Board of Supervisors Minutes
December 10 , 2003
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting January 14, 2004. REGULAR MEETING OF 12/10/03: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 12/10/03 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Goren abstaining.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, December 10, 2003, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Scott R. Harp, Treasurer/Secretary Richard Weaver, Member Thomas Jirele, and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Allen Fidler, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine, Township Solicitor Stephen B. Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, Township Manager Robert M. Pellegrino, and Township Finance Director Elaine Gibbs.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Scott R. Harp called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Harp announced that Mrs. Goren could not attend the meeting because of family obligations.
ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that three additions be made to the agenda: Two variance requests to be considered under the Solicitor’s Report; the conditional use hearing for Tudor Square Phase III to be considered under the Planning Commission Report; and the signing of mylars for a PRD variance to be considered under the Engineer’s Report. Mr. Harp said that Reports of Committees, Boards, and Commissions will be moved up on the agenda to follow Approval of Minutes.
CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION - NANCY MATTEO: Mr. Harp invited Nancy Matteo, principal of St. Andrews School, and Alexa Bowe, a St. Andrews student, to the podium. He presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Ms. Matteo in honor of the school’s work on the Wee Care Bear program. Ms. Bowe said the school collected approximately 800 bears.
PROCLAMATION - STEVE AND ANNA MARIE ZAMBRICZKI: Mr. Harp presented a proclamation to Mr. and Mrs. Zambriczki, who are moving out of the Township, in honor of their service to the Newtown community.
INVOCATION: Given by Reverend Sandra Reed of St. Mark’s AME Zion Church.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
BUDGET MEETING OF 11/12/03: Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the 11/12/03 budget meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
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.
Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, said that she submitted a written statement to the Board at the 11/19/03 meeting and asked that this statement be attached or summarized in the minutes. Mr. Harp said such items will be noted and summarized in the future, but not attached.
Mr. Weaver’s motion passed unanimously.
(The Minutes, Bills List, and Reports section continues following Reports of Committees, Boards, and Commissions.)
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Chairman Andrew Levine reported on the Park and Recreation Board’s 12/3/03 meeting. He said the Board decided to create a subcommittee to study how the Township is serving senior citizens, and another subcommittee to study their process of evaluating open space needs. They also decided to merge all the individual park subcommittees into one. The Board affirmed that their highest priority is the Woll Tract, along with Roberts Ridge Park and the Clark Nature Center. Secondary priorities include Silver Lake Park and a few other projects.
Mr. Levine said the Board also re-examined their proposed budget for 2004 and determined that approximately $230,000 to $260,000 in expenditures on Roberts Ridge and Silver Lake Parks could be deferred for at least three years if necessary. The expenditures for Roberts Ridge that might be deferred are $50,000 for a pavilion, $70,000 for additional parking, and $50,000 for extension of the trail system. At Silver Lake, expenditures that could be deferred are $60,000 for extension of the trail system and possibly $30,000 of engineering services.
Mr. Pellegrino said that $30,000 is in the budget for engineering services at Silver Lake Park, but that can probably be reduced to $25,000. In addition, $25,000 is escrowed for a parking lot at Silver Lake Park. He recommended that the $75,000 budgeted for the parking lot at Silver Lake Park be reduced to $15,000; these funds, in combination with the escrowed funds, would make it possible to build the parking lot. Reductions in expenditures for park and recreation projects would then total $290,000.
Mr. Levine said the Board also heard a presentation from Pickering Manor regarding their plans to enclose an atrium; the Board recommended either a fee in lieu of open space or a waiver of the requirement. He also noted that the Board now has the correct number of members due to recent resignations.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Vice-Chairman Allen Fidler reported on the Commission’s 12/2/03 meeting. The Commission began its review of the Economic Development Commission’s recommendations, and asked the Township consultants to further analyze data presented by Douglas Terry. Their review will continue at their 12/16/03 and 1/6/04 meetings.
The Commission heard a report from the Traffic Engineer and reviewed a sketch plan for Pickering Manor. They also reviewed a conditional use application for soil stripping at Overlook (formerly the Hoffa Tract) and recommended approval. The Committee discussed the proposed Residential Disclosure ordinance and voted unanimously to forward it to the Board with no comment. A conditional use application from Pryda LLC was continued to 1/6/03.
CONDITIONAL USE - OVERLOOK (HOFFA TRACT) - TOLL BROTHERS - 90 EAGLE ROAD - TMP# 29-3-28: No representatives were present to discuss this application. Mr. Harp opened the hearing and explained that the applicant is seeking approval to move approximately 15,000 to 20,000 cubic yards of topsoil from the Overlook construction site to the McLaughlin Tract construction site on Stoopville Road.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve the conditional use application, subject to compliance with the 11/21/03 Boucher and James letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele asked if there will be enough topsoil left at the Overlook site for homeowners to grow grass on their lots. Mr. Smith responded that there will be enough.
Mr. Goodnoe said the Boucher and James letter requires the applicant to obtain all necessary permits, but he is concerned about the temporary construction entrance and the possibility for dirt being tracked onto the road. Mr. Harris suggested adding a condition to address this concern.
Mr. Weaver and Mr. Jirele amended their motion to include a condition that the applicant will install tire-cleaning devices at both locations and will monitor the soil removal to insure that there is no mud tracked onto the road. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE - HAI YING TONG - 2106 SOUTH EAGLE ROAD - TMP# 29-10-85-005: Mr. Harp opened the hearing on the application for Use E-6 Eating Place.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to continue the hearing to 1/14/04; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE - TUDOR SQUARE PHASE III - 660 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - TMP# 29-10-119 & 29-10-119-1: Mr. Harp opened the hearing on the application for Uses D-1 Professional Office and Use D-2 Medical Office.
Mr. Weaver moved to continue the hearing to 2/11/04; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS (CONTINUED)
BILLS LIST: Mr. Weaver moved to pay bills totaling $173,497.07 and to make interfund transfers totaling $304,897.93; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
PROPOSALS FOR BANKING OF DEVELOPER ESCROWS: Mr. Weaver referred to Finance Director Elaine Gibbs’ 12/5/03 memo which accompanied copies of three banks’ proposals to establish accounts for developers’ escrow funds. Ms. Gibbs’ memo recommended that the Township establish accounts with Commerce Bank because their process is the most convenient and time-saving.
Mr. Weaver moved to move the developers’ escrow accounts to Commerce Bank, in accordance with Ms. Gibbs’ 12/5/03 memo. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
Mr. Goodnoe thanked Ms. Gibbs for providing the information he requested at the 11/19/03 meeting.
ADOPTION OF 2004 BUDGET: Mr. Weaver moved to adopt the 2004 budget with the changes proposed by the Administration and the Park and Recreation Board. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said that expenses have gone up about 23% since 2000, but revenues are up only about 5% or 6%. He said this trend would soon lead to raising taxes unless the Township starts cutting back on expenses now. Revenues will not increase the way they did in the 1990’s because the Township’s population is aging and development is slowing. He is concerned that expenditures were put into the proposed budget without discussion; for example, the Board never discussed the purchase of batteries for traffic lights at a cost of approximately $130,000. He also said the Township has not addressed the need for a community center.
Mr. Jirele thanked the Park and Recreation Board for developing proposals for cuts in the budget, but he said that this process should have been done by the Board of Supervisors. He said the Woll Tract and the Municipal Complex expansion are the most pressing capital projects facing the Township, and he does not want to see taxes raised to pay for them. He pointed out that Mr. Pellegrino’s letter of transmittal for the 2004 budget mentioned the possibility of raising taxes soon.
Mr. Jirele said he supports the Park and Recreation Board’s proposals, but he supports cutting all expenditures on Silver Lake Park to $15,000 and just building the parking lot.
Mr. Harp said it is true that expenditures have been going up about 6% a year recently, but the budget does not recommend raising taxes. He added that Township taxes are currently among the lowest in Bucks County. He said new businesses are coming into the Township and the reserves have increased each year.
Mr. Goodnoe asked why the batteries for the traffic lights were not discussed with the Board and were not on the capital improvements plan. He contrasted this purchase with the Sycamore Street project, which was thoroughly discussed at every step. Mr. Pellegrino responded that Traffic Impact fees will be used for this purchase, and these funds cannot be used for any other purposes.
Del Purscell, a Township resident, said he supports the Park and Recreation Board’s recommendations but he is concerned that projected capital project spending is still very high. He also said there should have been discussion of the Municipal Complex Expansion project before it was put in the budget. He complained that the Board was unresponsive to the materials he provided at the 11/19/03 meeting.
Nancy Crescenzo complained that the Board does not give feedback to residents who speak at meetings.
Sue Beasley, a Township resident, said she has chaired the Park and Recreation Board and participated in the development of the Comprehensive Park and Recreation Plan. She suggested that the Park and Recreation Board should be creative and seek grants for some of their capital projects.
Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, said that overall the Township has lost businesses recently. He also expressed concern that the proposed budget draws from the reserves.
Michael Iapalucci, a Township resident, complained that every discussion seems to end up about parks. He said that projected payments to Pennoni Associates in 2004 are up 20%.
Phil Calabro, a Township resident, suggested the Township should take care of existing parks before developing new ones. He also suggested that the Township look into putting municipal offices in the Newtown Business Commons. Mr. Harp responded that existing parks do need some improvements. He said tax revenues would drop if Township offices were to go into the Newtown Business Commons.
John D’Aprile, a Township resident, asked that the budget be kept as low as possible since Newtown residents are receiving increases in other taxes.
Mr. Pellegrino summarized the budget reductions recommended by the Park and Recreation Board and his recommendation regarding the parking lot at Silver Lake Park. These reductions would result in total expenditures for Roberts Ridge Park of $115,000, and $40,000 for Silver Lake Park.
Mr. Jirele said he supports building a fence at the park near Staples, but he would like to see it along the Bypass instead of the parking lot. Mr. Harp concurred.
Mr. Harp asked if all Board members would support the budget as amended by the recommendations from the Park and Recreation Board and Mr. Pellegrino, and with the battery expenditures removed as well.
Mr. Goodnoe said the Board should discuss the budget line by line before approving it. Mr. Weaver responded that it is too late in the process for such a discussion; concerns should have been raised earlier.
Mr. Jirele said his remaining concerns are: the lack of discussion of the battery units, and the fact that general fund expenditures have gone up 23% since 2000 while revenues went up only 5%. He would like to see a review of expenditures and possibly the use of reserve funds for either the Municipal Complex Expansion project or open space initiatives. Mr. Jirele said he brought up his concerns earlier and there was no action. Mr. Goodnoe said he also brought up concerns that were not addressed.
Mr. Harp said the Economic Development Commission (EDC) was established to address concerns about revenues, and the changes recommended by the EDC will have significant impact. Mr. Jirele responded that the initiatives recommended by the EDC may fail. He also said the Township is taking businesses to court, not making it easier for them to operate here.
Mr. Weaver’s motion to adopt the 2004 budget was not passed, with Mr. Harp and Mr. Weaver voting “aye” and Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Jirele voting “nay”.
Mr. Harp said the Board will meet on 12/17/03 at 8:00 PM to consider the budget again. The meeting will be televised and open to the public.
MEMBERS COMMENTS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)
Sue Beasley asked if the Board would address the concerns about the budget that were voiced tonight. Mr. Harp responded that some of the issues would have further discussion on 12/17/03; anyone needing to review the budget line by line can do so with Mr. Pellegrino.
Mr. Jirele moved to request that the Administration find ways to further reduce expenditures in the 2004 budget. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Pellegrino commented that the operating budget is balanced. Mr. Jirele responded that he does not want to see anything taken out of reserves except for what is needed for the Sycamore street project.
Nancy Crescenzo asked what the motion is asking Mr. Pellegrino to do. Mr. Goodnoe responded that it asks Mr. Pellegrino to trim expenditures wherever he can. Ms. Crescenzo asked if copies of any further proposed reductions will be available to the public; Mr. Harp said they will be.
Walter Iwaskiw suggested that the Board give Mr. Pellegrino some direction for finding approximately $700,000 to cut.
Mr. Jirele’s motion did not pass, with Mr. Jirele and Mr. Goodnoe voting “aye” and Mr. Weaver and Mr. Harp voting “nay”.
Del Purscell suggested that the Municipal Complex Expansion project be removed from the budget.
Nancy Crescenzo asked Mr. Harp why he voted “nay” on Mr. Jirele’s motion. Mr. Harp responded that Mr. Pellegrino has done everything he could. He added that the operating budget is balanced, the reserves are high, and the Township is not raising taxes.
Ms. Crescenzo asked how many vacancies there are on Township boards and commissions. Mr. Harp responded that there are seven or eight, including both new appointments and re-appointments.
Ms. Crescenzo commented as follows: that the Park and Recreation Board should have waited until new appointments were made before re-organizing; that the Board of Supervisors should have created the Open Space Committee; that the Board should address the issue of lighted ball fields; that the Board should explain the large amount of police overtime this year; and that the Board should follow through on the Ad Hoc Community Center Committee’s recommendation that a committee be appointed to continue studying the possibility of a community center.
Brandon Wind, a Township resident, expressed concern about the trend of expenditures increasing faster than revenues, and asked what will take place before the 11/17/03 meeting to address that concern.
Michael Iapalucci suggested that the Board needs a new Chairman.
Richard Tonge, a Township resident, asked what Township representatives will attend the 12/18/03 meeting with Mr. Hoffman of PennDOT. Mr. Harp responded that Mr. Pellegrino will attend; Mr. Jirele said he will probably attend as well. Mr. Tonge said he will be sending a letter to Mr. Hoffman advocating the repair of the culvert on Swamp Road as soon as possible.
Kimberly Caputo, a Township resident, said she lives close to the Kramer subdivision site and is concerned about the increased runoff she fears will result from the construction of four new houses being built in Wrights Estates. Mr. Smith responded that this question refers to Phase III of Eagle Glen. The approved plan called for the developer to build stormwater facilities with Phases I and II that will compensate for the runoff caused by Phase III. The eventual post-development runoff is projected to be less than the pre-development runoff on that site. Ms. Caputo asked if she could see the plan; Mr. Pellegrino advised her to contact the Codes Department.
Frank Mendicino, a Township resident, suggested that further consideration of the Municipal Complex Expansion project might bring Board members to an agreement on the budget. He also suggested that the Board ask the business community if their offer to develop a community center still stands, and that the Financial Planning Committee review the Economic Development Commission’s recommendations.
Jane Kliebert, a former Township business owner, said she is hoping to move her business into the proposed Newtown Office Park. She asked if it would be built. Mr. Harp responded that the Economic Development Commission's recommendations will be acted on early in 2004; he asked Ms. Kliebert to wait until then before looking elsewhere, and requested her contact information so he can keep her informed of developments.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
FIRST NIGHT: Mr. Harp reminded residents of the First Night Newtown celebration 12/31/03.
PARKING IN SNOWSTORMS: Mr. Harp asked residents to park their cars off the street during snowstorms to facilitate plowing.
FIRE ASSOCIATION: Mr. Harp said the Fire Association is offering to bring Santa to neighborhoods.
ANGEL TREE PROJECT: Mr. Harp announced that families in need can submit their wish lists at the Newtown Post Office and the Northampton Library, and other residents can volunteer to be “angels” and provide gifts for the families.
WORK SESSION: Mr. Harp suggested that the work session scheduled for 12/15/03 be canceled; there was general agreement.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: No items.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said an extension to 12/28/04 was received for the Tudor Square Phase III plan, and there were no other plans requiring Board action.
SPEED LIMIT ORDINANCE (2003-O-13): Mr. Weaver moved to enact Ordinance 2003-O-13 establishing maximum speed limits on certain streets in the Township. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD ORDINANCE (2003-O-14): Mr. Weaver moved to enact Ordinance 2003-O-14 establishing a seven-member Park and Recreation Board. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
ACCESSORY STRUCTURES ORDINANCE (2003-O-15): Mr. Weaver moved to enact Ordinance 2003-O-15 adding and clarifying restrictions on swimming pools and amending certain front yard fence restrictions. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
DEDICATION OF PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS - LAKEVIEW ESTATES: Mr. Harris said the developer of Lakeview Estates has asked that the Township accept dedication of Harmony Way, the right-of-way along Eagle Road, and a snow removal easement. He said that all requirements have been met.
Mr. Harris said the Board also needs to decide whether to accept dedication of the right-of-way along Washington Crossing Road, which is a state road. The Township usually does not accept rights-of-way along state roads to avoid being responsible for maintenance or liability in connection with improvements in the right-of-way. However, there are no improvements in this right-of-way.
Mr. Jirele asked if the Township would be responsible for any improvements the state would add later. Mr. Harris said the Township would not be responsible for anything added after dedication.
Jeff Marshall, an adjacent property owner, was present and said the right-of-way along Washington Crossing Road is about 800’ long.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to accept dedication of the right-of-way along Washington Crossing Road. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.
Discussion of motion: Bill Cowen, president of the Lakeview Estates Homeowners Association, said he felt there might be some work left to do on the detention basin. Mr. Smith said he understood that all work was finished. Mr. Harris explained that all public improvements are subject to an 18-month maintenance bond.
Mr. Harris said his understanding is that the Homeowners Association is responsible for maintaining the emergency access from Harmony Way to Mr. Marshall’s driveway, and Mr. Marshall is responsible for maintenance from his driveway to Washington Crossing Road. Mr. Harris agreed to send copies of the relevant documentation to Mr. Cowen and Mr. Marshall.
Mr. Goodnoe asked if the right-of-way is on both sides of Washington Crossing Road, since the road has been moved. Mr. Harris said the Homeowners Association owns the right-of-way only on their side of the road.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Jirele moved to accept dedication of Harmony Way, the right-of-way along Eagle Road, and the snow removal easement, and to authorize signing of the dedication agreements. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.
ZONING HEARING BOARD
STONEHOUSE HOLDINGS LLC - 552 WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD - VARIANCE REQUEST #620-03: Mr. Weaver moved to send the Solicitor to the 1/8/04 hearing to support the Zoning Officer in this matter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
EDWARD AND CHRISTINE MURPHY - 301 NORTH SYCAMORE STREET - VARIANCE REQUEST #621-03: Members indicated they did not wish to ask the Solicitor to attend this hearing.
REPORT ON ENGINEERING PROJECTS: Mr. Smith provided a written update on all current Township engineering projects.
SIGNING OF MYLARS - 8 S. LANCASTER LANE: Mr. Goodnoe moved to sign the mylars for 8 S. Lancaster Avenue, in accordance with Mr. Smith’s recommendation. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
SIGNING OF MYLARS - 4 WILLOW COURT: Mr. Goodnoe moved to sign the mylars for 4 Willow Court, in accordance with Mr. Smith’s recommendation. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)
Walter Iwaskiw expressed concern about having two Supervisors on the Economic Development Commission (EDC), a body that is advisory to the Board.
Nancy Crescenzo asked that the Board discuss a process for making appointments to Township boards and commissions, and said this could have been discussed at the 12/15/03 work session that was canceled. Mr. Harp said the process has been explained. Interested residents send their resumes to the Administration office, and Board members review them and caucus to identify a nominee when a vacancy occurs.
Ms. Crescenzo said this process was not followed in the appointment of the EDC. Mr. Jirele confirmed that the first information he received about the EDC was Mr. Weaver’s memo listing nominees for the Commission.
Ms. Crescenzo suggested that Mr. Jirele should serve as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in 2004.
Michael Iapalucci complained about the destruction of vegetation in the vicinity of the cable company’s building on the Bypass, and the appearance of the site. Mr. Harp said the Township would look into this situation.
Phil Calabro said he was the Democratic candidate for Supervisor and lost to Mr. Jirele. He congratulated Mr. Jirele and thanked everyone who voted in the last election.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: None.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 11:22 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