Newtown Township

Board of Supervisor Minutes

February 23, 2005


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting March 9, 2005. MINUTES OF 2/23/05 REGULAR MEETING: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 2/23/05 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously with Mr. Jirele abstaining.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, February 23, 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, and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Planning Commission Chairman Shawn Ward, Telecommunications Committee Chairman James Manahan, Newtown Fire Association Chief Zach Dunkelberger, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, Police Chief Martin Duffy, 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 Pastor Gerry Newswanger of the First Baptist Church of Wycombe. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: None.

SPECIAL ACTIONS

PRESENTATION – NEWTOWN FIRE ASSOCIATION ANNUAL REPORT: Zach Dunkelberger, the Chief of the Newtown Fire Association, reported on the Association’s accomplishments in 2004. Chief Dunkelberger said the Association has served the Newtown community for 115 years. In 2004 the all-volunteer workforce provided several thousand hours of service. Achievements included meeting their budget, experiencing no injuries, and getting members certified in rapid response and other skills. The Association is in the midst of renovations to Station 55 and is preparing to replace their ladder truck.

Board members thanked Chief Dunkelberger for his report and for the good work of the Association.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS

MINUTES

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.

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.

BILLS LIST: Mrs. Goren moved to approve bills totaling $292,617.24; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

Mrs. Goren moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $364,466.85; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

TREASURER’S REPORT: None.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS

TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY BOARD: James Manahan, the new Chairman of the Advisory Board, reported on recent items of business. The Board is working with Township staff on new software for the character generator, and studying the franchise agreement with Comcast. He noted that the contract period is about halfway finished. Mr. Manahan said all are welcome at the Board’s meetings, which take place on the first Wednesday of each month in the Newtown Borough Fire Hall.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION: Mr. Weaver reported that the Commission continues to make progress on establishing a Newtown Business Commons Association. Eight business owners have agreed to serve on the Association board. Mr. Weaver and Mr. Pellegrino expect to work with them as advisors.

PLANNING COMMISSION: Deferred until Mr. Ward’s arrival (following Land Development Projects).

LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

PRD VARIANCE – COSTELLO – 462 UNION STREET – TMP# 29-25-16: Stephen Costello was present to discuss his request for relief to allow construction of an 8’ X 14’ addition to his home in the Newtown Crossing development in the R-1 District. Mr. Costello said the addition will include a bathroom, a bedroom, and a storage area. The proposed addition would have a side yard setback ranging from 11’ to 12.4’ where the minimum required is 15’, and a 39.3’ front yard setback where the minimum required is 40’. The Planning Commission recommended approval in their 2/3/05 letter to the Board.

Mr. Harris asked if the plan has been discussed with neighbors of the site. Mr. Costello said the owner of the property to the rear does not live in the area, and the adjacent neighbors on either side do not object to the addition. He said a row of evergreens will screen the addition from the neighbor in the rear.

Mr. Harris asked if the Homeowners Association has any objections. Mr. Costello said the Homeowners Association has no authority over the single dwellings in Newtown Crossing.

Mr. Harp moved to approve the PRD variance for 462 Union Street with the following conditions:

The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

CONDITIONAL USE – QUIZNO’S RESTAURANT – 2100 S. EAGLE ROAD – TMP# 29-10-85-5: Charles Kupski of Cornerstone Consulting was present to discuss the applicant’s request for approval of 1,615 SF of E-6 Eating Place Use in an existing building in the Village at Newtown shopping center in the PC District. The applicant proposes a gourmet deli in a unit previously occupied by a retail use. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing and Mr. Kupski was sworn in.

Mr. Kupski said the applicant is agreeable to all the conditions listed in the 2/17/05 Planning Commission letter. He provided pictures of the store (exhibit A1) and a floor plan (exhibit A2).

Mr. Harp moved to approve the conditional use application of Quizno’s Restaurant with the following conditions:

The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.

Discussion of motion: Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, read excerpts from a letter from Chief Duffy to Mr. Pellegrino describing traffic problems on South Eagle Road. She said the Township needs to address parking and traffic problems in the area.

Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver closed the hearing.

CONDITIONAL USE – NEWTOWN OFFICE PARK – NEWTOWN-YARDLEY ROAD – TMP# 29-10-99: William Messick of Newtown-Yardley Associates was present to discuss his request for approval of Use G-15 Soil Stripping to remove approximately 10,000 cubic yards of topsoil from a construction site in the O-LI District. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing and Mr. Messick was sworn in.

Mr. Messick said he is agreeable to the conditions listed in the 2/17/05 Planning Commission letter. He said he has offered the soil to the Township and it was turned down. The soil will be removed within the next 30 days.

Mrs. Goren moved to approve the conditional use application for Newtown Office Park with the following conditions:

Mrs. Goren’s motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver closed the hearing.

CONDITIONAL USE – ORLEANS – YAMAMOTO TRACT: Continued to 3/23/05.

CONDITIONAL USE – K. HOVNANIAN – BUCK ROAD AND THE BYPASS: Continued to 3/23/05.

CONDITIONAL USE – TELETRONICS TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION – 15 TERRY DRIVE: Continued to 3/9/05.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS CONTINUED

PLANNING COMMISSION: Chairman Shawn Ward reported on the Commission’s 2/15/05 meeting, at which the Commission recommended approval for conditional use applications from Quizno’s Restaurant, Newtown Office Park (Soil Stripping), and Teletronics Technology. They also reviewed the preliminary plan for Teletronics and recommended approval of the plan as final.

The Commission tabled the discussion of rezoning the Fidler/Roberts Tract to 3/1/05 because it had not been advertised correctly. They also discussed extensively the Zoning Hearing Board application of Brandywine Realty Trust and recommended that the Board of Supervisors not oppose the application. JMZO 2005-01 regarding agricultural soils was reviewed, and the Commission recommended that it be approved with an amendment that would exempt properties of fewer than six acres from the preservation requirements. Mr. Ward noted that members of the Board received Revision B of this ordinance in their packets, and it includes the recommended amendment.

Mrs. Goren asked if Commission members made other motions regarding the Brandywine Realty Trust variance request. Mr. Ward said a motion to recommend supporting the request and a motion to make no recommendation were made, but both failed.

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS

STANFORD ROBERTS: Mr. Weaver noted the passing of Stanford Roberts at the age of 102. Mr. Roberts founded the Roberts Nursery and was active in many community groups.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)

Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, suggested that a page of the Township Minute Book be dedicated to each community leader who dies.

Perry Beam, owner of the Newtown Bookshop, said he was shocked to hear that the Township was considering bringing a big chain bookstore into the community on the Acme site. He said there are two good bookstores in town; they are an important part of the community and they give back much more to the community than the chain stores do.

Nancy Crescenzo asked if arrangements have been made to honor Sue Beasley for her service to the community. Mr. Weaver said she and several others will be honored at the Board’s next public meeting.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked about the closed loop system in which the Borough is involved. Mr. Pellegrino explained that there are two closed loop systems, one on the Bypass and one on Sycamore Street. The Borough is involved with the one on Sycamore Street, and the two municipalities are working cooperatively.

Mrs. Crescenzo complained about the title of a Township recreation program called “Desperate Housewives.”

Robert Ciervo, a Township resident, said he represents the “Save Historic Dolington” Committee, which opposes a proposed Toll Brothers development in Upper Makefield. He invited Township residents to a fundraising event on 3/19/05 at Chandler Hall.

Jonathan Dix, a resident of the Wiltshire Walk development, presented a petition with 230 signatures to the Board. The petition asks the Board to oppose the Newtown Corporate Center, the Brandywine Realty Trust’s proposed office complex on Upper Silver Lake Road. He read the petition, which listed six objections to the plan: the complex is too large, the roads in the area cannot handle the traffic it will generate, too much traffic will be directed onto North Penns Trail, the ordinance prohibits projects having adverse effects on adjacent areas, the bridge may cause flooding on other properties, and the project will not generate as much revenue as the developer claims.

Rick Cirucci, a resident of Wiltshire Walk, said he supports Mr. Dix’s comments.

Jennifer Dix, a resident of Wiltshire Walk, asked that Mr. Goodnoe abstain from voting on any question regarding the Newtown Corporate Center because of a possible conflict of interest. Mr. Goodnoe responded that he has no conflict of interest.

Ms. Dix said it is not true that commercial development is always good for a community. The Newtown Corporate Center will not generate as much revenue as some advocates claim, because earned income tax revenue is going down and it will cost taxpayers a great deal of money to maintain the proposed bridge. She also said office buildings should access major routes, not roads in residential areas. She asked that the Township focus on improving existing commercial areas and use this site for low density housing.

Christine Whalen, a Township resident, asked the Township to conduct another traffic study in the area of the site. She said decisions are being made without full understanding of the situation.

Mary MacNamara, a Township resident, said the site is in the OR District but is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. She is concerned about flooding, increased traffic, and the cost of maintaining the proposed bridge. She urged residents to attend the 3/3/05 Zoning Hearing Board meeting at which the variance request will be heard.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS

CHAIRMAN

RESOLUTION 2005-R-05 - RECOGNIZING BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Mr. Weaver read a resolution celebrating February as Black History Month and recognizing the contributions of African-Americans.

Mrs. Goren moved to adopt Resolution 2005-R-05 celebrating February as Black History Month. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS

YOUTH FOOTBALL PROGRAM: Mr. Harp said Township officials will be meeting with representatives of the Pop Warner League on 2/25/05. He invited any residents who are interested in participating in Pop Warner football to let the Park and Recreation Department know of their interest before the meeting.

MANAGER

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

ADOPTION OF POLICE POLICY MANUAL: Mr. Pellegrino asked Police Chief Martin Duffy to speak about the Police Policy Manual. Chief Duffy asked the Board of Supervisors to adopt the updated Manual, which has been reviewed by the Township Solicitor, the insurance carrier, and the Supervisors. He said the Department put a great deal of work into the update, which was last done in 1995. Board members received copies of a 11/1/04 letter from H. A. Thompson, the insurance carrier, commending the Department for the quality and comprehensiveness of the manual and stating that the foundation has been laid for accreditation by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.

Mrs. Goren moved to adopt the Police Policy Manual; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

Mr. Pellegrino noted that the concerns raised by members of the Board in their earlier review have been addressed, as described in Chief Duffy’s 11/17/04 memo. Members of the Board thanked Chief Duffy for his hard work on the manual.

CONDITIONAL USE EXTENSION – TASTEFUL TEAS AND MORE – 2 SWAMP ROAD: Mr. Pellegrino explained that this project has been delayed by the sewer moratorium. The applicant is requesting a one year extension of the conditional use approval received on 8/25/04.

Mrs. Goren moved to grant an extension of the 8/25/04 conditional use approval for Tasteful Teas and More to 2/25/06. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

PAYMENT #12 – SYCMAORE STREET IMPROVEMENTS: Mrs. Goren moved to approve payment in the amount of $18,357.04 to Haines and Kibblehouse, as recommended by a 2/17/05 letter from Pennoni Associates. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

GRANT: Mr. Pellegrino announced that the Township recently received a $25,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development to help with the costs of extensions of the Newtown Trail. He thanked Representative Steil for his help in obtaining the grant.

SOLICITOR

JMZO 2004-18 – SALE OF GASOLINE: Mrs. Goren moved to forward this JMZO amendment prohibiting the sale of gasoline at retail stores to the Joint Zoning Council, and to recommend advertisement by the Jointure municipalities. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

JMZO 2005-01 – REVISIONS A AND B – AGRICULTURAL SOILS: Mr. Harris said the Planning Commission reviewed Revision A at their 2/15/05 meeting and recommended the changes now incorporated in Revision B.

Mrs. Goren moved to forward Revision B of JMZO 2005-01 to the Joint Zoning Council with the recommendation that it be advertised by the Jointure municipalities. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING – ORDINANCE AMENDING AND RESTATING THE TOWNSHIP STORMWATER MANAGEMENT ORDINANCE: Mr. Harp moved to enact the Stormwater Management Ordinance; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

ZONING HEARING BOARD - NEW APPLICATIONS: Mr. Harris reviewed the three new applications scheduled for the 3/3/05 Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Supervisors indicated they did not wish to take a position on any application.

ZONING HEARING BOARD – REVISED APPLICATION OF BRANDYWINE REALTY TRUST FOR VARIANCE AND SPECIAL EXCEPTION: Mr. Harris briefly reviewed the history of this application, and said his office previously was authorized by the Board of Supervisors to attend the hearing and support the application. A hearing was never convened under that authorization, and the applicant has filed a revised application. Mr. Harris said the request for relief is the same as in the previous application; the only change is that the proposed bridge has been redesigned; it is longer, and the rise in the 100 year flood elevation is reduced from .99’ to .63’.

Mr. Harris noted that the Planning Commission voted to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not oppose this application, but not to support it either. Mr. Harris asked the Board if his instructions have changed.

Mrs. Goren said she does not want to send the Solicitor to support the request for relief, as she does not see the hardship claimed by the applicant. Mr. Harp said he agrees with Mrs. Goren, and feels Brandywine can handle their own legal representation.

Mr. Harp moved to not send the Solicitor to the Brandywine Realty Trust hearing. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Weaver and Mr. Goodnoe said they do not object to sending the Solicitor to this hearing.

Andrew Bonekemper, an attorney representing Township resident Chris Mallon, said there is no reason to send the Solicitor, and the Township would be spending public funds to oppose the residents. He also asked Mr. Goodnoe to abstain because of a possible conflict of interest.

John D’Aprile, a Township resident, said the discussion is futile because it is obvious that the vote will be 2-2 on this or any motion about this hearing.

Craig Bryson, a representative of Brandywine Realty Trust, said the plan for the Newtown Corporate Center meets ordinance requirements. He said Brandywine is willing to spend over $2 million on the bridge to make the traffic situation in the area better, but they will find alternative access to their site if they cannot build the bridge. He acknowledged that many concerns voiced tonight are valid, but the alternatives to the bridge are worse.

Mary McNamara said Brandywine is using scare tactics, and she asked the Board to vote on the motion.

Mr. Harp’s motion failed 2-2, with Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Weaver voting “nay.”

Mrs. Goren moved to send the Solicitor to the hearing to support Brandywine’s application. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and failed 2-2, with Mrs. Goren and Mr. Harp voting “nay."

Mrs. Goren said that three votes were required to send the Solicitor; therefore he is not authorized to go. Mr. Weaver said the Solicitor was authorized previously, so he will go to the hearing.

Mr. Harris said his question was: Is the Board reconsidering its instructions to him? He said the Board did not vote to change the previous authorization.

Mrs. Goren read the following from Mr. Sander’s 2/17/05 report to the Board: “The Board should determine whether it wishes to take a position on this application and if so, whether it wishes our office to attend the hearing.” She said her motion to send the Solicitor failed, so he should not be sent.

Mr. Harris offered to study the original motion regarding sending the Solicitor and provide a written opinion to the Board. Mrs. Goren said she would prefer to see another attorney provide the opinion, as Mr. Harris might be in the position of recommending increased business for his firm.

Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the Solicitor to study the issue and provide a written opinion to the Board. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp for discussion.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Harp said an opinion is not necessary since the motion to send the Solicitor failed.

Mr. Weaver said it is clear that this issue would not be settled until all five Supervisors are present to vote on it. He said the decision will be tabled until a special meeting is called, before the 3/3/05 Zoning Hearing Board meeting, to make the decision.

ENGINEER

RICHBORO ROAD: Mr. Smith said Pennoni is still working with PennDOT on the timing of the double left turn light on Richboro Road.

OLD BUSINESS: None.

NEW BUSINESS: None.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)

Ethel Hibbs said much of the discussion tonight has been based on assumptions. She asked if Penns Trail North has been dedicated to the Township yet. Mr. Pellegrino said it has not. She asked if Brandywine Boulevard and the bridge have been accepted for dedication. Mr. Harris said that question was left to be determined at final plan approval. Mrs. Goren said that when dedication of Brandywine Boulevard and the bridge was discussed by the Board at the preliminary plan hearing a majority of the members indicated they were in favor of dedication.

Mrs. Hibbs suggested that the Township require Brandywine to contribute to the cost of maintaining the bridge if it accepts dedication. She also said the residents of Wiltshire Walk should have known that their homes are adjacent to the Office Research District. She suggested that residents should look at what is best for everyone in the Township.

Nancy Crescenzo said many neighborhoods in the Township have been impacted by developments on which they had no input, and she also urged the residents of Wiltshire Walk to advocate for everyone in the area.

Christine Whalen said traffic generated by the Newtown Corporate Center will eventually go through the Borough, which is unrepresented in this discussion.

Phil Calabro, a Township resident, objected to the Brandywine representative threatening the residents. He said the Board seems to be favoring the interests of developers over those of the residents who elected them.

John D’Aprile said it would have been helpful if the Township had approved the Homeowners’ Disclosure ordinance, which was proposed a few years earlier. If the ordinance had been in place the Wiltshire Walk residents would have known what could be built next to them. He said that a Supervisor who lives near the Newtown Corporate Center site also might have a vested interest.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: Mr. Weaver said the Board will meet in executive session following the adjournment of the public meeting for matters of acquisition of real estate and litigation.

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 10:05 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