Board of Supervisors Minutes
November 19 , 2003
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting December 10, 2003. REGULAR MEETING OF 11/19/03: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 11/19/03 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, November 19, 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, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine, Former Park and Recreation Board Chairman Bernard Bires, Township Solicitor Stephen B. Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, Township Manager Robert M. Pellegrino, and Township Park and Recreation Director Bill Wert.
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 Robert Davis, Member of First Baptist Church of Newtown. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Harp said the budget will be moved up to Special Actions. Mr. Pellegrino asked that the Kossaci preliminary plan and the Tudor Square conditional use items be removed from the Planning Commission report and continued to the 12/10/03 meeting.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION - BERNARD BIRES - PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Mr. Harp and Park and Recreation Director Bill Wert presented a painting of the Clark Nature Center by local artist Craig Hackett to Mr. Bires in recognition of his twelve years of service to the Township on the Park and Recreation Board.
ADOPTION OF 2004 PRELIMINARY BUDGET: Mrs. Goren moved to adopt the 2004 Preliminary Budget as presented by Mr. Pellegrino at the 11/12/03 budget meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Pellegrino referred to his 11/14/03 memo to the Board in which he listed several reductions to the proposed 2004 budget identified by Township departments. He said that with these reductions, operating appropriations will equal operating revenues, after deducting appropriations for capital projects and debt service.
Mr. Harp commented that the Board asked for these reductions at the budget meeting. Mrs. Goren asked if the department heads agreed to these reductions, and Mr. Pellegrino said they had.
Mr. Jirele said he is concerned that the Township is draining the Park and Recreation Impact Fund. He suggested that the Board prioritize park projects coming up in the next few years.
Mr. Goodnoe said he agreed with Mr. Jirele’s remarks. He also expressed concerns about capital expenditures. He questioned several items in the proposed budget, including a wide-carriage copier for the Codes Department, an asphalt trailer for the Public Works Department, EMS radios, parking lots at several parks, some engineering expenses for the Trail extensions and roadway maintenance, and dugouts on two recreational fields. He also said cutting out the purchase of one police vehicle may not be a good idea.
Del Purscell, a Township resident, provided Board members with packets of materials related to his comments on the budget. He said he opposed deficit spending, and warned that demographic trends indicate that earned income will go down in the Township as baby boomers retire. He noted that there will be fewer children needing recreational facilities. He encouraged the Board to support the business community and find new sources of revenue. Mr. Purscell said the Municipal Complex Expansion project represents a 300% expansion of office space for the Township and a large increase in fixed costs in the future. He urged the Board to hire a demographer to study the trends he mentioned.
Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, supported Mr. Purscell’s suggestion. She also commented that grants are available for a community center. She asked that Mr. Pellegrino’s 11/14/03 memo listing cuts in the proposed budget be made available to the public, and asked how the loss of $100,000 in revenue from the maintenance contract with Newtown Borough will be made up.
Mr. Jirele reiterated his concern about spending down the Park and Recreation Impact funds and prioritizing projects. He said he sent a memo about this subject to the Park and Recreation Board asking them to prioritize projects and make sure there are funds available for the Woll Tract. He noted that the best time to prioritize would have been before the development of the budget.
Mr. Goodnoe said the Park and Recreation Fund depends on fees from developers, and he is concerned that the Township is not supporting the kind of development that generates these fees. He also criticized the budget development process and asked the Board to limit expenditures because revenues are not going up.
Mr. Harp commented that the motion on the table was merely to “hang” the budget, not to approve it.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Goodnoe voting “nay”.
Mr. Harp said he did some demographic research and found that the Council Rock School District enrollment was 12,362 for 2003 and 11,926 for 2004. He said the reduction was evenly distributed across all school levels. Mr. Goodnoe commented that most of the projected growth in the Council Rock School District will not be in Newtown Township.
Mr. Harp also said that the Township has the 11th lowest total taxes of all Bucks County municipalities. The Township’s 10.5 mill rate is lower than that of surrounding municipalities.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS
MINUTES OF THE WORK SESSION OF 10/20/03: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 10/20/03 work session. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF 11/5/03: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 11/5/03 regular meeting with one correction: The second paragraph under the first Community Comment section should begin “Carl Koenig, a Township resident, thanked the Supervisors who voted to oppose…”. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
BILLS LIST: Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $175,020.85 and to make interfund transfers totaling $4,583.36; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
TRANSFER OF ESCROW FUNDS: Mr. Weaver referred to a 11/14/03 memo from the Finance Director regarding the Township’s interest-bearing developers’ escrow accounts. The accounts are presently at Suburban Bank, which has been acquired by Univest. Ms. Gibbs reviewed proposals from Univest, Commerce, and First National Bank and recommended that the accounts be transferred to Commerce Bank.
Mr. Weaver moved to transfer the developers’ escrow accounts to Commerce Bank. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said he would like to see the proposals from the three banks before voting on the motion. Mr. Pellegrino agreed to circulate them to Board members.
Mr. Weaver and Mrs. Goren withdrew their motion.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Board Chairman Andrew Levine reported that Anna Marie Zambriczki has resigned from the Board because she is moving out of the area. Mr. Harp said Steve and Anna Marie Zambriczki contributed a great deal to the Township, and they will be missed.
Mr. Levine said the Park and Recreation Board will give serious consideration to Mr. Jirele’s memo. He said the Board is trying to emphasize good planning for park projects, and will be looking at partnerships with businesses and service organizations for some projects.
ROBERTS RIDGE PARK: Prior to the meeting, Supervisors received copies of the minutes of the Park and Recreation Board’s 10/1/03 meeting, at which the Board discussed plans for Roberts Ridge Park. Mr. Levine displayed a sketch plan for Roberts Ridge Park prepared by Pennoni Associates, and invited comments and questions from the Supervisors and the public.
Mr. Harp said he favored the additional parking proposed near the Alternative School and the trees proposed along Lower Dolington Road. Mr. Levine explained that the proposed arbor would provide some shade to the picnic area until the trees grow taller.
Mrs. Goren said she liked the additional parking proposed along Lower Dolington Road, since people seem to park there anyway.
Nancy Crescenzo said there is not enough parking for special events. Mr. Levine said the Township Planner projected parking needs based on maximum use of the facilities. Ms. Crescenzo asked if Pennoni Associates will do the design work on the park. Mr. Pellegrino responded that the Board of Supervisors felt Pennoni should finish the design, since they have already done a great deal of work on the park.
Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, suggested that the arbor could be eliminated to save funds.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION: Mr. Weaver summarized the points in Mr. Pellegrino’s 11/13/03 memo about the recommendations of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) for changes in impervious surface ratios, parking stall sizes, and uses in the LI and O-LI Districts.
Mr. Weaver moved to accept the recommendations of the EDC as submitted in Mr. Pellegrino’s 11/13/03 memo. The recommendations will be reviewed by the Planning Commission and sent to the Jointure municipalities for their review. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren commented that the motion is to accept and move the recommendations to the next step, not to approve them. She asked where uses like recycling and refuse facilities and truck terminals would go. Mr. Weaver said they are permitted in Wrightstown.
Mr. Pellegrino noted that all uses except for G-16 and H-10 are treated the same in the LI and O-LI Districts in the proposal. He suggested the Township may want to rezone the O-LI back to LI. Mr. Weaver said the EDC discussed this suggestion but was reluctant to recommend it until the impact of the changes is known.
Mrs. Goren said she is concerned about allowing medical uses in the LI District.
Mr. Jirele said he felt G-4 Mini-Storage Use should be permitted only by conditional use. He also said he is concerned about the traffic that would be generated by an Executive Inn/Conference Center. He noted that there is no maximum size for this use; although the parcels in this area are small, several could be combined to create a parcel large enough for a Marriott type of hotel.
Mr. Goodnoe said there was an extensive discussion of these recommendations at the Planning Commission meeting on 11/18/03, and the Commission will be holding three special meetings to study the recommendations’ impact. His own comments are that traffic-intensive uses belong in these Districts, but they need to be accommodated.
Shawn Ward, a member of the Planning Commission and a resident, confirmed Mr. Goodnoe’s information about the Planning Commission.
Del Purscell stated his support for the recommendations.
Nancy Crescenzo objected to Mr. Ward’s speaking for the Planning Commission before the Commission’s report. She reminded the Board that on 10/22/03, Mr. Terry said that the Board is not supportive of the business community.
Frank Mendicino, a member of the Planning Commission and a resident, said he favors moving forward with these recommendations, but feels their impact needs to be studied so that the taxpayers are not burdened with the cost of infrastructure improvements that these changes would require.
Mr. Weaver’s motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Harp said he would like to have these recommendations back on the agenda by 1/14/03.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission Vice-Chairman Allen Fidler reported on their 11/18/03 meeting, at which the Commission reviewed a request for a PRD Variance for a home on Willow Court, and a conditional use request to allow soil stripping at the KJMED construction site on Penns Trail (hearings follow below). The Commission recommended approval for both projects. A sketch plan for an alternative design for Newtown Corporate Center on Upper Silver Lake Road received mostly negative comments from Commission members and neighboring residents because of the potential traffic impact.
The Commission discussed the recommendations from the Economic Development Commission and recommended that the impact be studied more extensively over the next few weeks. Commission members proposed three special meetings prior to their regular meetings on 12/2/03, 12/16/03, and 1/6/04 for this purpose. The meetings will be open to the public. Mr. Fidler suggested that the Board send a memo to the Planning Commission if they would like the Commission to discuss particular issues.
PRD VARIANCE - CREIGHTON - 4 WILLOW COURT - TMP# 29-11-109: Joseph Creighton and attorney Don Marshall were present to discuss their request for relief to allow a 5.3 foot side yard setback where the ordinance requires 15 feet, and to allow 30.7% impervious surface where the ordinance requires 25%. Mr. Harp opened the hearing and Mr. Creighton was sworn in.
Mr. Marshall explained that Mr. Creighton would like to construct an addition on his home in Newtown Crossing on a 13,000 SF lot in the R-1 District. Newtown Crossing was approved under the previous ordinance, which allowed 30% impervious surface. Mr. Marshall said he provided a copy of the plan to Mr. Harris. He also provided photographs of the existing home and letters from the Homeowners Association and three neighbors stating that they have no objection to Mr. Creighton’s request. He noted that the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval at their 11/18/03 meeting.
Mr. Creighton said Mr. Marshall’s presentation was accurate.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve the PRD Variance for 4 Willow Court, subject to the mylars being recorded and all costs of review paid by the applicant. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE - KJMED (PLATINUM EXECUTIVE SUITES) - 12 PENNS TRAIL - TMP# 29-10-87: Karen Miller and general contractor Tom Borghese were present to discuss their request for Use G-15, Soil Stripping, at the construction site for an addition to an office building on a 2.3 acre site in the LI District. Mr. Harp opened the hearing and Ms. Miller and Mr. Borghese were sworn in.
Ms. Miller provided copies of the deed and other documents requested by the Solicitor. She explained that the property was known as Platinum Executive Suites during the land development process, but the current owner is KJMED. Approximately 1,600 cubic yards of soil, the result of construction, are proposed to be removed.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the G-15 Conditional Use application of KJMED to remove approximately 1,600 cubic yards of topsoil from 12 Penns Trail, subject to the following conditions:
· Compliance with the 11/11/03 Boucher and James letter
· The hours of operation will be 7:00 AM to dusk, with two employees per truck
· The applicant will pay all costs of review
The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele asked if the Township could use the soil. Ms. Miller said she offered it to Mr. Harwood, who declined the offer.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE - PRYDA LLC - 159 N. SYCAMORE STREET: Mr. Harp opened the hearing and said an extension on this application has been granted and the hearing should be continued to 1/14/04.
Mr. Weaver moved to continue the hearing on the conditional use application of Pryda LLC to 1/14/04. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
Nancy Crescenzo said conditions at the Pryda site continue to be unacceptable. Mr. Pellegrino said the Township would check on the site.
CONDITIONAL USE - TUDOR SQUARE PHASE III - 660 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD: Mr. Harp opened the hearing and said the applicant has requested that the hearing be continued.
Mr. Weaver moved to continue the hearing on the conditional use application for Tudor Square Phase III to 12/10/03. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
MEMBERS’ COMMENTS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)
Carl Koenig, a Township resident, said there has been some progress at the Kramer subdivision site, but he is asking for an independent engineer to assess the side yard setbacks. He said there is still serious flooding on his property. He also said the builder called the Township police today and complained that he was trespassing.
Mr. Smith said Pennoni did check the side yard setbacks, and the measurements were accurate. He said the builder would install a berm, which could be made a priority. Mr. Smith said there would still be flooding in this area even if all the water from this site is contained.
Fedor Derek, another neighbor of the Kramer development, asked if the developer has the appropriate permits. Mr. Pellegrino said the developer is now in compliance.
Stacy Smith, another neighbor of the Kramer development, said her property is flooding and she does not understand why the Kramer subdivision was approved. She asked that the builder be required to install the berm first. Mr. Smith responded that it would be impossible to build the berm before the house, but it is coming soon.
Melissa Trice, a resident of Eagle Road, asked that the Township address flooding problems in the area of Wrights and Eagle Roads.
Shawn Ward said he has a right to speak as a Township resident. He complained about the remarks made about his comments by another resident.
Mr. Jirele said people should not be using the Community Comment section to debate each other.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
ECUMENICAL SERVICE: Mr. Harp announced the ecumenical service, which will be held the evening of 11/23/03 at the Ascension Lutheran Church.
NEW TOWNSHIP BUSINESSES: Mr. Harp said two new businesses have moved into the Newtown Business Commons recently.
VACANCIES: Mr. Harp encouraged residents to send their resumes to the Administration office to be considered for vacancies on Township boards and commissions.
CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING: Mr. Harp announced that there would be a Christmas tree lighting and parade on State Street the evening of 12/5/03.
HISTORIC ASSOCIATION HOME TOUR: Mr. Harp announced there would be a home tour in Newtown on 12/6/03.
WORK SESSION: Mr. Harp asked if there were any objections to canceling the work session scheduled for 11/24/03; there were none.
JOINTURE MEETING: Mr. Harp said he, Mr. Weaver, and Mr. Jirele attended the Jointure meeting on 11/6/03. The solicitors agreed to draft a noise ordinance, and there was a discussion of the Economic Development Commission’s recommendations. Mr. Jirele said there was also a discussion of the proposed ordinance regarding structures in a floodplain.
Mr. Goodnoe asked about the status of the floodplain ordinance. Mr. Harris said a draft ordinance was sent to FEMA for review; no response has been received. Mr. Pellegrino said he would follow up on this.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: No items for this section.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said an extension to 12/31/03 was received for the Kossaci plan, and there were no other plans requiring Board action.
ORDINANCE 2003-O-12 - AMENDMENT TO NON-UNIFORMED PENSION PLAN: Mr. Goodnoe moved to enact Ordinance 2003-O-12, amending the Non-Uniformed Pension Plan to reduce the “normal retirement age” to 62 and to revise the calculation of the “normal retirement benefit”. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
SPEED LIMIT ORDINANCE: Mr. Harris provided a draft ordinance establishing maximum speed limits on numerous Township roads. All roads will be posted for 25 MPH except for two (Blacksmith and Walker Roads), which will be posted for 35 MPH.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize the Solicitor to advertise the proposed ordinance on speed limits for enactment at the 12/10/03 meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele questioned the 25 MPH limit on Wrights Road. There was general agreement that it should remain at 35 MPH.
Mr. Weaver and Mr. Jirele amended their motion to show Wrights Road to be posted for 35 MPH, and to correct the spelling of Waterford Place. The motion passed unanimously.
Nancy Crescenzo asked if the public could see the list of roads to be posted at 25 MPH and 35 MPH. Mr. Pellegrino said the list has been discussed with Homeowners Associations, and it will be made public.
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD ORDINANCE - SEVEN-MEMBER BOARD: Mr. Harris provided a draft ordinance to establish a seven-member Board in compliance with the Second Class Township Code instead of the present nine-member Board.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize the Solicitor to advertise the Park and Recreation Board Ordinance for enactment at the 12/10/03 meeting. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
ZONING HEARING BOARD: Mr. Harris said he has not yet received the notice of hearings scheduled for 12/4/03. He said he has received notice that Tudor Square Phase III was granted a variance to allow 65% impervious surface, and the Board must decide tonight if it wishes to appeal the Zoning Hearing Board decision.
Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the Solicitor to appeal the Zoning Hearing Board decision granting relief to Tudor Square Phase III. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Weaver said the Board should appeal this decision to be consistent with their earlier vote to appeal the Newtown-Yardley Road Associates decision.
Mr. Jirele said no one on the Board of Supervisors has stated opposition to a 65% impervious surface limit in this area.
Mr. Goodnoe said he opposes this appeal, as he did the earlier one. He said two Supervisors supported the recommendation to change the impervious surface maximum to 65%, the Zoning Hearing Board did their job, and the Supervisors are alienating the business community by appealing these decisions.
Mrs. Goren said she does not support a developer anticipating a zoning change, and the written decision from the Zoning Hearing Board did not demonstrate that the applicant had a hardship without this relief.
Mr. Jirele said the developer should have been told of the Supervisors’ opposition to his application before the Zoning Hearing Board hearing.
Nancy Crescenzo said the Township newsletter reported that the Economic Development Commission voted to recommend a 65% impervious surface at their August meeting.
Paul Salvatore, a Township resident, asked why the Board of Supervisors would oppose this particular grant of relief, when this is the Zoning Hearing Board’s job.
Mr. Harp said the change to 65% impervious has substantial ramifications, and he does not support the decision to grant relief until the appropriate process has been followed.
Mr. Salvatore said he heard Mr. Weaver advocate for the 65% impervious. Mr. Weaver responded that he believes 65% is appropriate, but the ordinance has not been changed yet and the applicant did not demonstrate hardship.
Mr. Jirele asked why the issue of hardship did not come up when the PRD variance was approved earlier. Mr. Harris explained that a PRD variance is really a revision of a final plan, and the burden of proof is on anyone opposing the revision.
Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, complained that the taxpayers would have to pay a lot of money for the Solicitor’s services in the appeals.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed 3-2 (roll call vote), with Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Jirele voting “nay”.
AUTHORIZATION TO SIGN MYLARS - LAKEVIEW ESTATES - LOT 59: Mrs. Goren moved to sign the mylars for a lot line change for Lot 59, as recommended in Pennoni Associates’ letter of 11/4/03. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
ESCROW RELEASE #8 - PHEASANT POINTE: Mrs. Goren moved to approve escrow release #8 for Pheasant Pointe in the amount of $73,378.00, as recommended in Mr. Smith’s letter of 11/13/03. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
Mr. Goodnoe asked Mr. Smith to check on a pipe to the left of the entrance to Pheasant Pointe, which is sending water across the road. Mr. Smith said he would check on this.
Walter Iwaskiw asked if the work done on Pheasant Pointe included changes to the path. Mr. Smith said it did not. Mr. Iwaskiw said there is a six-foot wall of lumber along the path where he understood there was to be a fence. There is also a fence along the curbside of the path. He said these structures are unsightly and dangerous. Mr. Smith said both fences are on the approved plan, but the type of fence there now has not been approved, as the builder did not submit a revised drawing. His office is evaluating the fence now.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)
Paul Salvatore presented copies of petitions to the Board regarding the installation of lights at Chandler Field.
Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, said the Historic Architectural Review Board is working with the Codes Department on the Pryda site. She also asked that all five Supervisors be involved in filling vacancies on boards and commissions. Ms. Hibbs suggested the Board obtain some training in Roberts Rules, particularly in the procedure to be followed when a question is called. She also asked that residents refrain from slander and personal attacks on each other and on Board members.
Douglas Terry, the applicant for the Tudor Square Phase III variance, said his attorney did describe a hardship at the Zoning Hearing Board hearing, and this was reflected in the written decision. He also said the Planning Commission may have violated his civil rights when they refused to review his conditional use application for this project.
Glenn Beasley, a Township resident, thanked Mr. Pellegrino and Ms. Gibbs for their excellent budget preparation and presentation. He said the Township has low taxes now, but it will be increasingly difficult to live in Newtown on a fixed income. He said in recent years, Township expenses have risen faster than income and there will be deficits in the future.
Del Purscell said that the number of children in the Township is decreasing, and he urged the Board to study the implications of demographic trends.
John D’Aprile, a Township resident, said the 2004 budget includes almost $1 million for parks and recreation. He suggested that any expenditure for new parks be cut.
Jim Worthington, a Township resident and business owner, said the impact of the change to 65% impervious will be minimal, affecting between 6,000 SF and 10,000 SF, but he supports the process being followed.
Nancy Crescenzo asked about an expense item on the bills list for sending a part-time employee to a Tree Conference. Mr. Harp responded that it was an appropriate and worthwhile opportunity. Ms. Crescenzo suggested the Township establish an environmental council or re-establish the Open Space Committee. She also complained that the Board canceled a work session when there are many budget items to address.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: None.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 12:35 AM.
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