mr. Strover to ensure that the tree planting does not conflict with the District’s plans. Mr. Strover said the planting will be done as soon as possible, preferably before the hot weather. Mr. Larason will provide Mr. Strover with a copy of the School District’s plan of the Roberts Ridge area.
Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.
CHANGED POLLING PLACE FOR SECOND DISTRICT: Mr. Sanderlin announced that the new polling place for the second district is Shir Ami. Shawn Ward of the Republican Committee said his organization will be posting signs at the old polling place directing voters to Shir Ami.
SYCAMORE STREET: Mr. Goodnoe explained that the utility companies will be installing and repairing their facilities underground throughout the summer and fall. In the spring construction of curbs and sidewalks will begin.
CABLE TV INSTALLATION: Mr. Harp said that Comcast has started working in Tyler Walk, and will do work in Newtown Crossing and the Ridings next.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS: Ed Leary spoke regarding recent newspaper articles about allegations he has made about Mr. Goodnoe and former staff. He said he is not motivated by politics. Mr. Mendicino stated he has been threatened with a lawsuit, and would welcome one so that the truth can come out.
Mr. Sanderlin said that he and Mr. Harp have been appointed to investigate the allegations, and an independent counsel has been retained. The investigation has started, but the outcome is unknown.
Chet Zaremba, a Township resident, asked if a map he saw in a telephone directory is accurate. The map shows a paper street connecting his road, Gaucks Lane, with Lower Dolington Road. Mr. Sanderlin said the Township does not have an “official” map, but that he is not aware that the Township has any plans to make this connection. He said he will ask Mr. Harwood to investigate the status of the street.
Mr. Zaremba also asked about the nature of the allegations concerning Mr. Goodnoe. Mr. Sanderlin said that the investigating committee is not a majority of the Board of Supervisors, and therefore it is not required to make its business public. The independent counsel has advised the Supervisors not to comment on the situation. Mr. Mendicino commented that the allegations may not be a political issue, but they do concern the use of power.
Sue Beasley, a Township resident, said that she recalled the extension of Gaucks Lane being removed from the Township map about 11 or 12 years ago.
Bonnie Wellman, a Township resident and a member of the Park and Open Space Committee, asked why it was Mr. Harp who donated a tree for Arbor Day rather than Mr. Fidler, who had already agreed to it. Mr. Harp said the donation was approved at a meeting of the Committee. She also complained that Mr. Weaver reported on Park and Open Space issues. Mr. Mendicino asked why an officer of the Planning Commission did not attend the School District meeting instead of Mrs. Beasley.
Jim Ott, a Township resident, thanked Mr. Harp for his donation of a tree for Arbor Day. He asked about the status of the Stoopville Road Speed Study. Mr. Larason said that he has sent a letter to PennDOT appealing their decision, and has not received a response yet.
Tony Passella, a resident of Kirkwood, asked if there are any state regulations governing how an investigation of allegations is to be conducted; Mr. Sanderlin responded that there are none. In response to further Questions from Mr. Passella, Mr. Sanderlin said that the interviews with staff have been conducted privately in the Municipal Complex, but some may be conducted off site. The information being collected is not sworn testimony. The investigating committee’s role is to facilitate the investigation.
Mr. Passella also asked about the outcome of the Township’s meeting with Lower Makefield and Bucks County Planning Commission officials. Mr. Sanderlin said that the BCPC was asked to produce new maps showing no new roads north of the Heston property. They will create a map showing the Heston Tract developed as offices, and a map showing the Heston Tract developed for residential use. Mr. Sanderlin said that the maps will be available to the public and will be reviewed by the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL: Mr. Sanderlin reported on the 5/3/01 meeting of the Council, at which they discussed the final preparation of the new resident packets and a speaker shared plans for “Welcome Day” on 5/19/01.
FIRE ASSOCIATION BANQUET: Mr. Sanderlin said he attended the Fire Association banquet on 5/5/01, and thanked the Fire Association for all the work they do.
EXECUTIVE SESSIONS: Mr. Sanderlin reported that the Board of Supervisors met in executive sessions on 4/16/01 for land acquisition and personnel matters, on 4/24/01 for personnel and pending litigation matters, and on 4/25/01 for land acquisition matters.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: No items for this section.
MANAGER: No items for this section.
ZONING HEARING BOARD: Mr. Harris reported that Township Solicitor David Sander attended the 5/3/01 Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) meeting to represent the Township regarding Sun Oil Company. Mr. Harwood and several Newtown Borough officials testified as well. The ZHB did not make a decision and the hearing was continued to 6/7/01.
COUNCIL ROCK-PRESTON AGREEMENT: Mr. Harris provided a copy of his draft of the agreement of sale. The attorneys for the School District and the Prestons have approved this draft, with one small change requested by the Prestons. Mr. Harris asked for a motion to acquire the property by condemnation, and a second motion to authorize the Chairman to sign an agreement of sale in lieu of condemnation. This will enable the Prestons to avoid transfer taxes.
Mr. Mendicino moved to adopt a resolution to condemn TMP# 29-10-46, the Preston property, for the benefit of the residents of Newtown Township. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
Mr. Mendicino moved to authorize the Chairman to sign an agreement of sale for TMP# 29-10-46, the Preston property, in lieu of condemnation, for the sum of $252,500. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sanderlin and passed unanimously.
COUNCIL ROCK TRAIL EASEMENT: Mr. Harris announced that the School District has signed the easement for the trail across the high school property.
PHEASANT POINTE - MANDAMUS ACTION: Mr. Harris provided a copy of the Complaint in Mandamus filed by the Elliott Building Group. The Zoning Hearing Board application will consequently be continued indefinitely pending the outcome of the suit.
ASSUMPTION AGREEMENT FOR ACME: Mr. Harris provided a copy of the assumption agreement, which has been approved by Albertson’s, Acme’s parent company. Mr. Sanderlin said the agreement will be considered at the next Board of Supervisors meeting.
ISTEA TRAIL #1: Mr. Larason reported that work began on 5/8/01. He provided copies of his 4/20/01 letter to the contractor concerning the section of the Trail under the Bypass bridge, and requested an executive session to discuss potential litigation regarding a possible breach of contract by the Trail contractor.
STOOPVILLE ROAD SPEED STUDY: Mr. Larason provided copies of his 5/2/01 letter to PennDOT regarding the outcome of the Stoopville Road speed study.
PROJECT STATUS REPORT: Mr. Larason provided copies of an updated report on the status of all Township engineering projects. He commented that the schedule for the Closed Loop Signal project is still on target, and the Linton Hill Culvert project is now being advertised. Mr. Larason said he hoped to finish this project before the opening of school in the fall.
LAND USE SECTION
NEW BUSINESS: None.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
CORRESPONDENCE: Mr. Larason provided copies of recent correspondence regarding the Paul Allen Minor Subdivision plan and the Platt Minor Subdivision plan.
DEDICATION OF WALKER LANE EXTENSION - LAND INSTRUMENTS: Mr. Harris provided copies of correspondence relating to the dedication of the Walker Lane Extension. He said that all documentation is in order.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to accept dedication of the Walker Lane Extension, provided that all outstanding costs are paid. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
ESCROW RELEASE: Mr. Mendicino moved to approve a release of escrow funds in the amount of $480,599.85 for the Land Instrument project, based on Certificate of Completion #1. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
MANAGER: No items for this section.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: No items to be addressed.
ROUTINE BUSINESS SECTION
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION MANDATORY STAFFING STANDARDS: Ms. Gibbs provided a copy of a 4/24/01 letter from the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities asking Fire Chiefs to oppose proposals for minimum standards for response times, staffing levels, and response levels. The proposals will be made at the National Fire Protection Association annual meeting on 5/16/01. The letter states that compliance with these proposed standards would be costly and would diminish local control of fire and emergency services. Mr. Harris said that Mr. Harwood will be attending the meeting. Mr. Mendicino asked if Fire Marshal Don Harris was aware of these proposals; Ms Gibbs said that he brought this issue to her attention.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to adopt a resolution opposing these proposals for minimum standards, advising the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities of the Township’s position, and directing Mr. Harwood to oppose the standards at the meeting of the National Fire Protection Association on 5/16/01. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Sanderlin announced there will be an executive session regarding potential litigation, after which the Board of Supervisors will not reconvene.
ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Harp moved to adjourn. With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 11:00 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary
Stephen D. Sanderlin, Chairman
Thomas Jirele, Vice Chairman
Scott R. Harp, Treasurer
Frank Mendicino, Secretary