Board of Supervisors Minutes
March 13, 2002
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting March 27, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 3/13/02: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 3/13/02 regular meeting with a correction to the spelling of Mr. Lombardi’s name in the first paragraph. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, March 13, 2002, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Scott Harp, Treasurer Richard Weaver, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer Anne Goren and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Planning Commission Chairperson Karen Doorley, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Bernie Bires, Sycamore Street Committee Chairman Vice Lombardi, 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. Mr. Harp asked those present to remember Alberta Forsyth, who passed away recently. She was the mother of three Township employees.
INVOCATION: Given by Robert Davis, a member of the First Baptist Church of Newtown. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino announced that there will be a Planning Commission report and a Jointure report under item 8; and there will be an executive session for matters of land acquisition following the regular meeting.
ADVANCE - 125TH ANNIVERSARY: Mr. Harp read a proclamation in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Advance newspaper. Editor Nancy Pickering was present and introduced the newspaper’s staff and publisher.
PRESENTATION - COMMUNITY WELFARE COUNCIL OF NEWTOWN: Mr. Harp introduced Eric Johnson of the Community Welfare Council, who explained that the Council operates the Pickering Manor Nursing Home, the Lighthouse Cemetery and the Newtown Movie Theater. The Council hopes to raise about $200,000 for a major renovation of the movie theater, which has not been substantially upgraded since 1936. Mr. Johnson asked for volunteers to help with fundraising, collecting historical information and other tasks.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS:
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
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.
BILLS LIST: Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $229,628.60; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
INTERFUND TRANSFERS: Mr. Weaver moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $653.50; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
TREASURER’S REPORT: None.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS:
JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION (JDNC) - MAIN STREET PROGRAM: Mr. Goodnoe asked Mark Craig, Vice Chairman of the JDNC, to report on the Corporation’s activities and to present a request to the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Craig said that the JDNC has held public meetings, collected information, created a website, raised funds for the Chancellor Street School project and is working on creating a community calendar. He noted that the JDNC represents the only pair of communities in the state to apply together for Main Street funds.
Mr. Craig asked the Board to approve a resolution authorizing the filing of an application for $5,000 in Main Street funds for first year expenditures, to be used for market studies and development of a five year business district action plan. Mr. Craig said that a resolution by the Township and Newtown Borough is necessary; he provided a copy of the resolution that the Borough has already passed. He said that no matching funds are required for this initial grant.
Mrs. Goren asked about the Township’s financial obligation for the entire project. Mr. Craig said that the only contribution the Township needs to make in the first year is some clerical support. The next five years will involve matching funds; he estimated that in Year 2, the JDNC would request $35,000, which would involve $25,000 in matching funds from the Township.
Mr. Harp suggested that Mr. Craig and Mr. Goodnoe brief the Board of Supervisors at a work session on 4/22/02 before a decision is made on the resolution. Mr. Goodnoe said the application is due by the end of March. He said the application does not commit the Township to providing matching funds in the future.
Mrs. Goren moved to adopt Resolution 2002-R-11, to authorize application to the Department of Community and Economic Development for $5,000 in Main Street funds for the initial year. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
Mr. Harp asked if Mr. Craig would still come to the 4/22/02 work session; Mr. Craig said he will.
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Chairman Bernie Bires reported on the Board’s 3/6/02 meeting. Member Russell Strover has won a state award for volunteers. The Board reviewed a proposal for playground equipment from Boyce Associates, and would like to make a presentation on this subject to the Board of Supervisors at a work session. Mr. Bires said the Board is also working on Arbor Day activities and planning a flag football program. He noted that participation and revenues continue to increase. Registration for the camp program begins 3/20/02, and the First Fourth Committee met on 3/11/02.
Mr. Harp announced that the First Fourth celebration will be on 7/6/02. He has scheduled the presentation about playground equipment for the 4/18/02 work session.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Chairperson Karen Doorley reported on their 3/5/02 meeting. Mike Frank presented the second of three training sessions before the Commission’s meeting. Traffic Engineer Phil Wursta updated the Commission on several current traffic projects, including the Washington and Linton Hill intersection, the Closed Loop system and two pedestrian crossings.
The Commission reviewed a Preliminary Plan for the Newtown Commons Office Expansion, which proposed five new buildings on Upper Silver Lake Road. Commission members and neighboring residents raised substantial questions about traffic, drainage, lighting, parking and buffering. The applicant will return to the Commission after meeting with engineers and residents.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL: Mr. Weaver said there was a small number of members in attendance at the last meeting, so there was little business transacted.
FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE: Mr. Weaver said the Committee has established a schedule for meeting with Department Heads about their five year goals.
HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (HARB): Member Vince Lombardi reported that HARB met on 3/12/02 and reviewed two projects: a proposal for a new roof on 123 Sycamore Street, and some field changes on 255 Sycamore Street.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS: Mr. Lombardi stated that HARB unanimously recommends a Certificate of Appropriateness for Bessie White’s application for a new roof on 123 Sycamore Street.
Mrs. Goren moved to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness for 123 Sycamore Street. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Chairman Vince Lombardi reported on the Committee’s 3/12/02 meeting, where they heard reports from Mr. Pellegrino, Nelson Shaeffer of Pennoni Associates and their Community Relations Committee.
Mr. Goodnoe asked about an investigation into illegal dumping at the Peter Taylor Farmstead allegedly done by contractors on the Sycamore Street project. Mr. Lombardi said he is aware that there has been a lot of dumping at the Farmstead. His understanding is that the farmer made an inappropriate arrangement with two of the Sycamore Street contractors for fill dirt; as far as he knows, only fill dirt was dumped. He said the current contractor active on the Sycamore Street project has been asked to stop dumping at the Farmstead. Mr. Lombardi said he has offered to talk with investigators, but has not yet been asked to do so. He and Mr. Pellegrino are also planning to visit the site, and he invited Mr. Goodnoe to accompany them. Mr. Goodnoe accepted the invitation, and asked that Mr. Lombardi provide an followup report on the problem.
JOINTURE: Mr. Weaver said the Jointure met last week. They have filed an amicus brief on behalf of Bedminister Township. The Bucks County Planning Commission has approved three ordinances recently adopted by the Jointure.
Mrs. Goren added that Walt Wydro gave a report on the conditional use process; copies will be circulated in the Supervisors’ packets on 3/15/02.
MEMBERS COMMENTS: None.
Mr. Harp reminded those present that this section is for comments on items not on the agenda.
Nancy Crescenzo said that she feels it is appropriate for residents to use this time to ask questions. She asked that the Board deal with important issues at the televised public meetings rather than at work sessions. She also said that an insufficient number of agendas were provided tonight.
Sue Beasley asked what is planned for Hidden Lake. Mr. Harp explained that the Township obtained this 42 acre site in 1994 for passive recreation. The only work being discussed is to provide some parking for residents who want to walk through the site. Mrs. Beasley said that several areas in the tract are dangerous, and it provides a safe habitat for many animals. She asked that the area just be preserved.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:
AWARD: Mr. Harp noted that Bill Wert and his staff also received a state award, for the design of their program brochure.
RCN HEARING: Mr. Harp reported that the Township held a hearing on 3/28/02 and found RCN in default of their contract. He added that there was a bad traffic accident that night, and two Township Police Officers rescued a woman from her wrecked car.
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS: Mr. Harp announced that there are many opportunities for service projects in the Township. Scouts or other interested groups can contact Mr. Pellegrino for more information.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: None.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said that the Township has received an extension to 4/30/02 for the 413 Office Center plan, and an extension to 5/18/02 for the Newtown Office Commons plan.
UNION NEGOTIATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said he will begin negotiations with CWA soon.
COMCAST LEASE AND EASEMENT AGREEMENT: Mr. Harris said that Mr. Sander will provide an update on this issue at the next meeting.
JMZO AMENDMENT - OMISSION OF O-LI FROM TABLE II: Mr. Harris reported that the Jointure has authorized the advertisement of an amendment to correct a clerical error in the ordinance.
PLATINUM EXECUTIVE SUITES: Mr. Harris said that the Supervisors will be asked to sign the mylars for the Platinum Executive Suites project at the next meeting, since not all the necessary documents have been submitted as of tonight.
CURRENT PROJECTS: Mr. Smith provided a written report on current engineering projects. He commented on several projects as follows:
LINTON HILL CULVERT REPLACEMENT: The road will be closed from 6/19/02 to 8/19/02.
HIDDEN LAKE, CLARK AND NEWTOWN SHOPPING CENTER PARKS: Pennoni Associates will have sketch plans by early next week for the Board to review.
WILTSHIRE WALK: Pennoni is close to an agreement on the escrow amount.
LAKEVIEW ESTATES: The homes are selling well, and construction is almost complete.
WRIGHTS AND DURHAM ROAD TRAFFIC SIGNAL: The permit has been received, and bidding will be scheduled for around 5/1/02. The process may be combined with bidding on the Linton Hill and Washington Crossing signal.
SYCAMORE STREET ACME PARKING GARAGE: Pennoni will provide some sketches soon for review by the Board.
DESIGN REVIEW: Mr. Goodnoe recommended that another engineering firm be hired to evaluate and inspect projects designed by the Township Engineer.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
PRELIMINARY PLAN - LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS COUNCIL (LSAC) - NEWTOWN INDUSTRIAL COMMONS - TMP# 29-10-33: Steve Schriber, Attorney Don Marshall and architect Wayne Johnson were present to discuss the proposal to build a new two story building with 85,000 square feet of D-1 office space on Penn Street in the LI District.
Mr. Marshall stated that approvals for D-1 Office Use and for increasing the impervious coverage to 60% were given by the Township on 1/23/02. The applicants met twice with neighboring residents about buffering, traffic, drainage and lighting issues. He said that 366 parking spaces will be provided, of which 54 will be under the building and reserved for employee parking. LSAC proposes to consolidate their operations, which are currently in two locations.
Mr. Marshall stated that LSAC obtained this lot in 1984. It is an original Newtown Industrial Commons lot, and has been zoned for this use since the 1960’s. He said that the applicants will comply with the review letters of the Conservation District, the Emergency Services Department, the Bucks County Planning Commission, Heritage Conservancy and Carroll Engineering, except for the items on which they are requesting waivers. He also said that the Park and Recreation Board recommended a fee in lieu of recreation facilities.
Mr. Marshall reviewed the requested waivers:
· No parking within 20’ of the building (for the underground parking).
· Plan scale. The proposed scale is clearer.
· Area features. An aerial photo has been provided.
· Traffic study. The applicant suggests that a traffic study on the building they are vacating be done when a new tenant is identified, since LSAC is basically re-establishing their present operation in the new building.
In addition, Mr. Marshall said that the applicants are asking for a conditional reduction in parking, which would eliminate 41 spaces on the Penn Street side and enable them to provide a more substantial buffer between the site and the residential area.
Mr. Marshall said that the applicant has reversed the traffic flow at the entrance, as recommended by the Township Engineer, and added a walkway from the building to the parking area. In meetings with the nearby residents the applicants agreed to the following:
· Install a five foot high berm, tapered on the south side
· Add landscaping to the berm, including staggered rows of fast growing 13 foot high trees
· Install a drain on the LSAC side of the berm
· Turn all lights except security lighting off at 8:00 PM
Mr. Marshall stated that the applicant will seek a variance to reduce the length of some of the parking spaces, so that the buffer on the south side of the property can be about 10 feet wider.
Mrs. Goren asked about parking calculations discussed in the Carroll Engineering letter. Mr. Marshall said that was resolved when the applicant clarified that the basement will be used only for HVAC equipment.
Mrs. Goren asked why some parking is planned for under the building. Mr. Marshall said this is an efficient use of the site. Mrs. Goren suggested that perhaps the building is too large for the site. Mr. Goodnoe noted that the Township has approved two other buildings with underground parking, although neither was built.
Mr. Goodnoe also asked about the height of the building. Mr. Marshall said the building is 42 feet high, including a parapet which screens some HVAC equipment on the roof. Mr. Harris said the maximum height allowed is 50 feet. Mrs. Goren observed that the building is much higher than the nearby residences.
Mrs. Goren also asked about the drainage plan. Mr. Johnson said that there will be two detention basins and a drain on the LSAC side of the berm.
Mr. Goodnoe said he prefers to see a traffic study done now. Mr. Marshall said the applicant is willing to do it now if that is what the Township prefers.
Frank Mentrikoski asked about the actual size of the building; Mr. Johnson responded that it will be approximately 300 feet by 150 feet. Mr. Mentrikoski also raised concerns about the effects of a 100 year flood on the drainage in the area. Mr. Johnson said that the Township Engineer will review the applicants plans before final approval. He said he is confident that the plan will avoid drainage problems. If there was any “ponding”, it would happen in the LSAC parking area, not on the residents’ properties. Mr. Smith asked if the applicant could put the drain on the outside of the berm if the additional buffering area is available; Mr. Marshall said that is their intention.
Tony McBride, a resident of Newtown Gate, said the size of the building is inappropriate for the site, and it is too close to homes.
Al Ventura, a resident of Newtown Gate, agreed with Mr. McBride and asked if the building could be lowered by putting the underground parking lower. Mr. Marshall said that would require too much ramping from the street.
Joanne Osborne, a resident of Penn Street, said her 97 year old home is actually the closest to the site, although it is not in Newtown Gate. She pointed out that there is a school bus stop near the access drive.
Harvey Edelman, a resident of Newtown Gate, said Fountain Farm Lane will definitely be affected by the traffic from this project. He said there are three school bus stops and two tot lots on that road. He said he has seen children crossing the street to get to the bus as it approaches the stop.
Sue Beasley said the children’s parents should be informed that they are crossing the street unsafely.
Ed McCory, a resident of Newtown Gate, said he would like to see a traffic study done now, to include the potential capacity of the building.
Mrs. Goren said she wants to require a traffic study now; the other Supervisors agreed. She said she is concerned about the sightlines from this building onto the residents’ properties, and the possible reduction in privacy this might mean for them.
Mr. Goodnoe asked the applicant to submit an elevation of the building, as well as a scale drawing showing the height of the building, the trees, the neighboring homes and other features. Mr. Harris asked the applicant to submit a drawing of the proposed facade on the roof.
Bill King, Project Superintendent for the proposed building, said that the facade was designed to improve the appearance of the building, to screen the equipment on the roof, and to shield the neighbors from the noise of the equipment. Modifying the facade is a significant architectural change and probably would reduce the value of the building.
Mr. Marshall said he was not sure if the applicant can do the traffic study and the sightline elevations before the next meeting. Mr. Pellegrino said an extension to the end of April will be necessary if the applicant can not come to the next meeting.
Joanne Osborne asked that the elevations include her side of the proposed building. She also asked about the possibility of berming on her side as well.
SIGN MATERIALS AND POST BIDS: Mr. Pellegrino said that Mr. Harwood’s 2/28/02 memo reports the results of the Consortium’s bidding process, and recommends that the Township contract with two bidders for ten different categories of sign materials and posts.
Mrs. Goren moved to contract with Garden State for items 1-7 and 9-11, and with US Municipal for item 8, as recommended in Mr. Harwood’s 2/28/02 memo to Mr. Pellegrino. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
ESCROW RELEASE - BUCKS COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Mrs. Goren moved to release $84,681.30 in escrow funds for the 3D Arts and Wellness Center project of the Bucks County Community College, based on the final Certificate of Completion from Carroll Engineering. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (CONTINUED):
Nancy Crescenzo asked about progress on the Preston house. Mr. Harris said the Township has just received the deed, and the issue is resolved. Ms Crescenzo suggested asking Brandywine for a community center instead of an exercise trail. She also asked about Mr. Smith’s reference to sketches for a parking garage on Sycamore Street on the site of the Acme. Mr. Harp said this is just one option being considered, and details will be discussed at the 3/18/02 work session. He invited anyone interested to attend the work session. Ms Crescenzo asked if the playground at Roberts Ridge Park will be accessible to children in wheelchairs; Mr. Pellegrino said that it will be.
Tony Passello asked where the funds will come from for the playground. Mr. Harp said they are in the budget.
Karen Brask, a resident of Newtown Grant, asked that the Supervisors appoint at least one woman to the Ethics Committee.
John D’Aprile asked why Mr. Jirele was not present tonight. Mr. Harp said he is out of town on business.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Harp said the Board will go into executive session to discuss land acquisition following adjournment of the public meeting, and will not reconvene tonight.
ADJOURNMENT: Mrs. Goren moved to adjourn. With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 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