Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

August 20, 2001

MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting September 12, 2001. WORK SESSION OF 8/20/01: Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 8/20/01 work session. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.


Members Present:            Steve Sanderlin, Chairman; Tom Jirele, Vice Chairman; Scott R. Harp, Treasurer; Raymond W. Goodnoe, Member; Steve Harris, Solicitor; Bob Larason, Engineer; Tom Harwood, Interim Township Manager.


Call to Order:            Chairman Sanderlin called the meeting to order at 7:08 PM. 



Wiltshire Walk – Offset Costs – Orleans:  Ed Murphy and Michael Vesey

Ed Murphy said that in June they had received a recommendation from the Planning Commission, and went to the ZBH for relief for the benefit of the Lutheran Church of God’s Love.  The bank received their relief.   He said that they have revised their plans, and wanted to explore an improvement in costs related to this revised plan.  Mr. Murphy reviewed the plan and distributed a handout detailing the additional improvement comparison costs; he said Carroll Engineering had been sent these figures.  Their assessment of additional costs were validated by the township.


Mr. Vesey said that they developed detailed cost estimates for both plans, which were submitted to Carroll.  Mr. Vesey detailed the improvements in the revised plans, and said he had credited back three improvements that were on the by right plan but not on the revised plan.  He clarified that drainage improvements on Silver Lake Road would be done in either scenario. 


Mr. Vesey said that the Raintree Basin is owned by the homeowners association; Mr. Jirele asked if the township would require the HOA to maintain this basin.  Mr. Vesey said that the HOA wants to improve and maintain the basin, to coordinate with the work at Wiltshire Walk.  Mr. Jirele asked if an agreement with the HOA was necessary; Mr. Harris advised that the township should remind the HOA of its maintenance obligation.


Mr. Murphy said that they are confident that they will be able to acquire the easement at the southeast corner of Penns Park and Newtown-Yardley Road required to properly align the intersection; the cost to be negotiated.  An appraisal has been done.  Mr. Murphy said they understand it is their responsibility. The cost is not included in the figures presented.


Mike Vesey said that they are looking to purchase the Tomlinson property, and plan to improve the drainage issue there by either installing a system of grates or ending the road.  They are still negotiating.


Mr. Murphy said that the Planning Commission decided not to make a recommendation concerning Upper Silver Lake and Vera Avenue, but to defer to the Board of Supervisors’ choice of one of the four alternative plans, as discussed with the Planning Commission.  He will be presenting the alternatives at Wednesday’s board meeting for the board’s consideration.


Mr. Vesey asked for a waiver of the traffic impact fee of $89,200, and a partial waiver of the recreation fee, which they believe to be $5175 per household, or $447,000.  Mr. Murphy clarified that their credit would total $540,000, and the township would still receive $324,000 in recreation fees.  These credits would be in exchange for the additional improvements being made.  Mr. Goodnoe clarified that the walking path would be installed.


There was discussion of the four alternatives for Silver Lake and Vera Lane.  Mr. Murphy presented the storyboard and alternatives, saying that they would be agreeable to whichever the BOS chooses.

1.          The present plan

2.          This plan would provide no access from Vera Lane to Newtown-Yardley Road.  Vera Lane residents do not like this alternative.

3.          This plan would abandon the connection with Upper Silver Lake Road, but would still provide access with Newtown-Yardley Road.

4.          This plan would have no interconnection; Vera Lane would be self-contained, with a turnaround.  Mr. Vesey believes that the residents prefer this plan, and that they would like Silver Lake Road closed.


Mr. Jirele said he likes alternative #3, and that where Upper Silver Lake meets 332 should be closed off.  He said that he would like to see a small park in the development, and would be willing to waive the remainder of the recreation fee if one were installed.  Mr. Murphy said he could investigate the possibility.  Mr. Harp said that the HOA could locate and build a park.  Mr. Sanderlin said that HOA’s vary in their feelings concerning open space, and the decision should be left to them.


Mr. Murphy presented two parking plans.  He said that there are two different parking standards for village homes in the township codes, and that their plans meet the higher standard.  Mr. Murphy said that for larger social occasions visitors could park at the church.  Mr. Harp said he would like to see a few more spaces; Mr. Vesey will investigate.  Mr. Jirele said that since the road is 32’ wide he would not mind parking on both sides of the street.    It was clarified that cut out sections for parking should be maintained and plowed by the HOA, and snow push areas are included in the plans.


Mr. Murphy said that a minor subdivision plan has been recommended by the Planning Commission; this will also be up for consideration by the Board.



CRSD Facilities Sharing Agreement

Mr. Harris said he had procured a copy of the agreement between Northampton Township and the school district, and that David Reid said it got a poor reception at the board meeting.  It may be a dead issue.  Mr. Harp said he would like to see the agreements relating to the community center and new high school.  He questioned whether, since tax dollars from all five townships/boroughs fund the school district, fees could be charged for some municipalities for school usage.  Mr. Harp asked Mr. Harris to look into any precedent for this, and research the rules in such a situation.



Transportation Issues – Bob Larason

§         Extension of Bypass Closed Loop System along Durham Road to Eagle road and Washington Crossing Road

Mr. Larason reported that they proposed to PennDOT the possibility of connecting further east to include Eagle Road and possibly Sycamore Street.  The Planning Commission has been pushing this.  PennDOT said the township could use their contractor but they would not pay for it.  Carroll has put together a cost estimate for the work:  approximately $85,000, including Eagle Road, any synchronization, running the duct work to include Sycamore Street, and pre-emption ability out to Eagle Road. This is on the PC wish list; TSA money could be used.  The price will be held; the project could be done any time.  Mr. Larason recommends synchronizing Sycamore Street and the Bypass separately.  Board consensus was to not do the work at this time, and they agreed with Mr. Larason that perhaps they should be kept separately.


§         PennDOT Agreement – Sycamore Street Project – High Transfer/Turnback – Signature to extend date

Mr. Larason reported that the PennDOT turnback agreement has expired, and at the direction of the board he sent a letter asking for an extension to include the time it would take to complete the Sycamore Street project.  He said he has not received a response.  Mr. Harwood said that Mr. Goodnoe’s signature is required, since he signed the original agreement.


Mr. Jirele moved to authorize Mr. Goodnoe to sign the supplemental agreement dated June 15, 2001, with PennDOT and the township, which will continue until 2003.  Mr. Harp seconded; the motion carried unanimously.


§         Trail – Supplementary Proposal for Construction Inspection

Mr. Larason said that when the board approved the extension of time for the trail, they had to go back to PennDOT for additional funds, which were approved.  The board needs to approve the supplemental agreement for reimbursement.


 Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the supplemental agreement with PennDOT for the Newtown Pedestrian Trail for the additional inspection services, and to approve the additional expenditure of $6789.71.  Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously.



Applebee’s Requesting Additional Signage

Mr. Sanderlin reported that Applebee’s has requested additional signage.  He said he would like to hold them to the stipulation agreement.  Mr. Jirele asked if there was a discrepancy between the location of the signs on the plans and their actual location, and requested this be checked.  Mr. Harris said they have an agreement at present for three signs, and to add more signs they would need a new agreement.


Mr. Harp moved to deny the request of Applebee’s for additional signage.  Mr. Jirele seconded.  Mr. Sanderlin, Mr. Jirele and Mr. Harp voted for the motion; Mr. Goodnoe abstained.  The motion carried.  Mr. Harris noted that if the signs were not located correctly, a letter from Mr. Harwood would be required to inform Applebee’s.



Penns Valley Publishers – Agreement for Codified Ordinances

Mr. Harris said that a new agreement is needed for codification services.  Mr. Sanderlin said that the agreement needs to be amended to add that HTML pages should be available, and that the township has the right to copy and distribute them.  He said he thought the document should be copyrighted by the jointure, not Penn Valley.  Mr. Harris will add this to the agreement.  Mr. Jirele said that all three municipalities should share in the cost of the services.  Mr. Harris asked if the board wished to have two agreements, one between the Jointure and Penn Valley for Chapter 27 (Zoning Ordinance) and one for the rest of the ordinances.   Mr. Harris said he would contact Penn Valley.  Distribution of updates was discussed.



Cash Reserve Adjustments

Mr. Harwood reported cash reserve adjustments for May and June, unbudgeted expenditures of $15,439 authorized by the board:  $14,879 to ReedSmith, and $340 to 3D Printing and $220 to Parcel Place for the Business Development Council’s resident packets.



Task Force – Allen Fidler

At the end of the Community Center Committee report there was a recommendation to appoint a task force to investigate a community center.  Mr. Harris said that the township has received a second review period for due diligence at the Acme property, extending to November 9.  Mr. Sanderlin said that additional information is needed about the Acme site before a task force can be appointed.  The environmental and architectural reviews and the appraisal are in process now.  Mr. Jirele suggested board members begin to think of people to appoint, and that an announcement should be made at the next board meeting that the board is looking for people to serve on the task.


Proposed Resolution – ReedSmith Report

Mr. Harris presented additional correspondence from Dave Sander, who had reviewed the ReedSmith report.  Mr. Sander put the recommended changes to the Administrative Code into resolution form.  He also recommended that the establishment of an ethics committee be done by ordinance.  Other recommendations in the report included sensitivity training and effective employee evaluation. 


In his letter of 8-20-01, Mr. Sander also suggested adjustments to resolutions 1 and 2 if the board is considering implementation.  He thought that appointments should not be exclusive to reorganization, but also for filling of vacancy procedures.


Mr. Harris said that the board had asked them to prepare a resolution of censure, but since the Second Class Township Administration Code does not allow for censure, revisions were made accordingly.  It was clarified that a resolution to censure was a recommendation of the ReedSmith Report.


The board discussed the resolutions:

Resolution 1:  Mr. Sanderlin felt it was too broad, and agreed with Mr. Sander’s recommended changes, as did Mr. Harp and Mr. Jirele.  Resolution 1 and 2 both need to be revised to indicate relevancy to employee as well as the supervisors.


Resolution 2:  Mr. Jirele said he had a problem with a non-fraternization policy for those in the same department without supervisory capacity.  Mr. Harwood said the prohibition of a relationship between people when one supervises or has authority over the other is already covered in the administrative code.  Mr. Jirele suggested the addition of the phrase “with direct or indirect supervisory authority.”


Resolution 3, General Harassment Policy, Equal Opportunity Clause:  No changes


Internet & Email Usage Policy:  Mr. Sanderlin suggested the replacement of the out of date term “gofer” for “chat servers.”  Mr. Jirele thought that something dealing with sexually explicit sites should be included here.  A change was suggested in the bullet point regarding not forwarding sensitive/confidential information via email beyond the scope of intended recipients.


Mr. Sanders’ letter included a draft ordinance for the establishment of an Ethics Committee, which would need to be advertised before voting.  Mr. Harris noted that in the last resolution, the last “whereas” paragraph and paragraph 1 reflect changes from the ReedSmith recommendations.


Mr. Sanderlin noted the two additional items from the ReedSmith report that are not resolutions or ordinances:

§         Sensitivity training on a regular basis -  The board directed Mr. Harwood to track down a resource for such training.  Mr. Larason thought NOVA provided training at no charge.


§         Performance Evaluation Policy – Mr. Harp suggested that evaluations be tied to raises and promotions, consistent with Good Business Practice.  The supervisor should write a complete and fair performance appraisal for each employee.  Mr. Jirele said he would like to see the entire policy completely revised.  Mr. Harwood noted that 2/3 of the work force receive raises contractually, and that performance evaluation has included goals and training and has not been applied to raises.  Mr. Harris suggested that Mr. Harwood recommendation some changes.  Mr. Jirele suggested that the new Manager work with Mr. Harwood to revise the policy.  Mr. Sanderlin noted that two versions would be needed, one for collective bargaining unit employees and one for other employees.  Mr. Harp felt that review should be quarterly or semi-annually.  The issue was tabled until such time as the new manager is hired.



Manager Search

Mr. Harp distributed the schedule for manager interviews on Saturday.  All candidates have been invited to tour the municipal complex and selected township locations on Friday afternoon.  Mr. Harwood will greet the candidates; it was decided to forego casual Friday that day.  He will ask Judy Setar to have lunch sent in.  Mr. Harp thanked Mr. Harwood for all his assistance.



Public Comment

Robert Conway:  Mr. Conway asked several questions:

§         4/13/01 Ms. Wood leaves the township, 4/20/01 Cornell Hopkins leaves, and on 4/25/01 ReedSmith begins its investigation.  What happened?

§         Does the township wish to further investigate the hiring and firing practices of Mr. Hopkins?

§         How come investigations began on 4/25/01 when allegation came the 2nd week of March?  Mr. Sanderlin described the process of searching and choosing an investigating law firm.



Other Business

The Clark Property:  Mr. Larason staked out a site change to the Clark Property, and contacted the board my email.  He suggested some clearing of brush, but no removal of trees.  He also felt that the driveway needed to be widened.  He said that the safe access issue is not as bad as first thought.  Mr. Goodnoe felt the driveway should be widened; Mr. Harris said that whether the public or township employees use the property, the entrance should be safe.   Mr. Larason said that the Public Works Department could easily widen the driveway.




Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 10:00 pm.   The board went into executive session to discuss issues of land acquisition and personnel.



Respectfully Submitted by:                                                                                                                                     

                                                                       Leslie. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary          9/6/01