Board of Supervisor
Special Meeting Minutes
March 1, 2005
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting April 13, 2005. MINUTES OF 3/1/05 SPECIAL MEETING: Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the 3/1/05 special meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously, with Mrs. Goren abstaining.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met for a special meeting on Tuesday, March 1, 2005, in the Township meeting room at 6:30 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Richard Weaver, Vice-Chairman Scott R. Harp, Member Thomas Jirele and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Township Solicitor David Sander, Township Engineer Gerald Smith, and Township Manager Robert M. Pellegrino.
CALL TO ORDER: Chairman Richard Weaver called the special meeting to order at 6:30 PM. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
PURPOSE AND AGENDA FOR MEETING: Mr. Weaver explained that the purpose of tonight’s meeting is to consider whether the Board of Supervisors should send the Solicitor to the 3/3/05 Zoning Hearing Board meeting to support the application of Brandywine Realty Trust. He said the public will be given an opportunity to comment before a motion is made and the Board votes, and no further public comment will be taken.
Emil Matchyshyn, a resident of Kirkwood, said most of his neighbors are opposed to the Brandywine development. He expressed surprise that the Township would consider sending the Solicitor to support an applicant. He said he opposes the development because the local roads cannot handle the traffic it will generate, the bridge will cause flooding in the area, and it seems as if many special exceptions have been made for this applicant.
Mr. Weaver responded that the only issue before the Zoning Hearing Board is the proposed bridge, which will cause a .63’ rise in the 100 year flood level. He said the bridge is the only way to get most of the project’s traffic to the Bypass. Mr. Weaver said the Township has asked Brandywine to make the access on Upper Silver Lake Road for emergency use only, and Brandywine is considering the request.
Mr. Matchyshyn said he has seen a plan that showed three access points on Upper Silver Lake Road. Mr. Sander said that was a sketch plan showing an alternative design if the bridge is not built. He also commented that the Township is automatically a party to every Zoning Hearing Board application, and the Board has taken positions on other applications in the past.
Regarding Mr. Matchyshyn’s concerns about flooding, Mr. Sander said any backwater caused by the bridge would affect only one adjacent property. He explained that the applicant is asking for a special exception to build a bridge at that location and a variance to allow a .63’ rise in the 100 year flood level.
Mr. Matchyshyn said the Township protected some residents from the effects of this development by closing Upper Silver Lake Road below Penns Trail North, but other residents will be affected. Mr. Jirele responded that the road closing was an engineering decision based on a determination that the intersection of Upper Silver Lake Road and Route 332 is too close to the Bypass.
Steve Goodman, a Township resident, asked why Mrs. Goren was not present. Mr. Weaver responded that she was unable to leave work and declined to be present via speakerphone.
Mr. Goodman said he feels the Brandywine project is too big and will cause problems with traffic and flooding. He said the Bypass cannot handle 2,000 additional cars a day. Mr. Goodman said he is running as a candidate for Supervisor because the two endorsed Republican candidates are supporting the Brandywine development at the expense of the residents.
Jennifer Dix, a Township resident, said advocates of the Brandywine development claim it will bring the Township about $890,000 in revenue. However, she has calculated that if this parcel was developed for low-density housing the Township would receive approximately half the projected revenue without the traffic and flooding problems.
Phil Calabro, a Township resident, said he thought the motion to send the Solicitor was defeated at the 2/23/05 Board meeting. Mr. Weaver said it was not defeated or passed, since the vote was 2-2. Mr. Calabro said tonight’s meeting is a waste of time.
Mr. Matchyshyn said the Township amended the ordinance for the benefit of Brandywine. Mr. Sander responded that the ordinance was amended to correct an anomaly. The effect was to make the requirements similar in all floodplain areas.
Desiree Roberts, a resident of Wiltshire Walk, expressed concern about the Brandywine project causing increased traffic in her neighborhood. She said that 70 cars on North Penns Trail will block the road and residents will not be able to get out of the development.
Mr. Weaver said the Township has asked Brandywine to make the Upper Silver Lake Road access for emergency use only. He also said if the bridge is built it will bring most of the traffic to the Bypass.
Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, asked if the Brandywine plan was approved. Mr. Sander said it received preliminary approval in 2002. He said the Township and the developer must comply with the conditions of the preliminary approval, although more conditions can be added at final approval. Mrs. Hibbs said three of the Supervisors voted for the preliminary approval, so the plan will most likely receive final approval. She also said that after North Penns Trail is dedicated it will be a public road and anyone can drive on it.
Emil Matchyshyn said the Brandywine development will lead to a four-lane northern bypass road. Mr. Jirele said there will be no four-lane highways built and the Township has never advocated for a northern bypass.
Steve Goodman said he has seen plans showing Stoopville Road as a northern bypass.
Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, commented that Mrs. Goren was offered the opportunity to participate in this vote via speakerphone and declined. She asked if any similar variances have been granted, and Mr. Weaver said they have. Mrs. Crescenzo asked if the Planning Commission suggested the construction of the bridge; Mr. Weaver said he did not know if they suggested the bridge, but the Commission did recommend approval of the plan with the bridge. Mrs. Crescenzo said that residential development of this site would have an impact on the school district.
Jennifer Dix said her figures included the impact of residential development on the school district.
Mr. Brandon, a Township resident, said that he believes Brandywine will not build the project unless they have access to the Bypass.
Christine Whalen, a Township resident, asked why there were no conditions imposed regarding Wiltshire Walk at the preliminary plan approval. Mr. Sander responded that the Township can only impose conditions on a developer that relate to their site, and a landowner has the right to access a public road. If a plan meets the requirements of the ordinance the Board must approve it. Ms. Whalen said the ordinance prohibits adverse effects on neighboring areas.
Mr. Matchyshyn questioned the appropriateness of sending the Solicitor to the hearing.
Jonathan Dix, a Township resident, said the site of Wiltshire Walk should have been included in the OR District when it was created. He said the Township did not plan roads in the area to handle the traffic generated by the OR District. The Brandywine site is landlocked and the problem should not be addressed by taking the traffic through Wiltshire Walk. Mr. Dix also said the ordinance has requirements for protecting adjacent areas with different uses.
Mr. Goodnoe said the Township cannot impose requirements for off-site improvements. It can collect traffic impact fees and use them for these improvements.
Karen D’Aprile, a Township resident, said she has seen many situations like this one discussed at Board meetings. She advised the residents to work with the Board to address problems and not to allow the development to become a political issue.
Phil Calabro said residents can change the way the Township operates by voting in the election.
Mr. Goodnoe moved to send the Solicitor to support the Zoning Hearing Board application of Brandywine Realty Trust on 3/3/05. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Harp said he opposes this motion because Brandywine has their own legal counsel and taxpayers should not be paying for the Solicitor to support Brandywine’s case.
Mr. Goodnoe said the Brandywine project is an asset to the Township and will bring revenue, jobs, and services to the area. If there is no bridge to enable traffic to get to the Bypass all residents in the area will suffer, as Brandywine can still build the development without the bridge.
Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed 3-1, with Mr. Harp voting “nay.”
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 7:35 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