BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
NOVEMBER 14, 2001
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting November 28, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 11/14/01: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 11/14/01 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, November 14, 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: Cable TV Committee Chairman Jim Bowe, Recreation Board Member Anna Marie Zambriczki, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Bob Larason, Township Manager Robert Pellegrino and Township Finance Director Elaine Gibbs.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Sanderlin called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence.
INVOCATION: Given by Reverend Douglas Dwyer of the Addisville Reformed Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino announced that the Sycamore Street Committee will report at the next meeting on 11/28/01.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS:
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
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.
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.
PAYMENT OF BILLS: Mr. Harp moved to pay bills totaling $217,713.60; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe noted that a payment for Reed Smith is included in the bills list, and asked for the total amount of payments to Reed Smith. Mr. Harp responded that the total to date is $47,430. Mr. Goodnoe asked if this is the final payment; Mr. Harp said it is, as far as he knows. Mr. Goodnoe said he will be abstaining on this vote.
Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.
INTERFUND TRANSFERS: Mr. Harp moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $301,825.87; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
HANGING 2002 BUDGET: Mr. Pellegrino hung the 2002 budget on the wall of the meeting room. He said that copies are available for the public in the Township office for 30 days before the Board of Supervisors adopts the budget.
Mr. Harp moved to authorize advertising of the 2002 budget. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said the budget that is before the Board tonight is different from what they have reviewed before. Finance Director Elaine Gibbs said that some salaries have been lowered. Mr. Goodnoe noted that $75,000 has been budgeted for a skate park; he said he has heard estimates for the cost of a skate park ranging from zero to $300,000, and asked where this figure came from. Mr. Harp said that it appeared in the Capital Planning Committee report. Mr. Jirele commented that not every figure in the budget has been precisely worked out. Not all the information is in, and the money may or may not be spent.
Mr. Goodnoe said the skate park project has not been openly discussed. Mr. Jirele responded that it will be discussed in the future. Mr. Harp said that a site has not been identified yet.
Mr. Jirele said that he served as treasurer for the first three years of his term on the Board of Supervisors, and he appreciated all of Mr. Harp’s and Ms Gibb’s work on developing the budget this year.
Mr. Harp’s motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Goodnoe voting “nay”.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, COMMISSIONS:
CABLE TV: Committee Chairman Jim Bowe reported that the Council Rock School Board is now broadcasting on Channel 78. The School Board has created its own cable board and Mr. Bowe will be helping them. Mr. Bowe said that the Cable TV Committee would like to discuss the use of Channel 58 with the Board of Supervisors at a work session.
Mr. Goodnoe asked how the Township can obtain another PEG channel. Mr. Bowe responded that the Township must provide a certain amount of programming. This cam be taped as well as live material.
Mr. Goodnoe asked about a letter from RCN in which the company stated they told the Cable TV Committee in August that they will not be able to meet the terms of their contract with the Township. Mr. Sanderlin responded that the Board of Supervisors will discuss their legal options with Mr. Harris tonight in executive session.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL: Mr. Weaver reported on the Council’s 11/1/01 meeting. The Council heard a presentation from Tom DeJulio of Comcast, and discussed upcoming events in the business community, the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation, the Sycamore Street project, and the impact of the proposed YMCA. The Council’s next meeting will be 12/6/01.
RECREATION BOARD: Member Anna Marie Zambriczki reported on the 11/7/01 meeting of the Board. Park and Recreation Director Bill Wert reported to the Board that he expects the recreation program to end the year at 95% self sufficiency. This year has seen increases in programs offered, participation and revenues. Ms Zambriskie also said she believes a community center will solve the problem of finding space for Township programs. She said that the Newtown Athletic Club has offered space for a skate park. The Recreation Board is also looking at a parcel of land given to the Township by the Newtown Shopping Center.
CAPITAL PLANNING COMMITTEE: Mr. Harp reported that the Committee met on 11/13/01 and heard a presentation from the Chief of the Fire Association. Insurance rates for the Fire Association are going up. The Committee also discussed the use of electronic imaging to replace paper archives.
ELECTION: Mr. Weaver thanked the residents for electing him, and promised to work for the good of all residents.
COMMUNITY CENTER: Mr. Goodnoe said that the report of the Community Center Committee recommended leasing the Acme building, which was done. The second recommendation was to appoint a committee to investigate using the Acme building as a community center.
Mr. Harp said that the Township’s consultants had determined that the Acme building is not viable for recreation purposes. Mr. Goodnoe said the Acme has not been ruled out, and the Board should not ignore the Community Center Committee’s recommendation. Mr. Jirele said it was estimated that it will cost at least $1 million to renovate, and the lease is only for five years. Mr. Goodnoe said the Township may have some options for funding the renovation. Mr. Sanderlin said it seems to him that building a new facility makes more sense financially.
Dick Brown, a volunteer in the Police Department, asked if the Township is planning to close for Martin Luther King Day on 1/20/02. Mr. Sanderlin said he believed that decision was made, but he asked for a motion to make it official.
Mr. Jirele moved to give Township employees a paid holiday to honor Martin Luther King on 1/20/02. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
Mr. Brown also suggested that retired professionals be tapped for committee positions instead of political appointments. Mr. Sanderlin responded that this was a good suggestion. He added that he has always voted to appoint the best applicants for committee positions, regardless of political affiliation. Mr. Jirele asked that anyone interested in serving on Township committees and boards contact the Township office soon, since appointments are made in January.
Mr. Brown asked that police officers be recognized for their difficult and sometimes dangerous work. Mr. Sanderlin responded that a public safety service recognition is planned for the next Board of Supervisors meeting.
Linda Mitchell of the Newtown Athletic Club described the Newtown Community Center Alliance, a group of local businesspersons and residents which has been formed to address the recommendations of the Community Center Committee with solutions that will not negatively impact the taxpayers or business community of Newtown. She asked if a Supervisor is willing to serve as liaison with the Alliance.
Mr. Sanderlin responded that the Board of Supervisors will discuss this request. He stated he is interested in hearing how the ongoing expenses of a community center could be funded.
Nancy Crescenzo spoke in support of using the Acme building as a community center because of its location and accessibility. She said a skate park can be a source of revenue. Ms Crescenzo expressed disappointment at the choices available to voters in the recent elections.
Allen Rogers, a resident and senior citizen, asked what the Board of Supervisors’ role is in the community center issue. He suggested appointing a working group to look into options, and focusing first on the needs to be met rather than the property to be used. He spoke against having programs for teens and for seniors in the same location, and suggested that the Township work closely with the Borough on this issue.
Mr. Sanderlin responded that the Board of Supervisors has a role representing the interests of the taxpayers whenever public funds or property are involved. Mr. Rogers asked why the Township is involved in providing recreation programs. Mr. Sanderlin responded that recreation is one of the purposes for which the Township can collect taxes.
Sue Beasely asked how the public can get a copy of the Community Center Committee report. Mr. Sanderlin said that copies are available at the Township office. Mrs. Beasely asked Mr. Harp why the Community Center Committee was not invited to tour the Doylestown YMCA with him. Mr. Harp answered that he discussed the visit with Mr. Fidler, who said the Committee had decided they were not interested in partnering with the YMCA.
Mrs. Beasley said she does not want the Township to give the Library Tract, which is 21 acres of wetlands, to the YMCA, or partner with a commercial venture. She is also concerned that the Township will lose tax income because the YMCA will be unfair competition for local businesses.
Mr. Sanderlin said that any development of the Library Tract would have to follow ordinance requirements for land development, which would address wetland issues. He said the property is deed restricted for public use, and the YMCA is considered a nonprofit public use.
Elinor Campbell said she believes the Library Tract land should be held as open space and not given away. She would like to see the Acme building used because of its location and because the parking lot is already there. Mr. Sanderlin responded that only 16 of the 21 acres in the tract have a conservation easement; five acres can be developed.
Nancy Crescenzo asked if a report was written on the feasibility of using the Acme building as a community center. Mr. Sanderlin said that the report indicates that the Acme would not be suitable for this use because of exposed environmental hazards which would be very costly to remove.
Robert Williams, a resident of Newtown Grant, asked why the Acme’s environment was hazardous now and not a few months ago. Mr. Sanderlin responded that asbestos was exposed when the Acme was closed and the fixtures removed. Mr. Williams said there are funds available for remedying such situations.
A resident stated that private clubs can provide the kinds of recreation programs being discussed for the community center, and he asked that the center address real needs.
Charles Herring said that the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) has decided to offer sliding scale fees to address the unmet needs of lower income residents for recreation programs. He stated that a pool of funds has been established to be used for scholarships.
Linda Mitchell of the NAC stated that the club has been providing financial assistance informally for a long time.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:
FIRST NIGHT: Mr. Sanderlin reported that a website is being developed for First Night. He expects that the Committee will report at the next Board of Supervisors meeting.
PUBLIC SAFETY RECOGNITION: Mr. Sanderlin announced that the Board will recognize public safety services at the next meeting.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: No items for this section.
MANAGER: Mr. Pellegrino commented that he has been impressed with the competence of the staff. Mr. Sanderlin said he feels that morale is high, and that the Township made the right choice in hiring Mr. Pellegrino.
CONSOLIDATED JMZO - ADOPTION: Mr. Harris provided a copy of an ordinance by which all of the municipalities in the Jointure will adopt the consolidated JMZO. He said it has been advertised for adoption tonight.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to adopt the consolidated version of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
PENSION PLAN ORDINANCE - ELIGIBILITY: Mr. Harris provided copies of an ordinance amending the pension plan so that employees are eligible for participation on their date of hire rather than after one year of service. Mr. Harris asked for authorization to advertise the ordinance.
Mr. Jirele moved to authorize advertisement of the pension plan ordinance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe questioned how this amendment will benefit the Township. Mr. Pellegrino explained that this change will enable the Township to qualify for state aid earlier than at present. Mr. Goodnoe asked if the vesting is pro-rated; Mr. Pellegrino did not recall such a provision in the plan. He said that If the employee leaves before the end of the six month probationary period, they will not appear on the pension records.
Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.
BOROUGH ANNEXATION OF TOWNSHIP LANDS: Mr. Harris provided a 10/25/01 letter from Thomas Walsh which outlines the issues involved in the annexation of the land where the Sunoco station is located. Mr. Harris recommended that the Supervisors discuss the letter with Newtown Borough.
RCN LETTER OF CREDIT: Mr. Harris stated that RCN’s letter of credit will expire soon.
Mr. Harp moved to draw down RCN’s letter of credit before it expires, and to authorize the appropriate officials to take whatever action is necessary to accomplish this. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele asked Mr. Harris to explain the motion. Mr. Harris stated that the letter of credit needs to be drawn down now because the bank has notified the Township that they will not be renewing it.
Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.
TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PLAN: Mr. Larason provided copies of correspondence regarding changes in priorities discussed at the previous Board of Supervisors meeting.
IMPACT FEE UPDATES: Mr. Larason announced that the Traffic Impact Fee Committee will meet on 11/20/01.
LINTON HILL ROAD CULVERT: Mr. Larason announced that this project will be readvertised during the week of 1/28/02.
NEWTOWN CBD CLOSED LOOP SYSTEM: Mr. Larason provided copies of correspondence regarding the results of a project field view meeting for this project.
PROJECT STATUS REPORT: Mr. Larason provided a status report on current projects. He highlighted two items:
ROBERTS RIDGE DETENTION BASIN: Mr. Larason said this project is 80% complete. Allen Fidler has offered to install plantings along his side of the property line. Mr. Harp expressed appreciation to Mr. Fidler, and suggested he contact Russ Strover to develop a plan.
PENNDOT PRIORITIES: Mr. Larason said that PennDOT has been asked to switch the priorities of the Sycamore Street project and the double left turns on the Bypass. He said he has learned that both projects will be funded in 2002.
LAND USE SECTION
NEW BUSINESS: None.
KELLER WILLIAMS PREFERRED REAL ESTATE - SIGN SIZE: Ruth Bruestle, a principal in Keller Williams, and Richard Crawford, a sign consultant, were present to discuss their request for a variance to allow a 62.25 square foot sign in front of the Keller Williams office at 36 Newtown-Richboro Road. The ordinance requires a maximum of 20 square feet. Mr. Harris explained that Keller Williams was asked to discuss their variance request with the Board of Supervisors before appearing before the Zoning Hearing Board. At their last meeting, the Supervisors voted to oppose the request as originally submitted.
Mr. Crawford provided drawings and photographs supporting his statement that a 20 foot square sign will not be legible from 300 feet away. He stated that the Zoning Hearing Board turned down their request for a separate sign, so all the tenants of the building must be listed on the single sign permitted. Mr. Crawford said that a 20 square foot sign will not identify the business adequately, and will create a hazard for drivers searching for the Keller Williams office.
Mr. Sanderlin asked if there will be additional tenants in the building. Ms Bruestle said three more are expected. Mr. Sanderlin said that the ordinance does not require that the names of all tenants be on the sign; it specifies only that there be one sign of no more than 20 square feet.
Mr. Jirele sadi that other businesses along this road seem to be able to identify their businesses within the limits of the ordinance. He wondered if this property might be overdeveloped. He stated he cannot support a variance permitting a sign of this size. Mr. Crawford said that safety is more important than aesthetics, and the ordinance does not permit a safe sign.
Mr. Jirele said that the Township was able to negotiate an acceptable compromise with Arya Oriental Rugs in a similar situation. He said he does not want to set a precedent by not opposing this variance. He commented that the proposed sign is bigger than the sign for the Newtown Shopping Center on the Bypass.
Mr. Sanderlin said there is a difference between identifying and advertising a business. He stated he cannot support this variance request.
A resident stated he does not want to see the variance granted. He asked how other businesses have managed under the ordinance. Ms Bruestle said her business sits back from the road and her customers need help to find it.
Mr. Harris said that it is clear the Board remains opposed to the variance request, and the applicant needs to decide whether to revise the application or go before the Zoning Hearing Board with a request opposed by the Supervisors. Mr. Crawford asked if the Supervisors would oppose a second sign which complied with the ordinance in all other respects. Mr. Sanderlin said they would oppose such a request.
Victoria Bowe, a Township resident, thanked the Supervisors for upholding the ordinance. She stated she felt the proposed sign would be harmful to the appearance of Newtown-Richboro Road. She also said that people choose realtors by referral, not by seeing their signs.
Mr. Crawford agreed to submit a revised sign proposal for the Supervisors’ review.
Ms Bowe stated that she recently has seen two large signs in the window of Blockbuster, which is contrary to what was agreed on. Mr. Pellegrino said he will look into the situation.
SEWER AUTHORITY POLE GARAGE: Mr. Jirele moved to sign the final plan for the Sewer Authority Pole Garage and hold them subject to completion of the non-plan conditions outlined in the Solicitor’s letter of 8/10/01. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
PENNS PRESERVE - RESOURCE PROTECTION LINE - LOT #11: Mr. Jirele moved to sign the revised final plan for lot #11 of Penns Preserve, subject to payment of all appropriate fees. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
LINENS - ALLEN MINOR SUBDIVISION: Mr. Jirele moved to sign the deed of merger and hold pending completion of the non-plan conditions outlined in the Solicitor’s letter of 8/29/01. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
ESCROW RELEASE - JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES: Mr. Goodnoe moved to release $36,785.00 in escrow funds for the Jehovah’s Witnesses project, based on Certificate of Completion #3. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
SKETCH PLAN - NEWTOWN COMMONS SITE ACCESS ROAD: Mr. Larason provided a copy of a 11/13/01 letter regarding this project.
TRAFFIC STUDY SCOPE - NEWTOWN 60 ACRES OFFICE DEVELOPMENT: Mr. Larason provided a copy of a 11/8/01 letter to McMahon Associates regarding this project.
KRAMER SUBDIVISION - KOENIG APPEAL: Mr. Harris provided a copy of the Koenigs’ Land Use Appeal, and said he will inform the Board of further developments.
ACME ASSUMPTION AGREEMENT: Mr. Harris reported that the Township has now assumed the Acme lease.
MANAGER: No items for this section.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Harris said that the plan for the Heston Tract expires on 11/29/01. He recommended that the applicant be asked for an extension.
ROUTINE BUSINESS SECTION
No items of business for this section.
EXECUTIVE SESSION - PERSONNEL AND POTENTIAL LITIGATION: Mr. Harris said there will be no need to reconvene the meeting following discussion of his two items. Supervisor-elect Anne Goren was invited to join the Board for the executive session.
ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Weaver moved to adjourn. Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 11:35 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary
Minutes Approved as submitted _______ as corrected _______
Stephen D. Sanderlin, Chairman
Thomas Jirele, Vice Chairman
Scott R. Harp, Secretary/Treasurer
Raymond Goodnoe, Member
Richard Weaver, Member