Board of Supervisors Minutes
January 14 , 2004
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting January 28, 2004. REGULAR MEETING OF 1/14/04: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 1/14/04 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, January 14, 2004, in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Richard Weaver, Vice-Chairman Scott R. Harp, Secretary/Treasurer Anne Goren, Member Thomas Jirele, and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Planning Commission Chairman Shawn Ward, Cable TV Committee Chairman Walter Iwaskiw, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine, Township Solicitor Stephen B. Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, and Township Manager Robert M. Pellegrino.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Richard Weaver called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that consideration of a proposal regarding Wrights Road be added to the Engineer’s Report. He also advised that the Kosacci plan hearing should be continued to the 1/28/04 meeting at the request of the applicant, and that the Yamamoto conditional use and the Pryda conditional use need to be continued to the 2/11/04 meeting. Mr. Harris said the hearings on the conditional use applications must be opened formally, and then continued.
PROCLAMATION - NO PLACE FOR HATE: Mr. Weaver presented a proclamation to Natalie Kaye of the Anti-Defamation League commemorating the third year in which the Township has qualified as a “No Place for Hate” community.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
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.
SPECIAL MEETING OF 12/17/03: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the special meeting of 12/17/03; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
ORGANIZATION MEETING OF 1/5/04: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the Organization Meeting of 1/5/04; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously, with Mr. Harp abstaining.
BILLS LIST FOR 12/24/03: Mrs. Goren moved to pay bills totaling $190,988.11; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to make interfund transfers in the amount of $21,399.20; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.
Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked why a fund transfer was dated 12/19/03 instead of 12/24/03. Mr. Pellegrino said the report was generated on 12/24/03, and the transfer occurred on 12/19/03.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.
BILLS LIST FOR 1/14/04: Mrs. Goren moved to pay bills totaling $320,624.43; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to make interfund transfers in the amount of $409,739.61; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
TREASURER’S REPORT: None.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS
CABLE TV COMMITTEE: Chairman Walter Iwaskiw reported on the Committee’s 1/7/04 meeting. From now on the Committee will meet on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 PM at Borough Hall; the meetings are open to the public. Mr. Iwaskiw was elected Chairman; the Committee will choose other officers later. The Committee received a written report from the Comcast representative with updates on various projects. The Committee is working on setting goals for 2004 and reviewing their mission statement.
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Chairman Andrew Levine reported on the Board’s 1/7/04 meeting. The Board welcomed Frank Mendicino as the new liaison from the Planning Commission, discussed partnerships with area businesses and organizations, and will be exploring possibilities for grants. Mr. Wert reported that recreation programs were 88% self-sufficient in 2003, and the camp program was very successful. The Board is working on a Request for Proposals for development of the Woll Tract.
HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (HARB): Ethel Hibbs, HARB Secretary, reported on their 1/13/04 meeting. Terry McLean was elected Chairman and Harriet Beckert is the Vice-Chairman. The Board also discussed the Pryda property and the owner’s lack of compliance with previously approved Certificates of Appropriateness. HARB is recommending that another stop work order be issued on this project.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Chairman Shawn Ward reported on the Commission’s 12/16/03, 1/6/04, and 1/13/04 meetings. At the 12/16/03 meeting the Commission recommended approval for two PRD variances and a Zoning Hearing Board request, and recommended that the Solicitor oppose the Zoning Hearing Board appeal of Stonehouse Holdings. The Commission also decided to ask the Board of Supervisors to allow them more time to finish their analysis of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) recommendations.
At the 1/6/04 meeting Shawn Ward was elected Chairman; Vince Lombardi is the Vice-Chairman, and Allen Fidler is the Secretary. Mr. Ward also made several liaison appointments. The Commission recommended approval of the final plan for an addition to Friends Village and a conditional use application for a Japanese and Chinese take-out restaurant. The Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the conditional use application of Pryda LLC be denied. Commission members asked that the Board of Supervisors formally recognize the service of two former members, Karen Doorley and Jim Ott.
The Commission held a special meeting on 1/13/04 to continue their discussion of the EDC recommendations. They heard a report from the Traffic Engineer on existing and proposed trip generation in the Newtown Business Commons area, and discussed road improvements, funding possibilities, parking stall size, rental rates, and how to encourage adaptive re-use of existing buildings.
Mr. Ward summarized the Planning Commission’s work on the EDC recommendations in the last two months. A major issue has been how increasing impervious surface limits would affect traffic in the area. Preliminary findings of the Commission include:
1. Traffic - Increased impervious surface limits will accelerate traffic problems in the area. Any buildout of the Newtown Business Commons beyond 20% of any use will necessitate major roadway and intersection improvements, which should be made part of the Township’s Capital Improvement Plan; the cost is estimated to be about $1.8 million. The improvements described in the Newtown-Yardley Road Corridor project proposed for the TIP in 2003 should also be made part of the Capital Improvement Plan. Funding for these projects needs to be identified.
2. Adaptive Re-Use - The focus of zoning changes should be on existing buildings in the Commons. An overlay zone was proposed in which incentives for redevelopment might include increased impervious surface and streamlining permit procedures. The concern for green space along Newtown-Yardley Road was raised; modification of front, rear and side yard setbacks might address this concern.
3. Parking Stall Size - The Township standard should remain 10’ X 20’, but some relief might be available for the overlay district.
4. Rental Rates and Marketing Strategies - The current rental rates should be reviewed by the EDC, as this is one factor in the high vacancy rate in the Commons.
5. Changes in Permitted Uses - The Commission did not have time to complete their review of proposed changes in uses. Members stated that they do not want to totally eliminate the conditional use process.
6. Next Steps - Mr. Ward recommended that, when the Planning Commission completes its analysis, a work session be scheduled to include the Board of Supervisors, the Commission, and the EDC before any recommendations are forwarded to the Jointure.
Mrs. Goren said it seemed the Commission’s study is about 80% completed; Mr. Ward concurred.
Mr. Jirele asked for data on projected trip generation with the existing impervious limits; Mr. Ward said he will provide the data to Mr. Jirele.
Mr. Goodnoe said the health of the Newtown Business Commons is important to the Township. He feels the increase in traffic generated by the proposed changes will be modest.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to authorize the Solicitor to prepare an ordinance implementing the recommendations for zoning changes in the LI and O-LI Districts of the Economic Development Commission. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Ward said the Planning Commission agrees something must be done about the vacancies in the Commons, but the Township should have a well-planned approach instead of using a “band-aid” approach. Mr. Goodnoe said the proposed overlay district is a “band-aid”, and he believes the Township should encourage development throughout the Commons so that traffic fees will be generated to fund road improvements.
Mr. Jirele spoke in favor of having a draft ordinance to consider. Mr. Weaver said the EDC still exists and will invite the Planning Commission to participate in their meetings. Mr. Ward suggested that a second Commission member be appointed to the EDC. Mr. Jirele said he would rather see a new person fill the next vacancy on the EDC.
Mrs. Goren said that the Traffic Impact Fee Committee will have to meet if the Capital Improvement Plan is revised. She also said the Township will be paying the Solicitor twice if he is asked to draft an ordinance now, without reference to the Planning Commission’s subsequent final recommendations. Mr. Ward suggested the Board wait until the Commission has completed its analysis.
Mr. Jirele commented that projects that are in the pipeline now would generate about a third of the funds needed for the road improvements.
Del Purscell, a Township resident, encouraged the Board to move forward on the EDC recommendations.
Frank Mendicino, a Township resident, said the Township needs to move forward in the right way, by studying the consequences of the recommendations. He said he is concerned about removing the conditional use process and eliminating the involvement of elected officials. He said the roadway improvement costs mentioned by Mr. Wursta did not include land acquisition, engineering, and other costs; the actual total may be as high as $8 million. Traffic impact fees will not cover all of these costs.
Jim Worthington, a developer, said the Township is not friendly towards businesses. He said he owns four of the five undeveloped parcels in the Commons and the projects he has submitted would bring in a third of the needed revenue, through traffic impact fees and other assessments. He asked why the Planning Commission is recommending excluding his parcels from the overlay zone.
Douglas Terry, a Township resident and business owner, said that the Traffic Engineer told the Commission that it will take very little development to create the need for major road improvements. He said the Commission is dwelling on the negatives and ignoring the positives of developing the Commons. He noted that Medical-Dental Use, while generating a high number of trips per day, spreads them throughout the day instead of concentrating them at peak hours.
Mr. Goodnoe asked the Chairman to call the question.
Mr. Weaver asked the Board if discussion on this motion should be ended. The proposal failed 2-3, with Mr. Jirele, Mrs. Goren, and Mr. Harp voting “nay”.
Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, said he attended some of the Planning Commission meetings. He urged Board members to get a copy of the Traffic Engineer’s memo summarizing his findings and recommendations.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Goren voting “nay”.
CONDITIONAL USE - YAMAMOTO - WASHINGTON CROSSING ROAD: Mr. Weaver opened the hearing. Mr. Harris said the Township has received an extension to 3/31/04 from the applicant.
Mr. Jirele moved to continue the hearing to 3/24/04. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
Mr. Jirele moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE - PRYDA LLC - 159 N. SYCAMORE STREET: Mr. Weaver opened the hearing. Mr. Harris said the Township received a letter from the applicant requesting a continuance to 2/11/04.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to continue the hearing to 2/11/04; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
Nancy Crescenzo asked if there is a limit to the number of continuances an applicant can request. Mr. Goodnoe said there is no limit.
CONDITIONAL USE - TONG - JAPANESE AND CHINESE TAKE-OUT - 2106 S. EAGLE ROAD - TMP# 29-10-85-005: Hai Ying Tong was present to discuss the request to use 1,550 SF of an existing building in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center (PC District) for E-6 Eating Place Use. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing and Mr. Tong was sworn in.
Mr. Tong confirmed the information stated in the 1/8/04 recommendation of the Planning Commission. Mr. Jirele said he is concerned about traffic and customers parking in the fire lane. He said he would like to see the applicant designate parking spaces for take-out close to the door and put “no parking” signs on the fire lane.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the conditional use application, subject to the following conditions:
· Compliance with the conditions stated in the 1/8/04 Planning Commission letter
· Several parking spaces will be designated for take-out services and “no parking” signs will be posted in the fire lane
· Compliance with the Boucher and James letter of 12/2/03
· All costs of the review will be paid by the applicant
The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo asked where the restaurant is located. Mr. Tong responded that it is next to the PNC Bank.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
PRD VARIANCE - YIM - 103 VALLEY VIEW WAY - TMP# 29-40-61: Rowena Yim was present to discuss her request for approval of a 22’ rear yard setback instead of the required 30’ setback in order to construct an addition on her home in the Tyler Walk development. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing and Ms. Yim was sworn in.
Ms. Yim confirmed the information stated in the 12/22/03 Planning Commission letter and agreed to the conditions recommended by the Commission.
Mrs. Goren moved to approve the PRD request, with the conditions that the applicant present mylars for signatures, provide a letter from the Tyler Walk Homeowners Association stating that they have no objection to the addition, and pay all costs of the review. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
PRD VARIANCE - PRATICO - 115 N. ASCOT COURT - TMP# 29-13-98: No one was present to discuss this application for approval of a 20.82’ rear yard setback instead of the required 30’ setback in order to construct an addition on a home in the Country Bend development.
Mr. Harris said the Board can consider the application in the absence of the applicant, or continue the hearing to the next meeting. Mr. Harp noted that the Planning Commission had no issues with this application.
Mr. Harp moved to approve the PRD request, with the conditions that the applicant present mylars for signatures, provide a letter from the Country Bend Homeowners Association stating that they have no objection to the addition, and pay all costs of the review. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said he would like to have a representative of the applicant present; Mr. Jirele agreed. Mr. Harris said this is a policy issue, but he noted that both the side and rear of the property abut open space.
Nancy Crescenzo asked where the property is located. Mr. Harris said it is Lot 50 in the Country Bend development, behind Friends Village. He added that the hearing was advertised and the neighbors notified.
Mr. Harp’s motion failed 2-3, with Mr. Jirele, Mr. Goodnoe, and Mr. Weaver voting “nay”.
Mr. Harp moved to continue the hearing to 1/28/04 and to notify the applicant that they should be present. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
Mr. Harp commented that requiring the presence of the applicant should be the Board’s regular policy. Mr. Weaver agreed.
FINAL PLAN - FRIENDS VILLAGE - 331 LOWER DOLINGTON ROAD - TMP# 29-10-13.2: Will Bowers, attorney Don Marshall, and engineer Moonlight Tong were present to discuss the plan to construct three additional residential units and several other improvements at an elderly housing facility in the R-1 District.
Mr. Marshall said the project received preliminary plan approval on 9/10/03. The applicant will comply with all review letters and the 1/8/04 Planning Commission recommendation. He reviewed the four additional waivers requested since the preliminary approval, which are listed in the Planning Commission letter. He also said the applicant will comply with the Commission’s suggestion of improved landscaping.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to grant final approval to the plan for Friends Village with the following conditions:
1. Compliance with the Pennoni Associates letter of 11/24/03, the Boucher and James letter of 11/20/03, and the Planning Commission letter of 1/8/04
2. Compliance with all conditions of the 9/10/03 preliminary plan approval
3. An acceptance letter from the Bucks County Conservation District
4. The applicant will provide a plan designed by a landscape architect and provide additional landscaping on the Everett Court side of the property.
5. The four waivers listed in the 1/8/04 Planning Commission letter are granted.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
MEMBERS’ COMMENTS: None.
Del Purscell asked if it is true that the Township is spending $1 million more than it is taking in during 2004. Mr. Pellegrino said it is true for the entire budget, both capital and operating spending. Mrs. Goren said the 2004 budget is balanced because operating costs equal operating revenue.
Nancy Crescenzo said three Board members made decisions about appointments before the Board’s caucus, so not all members participated. Mrs. Goren said it is inappropriate for the public to comment on personnel issues. Mr. Harris said the Board can discuss personnel issues in executive session, but the public can comment during the Community Comments period, subject to libel and slander laws.
Ms. Crescenzo said several appointees were involved with the school board redistricting petitions circulated by the majority Supervisors. She also said the Chairman of the Planning Commission and another Commission member do not seem to have an open mind about the EDC recommendations. She also asked about several engineering bills, which Mr. Smith explained.
Brandon Wind, a Township resident, thanked Mr. Harp for two years of service as the Chairman, and thanked the Board for appointing Phil Calabro to a position.
Phil Calabro, a Township resident, thanked the Board for his appointment but said he still has concerns about the appointment process. He quoted the Township Supervisors’ Handbook, which states that appointments to boards and commissions should reflect a cross-section of the municipality.
Glenn Beasley, a Township resident, said most appointees are political allies of the majority Supervisors and there is an appearance of cronyism.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS
CODES COMMITTEE: Mrs. Goren reported on the 12/16/03 Committee meeting, at which the Committee reviewed two appeals regarding fees and recommended partial reimbursement. The Committee also discussed Act 45 and updating of the Building Code.
PARKING: Mrs. Goren announced that the Public Works Department is asking residents to not park on the street tonight because of weather conditions.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said the Township just received an extension to 2/28/04 from the Kosacci applicant, and has received an extension to 2/11/04 from the Pryda applicant. He said there are no other plan deadlines needing to be addressed by the Board.
RESOLUTION 2004-R-5 - GRANTING SIGNATURE AUTHORITY RE SYCAMORE STREET PROJECT: Mr. Harp moved to adopt Resolution 2004-R-5 authorizing the Sycamore Street Reconstruction Project and granting signature authority to execute supplemental reimbursement agreements No. 061973-A and No. 061974-A with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the project. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
RESOLUTION 2004-R-6 - AMENDING RESOLUTION 2001-R-5 TO INCREASE THE TAX CERTIFICATION FEE: Mr. Goodnoe moved to adopt Resolution 2004-R-6 amending Resolution 2001-R-5 to increase the tax certification fee from $15.00 to 35.00. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele asked Mr. Harris to explain this fee. Mr. Harris said that when a property owner sells or refinances a property, the title company requires a certification that the taxes have been paid. The fee is for preparing the certification.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.
SUTTON VARIANCE - REQUEST FOR EXTENSION: Mr. Harris said the variance granted to Mr. and Mrs. Sutton, 36 Vera Avenue, on 4/3/03 will expire soon. The Suttons are requesting a six-month extension.
Mrs. Goren moved to grant Mr. and Mrs. Sutton an extension of the 4/3/03 variance to 7/16/04. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
NOISE ORDINANCE - AUTHORIZATION TO ADVERTISE: Mr. Harp moved to authorize the Solicitor to advertise a stand-alone Noise Ordinance for the Township. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Harris said that the three Jointure solicitors decided a stand-alone ordinance in each township, which will be referenced in the JMZO, was the best approach. Mrs. Goren questioned the maximum decibel level allowed in the evening in Section 501. Mr. Harris said 50 decibels is very quiet; an air conditioner emits about 65 decibels, and chirping birds emit about 70 decibels.
Del Purscell asked if the ordinance will apply to noise generated by cars. Mr. Harris said it will apply to automobile sound systems, but engine noise is covered by state regulations.
Brandon Wind asked if the ordinance will apply only in residential areas. Mr. Harris responded that it will apply to all districts, but the limits are lower in residential areas. Mr. Wind said compliance might be difficult for residents in townhouses.
Mrs. Goren asked what limit will apply when two different districts adjoin. Mr. Harris responded that the most restrictive limit will apply.
Mr. Purscell asked if homeowners will be able to mow their lawns. Mr. Harris responded that there is an exemption for lawn equipment, but not between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM.
Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.
FLOODPLAIN ORDINANCE: Mr. Goodnoe asked if FEMA reviewed the draft floodplain ordinance. Mr. Harris said that the FEMA response was just received and will be distributed to the Board for discussion at the next meeting.
PROJECT UPDATE: Mr. Smith provided a 1/9/04 progress report on engineering projects in the Township.
THE RESERVE (AKA THE HESTON TRACT) - RELEASE #4: Mrs. Goren moved to release $270,829.81 in escrow funds for The Reserve, in accordance with Mr. Smith’s 12/17/03 letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
OVERLOOK (AKA THE HOFFA TRACT) - RELEASE #1: Mrs. Goren moved to release $333,872.00 in escrow funds for the Overlook project, in accordance with Mr. Smith’s 12/29/03 letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
WRIGHTS ROAD AREA FLOODING: Mr. Pellegrino referred to a 12/9/03 proposal from Mr. Smith for a preliminary study of flooding problems in the Wrights Road area to determine the watershed area, resultant flows, existing and potential detention structures and possible modifications to them. The estimated cost would be $2,500 to $3,500.
Mr. Goodnoe said the Township did modify some structures in the area a few years ago. He said he would like to look at the Township’s agreement with Newtown Grant before making a decision on this proposal. He also noted that there has been some unusual weather this year. Mr. Jirele agreed with this suggestion and said the Township should look upstream as well.
Mrs. Goren said the proposal is for a preliminary study only, and the flooding problems need to be addressed. Mr. Harp agreed that the Township should look at the Newtown Grant agreement and act on the proposal at the next meeting. Mr. Pellegrino said he will research these documents and share them with Pennoni and Board members.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)
Nancy Crescenzo asked if Mr. Weaver has an e-mail address. Mr. Weaver said he has one; Mr. Pellegrino said he will make sure it is listed on the website.
Ms. Crescenzo also asked if the flooding on Eagle Road will be addressed. Mr. Pellegrino said the Township plans to correct a low spot in the road in the spring. He estimates that fixing the problem will require installation of an inlet and short pipe section.
Ms. Crescenzo asked how a referendum is placed on the ballot. Mr. Harris responded that only certain types of matters can be put on the ballot. The Township must adopt a resolution and send it to the Board of Elections. A referendum asks for authorization of “electoral debt” (debt authorized by the electorate), and only the Board of Supervisors can initiate this process.
Ms. Crescenzo asked when the Board will discuss the Municipal Expansion project. Mr. Pellegrino responded that he plans to submit a report to the Board soon, and the Board probably will discuss it in February.
Ms. Crescenzo asked if the Planning Commission’s special meeting on 1/13/04 was advertised; Mr. Harris said it was.
Brandon Wind asked if there will be a “Making a Difference” program this year. Mr. Jirele, the Board’s liaison to the Homeowners Associations, said it will probably take place in early spring.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Weaver said there will not be an executive session tonight due to the late hour; it is postponed to 1/28/04.
ADJOURNMENT: Without objections the meeting was adjourned at 11:45 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary
Minutes Approved as submitted __________ as corrected___________
Attest: _________________________ ___________________________
Robert M. Pellegrino, Manager Richard Weaver, Chairman
Scott R. Harp, Vice-Chairman
Anne Goren, Secretary/Treasurer
Thomas Jirele, Member
Raymond Goodnoe, Member