Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

July 10, 2002


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting July 24, 2002. REGULAR MEETING OF 7/10/02:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 7/10/02 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, July 10, 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 Chairperson Karen Doorley, HARB Vice Chairperson Ellie Campbell, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Bernie Bires, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith and Township Public Works Director Tom Harwood.

CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Harp called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence. Mr. Harp also announced that Mary Clark, a longtime resident of Newtown Township, died recently. Mrs. Clark and her late husband Lyman sold their 50 acre farm to the Township in 1997, and it is now the Clark Nature Center.

INVOCATION:  Given by Reverend Nancy Stroh of the Holy Nativity Episcopal Church.  This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. 

ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA:  Mr. Harp announced that there will be an additional Special Action under Item #7; and the Solicitor will have an item regarding St. Andrews Rectory under Item #11.  Mr. Harwood added that HARB will present a Certificate of Appropriateness under Item #8; and the Tyrol escrow release under Item #11 is deleted.

Mr. Harp also noted that there will not be an executive session tonight. 

MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS

APPROVAL OF MINUTES 

REGULAR MEETING OF 6/26/02:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 6/26/02 regular meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

BILLS LIST:   Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $91,912.71; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

TREASURER’S REPORT:  No items. 

SPECIAL ACTIONS 

FIRST FOURTH - 7/6/02:  Bernie Bires, Chairman of the Park and Recreation Board, presented a trophy to Mr. Harp in honor of the Township’s third win over Newtown Borough’s team in the annual First Fourth softball game.  Mr. Harp thanked everyone on the First Fourth Committee for putting together a great event. 

CONDITIONAL USE - NEWTOWN VETERINARY HOSPITAL - 671 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - TMP# 29-10-37-1:  Timothy Ireland, VMD, was present to discuss his request for Accessory Use H-5 in order to create a 72 foot by 36 foot fenced in outdoor exercise area for the dogs staying at the hospital.  Mr. Harp opened the hearing and Dr. Ireland was sworn in. 

Dr. Ireland said he is proposing to use chain link fence for one side and stockade fence for the other three sides of the yard.  He said that the dogs stay at the hospital from four to 14 days; no additional traffic or employees will be generated; and the hours of operation will be 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday.  

Mr. Jirele asked how many animals will be in the exercise yard at once.  Dr. Ireland said there will be a maximum of four, and they will be supervised at all times.  Mr. Harris asked if he will agree to this as a condition of approval, and Dr. Ireland said he will. 

Mrs. Goren moved to approve an H-5 Accessory Use for Newtown Veterinary Hospital to permit a 72 foot by 36 foot fenced in area, with one chain link side and three stockade sides.  The animals will stay at the hospital up to 14 days; the hours of operation will be 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday; no hazardous materials or obnoxious effects will be present; the animals will always be attended while in the exercise yard; no more than four animals will be in the yard at one time; and the applicant will comply with the Heritage Conservancy letter of 6/3/02.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.  

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS 

PLANNING COMMISSION:  Chairperson Karen Doorley reported on their 7/2/02 meeting.  Pat Scully, Solicitor for Wrightstown Township, joined them to discuss four proposed JMZO amendments.  The Commission’s comments are described in Mrs. Doorley’s 7/9/02 letter.  Mr. Harris said he had heard from Ms Scully that she would like the Commission to reconsider its comments about post and board fences. 

The Commission also heard a report from the Traffic Engineer on current projects, and reviewed a sketch plan for a generator for Verizon to replace one destroyed in a traffic accident.  A preliminary plan for the Newtown Corporate Center was also reviewed, and approval was recommended with certain conditions.  The Commission discussed zoning for the remaining undeveloped parcels in the OR District, and recommended that the Board of Supervisors make no changes to the current zoning. 

Sue Beasley, a member of the Planning Commission, asked Mr. Harris to ask Ms Scully to provide some examples of post and board fence before the Commission’s next meeting; he agreed to do so. 

SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE:  Mr. Harp announced that the Sycamore Street Committee meeting scheduled for 7/9/02 was canceled.  There will be a special meeting on 7/25/02 at 8:00 PM at which the design engineers will be present to explain the final plans.  

HISTORIC AND ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD:  Vice Chairperson Elinor Campbell reported on HARB’s 7/9/02 meeting.  She asked that the Board of Supervisors sign both copies of the Certificate of Approval for 223 N. Sycamore Street and return one to HARB. 

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS - TYROLIAN GROUP - 223 NORTH SYCAMORE STREET:  Mr. Jirele moved to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for a new sign for the Tyrol Insurance Company at 223 North Sycamore Street.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS 

MANAGER:  Mr. Harp announced that Public Works Director Tom Harwood is filling in tonight for Mr. Pellegrino, who is on vacation. 

FIRST FOURTH:  Mr. Weaver expressed appreciation to all the sponsors of the First Fourth event on 7/6/02. 

FLAG FOOTBALL LEAGUE:  Mr. Weaver encouraged residents to get involved with the Flag Football League being set up by the Parks and Recreation Department. 

COMMUNITY COMMENTS

Victoria Bowe, a Newtown resident, expressed concern about the appearance of the large statue outside the La Stalla restaurant.  Mr. Harwood said his department is looking into it. 

Mrs. Bowe also commented that there is a proliferation of signs in the shopping centers beyond what was originally approved, which gives a tacky appearance.  Mr. Harp asked Mr. Harwood to look into this as well, and to get back to Mrs. Bowe. 

Mrs. Bowe asked about some restaurants’ practice of using signs to reserve certain parking spaces for their takeout business.  She mentioned Applebee’s as an example.  Mr. Harp and Mr. Jirele questioned if the conditional use approval for Applebee’s allows takeout sales. 

Elinor Campbell, Vice Chairperson of HARB, said the La Stalla statue, and the tents and umbrellas, were never approved by HARB.  She asked that something be done about these items, especially the statue.  Mr. Harp asked Mr. Harwood to look into this and report to the Board of Supervisors by the next meeting. 

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS 

CHAIRMAN: 

ANNEXATION:  Mr. Harp said the Township is working with Newtown Borough to annex a parcel of Township land to the Borough.  The parcel lies completely within the Borough, which causes problems with providing municipal services such as police coverage and road plowing.  Mr. Harp explained that the Township needs to collect about 300 signatures on a petition to have the annexation placed on the ballot in November, and the Borough needs to collect 50 or 60.  A simple majority of voters in both municipalities must then approve the annexation.  Mr. Harp said he will be helping to circulate the petition, and more volunteers are needed for this task. 

Mark Craig, President of Newtown Borough Council, was present and stated that the Borough supports this move, and has already gotten the signatures they need for their petition. 

MEETING SCHEDULE:  Mr. Harp said it will not be possible to cancel the 7/24/02 Board of Supervisors meeting because of time-critical business, but the 7/15/02 work session is canceled. 

OTHER MEMBERS:  No items. 

MANAGER 

PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  Mr. Harwood said the Township has received two extensions recently which are reflected on the revised list dated 7/8/02, and there are now no expirations needing to be addressed. 

TRAFFIC PAINT BID:  Mrs. Goren moved to award bids for white and yellow traffic line paint to Feasterville Paint, and for glass beads to US Municipal Supply, in accordance with Mr. Harwood’s memo of 7/2/02.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

SOLICITOR 

ST. ANDREWS RECTORY:  Mr. Harris stated that a month ago, Joseph McKernan, attorney for St. Andrews Church, granted a 30 day extension on the church’s application for a demolition permit for the rectory.  He said that no plan for moving the rectory has been developed, and the church has requested that the permit be issued. 

Mr. McKernan was present and said that the church would prefer to sell the building to Vince Lombardi.  Mr. Lombardi has expressed an interest in the building, but the costs of utility work are unacceptable to Mr. Lombardi.  Mr. McKernan stated that, as of tonight, no plan is in place for moving the building. 

Mr. Jirele asked if the Joint Historic Commission could take photographs of the interior of the building before it is demolished; Mr. McKernan said this would be permitted.  Mr. Lombardi was present and asked why the Commission would want to take photographs.  Mr. Jirele said that the Commission believes there are some interior architectural features that are worth documenting.  Mr. Lombardi said that if he obtains the building he will not maintain the interior in its original state, although he would agree to a facade easement.  His plan would be to put a commercial use in the first floor and apartments above. 

Mr. McKernan said that it will take the church 45 to 60 days to rebid the contract for demolishing, and the church is willing to cooperate with anyone coming up with a plan for saving the building during that period.  He agreed to let the Township know when demolition will begin.

ZONING HEARING BOARD 7/11/02:  Mr. Harris said that at the last Board of Supervisors meeting he was authorized to attend the 7/11/02 meeting of the Zoning Hearing Board to oppose the McLaughlin application unless the Township Engineer found that the calculations regarding disturbance of soils were correct.  He said that Mr. Smith has informed him that the calculations are correct, so he will not be opposing the McLaughlin application. 

CLARK PROPERTY - FIRST AMENDMENT TO AGREEMENT OF SALE:  Mr. Harris said that the amendment being proposed was rendered moot by the recent death of Mary Clark, and no action is necessary.  He said that the Township now has responsibility for payment of utility bills at the property.  

RESOLUTION 2002-21 - MATTHEWS PROPERTY - AUTHORIZATION TO CONDEMN:  Mr. Harris said that all property owners but one along Upper Silver Lake Road have granted easements to enable Orleans Homebuilders to install a storm sewer system.  Mr. Harris asked for a motion to condemn an easement across the property of Joseph Matthews, Jr., on the corner of Newtown-Yardley Road. 

Mr. Jirele moved to adopt Resolution 2002-21, authorizing the acquisition by condemnation of a permanent storm sewer easement across a portion of TMP# 29-15-12, owned by Joseph Matthews, Jr., to install, repair, replace and maintain a storm sewer system.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.  

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Harp said he hoped the Township can settle this issue amicably before the condemnation is necessary.  Mrs. Goren asked if Orleans is responsible for the costs of condemnation.  Mr. Goodnoe added that a right of way along Penns Trail is also required.  Mr. Harp agreed to table the issue until Mr. Harris can report at the next Board of Supervisors meeting. 

LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS COUNCIL - SETTLEMENT STIPULATION:  Mr. Harris explained that the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) filed an appeal of the Board of Supervisors’ denial of their preliminary land development plan.  If their appeal is successful, their plan will be approved without all the conditions the neighboring property owners negotiated.  Don Marshall, attorney for LSAC, confirmed in his 6/14/02 letter that LSAC is willing to abide by the agreements made with the neighbors if the appeal can be resolved promptly.  Mr. Harris also said that Judge Scott, at the conference on 6/20/02, urged that the issue be settled.  He said she expressed surprise that the plan had been denied. 

As part of his report, Mr. Harris provided copies of a draft settlement stipulation for consideration by the Board of Supervisors, along with copies of the LSAC appeal and Mr. Marshall’s 6/14/02 letter.  He reported that he also sent copies of all three documents to Mr. Mentrikoski, Denise Pelscha and Tony Sorrentino of the Newtown Gate Homeowners Association, as well as to Paul Beckert, attorney for the Special Committee of the Homeowners Association. 

Mr. Harris stated that he received notice on 7/5/02 that several neighbors filed a petition to intervene; Judge Scott has not yet ruled on the petition.  If the Township settles this issue, and if the neighbors’ petition to intervene is granted, the neighbors could choose to oppose the settlement.  If the Board of Supervisors want to settle, a motion must be adopted by a majority of the Supervisors. 

Mr. Harp outlined the procedure to be followed for discussion of the settlement:  the Supervisors will discuss the issue, Mr. Marshall will have an opportunity to speak for LSAC, the public will be given an opportunity to speak, and then the Board of Supervisors will vote.  

Mrs. Goren said she does not agree with the assertion in LSAC’s appeal that the conditional use approval which referred to 54 underground parking spaces was the same as granting a waiver.  Mr. Harris said he does not agree with this statement either.  He stated that there are many areas in which there are differences of opinion; he feels that the case is not a “lock” for either side.  This is why the judge asked the Township and LSAC to settle. 

Mrs. Goren read her motion to approve the conditional use application from the minutes of 1/23/02.  She said the conditional use approval document drawn up by Mr. Harris and signed by the Supervisors, which included a reference to 54 underground parking spaces, did not reflect her motion.  Mr. Harris said the signed document is the official approval.  Mrs. Goren said the order did not eliminate the need for the applicant to go through the land development process.  

Mr. Jirele said the conditional use order that all the Supervisors signed states that the Township permitted the applicant to build an 85,000 square foot building, and places a condition on the applicant to build 54 spaces under the building.  Mrs. Goren said she did not realize this was included in the order when she signed it.  Mr. Jirele said the Township did not grant waivers in the order, and never even discussed waivers in their review of the preliminary plan.  Mrs. Goren again stated that the order does not reflect her motion on 1/23/02, and does not grant any waivers. 

Mr. Jirele said another issue is that the Township has granted waivers to other applicants for underground parking, and it is not fair to not grant them to this applicant.  He added that the order does reflect his understanding of Mrs. Goren’s motion. 

Mr. Harp asked Mr. Marshall if he wished to comment; Mr. Marshall declined.  Mr. Harp then asked if anyone in the audience wished to comment. 

Frank Mentrikoski, Chairman of the Special Committee of the Newtown Gate Homeowners Association studying the potential impact of the proposed LSAC building, asked the Supervisors to delay their decision about settlement until the judge rules on the neighbors’ petition to intervene.  Regarding Mr. Jirele’s remarks, Mr. Mentrikoski said that this is a special situation.  Mrs. Goren asked if the neighbors feel a settlement will harm their case; Mr. Mentrikoski said it probably would. 

Mr. Marshall asked to make a clarification.  He stated that the conditional use application and the preliminary plan were filed and considered simultaneously.  He said that time is critical for the applicant; if there is no settlement, all the concessions made to the neighbors are not relevant. 

Another resident of Newtown Gate asked that the decision on a settlement be delayed, and that traffic issues be addressed. 

Mrs. Goren moved to delay a decision on the settlement until the judge rules on the neighbors’ petition to intervene.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Jirele said he does not see the relevance of the petition to the issue of the settlement, which he sees as a correction of a problem the Board of Supervisors themselves created.  Mrs. Goren said that the order approving the conditional use did not give the applicant carte blanche, and approval of the settlement will hurt the residents’ case. 

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

Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the settlement stipulation as drafted by Mr. Harris.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Goodnoe said the proposed LSAC building is an appropriate and desirable use for that parcel.  He said that past decisions on this application have been incorrect and have been costly to the Township.  Mr. Harp said he still has a problem with traffic issues in the area. 

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

Mr. Harris said that in the future, he will put a copy of documents to be signed in the Supervisors’ packets so they can review the documents before they are asked to sign them. 

ENGINEER 

RESOLUTION 2002-19 - TRAFFIC SIGNAL AT WASHINGTON CROSSING AND LINTON HILL ROADS:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve Resolution 2002-19, authorizing application to PennDOT for a traffic signal at Washington Crossing and Linton Hill Roads.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

RESOLUTION 2002-20 - TRAFFIC SIGNAL AT NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD AND PENNS TRAIL:  Mr. Weaver moved to authorize application to PennDOT for a traffic signal at Newtown-Yardley Road and Penns Trail.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 

OTHER TRAFFIC ISSUES:  Mr. Smith gave an overview of his Engineer’s Report, highlighting the following projects:

·       Linton Hill Culvert Replacement - project is on schedule.

·       Traffic Signal - North Drive and Durham Road - signal has been authorized.

·       Richboro Road Pedestrian Crossing Signals at Millpond Road and West Hanover Street - permit applications being prepared.  A site visit with PennDOT was made on 7/2/02.

·       Washington Crossing and Linton Hill Road Traffic Signal - preparing to advertise for bids. 

CLOSED LOOP SYSTEM:  Mr. Goodnoe asked about the status of the Closed Loop system.  Mr. Smith said the initial signal timing is in operation, but the entire system will take up to two years to complete.  He said that PennDOT is responsible for ensuring that the timing is adjusted satisfactorily, and they have been very responsive when problems are called to their attention.  Mr. Smith encouraged anyone who notices timing problems to call the Township Manager’s office.  He said that only PennDOT is authorized to make changes, and the computer in the Township building is a monitor and not capable of making changes. 

Mr. Jirele said PennDOT made a change to the signal at Swamp Road and the Bypass, and now there is no arrow to permit left turns during a green light.  Mr. Smith said he is aware of the problem, and will follow up on it. 

OLD BUSINESS:  No items. 

NEW BUSINESS:  No items. 

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (CONTINUED) 

Nancy Carroll, a resident of Newtown Borough, thanked the Supervisors for their cooperation on the annexation issue, and said the same process should have been followed with the School Board reapportionment issue.  She asked for a report on the recent meeting of attorneys. 

Mr. Harris said that Mr. Sander was invited to attend the meeting.  He said that the attorneys developed a “consensus plan” with nine regions; a map will be produced soon so that the public can review it.  Not all the municipalities have approved it. 

Ms Carroll said that the consensus plan carves up Newtown Township in an unacceptable way, and the Borough has already approved it. 

Marilyn Scarpa, a Township resident, said that Mr. Sander did not participate in the discussion; he was invited to observe only.   She said the Township was locked out of the discussion because of the Supervisors’ endorsement of the three region plan. 

Glenn Beasley, a Township resident, said he agreed with Ms Scarpa’s comments.  He also asked what the traffic issue is that troubles Mr. Harp regarding the proposed LSAC building.  Mr. Harp responded that he is concerned about the volume of traffic that the project will cause.  Mr. Beasley said that the LSAC project is merely a consolidation of two existing operations in the area, not an expansion.  He also said that the Supervisors should be aware of the income to be generated by the proposed LSAC project.  Mrs. Goren said that office development does generate revenue, but it also creates demand for residential development in the area.  Mr. Beasley said that the Township needs to work more on creating a positive climate for business. 

Nancy Cresenzco, a Township resident, asked the Board of Supervisors to help Frost-Watson relocate in the area, possibly in the old Acme building.  She questioned why the Township is spending funds on the Acme building.  Mr. Harp said the Acme building is unsuitable for Frost-Watson, the funds being spent were budgeted under “general engineering”, and the Township Manager is working with Frost-Watson to help them find an alternative site.  He added that the Township is still trying to determine the best use of the Acme building, and right now is primarily interested in controlling the site. 

Mr. Jirele said he has corresponded through e-mail with the representative from Frost-Watson.  He agreed that the Acme building has many environmental problems.  Ms Cresenzco said she wants to see a vision and a plan for the site. 

Sue Beasley, a resident of Linton Hill Road, asked Mr. Harris to repeat what he said in his report about the McLaughlin Zoning Hearing Board application, and he complied.  

Phil Calabro, a resident of Newtown Grant, asked about the traffic issue which concerned Newtown Gate residents.  Mr. Harp said there is concern about the accuracy of the traffic study.  Mr. Calabro asked that the Supervisors consider the enormous impact that the office developments proposed for Durham Road will have on the residents of Newtown Grant. 

EXECUTIVE SESSION:  None needed. 

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, Mr. Harp adjourned the meeting at 10:48 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