JANUARY 29, 2003
APPROVED BY NEWTOWN BOROUGH AND NEWTOWN BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
The Newtown Borough Council and the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at Ettenger Hall in the Newtown Presbyterian Church. In attendance were Newtown Borough Council members Marcia Scull, President; Mark Craig, Vice President; Marjorie Torongo, Richard B. Tomlinson, Rand F. Jaslow, Robert A. King, and Mayor Glen D. Hains; and Newtown Township Supervisors Scott Harp, Chairman; Anne Goren, Vice-Chairman; Richard Weaver, Secretary/Treasurer; Tom Jirele and Raymond Goodnoe, members. Township Manager, Robert M. Pellegrino, and Borough Secretary, Lois Sauerman, were also in attendance.
Call to Order
Ms. Scull called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence.
Ms. Scull thanked the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors and the Newtown Borough Council for attending the meeting. She said that she hoped that the meeting would address communication gaps between the two municipalities, as many issues cut across geographic boundaries. She said that the floor would also be open for public comment at the end of the meeting.
Mr. Harp said that the two communities are integrated in many areas, including shopping, churches, schools and friendships. He said that the communities had experienced, and continue to experience rapid growth, and that the two municipalities had shared concerns regarding traffic, open space, taxes and services.
Mr. Harp provided a written list of nine areas where Borough and Township have worked together on joint commissions and committees.
§ Cable Television Services
§ Community and Economic Development
§ Traffic System Improvements
§ Historic Preservation
§ Contracted Public Works Services
§ Public Safety
§ Joint Municipal Sewer Authority
§ Parks and Recreation
§ Community Events.
Ms. Scull said that she had met with Mr. Harp on Saturday to plan this evening's meeting and felt that this is a positive step toward improving communications. She said that the Borough had particular concerns about matters the Township addresses at Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board meetings that effect properties adjacent to the Borough. She asked if it would be possible to receive copies of Agendas and Minutes of these meetings. She pointed to the Sunoco Station as a Zoning Hearing Board application that had impact on Borough residents.
Mrs. Goren pointed out that Township Agendas and Minutes are a matter of public record and appear on the Township Web site.
Mr. Pellegrino agreed to add the Borough Council to the distribution list for Agendas and Minutes to accommodate the Council members without Internet access. He said that the Township is working toward providing addresses as well as names of owners or developers on Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board Agendas.
Mr. Harp asked that the Borough Council consider joining the Jointure with Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown.
Ms. Scull suggested that quarterly meetings between the Borough Council President and the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors may help improve communications.
Mr. Harp agreed that such meetings would be very helpful.
Mr. Jaslow commented that he felt that there is not coordination between the Township and Borough on recreation. He also inquired about the different fee charged to Borough residents who wish to participate in Township programs.
Mr. Harp said that in the past the Park and Recreation Department had worked with Scott Griffith, and that he hoped that Kati Sowiak and Jeannine Benet of the Borough would attend Park and Rec. Board meetings. He said that Newtown Township taxpayers underwrite a portion of the Park and Recreation fees and so residents are given a discount.
Ms. Scull said that she has spoken to Mr. Harwood and Mr. Pellegrino about some Public Works issues and felt that they would be resolved.
Mr. Craig commented that communication between the Borough and Township is very important, as some current and future projects will have effect on Borough and Township traffic. He mentioned the Wiltshire Walk development and recent talk of revitalizing the Industrial Commons as projects having traffic impact.
Mrs. Goren said that she felt that the Borough should consider joining the Jointure because of such projects as Wiltshire Walk. She explained that Newtown Township must bear the burden of providing high-density residential housing. If Newtown Borough were part of the Jointure, the high density housing that they are zoned for would offset the need for the Township to provide new R-2 high-density residential building.
Mr. Craig said that the Borough Council has discussed this and conferred with residents. He said that some do not feel that the Jointure offers any benefit to the Borough, which is already built out. He said that it is a question that can be looked at again.
Mr. King said that he had not thought about high density housing as a consideration for joining the Jointure. He also had not been aware until recently that the development of the Frost Watson property was a concern to Township residents. He asked for suggestions to make concerns known to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. Harp said that in addition to quarterly meetings, Borough Council members could contact Supervisors directly or could contact the staff at Newtown Township. He said that concerns did not have to be addressed only at the Public Comment portion of the Board of Supervisors meetings.
Ms. Scull said that she also thought that matters of budget items effecting the Borough should be discussed in advance. She said that this year the Borough had not known until the Township budget meetings that the Township was considering cutting its funding of the JDNC and its library donations.
Mr. Harp said that the method of planning the budget had been changed in 2002 and that he hoped that the budget would be planned a little earlier in 2003.
Mr. Jirele said that while the JDNC and Library are discretionary budget items, and can be cut, it would be a good idea to communicate with the organizations involved at budget time.
Mr. Craig said that the Borough was disappointed that the Township was unable to gather the necessary signatures for the annexation of the Sunoco Station property to appear as a referendum on the ballot. He said that the Borough Council solicited signatures at the Polls on Primary day and had no trouble gathering signatures. He said that Borough Council members could have helped the Township if they had known that the Township was having difficulty.
Mr. Harp said that he had tried to circulate petitions and had appealed for volunteers to help, but had not gathered the necessary signatures. He said that he would work with the Borough to get this question on the 2004 ballot.
Mr. Harp noted that the Township would continue to provide help to the Borough in their work with RCN.
Ms. Scull said that JDNC, Cable and Historic boards all need committed people working on them. She said that she had noticed that the two new Township appointees to the Historic Commission had no experience in Historic preservation, and had not attended the meeting. She hoped that the Supervisors were appointing people with sincere interest in working on these boards and commissions.
Mr. King said that he would like to see some non-governmental committees working together on some joint projects, such as an Environmental Action Committee and a Newtown Creek Walkway. He said that he thought that part of the reason that the Rails to Trails project was a failure was that the Borough had failed to communicate with Township residents.
Mrs. Goren commented that she has heard from some Sycamore Street property owners that they have concerns about public access to the rear of their properties after business hours, and this must be considered when talking about a walkway along the creek.
Regarding the Rails to Trails project, Mrs. Goren said that some years ago she had ridden a small railroad car along the tracks from Bryn Athyn to Newtown, and that portions of the track run very close to the rear of private homes. There is concern among homeowners about public access to the rear of their properties. She said that she had been researching re-opening the Newtown railroad spur. A portion of land at the end of State Street had been rezoned to accommodate a railroad station and parking lot. She said that she had visited a station in Ardmore, which had become an active retail area. She thought that Newtown might some day have such a station.
Mr. Craig said that Newtown Borough and Newtown Township needed to have a common forum to work on such projects with SEPTA.
Ms. Scull opened the floor for public comment. There was no public comment.
Ms. Scull thanked everyone for their participation and said that she looked forward to improved communication between Borough and Township.
Ms. Scull adjourned the meeting at 8:30PM
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary