Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

April 24, 2002 


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting May 8, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 4/24/02:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 4/24/02 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, April 24, 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 Member Paul Kester, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, Township Manager Bob 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 Pastor David Wagner of the Lutheran Church of God’s Love.  This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.  

ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:  Mr. Pellegrino announced that there will be no report from the Cable TV Committee; an item regarding the Clark property parking lot is added under Old Business; and there will be a short presentation about the upcoming Arbor Day celebration.  Mr. Harp added that there will be reports on the PSATS meeting and a Codes Committee meeting under Other Board Members. 

MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS: 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: 

REGULAR MEETING OF 4/10/02:  Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 4/10/02 regular meeting with two corrections: on page three, the first sentence of the fourth paragraph should read “Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked if the playground will be handicapped accessible.”; and on page five, the motion in the last paragraph should include the condition that the applicant will escrow funds for a possible future traffic signal at Municipal Drive.  The motion was seconded by Mr Jirele and passed unanimously. 

BILLS LIST:  Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $219,696.83; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 

INTERFUND TRANSFERS:  Mr. Weaver moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $4,379.76; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

TREASURER’S REPORT:  

2001 AUDIT:  Mr. Weaver said the draft 2001 audit has been received and is favorable to the Township.  He thanked the Finance Department staff for their good work.  Ms. Gibbs said the final report should be available by next week. 

SPECIAL ACTIONS: 

AMERICAN LEGION AMBULANCE SQUAD:  Mr. Harp presented a proclamation to Joseph Swerk, president of the American Legion Ambulance Squad, and Colleen Campbell, Chief of Operations, in honor of the Emergency Medical Services week and the 50th anniversary of the Squad’s founding. 

ARBOR DAY:  Mr. Harp introduced Russell Strover, member of the Township Parks and Recreation Board.  Mr. Strover said that that trees will be planted in three locations as part of the Township and Borough’s joint celebration of Arbor Day on 4/26/02. 

CONDITIONAL USE - FUND FOR INHERITED DISEASE RESEARCH (FIDR) - 375 PHEASANT RUN - TMP# 29-10-133:  Mr. Harp opened the advertised hearing for the conditional use application.  Doctors Michael Blaese and Brian Davis were present to discuss their application for 8,100 square feet of G-2 Research Use, D-1 Office Use, and G-3 Warehouse Use in an existing building in the LI District.  

Dr. Blaese said that FIDR is funded by a grant that supports research into Von Willenbrand Disease, an “orphan” disease which is so rare that larger research organizations will not investigate it.  It is a clotting disease, like hemophilia, and affects both genders.  He stated that the proposed activities are the same type of work that was done on this site by previous tenants.  The building is fully occupied, mostly by biotech firms like FIDR. 

Dr. Blaese affirmed that the information about the proposed activities in the Planning Commission letter of 4/17/02 is correct. 

Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the conditional use application of FIDR for 8,100 square feet of G-2 Research Use, D-1 Office Use and G-3 Warehouse Use at 375 Pheasant Run, with the hours of operation being 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM seven days a week, only UPS-type deliveries, a maximum of 10 employees, hazardous materials handled by trained personnel and disposed of by a specialized hazardous waste disposal company, compliance with any instructions of the Fire Marshal, compliance with all applicable federal, state and local standards regarding this type of operation, and compliance with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 3/19/02.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 

Mrs. Goren moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.  

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS: 

PLANNING COMMITTEE:  Commission member Paul Kester reported on their 4/16/02 meeting.  He said that several residents of the Upper Silver Lake Road area were present and expressed their views about the closing of the road.  They were invited to attend when the Newtown Corporate Center plan is reviewed again. 

The Commission also reviewed and recommended approval of a proposal to adjust the Natural Resource Protection line on a lot in Penns Preserve, and reviewed sketch plans for a parking lot on the Clark property and for a residential development on the Hoffa Tract.  Mr. Kester said the Commission also reviewed and recommended approval for the conditional use application from FIDR which the Board of Supervisors just discussed. 

The Commission reviewed six applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board, and recommended that the Board of Supervisors obtain a second engineer’s assessment of the hydrological data submitted with the application from the Newtown Corporate Center.  There was some concern about the effects of a proposed bridge on properties upstream.  Mr. Smith said that the developer has contacted Pennoni, which will meet with them next week. 

Mr. Kester said that the Commission will take up the question about the OR District referred to them by the Board of Supervisors at their next meeting.  A copy of the La Salle study was distributed to members last week. 

MEMBERS COMMENTS: 

PARK AND RECREATION BOARD:  Mr. Weaver announced that the Board will now meet at 7:00 PM on the first Wednesday of every month, instead of 8:00 PM. 

COMMUNITY COMMENTS: 

Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked some questions about general engineering expenditures.  Mr. Harp said the expenditures are within the budgeted amount.  She also asked for clarification about the involvement of the Redevelopment Authority in planning for the old Acme building.  Mr. Pellegrino explained that the Authority is helping the Township to explore options; any work the Township decides to do might be done by the Authority, another contractor, or the Township itself.  

Gail Laughlin noted that Stanley Twining, a longtime Township resident, passed away recently.  She also thanked Mrs. Goren, Mr. Weaver and Mr. Harp for working to increase the Township’s representation on the School Board.  Ms Laughlin corrected several statements allegedly made about her by Ms Crescenzo in a letter to the Courier-Times.

Tony Passello, a resident of Kirkwood, asked about the vacating of the section of Upper Silver Lake Road between Dolington Road and Gauck’s Lane.  Mr. Harris said that the Board of Supervisors took no action on this matter which was discussed about a year ago.  He said that Mr. Harwood wrote an informative memo on this subject at the time. 

Marcy Conti said she served on the Swamp Road Citizens Advisory Committee, where she learned a great deal about appropriate widths of streets and traffic calming.  She is concerned that the sketch plan for the McLaughlin Tract includes substantial widening of Stoopville Road.  Mr. Harris said that the plan does comply with the ordinance.  He suggested that Ms Conti bring up her concerns during the land development review process for this plan. 

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS: 

CHAIRMAN: 

WORK SESSION:  Mr. Harp reported on the Board’s work session on 4/22/02.  Among the items discussed were:  the sound wall along the Bypass, a presentation about bus shelters, a sketch plan for the Hoffa Tract, a report from the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation, an agreement with the Redevelopment Authority regarding work on the old Acme Building, an intergovernmental agreement with Lower Makefield, a vacacny on the Joint Historic Commission (for which residents are encouraged to apply), some engineering matters, the Clark property, the 413 Office Center/Durham Road Associates road system, expansion of the Municipal Complex, a fee waiver for the Joint Municipal Authority and the Fire Association Lease. 

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS:   

PSATS CONVENTION:  Mrs. Goren reported that she, Mr. Weaver and Mr. Goodnoe attended the PSATS convention from 4/14/02 to 4/17/02 in Hershey, PA.  She said there was a valuable exchange of information on important issues, and many resolutions were passed. 

CODES COMMITTEE:  Mrs. Goren said she attended the Codes Committee meeting on 4/11/02, where they discussed the FIDR application and a request from St. Andrews School for a small increase in their impervious surface. 

MANAGER: 

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

PECO TREE TRIMMING:  Mr. Pellegrino announced that PECO will begin trimming trees soon, starting with the southern part of the Township.  They will notify affected residents, and finish up in September. 

SOLICITOR: 

PLATINUM EXECUTIVE SUITES:  Mr. Harris said this item should be tabled until the next meeting because certain documents have not been submitted. 

RCN:  Mr. Harris said the Township will probably file an answer to RCN’s appeal by the end of the week.  The Township is retaining the proceeds of RCN’s letter of credit, and is waiting to hear if RCN’s bonding company will pay the Township the proceeds of RCN’s $100,000 bond.  Mr. Harris said it may be necessary to hold a hearing on RCN’s request to modify the franchise agreement. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD - 5/2/02:  Mr. Harris reviewed the six new cases scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board’s 5/2/02 meeting.  He noted that the Planning Commission recommended opposition to the application from the Newtown Corporate Center because of concerns for the upstream property owners. 

LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS COUNCIL:  Frank Mentrikoski, representing the Newtown Gate Homeowners Association, asked the Board of Supervisors to defer their decision regarding this application until the LSAC’s revised plan is reviewed.  He said that the Homeowners Association opposes smaller parking spaces. 

Mrs. Goren explained that the Supervisors must decide whether to oppose this application tonight because it is scheduled for 5/2/02 before the Zoning Hearing Board.  Mr. Goodnoe said it might be possible to ask the applicant to withdraw an application until the matter can be resolved. 

Mr. Jirele asked why the Newtown Gate residents are opposed to a change that will result in greater buffering between the LSAC building and their properties.  Mrs. Goren said the same benefit could be obtained by making the building smaller.  She noted that LSAC will require a variance to build the underground parking.  Mr. Goodnoe said the current plan complies with the ordinance, and if LSAC does not get the relief they seek the neighbors will have less buffering. 

Mr. Jirele moved to ask Mr. Harwood to ask the Zoning Hearing Board to cap the number of permitted parking spaces on this site.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe. 

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said she would like to send the Solicitor to oppose this application. 

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed 3-2, with Mrs. Goren and Mr. Harp voting “nay”. 

Mrs. Goren moved to send the Solicitor to oppose this application.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp. 

Discussion of motion:  Mrs. Goren said the LSAC building is too large for the site and the use is too intense.  Mr. Goodnoe said the building size will not change because of this request.  Mr. Smith explained that this request is a response to the neighbors’ concerns.  Reducing the parking space size will allow a higher berm. 

Mrs. Goren’s motion failed 2-3, with Mr. Goodnoe, Mr. Weaver and Mr. Jirele voting “nay”. 

NEWTOWN CORPORATE CENTER:  Dan Doorley, owner of two nearby properties, stated he does not oppose the construction of the bridge.  However, he is concerned about the impact of the bridge on his properties.  He said that the Planning Commission recommendation has been implemented, and his engineer, the Township Engineer and the applicant’s engineers will be meeting.  

Mrs. Goren moved to instruct the Solicitor to oppose this application if the Township Engineer concludes that the relief will have an adverse impact on the adjoining properties.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele. 

Discussion of motion:  Tony Rimikis of Brandywine Realty, the applicant in this case, was present and said he does not think the bridge will have an adverse impact; however, Brandywine will take whatever steps are necessary to prevent problems.  Mr. Goodnoe suggested the motion be amended to state that the Township will oppose the application if Brandywine refuses to remedy the problem. 

Mrs. Goren and Mr. Jirele amended their motion to state that if the Township Engineer finds that the relief will have adverse impact on the neighboring properties, and if the applicant refuses to remedy the problem, the Solicitor will oppose the application.  The motion passed unanimously. 

ANNEXATION OF PARCEL WITHIN NEWTOWN BOROUGH:  Mr. Harris explained that the Board of Supervisors needs to file a petition for annexation of this parcel.  He has provided a draft petition.  Volunteers could be used to circulate the petition, which would require about 300 signatures of Township residents and about 60 signatures of Borough residents.  Mr. Harp said he will write to the Borough and ask for a planning meeting. 

Mr. Goodnoe moved to state the Township’s support for the annexation, and to appoint Mr. Harp and Mr. Jirele as the Township’s representatives in this effort.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 

SCHOOL BOARD REDISTRICTING:  Mr. Harris said Judge McAndrew has decided to allow municipalities to intervene and to spend public funds on this issue.  Upper Makefield and Wrightstown have authorized their solicitors to represent them, although Mr. Harris does not know what position they will take.  

Mr. Jirele said the Supervisors discussed this issue at the 4/22/02 work session, and he understood that the School District has filed a second plan.  Mr. Harris said he will send a copy to Mr. Pellegrino for distribution to the Supervisors as soon as he receives it.  Mr. Harris said he considers this a matter of pending litigation, and there might be procedural issues that should be discussed in executive session.  Mr. Goodnoe said he hoped that policy issues will be discussed in open, televised meetings.  He does not want to see the Rogers plan become the Township plan.  Mr. Jirele said that policy discussions might also take place at non-televised (but public) work sessions, or at meetings among officials of several municipalities.  There was general agreement that the discussion of this issue should take place in public as much as possible. 

Mr. Jirele moved to direct the Solicitor to file a petition allowing the Township to intervene in the issue of school board redistricting. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 

BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO:  Mr. Goodnoe said there was an item discussed at the recent executive session regarding Blockbuster Video that was not in Mr. Harp’s Chairman’s report.  Mr. Harris said the item concerned some signs erected inside the store which are visible from the Bypass, and it was decided that Mr. Sander will speak to Blockbuster and ask them to replace the signs.  Mr. Harp said Mr. Sander requested that this item be discussed in executive session. 

ENGINEER:  No items for this section. 

OLD BUSINESS: 

CLARK PROPERTY PARKING LOT - DURHAM ROAD:  Russell Strover of the Parks and Recreation Board and Mr. Smith presented a sketch plan for a gravel parking lot on the Clark Property.  Mr. Pellegrino said the sketch plan was discussed at the 4/22/02 work session.  Eight parking spaces are proposed. 

Mrs. Goren asked if a PennDOT occupancy permit will be necessary to widen the driveway to 20 feet; Mr. Smith said it will be.  He added that 20 feet is the PennDOT standard. 

Mr. Jirele said there was extensive discussion at the work session, and he subsequently visited the site and noticed that a well exists in the proposed parking area.  He said he does not want to see a parking lot built as shown on the plan, since this would intrude on what is a beautiful farmstead that should remain undeveloped.  If a parking lot must be constructed, he would rather see it behind the barn.  

Mr. Weaver pointed out that putting the lot behind the barn would necessitate a more extensive driveway and put the lot right up against where the woods begin.  He said that a gravel lot and driveway are easy to take up if plans change.  

Mr. Goodnoe said he also prefers to see the parking lot behind the barn.  He said that this plan shows the lack of an overall vision for this property. 

Mr. Harp said it would be good to hear what the Parks and Recreation Board’s vision is for this site. 

Mrs. Goren said she would like to see a gate across the access at night.  Mr. Goodnoe said that was proposed at Swamp Road Park, but the idea was dropped because there was no one willing to open and close the gate each day. 

Mrs. Goren moved to approve the Parks and Recreation Board’s sketch plan for the parking lot on the Clark property, with the conditions that they obtain a PennDOT occupancy permit, erect appropriate signage, block access to the lot at night, there will be no interference with the existing well, and DCNR and the Parks and Recreation Board will discuss possible uses of the property.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Goodnoe asked if the motion includes a waiver of the land development process, and a waiver of the requirement that the driveway be blacktopped. 

Mrs. Goren and Mr. Weaver amended their motion to include a waiver of the land development process, and a waiver to allow a gravel driveway. 

Mr. Jirele questioned whether this plan shows interference with the existing well.  Mr. Smith said the plan is only a sketch plan, and the parking lot can be designed without interfering with the well. 

Nancy Crescenzo said she is concerned about the expense of this project and the lack of an overall plan.  Mr. Harp said the trees and the existing trail are not disturbed by this plan. 

Walter Iwaskiw suggested the Park and Recreation Board develop further plans that would include lighting and other improvements. 

Mr. Goodnoe asked where the funds will come from.  Mr. Pellegrino responded that some work will be done by the Public Works Department and some will be contracted or donated.  Mr. Weaver said there is a possibility that grants can be obtained from DCNR.  Mr. Pellegrino said there is no cost estimate yet, since this is only a concept plan. 

Mrs, Goren’s motion passed 3-2, with Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Jirele voting “nay”. 

NEW BUSINESS: 

GASOLINE AND DIESEL FUEL BIDS AWARDS:  Mrs. Goren moved to adopt bids for gasoline from Farm and Home for a firm price of  .8880 per gallon, and diesel fuel from Sunoco for a firm price of  .9405 per gallon, as recommended by Mr. Harwood in his 4/10/02 memo.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

FINAL PLAN - COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION UNDERWRITERS - LINDENHURST ROAD:  Mr. Harris provided copies of a 4/12/02 letter from Carroll Engineering which states that the final plan is ready for the Supervisors’ signatures.  He said there were some minor technical changes.  Mrs. Goren said she will abstain from the vote because she did not participate in the review and approval of the plan. 

Mr. Weaver moved to sign the mylars for the final plan for the Community Association Underwriters Office Park.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Goren abstaining. 

PLAN AMENDMENT - RESOURCE PROTECTION LINE - 17 MILLSTONE DRIVE:  Paul Tyndall, owner of 17 Millstone Drive, was present to discuss his request to move the resource protection line on Lot 9 of the Penns Preserve plan to accommodate the construction of a proposed deck.  Mr. Tyndall stated that there have never been any trees protected by this line during his ownership of the house; he assumes there were some before the house was constructed.  Mr. Jirele asked Mr. Pellegrino if the building inspectors should have reported any destruction of trees during construction; Mr. Pellegrino said they should have.  Mr. Jirele asked him to research if this happened when Mr. Tyndall’s house was constructed. 

Mrs. Goren moved to approve the request to relocate the resource protection line on Lot 9 of Penns Preserve as submitted this evening.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

COMMUNITY COMMENTS CONTINUED:

Walter Iwaskiw asked if notices were sent to nearby properties regarding the Zoning Hearing Board applications; Mr. Harris said they were sent to adjoining property owners and Homeowner Associations.  Mr. Iwaskiw said that, as of this morning, the president of Cliveden Estates had not received any notice of Dr. Kelly’s application.  Mr. Pellegrino said he will look into this. 

Nancy Crescenzo asked several questions about items recently discussed at Board meetings and work sessions.  She also said her letter to the newspaper was edited, and she provided a copy of her original letter to Mr. Pellegrino. 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  Mr. Harp said there is no need for an executive session. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Mrs. Goren moved adjourn.  With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 11:20 PM. 

 

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