Board of Supervisors Minutes
April 9, 2003
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting April 23, 2003. MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 4/9/03: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 4/9/03 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, April 9, 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: Park and Recreation Board Chairman Bernard Bires, Planning Commission Chairperson Karen Doorley, Sycamore Street Committee Chairman Vince Lombardi, Township Fire Marshal Don Harris, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith and Township Manager Robert M. Pellegrino.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Harp called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence. He asked everyone to focus on the safe return of the troops in Iraq.
INVOCATION: Given by Rabbi Howard Cove of Kol Emet Reconstructionist Congregation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that consideration of the amended bylaws of HARB be postponed to the work session on 4/14/03, and said there is a need for a brief executive session for legal matters following the public meeting.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 3/26/03: Mr. Harp said the copy of the 3/26/03 minutes in the Supervisors’ packets was incomplete. The Board agreed to postpone approval of the minutes to the next meeting.
BILLS LIST:Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $214,159.88, and to make interfund transfers totaling $25,700.00. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked about a bill for advertising the position of naturalist. Mr. Pellegrino said the funds for this part-time position are in the budget. The job description will be circulated to the Supervisors in their next packet.
Mr. Weaver’s motion was passed unanimously.
Mr. Goodnoe asked how the Township will respond to responses to the advertisement for a naturalist. Mr. Pellegrino said he will respond in writing and interview candidates. Mr. Harp suggested this position be discussed at the next work session, and he asked Mr. Pellegrino to circulate the advertisement for this position to the Supervisors as well.
TREASURER’S REPORT: No items for this section.
WEE CARE BEAR CONTRIBUTION - ST. BEDE THE VENERABLE SCHOOL: Mr. Harp introduced Tom Regan, president of the Newtown Exchange Club, and Shirley Milnor, Chair of the Wee Care Bear program. Mr. Harp presented a proclamation honoring the students of St. Bede the Venerable School, who collected nearly 50 bears for the program.
NEWTOWN RAIL LINE - BUCKS COUNTY TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION: Bill Rickett of the Bucks County Transportation Management Association said that Mrs. Goren asked the Association to help bring commuter rail service back to the Newtown area. He read the Association’s Resolution 03-1, which stated its support for restoration of commuter rail service and offered assistance to Newtown in this matter.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Bernard Bires, Chairman of the Park and Recreation Board, reported on their 4/2/03 meeting. The Board discussed plans for Arbor Day on 4/25,equipment and signage for Roberts Ridge Park, and problems with deer at the Clark property. The Skate Park Subcommittee is looking for a suitable site. Mr. Wert reported to the Board that revenues and participation are up this year. The Board approved a proposal for a day camp at the Clark Nature Center focused on archeological digs.
Mr. Bires introduced Kathy Kelly of the Silver Lake Park Subcommittee. She said that the Park and Recreation Board reviewed 12 proposals for developing a master plan for Silver Lake Park, and recommended that the Board of Supervisors award the contract to Yost Strodoski Mears (YSM) for a fee not to exceed $17,620. A spreadsheet comparing the 12 proposals received was distributed to the Supervisors in their packets.
Mr. Goodnoe said he was glad to see the Park and Recreation Board developing a master plan for Silver Lake Park, but he questioned why the Board is not doing more planning for Roberts Ridge Park, the Clark Nature Center and Helen Randle (Swamp Rd.) Park.
Mr. Bires said Pennoni Associates updated Boucher and James’ master plan for Roberts Ridge. Mr. Harp said the issue before the Board is the master plan for Silver Lake Park.
Mrs. Goren moved to approve awarding the contract for the Silver Lake Park master plan to YSM for an amount not to exceed $17,620. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele asked what the vision of the Park and Recreation Board is for this park. Mr. Bires said he will circulate a copy of the Board’s specifications to the Supervisors. Ms Kelly said the Board’s vision includes picnic facilities, walking trails, and a fountain in the lake. She said it is consistent with the 1999 Comprehensive Park and Recreation Plan.
Mr. Jirele suggested the Board of Supervisors not vote on this contract until they have reviewed the materials to be provided by Mr. Bires. He said the Board hired a planner for Roberts Ridge Park and a plan was developed that could not be used; he would like to prevent another situation like this.
Sue Beasley, a Township resident, said that Mr. Bires referred to plans for a handicapped accessible playground for Roberts Ridge Park in his report, but what the Park and Recreation Board is actually proposing is playground equipment for handicapped children, which is very expensive. She suggested dropping plans for a gazebo and using those funds for the playground equipment.
Nancy Crescenzo said the environment around Silver Lake Park has changed with recent land development projects, and the present needs of the community should be studied. She suggested the Township pursue the development of a community center.
John D’Aprile, a Township resident, asked the Board to review the specifications before voting on the contract for a master plan for Silver Lake Park. He noted that changes after a contract is signed are expensive.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed 3-2, with Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Jirele voting “nay”.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission Chairperson Karen Doorley reported on their 4/1/03 meeting. The Township Traffic Engineer reviewed his report on traffic-related projects, with some discussion of the new traffic signal at Washington Crossing and Linton Hill Roads. The Township Fire Marshal discussed his role in land development reviews, community safety issues, and his concerns related to cul-de-sacs, fire lanes and emergency access driveways.
The Commission reviewed a revised proposal for rezoning the Roberts Nursery Tract on Newtown-Yardley Road. Most Commission members and area residents spoke favorably of the applicant’s plans to support continued agricultural activities on the site, but they expressed concerns about the commercial uses rezoning of this tract to TC-3 will allow in the future. The applicant will continue to work with the Commission, the Solicitor and the Planner to develop an acceptable plan.
Mrs. Doorley asked if the room arrangements for the Planning Commission meetings can be changed to allow more space for the members and the audience. Mr. Pellegrino said he will follow up on this.
SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Committee Chairman Vince Lombardi reported on their 4/8/03 meeting. The Committee discussed the PennDOT PS&E report, four subcommittees presented reports, and the next steps in the project were discussed. The Committee is planning to raise funds for permanent street markers on Sycamore Street. Two members of the Committee will work with the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation on parking issues in the area. The Committee is planning to make a “before and after” video of Sycamore Street, and they are considering the formation of an ongoing civic association.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE - PROPOSED ORDINANCE FOR INSTALLATION OF RAPID ACCESS KEY BOXES: Don Harris, Township Fire Marshal, reviewed his 10/4/02 memo regarding Rapid Access Key Boxes. He said he discussed the proposed ordinance with the Business Development Council, whose members were in favor of it. Mr. Harris explained that every business in the Township will purchase a key box (also known as a “Knox Box”) in which a key to the business will be kept. The Fire Department will have a key which opens all key boxes. Access to the master key will be controlled electronically by the Bucks Co. 911 Radio Room. This system will allow the Fire Department to access businesses quickly when an alarm goes off or a fire is reported, without having to contact the business owner or enter the business forcibly. The ordinance, the text of which was supplied by the manufacturer of the boxes, would require new businesses to purchase a key box, and gives existing businesses 12 months in which to obtain a box.
The Solicitor said Subsection F-320-4 of the ordinance excludes owner-occupied one and two family dwellings. He asked if townhouses, condo units and apartment buildings will also be excluded. After some discussion, the Solicitor said it seemed the intention is to apply the ordinance only to large apartment buildings with a common front door. Mr. Goodnoe suggested that Subsection F-320-5 be clarified to indicate whether businesses are required to provide floor plans. Mr. Jirele noted a need to clarify the appropriate location of the boxes. Mr. Harp suggested that the Solicitor meet with the Fire Marshal and revise the ordinance to address these comments.
Mr. Jirele asked if Newtown Borough will be included in this system. The Fire Marshal said he will forward the revised ordinance to the Borough for their consideration.
TROOP SUPPORT PROGRAM: Mr. Jirele announced there is a program in Wrightstown that solicits donations for prepaid phone cards for American soldiers.
PLANNING FOR ROBERTS RIDGE PARK: Mr. Goodnoe asked if there is a master plan for Roberts Ridge Park. Mr. Pellegrino said he has discussed this with the Township Planner, and their recommendation is to begin by asking the Park and Recreation Board to describe their vision for the activities that should take place in the park. Then the Township can identify what needs to be done to support those activities. He said he has asked Mr. Wert to develop a timeline for this process.
Mr. Goodnoe asked that the Boucher and James plan and the relevant section of the 1999 Comprehensive Plan be circulated to the Supervisors in their next packet.
PLAYING FIELDS AT HELEN RANDLE PARK: Mr. Jirele said he has received many complaints about the poor condition of the playing fields at Helen Randle Park. He suggested that Mr. Wert write a memo to the Board of Supervisors describing his plan for addressing this problem. Mr. Pellegrino said there are some funds in the budget for this. He added that a long term plan for maintenance of the fields needs to be developed.
Mr. Harp asked that speakers limit themselves to five minutes and not speak a second time until everyone who wants to speak has had a turn during both sessions of Community Comments. He said the first session will last about 30 minutes.
Tom Ragan, President of the Newtown Exchange Club, said his organization “adopted” Sycamore Street several years ago, and members clean it up twice a year.
Sue Herman, a Lower Makefield resident, asked about discussion of a Stoopville Road engineering study. Mr. Smith said that a study was requested recently by a resident following an incident in which a vehicle left the road. He said his office has requested a copy of a PennDOT study that was done previously, and it will be available to the public from the Administration office.
Ms. Herman also noted that the 1/7/03 Planning Commission minutes said that Pennoni Associates was asked to give the Commission a report on Township road classifications and rights of way. Mr. Smith said that request was later withdrawn.
Sue Beasley, a member of the Planning Commission, said she wanted to clarify that the Commission members and residents who spoke about the proposed rezoning of the Roberts Nursery Tract at the Commission’s 4/1/03 meeting were not in favor of the proposed TC-3 zoning.
Gail Laughlin, a Township resident, said she was also present at the Planning Commission meeting. She said the residents were in favor of the applicant’s concept for his property, but not the rezoning.
Del Purscell, a Township resident, asked the Board of Supervisors to discuss the concerns he has previously expressed about large cash reserves. He said that they should be about $375,000, but the Township has seven times that much in reserve, an amount equal to about one-third of a year’s expenditures.
Mike Iapalucci, a Township resident, said Board meetings have been running late for a long time. He asked why the Township agreed to pay Video Gold an increased rate after 11:30 PM, and why this is now an issue. Mr. Harp said he brought it up because the Administration office recommended looking into ways to minimize these overtime charges.
Nancy Crescenzo said Board meetings in 2003 have lasted about as long as those in 2002. She asked the Board to consider reforestation of Silver Lake Park rather than developing it. She also protested the proposal to have archeological digs at the Clark Nature Center.
Brandon Wind, a Township resident, had several questions about attorneys’ bills in connection with RCN’s appeal of the Township’s action regarding their contract.
Glenn Beasley, a Township resident, said many residents do not like the way the Board conducts Township business. He cited the formation of the Economic Development Committee as an example. He suggested Mr. Harp yield his place on the Committee to a resident with appropriate skills and experience.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
WORK SESSION - 4/14/03: Mr. Harp said the agenda includes the Acme Visioning Committee, a draft annual report for the Township, the Little League and Silver Lake Park. Mr. Harp explained that the date of the work session was changed to avoid having two meetings in one week, and the work sessions will begin at 7:30 PM from now on.
SNOW PLOWING: Mr. Harp thanked the Public Works Department for their efforts at clearing the recent snowfall, and said the Township is looking into a few complaints that occurred.
FIRST FOURTH: Mr. Harp reminded residents that the First Fourth will be celebrated on 7/5/03.
ARBOR DAY: Mr. Harp said he is again donating a tree to the Township as part of the Arbor Day celebration on 4/25/03.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: No items for this section.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said there are no plan expirations requiring Board action.
ORDINANCE TO ESTABLISH A NO PARKING ZONE ON LOWER DOLINGTON ROAD (2003-O-10): Mrs. Goren moved to adopt Ordinance 2003-O-10 establishing a no parking zone on the east side of Lower Dolington Road between Newtown-Yardley Road and Frost Lane, across from Roberts Ridge Park. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said he will not vote for this motion until the Township develops a master plan for Roberts Ridge Park.
Nancy Crescenzo said she has never seen anyone park in that location. Mr. Harp said this action was recommended by the Engineer.
Mrs. Goren said she has seen cars parked on both sides of this section of Lower Dolington Road.
Mr. Goodnoe questioned whether there is a sight distance problem on the road. Mr. Smith said there is one where the road bends.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Goodnoe voting “nay”.
ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING MEMBERSHIP IN THE DELAWARE VALLEY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION TRUST (2003-O-11): Mr. Weaver moved to adopt Ordinance 2003-O-11 authorizing the Township to participate in the Delaware Valley Workers’ Compensation Trust. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
Mr. Goodnoe said membership entitles the Township to a seat on the Trust’s board, and he is interested in serving in this capacity.
Mr. Jirele moved to appoint Mr. Goodnoe to the Delaware Valley Workers’ Compensation Trust Board. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said she would like to study the role of the Township’s representative before voting on an appointment. Mr. Goodnoe said he is the only member of the Board who has experience with Workers’ Compensation.
Mr. Pellegrino said the representative to the Trust’s board would attend one meeting a year. He said the representative is usually the Manager, but could be a Supervisor.
Brandon Wind asked how Mr. Goodnoe knew of this appointment. Mr. Harris said he provided a copy of the agreement to the members of the Board in their packets.
Phil Calabro, a Township resident, asked the Board to discuss the appointment and vote tonight.
Mr. Jirele’s motion passed 3-2, with Mrs. Goren and Mr. Harp voting “nay”.
CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION #8 (FINAL) - PICKERING CHASE: Mr. Jirele moved to approve the release of $93,211.21 in escrow funds, as recommended in the Carroll Engineering Corporation letter of 3/31/03. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren asked if all bills have been paid. Mr. Smith said he believes they have, but he does not have the documentation.
Mr. Jirele and Mr. Goodnoe amended their motion to approve the release subject to all bills being paid.
Mr. Smith also stated that the Homeowners Association was satisfied with the work done, and there are no outstanding issues regarding open space.
Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.
PROJECT UPDATE: Mr. Smith reviewed his 4/4/03 report on Township engineering projects. He mentioned that the road in Wiltshire Walk is expected to be open in June, with the intersection re-aligned. He also noted that several developments have resumed construction with the warmer weather, and the traffic signal installation at Route 413 and North Drive should begin on 4/21/03 and take about six weeks.
OLD BUSINESS: No items for this section.
NEW BUSINESS: No items for this section.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (CONTINUED)
Brandon Wind asked if the traffic light at Wiltshire Walk will be synchronized with signals on the Bypass. Mr. Smith said he will check this.
Frank Mentrikoski, a resident of Newtown Gate, asked if there is an update on the Stockburger proposal. Mr. Harp said he has no news, but he supports the ordinance and opposes the proposal. Mr. Goodnoe said the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation published a summary of a public meeting on this subject, but no action was taken.
Mr. Mentrikoski said he disapproves of the behavior of Board members and audience members. Mr. Jirele said that he is sometimes embarrassed by the behavior of both groups.
Del Purscell said candidates for public office should not be allowed to campaign from the podium. He also asked for a response to his concern about reserves. Mr. Weaver said he reported previously that the Financial Planning Committee recommended maintaining substantial reserves and borrowing rather than tapping the reserves.
Kathy Fink, a Newtown Borough resident, said Mr. Harp stated he would give up his seat on the Economic Development Committee. She suggested that Glenn Beasley be appointed to the Committee.
Mike Iapalucci questioned several waivers granted recently and asked why the Board did not support the ordinance in those cases. Mrs. Goren said each case must be dealt with individually.
Glenn Beasley protested the political nature of many community comments. He also asked Mr. Harp to resign from the Economic Development Committee and make room for another resident to be appointed. Mr. Harp responded that he worked hard to set up the Committee and wants to see it through its tasks. Mr. Beasley asked why Mr. Weaver continued to contact people about serving on the Committee after many resumes from good candidates were received. Mr. Weaver said he wanted to have the best people on the Committee.
Phil Calabro said Community Comments should not be political. He said that some comments are intended to “set up” people. Mr. Jirele said that he will not be using the Community Comment period for political purposes, although he is running for office.
Sue Beasley said the present Board does not show respect to the residents. She asked that residents who want to speak be allowed to form a line instead of having to raise their hands.
Nancy Crescenzo asked that the timer not be used during the second Community Comment period. Ms. Crescenzo also asked about a discussion at the School Board meeting about temporary classrooms in trailers. Mr. Harp responded that he had no information about this discussion. Ms. Crescenzo also said she is willing to meet with Mr. Harp to discuss their conflicts.
Mr. Goodnoe said he tried to involve the Board in a discussion of reserve funds, and he expected Mr. Weaver to put the Financial Planning Committee’s recommendations in a memo for the other Board members. Mr. Weaver said he will do so.
ADJOURNMENT: Mrs. Goren moved to adjourn; the motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. Meeting adjourned at 11:15 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary
Minutes Approved as submitted _______ as corrected _______
Scott R. Harp, Chairman
Anne Goren, Vice Chairman/Assistant Treasurer
Richard Weaver, Treasurer/Secretary
Raymond Goodnoe, Member