Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

October 22, 2003


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting November 5 , 2003. MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 10/22/03:  Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 10/22/03 regular meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, October 22, 2003, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM.  In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Scott R. Harp, Treasurer/Secretary Richard Weaver, Vice Chairman/Assistant Treasurer Anne Goren, Member Thomas Jirele and Member Raymond Goodnoe.  Also present were:  Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Allen Fidler, HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs, 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 Pearson of the Newtown Assembly of God.  This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. 

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA:  Mr. Pellegrino said there are no additions to the agenda.  He also asked that the Board meet briefly in executive session following the public meeting to discuss matters of personnel and litigation.  

SPECIAL ACTIONS 

CERTIFICATES OF APPRECIATION 

MAJOR KENNETH MYERS:  Mr. Harp presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Township resident Major Kenneth Myers for his service as a Flight Nurse in the United States Air Force.

PEARL HAULER:  Mr. Harp presented a Certificate of Accomplishment to the daughter and granddaughter of Pearl Hauler, a Township resident who recently celebrated her 100th birthday. 

CONDITIONAL USE - TUDOR SQUARE PHASE III - 660 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - TMP# 29-10-119 AND 29-10-119-1:  Douglas Terry was present to discuss this application.  He requested that the hearing be continued because the Planning Commission tabled their discussion of this application at their 10/21/03 meeting. 

Mr. Weaver moved to continue the hearing on the Tudor Square Phase III conditional use application to 11/19/03.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 

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

MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS 

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 10/8/03:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 10/8/03 regular meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

BILLS LIST:  Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $191,379.19, and to make interfund transfers totaling $434,659.69; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously. 

TREASURER’S REPORT:  No items. 

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS 

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (HARB):  HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs reported that HARB recommends a Certificate of Appropriateness for a revision to a sign at 117B South Sycamore Street.  Kathleen Lesser owns the property.  Ms. Hibbs stated that the dimensions and design of the sign would remain the same; the lettering is being changed for a new tenant of the building, Chef Jean Pierre. 

Mrs. Goren moved to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness for a revision to a sign for Chef Jean Pierre at 117B South Sycamore Street.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION (EDC):  Mr. Weaver reported that the EDC continues to develop recommendations regarding uses and ordinance requirements for the Newtown Business Commons area.  He expects that these recommendations will be brought to the Board of Supervisors on 11/19/03.  Planning Commission members were invited to the most recent meeting but none were able to attend.  However, EDC members received copies of a letter from Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Allen Fidler commenting on several issues.  After the Board of Supervisors has reviewed and approved the recommendations, they will go to the Planning Commission and then to the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission for their review.  Mr. Weaver said the EDC is concerned about the entire area, including the adjacent neighborhoods in the Township and the Borough. 

PLANNING COMMISSION:  Commission Vice-Chairman Allen Fidler reported on their 10/21/03 meeting.  The Commission tabled the conditional use and preliminary plan applications for Tudor Square Phase III and the preliminary plan application for the Newtown Office Park until the deadline for the Board of Supervisors to appeal recent Zoning Hearing Board decisions has passed.  The Commission also reviewed the revised final plan for the 413 Office Center and recommended approval subject to several conditions.  The Commission’s 11/4/03 meeting is canceled, and the next meeting will be 11/18/03. 

PRELIMINARY PLAN - MINOR SUBDIVISION - HIDDEN VALLEY TRACT - 138 HIDDEN VALLEY LANE - TMP# 29-2-3:  Nick Hano and engineer Deane Riniker were present to discuss their proposal to subdivide a 15.856 acre tract in the R-1 District into three residential lots.  Mr. Riniker stated that Lot 1 will contain an existing single family dwelling and outbuildings; new single family dwellings will be constructed on Lots 2 and 3.  All three lots will have access on Hidden Valley Lane. 

In response to questions from Mr. Jirele, Mr. Riniker said that the owner of Lot 1 will maintain the open space, and a conservation easement for the open space will be provided.  He explained that the bio-retention basins will be two or three feet deep and will facilitate absorption of stormwater rather than piping it off site.  A maintenance easement will be provided for the basins. 

Mr. Riniker said the applicant will have a wetlands specialist determine the extent of the wetlands, in compliance with point A 4 b of the 8/13/03 Boucher and James letter.  He also said existing sidewalks along Hidden Valley Lane will be maintained. 

Mr. Goodnoe moved to grant preliminary plan approval for the Hidden Valley Tract, subject to the following conditions: 

·         Compliance with the 9/24/03 Pennoni Associates letter, the 10/16/03 Planning Commission letter, the 8/13/03 Boucher and James letter, and the 8/21/03 Bucks County Planning Commission letter.

·         All required permits and approvals would be submitted to the Township.

·         Financial security will be posted.

·         The applicant will provide appropriate water and sewer agreements.

·         A conservation easement will be provided to the Township for the open space.

·         Maintenance easements for the bio-retention basins and a management plan will be provided.

·         A fee in lieu of recreation facilities in the amount of $15,495 will be paid.

·         All costs of the review will be paid by the applicant.

·         The applicant will determine if the site complies with the 75% post-development release rate requirement.

·         The applicant will pay a traffic impact fee of $4,124.

·         A waiver is granted to allow submission of an aerial photo in lieu of showing existing features on the plan.

The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

 REVISED FINAL PLAN - VILLAGE AT NEWTOWN SOUTH:  Tabled until the applicant’s attorney can be present (see later, following Community Comments.) 

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPEAL DECISION - NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD ASSOCIATES:  Supervisors had received copies of the 10/2/03 decision of the Zoning Hearing Board allowing Newtown-Yardley Road Associates an impervious surface ratio of 64.5% instead of the maximum of 50% permitted by the ordinance.  Mr. Harris advised that if the Board of Supervisors wishes to appeal this decision it must be done tonight. 

Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the Solicitor to appeal the 10/2/03 Zoning Hearing Board decision regarding Newtown-Yardley Road Associates.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver. 

Discussion of motion:  Mrs. Goren said there was no mention of hardship in the Zoning Hearing Board’s written decision, and the Zoning Hearing Board is overstepping its role and interfering with the process for amending the ordinance by basing a decision on assumptions about what the Economic Development Commission (EDC) and the Jointure will decide. 

Mr. Harp agreed, and said that in his opinion there is no legal basis for granting the variance and the relief seems excessive.  He noted that the EDC has not formulated their recommendations yet and the process of changing the ordinance is not complete.  Mr. Harp said he has not decided what an appropriate impervious surface limit might be in the O-LI District, and he recognizes the need to study the impact of any zoning changes on traffic, stormwater, and other elements. 

Mr. Goodnoe said the Newtown Business Commons needs zoning changes to be economically viable.  He said the Board of Supervisors appointed the EDC with these kinds of changes in mind.  He said the Board discussed the first set of the EDC’s recommendations informally, and all members present expressed support for them.  Mr. Goodnoe said that to appeal this decision would result in the taxpayers funding both sides of a dispute that may be resolved in a few months. 

Mr. Weaver said the EDC has not finalized their recommendations, and the support of the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission for them is not guaranteed. 

Mr. Jirele said it is clear that the impervious surface limit has to be changed and that the EDC will be recommending this.  He said the Township should not oppose an applicant who is acting in accordance with these statements.  Mr. Jirele pointed out that no Supervisor had any comments when this application was discussed four weeks ago; the correct process would have been to raise objections at that time.  He also said that the Township is trying to be business-friendly, but appealing this decision would contradict that goal. 

Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, said that other applicants have received similar variances, and he feels that appealing the decision will be a waste of taxpayers’ money. 

Mike Iapalucci, a Township resident, said an appeal would be unfair to the applicant, especially since two Supervisors serve on the EDC and participated in developing the recommendations.  Mr. Harp responded that he has not committed himself to a specific percentage and he wants to support the process.  Mr. Iapalucci said the applicant should have been advised to wait until the ordinance is changed before applying for the variance. 

Shawn Ward, a Township resident and a member of the Planning Commission, commented that the Commission had recommended opposition to this application before it was heard by the Zoning Hearing Board.  He said that the Municipalities Planning Code requires that the applicant demonstrate the presence of five elements in order to justify a variance, one of which is hardship.  Mr. Ward said the applicant stated at the hearing that he had no legal basis for the variance, but that the EDC will be recommending a 65% maximum impervious surface for the O-LI District. 

Several additional residents asked to speak on this issue.  Mrs. Goren asked Mr. Harp to call the question. 

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed 3-2, with Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Jirele voting “nay.” 

Mr. Harp declared a brief recess. 

REVISED FINAL PLAN - VILLAGE AT NEWTOWN SOUTH - S. EAGLE AND SWAMP ROADS - TMP# 29-10-85 AND 29-10-85-5:  Attorney John VanLuvanee and engineer Maryellen Saylor were present to discuss the proposed plan to construct 36,000 SF of retail space in two buildings on a 16.3142 acre site in the PC District.  This parcel is the last partially developed portion of the Village of Newtown shopping center.  

Mr. VanLuvanee said the applicant has worked with the Planning Commission and Township consultants over the last six months to resolve many questions arising from the complex development history of the site.  It was determined that the site was approved for either retail or office use, and the impervious surface proposed for the present plan is no greater than what was specified in the last approved plan for this parcel.  Mr. VanLuvanee said the 10/16/03 letter from the Planning Commission is accurate but he would like to clarify what is not applicable in the 4/10/03 Pennoni review letter: 

·         III A 1 - Individual tenants will come in for conditional use approval.

·         III A 2 - The signage will conform to requirements in the last approved plan.

·         III A 3 - The last approved plan called for 69.5% impervious surface for this parcel, and the present plan is the same.  Mr. VanLuvanee noted that the stormwater managment system was designed for this amount of impervious surface.

·         III A 6 - The applicant and the Planning Commission agreed the requirement for a bike path is not applicable.

·         III A 7 - Mr. VanLuvanee said South Eagle Road was never intended as a street, so this point is not applicable.

·         III A 9 - The applicant cannot provide a list of tenants, so this requirement is not applicable.  Mr. VanLuvanee stated that the retail uses are not intended to draw regional business, as the spaces are too small.

·         III A 11 - The applicant is seeking a waiver of the requirement for a 75% post-development release rate because the existing stormwater management system was not designed with this in mind.  Mr. Smith commented that the system does come very close to compliance.

·         III A 14 - The applicant has obtained a variance to allow smaller parking spaces than required.

·         III B 21 - The applicant is seeking a waiver of the required paving section.  Mr. VanLuvanee commented that the proposed paving section exceeds the requirement and is satisfactory to the Township Engineer.

·         III B 22 - This point refers to a waiver request that is no longer needed.

·         III B 29 - Mr. VanLuvanee said the question of whether a fee in lieu of recreation space was paid is unclear.  Mr. Harris said one of the nine revised grants of final approval required a $30,000 fee, and it is not clear whether it was paid or if it applied to this parcel. 

·         III D 40 - The applicant has agreed to pay a fee in lieu of a traffic study.

·         III D 41 - Mr. VanLuvanee and Mr. Harris will resolve the question of the traffic impact fee. 

Mr. VanLuvanee listed the waivers requested by the applicant: 

·         Section 514.3 - To allow a paving section that exceeds the ordinance requirement.

·         Section 903.B.9 - Relief from the 75% post-development release rate requirement.

·         Section 402.3 B & C - To allow submission of an aerial photo in lieu of showing existing features on the plan.

·         Section 403.1(A)  - To allow a larger plan scale than specified in the ordinance

·         Section 403.4(M)(5) - Relief from the requirement to show all trees to be protected. 

Mr. Harris suggested that he draft a decision for the Board and the applicant to consider for action at the next Board of Supervisors meeting.  Mr. VanLuvanee agreed to this suggestion and agreed to an extension on the plan. 

Mr. VanLuvanee asked if there were any remaining concerns about the proposed plan.  Mr. Harris asked if the applicant would install buffering between the basin and Bill Marsh Ford.  Mr. VanLuvanee said this will be done, and he will bring a plan for this to the next meeting. 

In response to a question from Mr. Jirele, Mr. VanLuvanee said space for a community center was discussed at one plan revision but never implemented.  The applicant is willing to discuss this again, but it is not part of the proposed plan.  

Mr. Jirele also asked if speed bumps or some other traffic-slowing measure can be installed in the parking lot as vehicles approach the drive-through window of the bank.  Mr. VanLuvanee said he would bring a proposal for this to the next meeting. 

Mr. Harris summarized the next steps:  He and Mr. VanLuvanee will resolve the question of the payment of park and recreation impact fees and traffic impact fees before the next Board meeting, he will draft an approval agreement, and Mr. VanLuvanee will bring a revised landscape plan for the Bill Marsh Ford side of the site and a plan for traffic-calming on the approach to the drive-up window of the bank. 

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS:  No items for this section. 

COMMUNITY COMMENTS 

Walter Iwaskiw asked why the Village at Newtown was approved for almost 70% impervious surface.  Mr. Harris explained that there is an approved plan for the shopping center with a 69.5% impervious surface ratio.  There is no record of a variance allowing 69.5%, but the plan was approved with this ratio.  

Frank Mendicino said the impact of increasing the impervious surface maximum in the O-LI District has not been discussed or studied.  He said it is the Board’s responsibility to defend the ordinance, and that the Zoning Hearing Board is setting policy for the Township. 

Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, expressed concern about the derogatory and slanderous comments being made by residents, and she asked the Chairman not to allow them. 

Nancy Crescenzo complained that community athletic groups were given an hour to discuss their concerns at the most recent work session and they were not on the agenda.  She said the Park and Recreation capital expense projections discussed at the work session were too high.  She asked for public discussion of the Municipal Complex project, and said the public should know the financial impact before consideration of the budget. 

John D’Aprile, a Township resident, said public funds are being wasted on lawyers’ fees.  He also complained about the political nature of many comments. 

Bill Wall, a Township resident, said residents should be able to criticize public officials but not to engage in slander.  He wondered why Newtown-Yardley Road Associates did not wait a few months until the zoning issue was settled.  Mr. Wall said he is a lawyer, and stated that paying lawyers’ fees is not always a waste of money. 

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS 

CHAIRMAN 

BUCKS COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS (BCATO):  Mr. Harp said he, Mrs. Goren, and Mr. Goodnoe attended the BCATO meeting on 10/15/03. 

MEETING WITH BOROUGH COUNCIL PRESIDENT:  Mr. Harp said he met with Marcia Scull, Newtown Borough Council President, on 10/11/03 They discussed noise problems in the Newtown Business Commons, Cable TV service, and other issues. 

ECUMENICAL SERVICE:  Mr. Harp said details of the ecumenical service scheduled for 11/23/03 will be forthcoming. 

WORK SESSIONS:  Mr. Harp said the next Board of Supervisors work session is scheduled for 11/24/03.  Topics at the 10/20/03 work session included a discussion of upcoming capital projects, the Girls Softball League’s interest in lighting for their playing fields, and goals for 2004.  Goals identified included the Municipal Complex Expansion, recreation and park development, an annual report, updating of administrative codes, responsiveness to open space opportunities, Sycamore Street construction, Acme site redevelopment, maintaining strong relationships with other groups in the County (e.g., the Redevelopment Authority and the Transportation Management Agency,) and the reactivation of the Newtown rail line. 

BUCKS COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING:  Mr. Harp said the Township was well represented at the 10/16/03 meeting on the Bucks County Transportation Improvement Program.  

PANCAKE DAY:  Mr. Harp reminded residents that the Pancake Day sponsored by the Exchange Club and the American Legion is scheduled for 11/2/03. 

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS 

CODES COMMITTEE:  Mrs. Goren reported on the 10/21/03 Codes Committee meeting.  The Committee received a request from a developer to review the rating on a suite door at an office complex; the Building Inspector and the Fire Marshal will make a site visit and bring a recommendation to the Committee.  The Committee also decided to review current building standards in light of the new 2003 BOCA code. 

ELECTION:  Mr. Goodnoe reminded voters that there will be two questions on the ballot next week regarding changes to the Pennsylvania constitution. 

MANAGER 

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

ACCEPTANCE OF SALT BIDS:  Mr. Pellegrino referred to a 10/8/03 memo from Tom Harwood which described the results of the Bucks County Consortium bidding process for the purchase of road salt.  Mr. Harwood’s memo recommended the acceptance of the low bid, and estimated the Township will need 800 tons in 2003-2004 at an estimated cost of $28,000. 

Mrs. Goren moved to award the contract for road salt to the International Salt Company at $33.81 a ton delivered, in accordance with Mr. Harwood’s 10/8/03 memo.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously. 

SOLICITOR 

ZONING HEARING BOARD:  Mr. Harris described the seven new applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board meeting on 11/6/03.  Supervisors had no comments except for the following:  

J. LOEW & ASSOCIATES - WEST ROAD:  Mr. Harris said he has discussed this appeal with Mr. Harwood and tried unsuccessfully to resolve it amicably.  

Mrs. Goren moved to send the Solicitor to oppose the appeal of J. Loew Associates.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously. 

EXTENSION OF APPROVED ZONING VARIANCE - NEWTOWN ATHLETIC CLUB INDOOR POOL ADDITION:  Mr. Harris explained that construction has been delayed because PennDOT requested that the driveway be redesigned.  If the Board of Supervisors does not extend the variance the applicant must start over with a new application to the Zoning Hearing Board.  Mrs. Goren commented that the variance provided a lot of relief to the applicant, and if the applicant does apply again the Board of Supervisors will be able to express concerns about the amount of relief. 

Mr. Jirele moved to grant the Newtown Athletic Club and extension of the zoning variance from 1/3/04 to 7/3/04.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed 4-1, with Mrs. Goren voting “nay.” 

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (CONTINUED) 

Bill Wall said that many political signs from both parties have been taken down recently.  Mr. Harp said he had also noticed this, and the police were notified. 

Jim Bowe, a Township resident, asked if the total impact of increased impervious surface on the watershed has been studied, including factors such as traffic and stormwater management.  Mr. Weaver responded that the recommendations being considered by the Economic Development Committee and the Township Planner would stipulate that the impervious surface ratio could be increased only if a proposed project met stormwater management requirements.  Mr. Bowe expressed concern for the impact of these decisions on the region in the future. 

Douglas Terry, the applicant in the Newtown-Yardley Road Associates and Tudor Square cases, protested Mrs. Goren’s actions in cutting off discussion of the appeal earlier tonight.  This prevented the applicant from speaking on the matter.  He said Mr. Weaver is not being accurate in speaking about the Economic Development Commission’s deliberations, the Planning Commission is not willing to work with him, and political considerations seem to be involved.  He described his cooperation with the Township over the history of the Newtown Business Commons, and said the Township is not treating businesses well.  

Nancy Crescenzo expressed concern about how the Township is treating businesses.  She also said the public should have printed information about budget figures when complex financial issues are discussed.  Ms. Crescenzo said the Board is ignoring all the testimony at the Acme site meetings about the need for a community center. 

Frank Mendicino said the Planning Commission wants to work with Mr. Terry and support the process, which will take longer than Mr. Terry wants. 

Mike Iapalucci said he saw PennDOT trucks removing election signs along the Bypass.  He also criticized Mr. Weaver’s voting record. 

Phil Calabro, a Township resident, said that residents would be able to express their opinions by voting next week.  He reminded voters that the District 8 polling place has been changed from the firehouse to the lower level of the Township Administration building. 

Brandon Wind, a resident of Newtown Grant, said Mrs. Goren should not have cut off discussion of the Newtown-Yardley Road Associates situation.  He said that big developers are always invited to speak about their own projects if they are present.  He said the Township has a bad attitude towards business, and that the Chairman should stop people from making personal attacks. 

ADJOURNMENT:  With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 11:30 PM.  The Board met in executive session for matters of personnel and litigation following adjournment of the public meeting. 

Respectfully Submitted:

 

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Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary 

 

Minutes Approved as submitted _______ as corrected _______

 

  

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Scott R. Harp, Chairman

 

 

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Anne Goren, Vice Chairman/Assistant Treasurer

 

 

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Richard Weaver, Treasurer/Secretary

 

 

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Thomas Jirele, Member

 

 

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Raymond Goodnoe, Member