Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

FEBRUARY 13, 2002 

MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 27, 2002. REGULAR MEETING OF 2/13/02:Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 2/13/02 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, February 13, 2002, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM.  In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Scott Harp, Vice Chairman Tom Jirele, Treasurer Richard Weaver, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer Anne Goren and Member Raymond Goodnoe.  Also present were:  Planning Commission Chairperson Karen Doorley, Sycamore Street Committee Chairman Vincent Lombardi, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Bernie Bires, Vice Chairperson of HARB Elinor Campbell, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, Township Manager Robert Pellegrino and Township Finance Director Elaine Gibbs. 

CALL TO ORDER:  Chairman Harp called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence. 

INVOCATION:  Given by members of the Chinmaya Mission of Langhorne.  This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.  

ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:  Mr. Harp announced that there will be a Joint Zoning Council report under item #8.  He also said that community comments will be heard for approximately half an hour at the beginning of the agenda, and will continue if necessary at the end.  He also announced that there will be an executive session for matters of land acquisition and pending legislation following the regular meeting. 


TRAIL ADVISORY COMMITTEE:  Mr. Harp presented certificates to Karen Doorley, Chairperson, and other members of the Trail Advisory Committee, honoring them for service on the Committee, which began its work in 1994.  Township Trail #1 opened in 2001. 



REGULAR MEETING OF 1/23/02:  Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 1/23/02 regular meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

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. 

Discussion of motion:  Mrs. Goren asked that the minutes be amended as follows: on page three under “Heston Land Development”, the last sentence in the fourth item should read “ If a fee in lieu were not paid…”; and on page four, the last two sentences of the third paragraph should refer to “the barn” rather than “the house” or “the farmhouse”. 

Mr. Weaver and Mr. Jirele agreed to amend their motion in accordance with Mrs. Goren’s comments.  The motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining. 

BILLS LIST:  Mr. Goodnoe said he would abstain from voting on the bills list because it includes a payment to his restaurant. 

Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $194,254.25; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining. 

INTERFUND TRANSFERS:  Mr. Weaver moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $24,457.30; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

TREASURER:  Mr. Weaver reported that the 2001 audit has begun, and that EMS received an $80,000 FEMA grant.  Mr. Weaver also said that the Township ended 2001 with a surplus of more than $235,000, and 2002 will probably end with a balanced budget.


PLANNING COMMISSION:  Commission Secretary Vince Lombardi reported on their 2/5/02 meeting, at which the Commission reviewed the final plan for the 413 Office Center.  The Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the plan with several conditions.  The Commission also reviewed a PRD variance request and recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve it with certain conditions. 

Mr. Lombardi reported that a large number of Linton Hill Road residents were present at the meeting to express their concerns about proposed developments in their area.  Also, a resident near the Law School Admissions Council site reported to the Commission that the Council and the neighbors met but were unable to agree on a recommendation for berming and drainage plans. 

The Commission also heard a report from the Traffic Engineer, and has asked Township Planner Mike Frank to provide three training sessions on planning issues.  The sessions will be held at 7:00 PM prior to the next three Planning Commission meetings. 

SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE:  Mr. Lombardi, who is also the Chairman of the Sycamore Street Committee, reported on the Committee’s 12/12/02 meeting.  Nelson Shaeffer and Gerry Smith, of Pennoni Associates, were present.  Mr. Lombardi said he discussed his meeting with a grantsperson from Heritage Conservancy, and the Committee discussed obtaining construction easements.  He said that the utility construction phase of the project will end soon.  

PARK AND RECREATION BOARD:  Bernie Bires, Chairman of the Board, reported on their 2/6/02 meeting.  A representative from the Newtown Athletic Club gave the Board $300 which was raised during a special event, and offered space for Township programs at their facility.  The Board made decisions regarding fees for several projects, and continued their discussion of playground equipment for Roberts Ridge.  

Mr. Goodnoe asked if the Park and Recreation Board has reviewed the master plan for Roberts Ridge Park developed by Boucher and James in 2000.  Mr. Bires said they have not, but are approaching the planning and funding of park projects one project at a time. 

Mr. Harp said he is concerned about development plans for Roberts Ridge as well as for Silver Lake, Hidden Lake, the Nature Preserve and the tract of open space behind the Newtown Shopping Center.   Mr. Jirele said that development of the parks has been designated a priority concern for the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Jirele moved to direct the Park and Recreation Board to study the development and use possibilities of the five parks listed above.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Goodnoe said that his point was that the Township needs to evaluate the land development plan for Roberts Ridge Park.  Mr. Harp said that the estimated cost of the 2000 plan was approximately $600,000, and because of the cost there did not seem to be any support for implementing it.  Mr. Harp said he favored the Park and Recreation Board’s approach, exemplified by the Board’s seeking and obtaining a grant for trees when the opportunity arose. 

Mr. Goodnoe said the Township should review a land development plan that has been submitted.  Mr. Jirele said his motion is not in conflict with this idea.  Mr. Goodnoe said the Township is acting on a plan that has never been reviewed.  Mr. Harris said that the detention basin was reviewed appropriately, and any structures proposed for Roberts Ridge will have to go through the regular review process. 

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Goodnoe voting “nay”. 

FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE:  Mr. Weaver reported on the Committee’s recent meeting, at which they drafted a revised mission statement, looked at funding options for several projects and reviewed proposed capital projects. 

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL:  Mr. Weaver reported on the Council’s recent meeting, at which they discussed a revised mission statement.  Mr. Weaver said he will bring the statement to the next Board of Supervisors work session.  The Council also discussed the vacancies in the Newtown Industrial Commons and changes in impervious surface limits in the O-LI District. 

JOINT ZONING COUNCIL:  Mr. Weaver reported on the Jointure’s recent meeting, at which HB 1219 was discussed.  Mr. Harris noted that HB 1219 was passed and is now Act 2.  He said that HB 2341 is a new bill which proposes to modify Act 2.  Mr. Weaver also reported that the Jointure has discussed filing an amicus brief on a zoning issue in Bedminster, with each Township contributing up to $1,000 towards the expense of filing.  

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD:  Report deferred until Mrs. Campbell could be present. 


SEPTA TOUR:  Mr. Goodnoe reported he represented the Township on the SEPTA tour on 1/30/02. 


Gail Laughlin, a long time resident of Bucks County, said that the Community Comments item on the agenda has become politicized in recent years.  She said the time should not be used for interrogation of the Board and political statements.  She said she felt the suggested five minute time limit is appropriate. 

Ms Laughlin asked if the Planning Commission training is open to the public.  Mr. Harp responded that these sessions are for staff and appointees with planning responsibilities. 

Frank Mentrikowski, a resident of Newtown Gate, said he represents about 390 residents of his development.  He read a statement, which he gave to the Township Manager, listing five major concerns the residents have about the Law School Admissions Council project:  the height of the building, the drainage plan, the approval of the 60% impervious surface ratio, the waiver of the traffic study, and the short notice residents have had regarding the review and approval process. 

Mr. Harp said that only the conditional use request has been approved.  He also said that notification requirements and methods are being reviewed. 

Mr. Jirele said he has received several communications about this issue from Newtown Gate residents, and feels they have some valid points. 

Mr. Harris noted that the Township did give conditional use approval for 60% impervious surface; other points are still under consideration. 

Joanne Osborne, a resident of Penn Street, said her home is the closest to the Law School Admissions Council site, but is not in the Newtown Gate development.  She asked to be included in any meetings or notifications regarding this project.  Ms Osborne said she remembers that the original conditional use for this site, approximately 18 years ago, said it would never be developed.  Mr. Harp said the Township will research this and let Ms Osborne know what is found. 

Nancy Crescenzo said she attended the work session on 1/31/02 at 8:00 AM.  She asked that any issues that will be voted on be discussed at the regular, televised meeting of the Board of Supervisors. 

Allen Harbison said he supports the proposal to bring the YMCA into Newtown.  He said that the opposition is organized and vocal, but those who need it, especially young people and seniors, are not so organized and are not being heard from. 



WORK SESSION OF 1/21/02:  Mr. Harp reported that the Board discussed goals and objectives for 2002 at the work session.  Goals included expansion of the Municipal Complex, acquisition of open space, evaluation of the Office Research District, recreation projects, improving relationships with other governmental bodies and representatives, the Sycamore Street project, transportation and general administrative issues.  The Board approved the proposal for a canine unit, and halted the demolition of a house at the Newtown Rental Center site.  Mr. Harp explained that the latter two actions had to be done at the work session because of time limits. 


CONFERENCE - BUCKS COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS:  Mrs. Goren reported she and others attended the Conference of the Bucks County Association of Township Officials, at which HB 1219 (now Act 2) was discussed.  Other topics included stormwater management, changes in accounting standards, and resolutions to be sent to the State Chapter. 

SWAMP ROAD CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE:  Mr. Jirele announced that the Advisory Committee will be meeting with Urban Engineers on 3/21/02 at Bucks County Community College.  He said he will have more information in the near future. 


UNION NEGOTIATIONS:  Mr. Pellegrino said that the Township has begun negotiations with CWA, and he will provide additional details in the executive session. 


DEMOLITION PERMIT - NEWTOWN RENTAL CENTER:  Mr. Harris reported that Shannon Wilson is willing to grant an extension so that the Township can work with him to preserve an historic house on the Newtown Rental Center property.  Mr. Wilson is also willing to consider an additional extension if progress is being made on the preservation. 

JMZO AMENDMENT - SAND MOUNDS PROJECTING INTO SIDE YARD - ORD-2002-3:  Mr. Harris said that this amendment was advertised for adoption tonight.  He explained that the amendment would allow sand mounds to project within 10 feet of a property line, and makes some technical corrections to the language. 

Mr. Weaver moved to adopt Ordinance 2002-3 regarding sand mounds projecting into side yards.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 

FIRE TAX RESOLUTION - RES-2002-8:  Mr. Harris provided a copy of a resolution requesting the Board of Elections to place the question of whether the Township Fire Tax should be increased from three mills to four mills on the ballot of the general election.  He noted that the correct date for the election is 11/5/02. 

Mrs. Goren moved to adopt Resolution 2002-8 regarding an increase in the fire tax.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Harp asked Mr. Harris to clarify the resolution.  Mr. Harris said if the question is placed on the ballot and approved by the voters, the Township will be allowed to increase the fire tax up to one additional mill. 

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously. 

KELLER WILLIAMS ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATION FOR SIGN VARIANCE:  Mr. Harris reported that his colleague Jack Wuerstle attended the 2/7/02 Zoning Hearing Board meeting at which the Township Solicitor opposed the request on behalf of the Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Harris outlined the testimony given by the applicant.  He said that the hearing was continued to 3/7/02 because of a problem with the advertisement for the hearing. 

ENGINEER:  Mr. Smith provided an overview of all current engineering projects in the Township. 

ROBERTS RIDGE:  Mr. Goodnoe asked if Pennoni Associates is developing a plan for Roberts Ridge Park.  Mr. Smith responded that Pennoni has drawn a plan in response to the proposal from Armour Electric.  Mr. Harp said that the purpose of the plan is to see if the costs of the pavilion can be reduced.  

LINTON HILL ROAD CULVERT:  Mr. Harris asked if there was a bid opening for the repair to the Linton Hill Road culvert.  Mr. Pellegrino said the report on the bid opening will be on the next agenda.  Mr. Harris said that the Township is required to award the contract or to formally continue the matter. 

Mrs. Goren moved to continue the bid award to the 2/27/02 meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  Mr. Pellegrino said there are no plan expirations needing to be addressed. 



ESCROW RELEASE - CHANDLER HALL:  Mrs. Goren moved to release $68,837.65 in escrow funds for Chandler Hall, Phase III, based on Certificate of Completion #2.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD:  Vice Chairperson Elinor Campbell reported on the 2/12/02 HARB meeting.  The Board is now meeting at 1:00 PM.  Members of HARB discussed a proposal to require that projects in the historic district be reviewed by HARB before a permit is issued.  HARB also discussed a Certificate of Appropriateness for Tyrol’s Sycamore project.  Mrs. Campbell said that HARB made several recommendations for the exterior of the building.  She said that Frank Tyrol has complied with everything HARB has asked. 

Mr. Jirele moved to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for Tyrolean Group Limited for 223 North Sycamore Street, for the exterior finishes, roofing, siding, gutters and shutters as described in the application for the Certificate.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 


Dave Povernick, a Newtown Grant resident, said the Ethics Committee will actually be investigating allegations, since they will be dealing with interviews and evidence.  Mr. Jirele responded that he disagreed; in his view, the Committee will be evaluating allegations.  Mr. Povernick said that the Township Manager should not be a member of the Committee because that will compromise the employees’ trust in him.  Mr. Povernick also stated the Township should have advertised specifically for candidates for the Committee, and the nomination process should have been more open. 

Nancy Crescenzo asked about reports that the Ethics Commmittee met and elected Allen Rogers Chairman.  Mr. Jirele confirmed this. 

Ms Crescenzo asked if the Preston house transfer has occurred.  Mr. Harris responded that the Township is still developing conservation easements.  

Ms Crescenzo asked if the Supervisors are doing anything about reapportionment of representatives on the Council Rock School Board.  Mr. Harp said the Supervisors can not take initiative on this issue.  Mr. Harris explained that citizens have to make the request. 

Ms Crescenzo asked about plans for a skate park and a hockey rink.  She said the Township has ignored the work of the Skate Park Task Force, which never talked about a hockey rink. 

John D’Aprile, a Township resident, said he approved of the current method of handling community comments.  He asked Mrs. Goren if the fact that her property is in the OR District means she has a conflict of interest in matters concerning the OR District.  Mrs. Goren said she asked the State Ethics Commission for an opinion on this question and they stated it is not a conflict. 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  Mr. Harris said there will not be a need to reconvene the meeting following the executive session. 

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, Mr. Harp adjourned the meeting at 10:25 PM. 




Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary


Minutes Approved as submitted _______ as corrected _______


Scott R. Harp, Chairman


Thomas Jirele, Vice Chairman


Anne Goren, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer


Richard Weaver, Treasurer 


Raymond Goodnoe, Member