Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

JANUARY 21, 2002 

MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 13, 2002. WORK SESSION OF 1/21/02:  Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the work session of 1/21/02.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele. 

Members Present:         Scott R. Harp, Chairman; Tom Jirele, Vice Chairman; Richard Weaver, Treasurer; Anne Goren, Secretary; Steve Harris, Solicitor; Bob Pellegrino, Township Manager; Gerald  Smith, Engineer.  

Call to Order:            Chairman Harp called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM.   

Newtown Ambulance Squad – Preemption Program

Colleen Murphy Campbell, Chief of Operations, requested $5250.00 ($750 per vehicle) for preemption equipment for their ambulances.   She said that the Squad is raising funds through memberships, and that they have not yet heard from the borough regarding their contribution.  Police and emergency services vehicles have preemption equipment already. 

Mr. Weaver moved to give $3750 to the Ambulance Squad for preemption equipment.  Ms. Goren seconded; the motion carried unanimously.  Mr. Harp asked Ms. Campbell to keep the board apprised. 

Fire Association – Fire Tax

Dennis Forsyth and Warren Dallas were present.  Mr. Forsyth requested BOS support for an increase in millage, and said that the Fire Association needs at least ½ mil, perhaps one.  Mr. Forsyth said that the Fire Association has spent $547,000 since 1996; Mr. Forsyth distributed a handout detailing the expenditures.  Mr. Forsyth explained that they do not have the reserve they had before, which is needed for supplemental income for families of injured firemen.  He suggested that the BOS ask for an increase of 2 mils, bringing the total millage to 5, which would give the supervisors the flexibility to use the additional income for Emergency Services.  Mr. Harris noted that the millage could not increase by more than 2 mils by law. 

Ms. Goren noted that in each option presented the income figure was different; Mr. Dallas explained that a percentage was used to estimate income.  Ms. Goren asked why other municipalities paid a lower amount.  Mr. Forsyth explained that the borough contributes 3 mils, but they pay workman’s compensation for all the volunteer firemen; Upper Makefield contributes 2% of the fire tax; and there is a fixed contract with Middletown Township for $7000.  Mr. Forsyth also noted that the lion’s share of the business is in Newtown Township.  

Ms. Goren asked if there was any way for the township to own the equipment or save some money; Mr. Forsyth said that the Fire Association has been getting good return on the sale of their older trucks.  Mr. Pellegrino said that the question to the public on the ballot could be to allow a 2 mil increase.  There was discussion of the increase in millage to be requested on the referendum.  Mr. Jirele said the township should just ask for what is needed; 2 mils is a 20% increase.  Mr. Jirele said he would support a 1 mil referendum. 

Mr. Jirele moved to authorize the solicitor to draft a resolution to allow the fire tax to be increased to 4 mils.  Ms. Goren seconded; the motion carried unanimously.  Mr. Harris will present the draft to the board at their first meeting in February. 

Mr. Harp asked for increased communication with the Fire Association; Mr. Pellegrino said he has set up quarterly meetings with the Fire Association. 

Mission Statement – Business Development Council

Mr. Weaver presented a proposed draft of a mission statement.  Ms. Goren suggested the board ask the BDC for assistance in attracting businesses to the LI District, and asked Mr. Weaver to speak to the BDC concerning this issue.  Mr. Weaver will present the draft of the mission statement to the BDC at their next meeting. 

Mr. Jirele said that board discussion of recommendations from township boards should take place after the supervisors have had a chance to research and review relevant information.  Ms. Crescenzo asked the reason for the change in the mission statement.  Mr. Jirele explained that the supervisors define the mission for all township boards and committees.  Mr. Harp said that this proposal comes out of discussion and overview of the council’s history. 

Police Department – Chief Duffy

K9 Unit

Chief Duffy, Kim Hartman, Christopher Bush and Mark Pentz were present.  Chief Duffy said that some officers have approached him requesting the reactivation of the K9 Unit.  He feels that this is even more important as a result of the security issues that have arisen over the last six months.  He said that recently there was a need for a bomb dog at Council Rock High School, and that they had to wait for such a dog to come from Montgomery County.  There is a great demand for bomb dogs and there is presently only one bomb dog in Bucks County.  The Chief emphasized that they are just requesting the reactivation of the K9 Unit. 

Chief Duffy said that two officers have bought and begun training dogs at their own expense.  Free training is available from the New Jersey State Police.  The chief noted that the dogs are also a good safety factor for the officers, and that they would be useful in drug searches, bomb scare situations, the execution of search warrants, as well as for tracking of and searching for missing persons.  Mr. Harp said that the search capability would be important, especially with the senior citizen centers in the township. 

Chief Duffy said that the estimated cost for two dogs annually would be $2500, and would cover veterinarian fees, cost of food and other needs.  Mr. Pentz said that he has never charged the township for time spent walking, going to the vet, or other time spent with his dog; he has only requested reimbursement just for costs.  Detective Bush said that the intent was to train the dogs as much as possible on the job, and that it was very rare for overtime to be requested by the K9 Unit.  Mr. Harris noted that overtime could not be waived in writing; Mr. Hartman said that the officers would not be asking for overtime. 

Chief Duffy said that the New Jersey State Police have reserved two slots in their training program for the township.  The dogs will be trained in Trenton eight hours a day for a period of 20 weeks, and attending officers could be called back if needed.  The training is presently free, but would probably cost in the future.  Mr. Harp recommended that the board get a detailed cost analysis for final review; Chief Duffy said that the deadline for a commitment to the training was February 6th.  A detailed cost analysis would be ready by Wednesday for consideration by the board at their January 23, 2002 meeting.  Chief Duffy said that the $2500 estimated cost might be a little high, and that there would be no additional staffing needs. 

Detective Bush explained the uses of the dogs to the detective unit.  As a detective he performs many tasks that a patrolman would be doing including tracking and crime scene investigation.  The dogs could assist detectives with the execution of search warrants, in drug searches, and the prompt tracking of burglars and other tracking situations. 

Ms. Crescenzo said that Council Rock School District has approved the use of drug dogs in schools.  Chief Duffy said that the school district has not approached him, and asked her to request them to contact him regarding drug dogs.  Ms. Crescenzo said she would relate his request to the school board. 

Mr. Jirele asked if the chief had considered medical insurance for the dogs; Mr. Pentz said he thought the township had insured the dogs in the past and that the cost was not substantial.  Mr. Harp asked Mr. Pellegrino to investigate the cost for the medical insurance for the board meeting Wednesday. 

Police Athletic League

Chief Duffy said that he, Mr. Hartman and Mr. Harp had gone to Philadelphia to view their program.  The chief said he had gone with a preconceived notion, but was impressed by the program. He has developed some bylaws for a program in Newtown.  Mr. Scott said the program gives officers the opportunity to interact with kids, and the Chief assured the board that it would not intrude on the wonderful programs of the Park & Recreation Department.  Mr. Harp and Chief Duffy said that the police department is already involved with some of the programs a P.A.L. might sponsor, such as sponsoring Little League, and that the program could give the township access to grant money for activities as well as help with the skate park.  P.A.L. is a volunteer program. 

Chief Duffy suggested that a committee be formed to discuss and organize a P.A.L., and to assess interest in the program among officers.  He said that the board could appoint a few people like Bill Wert and citizens that work with children.  Mr. Harp said there should be further investigation about the cost of the program to the township. 


Development Projects

Demolition Permit – Newtown Rental

Larry Fink from the Newtown Historical Commission was present to discuss the farmhouse on the Newtown Rental property.  Mr. Fink said they have done a site visit.  They reviewed the structural engineer’s report and plan to have an independent structural engineer take a look.  The commission feels that the farmhouse is important and should be preserved; it was built in the mid-late 18th century. 

Mr. Jirele thought that at the time of the Rental Center hearing before the Zoning Hearing Board the owner had presented that he would restore the house.  Mr. Harris said he would like to re-read the ZHB decision, and said that if the representation was material then the township would want to enforce it. 

Mr. Jirele moved to authorize himself, Mr. Harris and the Newtown Historical Commission to work with the owner in an attempt to preserve the farmhouse and ease the financial burden of restoration to the owner, and to report back to the board.  Mr. Weaver seconded; the motion carried unanimously. 

Heston Land Development

Ed Murphy, Jeff Frantz and Mike Palmer were present.  Mr. Murphy presented a preliminary subdivision plan, which incorporated suggestions by the board at their last meeting.  Adjustments made include:

§         Plans were revised so that alluvial soils areas would be preserved.

§         Open space was increased 3.5 acres, to 17 acres.  The 50’ buffer is to be landscaped.

§         Herman’s Pond would be located on open space, to be maintained by the homeowners association.

§         The township could choose active open space or fee in lieu of.  The applicable fee is $1575 per lot, totaling $119,025.  If a fee in lieu were paid, 1.65 acres would have to be provided.

§         On the plan two streetlights are located at the points of access, but two additional streetlights could be added, if the supervisors wish.

§         A 4’ concrete sidewalk was suggested by the engineers instead of macadam, to minimize maintenance.

§         The fire marshal has suggested an additional fire hydrant in a location where no public water is located.  Mr. Murphy said they feel coverage is adequate; Newtown Artesian is satisfied with the developer’s plan. 

The board discussed the items above.  Consensus of the board was:

§         To accept fee in lieu of open space.

§         To add two streetlights, one at each point where the road curves.

§         To approve a concrete sidewalk to run on the entire front to the property line.  Any connection to the trail system should come later, as future development might require it to be removed later. 

Mr. Murphy said that they propose to preserve the barn on Lot 3, and would need a variance of the setback.  Mr. Fink noted that Toll Brothers had come to the Historical Commission at the very beginning of the project, and the Commission had told them which buildings to save.  He said Toll Brothers has done everything the Commission requested.  He noted that relocating historical buildings is not recommended by the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission, the Heritage Conservancy, the Joint Historic Commission, and their policies.   Mr. Fink said his preference would to keep the house in its present location; his second choice would be to move the house and preferably keep it on the Heston property.   He would not object to saving the farmhouse and moving it to another suitable location. 

Mr. Murphy said that Mr. Heston doesn’t want the barn, which dates pre-1876.  Warwick Township, as well as a few private concerns, has expressed interest in the barn.  Mr. Murphy felt it would be difficult to keep the barn where it now stands, but he was OK with putting the barn on lot 3.   Mr. Jirele said he was more concerned with the preservation of the log house on the McLaughlin Tract.  Mr. Murphy said they are looking at putting the log house on a separate lot, and will be discussing this with the supervisors in the future. 

Ms. Crescenzo asked about industrial versus residential use of the Heston Property.  Mr. Jirele said that the Toll plan abides by the ordinance, and Mr. Harris noted that single family dwellings are a permitted use in the OR district.  Mr. Harris said that the township is required to approve land development plans that comply with the zoning ordinance.  Ms. Crescenzo asked about the floodplain issue on the property; Mr. Harris said that the floodplain is protected since alluvial soils are not being developed. 

Mr. Leck asked about the location of other office research districts, and the supervisors reviewed the zoning map.  Mr. Leck expressed his concern about adequate area in the township for office research development and the increase in demand for services and school space that results from residential development.  He said that the OR district should be developed industrial to help tax revenue income. 

Mr. Murphy said that the plans would be re-engineered and brought back to the board in a month at the earliest.  Mr. Fink said he would be speaking with Mr. Murphy, and would be agreeable to moving the barn further back off the road. 

Mr. Sterling said there is a swale that runs along his property adjacent to the Heston Development, and Mr. Murphy confirmed that it would be deed restricted. 

Tyrol Final Plan – Clarification on 5 parking spaces

Don Marshall and Frank Tyrol were present.  Mr. Marshall said that when the project on Sycamore Street was developed, there was a reduction in parking and a fee in lieu.  The Planning Commission has subsequently requested additional parking, and they have planned to add four spaces.  Mr. Marshall said they would like to pay the fee in lieu for one additional space instead of five, since they have added four parking spaces. 

Ms. Goren moved to amend the condition of the final plan approval to reduce the fee in lieu of from five parking spaces to one parking space, at $1500 per space, since they are adding four spaces.  Mr. Harp seconded; the motion carried unanimously.  Mr. Tyrol agreed to add the additional parking spaces if required in the future by the township. 

Newtown Investors L.P. Project – 219 N. Sycamore Street

Mr. Mink and Mr. Marshall were present.  Mr. Mink has purchased the building for a dental office.  The modified development plan was approved, with parking proposed with 8 spaces with fee in lieu of paid at $3000 per space.  It has been discovered that a retaining wall will be required along the creek and a permit is needed from the Department of Environmental Resources.  They are requesting a fee in lieu of for the three additional spaces, whose location will be taken up by the required retaining wall.  There are 28 spaces on the site for exclusive use of the dental office.  With only two dentists present at a time, twelve treatment rooms and 5-6 office staff, it is unlikely that all of the existing spaces would be filled.  Mr. Marshall said that there is a verbal agreement with the restaurant that the neighboring restaurant can use the parking lot on nights and weekends, outside of the dental office operating hours.  The board asked Mr. Mink to keep the parking in green; they could be required later if the need changes with any change in use of the property. 

Mr. Jirele moved to amend the final plan approval for Newtown Investors L.P. Project to require three parking spaces to be held in reserve, to be added if and when required by the township.  Mr. Weaver seconded; the motion carried unanimously. 

Cable TV Committee – Channel 58 Programming

James Bowe was present.  He distributed an informational handout for the board to review.  He said that the committee member list on the web required a change.  He said that there is a reciprocal agreement with Upper Makefield and Wrightstown to broadcast Newtown BOS meetings on their cable channels, and that they would like a formal letter of request from the supervisors to run Newtown Township BOS meetings on their channels.  Mr. Harp directed Mr. Harris to draft a letter for him to sign. 

Mr. Bowe reviewed the committee’s goals for 2002, which included renaming the committee to indicate a change in the scope of the committee to address telecommunications issues, not just cable TV.  Mr. Harris suggested that the committee should redefine its scope and purpose as well as change its name.  Mr. Bowe will contact Judy Setar for a copy of the ordinance concerning the committee.  Mr. Bowe said he would also like to attend meetings of the Joint Cable TV Advisory Board to keep informed.  Mr. Bowe said that some municipalities have franchise fees for Internet access; Mr. Pellegrino will investigate. 

Mr. Bowe said that two top goals of the committee are to increase the quantity and quality of content on PEG channels, and to realign channels and bring local universities online.  Ms. Goren asked about the costs associated with these goals; Mr. Bowe said he had no cost in mind.  Ms. Goren suggested that perhaps corporations could donate funds.  

Mr. Bowe noted ideas for encouraging cable competition in his packet that were discussed by the committee, and asked for BOS feedback.  Mr. Bowe said that presently there are four feeds to our PEG channels:  Channel 23 feeds from the township building, Channel 58 from Wrightstown (Upper Makefield video system is coming online), and two feeds are from BCCC and school district locations.  Mr. Harris suggested that other meetings could be fed from the township building meeting room, and he and Mr. Bowe agreed that a lesser quality than that of the supervisor meeting broadcasts would be acceptable. 

The board discussed various programming possibilities, including the development of programs by the township.  Mr. Bowe will meet with Toby Mochel, Directory of Technology for the school district, next week.  Mr. Bowe said he would like to investigate the showing of other township meetings on the cable channel; Mr. Harris suggested that meetings of the municipalities that make up the jointure and the school district might be of interest. 

Mr. Bowe has a meeting scheduled with Steve Rabbit from Comcast, and will ask about getting the state C-Span channel for Newtown, and about requirements for getting additional PEG channels.   Mr. Harp asked about the possibility of Internet capability in the Industrial Commons; Doug Terry will work with Mr. Bowe and Comcast. 

Conditional Use Procedures

Mr. Harris noted that the Business Development Council had worked on streamlining these procedures in the past.  He said he thought that the township has too many conditional uses, and said that concerns have been raised about whether the current procedure follows the Municipalities Planning Code.  He said that Upper Makefield would like to simplify the procedures and Wrightstown is not adverse to a review.  Wrightstown doesn’t want conditional uses to become special exceptions.  

Mr. Harris said it would be a good idea to get together a committee to study and simplify the procedure.  Mr. Jirele suggested that the Joint Planning Commission could study the issue; Mr. Harp suggested that they be given a finite period of time to consider the matter.  It was suggested that the supervisors ask for a recommendation from the Joint Planning Commission by May, after 90 days.  Mr. Terry suggested that the committee include business people for input from their perspective.  As liaison to the Business Development Council, Mr. Weaver could speak to the council’s members for input. 

Goals for 2002

Mr. Harp said he would like to schedule an hour meeting to discuss this issue exclusively.  A tentative date was set for Thursday, January 31, 2002 at 8:00 AM in the lower level meeting room.  Mr. Harp will check the date with Mr. Goodnoe.  Ms. Dunleavy will serve as recording secretary for the meeting. 

Ms. Crescenzo asked if there would be opportunity for public input regarding the township’s goals.  Mr. Jirele said that the January 31st meeting is a public one, and that he would discuss the results of the meeting at a regular BOS meeting.  He said that this topic would be discussed a number of times, and that there would be plenty of time for public input. 

Municipal Expansion Project

Mr. Harp said that the board needs to give direction to Mr. Pellegrino.  Mr. Pellegrino said he has looked at the plans and felt that the design provided quite usable space.  He had concerns about several issues: whether Park & Recreation should be in the new space or remain in Martindell, what should be done with the Public Works garage, and records storage.  He suggested fine-tuning the plans, re-working the numbers, then considering resources.  Mr. Harp suggested storage, a teen center, or meeting space in the old garage.  Ms. Goren said that functionality was key.  Mr. Pellegrino said some areas should be larger, in relation to the size of the township and services rendered, and that all departments should be brought into the discussions.  Mr. Harp asked Mr. Pellegrino to review the plans and return to the board with his ideas. 

Ms. Crescenzo asked if the board was aware of the increased number of students, near 40, expected to be schooled at the alternative school next to Goodnoe Elementary School.  Mr. Jirele said that expansion of the facility to accommodate the increased student population had been approved. 

Administrative Issues

Staff Reporting

Mr. Pellegrino asked the board what kind of reporting from township staff they would like:  comprehensive?  How often?  Mr. Jirele expressed the desire to see land development plans as soon as they are submitted; the board agreed that they would like to receive overall site plans with a brief description of the project.  Mr. Pellegrino will speak to Mr. Harwood.  It was suggested that the Public Works report could be less detailed.  Ms. Goren said she liked seeing the PW detail, especially time spent by township in the borough.  Mr. Pellegrino said he would be reviewing time vs. income in the borough.  Mr. Smith suggested that perhaps a summary report would suffice.  Mr. Pellegrino said that he had spoken to Mr. Smith regarding the engineering report; Mr. Smith should have reports soon.  He and Mr. Pellegrino meet weekly.

 Mr. Harp said he would like to see a template for the budget.  He said an executive summary from Mr. Pellegrino should provide the board with necessary information.  The board agreed that monthly finance reports are sufficient, and once or twice a year a listing of long-term obligations.  Mr. Pellegrino said he would add to his calendar a reminder to send out annual financial filing report forms to the appropriate elected and appointed officials.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the administration is working on the Annual Report; department narratives are due in February.  They are looking to distribute the report in April.  Mr. Harp said he was looking forward to the public seeing the report.

Safety Committee Appointments

Mr. Pellegrino said there were two conflicting documents defining this committee.   He suggested amending the code to change the committee’s name to “Occupational Safety Committee”, negotiate the CWA agreement to add a few people, and rescind then reappoint the committee.  Mr. Pellegrino said this is not a big issue for CWA; they are just interested in representation.  The currently appointed committee consists of Paul Deppi, Don Harris, Elaine Gibbs, Norman Moorhead, Martin Bray, Bill Wert and a PBA representative.  Mr. Pellegrino would sit in on the meetings as well.  Mr. Pellegrino will report back to the board.

Assistant Treasurer Bond

Mr. Pellegrino suggested that the bond for the assistant treasurer be reduced to save $518 in premium payment; the bond could be increased if the assistant treasurer were needed to fill in for the treasurer.

Mr. Weaver moved to reduce the bond for the assistant treasurer to $1.5 Million.  Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously.

Other Issues

Swamp Road Safety Study

Mr. Jirele said he had received a draft of the final report from the Swamp Road Study for review purposes.  He said CAC wanted to review the document; someone in the township office will set up a meeting.  Mr. Pellegrino will call Urban to get the board copies of the study.

HARB Bylaws

Mr. Jirele said that HARB has drafted revised bylaws to present to the board.  Mr. Jirele will contact HARB for copies for review by the board and Mr. Harris. 

Plowing of the Trails

Mr. Jirele said he remembered the purchase several years ago of equipment to plow the trails, and asked if the township would be plowing the trails.  Mr. Harris thought he remembered that there were agreements with the developers for the township to plow the trails.  Mr. Pellegrino will check with Public Works.

Executive Session  (10:40 PM)


Without objection, the meeting was adjourned after the executive session. 


Respectfully Submitted by:                                                                                                                                     

                                                                       Leslie. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary          1/30/02