Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

May 8, 2002 


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting May 22, 2001. REGULAR MEETING OF 5/8/02: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 5/8/02 regular meeting with one correction: the motion to pass the bills list should read “… the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining”.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, May 8, 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 Vice Chairman Allen Fidler, Park and Recreation Board Chariman Bernie Bires, 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 Ragan Savage of the Millcreek Community Church.  This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. 

 

 

ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:  Mr. Pellegrino announced that there will be an executive session for matters of pending litigation and personnel following the regular meeting.

 

 

MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS:

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

 

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.

 

WORK SESSION OF 4/22/02:  Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 4/22/02 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.

 

BILLS LIST:  Mr. Goodnoe asked for an explanation of the payment to Reed Smith on the list.  Mr. Pellegrino said that the Township was required to ask the firm for some documentation for the 2001 audit, and this payment is their charge for providing it.  Mr. Goodnoe said he will abstain from the vote.

 

Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $173,279.95; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

 

INTERFUND TRANSFERS:  Mr. Weaver moved to approved interfund transfers totaling $102,950.59; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

 

TREASURER’S REPORT: 

 

2001 AUDIT:  Mr. Weaver said that the audit produced only three comments:

 

·         it was recommended that the Township charge contingency expenses differently;

·         it was recommended that impact fees be expedited to the general ledger in a more timely manner; and

·         it was noted that beginning in 2003, the Township will be required to file the GASB 34 (a new audit report).

 

CURRENT FISCAL YEAR:  Mr. Weaver said that the Township is on track this year, having spent 24% of its budget by the end of the first quarter.  Mr. Goodnoe commented that the Township is actually on track for a deficit of over $600,000.  Mr. Weaver noted that a disproportionate amount of the Township’s income comes in during the last quarter of the year.

 

BILL FROM PECO:  Mr. Goodnoe asked for an explanation of a bill from PECO for electrical service at the Preston house.  Mr. Pellegrino said the Township will be reimbursed for this expense by the School District.

 

 

SPECIAL ACTION:

 

WELCOME DAY PRESENTATION:  Tom Julio, Jan Walters and Linda Mitchell of the Newtown Business and Professional Association announced the third annual Welcome Day, a community street fair set for 5/18/02 in downtown Newtown.  Ms Walters said the theme of the celebration is “Be a Tourist in Your Own County”.

 

 

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS:

 

PARK AND RECREATION BOARD:  Chairman Bernie Bires reported on the Board’s 5/1/02 meeting.  He said that Bill Mitchell of the County Park and Recreation Board discussed Hidden Lake and the Board toured the site, Pennoni Associates are preparing an engineered plan for the Clark Nature Preserve, the Board heard a report on Arbor Day activities, a new brochure has been mailed, revenues are up, and the Board discussed their priorities for the coming year.

 

Mr. Harp noted that the First Fourth celebration is scheduled for 7/6/02.

 

PLANNING COMMISSION:  Commission Vice Chairman Allen Fidler reported on the 5/7/02 meeting.  The Commission reviewed the final plan for the Heston Tract, and the conditional use application for the McLaughlin Tract, and recommended approval for both with several conditions.  They also reviewed a sketch plan for the McLaughlin Tract and discussed concerns about the improvements to Stoopville Road and the cul-de-sacs proposed.  Several neighboring residents participated in the discussion.  The Commission also asked the Township Planner to develop some recommendations for standards for buffering between dissimilar uses.

 

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL:  Mr. Weaver reported that the Council spent most of their most recent meeting discussing medical uses in the LI-O District.  They also continued working on a new organizational structure.

 

JOINTURE:  Mr. Weaver provided copies of a proposal and contract from Keystate Publishers, Inc.  They will scan the newly revised JMZO, put it into electronic format, post it on the Township website and enter updates as needed.  Mr. Weaver said all three municipalities in the Jointure will need to sign the contract.

 

Mrs. Goren asked Mr. Harris to review the document, and Mr. Harp said it will go onto a future agenda for discussion and approval.  Mr. Goodnoe said he remembered that Penn Valley Publishers was going to perform this service.  Mr. Pellegrino said there were problems with Penn Valley regarding previous work.  Keystates is a spinoff of Penn Valley Publishers. 

 

 

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS:  None.

 

 

COMMUNITY COMMENTS: 

 

Elinor Campbell asked several questions about plans for the Clark Nature Preserve.  Mr. Harp explained that plans are being developed now by Pennoni.  Mr. Smith said that the entrance will not be right in/right out because the volume of trips is expected to be fewer than 25 trips a day.  Mrs. Campbell was concerned about insurance coverage for Township workers and volunteers; Mr. Harp assured her that they are covered.

 

Mark Byelich, a resident of Brookside, asked several questions about budgeting for improvements to the Clark Nature Preserve.  He said this is an example of irresponsible budgeting.  Mr. Harp said the Township budgets responsibly and conservatively; in 2001 the budget projected a deficit, but the year ended with a surplus.

 

Nancy Cresenczo asked several questions about the budgeting process.  Mr. Pellegrino agreed to e-mail her some details about line items relating to design work for expansion of the Municipal Complex.  She requested that a letter she gave to Mr. Pellegrino during the 4/24/02 Board of Supervisors meeting be made part of the public record.

 

Linda Mitchell of the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) presented a check for $575 for the Park and Recreation Department.  The funds were raised at the NAC’s teen dances.  Ms Mitchell also presented a proposal from the Newtown Community Center Alliance.  She said her group is offering to build a community center on Township land near Staples.  She asked the Supervisors to pass a motion forming a joint committee of the Newtown Community Center Alliance and Township officials to work together on the project. 

 

Mr. Harp said the Supervisors will discuss the proposal first and decide at a future meeting how to respond to it.  Mrs. Goren said she is concerned about the Township’s financial commitment in such a partnership.  She said the costs are not known, since the Ad Hoc Community Center Committee never looked at costs.  Mr. Jirele said he is willing to participate in a committee as a representative of the Board of Supervisors, but he is concerned that this might be interpreted as a commitment from the Board to the project.  Mr. Goodnoe said the Ad Hoc Committee did look at costs, but they were not asked to develop a budget.

 

 

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS:

 

CHAIRMAN:

 

SYCAMORE STREET:  Mr. Harp noted that the Sycamore Street project recently received a $1.2 million state grant.  Mr. Goodnoe thanked state representatives and senators for their help.

 

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS:  No items.

 

MANAGER: 

 

PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  Mr. Pellegrino said the Board must take some action on the Law School Admissions Center plan tonight.

 

CREDIT CARD RESOLUTION 2002-12:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve Resolution 2002-12, authorizing acceptance of payment by credit card.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

 

SOLICITOR:

 

PLATINUM EXECUTIVE SUITES MYLARS:  Mr. Harris asked that this item be tabled, as he is waiting for final documents.

 

PENNS TERRACE OFFICE PARK MYLARS: Mr. Harris asked that this item also be tabled, as he is waiting for final documents.

 

COMCAST OTN SITE:  Mr. Harris provided copies of the lease and deed of easement to allow Comcast to locate an Optical Transition Node on the Township’s property near Staples.  He asked for a motion to authorize the lease and deed.  Mr. Harp asked if the insurance coverage is adequate, and Mr. Harris said it is. 

 

Mr. Sinback, a representative from Comcast, was present and described the OTN as a 22 ½ foot by 21 foot concrete building.  The generator is on a 9 foot by 13 foot pad.  There will be a brick veneer with landscaping, and an enclosure around the generator with a locked gate.  Mr. Smith commented that there are no safety reasons for requiring a fence around the building.

 

Mr. Goodnoe said the installation will be visible from the Bypass, and he wondered if access will be difficult.  Mr. Sinback said they can access the building over the grass; Comcast will repair any damage done to the lawn.  He said that there will be a fuel delivery once or twice a year, and no signs on the building.  The location is important so that the building is near some existing fiber optic cables.

 

Mrs. Goren moved to approve the lease and deed for Comcast. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed 4-1, with Mr. Goodnoe voting “nay”.

 

JMZO 2002-05 (TOWNSHIP 2002-O-06) - COMMUNICATIONS TOWERS BY SPECIAL EXCEPTION:  Mr. Harris provided a draft ordinance which allows cell towers in areas designated for them by special exception instead of by conditional use.  It also permits a cell tower on TMP# 47-8-55, Bill Gunser’s Active Acres Farm, in Upper Makefield Township.

 

Mr. Weaver moved to adopt Township Ordinance 2002-O-06 regarding cell towers.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.

 

Discussion of motion:  Mrs. Goren asked if this means the Supervisors have no input into the placement of cell towers.  Mr. Harris explained that the Board of Supervisors determines the locations in which cell towers are permitted, but a specific application to erect a tower will go the Zoning Hearing Board.  Mr. Jirele said he would still like to see the Board of Supervisors be involved in these decisions.

 

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

 

SUBDIVISION AND LAND DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE (SALDO) 2002-O-07:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve Ordinance 2002-O-07, requiring  all final plans to be submitted to the Township on a computer disk in AutoCad format.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.

 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Goodnoe asked if this is being done so that the plans can be entered on the Township’s GIS; Mr. Pellegrino said it is.

 

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

 

ENGINEER:

 

ESCROW RELEASE - TYROL INSURANCE AGENCY: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the release of $21,717.90 in escrow funds for the Tyrol Insurance Agency, based on Certificate of Completion #1.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

 

17 MILLSTONE DRIVE - MYLARS:  Mr. Jirele moved to sign the mylars for the amended final plan for 17 Millstone Drive.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

 

 

NEW BUSINESS:

 

PRELIMINARY PLAN - LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS COUNCIL - 661 PENN STREET - TMP# 29-10-33:  Attorney Don Marshall, project manager Bill King, engineer Wayne Johnson, architect Jake Sentschak and several other representatives were present to discuss the proposal to build an 85,000 square foot office building on a 7.09 acre parcel in the LI District.

 

Mr. Marshall stated the applicant is seeking waivers of the plan scale, showing existing features, a conditional reduction of 41 parking spaces and to allow parking within 20 feet of the building (for the proposed spaces under the building).   He said the applicant has made many changes to the plan following meetings with neighboring residential property owners and Township officials.  The applicant has also been granted a variance to reduce the length of some parking spaces, with a cap of 366 on the total number of spaces.

 

Mr. Marshall also stated that the applicant is willing to follow the recommendation of the Township Engineer that contractors not be permitted to go through Newtown Gate or on Grant or Penn Street.  The applicant is also willing to stipulate that the traffic impact fees can go to the Township without specifying where they must be used.  Mr. Marshall said the applicant met with Mrs. Osborn, a neighbor on the Penn Street side, and is willing to build a buffer as she has requested. 

 

Mr. Marshall displayed an artist’s rendering of the building.  He also displayed illustrations of the sight lines between the proposed building and the neighboring houses, and the height of proposed berms, as requested previously by the Supervisors.  He stated that the ordinance does not specifically refer to underground parking.

 

Mrs. Goren asked if the Township Engineer has reviewed the sight line information; Mr. Smith said he had not.  He also had some questions about the proposed berms.

 

Mr. Johnson said that no water will accumulate on the Newtown Gate side of the berm.  There will be about six inlets that will pipe the water to the detention facilities.  He said the calculations were submitted to the Township Engineer.

 

Mrs. Goren proposed that the application be extended to allow the Township Engineer to verify the stormwater management data, and to develop recommendations for traffic calming in the area.  She said her primary concern is that the building is too big for the site.

 

Mr. Marshall said the applicant could build something even bigger on this site, which has been zoned for industrial uses since 1970.

 

Mr. Jirele asked about plans for lights.  Mr. Johnson said the lights will be 12 feet high, shielded from the adjacent properties and will be turned off at 8:00 PM.  He added that there will be staggered double rows of trees on the berm to further buffer the neighbors.  He said that “hot spots” can be avoided.

 

Mr. Smith said that the neighbors want grass, not ground cover on the berm.  Mr. Marshall said this will be difficult to maintain, but the applicant is willing to comply.

 

Frank Mentrikoski, Chairman of the Newtown Gate Homeowners Association Property Impact Committee, said that the Law School Admissions Center has been very accommodating, but he found tonight’s presentation somewhat misleading.  He questioned whether the artist’s rendering is to scale; Mr. Marshall assured him that it is.  Mr. Mentrikoski said he is still concerned about the size of the building.

 

Mr. Sentschak, the architect, said the building was designed to be attractive, to minimize its appearance of size and to fit into the neighborhood.  He said the applicant can legally build a 50 foot high concrete box on this site.

 

Tony McBryan, a resident of Newtown Gate, displayed some scale models showing the relative sizes of a Newtown Gate home and the LSAC building.

 

Ned McCorry, a Newtown Gate resident, expressed a concern that if preliminary approval is given tonight, final approval is a certainty.  He would like the Township Engineer to review the traffic impact of this building as well.

 

Mr. Smith said the building will not appreciably worsen existing traffic conditions, and this is why he recommended that the applicant agree that the traffic impact fees could be used for studying and implementing traffic calming measures in Newtown Gate.  He said that the applicant’s traffic study does not technically meet the ordinance because it was done in accordance with the Township Traffic Engineer’s recommendations.  He said that the Newtown Gate residents in attendance at last week’s meeting agreed to this plan.

 

Alan Harvison, a resident of Newtown Gate, said the proposed building is too big, too close and too ugly.

 

Al Ventura, a resident of Newtown Gate, asked if the height of the building could be reduced another five feet so that people on the second floor could not see into the neighbors’ windows.

 

Harvey Edelman, a resident of Newtown Gate, said that the traffic study did not include Fountain Farm Lane.

 

JoAnne Osborn, a resident of Penn Street, asked several questions about the proposed lighting.  Mr. Johnson said the lights will be shielded and will not spill out into the neighbors’ properties.

 

Mr. Harris said the Board has three options:

1.      Refuse to grant the requested waivers, in effect denying the plan.

2.      Ask for a further extension.

3.      Approve the waivers and the plan.

 

Mrs. Goren said she favors option #2 so that the Engineer can review the stormwater plans (including the drainage of the berm), the underground parking plans, and make sure the traffic study meets ordinance requirements.

 

Mr. Marshall offered to grant an extension if the Board agreed to approve the waivers.  Mr. Harris recommended that the Board not vote on the waivers separately.  However, he said it was reasonable to give the applicant some indication whether doing the additional work is worthwhile.

 

Mr. Jirele said he likes the concept of the underground parking, he does not feel the additional stormwater management data is necessary, and sight line data is irrelevant because the ordinance does not mention them.  He said he saw the traffic study as the only concern.  It should include Fountain Farm Lane, but the Board already knows there is a problem there.  He said he is in favor of voting on this plan tonight.

 

Mr. Goodnoe said he agrees with Mr. Jirele.  He noted that the applicant has made many concessions on this plan.

 

Mrs. Goren said that adjacent dissimilar uses are again a problem, and she feels strongly that the building should be smaller.

 

Mr. Goodnoe moved to grant preliminary plan approval to the Law School Admissions Council plan, with the following conditions:

 

·        compliance with the Carroll Engineering letter of 12/27/01, the Heritage Conservancy letter of 11/26/01, the Bucks County Planning Commission letter of 12/26/01 and the Conservation District letter of 1/4/02, except for the requested waivers;

·        the parking lot will be reconfigured with the shorter parking spaces in the southerly five rows, as granted by the Zoning Hearing Board, and with an additional ten feet of berming, and a complete set of stormwater calculations demonstrating that the plans are adequate will be submitted;

·        submission of all required approvals and permits;

·        submission of all required financial agreements, deeds, etc.

·        payment of the appropriate traffic impact fees and park and recreation fees.  The applicant agrees the traffic impact fees can be used for planning and construction of traffic improvements elsewhere, and both fees can be spent at any time;

·        compliance with the 1/23/02 conditional use approval;

·        submission of water and sewer agreements;

·        a five foot high berm will be built as soon as possible on the south border.  Landscaping in accordance with Mrs. Osborn’s specifications will be done immediately.  The landscaping on the lip of the berms will be as described tonight;

·        a drainage swale on the south side of the berm and a piping system will be installed.  The berm will be constructed in accordance with the Zoning Hearing Board decision;

·        The lights will be turned off at 8:00 PM.  The lights will be 12 feet high and shielded so that there is no spillage onto adjacent properties or hot spots;

·        the applicant will hold 41 parking spaces in the east side of the site in reserve, until the Township wants them to be built;

·        all fees will be paid;

·        there will be no construction entrance on Doublewoods or Penn Street;

·        waivers are granted for the scale of the plan, existing features on the plan, parking within 20 feet of the building, parking underground, to allow grading within five feet of the property line, to allow the slope of the berm to be 1:1 (this item to be revisited); and from the traffic study requirement, with the applicant donating the difference in cost to the Township to be used for traffic calming measures in Newtown Gate.

 

Mr. Jirele seconded the motion.  Mr. Marshall indicated the applicant is in agreement with the conditions.  The motion failed 2-3, with Mr. Weaver, Mr. Harp and Mrs. Goren voting “nay”.

 

Mrs. Goren moved to deny preliminary plan approval for the Law School Admissions Council based on the following considerations:

·        the traffic study does not meet ordinance requirements;

·        parking under the building is not permitted in the Subdivision and Land Development ordinance; and

·        for all the reasons specified as defects in the plan in the four review letters.

 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed 3-2, with Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Jirele voting “nay”.

 

 

COMMUNITY COMMENTS CONTINUED:

 

Paul Salvatore, a Township resident, said he could not understand why the Board is not acting on the proposal from the Newtown Community Center Alliance.  Mr. Harp said the Board just received the proposal and needs to discuss it.

 

Gail Laughlin, a resident of Headley Trace, said people have been using the Community Comment section for political ends.

 

Nancy Cresenczo requested that all Township agendas list the addresses of sites to be discussed.  She also suggested that work sessions be televised.

 

Mark Byelich disputed Ms Laughlin’s comments.

 

Karen D’Aprile said she is not happy about the tone of tonight’s Community Comments.

 

 

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

 

 

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, Mr. Harp adjourned the meeting at 12:45 AM, 5/9/02.

 

 

 

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