Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

October 15, 2001

MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting November 14, 2001. WORK SESSION OF 10/15/01:  Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 10/15/01 work session.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

Members Present:        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.


Call to Order:            In the absence of the Chairman, Vice Chairman Tom Jirele called the meeting to order at 7:50 PM. 


Mockenhaupt Associates – Pension Valuation - Bill Asag

Mr. Asag reported that they had prepared the actuarial reports, which are prime motivators in the determination of state aid funding.  He reviewed the numbers for the Uniform Police Pension Plan, saying that there is not much change in the costing of the plan.  He said that the plan has weathered the economic changes well, showing a return of 13% in 2000.  The amount of state aid will be the maximum amount, but the unit value will be reduced; each plan will probably experience a reduction of about $38,000.  The Non-Uniform Plan experienced a loss of only 4%, or about $26,000; it has been pretty stable.


Mr. Asag said that there have been four federal law changes, called GUST.  To maintain tax qualifications, the township will need to change several elements by the end of the year.  One involves employees and military service – time in the service will need to be figured in their employment time.  After sending it to Mr. Harris for review, Ms. Gibbs will give the paperwork to the board in November for adoption. 


Pager Reimbursement

Two members of the public works staff, Ron Weaver and Mark Russ, have their own pagers that they also use for township work.  Mr. Harwood suggested that instead of purchasing duplicate pagers they be reimbursed half of the cost of the pagers or the amount a township pager would cost.


Mr. Weaver moved to authorize the reimbursement to Ron Weaver and Mark Russ each the amount that the township pays for an employee pager.  Mr. Harp seconded; the motion carried unanimously.


Toll Brothers/McLaughlin/Gray Tract – Ed Murphy

Mr. Murphy said that Toll has decided to pursue a plan for Newtown Township, and will not continue to foster discussions with Upper Makefield.  He reviewed a sketch of a more traditional neighborhood design for the McLaughlin Tract, noting that Andy Bowman’s tree would be preserved according to the sketch.  He said that the Gray Tract would have 124 homes.  Mr. Harris noted that a connector to the Gray Tract would be unnecessary according to the new sketch.  Under the new sketch, Mr. Murphy said they would need to seek a variance for a buffer in the back of 50’ instead of 100’, in response to the township’s prior request to set the development further back from the road.  Mr. Murphy said their intent is to follow the codes; they will seek a variance for the buffer area.


Mr. Murphy said that members of the various historic boards have been invited to meet with Toll representatives, but no one has come.  There is an old cabin on the property; Mr. Murphy said that the barn was in pretty good condition.  Mr. Jirele noted that Toll would have to go before the historical boards.  The board told Mr. Murphy they would like to see a report from the Joint Historical Commission.


It was suggested that even if Toll were not pursuing an overall development concept, it would be useful to have overviews of the Gray and Melsky Tracts.  Mr. Murphy said that the open space would probably consist of a tot lot, local passive and active recreation, to be determined.  Mr. Goodnoe said he expected that some remedial road and site improvements would be necessary.


Mr. Harris said the board might be able to have a special meeting to review the proposal.  Mr. Jirele said he would like the board to consider the placement of the garages.  Mr. Murphy asked about the board’s preference for homes being closer to or further from the road, and for configuration.  Mr. Jirele pointed out that sidewalks would be required, as an extension of the trail system.  Mr. Murphy said that they could bring plans before the board in about a month; they have an extension until December 15th. 


Mr. Vesey will meet with Mr. Hitchner soon; Mr. Murphy will present plans to him tomorrow.  He will also shift the location of the development towards the PECO property, which would result in the requested setback being 75’ instead of the required 100’. 


McLaughlin/Rte. 413/Demolition Permit

Mr. Harwood said that the approved final plan for McLaughlin property at Rte. 413 shows a cottage of 1100 square feet would remain.  A subsequent buyer wishes to demolish the cottage; a demolition permit cannot be issued because the change is not reflected on the final plan.   Mr. Harwood believed that the Joint Historical Commission has reviewed the cottage and has no problem with demolition. 


Mr. Goodnoe moved to authorize the Codes Department to issue a demolition permit for the McLaughlin property at 413, provided that the appropriate procedures are followed, including notification of the Joint Historical Commission.   Mr. Harp seconded; the motion carried unanimously.



Mr. Harwood said that the township had received a letter from RCN informing them that their letter of credit had been allowed to expire, and so has been cancelled.  Mr. Harris said he would like to notify RCN and tell them that if a new letter of credit is not issued before December 1st that the township will draw down the letter of credit.    Mr. Harp suggested that whatever the township does should be done in concert with the borough, and asked if there were any drawbacks to Mr. Harris’s suggestion.  Mr. Harris said that the financial security of the township is the issue.  He said that the township needs to talk with RCN, to discuss what the township can expect or not expect from RCN.  Another question would be if the drawing down of the letter of credit would affect RCN’s building out of the system.


Mr. Harp said that the board should decide by the first November board meeting; he is expecting a proposal from RCN.  If none is forthcoming, then he felt that the board should do whatever is necessary to protect the township.


Mr. Harris will talk with TJ Walsh, and will update the board in a report at their next meeting.


Public Comment

Mr. Conway asked why the township would draw down the letter of credit for RCN; Mr. Jirele answered that it would be to protect the financial security of the township.  Mr. Conway said that RCN has had difficult times, and couldn’t the township just let things ride, especially since RCN will provide competition for Comcast.  Mr. Goodnoe said that the township could not let the letter of credit expire.  Mr. Harris said that the board needed to find out RCN’s true intentions, and to work with them to encourage the build out; he agreed that they should not let the letter of credit expire.  Mr. Harp said that there is some feeling that Paul Allen would not let RCN fold, and they need to wait to see what happens.  Mr. Harp recommended making a decision in early November.



Mr. Harwood reported that Applebee’s wished to be heard in November; he was unsure of their issues.



On motion by Mr. Weaver and second by Mr. Harp, the meeting was adjourned at 8:45 pm.   The board went into executive session to discuss issues of litigation and personnel.



Respectfully Submitted by:                                                                                                                                     

                                                                       Leslie. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary          10/26/01