Board of Supervisors Minutes
June 11, 2003
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting June 25, 2003. MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 6/11/03: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 6/11/03 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, June 11, 2003, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Scott R. Harp, Vice Chairman/Assistant Treasurer Anne Goren, Treasurer/Secretary Richard Weaver, Member Thomas Jirele and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Planning Commission Chairperson Karen Doorley, Sycamore Street Committee Member Shawn Ward, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Bernard Bires, Cable TV Committee Chairman James Bowe, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith and Township Manager Robert M. Pellegrino.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Scott R. Harp called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence.
INVOCATION: Given by Father Larry Snyder of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino said he had no additions for the agenda, and he asked the Board to meet in executive session following the public meeting.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 5/28/03: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 5/28/03 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked that the minutes be amended at the beginning of the second Community Comments session to include the statement on the agenda that there would be no public comment after 11:30 PM.
Mr. Weaver’s motion passed unanimously.
BILLS LIST: Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $630,693.24, and to make interfund transfers totaling $166,221.53. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said he will abstain from the vote because a payment to his restaurant is on the list.
Mr. Weaver’s motion passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.
TREASURER’S REPORT: None.
FIRST FOURTH COMMITTEE REPORT: Mr. Harp invited First Fourth Committee members Bernard Bires and Jane Crumlish to the podium to describe the events planned for the First Fourth celebration to be held on 7/5/03. They displayed the poster and brochures for the event, and invited residents and community groups to participate in the parade, games, and other activities of the day. Mr. Harp thanked Committee members and others who have supported the First Fourth.
PRD VARIANCE HEARING - DROTAR - 20 CHURCHILL LANE - TMP# 29-30-7: Mr. Drotar and attorney Don Marshall were present to discuss Mr. Drotar’s request for a variance to allow the construction of a 470 SF addition to his home that will result in a rear yard setback of 24.2 feet where a setback of 30 feet is required by the JMZO and by the final plan of Newtown Crossing. Mr. Harp opened the public hearing.
Mr. Marshall said the addition cannot be built anywhere else on the lot. He presented letters from the two adjacent property owners and the Newtown Crossing Homeowners Association stating that they do not object to the proposed addition. He noted that Mr. Drotar is willing to move a fence that was previously erected on an open space area, and said the applicant has now complied with all of the conditions recommended by the Planning Commission in their 5/8/03 letter.
Mr. Drotar indicated he agreed with everything Mr. Marshall stated, except that he has already moved the fence onto his property.
Mrs. Goren moved to approve the PRD Variance for Mr. and Mrs. Drotar, to allow an addition to encroach 5.8 feet into the rear yard setback, subject to compliance with the Planning Commission letter of 5/8/03, and payment of all costs of review. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission Chairperson Karen Doorley reported on the Commission’s 6/3/03 meeting, at which they discussed a report from the Traffic Engineer and reviewed the final plan for the Hoffa Tract. The Commission recommended approval of the plan, with several conditions, and deferred the issue of the trail’s route to the Board of Supervisors.
The Commission also discussed a revised proposal for rezoning of the Roberts Nursery Tract and asked the applicant to return with a further revised proposal that includes several changes recommended by the Commission. The Commission also heard a presentation from George Stockburger about his proposal for a zoning change on the Bypass, and members requested some background information. The Commission reviewed two Zoning Hearing Board applications, and recommended that the Board of Supervisors oppose a request for relief from parking requirements from Friends Village.
Mrs. Doorley asked the Board to honor Paul Kester on his retirement from the Planning Commission at the end of June; Mr. Harp said this will be done. Mrs. Doorley also noted that extensions will be needed on the Hoffa Tract plan and the Durham Road Associates (DRA) plan unless they are heard tonight. Mr. Pellegrino said that an extension has been received on the Hoffa plan, and the DRA plan is on tonight’s agenda.
SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Member Shawn Ward reported on the Committee’s 6/10/03 meeting, at which they developed the agenda for the pre-bid meeting scheduled for the end of July. Several residents will serve on the pre-bid panel. The Committee decided to combine their July and August meetings with the pre-bid meeting. The Committee also discussed a design for the proposed Sycamore Street monument. The cost is estimated to be $12,000.
Mr. Goodnoe suggested discussing plans for the monument and signage with the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation, so that this and other signage being planned for the Newtown area will be consistent.
CABLE TV ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Committee Chairman James Bowe reported on the Committee’s 5/21/03 meeting, at which they welcomed a new member from the Borough, Patrick Foster. Unfortunately the Comcast representative was unable to attend. Mr. Pellegrino said Comcast will be wiring the Newtown Industrial Commons (NIC) immediately as a result of their survey of NIC property owners.
Mr. Bowe said that the Committee reviewed the educational channel agreement and were satisfied with it. He said he would like to see some content developed for this channel. The Committee will try to record some video footage of the First Fourth celebration, and would be interested in seeing clips of the event contributed by residents as well.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL: Mr. Weaver said that the Council’s 6/5/03 meeting was brief. The Council recommended that any excess revenue from the sale of maps should be donated to the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation.
MEMBERS COMMENTS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS: Mr. Harp noted that the McLaughlin Tract will be on the agenda on 6/25/03, and the Board will take no action on this item until then. He also asked that speakers allow everyone to speak once before returning to the podium, that comments be limited to five minutes, and that speakers refrain from personal attacks. He said this period of public comments will end after about 30 minutes.
Richard Tonge, a Township resident, said the residents of Newtown Grant are not in favor of an 80-foot right-of-way on Stoopville Road, and he asked Mr. Weaver to change his mind on this issue.
Ron Thornburn, a resident of Eagleton Farms, agreed with Mr. Tonge’s comments.
Sue Herman, a resident of Lower Makefield and president of Residents for Regional Traffic Solutions, distributed a letter to the Supervisors asking them to support a 40-foot right-of-way on Stoopville Road instead of an 80-foot right-of-way. She asked that it become a part of the public record.
Evan Fiebush, a resident of Stoopville Road, said the Board made the decision about the right-of-way without notice to residents and in secret. Mr. Jirele commented that the decision was made at a televised public meeting.
Abraham Levine, a resident of Cliveden, said he is concerned about having a trail cross Eagle Road anywhere near the Hoffa Tract. He said there will be difficulty getting easements on both the east and west sides. Mr. Harp said the Board has not determined the best route for the trail, and will discuss this issue at a future Board meeting. Mr. Jirele said the biggest problem with putting the trail on the west side is that there is no right-of-way there.
Nancy Crescenzo thanked the Board for removing the restrictions on the second community comment session. She asked that specific questions she asks appear in the Board’s minutes. She asked why there was no announcement of a recent Motor Carrier Task Force meeting. Mr. Pellegrino explained that quarry owners were invited to the 3/19/03 meeting for a discussion of a new law affecting them, but the public is not usually invited to these meetings.
Ms. Crescenzo said she also has asked for discussion of a community center in the past. Mr. Harp said this will be addressed as part of the Supervisors’ discussion of capital expansion projects.
Frank Mendicino, a Township resident, asked that the JDNC not appoint a certain former Township employee as Main Street Manager. He also said there was a good discussion of the Stockburger proposal at the last Planning Commission meeting. He said that Mr. Goodnoe sent a letter to Township Republicans incorrectly accusing the Board of raising taxes. He also said that neither Mr. Goodnoe nor Mr. Jirele ever complained about the amount of Township reserve funds before this year.
Mr. Jirele said that the fund balances have gone up almost 50% in the last three years, to nearly $3 million. He suggested the fund balances be evaluated annually. Mr. Mendicino said the balances are accumulating because the Township is not moving major projects forward.
Jim Ott, a resident of Stoopville Road, said he agrees with the goals of Residents for Regional Traffic Solutions, but feels the right-of-way on Stoopville Road near the McLaughlin Tract should be consistent with the ordinance and with other developments along the road. He said that if the ultimate right-of-way is not taken now, it will be measured from the south side of the road. If it must be taken later, the right-of-way will be taken from the center of the road, which will affect the residents on the south side of the road.
Mike Iapalucci, a Township resident, thanked the Board for revisiting the right-of-way issue. He suggested the Board explain what the ultimate right-of-way is to the public. He said there is no proposal to make Stoopville Road a major highway.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
WORK SESSION OF 6/9/03: Mr. Harp reported that the Board discussed some preliminary plans for the Municipal Complex Expansion project, the Acme site and some other administrative issues at the 6/9/03 work session.
VACANCY - PLANNING COMMISSION: Mr. Harp invited residents to submit resumes for the upcoming vacancy on the Planning Commission.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS
FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE: Mr. Weaver said the Financial Planning Committee reviews capital expenditures every year, and they recently concluded that the reserve funds are not excessive.
MR. GOODNOE’S LETTER: Mrs. Goren said she saw a copy of Mr. Goodnoe’s letter (referred to during Community Comments). She said it attacked her, Mr. Weaver and Mr. Harp, and she will send a letter in response.
Mr. Goodnoe said he paid for the letter himself, and it was not sent only to Republicans.
APPOINTMENT PROCESS: Mr. Jirele asked the Board to discuss and define the appointment process before the Planning Commission vacancy is filled. Mr. Harp said this is a good topic for the July work session; Mr. Jirele commented that the vacancy will be filled in June.
Mr. Jirele moved to decide on an appointment process before filling the Planning Commission vacancy. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said the Township does have a process for making appointments; she hears complaints only when someone does not like the majority’s decision. The vacancy is announced, resumes are solicited and reviewed by the Supervisors, and the Board votes.
Mr. Jirele said that in the past, candidates were interviewed by the Appointments Committee and the Board discussed the qualifications of applicants in executive session. This allowed for a third party review and for confidential Board discussion of qualifications. Mr. Goodnoe recommended a return to this process because it seems more objective.
Mr. Harp said he did not go through the process described by Mr. Jirele when he was appointed to a Township committee in 1997.
Shawn Ward, a Township resident who has served on several boards and committees, said the process has not been consistent in his experience. He suggested that all Supervisors go through the resumes submitted, develop individual lists of recommendations and then vote on the appointments.
Nancy Crescenzo said it is clear the process is not consistent, and that not all applicants are considered seriously by the entire Board.
Frank Mendicino said he was interviewed by the Appointments Committee for one of his appointments, but it was not a truly relevant discussion.
Mr. Jirele said it is clear to him that the Township does not have a set process, which is why he moved to decide on a process before filling the Planning Commission vacancy.
Mr. Jirele’s motion failed 2-3, with Mrs. Goren, Mr. Harp and Mr. Weaver voting “nay”.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said the only plan expiration that needs to be addressed is Durham Road Associates, which is on tonight’s agenda.
BID AWARD - DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (DCED) GRANT FOR SHUTTLE BUS STUDY: Mr. Pellegrino referred to a 5/6/03 letter from Bill Rickett, Executive Director of the Bucks County Transportation Management Association, which recommended that the contract for the Newtown Municipal Bus study be awarded to Ronald DeGraw, Transportation Consulting. Mr. Pellegrino said that additional negotiating produced a bid of $14,500.
Mrs. Goren moved to award the contract for the Newtown Municipal Bus study to Ronald DeGraw for an amount not to exceed $14,500. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe noted that the study will include a possible route through Newtown Borough, and he asked if the Borough was notified that this contract is being awarded. Mr. Pellegrino said the Borough is aware of the plans for the study, and the consultant will be contacting them. Mr. Goodnoe asked that the matter be tabled until the Borough can be formally notified about the study.
Mrs. Goren and Mr. Weaver withdrew their motion.
Mr. Harp said the goal is to study the potential for establishing a regularly scheduled bus service in and around the Township and the Borough. The service would complement, not compete with, SEPTA transportation services.
LETTER OF CREDIT - LAKEVIEW ESTATES: Mr. Harris provided copies of an agreement to substitute a Wachovia Bank letter of credit for the existing Sovereign Bank letter of credit which was posted as financial security for the Lakeview Estates project.
Mrs. Goren moved to sign the agreement and to return the Sovereign Bank letter of credit to DeLuca Enterprises. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked if the agreement included the “Evergreen” language; Mr. Harris said yes.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.
SIGNING OF MYLARS - KRAMER SUBDIVISION: Mr. Harris said that all required documents and fees have been received on the Kramer Subdivision, and the final plans are ready to be signed.
Mr. Weaver moved to sign the final plan for the Kramer Subdivision. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said she will abstain from this vote as she was not on the Board when the matter began. Mr. Jirele asked why there was a payment to Mr. Kramer as part of the agreement. Mr. Harris said it was part of the subdivision approval, and the Township agreed to it because it would have cost more money to litigate an issue about a private road.
Mr. Weaver’s motion passed unanimously, with Mrs. Goren abstaining.
ENGINEER’S REPORT: Mr. Smith highlighted the following items on his comprehensive engineer’s report:
· Wiltshire Walk development - The traffic signal is 90% complete. The intersection overlay should be completed by 6/20/03.
· Pheasant Pointe - The Homeowners Association’s issues are being resolved, and the paving is scheduled for July.
· St. Andrews Briar - The punch list is almost completed and erosion problems are being reviewed.
· Lakeview Estates - The developer is working on erosion problems at the basin.
· The Reserve - The road and curbing are nearly complete.
· Law School Admission Council - This project has been delayed considerably by the weather. The berm is currently under construction.
REVISED PRELIMINARY PLAN - DURHAM ROAD ASSOCIATES (DRA) - DURHAM ROAD - TMP# 29-3-35 AND 29-3-36-2: Attorney John VanLuvanee and engineer Maryellen Saylor were present to discuss the proposed plan to build three office buildings on a 13.85 acre site in the PS-2 District.
Mr. Harris suggested that his office develop a draft approval letter for the Board to review before taking action on this plan. Mr. VanLuvanee said this is acceptable.
Mr. VanLuvanee said the DRA project has a long history, with many issues regarding how the three contiguous properties along Durham Road would be connected. He said the recommendations in the two Planning Commission letters of 5/22/03 were satisfactory, with two additional points. He noted that in the Planning Commission’s view, DRA’s parking does not violate the spirit of the ordinance prohibiting parking in the “front yard”.
Mr. VanLuvanee said the applicant does not want to grant a formal stormwater easement to benefit the neighboring property owner, and the Planning Commission agreed with this position. The second point is that the applicant is seeking a partial waiver of curbing, relative to the northern section of the property, because curbing would cause stormwater problems. He suggested that Ms. Saylor and Pennoni Associates get together and determine the best way to handle this.
Mr. VanLuvanee said he understood that the Township does not want to take dedication of the interconnecting road. He also pointed out that the statement in the Planning Commission’s letter that the applicant “agrees to make the access intersection right-in and right-out if both the interconnecting road and the traffic light at Municipal Drive are built” was a response to a question from the Commission, not the applicant’s proposal.
Mr. Harris asked if DRA will comply with all points in the 5/15/03 Pennoni Associates letter. Mr. VanLuvanee said he will, with a question about Point III A 1, regarding buffering of the parking area. He said Newtown Grant residents were concerned about protection from the lighting; the applicant is willing to meet again with the residents to develop a satisfactory buffering plan. Mr. Goodnoe said the source of light should not be visible off the property. Mr. VanLuvanee displayed the landscape plan and said it will comply with this requirement. Ms. Saylor said that the plan shows shields on the light fixtures and additional vegetation to supplement the existing trees.
Phil Calabro, a resident of Newtown Grant, said some of the existing trees are old and brittle, and he asked that some be replaced with healthy plants.
Mr. Harris said the adequacy of the existing vegetation, and the need for further buffering, should be determined in the field by the residents, the applicant, and Township representatives, who should come back to the Board with a recommendation. He suggested that such a consensus be a condition of approval.
Mr. Calabro asked about the parking lot lighting. Mr. VanLuvanee said the ordinance requires that 50% of the lights should remain lighted from 10:00 PM until sunrise, but DRA is proposing to turn off the perimeter lighting at 8:00 PM and all lighting except security lighting at 10:00 PM. Mr. Calabro said this is acceptable to him.
Mr. Calabro also asked about the traffic light at North Drive. Mr. Smith said it will be completed in August.
Mr. Harris asked under what circumstances would DRA agree to make the access road right-in and right-out. Mr. VanLuvanee said there is no reason to restrict access if the traffic light at Municipal Drive is not built. Mr. Jirele said he understood that DRA had committed to making the access right-in and right-out. Mr. VanLuvanee said the connector road is now much more circuitous, and it does not make sense to make left turners travel on the connector road to exit elsewhere.
Mr. Harris suggested that Pennoni Associates study the access drive and traffic patterns, and make a recommendation to the Board.
Mr. Goodnoe said he would like to see sidewalks along Durham Road. Mr. VanLuvanee said this is acceptable.
Mr. Jirele said he would like to participate in the meeting with Newtown Grant residents concerning the buffering. Mr. VanLuvanee said he will notify Mr. Pellegrino about the date and time of the meeting.
In answer to several questions from Mr. Harris, Mr. VanLuvanee said condo ownership is not planned; he would prefer to put a drainage easement on the plan in favor of the Township; he is proposing a fee in lieu of park and recreation space; and he would like DRA to receive credit on the traffic impact fee for being willing to build the traffic light at Municipal Drive.
Mr. Jirele suggested instead that DRA pay the entire traffic impact fee now, and the Township will pay DRA’s share of the traffic light if it is built. Mr. Harris said the traffic light is estimated to cost $120,000, DRA will generate about a third of the projected traffic, so the DRA contribution would be about $40,000.
Mr. VanLuvanee said DRA will put curbing on the outparcel if they acquire it, and they will save as many of the healthy trees in the buffer area as possible.
Mr. Harris summarized the Board’s discussion and said two issues will be investigated further: what supplementation is needed for the buffer between DRA and Newtown Grant; and traffic issues. He asked about a third issue: the question of right-in, right-out at the access road. Mr. Jirele said no one will use the interconnect road if the access drive is a full intersection. Mr. VanLuvanee said if DRA cannot have a full intersection at the access drive they will resubmit the plan with two access points. Mr. Goodnoe and Mrs. Goren agreed that the applicant would have the right to do this.
Shawn Ward said the public will not honor a right-in, right-out requirement at this intersection, and people may go up to North Drive to turn around. Mr. Harp said he agrees with this point.
Mr. VanLuvanee agreed to provide an extension to the end of June, and Mr. Harris said he will circulate a draft letter of approval.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (PART TWO)
John D’Aprile, a Township resident, asked that the house on the DRA property not be used for Fire Company practice. Mr. Pellegrino said he will look into this. Mr. D’Aprile said he does not want to see houses on the Melsky Tract. He also said he has noticed neon signs in places where they are not permitted; he will get information on this to Mr. Pellegrino.
Sue Beasley, a Township resident, complained about the temperature of the room. She also asked about a planned trail from Cliveden to Lakeview Estates along Washington Crossing Road. Mr. Jirele said the route was changed during the review process.
Karen Brask, a resident of Newtown Grant, asked about traffic backups at the intersection of Richboro Road, Buck Road and the Bypass. Mr. Smith said PennDOT is now bidding the work on this intersection. Ms. Brask then asked about the intersection in front of the Acme, where she recently saw a car become airborne. Mr. Goodnoe said Pennoni Associates is studying what should be done at this intersection. Ms. Brask also commented that allowing people to make comments about who should or should not be appointed to a position is a bad precedent.
Del Purscell, a Township resident, suggested the Township use the reserve funds to pay off most of its debt, and reinvest the $2.1 million that is invested at 1.6%. He also said incorrect information is being put out on the Stockburger proposal.
Frank Mendicino said the Community Comment section is becoming an inquisition.
Nancy Crescenzo asked if the Borough and the Township are continuing to work together, especially on park and recreation concerns. Mr. Harp said they are. Ms. Crescenzo suggested that the Board consider putting a community center in the Newtown Industrial Commons.
Phil Calabro said appointments to committees and boards should be based on merit, not politics.
Mr. Goodnoe said he disagrees with current policies on public comment. He requested that residents be permitted to speak before non-residents. Mrs. Goren said she agrees with this request.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 11:30 PM. The Board then met in executive session for matters of personnel.
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