NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

AUGUST 22, 2001


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting September 12, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 8/22/01:Mr. moved to approve the minutes of the 8/22/01 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, August 22, 2001, in the Township meeting room at 8:20 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: District Justice Donald Nasshorn, Planning Commission Vice Chairman Allen Fidler, Sycamore Street Committee Chairman Vince Lombardi, Cable TV Committee Chairman Jim Bowe, HARB member Elinor Campbell, Township Solicitor David Sander, 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 8:20 PM with a moment of silence. He explained that the meeting was starting late because the Board was in executive session for a personnel matter.

INVOCATION: Given by Father Snyder of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

SPECIAL ACTION:

RESIGNATION: Mr. Mendicino said that serving on the Board of Supervisors has taken much more of his time than the two evenings a week he had promised his wife when he was appointed. He stated he is resigning tonight for the sake of his family, not because of any other issues. He thanked his colleagues on the Board and said he trusts them to make the right decisions for the Township. Mr. Mendicino then left the meeting.

Mr. Jirele moved to accept Mr. Mendicino’s resignation. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp with regret and passed unanimously.

APPOINTMENT OF SECRETARY: Mr. Sanderlin noted that Mr. Mendicino was Secretary of the Board, and asked for a nomination to fill the vacancy.

Mr. Jirele moved to appoint the present Treasurer, Mr. Harp, as Secretary/Treasurer of the Board. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

APPOINTMENT OF SUPERVISOR: Mr. Sanderlin said that the Board needs to be at full strength as soon as possible with all the work facing them. He asked for a nomination to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Mendicino.

Mr. Harp moved to appoint Richard Weaver to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Mendicino’s resignation from the Board of Supervisors. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

SWEARING IN: District Justice Donald Nasshorn administered the oath of office to Richard Weaver. Mr. Weaver thanked the Board, introduced his son and his son’s family, and took his seat.

ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Harwood announced that there will be an executive session following the meeting for matters of real estate, and that items 7.E.1, 3 and 4 will be addressed under New Business in the Land Use section.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS:

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

REGULAR MEETING OF 8/7/01: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 8/7/01 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously, with Mr. Weaver abstaining.

BILLS LIST:

PAYMENT OF BILLS: Mr. Harp moved to pay bills totaling $231,518.54; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

INTERFUND TRANSFERS: Mr. Harp moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $12,201.69; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

TREASURER:

CAPITAL PLANNING COMMITTEE: Mr. Harp said that the Committee is analyzing several Township funds and studying upcoming project needs. They will meet again on 8/27/01.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS:

SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Vince Lombardi, Chairman of the Committee, reported on their 8/14/01 meeting. The Committee discussed a meeting with McMahon Associates, the progress of the water company work on Sycamore Street, and an upcoming meeting with the PECO gas division. Mr. Lombardi said the benefits of having the work done at night have become apparent. He estimated that PECO will begin work around 9/10/01. Construction crews are finding that many of the utility lines under Sycamore Street are old and were not accurately mapped before.

Mr. Larason said he is ensuring that the utility lines are properly mapped during this project.

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW COMMITTEE: HARB member Elinor Campbell reported on the Committee’s recent work with the La Stalla restaurant. A second cease and desist order has been issued. The most recent issue concerns the gas lanterns which HARB does not feel are authentic. Mrs. Campbell provided the Supervisors with photographs of some lanterns the Committee feels are historically appropriate.

Mr. Jirele commented that he admires HARB’s patience and diligence in working with this developer.

CABLE TV COMMITTEE: Chairman Jim Bowe reported that Comcast is almost finished their work at Tyler Walk, and residents are pleased with what has been done.Work at Newtown Crossing will begin in about two weeks. The Committee will be making a presentation to the Board of Supervisors regarding the use of the PEG channels. They are also working on getting a student to work on a public information spot for the ambulance squad.

JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION: Mr. Goodnoe reported that the Corporation met last week, but did not have a quorum. The promotion committee is sponsoring a series of seminars for local businesses and residents. The Corporation has received a $500 donation from First National Bank of Newtown, and is seeking more donations. The public is invited to attend the Corporation’s meetings, which are held on the third Thursday of the month.

PLANNING COMMISSION: Vice Chairman Allen Fidler reported on the Commission’s 8/21/01 meeting. The Commission reviewed a conditional use request from Chick-Fil-A and recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the request. They also reviewed a revised plan for a minor subdivision submitted by George Segal and Dina Brilliant, and a revised plan for a minor subdivision of the Peppleman Tract on South State Street, and voted to recommend approval for both plans. Mr. Fidler asked that the Solicitor advise the Commission on whether the septic system planned for the Segal/Brilliant property is considered a structure under the ordinance.

The Commission reviewed the applications scheduled before the Zoning Hearing Board on 9/6/01 and agreed to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose applications from Mary Jo Garner, Commerce Bank and Blockbuster Video. A letter regarding a Commission member’s participation in a discussion was referred to the Solicitor; a letter regarding the County‘s Transportation Enhancements program was referred to Mike Frank; and a memo from PennDOT regarding the intersection of Durham Road and the Bypass was referred to the Traffic Engineer.

The Commission discussed the need for legal counsel to attend Commission meetings, and decided to request time to discuss this issue with the Board of Supervisors at a future work session. Commission members also reviewed the draft consolidated JMZO and recommended that the Township adopt and forward it to the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission.

SWAMP ROAD CITIZENS’ ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Mr. Jirele reported that the Committee had its second meeting on 8/21/01. They discussed accident data, wetlands and historic properties in the Swamp Road corridor that is being studied. The third and final meeting will be on 9/18/01.

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS:

I-95 RAMP: Mr. Goodnoe commended the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors for approving the construction of the northbound ramp for I-95. Mr. Sanderlin also expressed appreciation for the approval, and for Representative Steil’s work in getting the two Townships together. Mr. Jirele said the Lower Makefield action may have included some conditions; he asked Mr. Harwood to obtain a copy of the motion and share it with the Board.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS:

Jim Ott, a Township resident, said that he attended the Lower Makefield meeting at which the ramp was approved. He stated that three conditions were attached to the approval: that Lower Makefield and Newtown Townships will take back Lindenhurst Road and ban trucks on the road; that PennDOT will approve the intersection providing access to the OR District; and that there will be room in the intersection with I-95 for two additional loops to be built later.

Andrew Warren, State Secretary of Transportation, was present and commented that PennDOT is in favor of building an intersection that provides complete access to I-95. He also welcomes the taking back of roads by municipalities.

Tony Passella, a Township resident, asked Mr. Warren to explain the purpose of the access ramp. Mr. Warren said that the ramp will eliminate the need for cars to turn across traffic to get onto I-95.

Mr. Passella asked the Board about plans for the Roberts Tract. Mr. Sanderlin responded that the Board has seen only a sketch plan, and that showed access to the OR from the south and from the west, as well as a connection with Penns Trail North. A sketch plan for the Heston Tract showed a development with 24 homes.

Another resident asked if the issue of taking back Lindenhurst Road had ever been raised in previous discussions with Lower Makefield. Mr. Sanderlin said it was briefly mentioned early in the process. He stated that his opinion is that regional roads should be PennDOT’s responsibility. Mr. Goodnoe agreed with this opinion, but said he would like to hear what Lower Makefield has to say on the issue.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:

CHAIRMAN:

EXECUTIVE SESSIONS: Mr. Sanderlin said that the Board met in executive session before tonight’s meeting to discuss a personnel matter. He said they will also meet all day on 8/25/01 and most of 8/26/01 to interview candidates for the Township Manager position.

WORK SESSION OF 8/20/01: Mr. Sanderlin reported on the 8/20/01 work session, at which the discussion included the Wiltshire Walk development, the Welsh School, Applebee’s signage, financial matters, the Acme site, the Reed Smith recommendations, the Manager search and the Clark property. They also met in executive session regarding matters of land acquisition and personnel.

POLICE EQUIPMENT: Mr. Sanderlin said that the Police Department has acquired new equipment that makes it much easier to check the weight of trucks.

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: No items for this section.

MANAGER:

ADDITIONAL WORK ON ACME BUILDING: Mr. Harwood said the Township has requested that the architect hired to assess the Acme building do some additional analysis, and he asked the Board to approve the expenditure of $1,000 for this work.

Mr. Jirele moved to authorize the expenditure of an additional $1,000 for architectural consulting work on the Acme building. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.

SOLICITOR:

CLARK PROPERTY/PECO LEASE: Mr. Harp moved to approve the license agreement to lease lands adjacent to the Clark Farm and to authorize the Chairman to sign the agreement on behalf of the Township. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

REED SMITH RECOMMENDATIONS: Mr. Sander reviewed the six recommendations and one ordinance designed by his office to implement the recommendations of the Reed Smith Ethics Investigation report.

RESOLUTION 2001-R-14: Mr. Harp moved to adopt Resolution 2001-R-14, amending the Newtown Township Administrative Code of 1995, as amended, to add provisions to the existing ethical standards for Newtown Township government officials regarding intimate personal relationships between elected or appointed Township officials and Township employees. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said that all the resolutions have been drawn up hastily and circumvent the Administrative Code Committee. He also said that they are largely unenforceable and invite litigation against the Township. Mr. Sanderlin responded that the Board is acting expediently and diligently.

Mr. Harp’s motion was passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

RESOLUTION 2001-R-15: Mr. Harp moved to adopt Resolution 2001-R-15, amending the Newtown Township Administrative Code of 1995, as amended, to add a no fraternization policy. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

RESOLUTION 2001-R-16: Mr. Jirele moved to adopt Resolution 2001-R-16, amending the Newtown Township Administrative Code of 1995, as amended, to add a requirement to the duties of the Township Manager requiring the Manager to immediately report any and all conduct or incidents occurring within the Township or involving a Township employee or elected or appointed official that could jeopardize the wellbeing of the Township or would otherwise expose the Township to embarrassment, criticism or potential civil liability of any kind. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said it will be virtually impossible for the Manager to comply with this requirement. Mr. Sanderlin disagreed with this statement.

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

RESOLUTION 2001-R-17: Mr. Harp moved to adopt Resolution 2001-R-17, amending the Newtown Township Administrative Code of 1995, as amended, to establish a new expanded policy against general harassment for Newtown Township’s employees and its elected and appointed officials. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

RESOLUTION 2001-R-18: Mr. Jirele moved to adopt Resolution 2001-R-18, amending the Newtown Township Administrative Code of 1995, as amended, to remove language stating that bona fide occupational qualifications may contain restrictions on, among other things, physical disability, sex or age, and replacing that language with a new equal employment policy statement. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

RESOLUTION 2001-R-19: Mr. Harp moved to adopt Resolution 2001-R-19, amending the Newtown Township Administrative Code of 1995, as amended, to strengthen and reissue the Newtown Township e-mail and internet policy. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele proposed that the resolution be amended in accordance with discussions the Board of Supervisors had earlier. He asked that the last bulleted point under section 3 read “Forwarding or accessing via internet sexually explicit material”. Mr. Sander said he will amend the resolution to reflect this wording.

Mr. Harp agreed to amend his motion as proposed by Mr. Jirele, and Mr. Jirele amended his second. The amended motion was passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING ETHICS COMMITTEE: Mr. Jirele moved to advertise an ordinance to add provisions creating a permanent Ethics Committee to oversee compliance with the Township’s Code of Ethics and to make preliminary decisions concerning whether there exists a basis for referring specific allegations of misconduct to the State Ethics Commission, and to foster compliance with the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act and the Township’s own code of ethics by elected and appointed Township officials, as well as the Township Manager, department heads and other Township employees. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

REED SMITH RECOMMENDATION # 9: Mr. Sander said that Recommendation #9 proposes that the Board of Supervisors clarify the effect of employee performance evaluations on salary increases. He stated that the Solicitor received some correspondence from Mr. Kupperman which raises some legal questions. Mr. Sander suggested that the Board table this issue until the Solicitor can review the legal issue involved in this recommendation.

Mr. Jirele moved to table consideration of Reed Smith’s Recommendation #9 to the next public meeting of the Board of Supervisors. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

ENGINEER:

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT: Mr. Larason reported that the Township has received an additional $5,100 in Community Development funds. He recommended that the funds be used for planning purposes. The application must be made by 10/1/01. Mr. Sanderlin asked Mr. Larason to work with Mr. Harwood to develop a proposal for using the funds.

GIS DOCUMENTATION: Mr. Larason provided copies of a memo dated 8/6/01 which describes Carroll Engineering’s progress in updating the Township’s GIS programs.

ADDITIONAL COMMUNITY COMMENT: Sue Beasley, a Township resident, asked the Supervisors to regulate the temperature in the meeting room better. Mr. Sanderlin asked Mr. Harwood to speak to the maintenance department about this.

Mrs. Beasley stated that she was surprised that there was no time allowed for public comments when the Reed Smith resolutions were being considered. She said that some resolutions had wording errors, and others could have unintended consequences in other situations. Mr. Sanderlin said he has received a letter with Mrs. Beasley’s comments; some have already been addressed.

Stanley Twining, a Township resident for 72 years, stated his support for Mr. Goodnoe.

Dick Mays, a Township resident, protested the speed with which the Board acted on the resolutions. He warned of possible litigation that might ensue because of the resolutions.

A resident of Bucks County asked why the Board did not simply talk to Mr. Goodnoe privately about their concerns. He said that any criminal charges should be taken to the District Attorney. He also said that the language of the resolutions makes the Township vulnerable legally.

Jan D’Aprile, a Township resident, spoke against censuring Mr. Goodnoe (Reed Smith’s recommendation #4).

 

LAND USE SECTION

 

NEW BUSINESS:

SKETCH PLAN - MCLAUGHLIN TRACT - TOLL BROTHERS: Tabled from 4/25/01.

PRELIMINARY PLAN - PLATINUM EXECUTIVE SUITES - 12 PENNS TRAIL - TMP# 29-10-87: Attorney Don Marshall and engineer Ralph Dumack were present to discuss the plan for a two story addition to an existing one story office building in the Newtown Industrial Commons in the Light Industrial District.

Mr. Marshall explained that there is also a conditional use application pending, to allow the D-1 office use and to allow a 60% impervious surface ratio. The applicant is seeking waivers to permit a different plan scale, to accept an aerial photo in lieu of details on the plan, to omit a traffic study, to permit an edge of the driveway within 20’ of the building, to permit parking on the utility easement and to permit parking in the front yard.

Mr. Sander noted that the conditional use application is scheduled to be heard at the 9/12/01 meeting.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve this preliminary plan, subject to compliance with the Carroll Engineering letter of 7/30/01 and the Heritage Conservancy letter of 6/29/01, with all appropriate fees paid, subject to conditional use approval and any conditions attached to that approval, with the requested waivers granted, all costs of reviews paid, and the standard financial and improvement agreements provided. The motion was seconded by Mr. Sanderlin and passed unanimously.

REVISED PLAN FOR MINOR SUBDIVISION - PEPPLEMAN TRACT - SOUTH STATE STREET - PAUL ALLEN - TMP#29-10-20: Attorney Bill Benner and engineer Mary Ellen Saylor were present to discuss Paul Allen’s plan to divide a 1.68 acre property in the TC-2 District into two lots. Mr. Benner explained that the plan will need to be slightly revised depending on the Zoning Hearing Board’s decision on the applicant’s request for a variance. Regardless of the decision, the plan is in compliance with the ordinance. Mr. Benner stated that Mr. Allen intends to buy lot #2 and develop it in accordance with the ordinance requirements for the TC-2 District. Two waivers are requested, to permit a different plan scale and to defer the issue of sidewalk improvements until a land development plan is submitted.

Mr. Jirele moved to approve this revised plan for a minor subdivision dated 3/19/01 and last revised on 7/19/01, subject to the Carroll Engineering review letters of 7/17/01 and 8/21/01 and the Heritage Conservancy review letter of 7/12/01, granting a waiver of the plan scale, with the understanding that the standard agreements will be provided when development occurs. The plan will be revised in accordance with the anticipated Zoning Hearing Board decision on a variance request regarding the ultimate right of way, and the applicant will comply with any conditions attached to the decision. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Benner asked if the motion should include a waiver of the requirement to provide a sidewalk. Mr. Sander said that the Planning Commission recommendation did not address the sidewalk requirement. Mr. Fidler, Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, said that the Planning Commission did discuss the issue of sidewalks, but felt it was somewhat academic since the Carroll Engineering review letter suggested it be deferred until a land development plan is submitted. Mr. Sander advised that the issue of sidewalks should not be part of the motion.

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.

REVISED PLAN FOR MINOR SUBDIVISION - SEGAL/BRILLIANT - 391 EAGLE ROAD - TMP# 29-3-55: Architect Manfred Heinrici and applicants Dr. George Segal and Dina Brilliant were present to discuss the plan to divide a 7.1 acre property in the CM District into two lots. Lot 1 will include an existing dental office and dwelling. Lot 2 will have a future dwelling.

Mr. Heinrici stated that the applicants have requested waivers of requirements to widen Eagle Road, install sidewalks and plant street trees. In addition, the applicants would like to request a waiver of the traffic impact fee.

Mr. Sander stated that the septic system is a structure under the ordinance. Mr. Heinrici said the applicants will probably change the property line to comply with side yard setback requirements. He explained that the applicants are trying to protect a wooded area. The septic system can not be located anywhere else because of percolation problems.

Mr. Sander suggested the applicants could apply for a variance. Ms Brilliant responded that seeking a variance is a long and expensive process, and she expects public water to be available soon.

Mr. Larason suggested that the applicants file a new plan showing public water and sewer services. Mr. Sander agreed with this suggestion, and recommended that they give the Township an unlimited extension so that the plan can be acted on when the public services are in place.

Ms Brilliant said this course of action seemed best to her. Mr. Sander drafted a letter granting an unlimited extension, and Ms Brilliant signed it.

Mr. Jirele said that the waivers discussed earlier are acceptable to him. Mr. Sander added that the waivers are not uncommon in plans like this. Mr. Goodnoe said he would be inclined to grant all the waivers except for the traffic impact fee. Mr. Larason said that the fee had been miscalculated and will be less than specified in the Carroll Engineering review letter.

OLD BUSINESS:

PRESTON TRACT SUBDIVISION: Mr. Larason said the linens for the subdivision of the Preston Tract are ready for signature.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve and sign the subdivision plan for the Preston Tract. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

OTHER ACTIONS:

ENGINEER:

CORRESPONDENCE: Mr. Larason provided copies of recent correspondence regarding the Goodnoe Elementary School Parking Improvements and the Segal/Brilliant Minor Subdivision.

ESCROW RELEASES:

PHEASANT POINTE: Mr. Jirele moved to release $46,342.00 in escrow funds for this project, based on Certificate of Completion #5. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.

ST. ANDREWS BRIAR: Mr. Jirele moved to release $29,842.14 in escrow funds for this project, based on Certificate of Completion #4. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.

SOLICITOR:

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS - 9/6/01: Mr. Sander reviewed the applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board meeting of 9/6/01.

COMMERCE BANK: Mr. Jirele said the Board should oppose the application from Commerce Bank, since the applicant did not discuss signage plans with the Board before applying for a variance. He noted that Blockbuster did discuss their plans with the Board. Mr. Sander suggested that the Solicitor contact Commerce Bank and urge them to postpone their application and discuss it with the Board.

Mr. Jirele moved to ask the Solicitor to contact Commerce Bank as Mr. Sander suggested. If the bank does not agree to discuss their plans with the Board, the Solicitor is authorized to attend the meeting and oppose the application. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

MANAGER: No items for this section.

PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Harwood said there are no expirations to be addressed.

 

ROUTINE BUSINESS

 

No items of business for this section.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Sanderlin said there will not be a need to reconvene the meeting following the executive session for matters of real estate.

ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Harp moved to adjourn. With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 11:30 PM.

 

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED: _____________________________
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary

Minutes Approved as submitted _______ as corrected _______

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Stephen D. Sanderlin, Chairman

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Thomas Jirele, Vice Chairman

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Scott R. Harp, Secretary/Treasurer

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Raymond Goodnoe, Member

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Richard Weaver, Member