Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors 

Work Session Minutes

January 19, 2005


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 23, 2005. MINUTES OF 1/19/05 WORK SESSION: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 1/19/05 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.


Members Present: Richard Weaver, Chairman; Scott R. Harp, Vice Chairman; Anne Goren, Secretary/Treasurer; Tom Jirele, Member; Raymond “Skip” Goodnoe, Member; Steve Harris, Solicitor; Robert M. Pellegrino, Township Manager; Gerald Smith, Engineer.

Also Present: Philip Wursta, Pennoni; Bob White, Redevelopment Authority; Walt Jamison, Newtown Presbyterian Church; Renate Siekman, Advance; Various Newtown Township and Newtown Borough residents including Ethel Hibbs, Vince Lombardi, Shawn Ward, Drew Wagner, Steve Goodman, Frank Mendicino and John D’Aprile.

Call to Order: Chairman Weaver called the meeting to order at 8:05 PM. This was followed with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Presentation of Acme Property Proposals

The Goldenberg Group

Did not attend meeting.

Mr. Jamison questioned how the public would be notified with regards to the rescheduling of The Goldenberg Group’s presentation for the Acme site. The Supervisors advised that there would be a notice on the web site and on the character generator.

Proposed Subdivision – Makefield Flowers Associates LP

Mr. Weaver advised that this item has been removed from the agenda.

Presentation of Newtown Bypass Closed Loop System

The Supervisors review a memorandum from Mr. Pellegrino with regards to the proposal from Pennoni Associates to implement a traffic responsive closed loop system on the Newtown Bypass; the cost for the project would be $42,000.

Mr. Wursta provided the Supervisors with a packet of information regarding the Newtown Bypass closed loop system, the Newtown Bypass closed loop system – traffic responsive operation, the Newtown Yardley Road PENNDOT TIP project, the Township Traffic Engineer’s report and the Newtown Bypass at Durham Road.

Mr. Wursta updated the Supervisors on the Newtown Bypass closed loop system. He advised that the system was installed by PENNDOT, the final PENNDOT inspection of the system was in 2002. Mr. Wursta explained that a closed loop system is an integrated traffic control system that controls all the traffic signals along the Newtown Bypass. Mr. Wursta explained that the closed loop system is currently using the time of day method, he further explained the time of day method. Mr. Wursta also explained the traffic responsive method. He advised that the traffic responsive method is more flexible. Mr. Wursta advised that the Newtown Bypass has two (2) closed loop systems – the first system runs from Newtown Gate/Summit Trace back to Route 413 and the second system runs from Penns Trail to Interstate 95. He advised that Newtown Township owns eight (8) of the traffic signals, Lower Makefield Township owns three (3) and Middletown Township owns one (1). Mr. Wursta discussed the data that the Township computer is collecting from all the intersections with the exception of Richboro and Buck Roads. He advised that Richboro and Buck Roads should be collecting data any day now. He also advised on any problems regarding the accurate collection of data.

Mr. Weaver commented on the data collection at Richboro and Buck Roads. Mr. Wursta advised that the data collection should begin soon.

Mr. Weaver advised that he has concerns with vehicles on Richboro Road making a left-hand turn onto the Newtown Bypass headed north, only six (6) to eight (8) vehicles can make the light. Mr. Wursta advised that he would look into Mr. Weaver’s concerns. Mr. Wursta advised that Mr. Johnston from Pennoni is aware of the left turn problem onto the Newtown Bypass from Richboro Road. Mr. Wursta advised that he would research and advise the Township.

Mr. Harris questioned how long until the Newtown Bypass closed loop system is traffic responsive. Mr. Wursta advised the Supervisors on the work need to be completed before the system can be traffic responsive. He advised the Supervisors that it should be two (2) or three (3) months once Buck and Richboro Roads have started collecting data.

Mr. Pellegrino questioned the data collection for the past six (6) months. Mr. Wursta discussed construction projects within the Township. He advised that to get accurate data, the Township should collect data for another three (3) months and it takes approximately eight (8) weeks to analyze the data. He also advised that the Township would continue to collect data, more data equals more traffic timing programs.

Mr. Goodnoe questioned if there is any T-21 money left. Mr. Wursta advised that there were no funds left, the money associated with the closed loop system carried a maintenance and training period, which has expired. He suggested the possibility of having PENNDOT do some of the work.

Mr. Jirele commented on the closed loop system being two (2) sections, he questioned the eastern and western systems with regards to data collection. Mr. Wursta advised that the eastern system would run as well as it can, once contacting PENNDOT. He commented on the master controllers at Penns Trail and State Street communicating, once the two (2) master controllers can communicate with each other, the eastern and western systems will be as efficient as they can be.

Mr. Harris questioned if Pennoni would approach PENNDOT to see if they would help with the cost of the $42,000 project. Mr. Wursta advised Pennoni would contact PENNDOT.

Newtown Yardley Road PENNDOT TIP Project Modification

The Supervisors reviewed a memorandum from Matthew D. Johnston, P.E., dated 12/22/04 with regards to the Newtown Yardley Road PENNDOT TIP project. Mr. Wursta updated the Supervisors. Pennoni advised that the funds for the improvements to the Newtown Yardley Road and Penns Trail intersection were still available due to the developer of Wiltshire Walk paying for the improvements to the intersection. Pennoni suggested using the TIP funding to improve the intersection of Newtown Yardley Road, Terry Drive and Lower Dolington Road and install traffic signals at the Friends Lane intersection and the Terry Drive/Lower Dolington Road intersection. The Township would need to get approval from PENNDOT.

Mr. Goodnoe questioned the type of closed loop system. Mr. Wursta advised the system would be designed as a traffic responsive system.

The Supervisors agreed to proceed.

The Supervisors thanked Mr. Wursta for his time.

Village at Newtown South – Reserve Parking

Mr. Pellegrino updated the Supervisors on the matter of reserve parking within the Village at Newtown South shopping center. The Supervisors reviewed correspondence received from The Cotswold Group; Inc. dated November 15, 2004 regarding the Village at Newtown South and reserve parking. The Supervisors discussed the matter.

Mr. Jirele questioned if the additional parking is needed and what was the agreement regarding the reserved parking. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the BOS has the discretion to require the parking be constructed. Mr. Harris advised the Supervisors on the Township regulations.

Ms. Goren suggested the reserved parking area be used for owners/employees. She advised she is for the construction of the reserve parking.

Mr. Harp commented with regards to the lack of parking. He advised he is for the construction of the reserve parking.

Mr. Goodnoe questioned who made the request of The Cotswold Group and what prompted the matter regarding reserve parking. Mr. Pellegrino advised he sent a letter to The Cotswold Group after a BOS discussion regarding a conditional use application for Tasteful Tea’s. He advised that the conditional use application was approved, but he was not sure if it would be built. Mr. Ward, Planning Commission Chairman updated the Supervisors on Tasteful Tea’s presentation to the Planning Commission.

Mr. Jirele commented on vehicles parking behind the stores. He suggested possibly adding the additional parking closer to La Stalla or in another area.

Mr. Goodnoe questioned if there have been any complaints regarding the parking. Mr. Pellegrino advised there have been no complaints; the matter came up due to the application made by Tasteful Tea’s.

Mr. Mendicino commented on a conversation between La Stalla and Rita’s with regards to the overflow parking. He also commented with regarding the presentation made by Tasteful Tea’s for a new pad site. He advised that he feels more parking is needed.

The Supervisors discussed the possibility of constructing the additional parking in a different area of the shopping center. The Supervisors agreed to have Mr. Pellegrino approach The Cotswold Group for new suggestions.

RCN Settlement Funds

Mr. Pellegrino advised the Supervisors on the RCN Settlement Funds. He advised that the settlement received was $850,000; $100,000 was put back into the general fund to reimburse the Township for out of pocket legal expenses, leaving $750,000 in a balance sheet account until the BOS advised him what to do with the money.

Mr. Harp advised on his feelings with regards to the RCN settlement. He advised that he would like to see the Township invest the money into the development of the Woll Tract.

Mr. Goodnoe advised that he would like to see the Township put the money into a capital reserve account for the new municipal building.

Ms. Goren advised that she would like to see the Township put the money towards the development of the Woll Tract. She also suggested that the Township apply for grants for the additional funds.

Mr. Jirele advised he is hopeful that the Supervisors will make a decision regarding the municipal building this year. He also advised that he does not want to start the development of the Woll Tract until Township has all the funding; he does not want to piece meal the project.

Mr. Goodnoe advised he felt it would be more expensive to build the Woll Tract in sections.

Mr. Goodnoe suggested the Township consider the cost associated with the development of the Woll Tract. He advised he felt the development of the Woll Tract is a significant expense to the taxpayers without getting their opinion and that the Woll Tract should be built with electoral debt if the taxpayers vote in favor of a bond issue for the Woll Tract.

Mr. Harp questioned Mr. Goodnoe’s feelings on the development of a new municipal building with regards to the taxpayer’s opinion. Mr. Goodnoe advised on his feelings regarding the development of a new municipal building. He advised that in his opinion a municipal building is an essential part of the Township, the development of the Woll Tract is not.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to the last time the Supervisors voted on a bond issue.

Mr. Weaver advised on his feelings regarding the development of the Woll Tract, with regards to money he thinks the Township should have an idea of the phases and the cost of each phase for a reasonable approach rather than just throw money at the project.

Mr. Jirele commented on the Supervisors having a consensus that the money should be spent on either the new municipal building or the development of the Woll Tract.

Mr. Harp advised he would like to have financial discussions with regards to developing the Woll Tract in phases.

Mr. Harris suggested that the Supervisors have the Parks & Recreation Committee make a presentation explaining the phases and costs involved to develop the Woll Tract and also have a presentation with regards to the cost involved with the development of the new municipal building.

Mr. Pellegrino advised that he felt the Supervisors had a beneficial discussion with regards to the RCN settlement funds. He advised that the money is in a reserve account earning interest. He also commented that the funds are not enough to complete either project without a bond issue or raising taxes. He advised that the Supervisors could make a decision to use the funds for either project, both or neither.

Mr. Harp recommended having Mr. Pellegrino draft some proposals with regards to the development of the Woll Tract and the new municipal building.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to the final plan on either project. He also advised that the final plan for the Woll Tract has not been presented to the BOS.

Mr. Pellegrino updated the Supervisors with regards to the development of the new municipal building. He advised that the plans have been revised based on the direction from the BOS with regards to standards for space. He advised that with help from the architect a program comparison has been put together to show the existing facilities and the variations the Township has gone though over the last six (6) or seven (7) years in terms of square footage and the perceived needs and the last piece would be the costing out of the revised project, which is being worked on right now. He advised he would provide the Supervisors with more information by March.

Mr. Harp questioned when a presentation regarding the Woll Tract would be made to the BOS. Mr. Pellegrino advised that he is waiting to hear from the Park & Recreation Committee to schedule a discussion before the Supervisors. Mr. Harp advised he would like to see the money be used for something that would be lasting and significant for the citizens of the community to enjoy for years to come.

The Supervisors agreed to have Mr. Pellegrino leave the $750,000 RCN settlement funds where it is on the balance sheet.

Other Business

The Supervisors discussed improving the intersection at the Newtown Bypass and Penns Trail. Mr. Wursta advised that Pennoni is working with the NAC to see what improvement can be made to their access and the intersection. Pennoni would like to re-stripe the section of Penns Trail that heads south into the business commons to provide a center left turning lane.

Mr. Goodnoe commented on the effectiveness of the closed loop system on the Newtown Bypass. He questioned the number of vehicles traveling on the Newtown Bypass. Mr. Wursta advised that he would provide the Supervisors with that information.

Mr. Jirele commented on the traffic signal at the intersection of the Newtown Bypass and Swamp Road. He advised that in the past if a vehicle was headed east on Swamp Road they were able to turn left on a green light now there is a left turn signal, which causes the intersection to back up. Mr. Wursta advised the Supervisors that the Township had requested the traffic signal change due to an accident, PENNDOT approved the Township request. Mr. Wursta advised the Supervisors that they could request PENNDOT to review the intersection.

Mr. Goodman advised that he has spoken to several residents within the Township and they all support the development of the Woll Tract. He felt it would be cheaper to develop the Woll Tract than the new municipal building. He felt that the matter should be an election ballot item and he believed the item would have overwhelming support.

Mr. Mendicino commented with regards to the new municipal complex expansion, he questioned if the Township has clarified what the needs are. He advised that he would like to see the BOS notify the public where the Township’s needs are. He advised that he has concerns with either project being done and taxes being raised, he felt that is there is a possibility of taxes being raised for any project the project should go out as a referendum item. Whether it’s a need or a want the residents should have the ability to decide if they need or want to have their taxes raised to take care of the business or the recreation. He commented with regards to employees performing in their allotted spaces. He asked Mr. Weaver to have a discussion at the next EDC meeting regarding the entrance to the NAC. He commented on some improvements the EDC has made within the industrial park.

Mr. Ward commented with regards to the proposals for the Acme property. He questioned if the Planning Commission would have a chance to review the proposals. Mr. Pellegrino advised that once the BOS selects a developer, the developer would put together some sketches to be reviewed by the Planning Commission. Mr. Weaver advised that the BOS needs to choose the developer.

Mr. D’Aprile advised he was glad to see that the BOS is going to sit on the RCN settlement funds and not ear mark it for a project. He does not want to see taxes raised. He advised that he feels the Township needs the government to work properly, recreation is extra curricular. He also commented with regards to how Parks & Recreation gets money from the developers and that money can only be used for Parks & Recreation projects, he feels that the RCN funds should not be used for Parks & Recreation.

Mr. Goodman commented with regards to the Newtown Bypass not functioning properly. He advised that he has spoken with PENNDOT officials. The BOS advised that they are going to approach PENNDOT. Mr. Pellegrino advised on how the system works.

Mr. Ward commented with regards to traffic on the Newtown Bypass. The Supervisors discussed the closed loop system.

Mr. Ward questioned how many proposals the Township has had for the Acme property. Mr. Pellegrino advised that four (4) developers have made their presentations and the Township is still waiting to meet with one (1) developer.

Mr. Lombardi commented with regards to the time deadline for the Acme property. He questioned how much time the Township has to make a decision. The Supervisors advised that the Township had 120 days from December 23, 2004. The Supervisors agreed they do have concerns regarding the time deadline.

Mr. Weaver thanked the public for their input.

Adjournment

Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 9:24 PM.

After the Meeting adjourned the Board of Supervisors meet for an executive session.

 

Respectfully Submitted by:

 

_____________________________
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary