Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

March 10, 2004


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting March 24, 2004. REGULAR MEETING OF 3/10/04: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 3/10/04 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously, with Mr. Jirele abstaining.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, March 10, 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, and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Sycamore Street Chairman Vince Lombardi, Planning Commission Chairman Shawn Ward, 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.

INVOCATION: Given by Reverend Klein of the Addisville Reformed Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that a report from the Sycamore Street Committee be added under Reports of Committees, Boards, and Commissions; that a request to authorize a speed limit ordinance be added under the Manager’s Report; that a request to authorize the signature of mylars be added under the Solicitor’s Report; and that the DiNardo subdivision be removed from the agenda at the applicant’s request.

SPECIAL ACTIONS: None.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS

MINUTES

WORK SESSION OF 2/18/04:Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 2/18/04 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

REGULAR MEETING OF 2/25/04:Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 2/25/04 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

BILLS LIST FOR 3/10/04: Mr. Goodnoe said he will abstain from this vote because the bills list includes a payment to his restaurant.

Mrs. Goren moved to pay bills totaling $369,368.63. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.

Mrs. Goren moved to make interfund transfers totaling $21,687.51. 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 their 3/3/04 meeting, at which the Roberts Ridge Park and the Woll Tract were discussed extensively. Mr. Levine thanked three residents who shared information about special needs children at the meeting. The Board will bring the contractors for the Roberts Ridge playground to a future meeting to hear the residents’ concerns.

Mr. Levine said the Park and Recreation Board is now proposing to add 46 spaces to the existing parking lot at Roberts Ridge, which would make parking available closer to the special needs playground. The previously proposed lot on Lower Dolington Road would be eliminated. The rest rooms would be located between the playground and the parking lot. Mr. Levine shared his sketch of the present proposal for Roberts Ridge Park with the Supervisors.

Mr. Levine also provided copies of the bids received for preparation of the master plan for the Woll Tract and recommended that Pickering, Corts & Summerson be selected. Mr. Levine noted that Mr. Wert was able to negotiate a 25% reduction in the firm’s original bid. Although this firm’s bid was not the lowest one received, the Park and Recreation Board made their recommendation based on the company’s demonstrated sensitivity to the importance of public involvement in the planning process.

Mr. Harp moved to award the contract for developing the master plan for the Woll Tract to Pickering, Corts & Summerson for an amount not to exceed $23,600. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked if the two proposals that cost less than $23,600 met the criteria of the Request for Proposals. Mr. Levine said they did minimally, but the proposal from Pickering, Corts & Summerson included much more attention to public input.

Mr. Goodnoe asked if negotiating a bid is permitted. Mr. Harris said this is not a violation as this bid concerns a contract for professional services.

Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Levine asked the Supervisors to authorize the funds needed for redesigning Roberts Ridge Park, which is estimated to cost between $900 to $1,000.

Mr. Harp moved to authorize the expenditure of up to $1,000 for the development of a sketch plan for Roberts Ridge Park. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked if the sketch plan would be consistent with the sketch shown to the Supervisors tonight. Mr. Levine said it would be.

Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Levine announced that on 3/30/04 and 4/1/04 there would be a tot hayride and a nondenominational egg hunt at the Better Way Farm, and an Arbor Day celebration will be held on 4/23/04 at Pickering Field.

PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission Chairman Shawn Ward reported on their 3/2/04 meeting, which was preceded by an orientation session on subdivision and land development presented by the Township Planner. The Commission reviewed the final plan for the subdivision of the Hidden Valley Tract and recommended that it be approved with several conditions and waivers. The JMZO amendment on LI and O-LI District provisions was tabled, as the Commission has not completed development of its report to the Board on these provisions. Mr. Ward said the report should be ready by the next meeting of the Board.

The Commission recommended that the Township not support the JMZO amendment on conditional uses and special exceptions, discussed the impact of a recent court decision regarding the Dolington Land Group, and decided to consider the Act 537 Revision for the Linton Hill Municipal Sewer System Extension in depth for the next two meetings.

Mr. Ward noted that the DiNardo subdivision is on the agenda tonight, and said that the Planning Commission recommended approval of this plan at their 2/3/04 meeting.

Mr. Goodnoe said that the Board of Supervisors asked the Planning Commission last year to study whether there is any conflict between the Township’s tree-planting ordinance and utility lines. Mr. Ward said he was not aware of this request and will look into it.

FINAL PLAN – MINOR SUBDIVISION - HIDDEN VALLEY TRACT – 138 HIDDEN VALLEY LANE – TMP# 29-2-3: Nick Hano of M & N Homes and engineer G. Deane Riniker were present to discuss the plan to subdivide a 5.856 acre tract in the R-1 District into three lots for single family dwellings.

Mr. Riniker said that proposed lot 1 will contain the existing buildings, and lots 2 and 3 will be created at the front of the property.

Mr. Harris asked why so many waivers are requested regarding stormwater management. Mr. Riniker responded that bio-retention systems are proposed for lots 2 and 3. He explained that this is a new technology and does not work like a standard system.

Mr. Harris asked why easements for the stormwater system are not provided, although the preliminary approval required them. Mr. Riniker said there would not be enough lot area if easements were provided. Mr. Harris said the applicant could either revise the lot areas or add a unilateral declaration to the deed to protect the basin, so that every new purchaser of the lot will be aware of the need to protect the basin. He also recommended limiting the building envelope.

Mr. Goodnoe asked if streetlights are needed on this site. Mr. Riniker said Planning Commission members concluded that the area is sufficiently lit now.

Mr. Goodnoe asked if the applicant will provide water and sewer agreements. Mr. Harris said the applicant cannot do this because there is a moratorium on sewer connections. Mr. Riniker asked if the applicant could use a holding tank until the moratorium is ended; Mr. Harris said there are provisions for this in the ordinance, and the applicant will have to meet the requirements.

Mr. Smith asked if the proposed new construction would have an impact on the existing stormwater system for lot 1; Mr. Riniker said it would not.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to grant final approval to the plan, subject to the following conditions:

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

SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Committee Chairman Vince Lombardi reported on the Committee’s 3/9/04 meeting. The Committee’s website is providing up-to-date information on the progress of the Sycamore Street project and is linked to the Township’s website. The design contract for the creek restoration project has been awarded to Tri-State Engineers.

Mr. Lombardi said two intersections on the Bypass, with Sycamore Street and with Richboro Road, are scheduled to be closed for four weeks for a construction project. He said this will have a negative effect on residents and businesses in the area, and he asked the Board of Supervisors to take action to prevent the closings. Mr. Lombardi said he believes there is room at these intersections to route traffic around the construction sites.

Mrs. Goren moved to direct the Manager and the Engineer to discuss the proposed road closings with PennDOT and the contractor, and to advocate for not closing the Bypass intersections with Sycamore Street and Richboro Road. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said he believes the Manager and the Engineer are already working on this issue. He commented that special arrangements were made to have the Sycamore Street project work done at night so that residents and businesses are not disrupted during the day, so it does not make sense to allow these closures. Mr. Pellegrino added that Swamp Road would be closed for a period this summer for culvert repair work.

Shawn Ward said he has heard many local businesspeople express concerns about these proposed road closings.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS

RESIGNATION: Mr. Weaver announced he has received William Wall’s resignation from the position of Alternative Member of the Zoning Hearing Board.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS

Mike Piazza, a Township resident and member of the Planning Commission, said a resident’s comments about him at the last Board of Supervisors meeting were inaccurate. Mr. Piazza said the resident referred to him as inexperienced in municipal planning. Mr. Piazza described his involvement with community planning in the New York area, and said he has worked with community groups in the Township since moving here in 1988. His job also involves planning tasks.

Frank Mendicino, a Township resident, asked for more information about the 3/16/04 meeting on the government study ballot question.

Nina Zotter, a Township resident and candidate for the study commission, said the meeting will be at 7:30 PM at the American Legion, 41 Linton Avenue, and will feature a presentation by Fred Rettig of the Department of Community and Economic Development.

Mr. Mendicino encouraged everyone to attend the meeting and to ask questions. He said the Newtown Republican Committee recently voted not to support the ballot question, and many people are questioning the motives of those who are advocating the study. He also said one study commission candidate’s petition was challenged by a resident who was given information about the filing of the petition. Mr. Mendicino expressed concerns about the costs of the study and any changes in government it might recommend.

Paul Meechan, a Township resident and candidate for the study commission, said the proposal for a study commission is not radical and the costs have been exaggerated. He said that 189 municipalities have conducted such studies, and that the study should cost between $20,000 and $25,000 in this Township.

Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, protested the public criticism of the resident who challenged a candidate’s petition. She also described several issues she would like the Board of Supervisors to address, including the need for recycling containers in the meeting room, the possible taking back of South Eagle Road, a public discussion of the Municipal Complex expansion, the possibility of a veteran’s cemetery in the Township, the need for more copies of the minutes at Board meetings, and the sale of the Roberts Nursery property to a developer.

Ms. Crescenzo asked why Mr. Jirele was not present. Mr. Weaver said he did not know the reason for Mr. Jirele’s absence.

Mr. Pellegrino said the owner of the property along South Eagle Road has proposed that the Township take the road back. The Township Engineer has informed the owner of what would have to be done for the Township to consider doing this, and the owner has not responded. Mrs. Goren said she is not in favor of taking back the road because of the cost to taxpayers.

Mrs. Goren also said the Township worked with the owner of the Roberts Nursery property before the sale in a serious attempt to find a way to accommodate his needs and the requirements of the JMZO.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS

CHAIRMAN: None.

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: None.

MANAGER

PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said there are no plan expirations needing to be addressed by the Board.

AUTHORIZATION TO PREPARE SPEED LIMIT ORDINANCE: Mr. Pellegrino asked the Board to authorize the Solicitor to prepare an ordinance setting a 25 MPH speed limit on Penns Trail North.

Mr. Harp moved to authorize the Solicitor to prepare an ordinance setting a 25 MPH speed limit on Penns Trail North. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren asked if the Township should do a speed study to determine if this is an appropriate limit. Mr. Harris said the road currently has no limit because it has not been dedicated. Mr. Pellegrino said a study is not necessary for a road in a residential area; the Township can revisit this later if necessary.

Nancy Crescenzo said the speed limit on South Eagle Road is not posted or enforced. Mr. Pellegrino said he would refer this complaint to the police department.

Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.

SOLICITOR

ORDINANCE 2004-O-3 - STOP INTERSECTIONS AND NO-PARKING ZONE ON HARMONY WAY: Mr. Harp moved to enact Ordinance 2004-O-3 amending the Township Code of Ordinances to establish stop intersections and a no parking area on Harmony Way. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

ORDINANCE 2004-O- 4 - TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE ORDINANCE: Mrs. Goren moved to enact Ordinance 2004-O-4 amending the Township Code of Ordinances to rename the Cable TV Committee and to provide for its membership and functions. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

UPDATE – RCN APPEAL: Mr. Harris reported on the status of RCN’s appeal from the Township’s determination that RCN breached its contract. Mr. Harris described the hearing in Commonwealth Court on 3/3/04. The court is likely to issue an opinion within the next few months.

SIGNING OF MYLARS – MCLAUGHLIN TRACT: Mr. Harris said a problem with an easement has been resolved but the settlement documents have not been received. He suggested that the Board authorize the signing of the mylars and financial security agreements and hold them until the documents are received.

Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the signing of the mylars and financial security agreements and hold them until the settlement documents have been received by the Township. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Warren Keyser, a Township resident, asked if this development will be known as Linton Hill Estates. He is concerned about this because there is already a development in the area with this name. Mr. Sharko of Toll Brothers was present and he responded that the name has been changed to Linton Hill Chase.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

ENGINEER

ESCROW RELEASE #5 – LAKE VIEW ESTATES: Mrs. Goren moved to release $94,339.55 in escrow funds for the Lake View Estates development, as recommended in Mr. Smith’s 2/24/04 letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked if the Homeowners Association (HOA) was aware of this recommendation. Mr. Harris said that when dedication is approved the escrow must be released, so the escrow release is usually considered before dedication. He said the HOA did sign off on the dedication. Mr. Smith said in this case there was a problem after dedication took place.

Mr. Goodnoe said it should be Township policy to copy HOAs on escrow releases and dedications; Mr. Pellegrino said this would be done in the future.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

UPDATE ON CURRENT ENGINEERING PROJECTS: Mr. Smith provided a 3/5/04 Pennoni Associates report on the status of current engineering projects in the Township.

OLD BUSINESS: None.

NEW BUSINESS: None.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)

Nancy Crescenzo complained that Mr. Harp missed approximately 50% of last year’s meetings of the Park and Recreation Board. Mr. Harp responded that he shared the liaison function with Mr. Weaver last year. He said it is up to the committee chair to identify a problem if a member is not attending regularly.

Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, said that voter registration forms and absentee ballots are available in the Administration office.

Phil Calabro, a Township resident, expressed appreciation for the many examples of free speech heard tonight.

Frank Mendicino said he appreciates that the police department focuses its attention on residential areas in the Township.

Glenn Beasley, a Township resident, said no one should criticize the resident who filed the challenge regarding a candidate for the study commission. He said the Newtown Study Commission Coalition favors a government study, and he asked Mr. Mendicino to state the position of Citizens for Good Government. Mr. Beasley said the group has not issued an official statement.

Mrs. Goren said this discussion is inappropriate for Community Comments.

Brandon Wind, a Township resident, said he is disappointed that the Roberts Nursery Tract was sold to Toll Brothers. He asked that the Board of Supervisors monitor the traffic impact of any proposed development there, particularly on the nearby Newtown Business Commons.

Mike Piazza said he also regrets the sale, but he does not think that the Township mistreated the owner. He said he lives across the road from the property, and he and his neighbors were opposed to the owner’s plans. Mr. Weaver commented that the owner was seeking a zoning change, which made it difficult to accommodate him.

Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, said Toll Brothers is also asking for a zoning change on the property. Mr. Harris said Toll Brothers is seeking a change in permitted uses in the District, not a zoning change.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Weaver said the Board would meet in executive session for matters of personnel following the adjournment of the public meeting.

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections, the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 PM.

Respectfully Submitted:

 

_________________________________
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