Board of Supervisor Minutes
September 22, 2004
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting October 13, 2004. MINUTES OF 9/22/04 REGULAR MEETING: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 9/22/04 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, September 22, 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, HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs, Sycamore Street Committee member Joe Merjeski, JDNC Main Street Manager Christine Ortwein, Township Solicitor Stephen 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 Rabbi Howard Cove of the Kol Emet Yardley Reconstructionist Congregation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that the item relating to the signing of mylars for the Village at Newtown South be removed from the Engineer’s report; a presentation by Christine Ortwein on the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation (JDNC) be added to Reports of Committees, Boards, and Commissions; and an item relating to the signing of mylars and improvement agreements for Newtown Office Park be added to the Solicitor’s report.
SPECIAL ACTIONS: None.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS
MINUTES OF 9/8/04 REGULAR MEETING: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 9/8/04 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
BILLS LIST: Mr. Pellegrino asked that a $1,144 bill for the Engineer on page six be removed from the bills list, making the total $437,352.35.
Mrs. Goren moved to strike the item described by Mr. Pellegrino and approve bills totaling $437,352.35. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $30,000. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
TREASURER’S REPORT: None.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS
HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (HARB): HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs reported on the Board’s most recent meeting, at which they discussed projects involving St. Andrew’s Rectory and Pryda and heard a presentation from Main Street Manager Christine Ortwein. HARB also made two recommendations for Certificates of Appropriateness.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS – TASTEFUL TEAS AND MORE – 2 SWAMP ROAD – TMP# 29-10-85-007: Mrs. Goren moved to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for Tasteful Teas and More for signage and painting of exterior and interior shutters, in accordance with HARB’s recommendation. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.
Discussion of motion: The applicant, Donna Liberatore, was present and clarified that the interior shutters will be white and the exterior shutters dark green.
Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS – SOULUTIONS FOR DAILY LIVING, INC. – 125 N. SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-12-11: Mr. Jirele moved to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for Soulutions for Daily Living, Inc. for alteration of an existing sign, in accordance with HARB’s recommendation. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Committee member Joe Merjeski reported on their most recent meeting, which was preceded by a walking tour of the street. The Committee heard a report from the Community Relations Subcommittee, discussed a contractor’s plans for the resurfacing of the street, and discussed trees, benches, paths, sidewalks, and the impact of other road construction projects in the area.
Mr. Merjeski asked if any street work is planned related to the Acme site. Mr. Pellegrino said that work is being done now and will be completed before the Sycamore Street project is completed.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission Chairman Shawn Ward reported on their 9/21/04 meeting, at which members heard a report from the Traffic Engineer and reviewed a sketch plan for a minor subdivision on Stoopville Road. They also reviewed three applications scheduled for the Zoning Hearing Board and had comments on one from Larry Fyock and Arthur Michelli, residents of Autumn Drive who are challenging the validity of the recently adopted Floodplain ordinance. The Commission voted unanimously, with two abstentions, to recommend that the Board of Supervisors send the Solicitor to the hearing to defend the ordinance.
The Commission tabled the consideration of three proposed ordinances until they can obtain the most recent versions of them. The Solicitor was asked to analyze and report on the changes proposed in JMZO 2004-19 regarding Group Homes.
JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION (JDNC): Christine Ortwein, Main Street Manager, made a slide presentation on the JDNC’s vision for an economically strong downtown, including their goals and how they have organized their work. She also asked everyone present to fill out and return a matrix, which rated several elements of the downtown Newtown community.
LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
PRELIMINARY PLAN – LOMBARDI – 125 SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-12-11: Attorney John VanLuvanee and engineer Maryellen Saylor were present to discuss the plan to build a 2,200 SF building on a .41 acre site in the TC District. On 7/20/04 the Planning Commission recommended approval with several conditions and waivers.
Mr. VanLuvanee summarized the project and noted that there are numerous nonconformities on the site. He said a portion of the parking lot is proposed to be in the flood fringe. He suggested that preliminary approval could be granted with the condition that the applicant obtains the required conditional use approval for parking in the flood fringe. Mr. VanLuvanee stated the applicant will comply with all conditions listed in the Planning Commission’s 7/22/04 letter except as clarified by the recommended waivers.
Mr. VanLuvanee said the front yard setbacks are consistent with all but one building on the block. He noted that the Planning Commission did not feel this condition required a variance.
Mr. Jirele asked about the parking space located in the right-of-way; Mr. VanLuvanee said the space exists now. Mr. Jirele asked if there was room in back of the building for the trees currently in the front. Ms. Saylor responded that there is not room because there are existing trees and foliage in the rear portion of the lot.
Mr. Goodnoe said he feels porous paving does not work well in Newtown’s climate and would prefer that the applicant not use it. Mr. VanLuvanee responded that porous paving is required for conditional use approval of parking in the flood fringe; Mr. Smith confirmed this. Mr. Jirele suggested that the Board look more closely at this issue when the conditional use application is reviewed.
Mr. Jirele asked if handicapped parking space #6 could be closer to the building and if it needs a ramp. Ms. Saylor explained that all parking must be at least 20’ away from the building, and the parking lot is level with the entrance to the building. There will be three entrances to the building.
Mr. Jirele asked if there could be some kind of barrier between pedestrians and the parking area. Mr. VanLuvanee agreed to work on including this in the plan.
Joe Merjeski, a Township resident, said he owns the property across the street from this site and supports the applicant’s plan.
Mr. Harp moved to grant preliminary plan approval for the plan dated 4/5/04 for the Lombardi property at 125 N. Sycamore Street with the following conditions:
- The applicant will comply with the 5/12/04 Pennoni Associates letter, the 7/22/04 Planning Commission letter, the 5/11/04 Boucher and James letter, and the 5/8/04 Bucks County Planning Commission letter to the extent it is applicable
- All necessary permits and approvals will be provided
- Financial security agreements will be provided
- Water and sewer service agreements or a letter stating they are not required will be provided
- Conditional use approval for parking in the flood fringe will be obtained
- Each tenant will obtain conditional use approval as they are identified
- All park and recreation fees and traffic impact fees will be paid
- The issue of porous paving will be revisited at final plan stage
- All costs of review will be paid
- Waivers listed in the 7/22/04 Planning Commission letter are granted
- An additional waiver of Section 403.4M5 from the requirement to erect tree protection fencing at least 15’ from the tree canopy is granted
The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
DEDICATION OF PARK: Mr. Weaver announced that the Board has been invited to participate in the dedication of the Congress Street Park in Newtown Borough at 5:00 PM on 10/2/04.
USE OF THE PODIUM: Mr. Weaver said the Community Comment portion of Board meetings is for Township business. He said the Board will not tolerate residents using the podium to make political attacks on Board members or anyone else.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)
Bob Murphy, president of the Rosefield Homeowners Association, presented the Supervisors with a resolution passed unanimously by the Board of Directors of his organization. The resolution asks the Township and other local officials to work towards signalization of the intersections of Stoopville Road with Rosefield Drive and Linton Hill Road, to implement traffic-calming measures along Stoopville Road, to keep the road classified as a minor collector road, to ban trucks, and to support the resolution passed in February 2004 by Residents for Regional Traffic Solutions (RRTS). Mr. Murphy said this is the third Stoopville Road development that has passed a resolution about safety concerns.
Steve Goodman, a resident of Rosefield, asked that Stoopville Road not become a four-lane highway.
Mr. Jirele said the Board of Supervisors has twice requested traffic lights for the two intersections mentioned by Mr. Murphy with no success. He also said there are no plans to make Stoopville Road a four-lane highway, and the members of the Board have unanimously stated their opposition to such a plan.
Mr. Goodman asked why the traffic lights on the Bypass are not synchronized. Mr. Pellegrino said they are synchronized, but the recent closure of Swamp Road has affected the system, which needs to gather information on the new conditions before it can adjust itself.
Mr. Pellegrino also said that there are no plans to change Stoopville Road’s classification, and trucks cannot be banned on the road because it is a state highway.
Mr. Jirele said traffic-calming measures were included in the 2003 TIP project, but the TIP process is lengthy.
Mr. Harp suggested that the Township could increase enforcement efforts, especially if residents are willing to provide places for officers to park or pull drivers over.
Sue Herman, a resident of Lower Makefield and president of RRTS, said the Board of Supervisors has supported widening and straightening Stoopville Road, which will not make the road safer; the Board has supported construction projects which might lead to the establishment of a “northern bypass;” Representative Steil has advocated for the re-classification of Stoopville Road as an arterial highway, which would make it ineligible for traffic-calming measures; and the Engineer has told other residents that traffic-calming could not be part of the TIP proposal.
Frank Mendicino, president of the Tyler Walk Homeowners Association, said he does not want to see all traffic routed onto Swamp Road. He said he would like to see a regional focus on making all Township roads safe.
Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, provided information about absentee ballots and voter registration. She said more information is available from the Administration office.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
CHAIRMAN: No report.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS
FIRST FOURTH: Mr. Harp said he would like to hear from residents regarding their preference for the date of next year’s First Fourth celebration. The Committee is considering Saturday 7/2/05 or Monday 7/4/05.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said there are no expirations requiring Board action.
RESOLUTION 2004-R-13 – APPROVING AGREEMENT ACKNOWLEDGING OBLIGATION TO TRANSFER STATE GRANT FUNDS TO JDNC MAIN STREET PROGRAM: Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve Resolution 2004-R-13. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
RESOLUTION 2004-R-14 – ACCEPTING VOLUNTARY OPTION UNDER ACT 81 OF 2004 TO EXTEND THE AMORTIZATION PERIOD FOR POLICE PENSION PLAN INVESTMENT LOSSES: Mr. Harp moved to approve Resolution 2004-R-14. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: In response to several questions from Mr. Goodnoe, Mr. Pellegrino said the proposed action is similar to extending a mortgage. It involves making some assumptions about future interest rates and investment earnings. He said the decision is reversible.
Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.
RESOLUTION 2004-R-15 – ACCEPTING VOLUNTARY OPTION UNDER ACT 81 OF 2004 TO EXTEND THE AMORTIZATION PERIOD FOR NON-UNIFORMED EMPLOYEES’ PENSION PLAN INVESTMENT LOSSES: Mrs. Goren moved to approve Resolution 2004-R-15. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
MINIMAL MUNICIPAL OBLIGATION (MMO) FOR EMPLOYEE PENSION PLANS: Mr. Pellegrino reviewed his 9/17/04 memo to the Board and said he is required to report the MMO to the Board of Supervisors each year before September 30. According to Mockenhaupt Associates, the MMO for the Police pension plan is $153,969. It is $167,483 for the non-uniformed employees’ pension plan. Mr. Pellegrino said he expects the Township’s share of these costs will be $40,000 or less, since the state will be providing at least $280,000.
Mr. Goodnoe asked if the state has paid in a timely fashion on pension plans. Mr. Pellegrino responded that the state payment is due next month. Mr. Harris commented that this state aid has a dedicated funding source and is therefore less likely to be delayed by state budget problems.
PAYMENT #4 – SYCAMORE STREET PROJECT: Mr. Harp moved to pay $138,672.96 to Haines and Kibblehouse for work done through 9/2/04, in accordance with Pennoni Associates’ 9/17/04 letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
AUTHORIZATION TO ADVERTISE ORDINANCE TO PROHIBIT TRUCK TRAFFIC ON WRIGHTS AND LINTON HILL ROADS: Mr. Pellegrino explained that in a special meeting on 9/16/04 the Board decided on an emergency basis to prohibit trucks on these two roads. He recommended that the Board authorize the Solicitor to prepare and advertise an ordinance to make the prohibition permanent.
Mr. Goodnoe asked if the ordinance will prohibit trucks on the entire length of Wrights Road, including the segment from Durham Road to Eagle Road. Mr. Pellegrino said he is recommending this, although the Engineer will have to certify that this can be done.
Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the Solicitor to prepare and advertise an ordinance prohibiting truck traffic on the entire length of Wrights and Linton Hill Roads. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
AUTHORIZATION TO EXECUTE RCN SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT: Mr. Harris provided a copy of the settlement agreement between the Township and RCN. He said it has been signed by RCN.
Mr. Harp moved to execute the settlement agreement with RCN. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Harp commented that he was disappointed that RCN was not able to follow through on their contract, but the Telecommunications Advisory Board will continue to seek additional providers of cable services for the Township.
Mr. Jirele asked Mr. Harris to outline the provisions of the agreement. Mrs. Goren said she believed the agreement is confidential, but Mr. Harris said the law requires that contracts dealing with the receipt or disbursement of funds by an agency must be a matter of public record. He said the Township will receive a total of $850,000 from the settlement. Other significant provisions are mutual releases from further claims and confirmation that the 2002 Board decision to terminate the contract was valid.
Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS – 10/7/04: Mr. Harris reviewed the hearings scheduled for the 10/7/04 Zoning Hearing Board meeting and asked if the Supervisors wished him to attend any of the hearings on their behalf. He noted that the Rose Bank Winery case will probably be continued, and the J. Loew and Associates case will be withdrawn because there is a settlement agreement between the applicant and the Township.
APPLICATION OF LARRY FYOCK AND ARTHUR MICCHELLI – CHALLENGE TO THE VALIDITY OF THE FLOODPLAIN ORDINANCE: Mrs. Goren said she feels it is up to Brandywine Realty Trust to defend the ordinance in this case.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to send the Solicitor to defend the ordinance in the Fyock and Miccelli case. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren commented that the Supervisors did not support the ordinance when Brandywine challenged it.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed 3-2, with Mrs. Goren and Mr. Harp voting “nay.”
ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS – 10/14/04 Mr. Harris reviewed the hearings scheduled for the 10/14/04 Zoning Hearing Board meeting and asked if the Supervisors wished him to attend any of the hearings on their behalf. The Supervisors indicated they did not.
SIGNING OF MYLARS AND FINANCIAL AGREEMENTS FOR NEWTOWN OFFICE PARK: Mr. Harris said some easements and water and sewer agreements have not yet been provided for the Newtown Office Park, and he recommended holding the signed mylars until they are submitted.
Mr. Jirele moved to sign the mylars and financial security agreements for the Newtown Office Park and hold them until all necessary documents are received by the Township. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
ESCROW RELEASE #4 – OVERLOOK: Mr. Smith said the contractor has corrected the conditions discussed at the last Board of Supervisors meeting.
Mr. Harp moved to release escrow funds in the amount of $242,119.80 for the Overlook development, as recommended by Mr. Smith’s 9/2/04 letter. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
SWAMP ROAD WORK: Mr. Smith said that he was asked to look into the schedule for the Swamp Road Improvements project. He was told that work on the culvert and the bridge is 80% finished. The project should be completed by 10/15/04.
APPOINTMENTS TO BUCKS COUNTY SUMMIT ON AGING: Mr. Weaver said he will serve as the Board liaison to the Summit.
Mr. Jirele moved to appoint Philip Vance, Larry Raffle, Kitty McDevitt, and Ethel Hibbs as delegates to the Bucks County Summit on Aging. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Harp suggested that the Township ask that delegates be invited to the Summit from Chandler Hall and Pickering Manor. Mr. Goodnoe suggested that Friends Village also be invited to send delegates.
Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)
Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, asked when the Township will receive the payment from RCN. Mr. Pellegrino said he expects it on 9/23/04.
Mr. Iwaskiw also asked if the Board will oppose the Rose Bank application to the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Jirele said the Board has authorized the Solicitor to oppose the variance if the hearing occurs.
John D’Aprile, a Township resident, asked where the next meeting of Representative Steil’s Traffic Task Force will meet. Mr. Weaver responded that it will be held in Northampton on 9/29/04.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: None.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 10:25 PM.
Gretta Stone, Recording Secretary
Minutes Approved as submitted __________ as corrected___________
Robert M. Pellegrino, Manager Richard Weaver, Chairman
Scott R. Harp, Vice-Chairman
Anne Goren, Secretary/Treasurer
Thomas Jirele, Member
Raymond Goodnoe, Member