Board of Supervisors Minutes
January 8, 2003
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 12, 2003. REGULAR MEETING OF 1/8/03: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 1/8/03 regular meeting with one correction: the second correction noted for the minutes of the budget hearing of 11/12/02 should read “she questioned the value of membership in the county association”. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, January 8, 2003, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Scott Harp, Vice Chairman/Assistant Treasurer Anne Goren, Treasurer/Secretary Richard Weaver, Member Thomas Jirele and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Planning Commission Member Shawn Ward, HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs, Township Solicitor Dave Sander, 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 Reverend Paul Chreiman, Pastor Emeritus of Newtown United Methodist Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino announced that the Board will appoint the Township Planner under Old Business; and there will be a Planning Commission report under Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions. Mr. Harp added that the Board will meet in executive session for matters of personnel and pending litigation following the adjournment of the public meeting.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS
REGULAR MEETING OF 12/11/02: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 12/11/02 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
BUDGET HEARING OF 11/12/02: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 11/12/02 budget hearing, with two corrections: on page 4, in the sixth paragraph, the first sentence should read “…perhaps the contribution to the Newtown Library could be eliminated”; in the same paragraph, the last sentence should read “…she questioned the value of membership in the state county association.” The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
BILLS AND INTERFUND TRANSFERS
LIST OF 12/25/02: Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $256,491.18, and to make interfund transfers totaling $5,893.60. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
LIST OF 1/8/03: Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $181,757.05, and to make interfund transfers totaling $500.00. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked for an explanation of the payment to Newtown Rental Center for holiday party supplies, and to a catering service for a luncheon. Mr. Pellegrino said these bills concerned the staff’s holiday party.
Mr. Weaver’s motion passed unanimously.
BUDGET 2002: Mr. Weaver said that revenues will exceed expenses in 2002 by about $200,000. He thanked Mr. Pellegrino and Ms Gibbs for their hard work to achieve this result.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (HARB): Ethel Hibbs, HARB Secretary, reported that HARB recommended approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness for Pryda, Inc., for exterior renovations to their property at 159 N. Sycamore Street. Copies of the application and HARB’s recommendations from their 12/10/02 meeting were distributed earlier to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Goodnoe asked if the stairs are masonry; Ms Hibbs said she did not know. Mr. Goodnoe said heat cables usually work better in masonry stairs.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for Pryda, Inc., with changes recommended by HARB at their 12/10/02 meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL: Mr. Weaver reported that 28 persons attended the most recent Council meeting. The Stockburgers were present to answer questions about their presentation at an earlier meeting, and the Council voted to endorse their proposal if it meets the requirements of the Township and the Borough. Mr. Weaver provided copies of a draft brochure the Council has developed, and asked for the Supervisors’ approval.
Mr. Jirele moved to approve the draft Business Development Council brochure; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission member Shawn Ward reported on their 1/7/03 meeting. The Commission elected Karen Doorley as Chairperson, Allen Fidler as Vice Chairman and Vince Lombardi as Secretary. A report from the Traffic Engineer was distributed.
The Commission reviewed a sketch plan for a major subdivision on Washington Crossing Road and recommended that the applicant consider changes to improve internal and external traffic flow. They also reviewed a revised final plan for the 413 Office Center on Durham Road and recommended that the Board of Supervisors not approve the plan because of the placement of the buildings, parking reductions, and other factors. The Commission had no objections to a Zoning Hearing Board application from the Bucks County Tower Company or a name change for the Market at Newtown Place.
Review of the conditional use application from Pryda, Inc. was postponed at the applicant’s request.
BOARD RETREAT: Mr. Jirele proposed that the Board of Supervisors hold a half day retreat to learn how to work together better. Other Supervisors expressed agreement with this idea. Mr. Harp said the Board will set a date for the retreat at their work session on 1/13/03.
LIMIITS ON PUBLIC COMMENT: Mr. Goodnoe said he objects to the recent restrictions the Chairman has placed on public comment, including the use of a timer and the decision at the 1/6/03 meeting to not allow the public to comment on a motion.
Mr. Harp said his policy has been to limit the first session of public comment to 30 minutes, and to limit each speaker to five minutes. He said he has not placed any restrictions on the second public comment session.
Nancy Crescenzo said she agrees with Mr. Goodnoe’s remarks, and with Mr. Jirele’s proposal for a Board retreat. She protested the limitations on public comment.
Paul Salvatore, a Township resident, said citizens of Newtown are great volunteers and do good work in the community. He encouraged the Board to make appointments to boards, committees and commissions from a larger pool of volunteers.
Del Purscell, a Township resident, said he also agrees with Mr. Jirele’s proposal. He said Mr. Goodnoe is underutilized, and has more experience than anyone else on the Board. Mr. Purscell said he will watch carefully how the Board addresses this in the coming months.
John D’April, a Township resident, said it seemed that the Board allows some people to talk longer than others. He also praised Mr. Jirele’s proposal.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
GENERAL COMMENTS: Mr. Harp reviewed some of the highlights of 2002. He mentioned several additional or expanded projects under the Park and Recreation Department, including parks, trails and open space. There were also major accomplishments in traffic management, such as the Closed Loop system, and much progress on redevelopment projects such as Sycamore Street and the Acme site. Mr. Harp also mentioned cooperative efforts with neighboring communities and local government officials, and the good work done by Mr. Pellegrino and the administrative staff.
Mr. Harp noted that the 2003 budget is in a new improved format, and has no new taxes except for a half mill increase in the fire tax. He suggested that the Board develop five to ten goals for 2003 at their next public meeting.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said there are no expirations needing to be addressed tonight.
NEWTOWN OFFICE COMPLEX - ESCROW: Mr. Sander said Brandywine has posted the appropriate maintenance bond and all requirements have been met, according to a 12/6/02 letter from Carroll Engineering and a 12/20/02 memo from Mr. Harwood. The $18,656.49 escrow was released in December 2002 after the Board of Supervisors was polled, and with the concurrence of Mr. Pellegrino and the Solicitor’s office. Mr. Sander asked the Board to ratify this action tonight.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to ratify the December 2002 release of escrow funds for the Newtown Office Complex, at Lindenhurst Road and the Bypass. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren asked if all bills and fees have been paid; Mr. Sander said they have.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.
PENSION AMENDMENTS: Mr. Sander said three amendments were advertised for public hearing tonight.
ACT 30 AMENDMENTS (ORDINANCE 2003-O-02): Mr. Sander said this ordinance amends the Police Pension Plan in accordance with Act 30, and was prepared in consultation with the Mockenhaupt Benefits Group.
Mrs. Goren moved to enact Ordinance 2003-O-02 amending the Police Pension Plan. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
IROP PROGRAM: Mr. Sander asked the Board to defer this item because the enabling legislation is not finalized and there may have to be substantive changes in the ordinance. He said his office will bring it back to the Board later.
EGTRRA AMENDMENTS TO THE NONUNIFORMED EMPLOYEE PENSION PLAN (ORDINANCE 2003-O-3): Mr. Sander said these amendments were made necessary by recent Federal legislation. This Ordinance was also prepared in consultation with the Mockenhaupt Benefits Group.
Mr. Weaver moved to enact Ordinance 2003-O-3 amending the Nonuniformed Employee Pension Plan. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
CHANGE ORDER - TRAFFIC SIGNAL - LINTON HILL ROAD AND WASHINGTON CROSSING: Mr. Smith provided copies of his 12/12/02 letter recommending approval of Change Order #2 for Armour Electric, the contractor on the project.
Mr. Jirele moved to approve Change Order #2, Signal System Revisions. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
PROGRESS PAYMENT #3 - TRAFFIC SIGNAL - DURHAM ROAD AND WRIGHTS ROAD: Mr. Smith provided copies of his 12/31/02 letter recommending a payment of $37,333.93 to Henkels & McCoy, the contractor on the project.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve Progress Payment #3 to Henkels & McCoy. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
TRAFFIC ISSUES: Mr. Smith said that the left turn signal at Crown Point is progressing. He also said that PennDOT told Pennoni Associates that the left turn signal into Mill Pond Road meets warrant, but that the left turn signal into Diamond Drive does not. However, PennDOT indicated that they would approve the Diamond Drive signal if the Township can demonstrate that the level of service will not be harmed. Mr. Smith said materials have been submitted and he expects a reply from PennDOT in a few days.
SWAMP ROAD STUDY MEETING: Mr. Harp announced that the Swamp Road Study meeting scheduled for 12/5/02 was canceled because of bad weather. It is tentatively rescheduled for the evening of 2/13/03 at the Anchor Church on Route 413. He said more details are forthcoming.
APPOINTMENT OF TOWNSHIP PLANNER: Mr. Pellegrino said this matter was postponed from the Organization Meeting on 1/6/03 because the Supervisors had not had time to review the credentials of the nominee, Judith Stern Goldstein of Boucher and James. Mr. Pellegrino said he and the Planning Commission recommended Ms Goldstein.
Mr. Weaver moved to appoint Judith Stern Goldstein as Township Planner. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele said he spoke with another Township with which Ms Goldstein has consulted and learned they were quite satisfied with her services.
Nancy Crescenzo asked why a change was necessary. Mr. Harp explained that Mr. Frank is not doing this type of work any more.
Mr. Weaver’s motion passed unanimously.
NEW BUSINESS: No items for this section.
COMMUNITY COMMENT (CONTINUED)
Paul Salvatore asked how committee vacancies are filled. Mr. Harp said the Township keeps a file of resumes, and when a vacancy occurs the Board reviews them and identifies suitable nominees. He said he always announces the vacancies at public meetings, and there are plans to post them on the Township website. Mr. Salvatore suggested that vacancies be publicized more widely, since he has noticed that the same people seem to be appointed over and over. Mr. Harp said the Board will consider additional ways to get the word out, although he noted that many new names are on this year’s appointments list.
Nancy Crescenzo said nominees brought forward by Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Jirele rarely get appointed to committees. She asked if people holding political office must resign to be considered for an appointment; Mr. Sander said a person must resign only if they are appointed, not in order to be considered for an appointment.
Ms Crescenzo expressed concern about the money being spent on the Redevelopment Authority. She also asked when the Board will meet with Newtown Borough Council. Mr. Harp said a date will be set at the work session on 1/13/03.
Ms Crescenzo asked why the Ethics Committee was not re-appointed this year. Mr. Harp said it is not currently needed. Mr. Jirele said he is uncomfortable with the idea of an ad hoc Ethics Committee, and the Township should either appoint members or disband it. Mr. Harp, Mr. Weaver and Mr. Pellegrino said it was their understanding that the Board decided to disband the Ethics Committee. Mr. Harp said this can be discussed further at the work session on 1/13/03.
Ms Crescenzo questioned security measures at the Clark Center. Mr. Pellegrino said the chain requested by the Board was not yet put across the entrance because of concerns that cars would have to back out onto Durham Road when they encountered it. Mr. Goodnoe said this decision should have been brought back to the Board, since the Board specifically ordered the placement of the chain.
Ms Crescenzo urged Mr. Harp to attend more meetings of the Park and Recreation Board. She also complained that most of the Supervisors rarely answer her e-mail messages.
Paul Salvatore reiterated his request that the Township develop a better way to let residents know about vacancies on committees, so that new people can be included.
Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, suggested the Township look at the entrances to Tyler State Park for an example of how to control off hours access. She also said her grandson and other members of Troop 280 worked on the Clark Center about three years ago and did not get recognized for their work. She also suggested that the Board of Supervisors retreat discussed earlier should include some instruction about Roberts Rules of Order.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Harp said the Board will meet in executive session for matters of personnel and pending litigation.
ADJOURNMENT: Mrs. Goren moved to adjourn; the motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary
Minutes Approved as submitted _______ as corrected _______
Scott R. Harp, Chairman
Anne Goren, Vice Chairman/Assistant Treasurer
Richard Weaver, Treasurer/Secretary
Thomas Jirele, Member
Raymond Goodnoe, Member