BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
JULY 11, 2001
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting July 25, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 7/11/01: Mr. Mendicino moved to approve the minutes of the 7/11/01 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, July 11, 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 Secretary Vince Lombardi, Cable TV Advisory Committee Member Jim Bowe, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Bob Larason, Interim Township Manager Tom Harwood and 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 Paul Kester, Clerk of Bucks Quarterly Meeting’s Worship and Ministry Committee and member of Newtown Friends Meeting. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
SPECIAL ACTIONS - EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION: RETIREMENT - FRAN SWIRSKY: Mr. Sanderlin presented Fran Swirsky, who is retiring this month, with a plaque honoring her 13 years of service to the Township as Purchasing Agent in the Administration and Finance Department.
RESOLUTION 2001-12 - RECOGNITION AND COMMENDATION OF EMPLOYEES: Mr. Sanderlin read Resolution 2001-12, commending the following employees for their service to the Township:
· Five years of service: Kristie Kaznicki Administrative Assistant, Codes Office), Christopher Strange (Fire Inspector), William Wert (Director, Parks & Recreation) and Louis Melchiondo (Roads & Public Facilities Superintendent).
· Fifteen years of service: Robert Matthews (Police Sergeant) and Lois Weasner (Crossing Guard).
· Twenty years of service: Helen Conway (Police Municipal Secretary).
ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: None.
MINUTES & BILLS LIST:
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
REGULAR MEETING OF 6/27/01: Mr. Mendicino moved to approve the minutes of the 6/27/01 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
WORK SESSION OF 6/25/01: Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 6/25/01 work session. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously, with Mr. Harp and Mr. Mendicino abstaining.
JOINT MEETING WITH NEWTOWN BOROUGH - 6/12/01: Mr. Jirele moved to accept the minutes of the 6/12/01 joint meeting with Newtown Borough. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
PAYMENT OF BILLS: Mr. Harp moved to pay bills totaling $142,318.21; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
INTERFUND TRANSFERS: Mr. Harp moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $320,711.51; the motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
TREASURER: No items for this section.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS:
HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD: Mr. Jirele reported that HARB held a work session in June and plans to meet 7/18/01. He expressed concern that there has been much work done on the La Stalla restaurant, which is in the historic Lovett barn, without a Certificate of Appropriateness being sought or approved.
Elinor Campbell, Vice Chairperson of HARB, was present and stated that there was a total of 15 infractions, including removal of a stone wall and a watering trough. She said that the architect has been asked to attend the 7/18/01 meeting. Mrs. Campbell shared the list of infractions with Mr. Harris.
Mr. Harwood stated that a permit for the work has been issued. He will check to see if the work done was consistent with the plan submitted, and if the permit was for exterior work or interior work.
Mr. Harris said that a cease and desist order can be issued if the permit was not for exterior work. He stated that if the property owner received a permit for the work in question, he cannot be forced to change the work.
CABLE TV ADVISORY BOARD: Jim Bowe reported that the Board has been working with Comcast on upgrading projects at Tyler Walk, Newtown Crossing and the Ridings. The Committee has also been developing plans for the educational channels, and working with the Emergency Services Department to produce an informational video.
Mr. Mendicino said it is important that Newtown residents be able to view meetings of the Upper Makefield and Wrightstown Township Supervisors’ meetings. Mr. Sanderlin and Mr. Jirele supported this statement. Mr. Bowe said the Advisory Board will discuss how this can be arranged with the two townships.
Mr. Bowe also said the Advisory Board would like to update the Township website and provide e-mail links for the members of the Advisory Board. Mr. Sanderlin suggested that Mr. Bowe contact Technology Director Ron Weaver.
PARK AND OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE: No report.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Planning Commission Secretary Vince Lombardi reported on the Commission’s 7/3/01 meeting. The Commission reviewed a conditional use application from the Council Rock School District regarding the Preston property, the Alternative School and improvements to Goodnoe Elementary School. After much discussion, the Commission recommended approval of the conditional use. The Commission recommended denial of the conditional use application regarding Tyrol’s Sycamore because the applicant failed to appear.
Mr. Lombardi further reported that the Commission recommended approval of a JMZO amendment regarding signs near the Bypass, tabled a discussion of the charter of the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission, and discussed the possibility of rezoning several properties near Durham Road and Eagle Road.
CONDITIONAL USE - TYROL’S SYCAMORE - TMP# 29-12-20: Mr. Sanderlin opened the hearing on the conditional use application for Tyrol’s Sycamore. Attorney Donna Wengiel of Stuckert and Yates was present and asked to have the hearing on this application continued to 7/25/01. She said that Don Marshall, the attorney handling the application, was not notified of the 7/3/01 Planning Commission meeting.
Mr. Jirele moved to continue the hearing on this conditional use application to 7/25/01. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE - COUNCIL ROCK SCHOOL DISTRICT/PRESTON PROPERTY/GOODNOE SCHOOL - TMP# 29-10-46: Mr. Sanderlin opened the hearing on the conditional use application for the Alternative School and other improvements. Tom Ames, Council Rock Supervisor of Operational Services, and Charlie Lang, Supervisor for Special Services, were present to discuss the application for C-2 School Use on a property at 264 Frost Lane in the R-1 District. Mr. Ames displayed a sketch of proposed improvements to the property, which includes additional parking for the Goodnoe School and Roberts Ridge Park.
Mr. Lang explained the purpose and operations of the Alternative School planned for this site. The Alternative School program serves students who are failing in the regular high school program because of discipline problems, poor academic performance, or poor attendance. The program is staffed in cooperation with other agencies. An estimated 20 to 40 students will be served at this site; approximately 30 students will be present at any time. The minimum staffing would be four adults for 20 students; for 40 students there will be eight adult staff.
Mr. Ames said that 16 parking spaces are required, and they are provided behind the Preston house as recommended by the Planning Commission. He stated that the normal hours of operation will be 7:30 AM to 2:15 PM, Monday through Friday, with an occasional special event in the evening or on the weekend. The staff will be present until 3:00 PM, and the students will never be present without adult supervision. Mr. Ames said there will be two lights in the parking lot. He said the District is willing to work with the Park and Open Space Committee on additional landscaping in the parking area.
Mr. Jirele moved to approve the conditional use application for the Alternative School, subject to the 6/18/01 Heritage Conservancy letter and Tom Ames’ 7/3/01 letter, and providing that there is a maximum of 40 students and a maximum of eight adult staff. The school will be no more than 4000 square feet, 16 parking places will be provided, there will be no storage of hazardous materials, and the school will be serviced by the Goodnoe Elementary School janitorial staff and dumpsites. The hours will be similar to the high school, approximately 7:30 AM to 3:00 PM Monday through Friday, with occasional special events in the evening or on the weekend. Staff will always be present when students are present. The renovation of the Preston property is subject to the approval of the Fire Marshal, all required permits and approvals will be obtained. The motion was seconded by Mr. Mendicino.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Mendicino asked if the Supervisors will have another opportunity to discuss traffic issues. Mr. Harris said the agreement waives the land development process, but a fully engineered plan has to be approved by the Township Engineer.
Mr. Sanderlin asked about the status of the property transfer. Mr. Harris responded that the last step is for the Township to approve the subdivision, which Carroll Engineering is preparing.
Arnet Clark, a neighbor of the site, asked for more buffering along Frost Lane. Mr. Ames responded that the District can add some landscaping there. Mr. Ames also stated that the playground will be surrounded by a 4 foot screened post and rail fence, and that the school will not exceed 4000 square feet.
Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.
JMZO - SIGNS ALONG THE BYPASS: Mr. Jirele moved to forward the 6/20/01 Heritage Conservancy draft of an ordinance relating to signs along the Bypass to the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission for review and approval. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Chairman Vince Lombardi reported that the Sewer Authority has completed all major work on the street. The Committee is pleased with the decision to do all the work at night. PECO Gas will begin its work soon.
CAPITAL PLANNING COMMITTEE: Mr. Harp reported that the Committee met on 7/10/01. Ms Gibbs and Mr. Weaver made presentations, and Allen Fidler reported on the findings of the Community Center Committee. The Capital Planning Committee will be developing some recommendations regarding capital expenditures over the summer.
POLICE DEPARTMENT: Mr. Sanderlin mentioned that the Township recently received three letters commending members of the Police Department for their work.
Chet Zaremba thanked Mr. Harwood for his letter regarding the paper extension of Gauks Lane. He asked the Supervisors to remove this paper street, which goes through Township open space (the Wiggins farm). Mr. Mendicino asked Mr. Harwood to investigate how the Township can vacate the street. Mr. Zaremba said he would like a copy of the report on this. Mr. Jirele noted that this subject came up at the Jointure meeting last week.
Mr. Zaremba also asked about the status of the ethics investigation. Mr. Sanderlin responded that the Supervisors received an update from Reed Smith today. He is hopeful that a report will be ready by next week.
Richard Tonge asked about the status of the Swamp Road study. Mr. Jirele stated that Township officials met in mid June with the engineers, and with officials from Wrightstown. The Citizen Advisory Committee will meet the last week of July, and the results will be shared at public meetings.
Mr. Tonge also expressed concern about the confusing intersection of Durham Road and the Bypass at the entrance to the Newtown Shopping Center. Mr. Sanderlin agreed that the intersection is awkward. He explained that two left turn lanes were installed because there was insufficient stacking distance. He said that the intersection was built to PennDOT specifications. Mr. Larason said that pavement markings would alleviate some of the confusion.
Robert Williams of Newtown Grant read a recent article from the Courier Times about politicians. He asked how much the ethics investigation is costing. Mr. Sanderlin responded that approximately $25,000 to $30,000 has been spent so far. Mr. Williams asked why the matter was not referred to the State Ethics Commission, which would have investigated at no cost to the taxpayers. He stated that the allegations are: that Mr. Goodnoe had an inappropriate relationship with a former Township employee; that the relationship occurred through the use of Township computers and e-mail; and that Mr. Goodnoe concealed this relationship from the other Supervisors.
Mr. Sanderlin responded that the scope of the allegations went beyond what Mr. Williams described. He said the Supervisors were advised by legal counsel to engage a special counsel to investigate the allegations, and Mr. Goodnoe voted for this action. Mr. Sanderlin said that the allegations may transcend the jurisdiction of the State Ethics Commission.
Mr. Williams further stated that Reed Smith offered to produce a report that would be more favorable to Mr. Goodnoe if Mr. Goodnoe would agree to resign from the Board of Supervisors. He asked again that the matter be referred to the State Ethics Commission for an unbiased investigation. Mr. Goodnoe confirmed that his attorneys had received such an offer from Reed Smith.
Mr. Jirele stated that no one is directing Reed Smith to make such an offer. He also said that Mr. Williams’ statements did not touch on the substance of the allegations.
Marcy Conti, a resident of Wrightstown, asked why the widening of Stoopville Road was the first project on the Township’s TIP list. Mr. Larason responded that the list is only a recommendation to the County Planning Commission. If PennDOT makes funding available for this project in the future, the Township can choose to not do it.
Peter Orderick, of the Eagle Glen Homeowners Association, asked about the concern he raised at an earlier meeting about the open space in his development. Mr. Harris said he is working on setting up a meeting with the Township, the Homeowners Association, and the neighboring property owner.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:
CHAIRMAN: No items for this section.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS:
NEWTOWN AREA JOINT ZONING COUNCIL: Mr. Jirele reported that the Council met on 7/5/01 and discussed the ordinance codification process. He said that the draft of the recodified ordinance will be sent to the three townships for review. Newtown Township will maintain an up to date electronic version. Mr. Harris said this will be very helpful to all three townships.
CHANCELLOR STREET SCHOOL COMMITTEE: Mr. Jirele stated that the Board of Supervisors previously authorized the expenditure of $5,000 for a video about the Chancellor Street School. The final cost will be an additional $3,000. Newtown Borough is willing to split the additional cost.
Mr. Mendicino moved to authorize the expenditure of an additional $1500 for the Chancellor Street School video. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
MANAGER: No items for this section.
ZONING HEARING BOARD - 7/19/01: Mr. Harris reviewed the four applications scheduled for 7/19/01, and asked if he should represent the Township regarding any of them.
ORLEANS HOMEBUILDERS AND FIRST NATIONAL BANK APPLICATIONS: Mr. Mendicino questioned approximately doubling the impervious surface on these properties and expressed concern about stormwater management. Mr. Jirele said that the church is giving up some of its property for a road, and making it possible to eliminate a curb cut. Mr. Sanderlin added that Orleans is installing stormwater management systems that will improve drainage in the entire area.
Ed Murphy, attorney for Orleans, was present and explained that the two applications involve a land swap which will have many benefits for the area. Mr. Larason commented that he found the stormwater management plan sufficient.
ENGINE BRAKE RETARDER ORDINANCE: Mr. Harris reported that PennDOT, in a 6/8/01 letter to Mr. Harwood, has approved the establishment of an ordinance banning the use of brake retarders along Stoopville Road.
Mr. Mendicino moved to authorize the Township Solicitor to draft and advertise an ordinance banning the use of brake retarders on Stoopville Road. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of the motion: Mr. Mendicino asked if other roads could be included in this ban. Mr. Harris responded that PennDOT’s letter covered only Stoopville Road.
Mr. Goodnoe said that brake retarders are a safety feature, and he felt it was a mistake to ban them.
Elinor Campbell, a Township resident, said she is familiar with trucks and supports Mr. Goodnoe’s statement. She suggested that the noise is often produced by poorly maintained mufflers.
Mr. Mendicino withdrew his motion, and Mr. Jirele withdrew his second.
LIQUOR LICENSE TRANSFER APPLICATION: A draft application form was provided to the Supervisors. Mr. Goodnoe said he found the application form a bit “Big Brother”, and wondered if it implies that the Township is open to additional licenses above its quota.
Mr. Harris said that the draft does not assume that the Board of Supervisors will oppose every application to transfer a license into the Township. A reason must be given if an application is rejected.
Mr. Mendicino moved to approve the liquor license transfer application form drafted by the Solicitor. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed 4-1, with Mr. Goodnoe voting “nay”.
Mr. Harris further explained that the 2000 census has not been certified, so the Township’s quota is still determined by the 1990 census. He said an application for a license transfer has been filed by a local restaurant based on the 2000 census figures.
Mr. Jirele moved to authorize the Solicitor to write to the Liquor Control Board to oppose the application, based on the most recent certified census figures. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.
Mr. Harwood said the deadline for responding to this application is 7/16/01.
CLOSED LOOP SIGNALIZATION PROJECT: Mr. Larason reported that Armor and Sons, Inc. was awarded the contract for this project, and he expects the construction will be completed by the end of this year.
BUCK ROAD AND RICHBORO ROAD INTERSECTIONS WITH BYPASS: Mr. Larason provided copies of a 6/26/01 letter to Pennoni Associates concerning the status of this project.
CLARK PROPERTY ACCESS AND PARKING: Mr. Larason reported that the cost of these improvements may be prohibitive. Carroll Engineering is waiting for a final determination before further work.
WOHL TRACT DRIVEWAY PERMIT: Mr. Larason provided copies of a 6/20/01 letter regarding the permit. Mr. Jirele said he thought a strip of land was deeded to the Township for access; Mr. Harwood said he will check the records.
RESOLUTION 2001-13 - HEMLOCK DRIVE AND STOOPVILLE ROAD PEDESTRIAN CROSSING: Mr. Larason provided a copy of a PennDOT form for submittal of a request for a flashing warning signal at this location.
Mr. Mendicino moved to adopt Resolution 2001-13 to install and operate a flashing warning signal at Hemlock Drive and Stoopville Road. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Mendicino asked if the neighboring residents will be shielded from the light; Mr. Larason said they will be.
Mr. Mendicino’s motion passed unanimously.
TRAIL #1: Mr. Jirele asked if State reimbursement for Trail expenses is forthcoming. Mr. Larason responded that all the paperwork has been sent, and he expects the process to take about two months. Mr. Harp suggested it may become necessary to call Senator Conti or Representative Steil.
LAND USE SECTION
SKETCH PLAN - MCLAUGHLIN TRACT - TOLL BROTHERS: Tabled - 4/25/01.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
TYROL’S SYCAMORE: Mr. Larason provided copies of recent correspondence regarding this project.
SOLICITOR: No items for this section.
MANAGER: No items for this section.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Harris said there are none to be addressed.
ROUTINE BUSINESS SECTION
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
FULL TIME ADMINISTRATIVE EMPLOYEE: Deferred to the 7/16/01 work session.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Sanderlin announced there is a need for an executive session tonight regarding pending litigation.
ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Mendicino moved to adjourn. With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 12:05 AM.
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