Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

September 17, 2001

MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting October 10, 2001. WORK SESSION OF 9/17/01:  Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 9/17/01 work session.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously. 

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


Also Present:            Elaine Gibbs, Finance Director; Bill Wert, Park & Recreation Director; Terry McLean and Elinor Campbell, HARB; Vince Lombardi, Sycamore Street Committee chairman; and Ross Markman and Winslow Mason, Courier Times.


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


CRSD Facilities Use Agreement

Mr. Wert said that he was speaking to the board to get feedback and direction on how to proceed with discussions with the school district.  He received a phone call from Bob McAuliffe, who asked if Council Rock residents could receive the same fee for Newtown township recreation programs as township residents, in exchange for no school usage fees for the Recreation Department, except on weekends or after usual school hours.  Mr. Wert asked if this was a fair trade off for usage fees for school usage.   He distributed a handout detailing and analyzing non-resident usage numbers.


Mr. Weaver asked why the township should be charged at all.  Mr. Harp felt the arrangement was acceptable.  Mr. Wert said that the Recreation Board approved of the arrangement, and hoped that it would result in fewer problems with scheduling and cancellations by the school district.  Mr. Jirele said that the contract should be written so that the school district cannot bump township programs whenever they want.  Mr. Sanderlin asked if Council Rock was proposing that each municipality would charge other CR district municipalities’ resident fees; Mr. Harris felt it should be a district wide policy.  The board was amendable to the fee structuring as discussed, as long as all the municipalities agreed that it would be reciprocal. 



Upper Makefield Soccer Association Proposal

Mr. Wert reported that the Upper Makefield Soccer Club would like to partner with the Recreation Department.  Approximately 30% of the league’s participants reside in Newtown; they must vacate the Washington Crossing Park fields in three years.  Mr. Wert referred to the memo in his packet that outlined Park & Rec.’s responsibilities, and said Swamp Road Park fields as well as others could be utilized.  Upper Makefield would like Park & Rec. to handle their registration process, and they would continue to run the league as they do presently.  Mr. Wert said the advantage of the township handling registration is the collection of income in the form of registration fees.  The league would continue to charge participants the present $85, $15 of which the township would keep.


Mr. Goodnoe asked if the league understood that spring fields at Swamp Road Park are not always available.  Mr. Harp said he would like to know how many fields they propose using.   Mr. Wert said that the fields would be used by the 10 and under teams, as the fields are not large enough for regulation fields.  Mr. Sanderlin said that Upper Makefield would not be responsible for anything that they are not already doing, which includes line marking and carrying of appropriate insurance.   Mr. Wert confirmed that the registration fee would cover the registration process and efforts by the Park & Rec. Department.   He said that the Recreation Board discussed and recommended this partnering.  By consensus, the board authorized Mr. Wert to pursue discussions with Upper Makefield Soccer Club; Mr. Harris will check with the league regarding insurance.


Merrill Lynch – Mike Leone, Jack Haraburda, Mary Christodulo

 Ms. Gibbs spoke to the Board of her concern with the management of the police pension.  The township presently has three managers each for uniform and non-uniform pension funds.  Ms. Gibbs said that she had noticed a high number of transactions at a loss, and that some stocks were bought and sold within a month’s time.  She distributed an information packet, and said that she felt Provident has been investing too aggressively for the pensions. 


Mr. Leone gave a brief investment history of the pension funds, and the performance history of Provident.  He said that Provident is a manager that aggressively buys growth-oriented stocks.  He said that he understood Ms. Gibbs concern, but he does feel that the down cycle is about finished, and that the township can weather the storm.  He explained that the pension is not restricted for tax purposes, and that the managers are paid less than 1% for all services, rather than commission.  In this scenario, frequent trading is usual. 


Mr. Leone said that he could bring in managers for the board to interview.  Mr. Haraburda said that if the township was not comfortable with Provident’s style, they should certainly change managers.  Both Mr. Leone and Mr. Haraburda recommended staying with a growth manager.  Ms. Christodulo said that Provident’s turnover rate was average for a growth manager; Mr. Leone said that their performance is similar to other growth managers.  Provident has yielded 14% over the last fourteen years, including a 50% loss in the last two years.


Mr. Goodnoe said that Merrill Lynch has performed well, and that the township should take Merrill Lynch’s advice.  The Board decided to continue with the present managers, and to watch their performance for several months.  Mr. Leone will send additional reports for the Board members, including the October quarterly report.  Mr. Haraburda said that if the Board likes the present allocation of growth vs. value managers, they should meet with Mr. Leone to reposition the portfolio, and find a rebalancing point.



St. Andrew’s Rectory -  Joe McKernan, Father Picard, Genevieve Witt

Mr. McKernan said that they would appear before the HARB on Wednesday, and are looking for a demolition permit.  Mr. McKernan presented a sketch of the church and rectory.  They are looking to demolish the rectory for a number of reasons, including:

§         The rectory is very old, and is only 7 feet from the church.  It is a fire hazard; repairs cannot be done now.

§         According to two structural engineers, it is most cost effective to tear the rectory down.

§         They have been restoring the church for the last eight months, do not wish to put money into the rectory, and the removal of the rectory would enhance the restoration work that has been done on the church.


Father Picard said they have spent nearly $1 M to restore the old church, and the rectory is of no use.  The cost to restore the rectory is prohibitive.  Also, aesthetically, a prayer garden could be added in its place.


Terry McLean reported that HARB would review this issue this week, and that HARB told the church they needed to go before the Joint Newtown Historical Commission.  He said that he could not speak for HARB, but that he felt that Father Picard’s presentation showed a great improvement to Sycamore Street and would provide better traffic circulation, and that he would recommend approval of the demolition of the rectory.


Elinor Campbell said she thought the convent was a more attractive building than the rectory.  She said that safety is a big issue, relative to the distance of the rectory from the church building and the structural damage.  She would like to see the convent preserved.


Mr. Jirele expressed concern for preservation of the convent; Mr. Harris said that HARB could put the commitment to keep the convent building viable in their recommendation.  Mr. Jirele commended the church’s cooperation and work with HARB.

Newtown Artesian Water Co. Zoning Relief – time extension

Brenden Brett provided a short letter to explain their request for zoning relief.  They had planned to relocate an existing barn, but found it had rotted.  They would like to use the extra footprint from the barn to add a storage facility and were told that they needed to go through the zoning process again.  He asked if there was another way to proceed to resolve the issue.


Mr. Harris noted that the footprint for the requested storage facility is not different from that of the old barn, and that only an extension of the variance was needed. 


Mr. Harp moved to extend the variance to September 17, 2002, to construct a building, subject to a review of an additional sketch plan.  The building will have wood siding and a minimum of 6 – 12 pitch on the roof.  The applicant agreed.  Mr. Weaver seconded; the motion carried unanimously.



Toll Brothers/McLaughlin/Gray tract – Village Concept Plan

Mike Palmer and John Pagenkopf appeared for Toll Brothers.  They would like to build considering both properties as one tract.  They presented five designs for village concepts, which Mr. Palmer reviewed. 


Mr. Harris said that two issues would need to be resolved:  the additional density that Newtown Township would gain, and the extension of public sewer and water that Upper Makefield opposes.  Newtown Township has no objection to the extension of sewer and water on township property.  A curve and intersection at Linton Hill and Stoopville would be straightened as well.  Both municipalities have granted extensions for land use.


Mr. Palmer said that they like the idea of one community rather than two, with the fronts of homes closer to the interior roads to foster a greater sense of community.  Mr. Sanderlin said that new definition of town home would be needed, as well as façade easements.  He said that the Jointure felt that this was an interesting concept and details needed to be worked out. 


Mr. Jirele said he found it difficult to see what advantages there would be to either township; Mr. Goodnoe saw no advantage to Newtown in either proposed plan.  He said he thought the plans were bad for Newtown.  Mr. Sanderlin felt that the coordinated development of two adjacent properties was better than two independent developments.  Mr. Harris pointed out that the lessening of density and coordinating development of both parcels were not mutually exclusive.



LaStalla Restaurant – Fran Cipullo and Donna J. Wengiel

§         Certificate of Appropriateness

Mr. Jirele reported that at the end of July HARB and LaStalla had resolved many issues.  The Certificate of Appropriate was brought back for signatures, but there were not three board members present who were qualified to sign.


Mr. Harp moved to affirm the approval of the Certificate of Appropriateness.  Mr. Goodnoe seconded; the motion carried unanimously.


§         Liquor License Transfer

Mr. Cipullo said that opening day was approaching, and that when he came before the board a year ago a liquor license was not discussed.  The law changed in February, allowing him to investigate the procurement of a liquor license.  He has applied for a license transfer; all documents have been submitted.  The only thing delaying the process is the protest from the township.


Mr. Cipullo cited his letter dated 8/31/01 reiterating his position and requesting the withdrawal of the protest.  His understanding is that no but the township has filed a protest; the announcement has been in LaStalla’s window for some time.  He said they have had no problems with the liquor board at the Washington Crossing Inn, and have taken great pains to restore the barn and make it look nice.  They are not looking to attract younger, problematic patrons.


Mr. Sanderlin said he was concerned with the transfer of an additional liquor license into the township.  Mr. Cipullo pointed out that license(s) could transfer out of the township as well in the future.  Mr. Jirele noted that the census numbers were not certified at the time of Mr. Cipullo’s original request; Mr. Harris said that the number of liquor licenses in the township would fall within the Liquor Bureau’s quota if one were transferred into the township.


Mr. Jirele moved that the board instruct the solicitor to withdraw the protest to the transference of a liquor license into the township for LaStalla.  Mr. Harp seconded.  Mr. Sanderlin, Mr. Jirele, Mr. Harp and Mr. Weaver voted for the motion.  Mr. Goodnoe abstained.  The motion carried.



Sycamore Street Committee

Mr. Lombardi said that the committee started to put pressure on McMann and the project manager, and discovered that they had, unbeknownst to the committee, resubmitted Step 9.  The committee approached McCann and called for a meeting with PennDOT.  The bottom line:  funding is a problem.


Mr. Lombardi said that it became clear that political pressures were involved.  The committee was told that they should get permission from the Board of Supervisors to switch the priority of the left turn lanes on the Bypass with the Sycamore Project.  PennDOT prioritized the project:  the Bypass project was higher on the list because it is a state road, and Sycamore is a local road.  Mr. Lombardi said he argued that the township has favored status.


Mr. Lombardi said that both projects total approximately $3M.  The committee is concerned with Sycamore Street itself holding up too far into the future.  Mr. Larason said there is logical reason to switch the order of the projects; if the Bypass signalization is completed, the double left turn lanes might not be needed.  Mr. Jirele said it would be easier to get the double lefts funded in the future than Sycamore Street.


It has been suggested that a letter to Larry King, Department Secretary for Programming, PennDOT, might move the project along.  Mr. Lombardi said that, as state representative, Representative Steil’s involvement would be most helpful.  Mr. Larason suggested that the board send a letter to Rep. Steil on township letterhead, then copy to Larry King and other politicians and ask for endorsements.


Mr. Lombardi said he would like to put together the letter and take it to Rep. Steil.  He said that grant proposal writer Peter Simone sent him a list of funded projects in Bucks County, and suggested that Mr. Lombardi analyze the list and argue that a lot of money is going elsewhere and that Newtown has received very little in comparison.


Mr. Goodnoe moved to request that PennDOT exchange the priority of the Bypass left hand land project (#53 on the list) with the Sycamore Street Project (#16), based on the fact that signalization will take place on the Bypass, and to authorize Mr. Lombardi and Mr. Larason to speak with Representative Steil.  Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously.



Community Development Block Grant – Bob Larason

There are two options for spending the money:  to update the subdivision ordinance, or to make improvements on Swamp Road from Sycamore Street up to possibly Linden. Mr. Larason said he had prepared a sketch, and that the Sycamore Street project could be incorporated into the project underway now.  Mr. Larason said that changes to the curb adjustments would improve the turn into the shopping center at South Eagle and Swamp.  Mr. Sanderlin said that the board had voted to have a public hearing to consider the issue, scheduled for next Wednesday.



Elevator Maintenance Contract

Mr. Harwood referred to a memo from Elaine Gibbs to him dated 9/13/01, outlining the quotes from five companies for elevator maintenance.  He recommends Fairway Elevator Company of Folcroft, PA.


Mr. Goodnoe moved to contract with Fairway Elevator Company of Folcroft, PA for elevator maintenance.  Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously.



Public Works Trucks

Mr. Harwood said that three trucks are ready for disposal:  a GMC, Blazer and Chevy.  They can be disposed of through public auction or bid; Mr. Harwood would like to auction them. 


Mr. Goodnoe moved to authorize Mr. Harwood to proceed with the auction of the three township trucks detailed.  Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously.



SRT Team Implementation – Duty Manual

The state police have been selected as Newtown Township’s partner in emergency situations.  There is a recommendation to change language in the police manual that details the role of Newtown police in such a situation.  Mr. Harwood would like to proceed with this, and will provide details to the board before the next public board meeting.


Other Business

New Manager’s Contract

After discussion in executive session, Mr. Harp moved to approve the new manager’s contract and authorize the chairman to sign it and the secretary to attest.  The starting date will be approximately one month from today, on a date mutually decided upon between the new manager and the board.  Mr. Weaver seconded; the motion carried unanimously.


Budget Recommendation

Mr. Harwood presented a recommendation for salary increases for exempt personnel, and said that these numbers will be part of the budget adoption process.


Actuarial Report

The Actuarial Report by Mockenhaupt will be reviewed after the work session on October 15, 2001.



Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 10:40 pm.   The board went into executive session to discuss issues of land acquisition and personnel.



Respectfully Submitted by:                                                                                                                                     

                                                                       Leslie. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary          10/01/01