NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

OCTOBER 24, 2001


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting November 14, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 10/24/01:  Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 10/24/01 regular meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, October 24, 2001, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Stephen Sanderlin, Vice Chairman Tom Jirele, Secretary/Treasurer Scott Harp, Member Raymond Goodnoe and Member Richard Weaver. Also present were: Planning Commission Vice Chairman Allen Fidler, Recreation Board Chairman Bernie Bires, Cable TV Committee Chairman Jim Bowe, Township Solicitor David Sander, Township Engineer Bob Larason, Township Manager Robert Pellegrino, Public Works and Codes Department Director 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 Reverend Jones of the Newtown Church.  This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. 

SPECIAL ACTIONS:

PROCLAMATION - BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE:  Mr. Sanderlin presented a proclamation honoring the work of individuals and businesses on the Business Development Council on the recently completed new residents’ packets.  These included: Chandler Hall, D’Youville Manor, Pickering Manor and Council Rock Senior Citizen Center; Belinda Buras, Hal Roberts, Tim Hanlon, Teena Hanlon, Tom Harwood, Lisa Kruse, Danny Kruse, Leslie Dunleavy, Sarah Yin, Katie Chin, Donna Lyons, Barbara Hains, Sean Holloway, Karen Brask, Bob Jenkins, Steve Sanderlin, Lou Levine and Ed Rodler. 

COMMENDATION - THOMAS HARWOOD:  Mr. Sanderlin presented a commendation to Mr. Harwood, Director of Public Works and the Codes Department, for his service this year as Interim Township Manager.  Mr. Sanderlin also gave Mr. Harwood a watercolor picture of the old schoolhouse that was converted into the Codes Department office.

Mr. Harwood thanked the Board of Supervisors for their confidence in him.  He also thanked fellow staff members, who supported him during his service as Interim Manager.

ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:  Mr. Pellegrino announced that there will be a report from the Recreation Board under Item #8, and the applicant for the Certificate of Appropriateness listed under HARB is Carol Faust Interior Design.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS:

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

REGULAR MEETING OF 10/10/01:  Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 10/10/01 regular meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

BILLS LIST: 

PAYMENT OF BILLS:   Mr. Harp moved to pay bills totaling $214,697.99; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

INTERFUND TRANSFERS:  Mr. Harp moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $9,012.85; the motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

TREASURER’S REPORT: 

CERTIFICATES OF DEPOSIT - REINVESTMENT:  Mr. Harp moved to direct the Finance Director to reinvest the following certificates of deposit for one year at 3% at Commerce Bank:

·         Street Light Capital Project                       $217,000.00

·         General Fund                                            546,000.00

·         Highway Aid                                              382,000.00 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS: 

RECREATION BOARD:  Bernie Bires, Chairman of the Recreation Board, reported on their most recent meeting on 10/3/01.  Jim Worthington of the Newtown Athletic Center spoke to the Board and offered to contribute funds to a community center.  He also offered a potential site for a skatepark.  Mr. Wert reported that program participation and revenue are above last year’s levels, and the programs are 106% self sufficient.  The Board discussed the possibility of football and soccer leagues. 

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD:  

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS - CAROL FAUST:  Mr. Jirele moved to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness for Carol Faust regarding 9 Cambridge Lane, in accordance with the HARB recommendation.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.

CABLE TV COMMITTEE:  Jim Bowe, Chairman of the Committee, reported that their next meeting will be tomorrow night, 10/25/01 at Bucks County Community College.  The Committee is working on getting BCCC and the School District on Channel 78.  Mr. Bowe said he received a 24 page response from RCN today to the Township’s inquiry about RCN’s contractual obligations.  The Committee is also looking for some interns or volunteers to prepare a video about the Ambulance Squad.  Mr. Harp said he encountered the president of RCN last week and spoke to him briefly about the contract with the Township, which may have prompted the response. 

Mr. Goodnoe asked if RCN will meet their obligation to have the system up and running by December 2002.  Mr. Bowe said it appears they will not, and suggested that some negotiation may be called for since there are not many other options for bringing cable TV competition to Newtown.  Mr. Jirele noted that RCN’s letter of credit expires in mid December. 

PLANNING COMMISSION:  Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, welcomed Mr. Pellegrino to the Township and reported on the Commission’s 10/16/01 meeting.  The Commission reviewed two Zoning Hearing Board applications and recommended that the Board oppose them because of the excessive relief sought.  They also reviewed the final plan for Tyrol’s Sycamore and recommended approval.  A conditional use application for the McLaughlin Tract was removed from the agenda by the applicant.  

The Commission referred a letter regarding forestry uses to the Solicitor, and recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve an addendum to the draft JMZO prepared by the Heritage Conservancy.  The Commission will not meet on 11/6/01 and 1/1/02.

COMMENTS ON COMMUNITY CENTER:  Mr. Fidler said that Mr. Briscoe of the Lower Bucks YMCA made statements at the last Board of Supervisors meeting which gave the impression that Mr. Fidler endorsed the idea of a YMCA being established in the Newtown area to serve as a community center.  Mr. Fidler said that the Community Center Committee, which he chaired, recommended not partnering with the YMCA, and expressed its belief that a community center should not compete with existing businesses.  Mr. Fidler said he fully supports these recommendations.  He said he encouraged the YMCA only in their plans to do a market study of the Newtown area.  He suggested that the Board of Supervisors ask the YMCA the following questions: 

·         Where are the funds coming from for the market study?

·         Is the YMCA considering partnering with Northampton Township?

·         Where has successful partnering occurred between the YMCA and a municipality that has an existing recreation department?

·         If a township says no to an aquatics/fitness center, will the YMCA still seek to partner with that township?

·         Who initiated the request for a capital campaign timeline, which was ready for distribution on 9/14/01?

PARK AND OPEN SPACE COMMITTEE:  Mr. Harp reported that the Committee met on 10/22/01.  Member Sue Sutton has collected $695.71 In donations for the purchase of trees for Roberts Ridge Park.  Russ Strover is working on another grant proposal for more trees.

SWAMP ROAD COMMITTEE:  Mr. Jirele reported that the Committee made a presentation to the public on 10/19/01, and provided copies of the minutes.  He said that the final report from Urban Engineers will be made available to the public. 

Mr. Sanderlin said that the Board of Supervisors needs to make a decision about adding the improvements to Swamp Road to the Township’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).   He stated that Urban Engineers recommended adding to the TIP a funding request for the design of improvements to the Swamp Road corridor. 

Richard Tonge, a Township resident, displayed a map of quarry truck routes which showed the access points on Swamp Road and Stoopville Road.  He noted that there are far fewer access points on Swamp Road, and that Swamp Road is a shorter route to I-95 for the trucks.  Mr. Tonge said that Newtown Grant residents represent about 30% of Township residents.  On their behalf he asked the Board of Supervisors to drop the proposal for widening Stoopville Road from the TIP, and to replace it with the improvements to Swamp Road.  Mr. Tonge distributed photographs of the weight-restricted culvert on Swamp Road to the Supervisors. 

Marcy Conti, a resident of Wrightstown, asked the Board of Supervisors to vote tonight regarding placing the improvements to Swamp Road on the TIP list.  She said that Urban Engineers found severe problems with the road.

Jim Bowe, a resident of Tyler Walk, said that everyone agrees that Swamp Road has major problems.  He asked that improvements be made to Swamp Road before the weight-restricted culvert is repaired.  He also asked that the Township communicate to PennDOT regarding the need to pay attention to environmental effects of heavy traffic on Swamp Road, such as noise and the impact on nearby trees and plants.

Madeline Faust, a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee, asked that improvements be done before the culvert is repaired.  She also asked that sound walls on the Bypass be considered, in view of the increased traffic that the culvert repair will bring.  She suggested that the improvements to Swamp Road be added to the TIP after the public has seen the final report.  She also stated that the photographs of the Swamp Road culvert were deceptively alarmist.

Another resident asked about problems with the intersection of Durham Road and the entrance to the Newtown Shopping Center.  Mr. Larason responded that PennDOT is addressing these problems.  The resident also expressed her disappointment about the plan to demolish the St. Adrews rectory.  She also said that some trucks are parking overnight at the Shopping Center.  Mr. Sanderlin asked Mr. Pellegrino to look into this allegation. 

Marcy Conti said that Urban Engineers suggested that the request for funds for designing improvements to Swamp Road could be a “placeholder” that would not commit the Township to any specific improvements at this time. 

Karen D’Aprile of Newtown Grant asked that all roads in the Township be made safe.

Bill Peterson, a resident of Swamp Road for 30 years, said there is already too much truck traffic on Swamp Road. 

Christine Kennedy of Newtown Grant said the majority of trucks have been using Stoopville Road, and now it is Swamp Road’s turn. 

Mr. Sanderlin said he supports the idea of making improvements to Swamp Road before the culvert is repaired.  He noted that the culvert is not located in Newtown Township and is therefore not on the Township’s TIP. 

Mr. Jirele said he sees this as a safety issue, not a political issue.  He said that the Swamp Road Citizen Advisory Committee assumed that the culvert will be repaired.  Mr. Jirele stated that he believed a request for funding of the design phase should be added to the TIP as an additional #1 priority with the Stoopville Road work. 

Mr. Weaver said he agrees with Mr. Sanderlin’s and Mr. Jirele’s statements.

Mr. Goodnoe said he favored putting the Swamp Road improvements on the TIP, but not removing the Stoopville Road work.

Mr. Larason suggested that the Board of Supervisors could leave the Stoopville Road work as #1 on the TIP, and make the Swamp Road improvements #1 on a joint TIP with Wrightstown Township, since the project will involve both Townships. 

Frank Mendicino of Tyler Walk stated this is a regional traffic issue, and residents should not be pitted against each other.  He suggested that people drive Swamp Road, and try to enter it from his development, to see how bad the traffic is there. 

Mr. Jirele moved to send a letter to PennDOT asking for funding to design safety improvements to the Swamp Road corridor and noise abatement measures on the Bypass as a shared #1 priority on the TIP list.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Sanderlin asked what relationship this will have to Wrightstown’s TIP.  Mr. Larason suggested that a letter be sent to the Bucks County Planning Commission (BCPC) regarding the Swamp Road request, with a copy to PennDOT, and that Newtown and Wrightstown Townships make a joint presentation of this item to the BCPC. 

Mr. Jirele amended his motion in accordance with Mr. Larason’s suggestion, and Mr. Goodnoe amended his second.

Chet Zaremba, a Township resident, asked that the motion include noise abatement measures on Stoopville Road as well.  Mr. Jirele said that it there is little room for noise abatement structures on a two lane highway. 

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously. 

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS:

MAKING A DIFFERENCE:  Mr. Goodnoe reported that the fourth annual Making A Difference seminar was held on 10/20/01.  He noted that there are 46 homeowners associations in the Township, and they involve about 85% of Township residents.  Mr. Goodnoe said that homeowners associations have many complex responsibilities, and these seminars have helped officers to carry them out properly.  At the most recent seminar, participants heard presentations from Chief Duffy, Terry Clemons and an insurance expert.  They also reviewed the Homeowners Association manual, which was put together in 1999.  Mr. Goodnoe thanked the presenters and participants for their contributions to the seminars.

EXCHANGE CLUB:  Mr. Harp announced that the Exchange Club will hold its annual Pancake Day on 11/4/01.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS:

A resident stated he is in favor of the YMCA coming to the Township because of its international involvement.  He asked other residents to have an open mind.

Gail Laughlin, a former member of the Board of Supervisors as well as the Zoning Hearing Board, announced that George Bush died recently.  She said that Mr. Bush was a former Newtown Township Solicitor, and had done a great deal of work on farmland preservation in Bucks County.

Peter Brahms, a Township taxpayer, said that the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) has invested in the Newtown community, and has been a responsible and successful member of the business community.  He asked the Supervisors not to donate land to a nonprofit corporation and pass up the tax revenue.  He said the NAC has decided not to build its proposed ice rink because the nonprofit community center in Northampton Township will be building one.  Mr. Brahms suggested that the Township fund an independent market study, make land available, and ask for bids on the proposed community center.

Doug Stanley, an NAC staff member, said that the Community Center Committee recommended that the Township not partner with the YMCA.  He said the YMCA would be unfair competition for existing private clubs in the area because they do not pay taxes and they can solicit donations as a charitable organization.

Mr. Sanderlin said the Township is studying alternatives, and asked that the public not overreact.  He stated that no money has been spent and no decisions have been made.

Sharon Kelly, owner of the Yoga and Pilates Studio, said the YMCA, as well as the Northampton community center, threaten free enterprise in the area.  She stated that a community center that competes with local businesses goes beyond the essential functions of government.

Mr. Sanderlin observed that publicly funded recreation is a gray area and can be construed as competition.  He said it is not a core government activity, like public service.

Robert Greenberg, the owner of a local gym, asked that there be a level playing field in local recreation programs.  He reminded the Supervisors that the YMCA representative had misled them about Mr. Fidler’s support.

Ron Seidman, owner of a child care facility, also stated the YMCA would be an unfair competitor.  He stated that he also runs facilities in Doylestown and Fairless Hills, and the YMCA competes with his businesses there.  He stated that the YMCA programs are cheaper and of lower quality.

Ed McNeill, owner of a publishing company, stated the YMCA is a more appropriate resource in a less affluent community than Newtown.

Stan McCloskey, a member of the Community Center Committee, stated their report recommended against partnership with the YMCA.  He asked why several Supervisors visited the Central Bucks YMCA in Doylestown without inviting the Committee.  Mr. Harp responded that it was an informal visit at the invitation of a member of the Doylestown Township Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Goodnoe stated he supports not bringing in competition to provide a community center.  He said that the YMCA’s presentation at the 10/10/01 meeting should have been scheduled on the agenda.

Mr. Jirele said he is interested in looking at all options.  He stated that a community center will cost money.  He also said that there are unmet recreation needs in the Township.

Nancy Benner and Diane Calkins said that the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) has made substantial donations to charitable organizations in the community.

Fred Greenberg, attorney for NAC, suggested that the Township could partner with some of the private businesses in the community.  He referred to the Purely Public Charity Act and said it supports private businesses competing with YMCAs.  Mr. Greenberg stated that the YMCA’s tax exempt status is being challenged in some municipalities because their health and fitness programs are virtually identical with those of private businesses. 

Linda Mitchell, a NAC staff person, distributed some materials on the NAC to the Supervisors.  She suggested that the NAC could be a community center. 

Donald Foy, another NAC employee, distributed materials that he said showed that the six private clubs within seven miles of the Doylestown YMCA are suffering from the competition.  He stated that there are 16 private athletic clubs within seven miles of Newtown, and 32% of Township residents are members of the three major clubs. 

Nancy Crecenzo, a Township resident, said she spoke at an earlier Board of Supervisors meeting about the need for a skatepark.  She stated she heard that $75,000 in Township funds has been budgeted for a skatepark, and she does not want that money going to the YMCA.  She also asked that the Supervisors look into changing how the Township is represented on the Council Rock School Board.

David Pinchuck, a business owner operating within the NAC, said that bringing the YMCA into the Township would be an unfair business practice.  He asked where are all the unserved people in the Township. 

Doug Terry, a Newtown business owner and member of the Business Development Council, also stated he felt the YMCA would be unfair competition.  

Kim Kleingunther, a resident of Stoopville Road and a NAC employee, said the Township has won awards in the past for partnering with the private sector.  She suggested that the Township form a committee to study the recreation needs of the Township, and include representatives of private athletic clubs on the committee.

Gary Pagliari, an employee of NAC, stated he is willing to serve on such a committee.  Several other people also stated their willingness to serve on the proposed committee.

Jim Worthington, owner of NAC, said he read the Community Center Committee report.  He said the report called for about 20,000 square feet of space in which to have activities like a teen center and a place for seniors to gather, and not an athletic facility.  Mr. Worthington stated he is willing to contribute towards a community center and to help the Township address unmet needs.

Victoria Bowe, a Township resident, stated she is a member of the NAC and the YMCA.  She said that existing facilities do not meet all recreation needs in the Newtown area, and mentioned high prices and waiting lists for certain recreation programs, child care and summer camps.  She stated that from a consumer’s viewpoint there is room for everyone.

Mr. Harp thanked all those who commented on this subject.  He stated that the Board of Supervisors valued the Community Center Committee’s report, but wanted to explore all their options.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:

CHAIRMAN:

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  Mr. Sanderlin noted that the Board of Supervisors met in executive session on 10/19/01 for matters of land acquisition. 

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS:  No items for this section. 

MANAGER: 

ACME LEASE ASSUMPTION AGREEMENT:  Mr. Goodnoe moved to affirm the lease agreement with Acme negotiated by the Solicitor.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Sanderlin stated that the Township has had the building inspected and appraised, the lease payments are very low, and the site is an important one to keep available for Township use.

Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.

SOLICITOR:  No items for this section. 

ENGINEER:  No items for this section.   

LAND USE SECTION 

NEW BUSINESS: 

FINAL PLAN - TYROL’S SYCAMORE - TMP# 29-12-20:  Attorney Stephen Needles and Frank Tyrol were present to discuss the plan to expand an existing building to create 6,202 square feet of D-1 Office Use in the TC District.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the final plan dated 7/19/01 for Tyrol’s Sycamore, subject to compliance with the Carroll Engineering letter of 10/11/01, the Heritage Conservancy letter of 10/3/01 and the Bucks County Planning Commission letter of 9/13/01.  Approval is also contingent on all conditions of preliminary plan approval, and all conditions set in the Zoning Hearing Board decision of 7/19/01 and the conditional use approval of 7/25/01.  The applicant will pay all costs associated with the review.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Jirele noted that the Board of Supervisors has reviewed this plan several times, as has the HARB.

Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.  

OLD BUSINESS:  None.  

OTHER ACTIONS: 

ENGINEER: 

CORRESPONDENCE:  Mr. Larason provided copies of recent correspondence regarding the Platt Minor Subdivision, Tyrol’s Sycamore and the Heston Tract Subdivision.

PLATT MINOR SUBDIVISION:  Mr. Goodnoe moved to sign the final linens for the subdivision.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

Mr. Sander stated that the Township needs to agree to revest the property in Mr. Platt’s name.

Mr. Jirele moved to authorize the Manager to sign an agreement revesting the property in Mr. Platt’s name.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously. 

ESCROW RELEASE - COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION UNDERWRITERS:  Mr. Goodnoe moved to release $265,324.75 in escrow funds for the Community Association Underwriters project, based on Certificate of Completion #2.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

SOLICITOR: 

ZONING HEARING BOARD MEETING:  Mr. Sander reviewed the three applications scheduled before the Zoning Hearing Board’s 11/24/01. 

Mr. Jirele noted that the Keller Williams application sought a 72 square foot sign where a 20 square foot sign is permitted. 

Mr. Jirele moved to direct the Solicitor to oppose this application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.

Mr. Sander suggested that the Supervisors take an alternative approach that has been successful in similar situations.  The Solicitor will contact the applicant and ask them to discuss their application with the Supervisors before going to the Zoning Hearing Board.  If this is not successful, the Solicitor will attend the hearing and oppose the application. 

Mr. Jirele and Mr. Goodnoe agreed to the approach recommended by Mr. Sander.

MANAGER:  No items for this section. 

PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  Mr. Sander said that there were no plan expirations to be addressed. 

 

ROUTINE BUSINESS SECTION 

No items for this section. 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  Mr. Sanderlin said there will be an executive session for personnel and real estate purchase following adjournment of the meeting. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Mr. Harp moved to adjourn.  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 12:30 AM on 10/25/01.

 

 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