Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

March 27, 2002 


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting April 10, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 3/27/02: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 3/27/02 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, March 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:  Police Chief Martin Duffy, Planning Commission Vice Chairman Allen Fidler, Cable TV Committee Chairman Jim Bowe, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, Acting Township Manager Tom Harwood 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 the Reverend David Riddler of the First Baptist Church of Newtown.  This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.  

ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:  Mr. Harp announced that Mr. Harwood is serving as Acting Township Manager tonight.  He also announced that the Board will meet in executive session for matters of land acquisition and pending litigation following the regular meeting. 

SPECIAL ACTIONS: 

PROCLAMATION - NO PLACE FOR HATE PROGRAM:  Police Chief Martin Duffy introduced the “No Place for Hate” program, which has been developed by several community organizations in the region.  A proclamation stating the Township’s support for this program was passed at a recent work session.  Chief Duffy said the purpose of the program is to eliminate hate crimes and promote a sense of welcome and inclusion for all racial, religious and ethnic groups in the community.  He said a committee is being formed to plan and carry out events so that the Township can be designated a “No Place for Hate” community, and volunteers are being sought.  

POLICE - VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS - RESIDENTS COMMENDATION:  Chief Duffy presented commendations to Police Officers Mark Penz, Adam Kolman and Paul Deppi; firefighters Andrew Errico, George Forsyth III and Michael De Pue; and private citizens Rodger Taylor, Jeffrey Marshall and David Marshall, in honor of their courageous actions in rescuing a woman from a burning car on 2/28/02. 

CONDITIONAL USE HEARINGS: 

MCLAUGHLIN TRACT - STOOPVILLE ROAD - TOLL BROTHERS:  Mr. Harp opened the hearing for the conditional use application, and said that the applicant has requested a continuance to the next meeting. 

Mr. Jirele moved to continue the hearing to 4/10/02.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

DURHAM ROAD ASSOCIATES - DURHAM ROAD - TMP# 29-3-35 & 29-3-36-2:  David Pinchuk, attorney Mike Carr and architect Maryellen Saylor were present to discuss the request for 80,750 square feet of D-1 Office Use in three office buildings to be constructed on a 13.64 acre lot in the PS-2 District.  Mr. Carr explained that a conditional use approval for this site was granted about a year ago but it expired.  The plan has been revised, and a slightly smaller project is proposed. 

Mr. Carr said that the Zoning Hearing Board decision of 1/3/02 permitted 32% impervious surface instead of 30%, one parking space for every 250 square feet of office space, some smaller parking stalls and no loading berths.  It also required cross easements with the adjacent parcels for the access driveway.  Issues such as stormwater management and buffering will be addressed during the land development process.  

Mr. Pinchuk and Ms Saylor were sworn in.  

Mr. Pinchuk said the buildings have two stories and are 35 feet high.  He explained that the plan shows an access driveway to Route 413 in addition to the shared access on the 413 Office Center property.  Mr. Jirele observed that the plan now shows two accesses about 50 yards apart.  Mr. Pinchuk said the direct access, which is right in/right out, is there because the shared access is not yet a reality, and Durham Road Associates wanted to make sure they had some access to Route 413.  He said this can be discussed further during the land development process.  Mr. Harris advised that the Supervisors can approve the conditional use and specifically exclude this plan from the approval. 

Mr. Carr said he is willing to meet with the owners of the adjacent office development and with residents of Newtown Grant, which also adjoins the site.  He said that the references to D-2 Medical Office Use on the plan are in error; the applicant seeks only D-1 Use.  The partial basement will be used for offices, and is included in the site calculations. 

William McMenamin, president of the Newtown Grant Homeowners Association, expressed concerns about the development of all three parcels along Route 413, which he said could easily result in over 200,000 square feet of office space in the immediate vicinity of Newtown Grant.  He asked the Board of Supervisors to delay their approval until Newtown Grant residents could study the plans.  He said residents have never been notified about any hearings, including the Zoning Hearing Board meeting in which variances were granted.  Residents are concerned about stormwater management, since there is a stream on the property that flows into Newtown Grant.  Other concerns include traffic, sight lines for exiting onto Route 413, buffering, security, noise and preservation of mature trees.  

Nancy Crescenzo, a resident of Newtown Grant, asked what concerns the Township Engineer has about this plan.  Mr. Smith responded that traffic is the biggest concern.  He said that if traffic for all three parcels is combined into one access there is a chance for a signal warrant at Municipal Drive. 

John D’Aprile asked for an explanation of PS-2 permitted uses, which Mr. Harris provided. 

Several other Newtown Grant residents expressed concerns about stormwater going into Newtown Creek, traffic, the presence of two elementary schools in the area, medical uses on the 413 Office Center property, security, property values, the effects on the wetlands and woodlands and the appearance of a large commercial development at the gateway to the Township.  One resident said he was once told that these parcels will never be developed.  Another resident said the meeting should have been rescheduled, since many residents could not attend because it is a Jewish holiday. 

Mr. Harp suggested that the hearing be continued to the next Board meeting to allow the applicant time to meet with the Newtown Grant residents.  Mr. Carr said he will meet with the Homeowners Association and other residents;  Mr. McMenamin said he will notify everyone concerned, and Mr. Pellegrino, when the date is set.  Mr. Jirele and Mr. Harp said they would participate as well. 

Mr. McMenamin asked why the residents did not receive notices about the conditional use approval for the 413 Office Center.  Mr. Harris said this took place about a year ago, and he was not sure if Newtown Grant adjoins that property.  Mr. Harris said that notices were sent on 2/25/02 regarding the Durham Road Associates hearing tonight, and it was advertised on 3/7/02 and 3/14/02. 

Mr. Jirele asked about the traffic study done for this area.  Ms Saylor said her office performed the study for the 413 Office Center application.  Mr. Smith said his office is reviewing it now.  Mr. Harp asked Mr. Harwood to see that a copy of the study goes into the Supervisors' packets. 

Mrs. Goren moved to continue the hearing on the Durham Road Associates conditional use application to 4/10/02.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Goodnoe said he would like to hear about the applicants plan for the development now.  Mr. Carr said he could not offer many specifics until tenants are identified for the offices.  He said he anticipates standard office hours. 

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously. 

MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS: 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: 

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. 

BILLS LIST AND INTERFUND TRANSFERS:   Mrs. Goren said she will abstain from voting on the bills list because it includes a reimbursement to her. 

Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $269,190.99 and interfund transfers totaling $30,219.72; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele. 

Discussion of motion:  Nancy Crescenzo asked about expenditures for design work on several parks.  Mr. Harp explained that Pennoni was asked to create some concept plans, and the costs are in the budget.  

Mr. Weaver’s motion passed unanimously, with Mrs. Goren abstaining. 

TREASURER’S REPORT:  Follows the Planning Commission report. 

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS: 

PLANNING COMMISSION:  Allen Fidler, Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, reported on the Commission’s 3/19/02 meeting.  Prior to the meeting, Mike Frank presented the third and last installment of his training session for members and staff.  Mr. Fidler suggested a similar program be made available to the general public. 

Member Paul Kester has been appointed to the Bucks County Planning Commission.  He will continue to serve on the Township Commission as well. 

The Commission reviewed the conditional use application of Durham Road Associates which was discussed earlier tonight, and recommended approval with several conditions.  They also reviewed six applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board, and recommended that the applications for #1 and #3 Amy Circle be opposed because of the amount of relief sought.  They also recommended that the Supervisors oppose the applications from WLM Enterprises and the Surgery Center of Langhorne because of traffic problems anticipated with permitting D-2 Medical Office Use at these locations. 

Mr. Fidler said the Commission identified two concerns arising from their review of recent Zoning Hearing Board applications.  The first is the effects of the increasing number of requests from homeowners to exceed impervious surface limits.  The second is the question of whether there should be more flexibility in permitted uses in the LI District. 

The Commission also reviewed the proposed Disclosure Ordinance, and tabled it pending further information from Mr. Frank and Mr. Sander.

TREASURER’S REPORT:  

REINVESTMENT OF TURNBACK FUNDS:  Mr. Weaver moved to reinvest $291,000 in Turnback Funds in an 18 month CD at Commerce Bank at 3.25% interest, with no penalty for withdrawal.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren. 

Discussion of motion:  In response to several questions, Finance Director Elaine Gibbs stated that there is no penalty if the Township withdraws the funds.  The 3.25% rate was the best rate of three quotes obtained. 

Mr. Weaver’s motion passed unanimously. 

2001 BUDGET SURPLUS:  Mr. Weaver announced that the auditors have confirmed that 2001 ended with a substantial budget surplus. 

CABLE TV COMMITTEE:  Committee Chairman Jim Bowe reported on the Committee’s 3/30/02 meeting.  The Committee discussed Comcast’s conversion of Internet services to their own system, which will cause some disruptions.  Mr. Bowe asked residents to wait a while before calling Comcast, since most disruptions should be short.  He said that statistics regarding service problems have been requested; he will share them with the Board when they are available.  Mr. Bowe said Committee Vice Chairman, Walt Iwaskiw, is working on bringing competing providers to the Township. 

SWAMP ROAD STUDY ADVISORY COMMITTEE:  Mr. Jirele said the Committee met on 3/20/02 with Urban Engineers and discussed a draft of the final report to be sent to Newtown and Wrightstown Townships.  An electronic version will also be sent to Newtown Township.  Mr. Jirele suggested that the report be put on the Township website, and that a time for public discussion of the report be scheduled. 

MEMBERS COMMENTS: 

AWARDS:  Mr. Weaver reported that several Township officials attended a dinner meeting of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society at which Bill Wert received an award for an activity guide publication, and Russ Strover received an award for his work on Township parks. 

FIRST FOURTH:  Mr. Weaver announced that the First Fourth Committee is looking for volunteers to help with all phases of the event. 

PUBLIC COMMENT: 

Nancy Carroll, a Newtown Borough resident, thanked the Supervisors for working cooperatively with the Borough on several projects.  She is not in favor of limiting public comment in any way, and also suggested that Board meetings should not be scheduled on Jewish holidays.  She said that the redistricting plan submitted by Burns, Rogers and Beckert was not good for the Township.  Ms Carroll said she understood that the petition for the plan was circulated by three of the Supervisors, and she asked that the plan be withdrawn. 

Nancy Crescenzo said that important business items and votes should be dealt with in the regular, televised meetings.  She is also not in favor of the Burns, Rogers and Beckert plan. 

Doug Terry said that medical uses were taken out of the LI District a few years ago, and the O-LI District was created recently to allow medical uses along the outer edge of the Newtown Industrial Commons.  He is concerned about the vacancies in the NIC, and asked that the Township reconsider permitting medical uses in the LI District.  Mr. Goodnoe suggested that the Planning Commission be asked to consider this question. 

Michael Iapalucci suggested televising Zoning Hearing Board meetings.  

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:

CHAIRMAN:  

WORK SESSIONS:  Mr. Harp said the date of the next work session has been changed to 4/22/02.  At the last work session, on 3/18/02, a representative of the Redevelopment Authority discussed possible uses for the Acme building, and the Park and Recreation Board made a presentation regarding playground equipment for Roberts Ridge Park. 

ROBERTS RIDGE PARK: Mr. Harp asked the Board for comments on using the Boucher and James plan for Roberts Ridge as a master plan.  He said that the plan for the playground will be reviewed by the Planning Commission on 4/2/02.  Mr. Goodnoe stated he preferred to see the Boucher and James plan reviewed by the Planning Commission.  Mrs. Goren suggested asking the Township Engineer to draw up a new sketch plan for the park, reflecting changes since the Boucher and James plan was created.  Mr. Smith agreed to produce an updated sketch plan for the Planning Commission meeting. 

Mr. Harp said that the Board has also asked the Planning Commission to study the range of uses permitted in the OR District, and make a recommendation regarding the remaining undeveloped portion of the District. 

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: 

COUNCIL ROCK REDISTRICTING:  Mr. Goodnoe said he does not like the Burns, Rogers and Beckert plan because it could result in the Township having no representation at all.  He also said that Supervisors should not have circulated the petition for the plan, since the Board has not discussed it. 

Mr. Goodnoe moved to state the Board of Supervisors’ opposition to the Burns, Rogers and Beckert plan.  Mr. Jirele seconded the motion. 

Mrs. Goren said she and two other Supervisors circulated the petition as private citizens, not as a Board activity, and no Township resources were involved.  She said that the Board does not have the authority to intervene in this matter.  She noted that other petitions can be filed if other residents wish to propose alternatives. 

Mr. Goodnoe withdrew his motion. 

MEETINGS ATTENDED:  Mrs. Goren said she recently attended two seminars sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Officials.  Mr. Harp and Mr. Weaver also attended parts of the seminars.  Mrs. Goren also attended the 3/14/02 Codes Committee meeting and a staff training session on sensitivity and diversity on 3/18/02. 

MANAGER: 

PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  Mr. Harwood said there were no items to be addressed. 

SOLICITOR: 

jmzo - home occupations in the vr-2 district (ORD-2002-3):  Mr. Jirele moved to enact JMZO Ordinance 2002-3, allowing home occupations in the VR-1 District.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD - 4/4/02:  Mr. Harris reviewed the six applications scheduled for the 4/4/02 Zoning Hearing Board meeting.  

Mrs. Goren moved to send the Solicitor to oppose the request from the WLM Management Inc. – owner Jesse E. Terry- to permit a medical office use in the LI District.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Goodnoe noted that the Planning Commission was divided 5-4 on their recommendation to oppose this request, and he feels the Zoning Hearing Board can deal appropriately with the issue. 

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

ENGINEER:  No items for this section. 

OLD BUSINESS:  No items. 

NEW BUSINESS: 

CERTIFICATES OF COMPLETION: 

WENDY’S INTERNATIONAL:  Mr. Weaver moved to release $43,241.00 in escrow funds for the Wendy’s project, based on the final Certificate of Completion.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 

NEWTOWN RENTAL CENTER:  Mr. Jirele moved to release $11,889.82 in escrow funds for the Newtown Rental Center project, based on Certificate of Completion #5 (final).  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Harris said there are no outstanding legal issues on this project, and Mr. Harwood said all bills are paid. 

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously. 

ROAD MATERIALS BID:  Mr. Harwood provided copies of his 3/6/02 memo regarding the results of the Consortium’s bidding process for road materials.  He recommended that the Township award the bids in accordance with the memo. 

Mrs. Goren moved to award bids for road materials in accordance with Mr. Harwood’s 3/6/02 memo to Mr. Pellegrino.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (CONTINUED): 

John D’Aprile said that the Wrightstown Supervisors stated that Newtown Township’s Board of Supervisors approved the Burns, Rogers and Beckert plan.  Mrs. Goren said she called a Wrightstown Supervisor to let their Board know this was incorrect. 

Mr. Jirele moved to ask Mr. Harp to write a letter to the Wrightstown Board of Supervisors correcting this statement.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

Mr. Jirele suggested that the letter should request them to correct their minutes as well.  Mr. Harp said he will have Mr. Harris review the letter, and he will send a copy to Upper Makefield. 

Mr. D’Aprile also said that ordinary people do not understand legal notices or agenda items, and suggested that the addresses of sites being discussed be provided on the agendas of public meetings. 

Nancy Crescenzo expressed more concerns about the Burns, Rogers and Beckert plan.  She also suggested that residents study the design proposed for the Roberts Ridge playground.  Ms Crescenzo asked why the Swamp Road Park will be renamed.  Mr. Harp explained that it will be renamed for Helen Randle, who served the Township for many years in a variety of positions and was instrumental in obtaining the land for the park.  Ms Crescenzo asked about the trailer being used by the Codes Department.  Mr. Harwood said that the department needed more space.  It is being leased with funds that were budgeted for this purpose.  

Tony Passello asked about the status of the plan for the Roberts Tract.  Mr. Harp said it is currently in the preliminary plan review stage, and is available for public review in the Codes Department.  Mr. Passello asked about the intersection of the Bypass and I-95.  Mr. Harp said it may become a full intersection when the Roberts Tract is developed. 

Karen D’Aprile asked the Supervisors to help Newtown Grant residents with their concerns about the Durham Road Associates project. 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  Mr. Harp said the Board will meet in executive session for matters of land acquisition and pending litigation following adjournment of the public meeting. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Mr. Harp adjourned the meeting, with no objections, at 11:45 PM.  

 

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED: 

 

_____________________________
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