Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors 

Work Session Minutes

February 16, 2005


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting April 13, 2005. MINUTES OF 2/16/05 WORK SESSION: Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 2/16/05 work session; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously, with Mr. Goodnoe abstaining.


Members Present: Richard Weaver, Chairman; Scott R. Harp, Vice Chairman; Anne Goren, Secretary/Treasurer; Tom Jirele, Member; Dave Sanders, Solicitor; John Boyle, Assistant to the Township Manager; Chris Walker, Engineer. Not in attendance was Raymond “Skip” Goodnoe, Member.

Also Present: Bill Wert, Recreation Director; Mark Klein, CRSD Superintendent; Susan Vicedomini, Council Rock School Board President; Tom Coates, CRSD; Representing the George School were Don Marshall, Joseph Evans, William Tucker and David Crawford; Sean Frawley, Stockburger; Various Newtown Township and Newtown Borough residents including Chris Walker, Ethel Hibbs, Nancy Crescenzo, Gail Laughlin, Mary Bethman, Walt Iwaskiw, Frank Mendicino, Jay Davoli, Roy Harbert, Rose Lustica, Jon Hetzel, Paul W. Zotter, Steve Goodman, Paul Sweeney, Michael Becker and John D’Aprile.

Prior to the Meeting the Board of Supervisors met for an executive session.

Call to Order: Chairman Weaver called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. This was followed with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Proposed Expansion of the Alternative School & Improvements to Adjacent Roberts Ridge Park

Mr. Klein introduced himself and the other representatives from the Council Rock School District Susan Vicedomini and Tom Coates.

Mr. Coates provided the BOS with a draft sketch of the proposed expansion of the Theodore A. Sloan School located at 264 Frost Lane, Newtown and advised the Supervisors that the CRSD has not retained an engineer for the project at this time. He explained the expansion and advised it was always the intent of the school district to expand the facility. He advised the BOS on the existing building and where the school district would like to build an additional structure. He commented with regards to parking issues at the Roberts Ridge Park, he advised that there had been preliminary discussions with Mr. Jirele and Mr. Wert with regards to the Township and the CRSD working together to encompass a new structure and expand the parking area which would benefit the school and the community. He advised that the CRSD is still in the preliminary stages of planning the size of the new building and what would be inside. He advised that there has been discussion with Mr. Wert regarding the use of the building for non-school related activities or community meetings. He discussed the possibility of using the Sloan school’s bathroom facilities for the Roberts Ridge Park. He advised the BOS that the CRSD is looking for their thoughts with regards to working together. He advised that most of the students that would attend are bused to the school and the additional parking would be a benefit to the Township.

Mr. Klein advised that the new structure would be a freestanding structure and would house fifty students.

Mr. Harp questioned the size and use of the new structure. Mr. Coates advised that at this time the CRSD has not retained an engineer for the project. Mr. Coates advised the BOS on the types of students who would be attending the school. He discussed classroom sizes, lunchroom size, counseling areas and offices. He advised that the sketch provided is only a concept plan.

Mr. Harp questioned the number of parking spaces. Mr. Coates advised that the parking would meet the Township’s zoning regulations plus the expansion of the parking area for the Roberts Ridge Park.

Ms. Vicedomini advised the Supervisors that the school board agenda includes approval of the architect for the expansion project at their meeting on Thursday, February 17, 2005.

Mr. Klein advised the Supervisors that the CRSD would like to have this construction project started by summer 2005. He also advised that the CRSD will be approaching the Township Zoning Board and Supervisors to request the use of modular classrooms at the Council Rock North High School for another year to help ease the transition of students to the Sloan School.

Mr. Weaver questioned the current use of the modular classrooms at the Council Rock North High School. Mr. Coates advised on the use of the modular classrooms, he referred to the current agreement with the Township.

Mr. Jirele questioned when CRSD anticipates construction to be completed if they begin construction this summer. Mr. Coates advised that if the approvals are given in a timely fashion then he felt the project should be completed in early 2006.

Mr. Jirele questioned if the CRSD is proposing any changes to the existing house. Mr. Coates advised that the CRSD is not sure if the house would still be used as part of the alternative program, he advised that the house could be used in other programs such as the life skills program.

Mr. Jirele questioned the height of the new structure. Mr. Coates advised that the CRSD is researching the use of modular construction; he advised that the CRSD would comply with the Township’s zoning regulations. Mr. Jirele advised he had concerns with the new structure towering over the house. Mr. Coates advised that the CRSD would want the new structure to fit in with the house and the Goodnoe School.

Mr. Walker questioned if the CRSD has considered connecting the house with the new structure. Mr. Coates advised that the CRSD is researching the matter of connecting the two structures.

Mr. Jirele commented on the present property agreement with regards to the restrictions of the building size. Mr. Coates advised that if a new building were constructed then CRSD would exceed the allowed square footage. He advised that the CRSD is looking to cooperate with the Township to expand the parking area for the Roberts Ridge Park.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to resident concerns. He advised that the Township has received no complaints regarding the Sloan School. Mr. Coates advised the Supervisors on one local resident’s interaction with the school students.

Mr. Jirele advised he felt that if the Township and the CRSD work together on the project it would benefit the community. He discussed the possibility of using the school’s bathroom facilities and community room use. He commented that the drain basin was build with the intention to handle the storm water for the entire site. Mr. Jirele suggested that once the CRSD has found an architect to speak with Mr. Wert to discuss his needs, then the Township solicitor will begin framing an agreement.

Mr. Harp commented with regards to the parking and restrooms at the Roberts Ridge Park. He advised he is looking forward to seeing how the plans evolve.

Mr. Wert questioned if the CRSD sees the agreement being similar to the agreement with the Welch School (Northampton). Mr. Coates advised.

Mr. Klein thanked the Supervisors for their cooperation with the construction of Council Rock North.

Ms. Crescenzo commented with regards to the Sloan School begin a good idea – helping students. She advised she has concerns regarding the use of the house. She commented with regards to the CRSD outgrowing the space in four years. Ms. Vicedomini advised that it has always been CRSD plan to expand the school. Ms. Crescenzo commented with regards to the use of modular classrooms at the junior high, she advised they have been in use for at least six years. She commented with regards to the modular classrooms at CRN, she suggested safety and temptation /mischief concerns. She questioned the Supervisors on how the Township decided that more parking is needed at the Roberts Ridge Park. She commented on the building with regards to using the community rooms.

One resident commented with regards to the uses of the Sloan School. Mr. Klein advised on the types of school programs that could be run from the Sloan School. The resident commented with regards to the Park & Recreation Board discussing a special needs playground at the Roberts Ridge Park, he suggested the possibility of having one playground for the school and the park. Mr. Klein discussed the special needs playground.

One resident questioned if the Goodnoe School is maxed out space wise. Mr. Klein advised on the subject. He also advised on the needs of the students who would attend the Sloan School. Mr. Vicedomini commented on how students who attend the Sloan School benefit from the small class environment.

One resident questioned how the residents who live near the Sloan School feel with regards to expanding the facility. Mr. Coates advised. Mr. Klein commented that the students that attend the Sloan School have less impact on the community than the 600 students attending the Goodnoe School.

Mr. Weaver thanked the representatives from Council Rock School District for their time.

Concept Plan for George School North Tract

Mr. Marshall advised the Supervisors that he is representing the George School to discuss their concept plan for the George School north tract, which includes approximately 7.5 acres, located at the intersection of Route 332 (Newtown Bypass) and State Street. The Supervisors were provided a packet for their review. Mr. Marshall discussed the current TC2 zoning district for the area. He advised that the George School is now looking to utilize the land. He advised that the George School currently owns three existing homes and an empty lot on South State Street and a parcel off of Freedom Drive. Mr. Marshall discussed the current TC2 zoning uses, which include church use, The Association for the Blind, two office complexes off of Rt. 413 and single family/multi family residents. Mr. Marshall introduced the representatives from the George School Joseph Evans, Real-estate Committee; William Tucker, Land Planning Consultant; and David Crawford, Advancement Director.

Mr. Evans introduced himself to the BOS. He advised that he is a member of the George School Committee Board and is the Chairman of the North Coast Committee (NCC). He discussed the concept plan for the north coast of the George School property. He advised on the possible options the George School has regarding the property. One option the NCC looked into was to swap land with the State of Pennsylvania – the State has a facility along the Newtown Bypass – after reviewing the option both parties agreed the swapping of land could not work. Mr. Evans advised that the George School looks on the property as an endowment asset to the school and an asset to the community and plans to remain involved with the property. He advised that the TC2 zoning allows for commercial use and that there is no commercial use in their proposal only residential use. He advised that the George School is making this presentation tonight to hear the thoughts of the BOS. Mr. Evans introduced Mr. Tucker to provide the Supervisors with the specifics the George School has in mind.

Mr. Tucker introduced himself to the BOS. He advised the Supervisors that his specialty is new form of planning a development around a mixed-use community called new urbandry. He discussed the development proposal and advised it would be zoned all residential. He advised that the George School knows an amendment would be required due to the zoning of the property. He advised that the three existing houses would not be destroyed and they would try to keep the mature trees. He commented with regards to the existing homes having curb cuts along State Street, he advised that they would be removed and that the residents would gain access from the rear of the property. The main entryway to the development would be located at Freedom Drive. The types of homes would be townhouses and condos. The townhouses would probably resemble Berkley Court. He advised that the land assets could be sold but the George School would have deed rights. The proposal includes twenty-six townhouse units, thirty condominium units and four multiplex units. The townhouses would be two or three story units with two on-lot-parking spaces, which are accessed from the rear. The condominium building would be a three-story brick building with internal elevators. Each condominium would have two parking spaces within a courtyard area in the complex. The four multiplex units would be contained in two buildings facing State Street, between the existing homes. Each building will resemble a Single Family home, but will contain a single story apartment and a two-story townhouse unit. A three-car garage, accessed from the rear, will be included in the building. The proposal includes a total of sixty housing units on approximately 7.5 acres. He also advised that the George School would like to change the configuration of the pedestrian bridge that crosses above the Newtown Bypass. Mr. Tucker advised the Supervisors that the proposed plan is only a concept plan, that the George School has not hired an architect or a new urbanist planner.

Mr. Weaver questioned if the new configuration will house the current faculty. Mr. Evans advised it might be used to house faculty.  He also advised that one element of the campus master plan is to provide additional housing both on and off campus for faculty and staff.

Ms. Goren questioned the number of units. Mr. Tucker advised the total number of units would be sixty-three.

The Supervisors discussed the TC2 zoning district with regards to residential uses.

Ms. Goren questioned the driveway entrance. Mr. Tucker advised that access to the development would be from Freedom Drive. The Supervisors discussed increased traffic in the area. Mr. Evans advised the Supervisors on a study the George School had done by an outside party, which indicated that the primary uses for these properties would be for empty nesters and people in the early stages of family life, families with two or three school age children would not be interested in the properties.

Ms. Goren questioned if the two residents adjacent to the George School property have been contacted regarding the proposed plan. Mr. Evans advised that the George School has not contacted the two residents that would be affected with the development of the property. He advised once again that this is only a concept plan and the George School was trying to get a sense of how the Township feels about the plan, before approaching the residents.

Mr. Jirele questioned how the proposal fits into the TC2 zoning. Mr. Marshall advised on how the proposal fits into the TC2 zoning. The Supervisors discussed how the area became zoned TC2 district. Mr. Evans discussed the TC2 zoning.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to modifying the zoning and the height restriction of the buildings. He advised that he feels the area needs more of a recreational facility. He commented with regards to using the units for faculty and staff – how many retained vs. sold. Mr. Evans advised the number of units retained by the George School would vary. Mr. Tucker advised that it would depend on the development cost and if the George School has to sell any of the units, they would sell the townhouses.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to how this proposal would benefit the Township or residents who live in the area. Mr. Marshall advised that the George School is suggesting the Supervisors change the zoning, but to amend the zoning to allow for mixed residential use within the TC2 zoning. Ms. Goren advised why that area of South State Street was zoned TC2. Mr. Evans advised the Supervisors on the possible benefits to the Township. He discussed an alternative option, which would include selling parcels. He advised that the George School wants to work together with the Township.

Mr. Jirele questioned the number of parcels included in the proposal. Mr. Marshall advised that the property is at least four parcels, he discussed the parcel layouts.

The Supervisors discussed the reactivation of the Newtown rail line.

Mr. Weaver advised that the Township would have to review the tax implications between TC2 and residential zoning.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to the Township already having a village type zoning.

Ms. Bethman, Township resident who would be affected if the proposed plan were approved advised that she has concerns with the plan. She commented with regards to a lawnmower business on her property. Mr. Sanders advised that the current zoning allows for the business. She advised she would like to sit down with the representatives from the George School to discuss the proposed plan further.

Ms. Crescenzo advised that she has concerns regarding the number of children that would be living in the development. She commented on the cost to educate the children within the Township, the number of classrooms and the effects on the school district. Mr. Marshall commented with regards to Ms. Crescenzo’s concerns. Mr. Tucker also advised that the George School believes most of the residents would be empty nesters.

Mr. Iwaskiw commented with regards to zoning changes and there is no guarantee that the George School will own the units.

One resident questioned if the George School is planning for an age-restricted community. Mr. Evans advised that the George School has not considered planning for an age-restricted community.

One resident commented with regards to the property being residential and commercial and the rail system. Mr. Marshall commented with regards to the rail system.Mr. Tucker commented with regards to the commercial and retail use. He also discussed the traffic impact if the property was used for commercial or retail use.

One resident questioned the commercial uses. Mr. Marshall advised on the commercial and retail uses of the property.

One resident commented with regards to the number of automobile accidents near this area. He discussed the entry/exit ways and the location of the traffic light on the corner of State Street and the Newtown Bypass.

Mr. Weaver thanked the representatives for the George School for their time.

Vacation of Hove Road (Eagle Glenn)

Mr. Sanders updated the Supervisors on the matter regarding the vacation of Hove Road. The Supervisors reviewed correspondence to Mr. Pellegrino from the Eagle Glenn Community Association dated January 13, 2005. The Supervisors discussed the consideration to vacate the section of Hove Road on the Sibelius side. Mr. Sanders advised he would like to see a plan of the development. The Supervisors agreed with Mr. Sanders to see a plan of the development. The Supervisors agreed to have Mr. Sanders draft correspondence to Mr. Derek requesting him to make a presentation before the BOS.

Waiver of Permit Fees for Bucks County Community College – Tyler Tasting Party

Mr. Sanders updated the Supervisors with regards to the request for a waiver of the permit fees for the Bucks County Community College – Tyler Tasting Party. The Supervisors reviewed correspondence to Mr. Weaver from the BCCC dated February 7, 2005.Mr. Sanders advised that the event is a non-profit fundraiser and the waiver would be for the permit fee to put up a temporary tent. Ms. Goren made a motion to waive the permit fee for the event, which was seconded by Mr. Harp. The motion passed unanimously.

One resident questioned what the waiver would be for. The Supervisors advised that the waiver would be for the permit fee to put up a temporary tent and that the event is a non-profit event.

Stockburger Citizens Survey

Mr. Weaver advised that Stockburger would like to relocate their two franchises to the Newtown Bypass. He advised on the properties, which are owned by Stockburger. He discussed the use of an independent citizen survey and the issues that need to be addressed. He advised he would like to hear what the Township residents feel with regards to the matter. He advised that Stockburger would reimburse the Township for the expenses incurred by the survey. He advised that per discussions with the Stockburger’s if the survey comes back with negative results then Stockburger would leave the issue of relocating alone, if the survey comes back with positive results the issue of relocation would be discussed further. He commented with regards to being contacted by several residents from Middletown Township, which would be effected by the relocation. He advised that the Township would consider the concerns of the Middletown Township and Lower Makefield Township residents after hearing from the residents of Newtown Township. He advised there would be no decision made this evening, the BOS would only be discussing the matter.

Ms. Goren advised she has some concerns with the survey – being only one page, zoning changes, complex issue, effects on other local businesses if Stockburger relocates, car dealers along the bypass – could not be limited to one area of the bypass, effects on the property taxes. She feels the issue could not be explained on one page and that the Township should not govern by survey. She discussed the item being put on a voter referendum as a ballot issue – would be advertised, residents would have an opportunity to become better educated on the subject.

Mr. Harp advised on his perspective regarding the matter. He commented on the past changes the Township has made within the past few years. He discussed the Township’s public policies and the need to be consistent. He commented with regards to fairness.

Mr. Jirele advised on his view regarding the matter. He advised that he feels that the discussions regarding the relocation of Stockburger’s to the Bypass should be televised for the residents to view. He feels that the Township should ask the residents if the BOS should review Stockburger’s proposal.

Ms. Goren advised that Stockburger did have a public presentation before the BOS. Mr. Jirele advised that Stockburger has made a proposal but the BOS had no discussion. He advised that he respects the opinions of the residents. He advised that the survey is only to see if the residents would be interested in Stockburger relocating within the Township. Mr. Weaver advised that he has been a member of the Board for three years and does not recall being a part of any extensive discussions regarding the matter; he has seen one presentation at the Municipal Building and one presentation at Chandler Hall. He advised that at this time his is only interested to see if whether the Township should proceed with the survey to the people of the Township for their opinion as to whether the Township should proceed or not to discuss the relocation of Stockburger. Ms. Goren commented on the wording of the survey and what information would be included. Ms. Goren commented with regards to Stockburger paying for the survey. Mr. Jirele advised that Stockburger’s only involvement with the survey would be to reimburse the Township.

Mr. Weaver asked the public for their comment. He advised that comments should be limited to the survey.

A Township resident living off of Lower Silver Lake Road for the past thirty-five years advised that he is against the Township rezoning the Bypass to allow for automobile dealerships. He also commented with regards to the overturning a State Supreme Court ruling with an informal poll.

Mr. Goodman commented with regards to the Stockburger lawsuit, spot zoning and property values. He advised that the plan was shot down in 1999 and questioned why the matter is being discussed again. He discussed the types of business that could move into the Township.

A Borough resident advised the BOS and public on an article that would be publishing in the Bucks County Courier Times regarding the relocation of Stockburger. She suggested other residents contact the BCCT to express their feelings with regards to the relocation.

Mr. Mendicino commented on a past Planning Commission meeting regarding the Stockburger’s request. He advised that it is his opinion that the Township should consult with the Township Planner, Finance Director and Tax Collector and to recommend that Mr. Stockburger reappear before the Planning Commission to gather the information needed for the survey. He also commented with regards to how well zoned the Township is and the possible problems that could result if the Township zoning changes to be accommodating.

Mr. Weaver advised the public that the survey is only to get the publics opinion.

A Middletown Township resident who lives off of Lower Silver Lake Road commented with regards to how would the Middletown Township residents voice their opinion with regards to Stockburger relocating to the Newtown Bypass. Mr. Weaver advised that Middletown and Lower Makefield Townships would be involved after the Newtown residents are heard.

One resident commented with regards to the Township changing the zoning laws. The Supervisors advised that the Township is only conducting a survey to get the publics opinion. The resident also commented on Stockburger litigation.

Mr. D’Aprile commented on the Township surveying the residents and that it’s only a survey, Stockburger would still have to go through the normal steps and that the process could take years.

One resident commented with regards to the survey being used to gather the feelings of the Township residents. He advised he agreed with Ms. Goren that the survey should be more than one page and people would read it.

Ms. Crescenzo commented on the survey. She felt it would allow the residents to advise on their opinion. She suggested that the survey be very open ended and unbiased in its questions.

Mr. Brandon Wind commented on the survey. He questioned who would put the survey together, advising that a survey with no backup information is useless. He commented with regards to the Township’s processes, suggesting giving the residents the information first then the survey.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to the companies who may be handling the survey.

Ms. Bethman questioned how the residents would receive notice regarding the survey.

One resident questioned why the BOS is changing the process. Mr. Weaver advised.

Mr. Iwaskiw advised that he applauds the BOS for conducting the survey. He also commented with regards to the survey being no cost to the Township.

One Middletown Township resident commented with regards to the survey being funded by Stockburger.

One resident commented with regards to the results from the survey being positive, could the results be for legal use. Mr. Sanders advised.

Ms. Laughlin advised the elected officials that she feel that the government should not be run by survey.

Mr. Frawley, Stockburger advised the residents that Stockburger dose not want any legal problems. If the survey comes back with a negative result then the issue of relocating to the Bypass will go away. Stockburger is a family dealership. He asked for referendum.

One Middletown Township resident suggested that Newtown Township get Middletown Township more involved with this matter. He wants equal involvement. Mr. Weaver advised.

One resident commented with regards to Lockheed Martin and tax issues.

Other Business

Mr. Weaver thanked the public for their input.

Adjournment

Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted by:

 

_____________________________
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary