Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

June 23, 2004


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting July 14, 2004.  MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING OF 6/23/04: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of 6/23/04; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, June 23, 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 Vice-Chairman Vince Lombardi, Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation Chairman Mark Craig, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, and Township Manager Robert 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 Father Heckman of St. Mark’s Orthodox Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that a report from the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation be added under Reports of Committees, Boards, and Commissions; that the item relating to signing mylars for Newtown Business Commons Lot 21 under the Engineer’s Report also include authorization to sign financial agreements; that the item relating to dedication of public improvements in Pheasant Pointe be deleted from the Solicitor’s Report; and that the authorization to sign mylars for Friends Village be deleted from the Engineer’s Report.

SPECIAL ACTIONS

RESOLUTION ADOPTING ACT 537 PLAN REVISION: Mr. Pellegrino asked the Supervisors to consider a draft resolution adopting the Act 537 Plan Revision as prepared by Gannett Fleming, Inc. for the Bucks County Sewer Authority. Mr. Pellegrino said Warren Gormley of the Sewer Authority could not be present tonight as planned.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to adopt a Resolution adopting the Act 537 Plan Revision providing for the extension of public sewer service into the Linton Hill area of the Township. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Weaver invited residents to comment on the resolution.

Paul Levine, 720 Linton Hill Road, said Mr. Gormley told him that the Plan Revision is necessary because septic systems in Mardot Village are failing. However, Mr. Levine’s home is above Mardot Village and his system functions well. He is concerned about the cost of the sewers.

Bill Mlkvy, a resident of Linton Hill Road, said his neighborhood has large lots with good sand mound systems and does not need sewers. He is concerned that installing sewers will motivate developers to build higher density housing in the area. Mr. Goodnoe said that installing sewers will not change the zoning of the CM District. He said the Board of Supervisors is committed to keeping the density low in the District.

Mr. Mlkvy said he is afraid that a developer will use the courts to force the Township to allow higher density. He also commented that many of the people in the Linton Hill area would opt to not tie in with the sewer, which will decrease the fee revenue. Mr. Goodnoe said that the ordinance was recently challenged in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and it was found to be completely defensible. He also said that he is a member of the Sewer Authority Board, and the Authority installs sewers for public health reasons regardless of the revenue generated.

Seymour Joseph of 15 Tall Oaks Lane complained that he had to come to the Township offices to get a copy of the Plan. He said two of the problems identified in the Plan have been rectified. He also said that the survey showed equal numbers of residents wanting sewers and not wanting them. Mr. Joseph asked if the Sewer Authority can install a main under Tall Oaks Road, which is not a Township street. Mr. Harris responded it does not matter to whom the street belongs. He said the Authority has the right to condemn land if necessary.

Greg Wildgrube, a resident of Linton Hill Road, said the Plan creates uneven levels of service in the Linton Hill area. He asked if water mains would be installed at the same time.

Troy Brennan, a resident of Washington Crossing Road, said sewers are worth the cost, as septic systems are bound to fail some time.

Sarah McLaughlin, a resident of Winding Lane and Wrights Road, said she installed a new septic system five years ago, and she suggested that everyone should take care of their own sewage problems.

Nancy Crescenzo said she attended the work session at which the Plan was discussed. She noted that some residents said they did not receive surveys, and she suggested that the Authority re-survey the area now that residents are more informed of the proposal and the costs. She said some residents estimated the cost of hooking up would be from $8,000 to $10,000 per home.

Paul Levine asked why residents within 150‘ of the main would be required to hook up. Mr. Harris responded that the Authority must install the sewers if there is a public health hazard, and requiring nearby residents to hook up is a way of sharing the cost. If a homeowner refuses, the Township will fine and/or take them to court. He also noted that sewers increase the value of a home.

Timothy Ayre, a resident of Linton Hill Road, spoke in favor of public sewers.

John Leckey, a resident of Winding Lane in Mardot Village, said the dispute seems to involve old residents vs. new residents. He said newer residents do not know how to handle a septic system; most people from Mardot Village do not want sewers. He is on a fixed income and the cost will be difficult for him to pay.

Kristin Ayre, a resident of Linton Hill Road, said she does not want to burden retired people, but she does not want a sand mound in the yard where her children play. She has lived in a home with public sewers and knows that they are good. She also said sewers cost less than a new cesspool.

Mr. Weaver asked if members of the Board had any comments on the resolution. The consensus was that the Board should not take any action on the resolution until a representative from the Sewer Authority can be present to answer questions.

Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Harp agreed to withdraw their motion.

Mr. Weaver said the issue is tabled until the 7/14/04 meeting.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS

MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING OF 6/9/04: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of 6/9/04; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

BILLS LIST: Mrs. Goren moved to pay bills totaling $221,437.02. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked about a bill from a cell phone provider and asked if the Township could be more cost-efficient regarding cell phones and service. Mr. Pellegrino said the charges are reasonable and mostly for service, and the Township always looks for ways to be cost efficient.

Mr. Jirele asked for some information regarding staff usage of cell phones, and Mr. Pellegrino agreed to provide it to him.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

Mrs. Goren moved to make interfund transfers totaling $30,859.00. The motion was seconded by Mr.Harp and passed unanimously.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS

FIRST FOURTH COMMITTEE: Victoria Bowe and several other members of the Committee displayed a poster and summarized the schedule events for the First Fourth celebration, which is scheduled for 7/10/04. Further information can be obtained at their website, www.newtownfirstfourth.com.

JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION (JDNC): JDNC Chairman Mark Craig reported that the JDNC expects to hire a Main Street Manager within a month. A part-time assistant will be hired later. The First National Bank has donated office space. Mr. Craig said the JDNC raised $86,000 for the Chancellor Street School renovation project, finished a video about the community, and received funds to administer a façade grant program.

PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: No report.

PLANNING COMMISSION: Vice-Chairman Vince Lombardi reported on their 6/15/04 meeting. The Commission reviewed five Zoning Hearing Board applications and had no comments on them, but noted the need to clarify what determines whether a variance regarding a property in a PRD is heard by the Board of Supervisors or by the Zoning Hearing Board. The Commission also reviewed a sketch plan for the proposed Newtown Ambulatory Surgery facility. There were many questions about the proposed use and activities, parking facilities, and the protection of environmentally sensitive areas.

The Commission reviewed a PRD variance request from Thomas Vivacqua and recommended that the Board grant the request with certain conditions. They reviewed requests for waiver of the land development process from St. Andrews Church and from Sprint PCS and recommended that the Board grant the requests with certain conditions. The Commission also noted the need to deny the Becksted PRD variance unless an extension is received, and will review a new revision of the Riparian Corridor Buffer ordinance at their next meeting.

LAND DEVELOPMENT

PRD VARIANCE – THOMAS VIVACQUA – 43 MERIDIAN CIRCLE – TMP# 29-28-36: Mr. Vivacqua was present to discuss his request for relief to allow the construction of a two-story single-car garage. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing and Mr. Vivacqua was sworn in.

Mr. Vivacqua provided letters from the Homeowners Association of The Ridings and the two closest neighbors to his property stating that they do not object to his plans. He also said that two sides of his property are bordered by open space. The project he proposes will result in 30.7% impervious surface where the ordinance maximum is 25% and the PRD maximum is 30%. It will also result in a side yard of 5’ where the ordinance and the PRD minimum setback is 15’.

Mrs. Goren moved to grant the requested variance for 43 Meridian Circle, and to approve a revised final plan as described in Mr. Harwood’s 6/1/04 memo. The applicant agrees to return to the Township with mylars to be signed, and to pay all costs of review. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele said the plan provided with the request shows only the present driveway, which will not access the new garage, and he assumes a new driveway will be built. Mr. Vivacqua confirmed this, and said the old driveway will be removed.

Mr. Harris said it is not clear whether the impervious calculations refer to the present driveway or the proposed one, and the Board needs to make a decision based on correct calculations for the proposed driveway. He suggested the request be tabled until Mr. Vivacqua can return with a plan that depicts the proposed improvements.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to withdraw the motion and table the request until a correct plan is submitted. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver closed the hearing.

REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF LAND DEVELOPMENT – OMNIPOINT – 403 FREEDOM DRIVE: This request was tabled at the 6/9/04 meeting to give Omnipoint time to provide documentation of the Sewer Authority’s approval of the project. Christopher Milotich of Omnipoint waspresent tonight to discuss the request.

Mr. Milotilch said that Omnipoint is requesting a waiver of land development for the co-location of a second antenna and related equipment on an existing communications tower on the Sewer Authority’s property. A 10’ X 20’ concrete pad and an equipment cabinet will be installed within the existing fenced-in compound.

Mr. Goodnoe said that the Sewer Authority is not aware of Omnipoint’s request. Mr. Milotilch said Omnipoint’s agreement is with Cingular, which leases the compound from the Sewer Authority. He said he does not yet have a fully executed lease agreement with Cingular. He was hoping to obtain a waiver of the land development process first, and provide documentation of the Sewer Authority’s permission when he applies for the building permit.

Board members agreed to table this request again until the applicant can provide documentation of their contract with Cingular and authorization from the owner of the land, the Sewer Authority.

REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF LAND DEVELOPMENT – ST. ANDREWS CHURCH – 81 SWAMP ROAD: The Planning Commission’s 6/17/04 letter recommended approval of the church’s request for a waiver of the land development process for the construction of a 276 SF storage addition to the church’s garage.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to waive land development for this project. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF LAND DEVELOPMENT – SPRINT PCS – 2651 S. EAGLE ROAD: Dave Hedges, representing Sprint PCS, was present to discuss the request for a waiver of land development for the addition of communications equipment to an existing tower on the property of the Newtown Ambulance Squad.

Mr. Hedges said Sprint has a signed lease agreement with the Newtown Ambulance Squad for the project being discussed. Mr. Harris reviewed the original document and returned it to Mr. Hedges, who did not have a copy of the lease. He also offered to ask the Ambulance Squad for a letter if necessary. Mr. Hedges said Sprint plans to add an antenna to an existing tower, expand the fenced-in compound by about 15’ on the south border, and install a concrete pad with an equipment cabinet. The project will not exceed the maximum impervious surface ratio. Sprint will plant about 10 evergreen trees to buffer the expanded compound; the trees will be chosen in cooperation with the Ambulance Squad. Mr. Hedges stated that Sprint would remove all the proposed equipment if their lease ends.

Mr. Harris confirmed that the lease agreement has been signed by both parties and includes a plan showing the ground facilities and the landscaping plan.

Mrs. Goren moved to waive land development for this project, subject to the following conditions:

  • Compliance with the site agreement dated 6/10/04, including the plans for additional landscaping
  • Compliance with the plan designed by STV Inc. and dated 4/7/04
  • The applicant will provide the Township with a copy of the lease agreement

The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked that the applicant’s agreement to remove all equipment at the termination of the lease be added to the motion.

Mrs. Goren and Mr. Jirele amended their motion to include Mr. Goodnoe’s suggestion. The motion passed unanimously.

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS

JOINTURE: Mr. Jirele announced that the next meeting of the Jointure would be 7/1/04 at the Village Library in Wrightstown.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS

Jim McCrane, a Township resident, complained about noise and traffic generated by events being held at the Rose Bank Winery. He read a letter with similar complaints that his neighbor sent to Mr. Harwood. Mr. McCrane said that it is clear that the winery intends to have frequent large outdoor gatherings featuring loud music this summer, and he feels this is inappropriate in the CM District. He noted that the owner of the winery also owns Shady Brook Farm, where major events have been held for a long time. Mr. McCrane asked how the Township’s discussions with the winery are progressing. Mr. Harris responded that he did not know their current status.

Tony Lauro, a resident of Blaze Court, said he had no problems with the noise from the winery until a recent evening. He asked that the Township not issue a permanent permit for the winery’s tent.

Sue Herman, a resident of Lower Makefield and president of Residents for Regional Traffic Solutions, said she attended the first meeting of the Regional Traffic Task Force chaired by Representative Steil. Ms. Herman read a statement in which she objected to the group’s decision to record only decisions made at their meetings and alleged that it appears that the Task Force will ignore PennDOT guidelines.

Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, asked if there has been progress on appointing two new members of the Cable Committee. Mr. Pellegrino said the Township would advertise the vacancies on the cable channel.

Mr. Jirele asked if there are any other vacancies that should be advertised. Mr. Pellegrino said the only other vacancies are on the new Building Code Board of Appeals.

Brandon Wind, a Township resident, asked for an update on the old Acme site. Mr. Pellegrino responded that the Township is discussing options with the property owner and he hopes to see some proposals by early fall.

Nancy Crescenzo thanked the Township for erecting speed limit signs on South Eagle Road. She also commented on stormwater problems at a construction project, asked that the Township dissuade Wrightstown Township from opposing repairs to the Swamp Road culvert, suggested using community service volunteers available through the County Adult Probation Department, and commented on the need to protect the Clark Nature Center from vandalism.

Paul Levine asked if he is permitted to burn brush in the Township. Mr. Pellegrino asked him to call the administration office on 6/24/04 for a definitive answer.

Mr. Levine also commented that it seemed that Wrights Road was being repaved unnecessarily.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS

CHAIRMAN: No items.

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS

FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE: Mrs. Goren reported that the Committee met on 6/15/04 and reviewed the capital needs of several departments. The Committee also discussed reductions in the Earned Income Tax that are anticipated as a result of other municipalities enacting their own taxes. The Committee has invited a representative from Berkheimer Associates to attend their next meeting to discuss this issue further.

FIRE COMPANY: Mr. Harp announced that the Fire Company won several awards at the annual Bucks County Fireman’s convention and parade held on 6/12/04.

MANAGER

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

REQUEST FROM HAINES AND KIBBLEHOUSE: Mr. Pellegrino referred to a 6/18/04 letter from Pennoni Associates, which describes a request from Haines and Kibblehouse to allow a sub-contractor to construct curbing on Sycamore Street during daylight hours. Pennoni Associates is recommending approval of the request because it will result in better quality control and more efficient completion of the work. The work will not impede traffic as it is in a closed lane.

Mrs. Goren moved to approve the request from Haines and Kibblehouse. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Del Purscell, Township resident, expressed concerns about the effect of daytime work on the businesses in the area. Mr. Harp responded that the contractor would be responsible for maintaining two lanes of traffic and providing access to businesses and residences.

Mr. Pellegrino suggested that the motion should include compliance with the Pennoni Associates letter.

Mrs. Goren and Mr. Harp amended their motion to include Mr. Pellegrino’s suggestion.

Nancy Crescenzo said the curb work, in combination with the work on the Bypass, would cause traffic problems.

Mr. Weaver said he lives near the intersection of Sycamore Street and the Bypass and he feels the roadwork has not impacted the traffic in a major way.

Jay Sensibaugh, a Township resident, said he supports the request from Haines and Kibblehouse.

Brandon Wind asked if daylight work would cost less. Mr. Pellegrino responded that it will, and the Township will receive a credit.

Mr. Goodnoe said traffic would be affected because workers and construction vehicles will be coming and going; however, the Pennoni letter specifies that this request will be approved on a phase-by-phase basis.

Mr. Smith said approval will shorten the schedule, benefiting residents. He suggested that there be continual review of this work, and if there are problems, the approval will be withdrawn.

Walter Iwaskiw expressed concern that concrete trucks will impede traffic, and that speeding up the schedule of one contractor may not coordinate with other work.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

SOLICITOR’S REPORT

ORDINANCE 2004-O-10- ADOPTING THE 2003 UNIFORM CONSTRUCTION CODE: Mr. Harris said the Board of Supervisors decided they want to opt into the new Uniform Construction Code. This ordinance and the two following actions are necessary in order to comply with Act 45. Copies of the two ordinances, one resolution, and the regulations pursuant to Act 45 were provided to members in their packets.

Mrs. Goren moved to adopt Ordinance 2004-O-10 adopting the Uniform Construction Code. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said she heard there is a bill pending in the legislature relating to the Code. Mr. Harris responded that a bill has been passed by the House and is being considered by the Senate; it is not expected to pass. If it does, the Uniform Building Code would apply only to commercial and industrial construction. Mr. Pellegrino added that if it passes the Township would probably have to amend the ordinance.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

ORDINANCE 2004-O-11- AMENDING THE BUILDING CODE REGARDING REPLACEMENT OF FIREPROOF UNDERLAYMENT: Mr. Harris said Act 45 allows any existing Township regulation that is equal to or exceeds the requirements of the Uniform Building Code to remain in effect. The Township ordinance regarding fireproof underlayment must be adopted as an amendment to the Code.

Mrs. Goren moved to adopt Ordinance 2004-O-11 amending the Uniform Building Code as described above. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

RESOLUTION 2004-R-9- ESTABLISHING A BUILDING CODE BOARD OF APPEALS: Mr. Harris said Act 45 requires that the Township establish a Building Code Board of Appeals. The resolution establishes the Board but does not appoint members, which must be done as a separate action.

Mrs. Goren moved to adopt Resolution 2004-R-9 establishing a Building Code Board of Appeals. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

ORDINANCE 2004-O- 12- AMENDING THE JMZO REGARDING LI AND O-LI REGULATIONS: Mr. Harris said the ordinance incorporates the recommendations of the Economic Development Commission as reviewed and revised by the Board of Supervisors. It will be considered by the other municipalities in the Jointure at upcoming meetings.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to adopt Ordinance 2004-O-12 amending the JMZO regarding LI and O-LI regulations. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said she was ambivalent about this ordinance because she is not sure what the impact will be of more intense development of the LI and O-LI Districts. She is especially concerned about allowing medical uses. She asked that the Board table the ordinance until the Township can do further studies of projected traffic, revenues, and costs. If the Board votes on this ordinance tonight she will vote “present”.

Mr. Weaver said these subjects have been studied thoroughly by the Economic Development Commission and the Planning Commission. Mr. Goodnoe said he agreed with Mr. Weaver that there is nothing to be gained by further study. He said he supports the ordinance because it will bring additional jobs and revenue to the Township and help keep school taxes down.

Mrs. Goren said she has figures that suggest that the increased revenues will not cover the costs of improving the infrastructure.

Walter Iwaskiw said he attended the Planning Commission sessions in which the ordinance provisions were reviewed, and he heard the Township Engineer state that projected traffic impact fees would cover infrastructure costs. He also heard the Traffic Engineer say that most of these infrastructure improvements will have to be done regardless of this ordinance within the next five years. Mr. Jirele supported Mr. Iwaskiw’s comments and said the costs and revenues have been studied carefully.

Mrs. Goren said she is still concerned about the costs and the traffic impact.

Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously, with Mrs. Goren voting “present”.

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: Mr. Harris reviewed the five new applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board meeting on 6/24/04 and asked if the Supervisors wished to take a position on any of them.

Mr. Goodnoe asked why Mr. Vivacqua’s variance request is not a PRD variance to be heard by the Board of Supervisors. Mr. Harris said he was not sure. He discussed this with Mr. Harwood, and the application may have been withdrawn.

There was general agreement that the Board did not want to take a position on any of the applications.

ENGINEER’S REPORT

AUTHORIZATION TO SIGN MYLARS AND FINANCIAL AGREEMENTS – NEWTOWN INDUSTRIAL COMMONS LOT 21: Mr. Smith referred to a 6/18/04 Pennoni Associates letter which recommended that the mylars for this project be signed if certain conditions are met. Mr. Harris noted that the applicant has not yet provided a letter from the Bucks County Conservation District; he recommended that the mylars be signed but held until that document is received. He also asked that the motion include authorization to sign financial agreements for the project.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to authorize the Board to sign the mylars and financial agreements for Newtown Business Commons Lot 21, provided that the mylars be held until the applicant provides a letter of adequacy determination from the Bucks County Conservation District. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

OLD BUSINESS: None.

NEW BUSINESS: None.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)

Walter Iwaskiw asked about damage to Eagle Road from construction of Pheasant Pointe. Mr. Smith responded that Pennoni and the Township inspected the road and found it within PennDOT standards of tolerance.

Mr. Goodnoe said the Township’s ordinances might be stricter than PennDOT’s standards.

Mr.Iwaskiew also asked about the Hoffa Tract project, for which the Township released escrow funds recently; he said the developer dug up the street again and patched it poorly. Mr. Smith said he would look into this and call Mr. Iwaskiw within a few days. He said the developer would repair the road correctly.

Mr. Harris said escrow funds generally are for specific improvements, but the Township asks for 110% of the anticipated costs to cover unexpected work not on the punch list.

Nancy Crescenzo said she is in favor of zoning changes in the LI and O-LI Districts. She asked if the Board will be discussing an environmental committee at their 6/28/04 work session. Mr. Weaver confirmed that the Board will discuss this. Ms. Crescenzo read a list of goals and objectives for 2003 and commented that the Township did not achieve many of them.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Weaver said there is no need for an executive session.

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at11: 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