Board of Supervisors Minutes
July 9, 2003
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting July 23, 2003. MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 7/9/03: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 7/9/03 regular meeting with one correction; the date of the minutes approved at that meeting should be 6/25/03. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, July 9, 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 and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Sycamore Street Committee Chairman Vince Lombardi, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Bernard Bires, 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 Paul Kester of Newtown Friends Meeting. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that an item regarding the signing of the mylars for the Szarko subdivision be added to the Solicitor’s report, and that the item regarding the Roberts Nursery Tract be withdrawn at the request of the applicant. Mr. Harp said there will be an additional special action.
H. PAUL. KESTER - 12 YEARS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE: Mr. Harp presented a proclamation to Mr. Kester in honor of his years of service to the Newtown community on the Planning Commission and on other boards and commissions. Mr. Kester is retiring because he is moving out of the Township.
Vince Lombardi, Chairman of the Sycamore Street Committee and a member of the Planning Commission, said he has known Mr. Kester since the 1950’s. He related the story of Mr. Kester’s first appointment to a Township commission.
SOFTBALL TROPHY: Bernard Bires, Chairman of the Park and Recreation Board, presented a trophy to Mr. Harp in honor of the Township’s fourth straight win over the Borough in the annual First Fourth softball game.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST AND REPORTS
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 6/25/03: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 6/25/03 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
MINUTES OF THE WORK SESSION OF 6/9/03: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 6/9/03 work session; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
BILLS LIST: Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $186,590.71, and to make interfund transfers totaling $4,170.00; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
TREASURER’S REPORT: No items for this section.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Chairman Bernard Bires reported on the Board’s 7/2/03 meeting, at which they prioritized their goals for park development. Roberts Ridge Park, the Woll Tract, the Clark Nature Center and Silver Lake Park were identified as high priorities; the Wiggins Tract and Hidden Lake were identified as lower priorities.
Mr. Bires also reported that a bench has been installed at Helen Randle Park. Mr. Harp added that a dedication ceremony had been scheduled for the next weekend, but Helen Randle was injured in a fall recently, and the ceremony was postponed so that she can attend.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL: Mr. Weaver reported that the most recent meeting of the Council was not well attended. The Council has decided not to meet in August.
MEMBERS’ COMMENTS: None.
Mr. Harp asked that individuals limit their comments to five minutes, refrain from personal attacks, and allow residents to comment first. He said this session will last approximately 30 minutes.
Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked if the bench at the Clark property was donated by Pennoni Associates or paid for in the 1/22/03 bills list. Mr. Pellegrino responded that Pennoni donated the bench for the Clark property, and the one referred to in the bills list was installed at Roberts Ridge Park. Mr. Harp added that the bench at the Helen Randle Park was paid for by recreation impact fees. Ms. Crescenzo expressed concern about expenditures for parks and the lack of plans and budget for these projects. She also questioned the proposal from Pennoni Associates for traffic calming near Newtown Gate because of its cost and the timing of the project.
Ed Tate, a resident of Eagleton Farms, thanked the Supervisors for agreeing to state in writing their opposition to the northern bypass concept. He provided copies of a 7/9/03 resolution by the Eagleton Farms Homeowners Association which expresses concern about truck traffic on Stoopville Road, requests a study of potential traffic calming measures, and asks that a report be made on the study within 60 days of tonight’s date. Mr. Harp said that the Supervisors will study the request and get in touch with Mr. Tate soon.
Del Purscell, a Township resident, suggested that the Board should take no action on the two proposals from Pennoni Associates on the agenda tonight. He stated that several Pennoni employees donated funds to the political campaigns of three of the Supervisors, although none of the employees lives in the Township. He said this is not illegal, but may be unethical.
Sue Beasley, a Township resident, finished reading Mr. Purscell’s statement, which called for reform and the firing of Pennoni Associates as the Township Engineer.
Glenn Beasley, a Township resident, said that integrity is an appropriate subject for Community Comments. He said that some of the Supervisors sponsored advertisements last year that were close to libelous, and sponsored some advertisements this year that contain inaccurate statements. He asked Mr. Harp to ask Mr. Smith if Pennoni Associates was asked to contribute to a political campaign; Mr. Harp refused to do so.
Mr. Beasley criticized several Board actions, and said Mr. Harp has used “closet government, dishonesty, misleading information and scare tactics”. Mr. Harp questioned Mr. Beasley’s use of the word “dishonesty”, and Mr. Beasley said he would amend his statement to say that he sees things he finds very hard to believe.
Shawn Ward, a Township resident, said the previous Township Engineer also contributed to political campaigns. He said this is a common practice and does not mean that the people involved have no integrity.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS: Mr. Harp stated that nothing improper was done in last year’s campaigns.
WORK SESSION: Mr. Harp said the next Board work session will be 7/21/03 at 7:30 PM, and the major agenda item will be the expansion of the Municipal Complex.
FIRST FOURTH: Mr. Harp said the First Fourth celebration on 7/5/03 went very well. He thanked all the volunteers who made the events possible.
ACME PROPERTY: Mr. Harp said the Redevelopment Authority has provided the Township with a template for a Request for Proposals for the development of the former Acme property.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: No items for this section.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said there are no applications requiring Board action tonight.
PROPOSAL FOR PLAN DEVELOPMENT - ROBERTS RIDGE PARK: Mr. Pellegrino said Pennoni Associates prepared a proposal, at the request of the Supervisors, for the development of a master plan for Roberts Ridge Park. As requested, it includes the program elements recommended by the Park and Recreation Board. Mr. Pellegrino said that Mr. Smith’s 7/2/03 letter states that Pennoni’s fees will not exceed $800. He added that the Township Planner’s fees will not exceed $170.
Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the Township Engineer, in consultation with the Township Planner, to develop a master plan for Roberts Ridge Park, as described in Mr. Smith’s 7/2/03 letter, for an amount not to exceed $970. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo asked for a definition of “element”. Mr. Harp read the list of program elements recommended by the Park and Recreation Board at the 6/25/03 Supervisors’ meeting. He noted that the Township Planner estimated that 60 parking spaces are needed for these activities.
Mr. Harp said that when the plan is prepared, the next step is for it to be presented to the Planning Commission. Ms. Crescenzo said there should be more public discussion of the design before the Township pays for the plan.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.
KNOX BOX ORDINANCE: Mr. Harris said the Emergency Services Department asked him to put the issue of rapid access key boxes (“Knox Boxes”) on the agenda. He provided copies of a draft ordinance amending the Township’s Fire Prevention Code, requiring the installation and maintenance of such boxes for industrial and commercial properties, as well as for any other property protected by a locked fence or gate. Mr. Harris said this is not an ordinance amendment and therefore does not require a review process. It does require that the Supervisors authorize him to advertise it for adoption.
Mrs. Goren said she has seen a letter from a Township business owner objecting to the ordinance because of concerns about its impact on security systems and on the privacy of customers. The letter also described a bad experience with a similar ordinance in another municipality. She suggested that compliance be made voluntary. Mr. Goodnoe said he agrees with Mrs. Goren’s suggestion.
Mr. Weaver said that both the Business Development Council and the Business and Professional Association expressed support for the ordinance.
Mr. Harp said he would like to get more feedback on this issue before acting on it.
LITIGATION WITH RCN: Mr. Harris said that RCN’s appeal of the Township’s decision was denied, and the court affirmed that the Township has suffered $2.5 million in damages from RCN’s breach of their contract. RCN has 30 days to appeal this decision to Commonwealth Court.
FINAL PLAN MYLARS - SZARKO SUBDIVISION: Mr. Harris said all the necessary documents have been submitted. The property has been sold, so some documents are in the name of the new owner.
Mr. Weaver moved to sign the mylars and execute the financial and improvement agreements for the Szarko subdivision. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
TRAFFIC CALMING PROPOSAL - NEWTOWN GATE: Mr. Smith provided copies of a 5/22/03 letter from Traffic Engineer Philip Wursta which includes a Scope of Work and Cost proposal to complete an evaluation of the vehicular traffic utilizing the residential roadways in the Township, and to identify traffic calming measures to be implemented that will address neighborhood concerns. Mr. Smith explained that Part I concerns data collection and analysis, and evaluation of alternatives, on Fountain Farm Lane in the Newtown Gate neighborhood. This was viewed as a priority because of the Law School Admissions Council’s donation of $20,000 for traffic calming measures in this area. Part II concerns the development of a technical memorandum that will outline the process for implementing a Township-wide traffic calming program. Because Pennoni Associates wanted to make sure that school-related traffic was included, they have already done the traffic counts described in Part I of the proposal. Mr. Smith said the estimated costs are $22,000 for Part I and $6,400 for Part II.
Mr. Goodnoe said that traffic calming measures are usually used in pedestrian-oriented areas. He said they are simple and do not warrant the $22,000 estimate for Part I of the proposal. Mr. Goodnoe also said that the information necessary for the technical memorandum to be developed (Part II) can be found in standard traffic manuals and does not warrant the estimated expense. He suggested that the Township obtain competitive bids for this work. He also asked Mr. Smith what would be the trigger for a License Plate Study (I.3. under Part I).
Mr. Smith said Mr. Wursta would have to answer the question about the License Plate Study. He also said that Pennoni Associates will bill only for what they do, and the actual cost may be less.
Mrs. Goren said the Board promised to address the concerns of Newtown Gate residents, and most of these funds have been donated by the Law School Admissions Council. She said Pennoni Associates is the Township Engineer and does good work.
Mrs. Goren moved to accept the 5/22/03 Pennoni Associates proposal regarding a traffic calming program, for an amount not to exceed $28,400. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Sue Beasley commented that the $20,000 donated by the developer does not have to be used for any specific area.
Alan Harvison, a resident of Newtown Gate, said there is a clear problem on Fountain Farm Lane with speeding and traffic volume.
Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, asked why bids were not obtained for this project. Mr. Harp said bids are not required for professional services.
Nancy Crescenzo asked if these costs are in the budget. Mr. Harp said the $28,400 would come from the Law School Admissions Council donation and from traffic impact fees. Ms. Crescenzo suggested the traffic count should be done after the old Law School building is occupied.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed 3-1, with Mr. Goodnoe voting “nay”.
NORTH DRIVE AND DURHAM ROAD TRAFFIC SIGNAL - PAYMENT #1: Mr. Weaver moved to make Progress Payment #1 in the amount of $40,817.00 for the traffic signal installation referred to above, as recommended in Mr. Smith’s 7/1/03 letter. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
THE RESERVE (AKA THE HESTON TRACT) - TMP# 29-10-77 - ESCROW RELEASE #3: Mr. Weaver moved to make Escrow Release #3 in the amount of $569,904.00 for The Reserve, as recommended in Mr. Smith’s 7/1/03 letter. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
CLOSED LOOP MAINTENANCE AGREEMENT: Mrs. Goren moved to award the contract for maintenance of the closed loop traffic signal system on the Bypass to Precision Electric Signal for an amount not to exceed $2,975.00, as recommended in Mr. Smith’s 7/2/03 letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe noted that the system includes two signals located in other municipalities. Mr. Smith said the other municipalities will reimburse the Township for that portion of the maintenance.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.
OLD BUSINESS: No items for this section.
APPOINTMENT TO THE PLANNING COMMISSION: Mrs. Goren moved to appoint Frank Mendicino to the Planning Commission. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said that Mr. Mendicino has been appointed to several boards and commissions and has never completed his terms. Mrs. Goren said that Mr. Mendicino left the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission three years ago for the same reasons, but he is able to serve now.
Sue Beasley asked if there were other qualified candidates. Mr. Harp responded that there were, but that Mr. Mendicino had the best background, including experience on the Planning Commission. Mrs. Beasley said Mr. Mendicino’s business is in violation of the ordinance because neon signs are prohibited. Mr. Harp said he is sure this will be corrected if there is a violation.
Frank Mendicino was present and said he is the owner of the Subway restaurant in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center. He said he will correct any violations of the ordinance in his business, but the Township has approved his signs.
Shawn Ward stated he is a member of the Planning Commission and supports Mr. Mendicino’s appointment.
Nancy Crescenzo said she contacted the Township and was told that interior neon signs visible from outside a store are not allowed. Mr. Pellegrino said he referred Ms. Crescenzo’s complaint to the Codes Department.
Ms. Crescenzo suggested that new people should be appointed to Township boards and commissions to encourage diversity. She said it seems this appointment was decided in advance.
Mary Jane Higgins, a Township resident, asked how the Supervisors selected Mr. Mendicino from the eight candidates for the appointment. Mr. Harp responded that the Supervisors reviewed each candidate’s experience, interests, background and other elements. He said that Mr. Mendicino most closely fits the Township’s needs at this time.
Vince Lombardi said he has served on the Planning Commission since the late 1980’s. He stated that he supports the appointment because Mr. Mendicino is thorough, knows the ordinance and knows how to apply it.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed 3-1, with Mr. Goodnoe voting “nay”.
Nancy Crescenzo commented that Mr. Lombardi did not see the qualifications of the other candidates for the appointment. She also asked about Mr. Weaver’s and Mr. Harp’s attendance at Park and Recreation Board meetings. Mr. Harp said that he and Mr. Weaver try to make sure that at least one of them attends each meeting.
Ms. Crescenzo thanked Del Purscell and Mr. Goodnoe for their contributions to the work of the Sycamore Street Committee.
Sue Beasley commented that the Supervisors should represent all neighborhoods in the Township. She also asked why Mrs. Goren objects to public comments she does not like. Mrs. Goren responded that political campaigns are not Township business and are not appropriate subjects for public comments. She noted there are other venues for these comments.
Del Purscell commented that a concern about contractors is Township business.
Walter Iwaskiw said the Township should explain its policies for bidding contracts.
Brandon Wind, a Township resident, said he was an applicant for the vacancy on the Planning Commission, and was never contacted by the Township. He said he has tried to get on several boards and commissions, and has never been contacted, although he has good qualifications. Mr. Wind stated he is running for Supervisor because the Township needs new blood, and the present Board is disrespectful of anyone not in their inner circle.
Frank Mendicino said he applied for the Planning Commission vacancy the day after Mr. Kester announced his retirement.
Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, asked that the traffic calming project on Fountain Farm Lane be delayed until the old Law School building is occupied. She noted that there are several other development projects coming to the area that will generate more traffic. She also expressed dismay at the way issues were discussed tonight.
John D’Aprile, a Township resident, said new people should be appointed to Township boards and commissions. He also asked why the Township does not obtain bids for professional services. Mr. Pellegrino said that the Township is required to publicly obtain bids and award contracts for projects over $10,000, except for professional services. Projects costing between $1,000 and $4,000 do not require a second bid; projects costing between $4,000 and $10,000 require three quotes. He added that agreements for professional services are handled in a variety of ways in different municipalities.
Glenn Beasley asked how much money Pennoni Associates expects to be paid this year by the Township. Mr. Pellegrino said engineering services are in the budget in many places, and he can give this information to Mr. Beasley later.
Mr. Harp said he was sorry Mr. Wind did not receive a letter regarding his application, and he will look into this. He also commented that Mr. Lombardi and the present Sycamore Street Committee have done good work.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections, Mr. Harp adjourned the meeting at 10:05 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
Thomas Jirele, Member
Raymond Goodnoe, Member