Newtown Township

Board of Supervisor Minutes

April 27, 2005


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting May 11, 2005. MINUTES OF 4/27/05 REGULAR MEETING:  Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 4/27/05 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, April 27, 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 Tom Jirele, and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs, 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 Pastor Harry Whyte of the More View Bible Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: None.

SPECIAL ACTION

PRESENTATION BY STOCKBURGER ORGANIZATION: George Stockburger V, accompanied by several other representatives of the Stockburger Organization, presented an overview of his company’s proposal for relocating their car dealerships to a site at Silver Lake Road and the Bypass, which the company owns. The plan includes redevelopment of the present dealership sites on State Street in Newtown Borough and on Sycamore Street in the Township. A zoning change would be needed to permit car dealerships on the Bypass.

Mr. Stockburger displayed an artist’s rendering of what the Sycamore Street renovations might look like. It showed mixed commercial and residential uses with parking behind the buildings. He said the Stockburger Organization is willing to work with the community to design the buildings so that they harmonize with the Sycamore Street project. The HARB and others have favorably reviewed the design in the community.

Mr. Stockburger said that his company is proposing this plan because a move to the Bypass will make their business more competitive with other dealerships and enable them to stay in the Newtown area. When the Bypass was built it eliminated much of the traffic that once drove past the dealerships, and their business was affected. He said that if the plan is not accepted he expects that Stockburger will sell their Newtown area properties and relocate. He said that many opponents of his company’s plan assume that if the Stockburger proposal is not accepted the Bypass property will remain open space, but this is an incorrect assumption. The present zoning would allow offices on this site, and developers have already approached Stockburger with plans for an office complex. He pointed out that offices would bring much more traffic to the area than a car dealership.

Mrs. Goren asked if the Stockburger Organization or its predecessors ever disposed of used oil directly into the ground. Mr. Stockburger said this was never done, and repeated soil surveys have indicated that there is no contamination.

Emil Matchyshyn, a Township resident, asked if other Chevrolet dealerships will protest the proposed dealership on the Bypass. Mr. Stockburger said they have the right to do so, but Stockburger has already received approval for the move from General Motors.

Jay McGuigan, a Township resident, said the Township spent about $40,000 fighting a lawsuit over the same proposal a few years ago. He asked if a precedent will be set if the zoning is changed for Stockburger. Mr. Harris responded that if the use is added to the entire OR District, other dealerships can be developed there; if the zoning is changed for just this property it will not affect the rest of the OR District.

MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS

MINUTES

MINUTES OF 3/21/05 WORK SESSION: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 3/21/05 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously, with Mr. Jirele abstaining.

MINUTES OF 4/13/05 REGULAR MEETING: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 4/13/05 regular meeting with one correction. Under the discussion of the Pennoni Associates review of the preliminary plan for the Yamamoto Tract, the comment about Section III D 12 should read, “Mr. Goodnoe said he does not favor…” The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

BILLS LIST: Mrs. Goren moved to approve bills totaling $338,810.66; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

Mrs. Goren moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $150,100.00; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

TREASURER’S REPORT: None.

REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS

HISTORIC ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD (HARB): HARB Secretary Ethel Hibbs asked the Board to grant two requests for Certificates of Appropriateness:

YOGASPHERE LLC – 18 SWAMP ROAD: Mrs. Goren moved to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for Yogasphere LLC for a directional sign and two street signs, in accordance with the 4/12/05 recommendation of the HARB. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe commented that the drawing submitted with the application shows only two business names on the street signs when three are intended. Mr. Jirele said the additional name will bring the total signage area to 60 SF, which seems excessive.

Mrs. Goren and Mr. Harp withdrew their motion.

Board members agreed to table this item to the next meeting to allow the Codes Officer to investigate the size of the signs.

FREESTYLE SALON AND DAY SPA – 227 N. SYCAMORE STREET: Mr. Jirele moved to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for Freestyle Salon and Day Spa for a change in the sign plate, to replace the existing shutters, to change the entrance door, and to complete the front steps, in accordance with the 4/12/05 recommendation of the HARB. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.

FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE: Mr. Pellegrino said that the Committee met earlier on 4/27/05 and discussed funding options for the Municipal Complex expansion. They will bring recommendations on this issue to the Board of Supervisors.

Mr. Jirele asked if the Committee will address funding options for the Woll Tract. Mr. Pellegrino said they have not been asked by the Board to address this question.

LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

PRD VARIANCE – JUSTIN AND MARY LOU SNARPONIS – 21 WARWICK COURT – TMP# 29-45-109: Justin Snarponis was present to discuss his request for relief from impervious surface and side yard setback requirements to allow construction of a patio on their property in the Wiltshire Walk development in the R-1 District. The patio exceeds the impervious surface maximum by 52 SF, and the side yard setback is 9.2 feet instead of the required 15 feet.

Mr. Snarponis provided letters from the two adjacent neighbors and the Homeowners Association stating that they do not object to the patio. He stated that he built the patio before he was aware of the need for a permit.

Mr. Jirele moved to grant a variance from impervious surface and side yard setback requirements for 21 Warwick Court with the following conditions:

The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe.

Discussion of motion: Emil Matchyshyn said he lives near the applicant and asked for an explanation of the application, which Mr. Harris provided.

Mr. Jirele’s motion passed unanimously.

MEMBERS’ COMMENTS

POP WARNER FOOTBALL: Mr. Harp reported that plans for a Pop Warner football league are proceeding. Volunteer coaches are still needed.

FIRST FOURTH: Mr. Harp reminded residents that the 2005 First Fourth celebration will take place on 7/9/05.

LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS COUNCIL (LSAC) LIGHTS: Mr. Harp asked if there is any update on the exterior lights at the LSAC building. Mr. Pellegrino said the Township is waiting for LSAC to submit a lighting plan.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)

Frank Mendicino, a Township resident, said he is the president of the Tyler Walk Homeowners Association. He asked if the Township is considering rezoning the site of the proposed Shops at Durham development. Mrs. Goren responded that she is not aware of any plans for rezoning the area.

Mr. Mendicino said there are now at least five requests for rezoning of properties pending or contemplated, and the public needs to know what the Board’s position is on these requests. Mr. Weaver said the Board supports the zoning ordinance but will consider each request on its own merits.

John D’Aprile, a Township resident, said the Board seems less inclined to make zoning changes for businesses. He asked everyone to avoid scare tactics and rumors.

Jeff Marshall, a Township resident and an employee of the Heritage Conservancy, said open space enhances the value of properties near it, preserves environmentally sensitive areas, and provides buffering and drainage. He asked that the Board make open space a priority.

Jennifer Dix, a Township resident, said the public needs education on the Brandywine situation. She reviewed the history of the Brandywine variance request and objected to the Board’s decision to have the Solicitor advocate for Brandywine’s application at taxpayer expense.

Mr. Jirele responded that the Board asked for and supports the building of the bridge because it will carry traffic that will otherwise be routed through nearby residential areas.

Ms. Dix said that the Township forced the builder of Wiltshire Walk to make Penns Trail North a through street to connect with Brandywine Boulevard. She said that the office complex cannot be built without the bridge because the traffic impact is too great. She asked why the Board approved a plan that sends Office Research traffic through residential areas.

Karen Doorley, a Township resident, said she would prefer to see the funds being spent on improvements at Silver Lake Park go towards building more parking at Helen Randle Park.

Robert Ciervo, a Township resident, said he supports Jeff Marshall’s comments about open space and hopes the Board will approve the agricultural soils preservation ordinance. He asked about the impact of the proposed ordinance on development. Mr. Harris responded that in some situations the number of houses that can be built will be reduced.

Paul Salvatore, a Township resident and president of the Newtown Business and Professional Association, announced that the Association will be sponsoring Welcome Day in the Borough on 5/14/05. He also expressed concern about how some major Township projects will be funded and where participants in the planned Pop Warner football program will play their games. Mr. Harp said he hopes the program will be able to use school fields.

Nancy Crescenzo said the School District has not readily shared its fields with the Township. Ms. Crescenzo also said Mr. Harp should have abstained from voting on a recent item involving the Rose Bank Winery, and spoke in favor of the Stockburger proposal. She also said she hopes many residents continue to attend Board meetings after the election in May.

REPORTS OF OFFICIALS

CHAIRMAN: None.

OTHER BOARD MEMBERS

SOUTHEASTERN BUCKS LEAGUE OF MUNICIPALITIES: Mr. Harp said he attended the recent meeting of the League. The group discussed stormwater management and the Verizon project. The League is developing bylaws; Mr. Harp will bring them to the Board when they are complete.

MANAGER

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

RESOLUTION 2005-R-9 AUTHORIZING ENROLLMENT IN INVEST PROGRAM Mrs. Goren moved to authorize the signing of an agreement enrolling the Township in a program of the PA Department of the Treasury known as “INVEST,” as recommended in Ms. Gibbs’ 4/22/05 memo. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

BID AWARDS – MOTOR FUEL AND HEATING OIL: Mr. Pellegrino said he analyzed the bids received by the Consortium and recommended that the Board award contracts to suppliers as follows:

Mr. Pellegrino said he is recommending the floating prices because they are much lower than the fixed prices. He said it is a calculated risk but he expects that the Township will save up to $10,000.

Mrs. Goren said she does not like the idea of floating rates.

Mr. Goodnoe asked about the Township’s storage capacity. Mr. Pellegrino said the Township can store 10,000 gallons of unleaded gasoline and can take advantage of the lower rate for 6,000 gallons or more. Storage capacity for diesel fuel is only 5,000 gallons.

Mr. Goodnoe moved to award the contracts for motor fuel and heating oil as recommended in Mr. Pellegrino’s 4/22/05 memo. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele said the price of gasoline would have to go up 20% immediately to eliminate all the savings from choosing the floating prices. Mrs. Goren said she prefers to know in advance what the price will be.

Mr. Goodnoe’s motion passed 4-1 with Mrs. Goren voting “nay.”

PAYMENT #15 – SYCAMORE STREET PROJECT: Mrs. Goren moved to pay $362,273.39 to Haines and Kibblehouse for work done through 4/15/05, as recommended in Pennoni Associates’ 4/20/05 letter. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

SOLICITOR

PUBLIC HEARING – JMZO 2005-01 REVISION B – PRESERVATION OF AGRICULTURAL SOILS: Mr. Harris explained that a motion to adopt this proposed ordinance was made at the 4/13/05 meeting and tabled to allow the Engineer to look at the impact of the ordinance on the number of houses that would be permitted under the B-1 Use on Bill Sterling’s property. Members of the Board received a 4/22/05 letter from the Engineer in their packets analyzing the impact on a hypothetical residential development plan. The letter reported that 24 lots could be developed on the Sterling property under the existing ordinance, and 20 lots could be developed under the proposed ordinance.

Mrs. Goren moved to take the 4/13/05 motion to adopt JMZO 2005-01 Revision B off the table. The motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.

Mr. Harp asked Mr. Harris to explain the benefits of the proposed ordinance. Mr. Harris responded that the purpose of the ordinance is to protect agricultural soils, preserve open space, and encourage agricultural uses. He acknowledged that it may have a negative effect on the ability of property owners to sell their land at the highest possible price, since it may reduce the number of lots that can be developed.

Mr. Jirele noted that part of the Sterling property is in Lower Makefield, and he asked how that municipality’s ordinance affects Mr. Sterling. Mr. Harris responded that he did not know.

Mrs. Goren said she sees no benefit to the proposed ordinance. She prefers that developers be encouraged to build fewer houses on larger lots, and the proposed ordinance encourages cluster housing on smaller lots, which will bring in less tax revenue. She is also concerned that a homeowners association’s open space may get sold for development later.

Mr. Goodnoe said the Municipalities Planning Code has redefined agricultural soils. He said open space increases the value of homes. He also noted that the ordinance is very important to the other Jointure municipalities.

Mr. Jirele commented that more open space means lower school taxes.

Mr. Harp said the Planning Commission has not considered the Board’s concerns about Mr. Sterling’s property because their 4/19/05 meeting was cancelled.

Jeff Marshall said one way to prevent open space from being sold later is to have a second body, such as a land trust, co-hold the easement along with the Township. He noted that the Heritage Conservancy serves in this capacity for several area municipalities. This can be done with existing easements as well. Mr. Jirele said he would like to look into this mechanism.

Mr. Marshall said open space does not have to belong to homeowners associations. He also said the Engineer’s analysis may not have included the value of the open space, new forms of agricultural uses are being developed that are appropriate for small parcels with good soils, and fewer homebuyers are interested in large lots.

Mrs. Goren said people don’t want to live next to agricultural uses because of noise and odors.

Robert Ciervo said he represents the Save Historic Dolington Committee, which is opposing a proposed Toll Brothers development in an adjacent municipality. He said that when Toll Brothers heard about this ordinance they submitted a revised plan with fewer houses. He also said that for open space to become available for sale to developers all three Jointure members would have to approve a major change in the JMZO.

Sean Frawley asked everyone to avoid scare tactics about important issues. He also asked Mrs. Goren to stop implying that the Stockburger property is contaminated with motor oil or the issue may become a legal problem.

Bill Sterling said he wants the existing agricultural soils preservation ordinance to stand. Most experts tell him it will devalue his property. He asked if the ordinance’s purpose is to promote agricultural uses or open space. Mr. Harris responded that one cannot be done without the other.

Nancy Crescenzo said she regrets that the Environmental Advisory Council is too new to have studied this issue. She said the Planning Commission would not have had anything to add to the Board’s discussion tonight.

Frank Mendicino said the Commission would not have had the Engineer’s 4/22/05 letter at their 4/19/05 meeting. He suggested tabling the issue so that the Commission can discuss the letter at their 5/3/05 meeting.

Tom McGowan, a Township resident who farms with Mr. Sterling, also asked that the Township study the issue further.

Mr. Weaver asked the Board to vote on the 4/13/05 motion, which was:

Mr. Jirele moved to adopt JMZO 2005-1 Revision B. The motion was seconded for purposes of discussion by Mr. Weaver.

Following discussion at the 4/27/05 meeting the motion passed 3-2, with Mr. Harp and Mrs. Goren voting “nay.”

ZONING HEARING BOARD APPLICATIONS: Mr. Harris reviewed the three new cases scheduled for the 5/5/05 Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Members indicated they did not wish the Solicitor to represent them in these cases.

ENGINEER

ESCROW RELEASE #2 – NEWTOWN BUSINESS COMMONS LOT 21 – TMP# 29-10-129: Mr. Harp moved to release $73,997.15 in escrow funds for the Newtown Business Commons Lot 21, as recommended in a 4/22/05 letter from Pennoni Associates. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.

ESCROW RELEASE # 3 – NEWTOWN OFFICE PARK – TMP# 29-01-99: Mr. Harp moved to release $122,765.02 in escrow funds for the Newtown Office Park, as recommended in a 4/22/05 letter from Pennoni Associates. The motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.

ESCROW RELEASE # 2 – MCLAUGHLIN TRACT (LINTON HILL CHASE) – TMP# 29-7-5: Mr. Harp moved to release $315,948.96 in escrow funds for the McLaughlin Tract, as recommended in a 4/22/05 letter from Pennoni Associates. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren and passed unanimously.

OLD BUSINESS: None.

NEW BUSINESS: None.

COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)

Jay McGuigan complained that someone has been removing political signs in Newtown Crossing.

Ethel Hibbs, a Township resident, said Richboro Road near the Bypass narrows without warnings or signs and is a dangerous situation. Mr. Smith said he will look into this. Mrs. Hibbs also asked the Chairman to enforce the rule that Township residents can speak first in Community Comments, reminded residents that Township decisions are made by majority rule, and commented that a 2003 fiscal impact study demonstrated that the Brandywine office development has a much more positive fiscal impact than a residential development would have on the site.

Jennifer Dix said the fiscal impact study was done by Brandywine. She said it overestimated Earned Income Tax income and the number of houses that might be built on the site, and underestimated the projected sale price of the houses. She asked why the Township cannot provide figures on the municipalities in which employees in the Township live. Mr. Harris responded that he sent a letter to Ms. Dix explaining that it is prohibited by law to make public any information gleaned from tax records. Mrs. Goren asked for a copy of the letter.

A resident of Newtown Place asked if there are any plans for noise abatement for his development. Mr. Weaver responded that there are no plans, as PennDOT will not fund a sound barrier wall in this location.

Steve Goodman, a Township resident, said residents of the Tyler Walk and Cliveden developments oppose the rezoning of the site which might be developed as the Shops at Durham because they have concerns about traffic.

Robert Ciervo said Township residents have very high taxes when the Earned Income Tax is included in calculations. He also said the Brandywine office development will not bring in as much income from the Earned Income Tax as the developer claims, expressed his concern that no one noticed that the Law School Admission Council installed the wrong lights in their parking area, and questioned the wisdom of bringing in a Pop Warner League when there is no place for participants to play their games. He said he has not heard residents request this program. He also said that the $4 million cost of the Woll Tract Park should have been considered by residents in a referendum.

Mr. Weaver said that residents have often complained about having to take their children to other municipalities for football programs.

Walter Iwaskiw, a Township resident, said he is a member of the Telecommunications Advisory Board. He said he is happy that Verizon is expanding its cable services in the Township but his group was not responsible for bringing them in.

Frank Mendicino said he is a candidate for Supervisor. He suggested that more residents should attend Board of Supervisors meetings regularly to educate themselves about local issues. He also said the Township should support its zoning ordinance, asked that the Financial Planning Committee address the loss of income from the Earned Income Tax and not focus on ways to borrow money or increase taxes, urged the Board to address traffic problems in the Newtown Business Commons, and asked the Board not to initiate big projects for which there is no funding.

Brandon Wind, a Township resident, said the Township will need to borrow money to pay for the Woll Tract Park, and complained that other expensive projects are being discussed as well. He also said he does not think the Pop Warner League will be able to use School District fields. He warned that residents of Wiltshire Walk should be concerned about the traffic impact of proposed development on the Roberts Tract. Mr. Wind also asked if the flooding problems on Wrights Road have improved. Mr. Smith said Basin #5 in Newtown Grant is now retaining a lot more water, but it is probably necessary to ask future developers in the area to build extra stormwater capacity beyond ordinance requirements.

John D’Aprile urged the Board to resolve the question of access to School District fields, asked that Supervisor candidates state their position on the Stockburger proposal, and said residents must accept the fact that the Township is no longer rural.

Nancy Crescenzo complained that the Board is not addressing budget problems and is spending too much money on parks and recreation programs. She asked why the Township was not serving the elderly or youth who are not athletic. She said the Municipal Complex expansion is more important than parks.

Paul Salvatore asked about the cost of the special needs playground equipment for Roberts Ridge Park. Mr. Pellegrino said the Township budgeted $45,000 but the estimates from contractors have been over $100,000. Mr. Salvatore said he offered to help the Township seek grants for this type of project but months passed before anyone contacted him. He said the Township also rejected an offer from the Business and Professional Association to help develop a community center. Mr. Salvatore also called for better enforcement of traffic laws and said Supervisors should advocate for all areas of the Township. He asked for an update on the proposed K. Hovnanian project; Mr. Weaver responded that there has been no news.

Mr. Harp said the Township is not just serving athletic youth. As an example, he cited the programs at the Clark Nature Center.

EXECUTIVE SESSION: None.

ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 12:00 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