Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

MARCH 18, 2002


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 27, 2001. WORK SESSION OF 3/18/02: Mr. Jirele said that the first sentence under “OR District Zoning Provisions” on page 4 should read, “Mr. Goodnoe said that residential should be removed from the OR District, and Mr. Jirele said it is something the Board should consider.”  Mr. Pellegrino said that the numbers in the first paragraph on page 6 are incorrect, but he did not have the correct figures with him tonight. 

Mr. Harp said the approval of these minutes will be tabled to the 4/22/02 work session so that the correct figures can be added. 


Members Present:    Scott R. Harp, Chairman; Tom Jirele, Vice Chairman; Richard Weaver, Treasurer; Anne Goren, Secretary; Skip Goodnoe, Member;
                                   Dave Sander, Solicitor; Bob Pellegrino, Township Manager; Gerald Smith, Engineer; Elaine Gibbs, Finance Director.

Call to Order: Chairman Harp called the meeting to order at 7:06 PM. He said that between each topic, after board discussion, there would be a chance for public input and questions.

Banking Committee Meeting 3/11/02 - Elaine Gibbs

Ms. Gibbs reported that the committee met on March 11, 2002 and reviewed proposals to provide banking services from Commerce Bank, First National Bank, M & T Bank, and Sovereign Bank.  After discussion, the committee recommended the following for board approval:

q       Change banking services from Fleet Bank to Commerce Bank

q       Combine cash accounts for all but Payroll, Highway Aid and Escrow Funds

q       Institute a policy authorizing electronic banking with the following controls:

o        Verbal approval by Manager and Board Treasurer prior to transaction

o        Listing on next Bills List for subsequent approval by BOS

o        Form indicating transaction signed by Treasurer and one additional Supervisor

o        Internal controls approved by Township Auditor 

Ms. Gibbs reviewed the banking criteria outlined in her memo.  She said that Fleet is eliminating their government banking section, which she felt was important to have.  Mr. Jirele asked if the township auditor had approved the internal controls yet; Colleen Williams is sending some information regarding the bank’s controls to Ms. Gibbs.  The township auditors will review the suggested controls and advise the township of any additional controls they feel are necessary.  Ms. Gibbs said that there could be some better rate opportunities resulting from electronic banking, which is faster.  In addition, electronic banking is required for the use of ICMA 457 over the Internet. 

Mr. Weaver moved to approve the changes to the township’s banking as recommended by the Banking Committee.  Ms. Goren seconded; the motion carried unanimously. 

“No Place for Hate” Program

Chief Duffy introduced Natalie Kaye, who said that September was multi cultural harmony month, and that the Anti-Defamation League was asking for counties to become part of the “No Place for Hate” program.  The program has three requirements: the issuance of a proclamation, forming of a committee and the commitment to present three events in the course of a year to deal with bigotry and hatred.  A sample of a resolution was included in the board packet.  Ms. Kaye said she would be glad to work with Chief Duffy to organize a committee and events and activities.  The official sponsor of the program is the Anti-Defamation League, and many other organizations have joined as well.  Mr. Jirele noted that this is a good opportunity for the township and other organizations to work together.  Ms. Kaye would be the contact. 

Ms. Goren moved to authorize the signing of a proclamation, to establish a committee to organize activities and support three events.  Mr. Weaver seconded; the motion carried unanimously.  This issue will be on the agenda at the 3/27/02 BOS meeting. 

Chief Duffy said he was waiting for direction regarding the establishment of a committee to study the program.  Mr. Harp said he would follow up. 

ACME Site Redevelopment - Bob White - Redevelopment Authority

Mr. White said that the Redevelopment Authority  (RA) was established under PA Act 385 - Urban Development Law.  The Authority has the power to acquire property for other than public use; it is a tool for municipalities, and can do some things that municipalities cannot.  The Redevelopment Authority works under cooperation agreements, and the township would have the final say.  The RA works with a visionary committee, who then might decide to obtain a property for redevelopment.  Mr. White offered the services of the Redevelopment Authority to assist in possibly obtaining and redeveloping the Acme site. 

Mr. Pellegrino and Mr. Weaver had spoken with Mr. White.  Mr. Weaver said he had seen a site similar to the old Acme site developed into a multi-tier parking garage in Princeton, which he and Mr. Pellegrino visited.   Mr. Harp said that the board has discussed a number of concepts, such as parking and stores, for the Acme site.  Mr. Pellegrino said that the Redevelopment Authority would need site specifications, and then it could bring back redevelopment ideas to the township. 

Elinor Campbell of the HARB asked the board to please remember that the Acme is next to the most historic site in Newtown, and asked that development of the site complement that fact.  Mr. Goodnoe said he understood there was some hazardous waste at the site, and asked if any government assistance might be available.  Mr. White said some funding might be available.  Andy Levine noted that the present owner would be liable for any hazardous waste clean up.  Vince Lombardi said that he and other residents and businesspersons on Sycamore Street were interested in participating in any visioning group.  

Sue Beasley asked if the township owned the Acme site property; Mr. Sander noted that the Redevelopment Authority would have the ability of eminent domain that the township did not possess.  Mr. Jirele said that the board would need to have an idea of how the township would use the property if purchased before moving forward, and said that the possibility of a community center on the site was still on the table.  Mr. Harp said that the major reason for the township to acquire the Acme property was to retain some control of the site.  

Ms. Campbell expressed concern over where entrances to a parking garage would be; Mr. Jirele noted that the church could use the parking as well.  Mr. Lombardi said that at a recent Sycamore Street Committee meeting someone from the church expressed interest in church access to any parking.  Mr. Harp said this is the first of many such discussions, and thanked those who attended concerning this issue. 

McLaughlin Property - Stoopville Road Re-alignment Plan

Edward Murphy said that Toll had received a recommendation to move forward with their subdivision land development, which is designed for 35 homes.  He said that Pennoni had developed a different plan than Carroll Engineering for the intersection of Linton Hill and Stoopville Road.  Mr. Smith explained the differences; Mr. Pellegrino said the Upper Makefield Board of Supervisors was comfortable with the plan.  Mr. Murphy said that their engineers had sent their concerns to Pennoni.  

Mr. Murphy said that the ordinance required improvements include:  4-foot widening of the road, stormwater management, curbs & sidewalks and drainage.  The cost of these would total approximately $250,000.  The roadway changes would cost approximately $600,000.  Mr. Murphy said that one way to fund these costs would be to increase the building density, which was rejected by the Planning Commission.  He presented an alternative idea:  making the building lots bigger, from 6500 square feet to 13,000 square feet, would increase the value of the lots without increasing density.  This would fund the roadway changes; Toll should still be able to comply with the open space requirement.  The board agreed to allow the increased lot size.  Mr. Murphy said that the percentage of AG soils could be problematic, and the possible encroachment on AG soils if the lots are bigger has not been determined.  

Mr. Goodnoe wondered if a left turn lane at the Linton Hill/Stoopville Road intersections would be necessary, and said he would not like to see a very wide street.  Mr. Pellegrino said that they should get an opinion about the intersection from the traffic engineer.  He said he would check an older study of the intersection to see if left turn lanes were warranted.  The board agreed to take another look at the issue of left turn lanes. 

Mr. Murphy said he had spoken to Larry Fink regarding the McLaughlin house.  His understanding was that the McLaughlin house should be secured (boarded up) by Toll and the area around the house regraded.  The Joint Historic Commission and other organizations would look to grant funds for restoration.  Ms. Campbell said that outright grants might be available.  Mr. Jirele said that the old 1712 log cabin in the house was particularly important historically, and suggested that money be set aside in escrow for rehabilitation.  He said that the barn was not an issue historically.  Mr. Jirele said that the Joint Historic Commission had investigated grants and had found that it might be easier to get money if the property were publicly owned.  Mr. Goodnoe said he preferred private money for rehab, and that it was better to sell the house and parcel and let private dollars fund the rehab of the house.   The board felt that rehab would not preclude commercial use of the property. 

Mr. Jirele said he would meet with Mr. Fink to discuss possible uses for the house.  He said that the Joint Historic Commission wanted the township to take over the house, but he questioned the township’s liability should it do so.  Mr. Jirele requested that Ms. Campbell ask HARB for ideas for usage of the house and cabin, noting that there are no facilities in the main house.  The Joint Historic Commission said that the lean-to part of the house should be removed. 

Mr. Murphy said he would assume the house to be on a separate lot when redoing the plan, as well as expanding the lot size on the new plans.  Pennoni will fine-tune the road plan.  New plans will be presented to the board at an April meeting. 

Sue Beasley said that residents on Linton Hill were told at a Planning Commission meeting that they would be notified when the McLaughlin Tract plan came in, and asked if they were notified.  Mr. Pellegrino said he would check. 

Park & Recreation Items:

§         Roberts Ridge Park - Playground

Andy Levine said the Recreation Board looked into a kid’s park at Roberts Ridge, and explored the feasibility of a gazebo and play equipment.  He said that $125,000 had been budgeted for the park.  He said they looked at various vendors and decided that an “off the shelf” play area would be most cost effective.  They are recommending a themed kids park, to be ship oriented.  They spoke to Lower Makefield, Morrisville and Doylestown about playground equipment, and learned that wood should be avoided, for visibility and splinter reasons.  The equipment needs to be ADA compliant.  The base surface costs were figured with wood chips, which is the most cost effective.   They have provided for a new tile base surface in the younger child area. 

Mr. Levine said that the gazebo would cost $20,000 - $40,000, and was therefore not feasible.  He and Bill Wert spoke to the county and learned that there is a portable stage that can be used to test the usage and popularity of such a structure.   There was discussion of a drinking fountain, and Mr. Pellegrino noted that it would not be expensive to run a pipe off of the main, from the nearby school.  Mr. Jirele said he would like to see a cost estimate for a drinking fountain.  The board liked the idea of a path from the Newtown Trail to the play area.    Ms. Beasley asked about wheelchair accessibility on the wood chip base; Nancy Crescenzo suggested consulting the IU Task Force for input.  

Mr. Goodnoe questioned the procedure for approval of the playground.  Mr. Jirele said he considered this as the “sketch plan” stage.  The board asked for prices on various base surfaces. The playground proposal will be added to the April 2, 2002 Planning Commission meeting agenda. 

§         Clark Property

Mr. Weaver said that the board had asked Pennoni to look at the entrance to the property; Mr. Weaver reviewed the sketches in the board packet.  Mr. Smith said that the apron of the driveway would be macadam and the rest would be gravel.  He said that since the driveway would have low use, that a deceleration lane would be unnecessary.  Mr. Weaver noted that some shrubbery would need to be removed, and that there were some areas with identified rare plants and vegetation.  Ms. Goren felt that there should be more parking.  Mr. Pellegrino suggested controlled usage of the property at the beginning, and then consider if the usage should be expanded.  It was suggested that parking be placed behind and to the south of the barn.  

Mr. Goodnoe said he thought that the planning was backwards; the board should look at the overall property then consider details.  It was clarified that Mr. Pellegrino had asked Mr. Smith to develop some concepts and bring them to the board. 

§         Hidden Lake

Mr. Weaver said that anything that is done at Hidden Lake must be done in conjunction with the county.  He spoke to the county, who said that there was no problem with access to the property, but that the area to the right of the dam is sensitive.  Mr. Goodnoe said he thought most of the township-owned land was wetlands.  There are visible signs with rules, including staying off of the dam.  Mr. Jirele said clarification of what property was private, township or county owned. 

Resident Jeff Marshall said an area on the sketch indicated as open space was actually his property.  He was concerned with the condition of the dam; Resident Charles Sutton said it was unclear who maintains what and questioned the purpose of the dam.  Mr. Scott said he would clarify these issues with county officials.  Mr. Smith suggested that parking be established outside the gate, keeping the driveway as is presently, and adding stone.  He said that anything that opens up the area encourages problems.   He also felt that the board should consider Smith Road in conjunction with Hidden Lake, as they impact each other.  Mr. Sutton said there are problems there now, and asked the board to keep neighbors involved.  He requested that they be informed of the Park and Recreation meeting, to give neighbors the opportunity to see any plans before they are released to the public. 

Ms. Campbell expressed concern over fire hazard resulting from cookouts in the area, as there is a lot of very dry underbrush in the area.  She questioned if the wetlands area could be used at all, and worried about the effect of development on the animals and wildlife in the area.  Ms. Beasley said that the Park & Recreation Board studied and developed a comprehensive plan for the park, and thought that their conclusion was not to develop the park because it was too sensitive an area.   

Mr. Jirele said that more study of the issues was needed before considering parking, and noted that the issue would need to go before the Park & Recreation Board. 

OR District Zoning Provisions

Mr. Goodnoe said that residential should be removed from the OR District.  Mr. Jirele said it is something the Board should consider. Ms. Goren questioned whether removal of residential in the OR would lower the value of nearby homes.  She said development should be carefully planned to avoid problems and promote balance.  It was clarified that the OR is approximately 153 undeveloped acres.  Ms. Goren said she was concerned about the traffic generated by commercial development.  Mr. Sander suggested asking the traffic engineer to compare traffic, costs and numbers for residential v. commercial development.  Mr. Harp suggested asking the Planning Commission to recommend uses in the OR and the engineer to analyze the traffic issues by June 1.  Mr. Jirele said that all permitted uses should be evaluated to consider whether they should be expanded or restricted. 

Mr. Jirele said that what the township should do with the OR to protect the tax base is a fundamental question.  Ms. Crescenzo voiced concern over the tax base.  

Business Development Council Mission Statement

Ms. Goren moved to adopt the Business Development Council Mission Statement as presented.  Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously. 

Financial Planning Committee Mission Statement

Allen Fidler, of the Capital Planning Committee, said that he was uncomfortable assuming responsibility for significant expenditures.  He felt it was better for the committee to deal with capital expenditures; otherwise it would be redundant for things to be done also by the township manager and financial department.  Mr. Goodnoe noted that the board could always ask for input from the committee, and that the original intent of the committee was to do long range capital planning. 

Mr. Jirele moved to approve the Financial Planning Committee Mission Statement as presented.  Ms. Goren seconded; the motion carried unanimously. 

Buffer Yard Amendments

Ms. Goren suggested extra buffering between different uses, and said she would like the Planning Commission to consider reviewing and making the required buffer different between different uses.  It was suggested that whoever develops second should be responsible for providing adequate buffer.  Mr. Sander cited Section 829 1 A (1) of the JMZO, and explained that there are degrees of buffering required.  Mr. Pellegrino will ask the Planning Commission to review the New Hanover buffer standards and recommend any changes to the Newtown Township buffer standards. 

Administrative Issues

 

Municipal Project Expansion

Mr. Pellegrino brought the board up to date.  He said that Joe Phillips had met with the staff of each department.  He will meet with them a second time to see if all of their suggestions have been incorporated into new sketches.  Mr. Pellegrino presented a concept for layout plan and reviewed the revised site plan.  He described the change in thinking regarding the use of existing buildings.  He said that the existing maintenance building could be converted to the Park & Recreation office and recreation center of some sort.  It was suggested that the Martindell garage be demolished. 

Mr. Pellegrino said that the new construction should be one floor, for convenience and practicality; build-in ability for a second floor should be planned.  There are no details as of yet concerning space or cost of the various areas.  After the staff’s second meeting with the architect, it should take 6-8 weeks for Mr. Phillips to complete preliminary plans. 

It was suggested that a future board meeting would be required to discuss this issue exclusively.  Mr. Pellegrino said they had visited other municipal sites, and that, since this would probably be the last expansion of municipal services area, the township should plan adequate space.  Mr. Fidler noted that the township might need to check the impervious surface requirements. 

Development Plan Sizes

After discussion of the sizes of development plans desired by the Board, Mr. Pellegrino said he would request 11” x 17” copies of plans in addition to the larger plans.  The first three sheets would be distributed to the board; Ms. Goren requested a complete set. 

Comcast Leases

Mr. Sander reported that an Optical Transmission Node (OTN) has been proposed and that the township has approved its location. The township will receive $5000 a year; the buffer plan is OK.  The cable franchise agreement is linked with the OTN lease.  

Mr. Pellegrino investigated other lease agreements, which included $60,000 a year for fifty years, $27,000 over a twenty-five year period, and no fee.  Mr. Sander said that a degree of good faith is involved, as Comcast has worked cooperatively with the township.  Mr. Pellegrino felt the lease would be fine if the terms don’t change.  He and Mr. Smith felt that the OTN facility would need to be moved further south; Comcast is agreeable. 

Mr. Sander will refine the lease language, and said that at their first meeting on April 10th, the board should authorize execution of the lease agreement, deeds of easement, access, temporary construction and utilities with Comcast.  He said that change in location might determine any need for easements. 

Other Business

Alternative School site:  Allen Fidler asked about the dirt piles at the alternative school.  The board asked the school district to save one pile for use at the park.  Mr. Smith said that there is a second pile that needs to be removed. 

Renaming of Swamp Road Park:  Mr. Harp said that Helen Randall is noted for her work at Swamp Road Park.  Mr. Harp suggested naming the park after her.  The naming should be followed up with a new sign and ceremony to honor her. 

 Mr. Weaver moved to adopt a resolution to rename Swamp Road Park after Helen Randall.  Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously, with the exception of Mr. Goodnoe, who was not present for the vote. 

Little League Requests:  Mr. Jirele said that when the board approved the Little League sponsor signs, the league was required to take them down after each game.  The Little League has requested that they be able to leave the signs up during the season and take them down at the end of the season.   Mr. Jirele worried that there would be signs up at other fields and that they would be come eyesores.  Ms. Goren suggested making the sign ordinances site specific.  Mr. Harp said the board should consider signs at the field.

They have also requested permission to build a 10’ x 12’ shed adjacent to the batting cages.  Mr. Weaver said that originally the board approved a cinder block building. 

Ms. Goren moved to approve the construction of a shed at Chandler Field.  Mr. Jirele seconded; the motion carried unanimously, with the exception of Mr. Goodnoe, who was not present for the vote. 

The Heston Barn:  Jeff Marshall suggested that the Heston Barn be moved to Friends of the Farm.  An agreement has not yet been reached concerning acceptance of the barn; Mr. Sander explained that this is a condition for procuring the necessary permits. 

Adjournment

Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 11:22 pm.  The Board went into executive session to discuss land acquisition and personnel.

 

 

Respectfully Submitted by:                                                                                                                                      
                               
                                       Leslie. Dunleavy, Recording Secretary          
4/5/02