Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

October 8, 2003


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, October 8, 2003, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM.  In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Scott R. Harp, Vice Chairman/Assistant Treasurer Anne Goren, Member Thomas Jirele and Member Raymond Goodnoe.  Also present were:  Planning Commission Vice Chairman Allen Fidler, Park and Recreation Board Acting Chairman Andy Levine, Library Company Board member Brandon Wind, Township Solicitor Stephen B. 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 Reverend Farley of the Ascension Lutheran Church.  This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. 

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA:  Mr. Pellegrino asked that an update on the Sycamore Street project be added to his report, that the HARB report be removed from the agenda, and that a report from the Library Company be added under item #8. 


CERTIFICATES OF APPRECIATION - GOODNOE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - WEE CARE BEAR PROGRAM:  Mr. Harp presented Certificates to Eileen Dwell and Rose Catani in appreciation for their participation in the Wee Care Bear program.  Mr. Harp noted that Jean Tanner and Cindy Bech could not be present tonight, but will also receive Certificates. 



MINUTES OF THE WORK SESSION OF 9/15/03: Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 9/15/03 work session with two changes:  Under Members Present, Richard Weaver should be listed as Treasurer/Secretary; and under Members Absent, Mrs. Goren should be listed as Vice-Chairman/Assistant Treasurer.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Goren abstaining. 

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 9/24/03:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 9/24/03 regular meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously. 

BILLS LIST:  Mrs. Goren moved to pay bills totaling $531,093.71; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously. 

Mrs. Goren moved to make interfund transfers totaling $180,147.22; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously. 


REINVESTMENT OF CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT:  Mrs. Goren moved to renew a Certificate of Deposit in the amount of $304,413.24 invested at Commerce Bank, in accordance with a 10/3/03 memo from Finance Director Elaine Gibbs.  The rate will be at 2.25% for five years, with no penalty for withdrawal.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.   


LIBRARY COMPANY OF NEWTOWN:  Brandon Wind, a member of the Board of Directors of the Library Company, presented the Company’s annual report.  He introduced Helen Kahn, the new part-time librarian and the Company’s first paid staff person.  Ms. Kahn is a Township resident.  Mr. Wind stated that the Library has 382 individual and family memberships, many of whom are Township residents, and he encouraged the Board of Supervisors to continue their support of the Library.  He described the major renovation project being undertaken by the Library with the help of a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. 

Mr. Jirele suggested that the Township could include publicity for the Library in its newsletter.  Mr. Goodnoe asked if the Library has raised the matching funds for the state grant; Mr. Wind said they have been raised, but the Library would appreciate further contributions from the public. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION:  Mr. Harp said the Commission met on 9/18/03 and discussed signage, impervious surface maximums, stormwater management, and traffic issues relative to the Newtown Business Commons area.  A sub-committee is being formed to draft recommendations regarding changes in ordinance provisions about uses.  The next meeting will be 10/16/03.  Mr. Harp said that Mr. Weaver would give a more detailed report at the next Board of Supervisors meeting. 

PARK AND RECREATION BOARD:  Acting Board Chairman Andy Levine reported on their 10/2/03 meeting.  He said that if Mr. Bires’ resignation is accepted, Mr. Levine will become the Chairman and Joel Grosso will become the Vice-Chairman of the Board.  At the 10/2/03 meeting the Board heard presentations from the Girls Softball Association and the Little League; the two groups are seeking lighting and some safety improvements at the fields where they are active.  The Board also heard a presentation from Newtown-Yardley Road Associates and recommended a fee in lieu of open space on their plan.  They discussed the need for a community center and identified resources already present in the community, such as private recreation facilities, the schools, the recreation facilities planned for the Municipal Complex, and the center in Northampton.  Also discussed were the trail system, maps of the Clark Nature Center, and the Roberts Ridge plan.  

PLANNING COMMISSION:  Commission Vice-Chairman Allen Fidler reported on their 10/7/03 meeting, at which they discussed the upcoming Bucks County Planning Commission meeting on the TIP and a proposal to amend the Highway Classification Map.  They also reviewed a preliminary plan for a minor subdivision on Hidden Valley Lane and the revised final plan for the Village at Newtown South shopping center, and recommended approval of both plans subject to several conditions. 

The Commission reviewed seven applications to the Zoning Hearing Board and commented on two.  Discussion of a proposed Disclosure Ordinance was tabled until the next meeting on 10/21/03. 

PRD VARIANCE - FOUR SEASONS SUN AND SHADE COMPANY - 8 SOUTH LANCASTER ROAD - TMP# 29-24-214:  Brian Sklener of Four Seasons and homeowner Casey Gibbons were present to discuss their request for a variance to allow construction of a sunroom that will result in a rear yard setback of 22.8’ instead of the required 30’ setback.  Mr. Harp opened the public hearing and Mr. Sklener and Ms. Gibbons were sworn in. 

Mr. Sklener explained that the home was built on the 30’ setback line, making a variance necessary for any addition.  Ms. Gibbons provided letters from her neighbors stating that they have no objection to the proposed sunroom.  They were given to Mr. Harris to be entered into the record. 

Mrs. Goren moved to approve the variance for 8 South Lancaster Road, with the condition that the applicant will present a mylar and record it, and pay all costs of review.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

Mrs. Goren moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 



Bill Wall, a resident of Newtown Gate, said the Law School Admissions Council building will be a monstrosity and criticized several recent Zoning Hearing Board decisions. 

Frank Mendicino, a Township resident and a member of the Planning Commission, said he is also concerned about recent Zoning Hearing Board decisions, particularly the one involving the Newtown-Yardley Road Associates application.  He asked the Board of Supervisors to appeal this decision.  He said the Zoning Hearing Board is setting policy for the Township. 



RESIGNATION OF BERNARD BIRES:  Mr. Harp said he has accepted Mr. Bires’ resignation from the Park and Recreation Board with regret.  A letter of appreciation for his outstanding service will be sent to Mr. Bires. 

WORK SESSION:  Mr. Harp said the next work session is scheduled for 10/20/03, and the major agenda item is a discussion of goals for 2004. 

TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM:  Mr. Harp listed the four projects submitted by the Township and noted that the meeting with the Bucks County Planning Commission will take place on 10/9/03. 

BUCKS COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS (BCATO):  Mr. Harp encouraged members of the Board of Supervisors to attend the BCATO meeting on 10/15. 

WEE CARE BEARS PROGRAM:  Mr. Harp said all three Township elementary schools are now participating in this program. 

ECUMENICAL SERVICE:  Mr. Harp said an ecumenical service is being organized for the evening of 11/23/03; further details will be available later. 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPEAL:  Mr. Harp asked Mr. Harris if the decision to appeal the Newtown-Yardley Road Associates variance can be made at the next Board of Supervisors meeting; Mr. Harris said it can be made at that time. 

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS:  No items for this section. 


PLAN EXPIRATIONS:  Mr. Pellegrino said there are no plan expirations requiring Board action tonight. 

RESOLUTION 2003-R-23 - APPROVING AGREEMENT REGARDING STATE GRANT FUNDS FOR THE JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION (JDNC) PROGRAM:  Mr. Goodnoe moved to adopt Resolution 2003-R-23 approving the subrecipient agreement acknowledging the Township’s obligation to transfer state grant funds to the JDNC Main Street program.  Mr. Jirele seconded the motion. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Goodnoe commented that the Township previously agreed to serve as the applicant for these grant funds, and the agreement is a standard step in the application process. 

Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously. 

DCED GRANT FOR STREAM BANK STABILIZATION:  Mr. Pellegrino referred to his 10/3/03 memo, which describes a $380,000 DCED grant secured by the Township for stream bank stabilization along portions of Newtown Creek.  He explained that the work will allow the Township to install some additional on-street parking as part of the Sycamore Street project. The deadline for spending the funds is 6/30/05. 

Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the Manager and the Chairman to sign the grant agreement for the stream bank stabilization project.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously. 

SYCAMORE STREET PROJECT:  Mr. Pellegrino said four bids were received for the project, and the low bid of $4,854,813.00 was from Haines and Kibblehouse.  This bid is $664,814.00 over the amount approved by the state, but the state has indicated that it will cover all but $68,000.00 of the difference.  Mr. Pellegrino asked the Board to authorize appropriation of the remaining $68,000.00 from the 2004 budget. 

Mrs. Goren moved to authorize an additional appropriation of up to $68,000 for the Sycamore Street project, subject to PennDOT funding the balance of the excess costs.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously. 


NOISE ORDINANCE AND TEMPORARY STRUCTURES ORDINANCE:  Mr. Harris reported that the Jointure was not able to consider a proposal to revise the Noise Ordinance at their recent meeting.  He will prepare a draft of a stand-alone Township ordinance for consideration by the Board at their 10/22/03 meeting.  Mr. Harris said he and Mr. Harwood recommend that the present Temporary Structures Ordinance be enforced literally, precluding the issuance of permits for tents such as the one at the Stone House Bistro and making a revision to the ordinance unnecessary. 

FLOODPLAIN ORDINANCE REVISIONS:  Mr. Harris provided a copy of a draft ordinance allowing Zoning Hearing Boards to grant relief in certain situations where the 100-year flood level is increased.  He has submitted the draft to FEMA; if FEMA approves the proposed language, the draft will be forwarded to the Jointure for review.  

RCN LITIGATION:  Mr. Harris said Judge Mellon affirmed the Board’s decision and affirming the judgment against RCN for breaching their contract with the Township.  He expects RCN will appeal the Judge’s decision. 


ESCROW RELEASE #4 - WILTSHIRE WALK:  Mrs. Goren moved to release $604,834.00 in escrow funds for the Wiltshire Walk project, in accordance with Mr. Smith’s 10/2/03 letter.  Mr. Goodnoe seconded the motion. 

Discussion of motion:  Mr. Harp asked if all required work was completed; Mr. Smith affirmed that it is. 

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously. 


John D’Aprile, a Township resident, said that the Township should address the needs of its senior citizens here, not by referring them to the Northampton Center.  Mr. Harp commented that there are a number of programs for senior citizens in the Township, and that the School Board funded the Northampton Center to benefit all the residents in the district. 

Mr. D’Aprile also said the Township should not accept so many fees in lieu of open space. 

Brandon Wind, a Township resident, asked what process will be followed in filling the vacancies on the Park and Recreation Board and the Economic Development Commission (EDC).  Mr. Harp responded that the Chairman of the EDC told him that the Commission will meet only a few more times, so it is not necessary to fill the vacancy.  The Township has recently discovered that the state requires a maximum of seven members on the Park and Recreation Board, and the Township currently has nine positions; therefore the number will be reduced by attrition. 

Mr. Wind also asked about the fate of the timbers from the Heston barn.  Mr. Harris said he has a memo on this subject from Mr. Sander, which states that the Heston barn timbers are not appropriate for use at the Peter Taylor Farmstead.  The Friends of the Farm are trying to find a use for them.  The funds donated by Toll Brothers will be used to restore the barn and foundation at the Farmstead. 

Mr. Harp commented that the Township is actively working on building a good relationship with the School District, and he hopes this will lead to more Township access to school facilities. 



ADJOURNMENT:  Without objection the meeting was adjourned at 9:40 PM. 


Respectfully Submitted: 


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