Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Minutes

July 14, 2004


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting July 28, 2004.  MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING OF 7/14/04: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of 7/14/04; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, July 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: Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine, Warren Gormley of the Newtown Bucks Joint Municipal Sewer Authority, Kenneth Finger of Gannett Fleming, Inc, Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation Chairman Mark Craig, Sycamore Street Committee Member Shannon Wilson, HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs, Township Solicitor David Sander, 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 Sister Francesca Onley of Holy Family University. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that the introduction of the new Main Street Manager be added under Special Actions, and that Omnipoint’s request for a waiver of land development be removed from Land Development Projects.

SPECIAL ACTIONS

INTRODUCTION OF NEW MAIN STREET MANAGER Mr. Goodnoe, as Chairman of the Board of the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation (JDNC), introduced Christine Ortwein, the new Main Street Manager. Ms. Ortwein said she took part in JDNC’s visioning process and looked forward to working with the Main Street Program.

CERTIFICATE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT – NEWTOWN FIRE COMPANY: Tabled until a representative of the Fire Company could be present.

RESOLUTION 2004-R-10 - ADOPTING ACT 537 PLAN REVISION: Members received a copy of the resolution adopting the Act 537 Plan Revision in their packets. Warren Gormley of the Newtown Bucks Joint Municipal Sewer Authority and Kenneth Finger of Gannett Fleming, Inc. were present to answer questions from the public about the Revision.

Bill Mlkvy, a resident of Linton Hill Road, said he recognizes the value of public sewers but feels that putting sewers in an area with large lots does not make sense. He said he heard that the homeowner is obligated to maintain the sewer easement. He also asked if a second survey was done.

Mr. Finger said a second survey was sent to residents in the study area who did not receive the first survey. He stated that only three easements will be necessary for the project, and the only obligation the homeowner has is to refrain from putting plantings, fences, outbuildings, etc. on the easement so that the sewer line can be maintained.

Seymour Joseph, a resident of Tall Oaks Drive, asked how sewer fees would be calculated. Mr. Gormley responded that residents would be charged a quarterly flat fee of $56.

Mr. Joseph said that some lots on his street that had problems in the past have been improved. Mr. Finger said the failed systems that the Sewer Authority is concerned about are in Mardot Village and the upper end of Linton Hill Road. The Authority currently has no plans to install sewers on Tall Oaks Drive.

Pearl Sereni, a resident of Washington Crossing Road, asked if the Authority plans to put a sewer line under Tall Oaks Drive. Mr. Finger said this is not being proposed now. If it is done in the future the Authority will use a different technique that will result in minimal disturbance of plantings. Hookups will still be mandatory within 150’ of the line.

Mrs. Sereni said Tall Oaks is a private lane. Mr. Finger said the Authority would need an easement from property owners.

Clara Bonavita, a resident of Winding Lane, said her sand mound is 16 years old and she wondered if she would have to hook up. Mr. Gormley said each property will be treated on an individual basis.

Tom Brabazon, a resident of Eldridge Road, said residents should remember that the reason for the proposed sewers is the public health problem. He said sewage may be going into the creek or the aquifer, which causes big problems for everyone. He said corrective work done later will cost more.

Ray Pugh, a resident of Wrights Road, said his septic tank is 50 years old and he wants public sewers in his area. He asked if drainage problems on his road can be dealt with at the same time the sewers are installed. Mr. Pellegrino responded that the Township Engineer has recommended some stormwater management work on Wrights Road.

Elizabeth Schanne, a resident of Winding Lane, said she installed a new septic system seven years ago for $7,500. She asked if the hookup could be installed but not used until it is needed. Mr. Finger responded that in the past Gannett Fleming has waived the requirement if the present system is working adequately. If the system fails, or if the home is sold, the home must be hooked up to the sewer.

Mr. Jirele moved to approve Resolution 2004-R-10, adopting the Act 537 Plan Revision. The resolution will be revised to waive the mandating of the connection on an individual basis upon approval by the Sewer Authority under the stipulation that the house must be connected with the sewer at the time it is sold, or when the septic system fails, whichever comes first. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS

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.

BILLS LIST: Mrs. Goren moved to pay bills totaling $266,890.68. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

Mrs. Goren moved to make interfund transfers totaling $508,853.89. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS

PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Board Chairman Andrew Levine reported on their 7/7/04 meeting. The Board held the first of three public hearings on the Woll Tract. The 7/7/04 meeting focused on access; the next two hearings will focus on design issues. Mr. Levine said the Board will discuss four access alternatives with the Planning Commission soon. The Board also heard a report on summer camps and the after school programs.

SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Shannon Wilson, a member of the Committee, reported on their 7/13/04 meeting. Before the meeting the Committee toured the project site and noted that recent weather has caused a slight delay in work. The Committee supported requests for change orders from several contractors, including a request from East Coast Stamped Concrete to pour their concrete during daylight hours and a request from Armour and Sons Electric to install foundations and street lighting during daylight hours.

Mr. Harp moved to approve the requests from Armour and Sons and East Coast Stamped Concrete to perform work between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM, provided that traffic flow is not impeded, as recommended by the Sycamore Street Committee. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked Mr. Pellegrino if the two requests were acceptable to him; Mr. Pellegrino said they are, as long as maintaining the flow of traffic on Sycamore Street is a condition of approval.

Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, asked if the Township will receive credit for work done in the daytime, since it will cost less. Mr. Pellegrino said there will be a credit. Mr. Wilson said the appropriate calculations are in the contracts.

Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.

LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

CONDITIONAL USE – PRYDA, INC. – 159 NORTH SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-12-15: Tom Crawford and attorney Douglas Maloney were present to discuss their request for 2,900 SF of D-1 Professional Office space in an existing building on an 11,057 SF property in the TC District. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing.

Mr. Maloney said an old garage has been razed and a rear wall of the building was removed. The ordinance requires 15 parking spaces; there are two on Sycamore Street, and eight can be installed on the property. The ordinance allows the applicant to lease additional spaces nearby, pay a fee in lieu of the five remaining spaces, or seek a variance. Mr. Maloney said the applicant was unable to lease spaces from neighboring property owners, and the $7,125 fee per space would be a hardship for the applicant. He said the Zoning Hearing Board advised the applicant to obtain conditional use approval and then return to seek a variance. Mr. Maloney asked that the Supervisors grantthe conditional use approval subject to resolution of the parking issue. He said plans for the work that has been done have been submitted to the Township recently.

Mrs. Goren asked if the property currently meets the requirements of the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB). Mr. Crawford was sworn in and said he has received all necessary approval from HARB.

Ethel Hibbs, secretary of HARB, was sworn in. She said that the applicant has received three Certificates of Appropriateness from HARB in the last two or three years, but the Codes Enforcement Officer and the Building Inspector have reported that he is not in compliance with them. Two doors fronting on Sycamore Street are not in the style specified by the Certificate of Appropriateness.

Mr. Crawford said he has also not been able to do the required painting. He said Mr. Imperial will be doing a final inspection on 7/15/04.

Mr. Sander said he has spoken with Mr. Harwood and Mr. Imperial. He explained that the original building permit was for commercial use, but the applicant never obtained conditional use approval for commercial use. At his own risk the applicant did the work with a residential building permit. The Codes Officer would like to ascertain if the plans and the work conform to commercial standards. Mr. Sander recommended that conditional use approval be subject to the following conditions:

  1. The applicant must obtain land development approval, which is required for non-residential use.
  2. The applicant must allow the Township to inspect the work already done on the property; any inconsistencies must be removed or the plans revised.
  3. The applicant must pay a fee in lieu of the five spaces not provided, or obtain a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board.
  4. The applicant must convert the residential building permit to a commercial building permit, and all work must meet commercial standards.
  5. The applicant must comply with the requirements of the Certificates of Appropriateness.
  6. The applicant must address the typical conditional use questions about hours of operation, numbers of employees, etc.

Mr. Crawford said his original conditional use application was made with the intention that his own business would be the tenant in the building. However, his plans have changed and he does not have a specific tenant for the space. In response to Mr. Sander’s questions he stated the following:

  1. Operating hours will be 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM with occasional evening and Saturday hours.
  2. The attic will have no use or occupancy.
  3. The basement may be used for storage only.
  4. An average of six and a maximum of nine employees will be on site.
  5. Deliveries will be by overnight delivery trucks only.
  6. There will be no hazardous materials on site and no environmentally noxious conditions.

Nancy Crescenzo asked to comment and was sworn in. She said she is concerned about the process followed by this applicant. She stated she is concerned about the impervious surface ratio, the work done around the stream banks, and the lack of compliance with HARB requirements.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve the request of Pryda Inc. for approval of 2,900 SF of D-1 Professional Office space, subject to the conditions recommended by Mr. Sander and the statements made by Mr. Crawford in the discussion above. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele said Mr. Crawford circumvented much of the Township’s process, and the Board of Supervisors is unhappy with this. He said he expects full compliance with all the conditions of the approval. Mr. Goodnoe said he is proposing conditional use approval so that the project will finally be brought into the Township’s process.

Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Goren voting “nay”.

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS

FIRST FOURTH: Mr. Harp said the 7/10/04 event was a success, and he thanked the First Fourth Committee and everyone who participated.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)

Nancy Crescenzo commented that she does not like the idea of a pedestrian crossing or tunnel from the Clark property to the Woll Tract, and suggested that the Township rethink the design for the Municipal Expansion project. She also asked when an Environmental Council will be established. Mr. Pellegrino responded that this item has been scheduled for the 7/28/04 meeting.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS

CHAIRMAN

WORK SESSION Mr. Weaver said there are no agenda items for the 7/19/04 work session and he proposed that it be canceled. Mr. Jirele suggested the Board could discuss appointments to committees. After some discussion members agreed that they will discuss appointments in executive session at 7:00 PM before the 7/28/04 public meeting, and the 7/19/04 work session will be canceled.

MANAGER

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

SOLICITOR

JMZO-O-3 – FLOODPLAIN REGULATIONS: Members received a copy of the proposed ordinance in their packets. Mr. Sander said that the proposed ordinance amendment would permit a use, activity, or development in a floodplain (but not the floodway) under certain conditions, regardless of whether a detailed flood insurance study has been performed. The present ordinance does not permit this where a study has been done.

Mrs. Goren moved to approve JMZO 2004-O-3 so that Brandywine Realty Trust can get its bridge. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Sander commented that the Brandywine situation is in litigation because some neighboring property owners appealed the variance granted by the Zoning Hearing Board.

Mrs. Goren said this ordinance will not benefit residents and will cause more flooding. Mr. Weaver responded that the ordinance prohibits adverse impact on surrounding properties.

Mrs. Goren said she feels the ordinance is being proposed solely to benefit Brandywine Realty Trust. She fears that the ordinance will encourage development in Wrightstown and Upper Makefield that will cause flooding in Newtown. Mr. Jirele responded that no streams flow from Upper Makefield into Newtown, and only one-stream flows from Wrightstown.

Mr. Sander said that the ordinance has been passed by Upper Makefield and is scheduled to be considered by Wrightstown at their next meeting. Mr. Weaver said there were no objections voiced at the Jointure meetings where it was discussed.

Mr. Sander said the only change to Section 5 of Section 905, Exhibit “B” was the addition of the second sentence. He noted that Subsection q in Section 905.IV.E.1 protects neighboring property owners by requiring the Zoning Hearing Board to deny a request for relief that would have an adverse impact on any surrounding property.

Mrs. Goren suggested that a provision be added to charge fees to a developer for causing any backwater on a neighbor’s property. She stated she saw no redeeming features in this ordinance.

Mr. Goodnoe said he is in favor of the ordinance because it allows people to use their property. He said it would be impossible to build a bridge without it being in the floodplain.

Mrs. Goren said she would prefer that the ordinance state that no backwater would be permitted in areas that have been studied as well as in those that have not been studied.

Mr. Jirele said he is not in favor of making the ordinance more restrictive than it has to be. He noted the ordinance was reviewed and approved by FEMA.

Paul Beckert, a Township resident and attorney for the three neighboring property owners who appealed the variance granted to Brandywine, said the proposed ordinance would allow the Zoning Hearing Board to grant a variance or special exception even if there is a foot of backwater on the adjoining property. He said the change is being proposed just to accommodate a developer. He said that the trend elsewhere in Pennsylvania is to make floodplain ordinances more restrictive, not less.

Michael Caughlin, attorney for Brandywine, said the ordinance applies to the whole Jointure. The present ordinance prevents any property owner from doing anything in a floodplain, even with a tiny amount of backwater.

Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, said the Brandywine development will be good for the Township. He said many people have reviewed the proposed ordinance and he supports it.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed 3-2, with Mrs. Goren and Mr. Harp voting “nay”.

JMZO 2004-O-10 - TOURIST-ORIENTED DIRECTIONAL SIGNS: Members received copies of this ordinance in their packets, which allows signs directing the public to tourist destinations on state and Township roads, refers to PennDOT standards for the signs, includes temporary seasonal agricultural signs, and sets requirements for the agricultural signs.

Mr. Jirele moved to adopt JMZO 2004-O-10 with one change: In Article V, Section 1104.C.1.e, item (1)(ii) b. should read “For properties between one and ten acres in size the sign shall not exceed twelve (12) square feet…”. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: Mr. Sander reviewed the new cases scheduled for the 7/22/04 Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Members indicated no need for the Solicitor to represent the Township at any of the hearings.

ENGINEER

ESCROW RELEASE # 9 (FINAL) – PHEASANT POINTE Mr. Smith said there were some questions about road repairs on Eagle Road, but that situation appears to be satisfactory. He noted that other problems on Eagle Road have been caused by Gas Company work; Pennoni is contacting them about remediation. Mr. Smith said Pennoni has a letter from the Pheasant Pointe Homeowners Association stating that two required items are not completed; the Township is holding $4,000 in escrow funds pending completion of these items.

Mrs. Goren moved to release $126,843.01 in escrow finds for the Pheasant Pointe project. Mr. Harp seconded the motion.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Sander said the Township still holds a maintenance bond in addition to the $4,000 escrow, and the developer has agreed to complete the items in question.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

ESCROW RELEASE #5 – THE RESERVE (AKA HESTON TRACT: Mr. Smith said that recent heavy rains have revealed a possible stormwater management problem, and Pennoni is working with the developer to remedy the problem.

Mrs. Goren moved to release $140,116.00 in escrow funds for The Reserve project. Mr. Jirele seconded the motion.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked if the remaining escrow funds can be used for the stormwater management issue. Mr. Smith said retainage and contingency funds can be used. Mr. Sander agreed that they could be used for this purpose.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

MONTHLY ENGINEER’S REPORT: Members received the monthly Engineer’s report in their packets.

OLD BUSINESS: None.

NEW BUSINESS

APPOINTMENTS: Mr. Harp asked that appointments to the Telecommunications Board be added to the agenda for the executive session on 7/28/04. There was general agreement with this request.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)

Ethel Hibbs asked the Supervisors to include an appointment to the Joint Historic Board in their discussion on 7/28/04.

Walter Iwaskiw, Chairman of the Telecommunications Advisory Committee, said the Committee will not meet in August because they do not have a quorum. Their regular meeting location has been moved to the Fire Association building.

Nancy Crescenzo asked why Mr. Harp did not comment on the Floodplain Regulations before voting against adoption of the ordinance. Mr. Weaver responded that there is no requirement for Supervisors to comment on their votes.

Ms. Crescenzo complained that Mr. Harp continues to miss many Park and Recreation Board meetings. She also said she is concerned that there is not enough money in the budget to pay for improvements at the Woll Tract and Roberts Ridge Park, especially with the expected deficit in Earned Income Tax revenue. She suggested that the Supervisors discuss the budget instead of canceling the 7/19/04 work session.

Mr. Pellegrino reminded residents that the 2004 budget is balanced, although he noted that the Earned Income Tax revenue will probably not bring in all the funds projected in the budget.

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

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 11:15 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