Newtown Township

Board of Supervisor Minutes

March 9, 2005


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting March 23, 2005. MINUTES OF 3/9/05 REGULAR MEETING:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 3/9/05 regular meeting.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously. 


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, March 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, Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Vince Lombardi, Main Street Manager Chris Ortwein, Middletown Township Supervisor Robert McMonagle, Township Solicitor Stephen Harris, 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 Reverend Nancy Stroh of the Holy Nativity Episcopal Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino asked that an item relating to and amendment to the Building Code be added under the Solicitor’s report.

PRESENTATIONS AND SPECIAL ACTIONS

RECOGNITION OF SERVICE TO THE TOWNSHIP – SUE BEASLEY AND ROBERT DIETERLE: The recipients were not present. Mr. Weaver said the proclamations will be sent to them.

NEWTOWN AMBULANCE SQUAD ANNUAL REPORT: The Squad’s representative was not present.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS

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.

BILLS LIST: Mrs. Goren moved to approve bills totaling $669,965.06; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

Mrs. Goren moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $1,850.00; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

TREASURER’S REPORT: None.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS

PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Board Chairman Andrew Levine reported that the Board met with a representative of the Council Rock Soccer League and discussed the Woll Tract plan at their most recent meeting. The plan will be discussed at the 3/21/05 Board of Supervisors’ work session and then brought to the Planning Commission. In recent weeks the Park and Recreation Board has also met with representatives from Pop Warner Football and with Judge Durkin of Pottstown, who discussed the possible formation of a Police Athletic League with the Board.

JOINT DOWNTOWN NEWTOWN CORPORATION (JDNC): Main Street Manager Chris Ortwein spoke about four aspects of recent JDNC activities: organization, design, economic structuring, and promotion. She said that three design grants have been awarded to local businesses for renovations, a DCED grant for improvements to link Sycamore Street with State Street is being sought, a Bucks Beautiful grant has been applied for, and a second First Friday event was held on 3/4/05. The JDNC has recruited about 50 volunteers and is building a strong promotion program.

PLANNING COMMISSION: Commission Vice-Chairman Vince Lombardi reported on their 3/1/05 meeting, at which they recommended approval of a PRD variance for a property on Alyssa Drive, and reviewed the plan for access through Newtown Township for a proposed development in Lower Makefield at Washington Crossing Road and Gaucks Lane. At the Commission’s request the developer met with Gaucks Lane residents and a mutually agreeable plan for access was identified. The Commission also discussed Toll Brothers’ concept plan for a development on the Fidler/Roberts Tract which involves amending the JMZO to include a new use in the R-2 District, and recommended final plan approval for site improvements to the Pryda LLC property.

SYCAMORE STREET COMMITTEE: Mr. Lombardi, the Committee Chairman, briefly reported on the Sycamore Street project. He said about 35 streetlights have been installed as well as other street improvements such as trash containers and benches, and he invited residents to view the improvements.

LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

CONDITIONAL USE – TELETRONICS TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION – 15 TERRY DRIVE – TMP# 29-10-115: Attorney Edward Murphy and engineer Heath Dumack were present to discuss their request for approval of approximately 17,000 SF of G-1 Manufacturing Use in an existing building in the LI District which Teletronics is continuing to use for D-1 Office Use and G-3 Warehouse Use. The 2/17/05 Planning Commission letter recommended approval with several conditions. Mr. Weaver opened the hearing.

Mr. Murphy said Teletronics currently occupies the former Control Concepts building. The company makes black boxes for military flight testing. He said the proposed improvements will not change the footprint of the building. The company expects to be in full operation within the next few months. There are currently 75 employees but the company will grow to a maximum of 200 employees.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to grant conditional use approval for 17,000 SF of G-1 Manufacturing Use, 43,150 SF of D-1 Office Use, and 35,300 SF of G-3 Warehouse Use to Teletronics Technology at 15 Terry Drive with the following conditions:

The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

PRELIMINARY AS FINAL PLAN – TELETRONICS TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION – 15 TERRY DRIVE – TMP# 29-10-115: Attorney Edward Murphy and engineer Heath Dumack also addressed the preliminary plan for the site improvements at the Teletronics property. Mr. Muphy provided reduced copies of the plan and aerial photos to the Board. He noted that the 2/17/05 Planning Commission letter recommended approval with several conditions and waivers.

Mr. Murphy reviewed the requested waivers listed in Section II of the 2/9/05 Pennoni Associates letter. He noted that the Planning Commission did not recommend waiving the requirement to install sidewalks along Terry Drive. He said the applicant would prefer that this requirement be waived, but if the Board wishes the applicant will provide an easement to the Township for future sidewalks. Mr. Murphy said there are mature pin oaks in the area that shed acorns. The applicant plans to keep the trees but prune them somewhat so that the building will be more visible. Mr. Murphy said there is room on the Terry Drive frontage for the trees, the parking, and the sidewalk. He said the applicant is willing to repair the broken curbs on Terry Drive mentioned in the Planning Commission letter.

Mr. Harris asked about the Planning Commission recommendation that the internal walkway be redesigned for greater pedestrian safety. Mr. Murphy said the plan has already been revised in accordance with the Commission’s comments.

Mr. Jirele said the Township generally has been requiring new developments to build sidewalks. Mr. Harp suggested that the Township should develop a plan for sidewalks in the whole Newtown Business Commons area; there was general agreement with this idea. Mr. Harp said the newly formed Newtown Business Commons Association should be involved with this.

Mr. Goodnoe suggested deferring the requirement for sidewalks until the end of 2006, by which time a plan for sidewalks in the area should be developed.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to grant preliminary as final plan approval to Teletronics Technology at 15 Terry Drive subject to the following conditions:

The following waivers will be granted:

The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

Mr. Jirele moved to direct the Planning Commission to look into a sidewalk plan for the LI and O-LI Districts. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe asked if the Board wished to authorize the Township Planner to work on this project. Mr. Harris said eventually the Engineer and the Solicitor should also be involved. Mr. Goodnoe said he preferred to begin with just the Planner.

Mr. Jirele and Mr. Harp agreed to amend their motion to include authorization for the Township Planner to develop a concept plan for review by the Planning Commission, which will then forward their recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

Discussion of amended motion: Nancy Crescenzo, a Township resident, said the Board should consider reactivating the Trail Committee to look at the whole Township and seek grants for sidewalks and trails.

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.

PRELIMINARY AS FINAL PLAN – PRYDA LLC – 159 N. SYCAMORE STREET – TMP# 29-12-15: Attorney Douglas Maloney and engineer Jeff Skinner were present to discuss the plan for site improvements to an 11,057 SF property in the TC District. Mr. Maloney said all legal issues have been resolved and all appeals withdrawn. The applicant received conditional use approval on 7/14/04 and several variances on 8/7/04 and 10/7/04. Mr. Maloney said most of the improvements have already been done.

Mr. Maloney said the applicant is agreeable to the conditions listed in the 3/3/05 Planning Commission letter, which recommends approval of the preliminary plan as final. He said the waivers listed in the letter involve either drafting issues or existing conditions, with the exception of two waivers relating to stormwater management.

Mr. Maloney said the applicant is also requesting a waiver of the traffic impact fees and the recreation fees. He said the ordinance applies to new development, and the improvements increased the footprint by only 138 SF. He feels the traffic impact fees should be based on the increase in the footprint, not the total area.

Mr. Harris said traffic impact fees are based on the use, not the area. He pointed out that no fees were paid on this property when it was used for residential purposes.

Mr. Maloney said Pryda did pay $25,000 in other fees that he has questioned. He also asked the Board to consider the dramatic improvement in the appearance of this very visible property on Sycamore Street.

Mr. Smith said he had no objection to the use of the rational method to determine peak flows. He noted that the applicant has reduced runoff by 60%.

Mr. Jirele, Mrs. Goren, and Mr. Harp said they do not want to waive any fees on this property.

Mr. Jirele moved to grant preliminary as final approval for the Pryda project at 159 N. Sycamore Street with the following conditions:

In addition, the following waivers are recommended:

The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Pellegrino said the traffic fees should be recalculated for 2005; the correct amount would be $6,062.70.

Mr. Jirele and Mr. Harp agreed to correct this figure in their motion.

Mr. Goodnoe asked why there is a tree trunk on the roof of the building. Mr. Maloney said he was not aware of this, but the trunk will be removed.

Ethel Hibbs, Secretary of the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) said the applicant has not yet changed the front doors on the building. This was a condition of HARB approval. Mr. Harris said this would be covered by the condition that the applicant comply with the conditional use approval, which includes compliance with HARB requirements.

Mrs. Hibbs said a brass historical plaque was removed because it contained inaccurate information and it should be replaced. She gave the correct wording to Mr. Maloney, who agreed to see that another plaque is installed.

Nancy Crescenzo said she is concerned about the applicant’s failure to replace the doors, the absence of handicapped parking, and the large number of cars she has seen parked on the property. She questioned how the applicant can occupy the building without meeting the requirements. Mr. Pellegrino said the applicant received a temporary Certificate of Occupancy as part of the settlement with the Township. A permanent Certificate will not be issued until all the work is done.

Mr. Smith said Mr. Harwood wanted to make sure he can inspect the property for compliance with the requirements for D-1 Office Use. Mr. Pellegrino said the inspection has been done.

Mr. Maloney said the handicapped parking will be on Sycamore Street and cannot be installed until the Sycamore Street project is finished. He also said he will look into the issue of the replacement of the front doors.

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS

CORRECTION: Mr. Harp said that it was incorrectly said at the 3/1/05 special meeting that he and Mrs. Goren had voted to approve the Brandywine Realty development. He said they voted for approval of the ICT Building, which was a different project, but against the Newtown Corporate Center development.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)

Steve Goodman, a Township resident, asked for an update on the closed loop system on the Bypass. Mr. Pellegrino said the Township is working with PennDOT to make the system traffic responsive, and it seems likely that PennDOT will fund the project.

Mr. Goodman asked if anything can be done to speed up the Swamp Road Improvements project. Mr. Goodnoe said that last year PennDOT called the project a priority and said it will be done in eight years.

Mr. Goodman asked about traffic calming on Stoopville Road. Mr. Pellegrino said two proposals have been received for preparing a plan; they will be discussed at the 3/21/05 Board work session.

Emil Matchyshyn, a Township resident, presented additional signatures for the petition against the Newtown Corporate Center that he gave the Board at the last meeting.

Paul Salvatore, a Township resident, announced several upcoming events sponsored by the Newtown Business and Professional Association. Their next meeting will be on 3/22/05. Mr. Salvatore also suggested that a regional committee be established to deal with traffic concerns across municipal boundaries.

Tony McBryan, a Township resident and president of the Newtown Gate Homeowners Association Master Board, complained about the bright lights in the parking lot of the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) building. He distributed photographs taken from the windows of nearby residences. He said the lights are not being turned off at 8:00 PM, the standards are taller than the approved height, and there is light spillage. He has tried to negotiate with LSAC but has made no progress. He asked the Board to intervene.

Mr. Harp said he has seen how bright the lights are and agrees they are not consistent with the plan approval. He suggested the Board insist that LSAC correct the lights by 4/13/05. Mrs. Goren said she agrees that the Board must hold developers to the conditions of plan approval.

Mr. Jirele suggested sending the Engineer or the Codes Department to investigate. Mr. Harris said this has been done. He said that LSAC wants to keep their lights on all night for safety purposes if they change the fixtures. Mr. Harris said a 4/13/05 deadline seems reasonable.

Nancy Crescenzo said the Township should also be concerned about the lights planned for the Woll Tract. She also proposed that the Martindell House be moved to the Woll Tract if it is to be razed for the Municipal Complex expansion project. Mr. Pellegrino said the house has been found to have no historic significance. There is no current plan to tear it down, but that is a possibility.

Brandon Wind, a Township resident and president of the Newtown Library Association, thanked all who attended the Association’s 2/12/05 fundraising event. He also asked the Board to monitor the work being done by Verizon. A contractor accidentally cut service to a neighborhood recently. Mr. Wind also mentioned that the JDNC was almost eliminated from the budget a few years ago, and it is clearly doing great work.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS

CHAIRMAN: No items.

OTHER MEMBERS

VERIZON: Mr. Harp said Verizon has been vigilant in overseeing their contractors, and Township officials have also been monitoring the work.

MANAGER

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

AUTHORIZATION TO PROCEED WITH CONTRACT FOR SURVEY ON STOCKBURGER PROPOSAL: Members received a 1/24/05 memo from Mr. Pellegrino which recommended awarding the contract for an independent citizen survey regarding the Stockburger proposal to Core Research Associates.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to engage Core Research Associates to perform the survey. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Harp reviewed the history of the Stockburger family’s efforts to move their car dealership to a property on the Bypass. He said he saw no reason for the survey and he opposes the Stockburger proposal.

Mrs. Goren said the Board should make decisions by gathering data and studying it, not by surveying public opinion. She said Board members have a responsibility to be more informed than the average resident.

Mr. Weaver said the survey will not commit the Board to the project. He noted that Stockburger is paying for the survey and the Township will design it.

Mr. Jirele said if many residents think the proposal is a good idea that is significant information for the Board to know. Mr. Harp responded that the Township has not surveyed residents on other issues, such as the change in the floodplain ordinance. Mr. Jirele responded that the ordinance amendment was a different issue. He said the Township used surveys in developing the Park and Recreation Comprehensive Plan.

Robert McMonagle, a Middletown Township Supervisor, asked if residents of adjacent municipalities will be surveyed. Mr. Weaver said the Board would like to hear from Newtown Township residents first.

Tony McBryan said Stockburger did a survey two years ago. Mr. Weaver responded that it was done privately, and the Board would like to do an independent survey. Mr. McBryan said allowing Stockburger to put a car dealership on the Bypass will set a precedent for other property owners there. Mr. Jirele said that each land development proposal is considered on its own merits and decisions do not set precedents.

Mr. McBryan asked why the Board is encouraging this proposal when it was rejected by the State Supreme Court several years ago. Mr. Jirele said the present proposal is different, because Stockburger is now offering to negotiate conditions. He said he does not think it is a bad thing for the Board to reach out to residents on a complicated issue through a survey.

Mrs. Goren said the Board should consider this issue without a survey because members have the responsibility and the qualifications to determine the best course of action.

Frank Mendicino, a Township resident and member of the Planning Commission, said Stockburger was told to meet with the Commission two years ago and did not. He said there are many zoning issues involved that the average resident does not know about. He recommended that the Board refer the proposal to the Planning Commission, gather data, and then consider doing a survey.

Brandon Wind said he disagrees with the process being followed. He agreed that most residents are uninformed about the nature of the proposal and its impact, and he recommended that Stockburger be asked to make a presentation at a public meeting. Mr. Jirele responded that he would support an educational effort before doing the survey.

Mr. Wind also said his preference would be for residents to give their feedback on this issue to the Board in person.

Cheryl Minton, a resident of Eagles Mere in Middletown Township, said she does not want a car dealership on the Bypass. She asked that Middletown residents be surveyed too, and said she knows that Newtown Township residents are uninformed about it.

Cathy Fink, a Newtown Borough resident, commented that Stockburger is already in the community and the community should help them find the best place for their business. She said it seemed that the Bypass is a better place than Sycamore Street.

Emil Matchyshyn spoke in support of Mr. Harp’s comments about the motion.

Phil Calabro, a Township resident, said the Board is putting the interests of the business community ahead of the residents. He asked that the survey be sent to all nearby homeowners regardless of the township they are in. Mr. Weaver said the survey is being sent to all 7,200 households in the Township.

Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, thanked the Board for asking for residents’ opinions.

Jennifer Dix, a Township resident, said the biggest issue is the possible change in zoning, since it will set a precedent.

Steve Goodman agreed that zoning is the main issue. He urged the Board not to do spot zoning.

Jay McGuigan, a resident of Newtown Crossing, displayed a map of the area near the Stockburger property on the Bypass. He said there are several large parcels in the vicinity, including one owned by Pitcairn that could be sold off and developed as car dealerships or other businesses.

Mr. Jirele suggested that Mr. Harris provide some education regarding zoning issues at a future public meeting.

Paul Salvatore said Pitcairn is no longer involved in automobile sales. He said that if Stockburger is prevented from putting a car dealership on their property they will most likely build offices, which would generate much more traffic than a car dealershipwould.

John D’Aprile said the Township should gather new information about the Stockburger proposal, since many things have changed in the area since 1996. He also asked if Lower Makefield consulted any Newtown residents about all the development they permitted on the Bypass.

Nancy Crescenzo said there should be more public discussion of the issue.

Susan Iezzatti, a resident of Upper Silver Lake Road, said a Stockburger representative has stated that moving the car dealership to the Bypass will be good for the Borough. This means to her that it will be bad for the Township. She said she does not want the Bypass to look like Route 13 in Bristol. She wondered why the proposal keeps coming up when the answer on all levels has always been “no.”

Sean Frawley, a representative of the Stockburger Company, said editorials in the newspaper have contained incorrect information. He said the property on the Bypass will be developed for some use, and there are more intensive uses than a car dealership. He also said the original court case involved different issues.

George Stockburger IV said circumstances have changed since 1996, and many people are misinformed about the current proposal. He also said that there are worse uses than a car dealership for the Bypass property. He said his company welcomes the opportunity to educate the public on the issues and to answer any questions residents might have.

Mr. Harp asked if the Stockburger Company has considered other properties in the region for their dealership. Mr. Stockburger said there are many complex requirements for locating a dealership, and the company wants to stay in the Newtown area.

Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed 3-2, with Mr. Harp and Mrs. Goren voting “nay.”

SOLICITOR

JMZO AMENDMENT 2004-17 – ELIMINATION OF MID-RISE APARTMENT – RECOMMENDATION TO JOINTURE TO ADVERTISE: Mr. Harris noted that the Planning Commission recommended approval of this ordinance.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to forward JMZO 2004-17 to the Jointure to be advertised for enactment. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren asked if it is legal for the Jointure to eliminate a use. Mr. Harris said there is no legal liability in this action. Mrs. Goren asked if a developer could propose high-rise apartments. Mr. Harris said there is a small possibility, but the Township could defend against them.

Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING – CHIPPEWEA FARMS REZONING ORDINANCE – JMZO 2004-16: Mr. Goodnoe moved to enact JMZO 2004-16. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

WILTSHIRE WALK – FIRST AMENDED FINANCIAL SECURITY AGREEMENT: Mr. Harris explained that Orleans Corporation is asking to amend the agreement in order to change banks.

Mr. Jirele moved to execute the First Amended Financial Security Agreement for Wiltshire Walk. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

BUILDING CODE AMENDMENT – ACCESSORY AND UTILITY STRUCTURES: This amendment reduces the minimum enforcement requirement for such structures from 1,000 SF to 200 SF.

Mr. Harp moved to authorize the Solicitor to send the amendment to the Department of Licenses and Inspections and then to advertise it. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

ENGINEER

MYLARS – PRD VARIANCE – BECKSTEAD – 35 HIGH STREET – TMP# 29-5-11: Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the signing of the mylars for 35 High Street, as recommend by Mr. Smith in his 2/25/05 memo. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

MONTHLY REPORT: Members received Mr. Smith’s March 2005 report in their packets.

OLD BUSINESS: None.

NEW BUSINESS: None.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)

Karen D’Aprile said it seems like the Township is trying to get rid of some longtime local businesspeople.

Frank Mendicino asked what the Board will do about the problem with the lights at the Law School Admissions Council building. Mr. Harris responded that the Township has been trying to mediate the dispute. There is agreement about how the light standards should be changed, but no agreement about when the lights should be turned off. There are different interpretations of the reference to safety lighting in the approval letter.

Mr. Mendicino said residents need to get involved with development at the Planning Commission level.

Mike Petrucci, a Township resident, said he supports the survey and would like to see the public educated about the issue. He said there are other uses that could go onto the Stockburger property that would be worse than a car dealership. Mr. Petrucci said his own business plans have been held up by the sewer moratorium, and he asked if there is any news. Mr. Goodnoe responded that there has been no movement for several weeks.

Bill Sterling, a Township resident, asked how the Agricultural Soils ordinance will affect the CM District. Mr. Harris explained that the net effect is to make a maximum of 25% of an area with agricultural soils developable instead of 33%. This means a developer can build fewer houses on a property with agricultural soils. Mr. Sterling said this lowers the value of land in the CM District.

Brandon Wind complained about a Supervisor asking a local businessman where he has looked for a place to move his business.

Walter Iwaskiw asked the Board to discuss strategies for funding park and recreation projects, as was promised last year.

Paul Salvatore deplored the use of fear tactics and called for more discussion of zoning issues. He asked residents not to confuse local businesspeople with outside developers.

John D’Aprile said the Township appears to be encouraging local businesspeople to leave.

George Stockburger IV said he is concerned about the public being misinformed about his proposal. He invited anyone to call him with questions.

Nancy Crescenzo thanked Mr. Weaver for his handling of Community Comments. She said several local businesses have been lost and Toll Brothers developments have taken their places. She also criticized the decision to build a park on the Bypass.

Justin Lewis, a Township resident, said he would like to keep Stockburger in the community and discourage outside developers.

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

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 12:15 AM.

 

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