Board of Supervisor Minutes
February 9, 2005
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 23, 2005. MINUTES OF 2/9/05 REGULAR MEETING: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 2/9/05 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, February 9, 2005, 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, Sycamore Street Committee Chairman Vince Lombardi, Planning Commission Chairman Shawn Ward, Main Street Manager Chris Ortwein, Township Solicitor David Sander, 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 Weinstein of the Lubavitcher Center. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that reports from the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation and the Sycamore Street Committee be added under Reports of Committees, Boards, and Commissions.
PROCLAMATION – 90TH BIRTHDAY – VICTOR E. COTÉ: Mr. Weaver presented a plaque to Victor E. Coté in honor of Mr. Coté’s 90th birthday. Mr. Weaver thanked Mr. Coté for serving his community as judge of elections for 25 years and in other ways.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS
MINUTES OF 1/26/05 REGULAR MEETING: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 1/26/05 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
BILLS LIST: Mrs. Goren moved to approve bills totaling $635,268.96; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $10,163.55; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
TREASURER’S REPORT: None.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Chairman Andrew Levine reported on the Board’s 2/2/05 meeting, at which they discussed the final draft of the Woll Tract Master Plan. The plan is posted on the Township’s website. The Board has received mostly positive comments on the plan. Mr. Levine said it will be discussed with the Board of Supervisors at their March work session, reviewed by the Planning Commission, and then brought to a public meeting of the Board of Supervisors for approval.
Other items discussed at the 2/2/05 meeting included the preliminary plans for Blacksmith 161 and the LaSalle expansion project; the Park and Recreation Board recommended fees in lieu of space for recreation facilities for both projects. The Board also heard a detailed report on income and revenues for recreation programs. Last year program income covered 83% of their costs. There have been substantial increases in participation, particularly in the camping programs. Mr. Levine advised residents to register early for the camps this year. The next Park and Recreation Board meeting will be 3/2/05. Soccer clubs have been invited to present their needs and budget figures at this meeting.
Mr. Goodnoe said he would like to see the original plan, as well as any changes made as a result of comments received, when the Park and Recreation Board meets with the Board of Supervisors.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Chairman Shawn Ward reported on their 2/1/05 meeting at which the Traffic Engineer reported, a PRD variance request for 462 Union Street was recommended for approval, and two Zoning Hearing Board applications were reviewed with no comments offered. The Commission did note their ongoing concern about parking in the Lovett Barn area. New member Jim Bowe was welcomed and appointed as a liaison to the Sycamore Street Committee.
JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION (JDNC): Newtown Main Street Manager Chris Ortwein reported on recent accomplishments. The third year grant was received from the Department of Community and Economic Development in January 2005. It includes a $45,000 grant for administrative expenses, a $30,000 challenge grant for design, and a $25,000 grant for planning.
Ms. Ortwein said that 12 new businesses have recently started in the Main Street District. The JDNC has initiated several recurrent community events that have been well received, comments on several proposals for redevelopment of the Acme site were sent to the Board of Supervisors, and the JDNC is considering the development of an Arts Council. Ms. Ortwein displayed a new logo for the Main Street area and programs. Local media has given good coverage to JDNC events.
SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Chairman Vince Lombardi reported on their 2/8/05 meeting, at which the Committee discussed traffic, the stream bank reconstruction project, a crack discovered in an older building on Sycamore Street, the Acme site proposals, the damaged pipe running under Sycamore Street, and a “Welcome to Newtown” sign at Sycamore Street and the Bypass which needs to be renovated. Mr. Pellegrino said a contractor has been hired to take care of this. The construction work on Sycamore Street has been shut down because of bad weather, but Haines and Kibblehouse is expected to resume work on 2/14/05.
LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
PRELIMINARY PLAN – BLACKSMITH 161 – BLACKSMITH DRIVE, LOTS 81 AND 82 – TMP# 29-10-161: Attorney Don Marshall was present to discuss the plan to build a two-story 25,296 SF office building, with approximately 50% D-1 Professional Office Use and 50% D-2 Medical Office Use, on a 2.614 acre site in the LI District.
Mr. Marshall said the applicant will comply with the review letters with the exceptions noted in the 1/20/05 Planning Commission letter. He said the Township Engineer is satisfied with the alignment of the access drive since it will carry very little traffic.
Mrs. Goren asked if the D-2 Medical Office Use could exceed 50% of the space. Mr. Marshall said the amount of parking provided on the plan limits it to 50%, and Mr. Harwood monitors compliance with the ordinance. He also said the applicant will pay the traffic fees specified by the Township Engineer.
Mr. Harp moved to grant preliminary approval to the plan for Blacksmith 161 with the following conditions:
- Compliance with the 11/29/04 Boucher and James letter, the 12/1/04 Pennoni Associates letter, the 11/3/04 Emergency Services letter, and the 11/22/04 Bucks County Planning Commission letter (with the exception of point #4 regarding access roads)
- The standard financial security agreements will be provided
- All necessary permits and approvals will be obtained
- All costs of review will be paid by the applicant
The following waivers are granted:
- Section 402.5 – relief from the requirement of a traffic study
- Section 403.B & C – relief from the requirement to show existing features in the area; an aerial photo has been provided
- Section 403.4.M – relief from the requirement to have a registered landscape architect seal the plan
- Section 403.1.A – to allow a plan scale of 1” = 40’
- Section 514.2 – to allow parking in the front yard
- Section 529.A, B, & C – The applicant will provide a retaining wall on the west side of the property in lieu of the required plantings However, a partial waiver is recommended to allow the wall to be less than 4’ but not less than 6”.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
PRD VARIANCE – OVERLOOK AT NEWTOWN – ALYSSA DRIVE AND JULIANNE COURT: Attorney Edward Murphy was present to discuss Toll Brothers’ request for a variance to allow multiple nonconforming decks in the Overlook development. The request was first heard by the Board of Supervisors on 11/17/04. Mr. Murphy said that the Board continued the hearing at that time and instructed the applicant to file individual variance requests at the applicant’s expense, obtain authorization to make the variance requests on behalf of each homeowner whose deck was involved, and provide letters from neighboring homeowners stating they do not object to the requests. The documentation was included in the Board’s packets.
Mr. Murphy said the plans for five of the decks listed in the original request were modified so that they now conform to the ordinance. Therefore there are only 21 requests before the Board tonight. The owner of lot 16, which is adjacent to a nonconforming deck on lot 17, did not sign the statement.
The dissenting homeowner, Mr. Chin, was present and stated that he is concerned about the closeness of the deck on lot 17 because he feels it will interfere with his privacy and a fire could travel from the deck to his home. Mr. Murphy said the deck couldn’t be built elsewhere because of the design of the house.
Mr. Sander said the plan indicates that the deck will be approximately 15 to 20 feet from Mr. Chin’s house. Mr. Jirele said that is greater than the distance required by the fire code. He also noted that a building permit has been issued for the deck in spite of its nonconformity.
Mr. Sander suggested that landscaping could address the privacy issue, and Mr. Murphy indicated the applicant is willing to install some buffering between the deck and Mr. Chin’s house. Mr. Sander said the Township will inspect the deck for fire safety.
Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, said Toll Brothers agreed earlier that nothing would be added to these houses because they would be the maximize size permitted. She said the Board should not grant the variance unless every homeowner signs the documents. She said it appeared that the Board was doing a favor for Toll Brothers.
Mr. Jirele said that the houses, including the decks, still do not exceed the maximum impervious surface percentage in the ordinance. He also said that the fact that a permit has been issued for the deck on lot 17 creates a difficult situation.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to grant the requested variances and approve the revised plan for the Overlook development, allowing the decks on lots 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, and 39 to remain or be built as shown on the plan. The following conditions apply:
- The applicant will install a landscape buffer between the deck on lot 17 and the house on lot 16 to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer
- The applicant will prepare a revised final plan and submit it to the Township for signature
- The applicant will pay any outstanding costs of review
- The applicant will pay the application fees for the individual variance requests
The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said the Board is not doing a favor for Toll Brothers. He said that 41 out of 42 homeowners involved in these variance requests will be happy if the Board passes this motion, and the concerns of the remaining homeowner have been addressed.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.
FOOTBALL: Mr. Harp said there will be discussions later this month about bringing Pop Warner football to the Newtown area.
PARTY AFFILIATION: Mr. Harp said a recent newspaper article questioned his party affiliation. He stated he continues to be a Republican.
Mrs. Goren said she also continues to be a Republican.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)
Karen D’Aprile, a Township resident, said she regrets that Mr. Goodnoe will not be seeking another term on the Board of Supervisors this year.
David Katz, a Township resident, said he has developed an instrument for the Township to use in evaluating the Acme site redevelopment proposals based on criteria discussed in the JDNC’s comments. He distributed copies to Board members and asked them to set a schedule for the evaluation.
Paul Salvatore, a Township resident and president of the Newtown Business Association, said the Association’s next meeting will be 2/22/05. They will be planning some community events and a mailing to residents, and would like to hear about other organizations’ events for their community calendar.
Nancy Crescenzo asked that Sue Beasley, who was not re-appointed to the Planning Commission, be honored for her years of service to the Township. Mr. Weaver said this will be done. Mrs. Crescenzo also said the appointment of Jim Bowe to the Planning Commission, when his wife is serving on the Zoning Hearing Board, has the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Mrs. Crescenzo also said she has copies of correspondence indicating that the Borough has had difficulty working with the Township on the closed loop system. Mr. Pellegrino said the two municipalities are working together and the lights will be synchronized.
Mrs. Crescenzo asked the Board to discuss the plans for the Municipal Complex expansion project.
Robert Servo, a Township resident, listed all the state, county, municipal, and school recreational facilities in the Newtown area and said there is no need for the Woll Tract project. He said he would prefer to see the funds used to purchase open space.
Frank Mendicino, a Township resident, said there is nothing improper about Mr. and Mrs. Bowe serving on two different committees. He also asked Mr. Weaver to announce that the Board of Supervisors will be discussing the Stockburger proposal at their work session on 2/16/05. Mr. Weaver confirmed this. Mr. Mendicino added that the Board is considering surveying residents regarding the proposal.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
CHAIRMAN: No report.
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: No reports.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said there are no expirations requiring action by the Board.
RESOLUTION 2005-R-7 - COLLECTION OF DELINQUENT TAXES: Mrs Goren moved to adopt Resolution 2005-R-7 authorizing and empowering the local tax collector, Berkheimer, to impose and retain costs of collection on delinquent earned income taxes. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
AUTHORIZATION TO ADVERTISE – SUBDIVISION AND LAND DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE (SALDO) AMENDMENT – PROFESSIONAL CONSULTANT FEES: Members received copies of the proposed ordinance in their packets. Mr. Sander explained that this amendment incorporates the provisions of Act 206, which amends the Municipalities Planning Code by expanding the Township’s ability to charge applicants for the fees of professional consultants who review plans and inspect improvements. The amendment also gives applicants the ability to challenge fees and establishes an arbitration system to settle disputes.
Mrs. Goren moved to send the SALDO amendment regarding professional consultant fees to the Township Planning Commission and the Bucks County Planning Commission for review, and to authorize advertisement of the amendment for enactment at a future meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe said the proposed amendment gives an applicant only 45 days in which to challenge a consultant’s fees, and he feels this is too little time. An applicant may be afraid of alienating consultants who are reviewing his or her application. Mr. Sander responded that the time frame comes from Act 206, but the Board could choose to lengthen it. Mr. Goodnoe suggested a 90 day period.
Mr. Sander suggested that the proposed amendment be sent to the Township and County Planning Commissions with a request that they comment specifically on this aspect.
Mrs. Goren and Mr. Jirele withdrew their previous motion.
Mrs. Goren moved to send the proposed amendment regarding professional consultant fees to the Township and County Planning Commissions for review with a request that they comment specifically on the length of time allowed for an applicant to challenge a consultant’s fees, and to authorize advertisement for enactment at a future meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
PUBLIC HEARING – ORDINANCE 2005-O-3 - RIGHTS-OF-WAY: Mr. Harp moved to enact Ordinance 2005-O-3 enabling the Township to manage its rights-of-way by establishing a rental fee, requiring insurance and indemnification, and creating mechanisms for enforcement. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.
ESCROW RELEASE #1 – COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION OF UNDERWRITERS OFFICE PARK: Mr. Jirele moved to release $147,100.32 in escrow funds for the Community Association of Underwriters Office Park Phase II, as recommended in a 2/3/05 letter from Pennoni Associates. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
ESCROW RELEASE #2 – NEWTOWN OFFICE PARK: Mr. Jirele moved to release $31,792.50 in escrow funds for the Newtown Office Park, as recommended in a 2/3/05 letter from Pennoni Associates. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
MONTHLY ENGINEER’S REPORT: Board members received the February 2005 Township Engineer’s Report in their packets.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)
Shawn Ward, a Township resident and Chairman of the Planning Commission, said he agreed that Sue Beasley should be honored for her service to the Township. He also said there is no question about the integrity of Mr. and Mrs. Bowe; Mr. Bowe served on the Planning Commission in the past and both he and Mr. Wilson are appropriate appointments.
Nancy Crescenzo said she did not say anything about the Bowes’ integrity. She said she regrets that Mr. Goodnoe will be leaving the Board of Supervisors. She also said many speakers at the Acme site visioning meetings spoke about the need for a community center, but no one identified a need for additional parking in this area.
Paul Salvatore mentioned three long-time members of the Rotary who recently died: Eric Curtis, Cal Terry, and Pete Chesner. He also announced that Republicans would conduct candidate screenings on 2/13/05 at the Eagle Ridge Community Center.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Weaver said the Board will meet in executive session following the adjournment of the public meeting for matters of real estate and pending litigation.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objection the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 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