Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

September 16, 2002 


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting September 25, 2001. MINUTES OF WORK SESSION OF 9/16/02:   Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the work session of 9/16/02; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.


Members Present: Scott R. Harp, Chairman; Tom Jirele, Vice Chairman; Richard Weaver, Treasurer; Anne Goren, Secretary; Raymond “Skip” Goodnoe, Member; Steve Harris, Solicitor; Robert M. Pellegrino, Township Manager; Gerald Smith, Engineer.

Call to Order: Chairman Harp called the meeting to order at 7:05 PM. He announced that the meeting would end with an executive session to discuss matters of land acquisition.

REQUEST TO WAIVE APPLICATION FEES

Genesis Community Church, Inc. - Variance Extension for place of worship in the LI District

Keith Brown and Pastor Don Schuler were present.  In a letter dated September 10, 2002, Genesis Community Church requested that the Board of Supervisors waive a second application fee in order to extend the use variance for another term, and asked that they receive a refund of $1,500.00 that the Church paid on July 25, 2002.  Mr. Harp asked Mr. Pellegrino to put this issue on the agenda for the regular meeting on September 25, 2002.  

Council Rock High School North - Administrative Costs for Building Permits for Major Renovations

Mr. Harp cited the letter dated September 3, 2002 from Timothy Kirby, Superintendent of Council Rock Schools, to Mr. Pellegrino requesting the waiver of administrative costs associated with the building permit fees.  Mr. Jirele said that the township has been receiving a lot of “push back” from the school district regarding the Newtown Trail through school property, and said he would like to see the schools grant access in front of Newtown Elementary,  Goodnoe Elementary and the Middle School in exchange for fee waiver.  Mr. Pellegrino will contact Dr. Kirby. 

Mr. Goodnoe asked about the plan for six requested modulars.  The Planning Commission has reviewed them.  Mr. Pellegrino will speak to Dr. Kirby for additional information.

 Mr. Harp said that other municipalities were discussing the impact of the teacher contract on taxes, and distributed a list of possible questions to pose to the school district.  He asked for feedback from board members, and suggested sending a letter of concern to the School Board.  Mr. Harp read the proposed questions, and said that the School Board meets next Thursday night.  Mr. Jirele questioned the appropriateness of becoming involved in school district costs; Mr. Goodnoe felt it was not the board’s business to become involved in this issue.  Ms. Goren said she would not be comfortable recommending that the board sign or not sign the proposed contract.  Mr. Jirele said that the public should refer the issue to Newtown Township school board representative Rick Abramson. 

Ms. Goren moved to send a letter to the Council Rock School Board, to President Bill Burke, copied to the superintendent, covering the four questions distributed.  Mr. Weaver seconded.  Ms. Goren amended her motion to send the letter to all School Board members; Mr. Weaver amended his second.  The motion carried, with Mr. Harp, Ms. Goren and Mr. Weaver voting in favor of the question and Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Jirele voting against. 

Ms. Crescenzo said that there are more than just these three issues involved, including the costs of the new high school, and suggested that the Board contact township School Board representative Rick Abramson; Mr. Harp will contact Mr. Abramson.  

Mr. Iwaskiw asked how the Board could vote on a letter not yet written, especially since the intent of the letter is not spelled out. 

PRD Variance - Elizabeth Beasley-Hays - Signing of mylars

Mr. Harp moved to authorize the signing of the mylars for the PRD variance for the Elizabeth Beasley-Hays property.   Mr. Goodnoe seconded the motion.  The motion carried 4-1, with Goodnoe, Weaver, Harp and Jirele voting in favor, and Goren voting against. 

ACME Visioning Committee Appointments

Mr. Harp presented a memo dated 9/13/02 from committee chairman Vince Lombardi listing persons recommended for appointment to the ACME Visioning Committee:  Kathy Lesser, Tammy Sutton, Melva Vitoriano, Colleen Rees, and Gail Laughlin. 

Ms. Goren moved, with second by Mr. Weaver, to appoint the names listed in the memo of 9/13/02 to the ACME Visioning Committee.  The motion carried 3 -2, with Harp, Goren and Weaver voting in favor and Goodnoe and Jirele voting against. 

Mr. Jirele said he was not inclined to support some of the names suggested because of their lack of involvement in other committee work, and questioned whether elected officials should be appointed.  Mr. Weaver suggested that the committee chairman have the power to choose the committee.  Mr. Jirele disagreed, saying that is not usual to have the chairman appoint a township committee, and that it was the responsibility of the Board of Supervisors to appoint committees. He noted that there are some business people appointed to the committee, but that there is a large group of business people in the township that feels that the Board is unfriendly toward business, and that it might be prudent to include some interested business people.  Mr. Jirele said he had submitted two additional names of interested business people that were not on the suggested list:  Paul Salvatore and Linda Mitchell. 

Walter Iwaskiw asked where the Board had gotten the suggested list of names; Mr. Harp said from the Chairman.  Mr. Iwaskiw said he felt that there were a lot of interested people who are not being appointed to township committees, and asked the Board why they were not being selected.  Mr. Jirele noted that the people he was suggesting had volunteered early on in the process to be a part of the committee, and said that the Board should have seen the list of names collected and sent to Mr. Lombardi. 

Ms. Crescenzo said she thought she remembered discussion at a supervisors’ meeting that the Board would be naming members, not Mr. Lombardi.  She felt that the names on the suggested list had a particular vision for using the ACME site, but that others may help provide a broader view. 

Mr. Jirele moved, seconded by Mr. Goodnoe, to appoint Paul Salvatore to the ACME Visioning Committee.  The motion was defeated 3-2, with Harp, Goren and Weaver voting against and Jirele and Goodnoe voting in favor. 

Mr. Jirele moved, seconded by Mr. Goodnoe, to appoint Linda Mitchell to the ACME Visioning Committee.  The motion was defeated 3-2, with Harp, Goren and Weaver voting against and Jirele and Goodnoe voting in favor. 

Mr. Jirele moved, seconded by Mr. Goodnoe, to appoint Nancy Crescenzo to the ACME Visioning Committee.  The motion was defeated 3-2, with Harp, Goren and Weaver voting against and Jirele and Goodnoe voting in favor. 

Municipal Complex Expansion Project

Mr. Pellegrino gave a brief background of the project to date.  He said that township staff worked with the architect over a 6-month period to identify space needs for each department, developing a  “wish list”.  Facilities of comparable communities were visited, with special attention to how the facilities worked and what mistakes to avoid.  

Architect Joe Phillips of Donovan & Associates presented the program, which had been developed by departmental meetings.  He presented sketches that laid out building footprints, based on identified needs of each department, and emphasized that the concepts were very preliminary.  Mr. Phillips presented four plans, some of which would require the purchase of adjacent property.  He said that the site survey was complete and existing facilities had been identified.  He said that after direction from the Board, designs could be developed and then cost estimates calculated. 

Mr. Phillips reviewed the four site plan proposals, noting that the change in the placement of the addition to the administration building was due to the increased demand for space and the avoidance of construction in an area of major utilities, which would have been quite problematic.  Mr. Goodnoe said he felt that all departments should be housed in the same building if possible; Mr. Harris said that in most municipal buildings he has seen, police and administration are not in connected areas.  Mr. Pellegrino noted that the police would like to keep the outdoor shooting range.  Mr. Phillips recommended that any master plan should include the potential to develop what might be needed and afforded in the future. 

Highlights included:

Plan 1:

·        Removal of police garage and removal or relocation of Martindell House

·        Records storage in the existing basement

·        An emergency management center in the technology area

·        Extra police garage space

·        Use of existing property

·        Police and administration in same area

·        Condensing of maintenance facilities

Negatives include:

·        Construction very close to property line

·        No room for possible needed future expansion

·        Possibility of inadequate parking area

Mr. Phillips noted that a second floor on the administration building could be planned structurally, but that multiple level buildings can result in awkward workflow.  The Parks & Recreation Department would be located with administration, and the existing block maintenance building could be utilized for indoor recreation programming; Mr. Phillips noted the community meeting buildings on the sketches.  Mr. Smith noted, and Mr. Phillips confirmed, that terrain changes might result in various levels in the one-floor administration building.  

Plan 2:

·        Adds to police area, but expands in a different direction

·        Requires additional land acquisition - two parcels

·        Maintains the Martindell House

·        Administration building would be located near the entranceway to 413, requiring additional land acquisition

·        New entranceway would be more apparent

·        Would keep traffic away from maintenance and truck areas; keep day-to-day traffic separated from maintenance traffic

·        Administration would be separate from police

·        Shooting range would need to be relocated

·        Includes 50 additional parking spaces 

Plan 3:

·        Requires additional land acquisition

·        Maintenance building to be located off curve of entrance road, moving to the front of the site and primarily utilized for storage.

·        “Thin” side of the maintenance building would face street, enabling easier buffering.

Mr. Harris asked if there was any indication that the church would sell any land, and noted that locating the maintenance building at the front of the property could block any possible access to the church property.  Mr. Pellegrino said that the church has approved a proposal for the purchase of two parcels of land (on the frontage); a third parcel has been added to the proposal, but has not been approved.  Mr. Pellegrino felt that they might be agreeable to the sale of property.  He said that even if the maintenance building was not placed in front, the township might wish to purchase the property for the future. 

Plan 4

·        No particulars discussed. 

Mr. Pellegrino listed some of the municipal facilities visited:  Middletown, Bensalem, Towamencin, Montgomery, Upper Merion, Whitpain, Buckingham, and Warwick.  Newer facilities were Middletown, Towamencin, and Whitpain.  Municipalities chosen were similar size or had similar population.  Mr. Pellegrino said he would like to design the buildings to carry into the foreseeable future; he felt that, due to the slowing in growth in the township, municipal facilities should not need to expand again after this project.  Mr. Phillips noted that over the last ten years the trend has been to increase space for administration.  He said that the program he presented reflects current and future needs; possible growth was considered. 

Mr. Pellegrino said he favors plan #2, noting that the buildings are spaced out well.  He said he didn’t think that #1 provided enough parking; the zoning code had not yet been checked with regard to parking.  He said that #2 would preserve Martindell House, and he liked the placement of Public Works in one area, out of the way and screened.  He noted that community meeting rooms are provided in all scenarios. 

Mr. Pellegrino said he had appraisal numbers for the church properties, to be discussed in executive session.  He reiterated that he thought the extra parcel of land (included in plan 3) was worth acquiring. 

Ms. Crescenzo asked about the impact of expansion on traffic and the relationship to the office development planned for across 413.  Mr. Harris said that there has been discussion about having only one entrance to the office complex.  

Ms. Crescenzo asked about the possible expenditure of tax dollars to purchase additional land in several plans presented, and how the additional meeting space in an expansion might impact any proposed community center.  Mr. Harp said he would like to accommodate some recreation programming space in the expansion, and that there would be time for public input when the public meeting space is discussed.  Mr. Harp and Ms. Goren said it was premature to judge any impact on a community center. 

Mr. Jirele said he would like to see the department wish lists.  Mr. Pellegrino noted that much of the added square footage was in Public Works, which would include open space not built out.  He said he would get the space program for Mr. Jirele.  Ms. Goren said she would like to know which plan/configuration the staff prefers.  Mr. Pellegrino said that Public Works would like their facilities together, and that there seems to be no preference by administration or police for being in the same building.  Mr. Pellegrino noted that the intent for the old schoolhouse has always been to be utilized for community meeting space; the old maintenance building could be used for Park & Recreation programming space.  He said that the larger proposed meeting room would be multipurpose, with separating walls for dividing the space as needed. 

Mr. Harp said that the next step in the project is budgeting.  Mr. Jirele noted that the Board needs to determine the use of space and what budget would be available for the project.  

Ms. Crescenzo asked about expenses thus far for the project.  Mr. Pellegrino said that $25,000 has been budgeted for this year, and thought that approximately $12,000 has been spent  to date.  A site surveys has been completed.  It was clarified that it is too early to determine exact costs, or even estimates, of cost differences between the various plans proposed.  It was clarified that preliminary estimates do not include furnishing costs. 

Mr. Goodnoe expressed the desire to expand to provide enough space into the future, but not to over expand.  He said that the township should purchase the two parcels on either side of the entrance driveway.  He thought that the proposed expansion looks too large, and questioned space needs in some areas. 

The Board members favored plans #1 and #2, which includes land acquisition; discussion will continue in executive session.  Mr. Harp recognized Mr. Pellegrino for his work on the municipal expansion project. 

Other Business

 Mr. Harp reported that a member of the International Celebration, planned for September 29, 2002, has asked the township if it wishes to have a bocce team; there was interest expressed.  He will contact the committee. 

Historic House at Newtown Rental

Mr. Harp referred to a memo from Mr. Jirele regarding the historic house on Newtown Rental property.  He said that few potential buyers have been found.  Mr. Wilson has proposed subdividing the property, so the new owner of the house would receive the property free with the house and would be responsible for the cost of moving the house onto the property.  It was clarified that the township would want a façade easement.  Mr. Wilson is looking for a change in zoning to LI and waiving fees for some undefined expansion.  Mr. Jirele said Mr. Wilson feels that some situations, such as missed deadlines by the township and procurement of easements for the Newtown Trail, have resulted in extra costs, and he would like some consideration from the township. 

Mr. Jirele suggested that the township should decide what items requested by Mr. Wilson were negotiable and should enter into negotiations with Mr. Wilson to determine what might be agreeable to both parties.  Mr. Harris asked what it was worth to save the historic house, and said one issue is whether the township can force restoration of the house. 

Ms. Goren said she was willing to make it easier to move the house, but would not be willing to waive fees unless they were related to movement of the house.  Mr. Harris noted that there are two sets of costs to be addressed, the cost involved in moving the house and costs involved with the undefined expansion.  Mr. Goodnoe asked if there were any utilities in the roadbed, on Old Newtown Yardley Road between Newtown-Yardley Road and Old Frost Road; it was thought not. 

Mr. Jirele will ask Mr. Wilson for sketch plans for his proposed expansion, and discuss the issue with him.  

Roberts Ridge Park

Mr. Harp reminded the Board of the grand opening of the park this Sunday at 4:00 pm.  There will be a short ceremony and ribbon cutting. 

Lakeview Estates

Mr. Jirele asked if the final dedication of roads included the trail in Lakeview Estates.  It was clarified that the trail is not part of the Newtown Trail and is maintained by the homeowners’ association.  Mr. Jirele noted that pine trees still needed to be moved back from the trail. 

Clark Property

Ms. Crescenzo said she saw note of the Clark Property “grand opening” and asked when this was planned.  Mr. Harp said issues of access are being discussed now, and said that the opening date has been set for October 26.  She said she was not aware that there would be limited public access to the park. 

Work Session Agenda

Ms. Crescenzo requested that the work session agenda be posted on the cable TV announcements. 

School Board Reapportionment

Ms. Crescenzo felt that there should be more discussion regarding the school board reapportionment, and if the Board had any new information.  Mr. Harris said a meeting is scheduled for September 18, 2002. 

Traffic at Acme Shopping Center

Mr. Iwaskiw said that there was a problem with green arrows and green lights at the intersection at the entrance to the new Acme shopping center.  Mr. Pellegrino said he had spoken to traffic engineer Phil Wursta regarding the creation of another phase, and said he would follow up with Mr. Wursta.  Mr. Iwaskiw also suggested moving the light further left, to avoid confusion with the light for the center lane. 

LaStalla

Mr. Iwaskiw asked if approval had been given to LaStalla for the outdoor bar or the new canopy that has appeared.  Mr. Pellegrino said he would refer the matter to the code enforcement department, and that the issue of the statue will be discussed by the Zoning Hearing Board. 

Applebee’s signs

Mr. Iwaskiw asked if the signs at Applebee’s have changed, in particular with regard to the new “take out” signage.  Mr. Pellegrino said the Applebee’s would be going to the Zoning Hearing Board to request approval for take-out use. 

Adjournment

Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 10:15 pm. Executive session followed.

 

Respectfully Submitted by:

 

_____________________________
Leslie Dunleavy, Recording Secretary