Newtown Township

Board of Supervisor Minutes

December 15, 2004


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting January 26, 2005. MINUTES OF 12/15/04 REGULAR MEETING: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 12/15/04 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, December 15, 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: HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs, 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 Father Piccard of St. Andrew’s Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that #2 and #3 under the Manager’s Report be deleted, and that a request to extend a variance and an authorization to sign mylars be added to his report.

SPECIAL ACTIONS

RECOGNITION FOR YEARS OF SERVICE – TOWNSHIP EMPLOYEES: Mr. Weaver presented inscribed clocks to Officer Alan Sigafoos for 25 years of service, Sergeant Steven Meyers for 25 years of service, Lieutenant Glenn Forsyth for 20 years of service, and Sergeant Kim Hartman for 25 years of service.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS

MINUTES OF 11/15/04 WORK SESSION: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 11/15/04 work session. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

MINUTES OF 12/1/04 REGULAR MEETING: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 12/1/04 regular meeting with one change: The second sentence of the Engineer’s Report should read “…is on schedule and the roadway paving should be finished next week.” The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

BILLS LIST: Mrs. Goren moved to approve bills totaling $324,711.03. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

Mrs. Goren moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $214,880.73. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

TREASURER’S REPORT: None.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS

HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD: Deferred - follows Community Comments (First Session.)

SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: No representative present.

PLANNING COMMISSION: No representative present.

LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

PRD VARIANCE – PETERSON/ALUNNI – 364 BURGUNDY LANE – TMP# 29-33-54: Graham Peterson was present to discuss his request for relief to construct a kitchen addition at the rear of his property in the R-1 District which will result in a rear yard setback that is less than the minimum of 32.74’.

Mr. Peterson provided letters from his immediate neighbors and the Woods at Saxony Homeowners Association stating that they have no objections to his plans. He said he will comply with the 11/22/04 Pennoni Associates letter.

Mrs. Goren moved to grant the requested variance regarding 364 Burgundy Lane subject to the following conditions:

    1. The plan will be revised to comply with the 11/22/04 Pennoni Associates letter
    2. The applicant will present mylars to the Township for approval and recording
    3. The applicant will pay all costs of the review

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

CONDITIONAL USE – FAMILY YMCA OF LOWER BUCKS COUNTY – 190 S. SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-009-003: Eric Stark of the YMCA and Tom McLearnon of Chandler Hall were present to discuss the applicant’s request for approval to occupy part of the Chandler Hall facility and operate a fitness center (Use C-8) which is open to the public. The property is in the R-2 District. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing; Mr. Stark and Mr. McLearnon were sworn in.

Mr. Stark said the fitness center is located in the Fox Commons building. Chandler Hall originally planned to operate the center themselves. About 1,500 SF of the building will be devoted to the fitness center use. Mr. Stark said the YMCA will comply with the 11/30/04 Boucher and James review letter.

Mr. Jirele asked several questions about parking. Mr. McLearnon said there are about 50 spaces surrounding the building, four of which are designated for Chandler Hall residents only. There are also 14 spaces on the west side of Sycamore Street. Mr. Stark anticipates that membership will grow to 300; the center has 200 memberships now and has not had a parking problem. He said that the center never has more than 12 members present at one time.

Mrs. Goren moved to grant conditional use approval to the Family YMCA of Lower Bucks for a fitness center (Use C-8) on the Chandler Hall campus that will be open to the public, with the following conditions:

    1. Compliance with the 11/30/04 Boucher and James letter as applicable
    2. The location will be as shown on the plan accompanying the application
    3. Hours of operation will be 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Saturday, and 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM Sunday
    4. A maximum of four employees will be on the site
    5. An occupancy permit will be issued
    6. The applicant will pay all costs of the review

The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, said parking may be a problem in the future, especially when people attending events at the nearby ballfields look for parking at Chandler Hall. She said that Mr. Stark may have underestimated how many members are present at one time. Mr. Stark said this number may rise to 18 when the center has 300 memberships.

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver closed the hearing.

CONDITIONAL USE – ACME – 48 WEST ROAD – TMP# 29-3-24: John Connelly of Albertson’s and attorney Jack Wuerstle were present to discuss the applicant’s request for conditional use approval to expand and relocate an existing coffee shop (Use E-5) within the Acme building that includes eat-in and take-out service. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing; Mr. Connelly was sworn in.

Mr. Wuerstle said the proposed expanded use is a reconfiguration of an existing Starbucks coffee shop within the Acme grocery store. Eat-in and take-out service is presently available; the nine current seats will be expanded to 21 seats. Mr. Wuerstle said the ordinance requires six more parking spaces for the additional seats, but Acme does not expect that the expansion will bring any additional traffic. He said there are 174 reserve parking spaces in the approved plan and Acme is willing to install six of them if there is a problem. The applicant will comply with the 11/3004 Boucher and James letter.

In response to several questions from Mr. Jirele, Mr. Wuerstle said that take-out service, the hot food case, and lunch pick-up are available currently. He read from the original 1998 conditional use approval, which mentioned these uses as accessory to Use E-5.

Mr. Jirele asked if the expansion might lead to customers parking in the fire lane while picking up prepared food, and he asked that a few parking spaces be designated for this purpose. Mr. Connelly said Acme is willing to do this if it is needed.

Mrs. Goren moved to grant Use E-5 conditional use approval to expand the existing coffee house from nine to 21 seats and from 90 SF to 340 SF with the following conditions:

    1. Compliance with the 11/30/04 Boucher and James letter
    2. There will be no changes to the exterior of the store, the number of employees, or types and frequency of deliveries
    3. If in the future parking in the fire lane becomes a problem Acme will designate a number of parking spaces for take-out customers
    4. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

      Mr. Weaver closed the hearing.

      CONDITIONAL USE – K. HOVNANIAN’S FOUR SEASONS – BUCK ROAD AND THE BYPASS: Continued to 1/26/05 as requested in a 12/7/04 letter from the applicant’s attorney.

      CONDITIONAL USE – TELETRONICS – 15 TERRY DRIVE: Continued to 1/26/05 as requested in a 12/6/04 letter from the applicant’s attorney.

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS

ESSAY CONTEST: Mr. Weaver congratulated two Newtown area elementary school students who won prizes in a Fire Safety essay contest, Camille Smith of Newtown Elementary School and Lindsey Norton of Goodnoe Elementary School.

WEE CARE BEAR PROGRAM: Mr. Harp thanked St. Andrews School and Goodnoe Elementary School for participating in the Wee Care Bear program.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)

Bob Murphy, president of the Rosefield Homeowners Association, expressed appreciation for Mr. Harwood’s help with a problem his community was experiencing with concrete. He also asked if the Board of Supervisors has discussed the Rosefield resolution regarding Stoopville Road improvements. He made several suggestions for making Stoopville Road safer, including installing 11’ lanes and 4’ shoulders; paving the shoulders in a contrasting color, designating them as bike paths, and installing rumble strips; installing islands and traffic signals at the intersections of Stoopville Road with Eagle Road and with Linton Hill Road. Mr. Jirele commented that Mr. Murphy’s suggestions were similar to those made by the Swamp Road Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

Mr. Pellegrino said the Board has authorized him to hire an engineer to develop a plan for traffic-calming on Stoopville Road. He is working on a Request for Proposals that will be sent out soon.

Mr. Jirele said the Township has tried to get traffic signals at the two intersections mentioned by Mr. Murphy but they haven’t met warrant. Mr. Goodnoe said the Regional Traffic Task Force has been working on this also. He said the Township is now planning to make the lanes on Stoopville Road 11’ wide instead of 12’.

Mr. Murphy asked if any actions have come out of the Regional Traffic Task Force. Mr. Goodnoe said they are gathering information and planning to do a regional traffic study. Mr. Weaver said there are five townships and two boroughs involved in the group but all the roads seem to go through Newtown Township.

Steve Goodman, a Township resident, said he supports the idea of traffic-calming on Stoopville Road and hopes the TIP project will include 11’ lanes although the TIP application says 12’ lanes. Mr. Pellegrino said the Township is not bound by the specifics of the TIP application.

Nancy Crescenzo complained about the mess and dangerous conditions caused by Verizon installation work in Newtown Grant. She also asked about the flow restrictors that were recently installed on Basin #5 in Newtown Grant. Mr. Smith said no problems have occurred yet.

Mrs. Crescenzo said a retired Dupont chemist told her that the proposed transport of nerve gas components is not dangerous. She also made several suggestions for reducing expenditures in the budget, including establishing a Friends of the Clark Property Committee, a Trail Committee, and a Community Traffic Committee, and eliminating the mass mailing of Park and Recreation Department brochures.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS: Continued from earlier in the agenda.

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (HARB): HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs reported on the HARB’s 12/14/04 meeting, at which the Board considered a request for a Certificate of Appropriateness and addressed some compliance issues in the Historic District.

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS – BURNS AUTO REPAIR - 19 N. SYCAMORE STREET: Mrs. Hibbs explained that the applicant is asking to change the logo and color of the sign from Texaco to Shell.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for Burns Auto Repair in accordance with the HARB’s recommendation at their 12/14/04 meeting. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS

CHAIRMAN: No items for this section.

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS

SOUTHEAST BUCKS LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES: Mr. Harp reported that the League met on 12/9/04 and discussed floodplain ordinances and age-restricted housing. The League will meet again next month in Bristol.

ACME SITE DISCUSSION: Mr. Pellegrino said a discussion of the former Acme site is scheduled for the work session on 12/20/04. There will be several presentations and Newtown Borough officials have been invited to participate. He noted that the work session is open to the public, but the Board may want to meet in executive session afterwards regarding possible acquisition of real estate.

MANAGER

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

REQUEST TO EXTEND VARIANCE – 10 PRIMROSE COURT: Mr. Pellegrino provided copies of a 12/14/04 memo from Mr. Harwood and a 12/12/04 letter from Karen Tonge, a Township resident. Mr. Pellegrino explained that the Tonges were granted a variance in 1996 to build an addition on their home to accommodate an elderly relative. However, the relative passed away and the addition was not built. Now the addition is urgently needed for another elderly relative and the applicants are asking to have the original variance extended.

Mrs. Goren moved to extend the 1996 variance for 10 Primrose Court to 6/12/05. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Harris said the neighbors may have changed, and he suggested conditioning the extension on the applicant obtaining letters from the current neighbors stating they do not object to the plans. He said the variance officially ran out six months after it was granted. Mr. Pellegrino said the ordinance permits the Board to reinstate a variance after it has expired. Mr. Goodnoe said he would prefer to wait until the letters are provided before granting the extension.

Mrs. Goren amended her motion to include the condition that the applicant must provide letters from adjacent neighbors stating they have no objections to the plans. Mr. Harp amended his second and the motion passed 4-1 with Mr. Goodnoe voting “nay.”

AUTHORIZATION TO SIGN MYLARS – 52 COPPERLEAF DRIVE: Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the signing of mylars for 52 Copperleaf Drive. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

SYCAMORE STREET PAYMENTS #8 AND #9 – STREET CONSTRUCTION: Mrs. Goren moved to approve payments #8 ($160,241.87) and #9 ($79,417.99) as recommended by a 12/10/04 memo from Pennoni Associates. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

ADOPTION OF 2005 BUDGET: Mr. Pellegrino provided copies of his 12/6/04 memo regarding options for closing the deficit of $217,000 in the proposed budget. They included the following options for enhancing revenue:

    1. Increase the occupational privilege tax
    2. Implement annual contractor registrations
    3. Require a certificate of occupancy on sale of real estate

Mr. Pellegrino’s memo stated that the only meaningful way to eliminate the $217,000 deficit through expense reductions is with employee layoffs. He strongly urged the Board to consider the revenue enhancement strategies rather than cutting personnel.

Mrs. Goren thanked Mr. Pellegrino for his work, and said participation in the Delaware Valley Health Insurance Trust should bring additional savings for the Township. She also asked if the $80,000 budgeted for police vehicles could be transferred to the capital budget. Mr. Pellegrino said police vehicles have a shorter useful life than other Township vehicles, but he will check with the auditors to see if they can be considered a capital expense.

Mr. Harp moved to adopt the 2005 budget as presented by Mr. Pellegrino. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver for discussion.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said she would like to see the motion include a commitment to pursue Mr. Pellegrino’s suggestions for revenue enhancement. Mr. Harp said he prefers not to amend his motion.

Mr. Goodnoe said the suggestions in Mr. Pellegrino’s 12/6/04 memo increase the scope and power of government and don’t address the costs of implementation. For instance, the Township would have to increase staff in order to perform the 700 or more inspections needed annually with option #3. He said he opposes option #2 because it would lead residents to think the Township is approving contractors that are registered.

Mr. Jirele said option #1 has some merit, but in general he is not in favor of nuisance taxes. He sees no benefit to the Township in option #2, and option #3 seems very intrusive and unnecessary. He said the Board should focus on cutting expenses at this point in the budgeting process.

Mr. Weaver said the Township will have a $250,000 surplus at the end of 2004 and that will compensate for the projected 2005 deficit. It will give the Board a year to look into ways to enhance revenues and cut costs, and he is confident that there will be another surplus at the end of 2005. Mr. Weaver said he does not want to cut staff in the Police or Public Works Departments, which is where the majority of the personnel expenses are. He noted that the Township’s police force is about the same size as those of comparable municipalities, and many townships are increasing taxes.

Mr. Harp noted that the Township has the 11th lowest taxes in Bucks County, and the tax rate has remained stable for several years in spite of substantial growth.

Steve Goodman said the Township has done a good job developing the proposed budget and most other municipalities have done worse.

Phil Calabro, a Township resident, asked if the Township is now engaging in deficit spending. Mr. Pellegrino responded that a deficit of $217,000 is projected for 2005, but the 2004 surplus will cover that. The situation is similar to an individual transferring funds in a savings account to his checking account. He said the Township is in very good financial shape.

Mr. Calabro said the use of the term “deficit spending” is a scare tactic.

Mr. Jirele said he is concerned that this is a long term trend and the Township has many big projects coming up in the near future.

John D’Aprile, a Township resident, encouraged the Board to look into meaningful ways to raise income and lower expenses during 2005.

Brandon Wind, a Township resident, said he is concerned about several years of deficit spending whittling away the “savings account” the Township has built up. He noted that the Police Department is expected to spend $125,000 on overtime, and suggested that this be monitored more closely.

Nancy Crescenzo read excerpts from an 8/28/02 memo written by Mr. Goodnoe, which advocates a balanced budget and other good financial practices. She also read an excerpt from a memo by Mr. Pellegrino, which stated that windfall income should not be used to make up a deficit.

Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, cautioned against doing inspections with every real estate sale (option #3,) since they may increase the Township’s liability. He said deficit spending is irresponsible.

Robert Ciervo, a Township resident, observed that Township health insurance costs doubled from 2000 to 2004, and he asked if employees pay for a portion of their coverage. Mr. Pellegrino responded that employees pay about $200 a month for family coverage.

Mr. Goren said she does not favor option #1 in Mr. Pellegrino’s memo, but #2 and #3 may be worth looking into.

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

SOLICITOR

PUBLIC HEARING – ORDINANCE 2004-O-27 - PARTICIPATION IN DELAWARE VALLEY HEALTH INSURANCE TRUST: Mr. Harp moved to adopt Ordinance 2004-O-27 authorizing the Township to execute the Delaware Valley Health Insurance Trust agreement. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING – ORDINANCE 2004-O-28 - PARTICIPATION IN DELAWARE VALLEY INSURANCE TRUST: Mr. Harp moved to adopt Ordinance 2004-O-28 authorizing the Township to execute the Delaware Valley Insurance Trust agreement. Mrs. Goren seconded the motion.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren noted this action is a step towards reducing Township expenditures.

Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING – ORDINANCE 2004-O-29 - ESTABLISHING A STOP INTERSECTION AT LOWER DOLINGTON ROAD AND FROST LANE AND AT MILL POND ROAD AND YORK STREET: Mr. Jirele moved to adopt Ordinance 2004-O-29 establishing stop signs at these two intersections. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING ORDINANCE 2004-O-30 - ESTABLISHING A MAXIMUM SPEED LIMIT OF 25 MPH ON MILL POND ROAD: Mr. Harp moved to adopt Ordinance 2004-O-30 establishing a 25 MPH speed limit on Mill Pond Road. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

ROSE BANK WINERY ZONING HEARING BOARD APPEAL: Mr. Harris reported he attended the second hearing on the winery’s appeal from the Zoning Officer’s decision on 12/6/04. Testimony will continue on 1/6/05.

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: Mr. Harris reviewed the one new case scheduled for the 1/6/05 Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Board members indicated they did not wish to be represented in this case.

ENGINEER

LOWER SILVER LAKE ROAD PIPE CULVERT PROJECT: Mr. Smith said the paving is complete and the contractor is working on the signage and guide rails. They hope to have it open between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

OLD BUSINESS: No items for this section.

NEW BUSINESS: No items for this section.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)

Walter Iwaskiw said the Township does not have to spend the capital funds budgeted for parks and recreation projects. He is concerned that these projects will lead to more expenses for maintenance. Mr. Pellegrino explained that the funds in the budget are not for new projects, but for maintenance of existing facilities.

Mr. Goodnoe said that this proposed budget shifts one mill of debt service to funding parks and recreation.

Brandon Wind asked several questions about the flow restrictors placed on the basin in Newtown Grant. Mr. Smith explained that the restrictors hold back only a fraction of the runoff; otherwise they would cause problems for Newtown Grant residents. The restrictors are part of a larger effort to prevent flooding downstream; other developers, including the Township if the Municipal Complex expansion is done, will be asked to increase the capacity of their stormwater management systems. If it seems worthwhile to put restrictors on other basins in Newtown Grant the residents of that development will be consulted. Mr. Smith said that part of the problem is that the two bridges that flood frequently are built below the 100-year flood level.

Nancy Crescenzo said this is a good issue for an Environmental Committee. She also asked that the Board follow good process in their appointments and election of officers in January 2005.

Robert Ciervo raised a concern about a proposed 300-unit Toll Brothers development on Washington Crossing Road in Upper Makefield, and he encouraged residents to attend the conditional use hearing on 12/30/04.

John D’Aprile said Verizon had left hazardous conditions in his development following their installation work. He also said he favors putting money into maintenance of existing parks.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Pellegrino said the Board will meet in executive session regarding real estate matters following adjournment of the public meeting.

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at10:50 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