Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

FEBRUARY 27, 2002 


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting March 13, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 2/27/02:  Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 2/27/02 regular meeting with an addition:  The last sentence of the first Community Comment section should read “…Dr. Rogers said nothing about the ethics of the other resident”.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, February 27, 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, Cable Advisory Committee Chariman Jim Bowe, Township Solicitor David Sander, 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. Mr. Harp asked those present to remember Charlie Huber, who passed away recently. Mr. Huber served as Secretary of the Township during the 1960’s.

INVOCATION: Given by Brother Michael McGinnis, President of La Salle University. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: None. Mr. Harp reminded those present that the policy of addressing items on the agenda after approximately half an hour of public comment will continue.

SPECIAL ACTION:

PRD VARIANCE - MR. & MRS. COHEE - 266 STANFORD PLACE - TMP# 29-28-308: Mr. Harp opened the hearing and Greg Cohee, the applicant, was sworn in. He explained that he is requesting a variance to allow him to build an addition onto his home which will result in an impervious surface ratio of 33.2 %.  He said that the maximum ratio is 25%, and the property as it is now has a 28.3% ratio. Mr. Cohee said that when his request was reviewed by the Planning Commission earlier in the month an error in the calculations was discovered. The error has been rectified on the plan provided to the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Sander asked if Mr. Cohee had prepared a revised plan for the Country Bend development. Mr. Cohee said that staff in the Codes Department informed him that he needed to submit a revised plan for his lot only. Mr. Sander advised Mr. Cohee to clarify the requirement with the Codes Department.

Mrs. Goren moved to grant a PRD variance to Mr. and Mrs. Cohee, to allow them to increase the impervious surface coverage on their property at 266 Stanford Place to 33.2%, subject to proper recording of revisions to the plan and payment of all appropriate fees and costs. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.

Mr. Harp closed the hearing.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS:

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

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.

WORK SESSION OF 1/31/02: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the work session of 1/31/02 with one correction. The motion on the issue of the Canine Unit should read “Ms. Goren moved to approve the K-9 unit with two dogs”. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

WORK SESSION OF 2/18/02: Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the work session of 2/18/02 with one correction. Mr. Goodnoe should be listed under “Members Present”. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

BILLS LIST: Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $191,179.94; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

INTERFUND TRANSFERS: Mr. Weaver moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $318,801.94; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

TREASURER: Mr. Weaver said he had no items to report. Mr. Goodnoe asked Mr. Weaver if it is true that the 2002 budget shows a projected deficit of approximately $700,000, and Mr. Weaver affirmed this statement. Mr. Goodnoe also asked if it is true that approximately $280,000 of the deficit is from capital expenditures, and Mr. Weaver affirmed this statement.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS:

PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission Chairperson Karen Doorley reported on their 2/19/02 meeting. The meeting was preceded by the first of three training sessions presented by Township Planner Mike Frank. A preliminary plan for the expansion of Newtown Commons was deferred to the next meeting. The Commission reviewed a preliminary plan for First National Bank and recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve it with several conditions. The Commission also reviewed a sketch plan for a residential development on the Hoffa Tract and made several suggestions to the applicant.

Mrs. Doorley also reported that the Commission reviewed four applications before the Zoning Hearing Board and recommended that the Board of Supervisors oppose the request from Beautyland in the Newtown Shopping Center regarding interior neon signs visible from the Bypass.

SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: No report.

CABLE TV COMMITTEE: Chairman Jim Bowe reported that Comcast is increasing their rates, probably beginning in March. The Committee is searching for qualified consultants to help them perform a technical evaluation of cable services. Fred Polner is doing a financial audit. Mr. Bowe said he attended two meetings of the Joint Cable Advisory Board of Bucks County, where two bills were discussed. One proposes to deregulate internet services, and the other proposes to help municipalities to implement PEG channels. Council Rock School District is also discussing how to generate content for PEG channels. Mr. Bowe noted that RCN is coming to a public meeting here on 2/28/02 seeking resolution regarding their contract with the Township.

MEMBERS COMMENTS: None.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS:

Alan Harvison stated he represents a special committee of the Newtown Gate Homeowners’ Association. He provided a written report to the Supervisors, with photographs, about traffic problems in the area of Fountain Farm Lane. He said that residents are concerned about the volume of traffic, the noise and exhaust fumes, and dangerous conditions on this residential street that has become a short cut between the Newtown Industrial Commons and the Bypass.

Mr. Harvison said that area residents are requesting that the Township plan a better route for traffic going between the Industrial Park and the Bypass; that the intersection of Penns Trail and the Bypass be improved; that the intersection of Woodbourne and Langhorne-Yardley Roads be improved; that trucks be banned from Fountain Farm Lane; that the intersection of Fountain Farm Lane and Newtown Gate Drive be improved; and that a traffic impact study be done before the Township approves plans for any new buildings in the area.

Frank Mentrikowsky stated he is the chairman of the Newtown Gate Traffic Impact Committee. He and other Newtown Gate residents met with representatives of the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) on 2/24/02. He said that there were some agreements developed, but not in the area of traffic impact. The residents are seeking further meetings with the LSAC. Mr. Mentrikowsky asked that the Township Engineer help the residents deal with LSAC; that the Township help them research the agreement allegedly made in the 1980’s that there would be no development on this site; and that the Board of Supervisors meet with the residents to discuss possible remedies to their long-standing problems, such as rezoning or buying the parcel as Township open space. He stated that the residents feel the proposed building is too large, too close to their homes and too dangerous to the ecosystem of the area.

Mr. Harp said that he and Mr. Jirele attended the 2/24/02 meeting and felt both sides worked hard on resolving these problems. He noted that the LSAC plan is scheduled to be reviewed at the 3/13/02 Board of Supervisors meeting, and asked Mr. Mentrikowski to notify him of the next meeting of the residents and LSAC.

Nancy Crescenzo asked about the status of planning for recreational facilities in Roberts Ridge Park, the agreements related to the Preston house, the use of the Acme building. She stated she is very concerned about a conversation she had with Allen Rogers, chairman of the Ethics Committee, following the last Board of Supervisors meeting. She said that Mr. Rogers commented on the ethics of someone who spoke during the Community Comment period.

Gail Laughlin stated she was present during that conversation and Mr. Rogers said nothing about the other resident.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:

CHAIRMAN:

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Harp announced the Supervisors will meet in executive session following the public meeting to discuss land acquisition and pending litigation.

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS:

PLANNING COMMISSION TRAINING: Mrs. Goren said she attended the Planning Commission training session on 2/19/02 and found it very helpful. She said she would like to invite former Supervisors to attend the next two sessions. Mr. Jirele said it does not seem right to tell the public they can not attend but to allow former Supervisors to attend. Mr. Goodnoe said he agreed with this position. Mr. Jirele suggested that the Township offer a different session on planning issues that would be open to everyone.

MANAGER: No items for this section.

SOLICITOR:

ORDINANCE REQUIRING FINAL PLAN SUBMISSION IN COMPUTER FORMAT: Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the Solicitor to send the ordinance to the Township and County Planning Commissions for review, and to advertise it for enactment following those reviews. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked if the AutoCAD system is proprietary, and if developers will be required to use it. Mr. Pellegrino said that the language of the ordinance is flexible.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

COMCAST OTN LEASE AGREEMENT AND EASEMENTS: Mr. Sander provided copies of a Lease Agreement and easements allowing Comcast to rent Township land at $5,000 a year for an optical transition node facility. Mr. Harp asked if $1 million dollars in insurance coverage is adequate, and Mr. Sander said it is. Mr. Sander also explained that the lease will make Comcast liable for any taxes in connection with the building.

Steve Rabbitt, Area Vice President of Comcast, was present and stated that Comcast would prefer to have gravel on the access easement, although he acknowledged that the ordinance does not permit a gravel access. Mr. Rabbitt said the building will be about eight feet tall, 20 by 20 feet wide, and be unstaffed.

Mr. Goodnoe said that a specific plan for the building was approved at the time that the Newtown Shopping Center was approved, and he suggested that reference to that plan be included in the lease agreement.

Mrs. Goren said the rent seemed low to her. Mr. Sander said the amount was discussed with Mr. Harwood.

Mr. Goodnoe asked if an escalator for the insurance coverage could be part of the lease agreement, perhaps tied to the escalator for the rent.

Mr. Jirele suggested that the lease be renegotiated after ten years instead of automatically renewing each year.

Mr. Harp asked that the Township Solicitor redraft the ordinance to reflect members’ comments and bring it back to the next meeting. Mrs. Goren also asked that Mr. Pellegrino research what other municipalities are getting in similar rental agreements.

ZONING HEARING BOARD FOR 3/7/02: Mr. Sander reviewed the four new applications before the Zoning Hearing Board, and asked if the Board of Supervisors wished to be represented in any of them.

BEAUTYLAND: Mr. Harp noted that the Planning Commission had recommended opposition to the Beautyland application regarding interior neon signs.

Mr. Harp moved to oppose Beautyland’s application for a variance regarding neon signs. The motion died for lack of a second.

Mrs. Goren commented that she visited Beautyland recently and thought the signs were not a problem.

MILL RACE: Mr. Harp questioned allowing parking on the floodplain. Mr. Jirele noted that the applicant is saving many trees by designing the parking area in this way.

APPOINTMENT OF INDEPENDENT AUDITOR FOR 2001: Mr. Sander said that the Board of Supervisors appointed the independent auditors for 2001 at the Organization meeting in January, but the law requires that the appointment be advertised at least 30 days in advance, which has been done.

Mrs. Goren moved to appoint Mc Gladrey and Pullen as independent auditors for 2001. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele asked if this has to be done every year; Mr. Sander said it does. Mr. Goodnoe asked if the auditors should be appointed during the year they are to audit. Mr. Sander said the language of the law was confusing. Mr. Harp asked the Solicitor to clarify this question.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

ENGINEER:

TRAFFIC SIGNAL PERMIT APPLICATIONS: Mr. Smith presented a 2/14/02 letter from McMahon Associates which included an application for two signal permits in connection with the Sycamore Street project.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve applications for signal permits for the intersections of Sycamore Street and Silo Drive, and Sycamore Street and Jefferson Avenue. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.

PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said there are no expirations to be addressed. He noted that the Township received an extension to 4/5/02 from the 413 Office Center, and the Heston Tract is on tonight’s agenda.

OLD BUSINESS:

PRELIMINARY PLAN - FIRST NATIONAL BANK - 773 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - TMP# 29-10-52-7: Attorney Donna Wengiel, engineer Jim Tambourino and several representatives from the bank and the Lutheran Church of God’s Love were present to discuss the plan to demolish the existing bank and construct a new building on a 1.33 acre tract in the R-1 District. The plan includes many features that were discussed during the review of the Wiltshire Walk PRD.

Ms Wengiel stated that the plan replaces three existing driveways with one shared driveway. She said the conditions outlined in the 2/21/02 Planning Commission letter are acceptable to the applicant, except that there is new information indicating that a variance regarding the side yard setback will not be necessary. The proposed driveway will not encroach any further into the side yard than the existing driveway. Ms Wengiel said the applicant is requesting preliminary as final approval from the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Jirele asked about the large trees currently on the property. Ms Wengiel said that one will stay and the others will be replaced.

Mrs. Goren moved to approve the First National Bank preliminary plan for TMP# 29-10-52-7 as a final plan, with the following conditions:

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

PRELIMINARY PLAN - HESTON TRACT - UPPER SILVER LAKE ROAD - TOLL BROTHERS - TMP# 29-10-77: Mike Palmer of Toll Brothers and Jeff Frantz of Eastern States Engineering were present to discuss their plan to build a 24 lot single family home residential subdivision on a 77.3 acre parcel in the OR District. Mr. Palmer said that attorney Ed Murphy is expected to be present later.

Mr. Palmer stated that the plan has been revised to address several issues raised previously by the Board of Supervisors. He said that the plan now provides access to the open space, and alluvial soils are no longer disturbed. He said that the Township Engineer’s letter recommended that Upper Silver Lake Road be widened to 16 feet, from the center line, and that the applicant request a waiver from the ordinance requirement to widen it to 20 feet. Mr. Frantz added that he was not sure a waiver is required, since the ordinance requires a 36 foot cartway, which is what is shown on the plan. Mr. Palmer also said that streetlights have been added to address the Supervisors’ concerns.

Regarding the historic barn, Mr. Palmer said that it will be dismantled and relocated to the Peter Taylor Farmstead. The applicant is paying the costs of moving it to the Farmstead and building a foundation; the barn will be reassembled by community groups as part of the educational programs provided at the Farmstead.

Mr. Jirele and Mrs. Goren said this seemed to be an excellent solution to the question of how to preserve the barn. Mr. Goodnoe asked why the Township would allow Toll Brothers to dismantle the barn and not make a specific commitment for reassembling it, when other applicants in similar situations were required to ensure that a historic barn was preserved.

Tony Passello, a resident of Kirkwood, asked for some clarification of the plan drawing regarding buffering, the alignment of intersections and lighting.

Attorney Ed Murphy arrived and confirmed Mr. Palmer’s account of the arrangements for the disposition of the barn.

Mr. Goodnoe said he felt the open space should be closer to the road.

Mr. Jirele moved to approve Toll Brothers’ preliminary plan for the Heston Tract, TMP# 29-10-77, subject to the following conditions:

The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele asked about an old well on the Heston property; Mr. Murphy said that the well will remain on Mr. Heston’s lot.

Mr. Goodnoe suggested that Toll Brothers post $100,000 in escrow to ensure the barn is restored.

Nancy Crescenzo said that the Fire Marshal’s suggestion of an additional fire hydrant should be followed.

Mike Iapalucci, a Township resident, said he agreed with Mr. Goodnoe’s proposal for requiring escrow funds to ensure the reassembly of the barn. He asked the Supervisors to be mindful of the tax revenue lost by approving a residential development for this tract.

Mark Byelich, a resident of Brookside, asked if Toll Brothers can be required to notify purchasers of the proposed homes that the area is zoned Office Research. Mr. Harp said the Board is developing an ordinance along these lines.

Tony Passello said the property owner has a right to make an agreement with a developer for any legal use of the property. Mr. Goodnoe agreed with this, but said that it is up to the Board of Supervisors to encourage office research development.

Mark Byelich asked if the Supervisors are committed to developing the rest of the OR District with office research uses. Mr. Harp said the Board is discussing the issue. Mr. Jirele said residents are welcome to attend work sessions at which the issue is discussed.

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

NEW BUSINESS:

LINTON HILL ROAD CULVERT REPLACEMENT BID: Mr. Pellegrino provided the Board with the results of the bid tabulation for this project. Carroll Engineering’s 2/12/02 letter recommends that the contract be awarded to Professional Construction Contractors, Inc., the lowest bidder.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to award the contract for the Linton Hill Road Culvert Replacement Project to Professional Construction Contractors, Inc, in the amount of $159,079.00. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (CONTINUED):

Tony Passello asked if the Township can deny a proposal that meets the requirements of the ordinance. Mr. Sander said if the Township did this it would likely be overturned on appeal.

Nancy Crescenzo suggested the Township should have an overall plan for recreation. Mr. Harp said the 1999 Comprehensive Plan for Parks and Recreation provides overall guidance for developing facilities, but it does not specify how to implement those goals.

Walter Iwaskiw urged the Supervisors to ask the Planning Commission to review planning for the remainder of the OR District as soon as possible. He also said he did not see how the Canine Unit proposal could be implemented without losing officer time.

John D’Aprile asked if all work sessions will be on weekday mornings in the future; Mr. Harp said this will not be a regular practice.

Mark Byelich said he is the individual referred to in the alleged discussion on the porch after the last meeting, and asked what the Supervisors plan to do. Mr. Jirele said the Supervisors have no role in this issue. Mr. Byelich also asked if Mr. Harp has a conflict of interest regarding the Law School Admissions plan, since he is a resident of Newtown Gate. Mr. Harp said he lives far away from the roads being discussed, and property values have not been an issue in discussions. Mr. Byelich said he feels Mr. Harp has manipulated the Community Comment section of the agenda by asking certain people to speak first.

ADJOURNMENT: Mr. Harp adjourned the meeting at 11:00 PM with no objections. The Board then went into executive session for matters of land acquisition and pending litigation.

 

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED:

 

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Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary

 

Minutes Approved as submitted _______ as corrected _______

 

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Scott R. Harp, Chairman

 

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Thomas Jirele, Vice Chairman

  

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Anne Goren, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer

 

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Richard Weaver, Treasurer

  

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Raymond Goodnoe, Member