Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

May 12, 2004


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting May 26, 2004. MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING OF 5/12/04: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of 5/12/04; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, May 12, 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: Sycamore Street Committee Chairman Vince Lombardi, HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs, Township Solicitor Stephen B. Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, Township Public Works Director Tom Harwood, 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 Pastor David Wagner of the Lutheran Church of God’s Love. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that an item regarding an appointment to a regional committee be added to the Manager’s report.

SPECIAL ACTIONS

CERTIFICATE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT – HEATHER BROWN: Mr. Weaver presented a Certificate of Accomplishment to Heather Brown, a Township resident who won a national essay contest sponsored by the Olive Garden.

PROCLAMATION – PUBLIC WORKS WEEK: Mr. Weaver presented a proclamation to Tom Harwood, Township Director of Public Works, in recognition of Public Works Week 5/16/04 to 5/23/04.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS

MINUTES

MINUTES OF WORK SESSION OF 4/21/04: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 4/21/04 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING OF 4/28/04: Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of 4/28/04; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

BILLS LIST FOR 5/12/04: Mrs. Goren moved to pay bills totaling $229,133.63. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

Mrs. Goren moved to make interfund transfers totaling $6,402.36. The motion was seconded by Mr.Jirele and passed unanimously.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION: Mr. Weaver reported that the Commission met on 5/12/04 with owners and tenants in the Newtown Business Commons. The group discussed signage, traffic, formation of an association, publication of a newsletter, and the possibility of an executive conference hotel. Mr. Weaver said he expects to see new businesses moving in soon.

SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Committee Chairman Vince Lombardi reported on the Committee’s 5/11/04 meeting. They heard reports on the stormwater management system, upcoming road improvements, and the streambed restoration project. The Committee recommends that the Board of Supervisors approve an extension of the deadline for Haines and Kibblehouse 6/18/05 and allow the sidewalk contractor to work during daylight hours. The Committee will begin meeting at Chandler Hall in June. Mr. Jirele asked that the new meeting location be well publicized.

Mr. Lombardi said there was some concern about the concrete being defaced if it is poured during the day. Mr. Goodnoe said it is the responsibility of the contractor to prevent this from happening. Mr. Smith said he will bring this up when dealing with the contractor.

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (HARB): HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs reported that the Board met on 5/11/04 and referred the Pryda application back to the applicant. They also discussed the St. Andrews rectory.

PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission Vice-Chairman reported on their 5/4/04 meeting, at which the Commission discussed and recommended approval of the conditional use application and the preliminary plan for the Stroupe property, with several conditions. They also heard a report from the Traffic Engineer, noted that the Twining subdivision plan will expire soon if an extension is not received, and approved a summary of the Commission’s activities in 2003 that was forwarded to the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Pellegrino said an extension has been received on the Twining subdivision.

LAND USE: Follows the Manager’s report (below).

MEMBERS COMMENTS: None.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS

Jim McCrane, a resident of St. Andrews Briar, complained of the noise generated by outdoor events at the Rose Bank winery. He said this does not seem to be an appropriate use in the CM District.

Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked for clarification of a newspaper story and several bills approved earlier. Mr. Pellegrino explained that the Township is renting document storage space because the Acme building is not suitable for this use. She also asked if Mr. Jirele has received accident data he requested at the 4/21/04 work session; Mr. Pellegrino said it is being prepared.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS

CHAIRMAN: No items.

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS

FIRST FOURTH: Mr. Harp said the committee planning the First Fourth celebration would like to hear from any groups that would like to participate.

MANAGER

PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said there are no plan expirations requiring Board action.

APPOINTMENT OF REPRESENTATIVES TO REGIONAL TRAFFIC COMMITTEE: Mr. Pellegrino referred to his 5/4/04 memo to the Board, which reported the formation of a regional committee to address traffic problems in Wrightstown, Northampton, Upper Makefield, Lower Makefield, and Newtown Townships. Each municipality is asked to appoint two representatives. Mr. Weaver said he asked Mr. Goodnoe to serve on this committee with him, and Mr. Goodnoe has agreed.

APPOINTMENT TO REGIONAL COMMISSION PROPOSED BY LOWER MAKEFIELD: Mr. Pellegrino reported that Lower Makefield has proposed a similar commission to deal with common issues such as policing, equal distribution of grants, clean air and water, the preservation of natural resources, and other issues relating to the maintenance of the quality of life in the area. Mr. Weaver said he asked Mr. Harp to serve on this commission, and he has agreed. The group’s first meeting will be 5/20/04.

Mr. Jirele suggested that the Lower Makefield group should not discuss traffic issues, since the other group is focusing on traffic. Mr. Goodnoe suggested that when traffic issues come up at this commission’s meetings they can be referred to the regional traffic committee.

Mr. Harris said no motion is necessary, as the Chairman has the authority to make these appointments.

(Reports of Officials continues following Land Use)

LAND USE

CONDITIONAL USE – STROUPE PROPERTY – 301 N. SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-12-27: Edward Murphy was present to discuss his request for a total of 5,500 SF of D-1 General Office Use on a 1.07 acre site in the TC District. He plans to convert an existing residential building for office use (1,500 SF), and to use a portion of a barn currently located on the McLaughlin Tract for offices (4,000 SF) on this site. He is also seeking conditional use approval to build parking spaces in the floodplain. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing.

Mr. Murphy stated that there will probably be more than six employees on site when all office tenants are identified, and 25 parking spaces are required. Otherwise he is in agreement with the 5/6/04 Planning Commission recommendation. He is seeking to install only 12 of the parking spaces and to leave the rest in green. He noted that at one time some mercury was found on this site, but the shack where it was located has been torn down.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve 5,500 SF of D-1 General Office Use on the Stroupe property and to permit parking in the floodplain, with the following conditions:

The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele said he was concerned about the adequacy of 12 parking spaces if the tenants have clients visiting. Mr. Murphy said he will ensure there is adequate parking at this site. Mr. Harris noted that this is a land development question.

Nancy Crescenzo said she is concerned about the parking and its impact on the creek. Mr. Jirele said almost the entire lot is in the floodplain, and the reserve parking is proposed for the area nearest the creek.

Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.

PRELIMINARY AS FINAL PLAN – STROUPE PROPERTY – 301 N. SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-12-27: Mr. Murphy discussed the land development plan for the project described above. He said he preferred not to comply with some of the Fire Marshal’s 5/7/04 recommendations. He does not want to put fire lanes around the barn building because he does not want to surround it with blacktop. He obtained relief from the Zoning Hearing Board to allow a 16’ wide driveway. He said he will install sprinklers in the barn, provide a nearby fire hydrant, and increase the size of the water line appropriately.

Mr. Murphy reviewed the waivers he is requesting as they appear in the 5/6/04 Planning Commission letter. He noted that he is requesting the waiver from the stormwater requirements because it makes sense to have runoff from a property close to the creek enter the creek immediately. He said he will provide the Township with access to the creek and add the shrubs mentioned in the Planning Commission letter.

Mr. Harris asked if the exterior lights can be turned off by 10:00 PM, except for safety lighting; Mr. Murphy agreed to this condition. He said he plans to install one or two lights along the driveway and a few on the perimeter of the parking area. Mr. Jirele asked that one of the lights be installed on the curved part of the driveway. Mr. Murphy said he has an easement from the shopping center owner to allow his driveway to access Sycamore Street.

Mr. Jirele asked if a shared parking arrangement is possible with the shopping center. Mr. Murphy said he has not discussed this formally with the center owner. Mr. Jirele suggested that installing a walkway from the Stroupe property to the shopping center parking lot might prevent the need to build the reserve parking in the future.

Mr. Smith commented that the current runoff from this site is minimal, and the porous paving will help to keep it minimal. He said he supports the requested waiver.

Mr. Harris asked if the Board agrees with the proposal for preliminary as final approval; there was general agreement.

Mr. Harp moved to grant preliminary as final approval to the Stroupe property plan with the following conditions:

The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked if the pedestrian walkway will connect with the shopping center parking lot or stop at the applicant’s property line. Mr. Murphy said he will build it to the center’s parking lot if he can obtain permission from the owner.

Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS (CONTINUED)

SOLICITOR

RCN LITIGATION: Mr. Harris reported that Commonwealth Court has dismissed RCN’s appeal and affirmed the Township’s decision to assess RCN $2.7 million in damages for breaching their contract for cable services.

2004-O-7 - SPEED LIMIT ORDINANCE – SOUTH EAGLE ROAD: Mr. Jirele moved to adopt Ordinance 2004-O-7 establishing a speed limit of 35 MPH on South Eagle Road. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.

Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo spoke in favor of the ordinance and asked how it will be enforced. Mr. Pellegrino said the Police Department will enforce it. Ms. Crescenzo also asked the Board to consider taking the road back.

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.

FLEMING – TENT UPDATE: Mr. Harris said the two main issues are whether holding events under a tent is an accessory use to a winery, and whether the tent should be permitted from year to year or permanently. He reported that on 4/30/04 the police were called by a nearby resident who was disturbed by the noise of an event at the winery. He suggested that noise monitoring requirements be added to the list of subjects to be discussed with the applicant in the settlement negotiations. Mr. Harris said the other topics include the number and type of events to be held, the hours when amplified sound is to be permitted, and the provision of advance notice of events to the Township. In light of the recent complaint Mr. Harris will share the draft agreement with the winery with the neighbor who called the police.

Mr. Goodnoe said he is concerned about permitting an intense commercial use in the CM District. He pointed out that there will be no conditional use or land development review in connection with the use if it is permitted. He said his understanding of the Board’s direction to the Solicitor was that he should oppose permitting the use at all. If the Zoning Hearing Board permits it anyway, the Solicitor should advocate for a temporary permit that must be renewed every year.

Mr. Harris said the Township is discussing with all three-tent applicants (Rose Bank, Stonehouse and La Stalla) a provision to allow the Township to review the permit annually.

ENGINEER

MONTHLY REPORT Mr. Smith provided a written update on current Township engineering projects, and said there are no items needing Board action tonight.

WRIGHTS ROAD CLOSING: Mr. Smith reported that he was notified by the Newtown Artesian Water Company that they will be installing a water line on Wrights Road from Sibelius to Linton Hill beginning on 5/17/04. The work is expected to take about 1-˝ weeks, and the road will be closed to through traffic during that time.

OLD BUSINESS: None.

NEW BUSINESS: None.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (CONTINUED)

Nancy Crescenzo asked about a concrete drain on Eagle Road that is in poor condition. Mr. Pellegrino said it is scheduled to be repaired in the next few weeks. In response to additional questions from Ms. Crescenzo Mr. Pellegrino said the Township intends to renovate the interior and exterior of the Clark house and rent it. Much of the Clark property is very wet, and some plants are not doing well because of this and the presence of deer on the property. Part of the trail in the northern portion is often wet; in order to fix this the trail level would have to be raised.

Ms. Crescenzo also said Mr. Harp attended only about 50% of the meetings of the committees he served on last year, and she questioned tonight’s appointment of Mr. Harp to another committee.

John D’Aprile, a Township resident, suggested the winery plant some buffering vegetation between its tent and the nearby residential area. He also questioned the budget for park development.

Walt Iwaskiw, a Township resident, asked if there are any limits on the number of people attending events at the winery. Mr. Harris said this is a current negotiating point. Mr. Iwaskiw said he is concerned about safety and liability issues if there is a disaster at one of the events. He is also concerned about the traffic these events generate.

John Schmidt, a Northampton Township resident, said he was almost hit by a car in the shopping center near the intersection of Route 413 and South Eagle Road. He said the area is dangerous and poorly striped.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: None.

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 10:15 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