Board of Supervisors Minutes
February 11, 2004
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 25, 2004. REGULAR MEETING OF 2/11/04: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 2/11/04 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, February 11, 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, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine, Cable TV Chairman Water Iwaskiw, 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.
INVOCATION: Given by Reverend Nancy Stroh of the Holy Nativity Episcopal Church. The Pledge of Allegiance followed this.
ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that two items be added to the Manager’s report: a resolution on a bank account, and a request from Pickering Manor to waive the land development process. He also said there is a need for an executive session for personnel matters following the public meeting.
CERTIFICATES OF APPRECIATION - THOMAS RAGAN: Mr. Weaver presented Certificates of Appreciation to Thomas Ragan in honor of his service as elected auditor from 1982 to 1992 and as a member of the Zoning Hearing Board from 1998 to 2003.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
WORK SESSION OF 1/21/04: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 1/21/04 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
REGULAR MEETING OF 1/28/04: Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the minutes of the 1/28/04 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele asked if Mr. Smith said that LED lights are more intense; Mr. Smith said this is correct.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.
BILLS LIST FOR 2/11/04: Mrs. Goren moved to remove from the list a Pennoni Associates bill for work related to the Economic Development Commission (on page 6), and to pay bills totaling $234,109.47. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to make interfund transfers totaling $530,200.00; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
TREASURER’S REPORT: None.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Board Chairman Andrew Levine reported on the Board’s most recent meeting. The Board discussed the Planning Commission’s recommendations regarding Roberts Ridge Park and is seeking authorization to ask Pennoni Associates to draft three sketch plans for the park. Mrs. Goren asked if it is advisable to put the special needs playground equipment next to the regular playground. Mr. Levine said the Board does not want to segregate special needs children. He also reported that the Rotary will not be able to contribute to the cost of the special needs playground.
Mr. Levine said Jim Worthington of the Newtown Athletic Club attended the Board meeting and discussed the possibility of locating a community center in a property he just purchased in the Newtown Business Commons. Also, representatives from two nearby Homeowners Associations expressed concerns about the Woll Tract’s proposed access on Eagle Road. Mr. Levine asked the Board of Supervisors to clarify whether this access is restricted to emergency purposes only. Mr. Jirele and Mr. Harp said they recalled that this was the case; Mr. Harris said he will check his records.
Mrs. Goren asked how much the proposed work on Roberts Ridge Park would cost. Mr. Smith estimated it would be between $900 and $1,000.
Mrs. Goren moved to authorize Pennoni Associates to create the proposed sketch plans for Roberts Ridge Park for a cost not to exceed $1,000. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Pellegrino said the funds will come from the Recreation Impact Fund. Mr. Goodnoe said he would like to see a rough sketch of where structures will be located before authorizing the work. Mr. Levine agreed to provide such a drawing at the next Park and Recreation Board meeting on 3/3/04.
Mrs. Goren and Mr. Harp withdrew their motion.
CABLE TV COMMITTEE: Committee Chairman Walter Iwaskiw reported on the Committee’s most recent meeting. He said that Donald Smith is the Borough’s new representative. The Committee discussed their goals for 2004, which include finalizing the Cable Ordinance, educating the public about the Committee’s role, conducting a cable audit, and creating recommendations for the use of government cable channels. They made no change to their mission statement. The membership now consists of five Township representatives and two Borough representatives. He noted that Comcast will be changing some of their channel numbers to line up with channels in other areas.
Mr. Harp asked if there are any possibilities for bringing cable service competition into the Township. Mr. Iwaskiw said there are none presently.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission Chairman Shawn Ward reported on the Commission’s 2/3/04 meeting. The Commission will complete its review of the Economic Development Commission’s recommendations at its next meeting on 2/17/04 and report its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on 3/10/04. The preliminary plan for the DiNardo minor subdivision was reviewed on 2/3/04 and the Commission recommended approval subject to several conditions. The Traffic Engineer provided an update on current projects, and the Commission recommended that the conditional use applications for two projects be denied if extensions are not received. The Commission also recommended that the Board of Supervisors express concern to Upper Makefield about the impact of the proposed well on the Gray Tract on existing wells in the Township.
The Commission recommended that the Township support the JMZO amendment on structures in the floodplain and not support the amendments on lighting and tennis, basketball, and skateboard courts, and homeowners disclosure. The Commission recommended that each municipality address nuisance concerns in stand-alone ordinances rather than in the JMZO. The amendments on zoning in the LI/O-LI Districts and on conditional uses/special exceptions were tabled to the 2/17/04 meeting. The first of two orientation sessions will be presented by Ms. Goldstein at 7:00 PM prior to the 2/17/04 meeting.
Mrs. Goren said the Commission should have studied the FEMA maps before recommending approval of the floodplain ordinance; she remains concerned about the cumulative impact of this ordinance. Mr. Ward said the Commission was concerned with ensuring that the ordinance would not affect property owners’ ability to obtain flood insurance.
CONDITIONAL USE - TUDOR SQUARE PHASE III - 660 NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD - TMP# 29-10-119 AND 29-10-119-1: Mr. Weaver opened the hearing. Mr. Harris said the applicant has requested a continuance to 3/24/04.
Mrs. Goren moved to continue the hearing on the conditional use application for Tudor Square Phase III to 3/24/04. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
CONDITIONAL USE - PRYDA LLC - 159 N. SYCAMORE STREET - TMP# 29-12-15: Mr. Weaver opened the hearing. Mr. Harris said the applicant has granted an extension to the end of March as he plans to file a land development plan to be reviewed concurrently. Mr. Harris recommended a continuance to 3/24/04.
Mrs. Goren moved to continue the hearing on the conditional use application for Pryda LLC to 3/24/04. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to close the hearing; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
JMZO 2002-09 - HOMEOWNERS’ DISCLOSURE: Mrs. Goren said she still favors some form of disclosure ordinance. Mr. Jirele said he questions whether this is an appropriate role for the Township, and expressed concern about the workload involved and the obligation to ensure that submitted information is correct. He asked why the ordinance would apply only to new construction.
Mr. Harris said the Township has no occupancy permit requirement for subsequent sales of homes, so it would have no opportunity to be involved. He added that one of the Commission’s biggest issues is that the provisions are very complicated.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to advise the Jointure that the Township is not interested in pursuing the Homeowners’ Disclosure Ordinance. The motion failed for lack of a second.
Mr. Jirele moved to direct the Solicitor to simplify the form and remove the Township from the process. The motion failed for lack of a second.
Mrs. Goren moved to send the ordinance back to the Jointure and the Planning Commission with the form simplified, with no change to the Township’s role, and with a provision requiring the developer to pay all costs of implementation. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Harp said something must be done to protect homebuyers. Mr. Goodnoe said he will vote against this motion because the Board should vote to support or reject the ordinance as it is written.
Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, said this information will be useless to a homebuyer at settlement, as the contract is already signed.
Frank Mendicino, a Township resident, said the ordinance puts the Township in an inappropriate position of responsibility.
Mrs. Goren’s motion failed 2-3, with Mr. Jirele, Mr. Goodnoe, and Mr. Weaver voting “nay”.
JMZO 2002-06 - LIGHTING: Mrs. Goren moved to not support this ordinance and to recommend that these concerns be addressed in a stand-alone ordinance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
JMZO 2002-16 - FENCING AND LIGHTING AROUND TENNIS, BASKETBALL, AND SKATEBOARD COURTS: Mr. Jirele moved to not support this ordinance and to recommend that these concerns be addressed in a stand-alone ordinance. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
JMZO 2003 - FLOODPLAIN: Mr. Goodnoe moved to support this ordinance; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said she would like to have the Planning Commission review engineering data about the cumulative effects of this ordinance. Mr. Jirele said the ordinance allows the Zoning Hearing Board to grant variances for structures in the floodplain provided there are no adverse effects. He said it would be impossible for engineers to predict a cumulative effect.
Mr. Harris said the effect of the ordinance is to treat mapped and unmapped areas in the same manner, and projects will still have to go through the land development process.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Goren voting “nay”.
GRAY TRACT (UPPER MAKEFIELD): Mr. Harris noted that the pumping test referred to in the Planning Commission recommendation is done by the Delaware River Basin Commission.
Mrs. Goren moved to correspond with Upper Makefield and request that they ensure that no existing wells in Upper Makefield and Newtown Township be adversely affected by the proposed well serving the Gray Tract, and that existing wells in Newtown Township be monitored during the pumping test required in the Delaware River Basin Commission process. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
ZONING HEARING BOARD: Mr. Goodnoe said that at the 1/28/04 meeting the Board acted favorably on the JMZO ordinance implementing the Economic Development Commission’s recommendations. Therefore, the appeals the Board filed against the variances granted to Tudor Square Phase III and Newtown Office Park are moot.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to withdraw the Board’s appeals of Zoning Hearing Board decisions on Tudor Square Phase III and Newtown Office Park. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said the ordinance has not yet been changed, and the Board should still defend it.
Shawn Ward, Planning Commission Chairman, said the ordinance may not be approved by the Jointure, and the Board should defend the ordinance as it exists now.
Frank Mendicino, a member of the Planning Commission, asked why the process is being rushed. He said the Board should make a decision after the Planning Commission presents its recommendations.
Mr. Weaver said the only issue in question about these two projects is the maximum impervious surface ratio, and it seems clear that the Planning Commission and the Jointure will approve 60% or more for the LI and the O-LI Districts. He said developers should not be penalized for proposing what is clearly going to be approved.
Mr. Mendicino said the Township will lose money because the Board has not adjusted its fee schedule. Mr. Goodnoe responded that fees will go up as impervious surface goes up. He added that if the appeals are not withdrawn, the Township will be paying the Solicitor to pursue an action and at the same time to fight it.
Mr. Mendicino said taxpayers will have to pay for road improvements necessitated by the higher impervious on these developments. He also said the Planning Commission may be recommending some limitations on the uses, and the Board needs to hear those recommendations.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Goren voting “nay”.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to rescind the Board’s direction to the Solicitor to appear at the Brandywine Realty Trust appeal hearing. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said it is not guaranteed that the Jointure will approve the Floodplain Ordinance, and she would like to see some engineering studies. She said that the Board should defend the ordinance.
Mr. Goodnoe said this is another proposal to fight an action the Board is pursuing. He said the ordinance has contradictory provisions.
Mrs. Goren said Judge Rubenstein did not agree that the ordinance is contradictory, and it is premature to withdraw from the appeal.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed 3-2, with Mr. Harp and Mrs. Goren voting “nay”.
CAMPAIGN REPORTS: Mr. Jirele said a group of residents, represented by Mr. Ward, filed a complaint with the Elections Board claiming that Mr. Jirele’s campaign committee had willfully violated the law. Mr. Jirele said his committee did make two mistakes and they are working to correct them. He said the election law is extremely complicated, and Mr. Ward’s complaint was not filed correctly either. He said he regretted that Mr. Ward sent out press releases criticizing Mr. Jirele’s campaign chairman.
Jim McCrane, a resident of St. Andrew’s Briar, said he and his neighbors are very concerned about the proposed access to the Woll Tract from Eagle Road. He also observed that the Township planning process seems fragmented, and issues come to the Board of Supervisors without the necessary background information and research. He asked that the Board give Township committees more direction and that members agree on a vision of what the Township will be like physically and demographically in the future.
Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, said she works with special needs children and has some valuable input on the proposed special needs playground for Roberts Ridge Park. Mr. Jirele suggested she attend the 3/3/04 Park and Recreation Board meeting.
Ms. Crescenzo also said there were no strings attached to the business community’s offer of help with developing a community center, and she encouraged the Board to appoint a committee to follow up the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Community Center Committee. She also said the estimated costs for the Municipal Complex Expansion project have tripled since 2000.
Mike Iapalucci, a Township resident, asked if there is any news about the PennDOT detour signs. Mr. Weaver said that there has been no official response from PennDOT. Mr. Pellegrino said it can be brought up at the meeting on regional traffic issues in March.
Mr. Iapalucci also asked about the destruction of vegetation around the Comcast building on the Bypass. Mr. Pellegrino said Comcast will be adding landscaping to the site in the spring, building another access, and no longer taking access from the Bypass.
Michael Piazza, a Township resident, said he would like to see all five Supervisors unite in opposition to the proposal for a new form of Township government. He encouraged the Board to be pro-active, gathering information and sharing it with residents, demonstrating how effective the present form of government can be.
Mr. Weaver said he has asked the Financial Planning Committee and the Manager to project expenses and revenues for the next five years. This will mean some changes to the Committee’s mission statement.
Del Purscell, a Township resident, said the proposed study commission will only make recommendations, not impose changes on the Township. He also encouraged the Board to study Township spending patterns.
Paul Salvatore, a Township resident, said the Rotary’s decision to not contribute financially to the special needs playground was made so that they could take advantage of an opportunity for matching funds on another project. He said the Rotary will try to help in some other way in the future.
Mr. Salvatore asked if traffic calming measures can be used on Mill Pond Road, which is a popular shortcut where people tend to speed. Mr. Goodnoe responded that the Board recently commissioned a Township-wide study of traffic-calming measures on which Pennoni Associates is working, and this question can be part of that study.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
RESIGNATION: Mr. Weaver reported that Phil Calabro has resigned from his appointment as an alternate for the Zoning Hearing Board.
GRANT: Mr. Weaver reported that the Department of Community and Economic Development has approved a $33,500 grant for the Newtown Area Joint Planning Commission for their work on the Comprehensive Plan and the JMZO.
MEETING WITH BOROUGH COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Mr. Weaver said he recently met with the President of Newtown Borough Council to discuss mutual concerns, and he hopes these meetings will take place monthly.
WEE CARE BEAR PROGRAM: Mr. Harp said that many bears were collected at the Wrightstown Elementary School on 2/2/04.
FIRST FOURTH 2004: Mr. Harp said this year’s First Fourth celebration would take place on 7/10/04.
SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Mr. Jirele said he attended the 2/10/04 preconstruction meeting. The contractor is hoping to begin construction next week. Work will begin at the south end of Sycamore Street and proceed north. A website linked to the Township site will track the project.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said the Township received an extension from Pryda LLC; there are no other expirations that need to be addressed by the Board.
ENGINEERING SERVICES PROPOSAL: Mr. Pellegrino referred to his 2/6/04 memo to the Board, which included copies of two proposals received for the design and related work for stream bank stabilization along portions of Sycamore Street. He recommended that the contract be awarded to Tri-State Engineers, which bid $26,900 for the work. He said the plans should be completed in a few months so that the work can be coordinated with the Sycamore Street project.
Mr. Harp moved to award the contract for the design and related work for stream bank stabilization along portions of Sycamore Street to Tri-State Engineers for an amount not to exceed $26,900, as recommended by Mr. Pellegrino’s 2/6/04 memo. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (DCED) GRANT: Mr. Pellegrino referred to a 2/10/04 memo from Elaine Gibbs, Finance Director, asking that two bank accounts be established for the $380,000 DCED grant received for the stream bank stabilization project.
Mr. Jirele moved to establish a money market account and a checking account at First National Bank for the administration of the DCED grant funds. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
REQUEST - PICKERING MANOR: Mr. Pellegrino referred to his 2/11/04 memo which included a request from Pickering Manor to waive the land development process for the proposed enclosure of a courtyard. Also included was a 12/2/03 Planning Commission recommendation in support of this request on the grounds that the nature of the proposed improvement is de minimus.
Mr. Harp moved to waive the land development process for the proposed enclosure of a courtyard at Pickering Manor. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
RESOLUTION 2004-R- 7 - PLAN FOR OLD ACME PROPERTY: Mrs. Goren moved to adopt Resolution 2004-R- 7, authorizing the Redevelopment Authority of Bucks County to prepare a Certified Redevelopment Plan for the redevelopment of the old Acme property located on Sycamore Street in Newtown Township. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
PHEASANT POINTE AND ST. ANDREWS BRIAR - DEDICATION: Mr. Harris said the Elliott Building Group has granted extensions to 3/31/04 on their requests to dedicate the public improvements at these two developments.
LICENSE AGREEMENT - HAINES AND KIBBLEHOUSE: Mr. Harp moved to approve the License Agreement to allow Haines and Kibblehouse to use a portion of the Acme parking lot as a staging area for the Sycamore Street project. Mr. Goodnoe seconded the motion.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren asked if the use of the parking lot as a staging area would interfere with the Redevelopment Authority’s plans for the Acme property. Mr. Harris responded that the arrangement can be terminated with 60 days notice, and the timetable for redevelopment planning indicates that there will not be a conflict.
Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.
STONEHOUSE BISTRO - UPDATE: Mr. Harris provided copies of a 2/6/04 letter from David Sander indicating that a settlement in this case is possible. Mr. Harris said the Zoning Hearing Board granted a continuance of the case to 3/4/04.
ESCROW RELEASE #5 - WILTSHIRE WALK: Mrs. Goren moved to release $162,546.00 in escrow funds for this project, as recommended by Mr. Smith’s 1/28/04 letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
AUTHORIZATION TO SIGN MYLARS - PRATICO: Mrs. Goren moved to sign the mylars for the PRD variance requested by Mr. and Mrs. Pratico of 115 N. Ascot Court, as recommended by Mr. Smith. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
PEDESTRIAN CROSSING - EAGLETON FARMS: Mr. Harp asked if there has been a meeting with the Eagleton Farms Homeowners Association regarding their concerns about light pollution from the proposed pedestrian crossing signal. Mr. Smith said he is preparing a letter to the Homeowners Association, with background materials, and it will go out in a few days.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (CONTINUED)
Frank Mendicino said he would like to hear an estimate of the potential cost to the taxpayers of a study of the Township’s form of government.
Del Purscell said the state has said the cost would be approximately $18,000 to $20,000.
Mr. Mendicino said Mr. Goodnoe stated at a Republican Party meeting that he does not favor changing the Township’s form of government. Mr. Mendicino said mechanisms like the Financial Planning Committee the Comprehensive Plan are already in place to address financial concerns and future development of the Township. He said the average cost of a home rule study in Pennsylvania during the last four years was $52,000. Mr. Mendicino said he volunteered to serve on the study commission but Mr. Beasley turned him down.
Del Purscell said residents would have the opportunity to run for a position on the study commission. He also said the Township should not be afraid to study its government.
Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, said the Board should set parameters for community comments. She also asked that residents attending the meeting not hold sidebar conversations during the meeting.
Nancy Crescenzo said she collected signatures for the referendum petition. She suggested that residents should educate themselves about the issues involved. Ms. Crescenzo also thanked Mr. Weaver for opening a dialogue with the Newtown Borough Council President, and said that handicapped children should not be segregated from other children at the Roberts Ridge Park playground.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: The Board met in executive session for matters of personnel following the adjournment of the public meeting.
ADJOURNMENT: Without objections the meeting was adjourned at11:00 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