Board of Supervisor Minutes
June 8, 2005
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting June 22, 2005. Minutes of June 8, 2005 Regular Meeting: Mr. Jirele moved to accept the minutes of the June 8, 2005 regular meeting. Mr. Goodnoe seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, June 8, 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: Planning Commission Chairman Shawn Ward, Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine, Township Solicitor David Sander, 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 Father Michael Piccard of St. Andrew’s Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ADDITIONS AND CHANGES TO THE AGENDA: Mr. Pellegrino said there will be no report from the Financial Planning Committee.
ST. ANDREW’S CHURCH – 125TH ANNIVERSARY: Mr. Weaver presented a plaque to Father Michael Piccard in honor of the 125th anniversary of the founding of St. Andrew’s Church. Mr. Weaver thanked Father Piccard and church members for their long service to the Newtown community.
JACQUELYN TERESKY – RESOLUTION OF COMMENDATION: Mr. Weaver presented a plaque to Jacquelyn Teresky in honor of her actions in June 2004 when she rescued and resuscitated an injured swimmer while serving as a lifeguard at the George School pool. Ms. Teresky urged residents to learn CPR and other lifesaving skills.
GRETTA STONE – RECOGNITION OF SERVICE: Mr. Weaver presented a plaque to Gretta Stone in honor of her seven years of service as Recording Secretary for the Board of Supervisors.
NO PLACE FOR HATE PROGRAM: Charles Weiner and several other members of the Board of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League explained the League’s mission and recent activities. He said that Newtown was the first community in Pennsylvania to be certified as a “No Place for Hate” community, and is the only one to be recertified for a third year. Mr. Weiner presented to the Board a metal sign designating the Township as a “No Place for Hate” community.
MINUTES, BILLS LIST, AND REPORTS
MINUTES OF 4/25/05 WORK SESSION: Mrs. Goren moved to approve the minutes of the 4/25/05 work session; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
MINUTES OF 5/25/05 REGULAR MEETING: Mr. Jirele moved to approve the minutes of the 5/25/05 regular meeting; the motion was seconded by Mr. Goodnoe and passed unanimously.
BILLS LIST: Mrs. Goren moved to approve bills totaling $487,212.21; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $164,549.79; the motion was seconded by Mr. Harp and passed unanimously.
TREASURER’S REPORT: None.
REPORTS OF COMMITTEES, BOARDS, AND COMMISSIONS
PARK AND RECREATION BOARD: Chairman Andrew Levine reported on their 6/1/05 meeting, which was primarily devoted to a discussion of plans for a special needs playground at Roberts Ridge Park. The Board invited several special needs professionals and consumers to the meeting. The Board has learned about the availability of new and better products which will drastically reduce the projected cost of the playground, and they expect to bring a revised budget to the Board of Supervisors soon. Mr. Wert reported to the Board that Park and Recreation programs have been very successful, with a substantial increase in revenue. There was a 50% increase in the use of the after school program, and it was necessary to create a waiting list for the camping programs.
PLANNING COMMISSION: Chairman Shawn Ward reported on their 6/7/05 meeting, at which they heard a report from the Traffic Engineer. There was much discussion of the “no turn on red” signal at the Bypass and Buck Road intersection. The Commission reviewed a transfer of ownership from the former Stonehouse Bistro restaurant and recommended approval. They also reviewed a PRD variance request regarding a home in Newtown Crossing and recommended approval with several conditions. The Commission reviewed a conditional use application for the Soccer and Lacrosse Center on German Avenue and tabled it in order to receive further information from a neighbor who objected to the application.
A revised final plan for the Penns Terrace Office Park was reviewed, and the Commission recommended that it be resubmitted as a preliminary plan because of substantial changes from the original approved plan. The final plan for an office building in the Newtown Business Commons was reviewed and the Commission recommended approval with several conditions. The Commission also reviewed three Zoning Hearing Board applications and made no comments on them.
Mr. Pellegrino said that the Township has asked PennDOT to create a right turn lane on the shoulder at the Bypass intersection discussed by the Commission. He said that PennDOT will not remove the “no turn on red” signal because of the double left turn lanes on the Bypass.
Mr. Pellegrino also said the Township has received several responses to its Request for Proposals regarding the study of the Swamp and Eagle Roads intersection and they will be presented to the Board of Supervisors at their 6/13/05 work session.
Mr. Pellegrino said he has spoken with the attorney for the Penns Terrace Office Park project and the plan will be resubmitted as a preliminary plan.
LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
REQUEST FOR WAIVER OF LAND DEVELOPMENT – HOLLAND FLOOR COVERING ADDITION – 35 SWAMP ROAD: Ron DeMaio, general contractor for Holland Floor Covering, was present to discuss their request for a waiver of land development review for the construction of an addition to their existing store at 35 Swamp Road. A 5/17/05 letter regarding this request was received from David Hansburger of Holland Floor Covering.
Mr. DeMaio stated that the project does not include any improvements like stormwater management and parking, and the net change in the impervious surface will be 1.5%. The addition will be one story, with no basement. He explained that Holland is under some time pressure to build the addition because they are currently using rented space for which the lease will expire in September.
Mr. DeMaio said Holland received a variance on parking and setback requirements from the Zoning Hearing Board earlier this year. At the request of several Supervisors he agreed to provide a copy of the Zoning Hearing Board decision to Mr. Pellegrino as soon as possible.
Mr. Goodnoe said there had been a problem with water draining off the existing building onto a neighbor’s property. Mr. DeMaio said this has been addressed by piping the water from Holland’s drainspouts directly to a basin. Mr. Pellegrino said he arranged for Holland and the neighbor to meet and address the problem together. He said there have no further complaints from the neighbor, but he would like to look into whether the problem has been resolved.
Mr. Jirele asked if traffic and recreation impact fees would be assessed if land development review is waived. Mr. Sander said the Township would have to make that part of the agreement. Mr. DeMaio said the applicant is willing to pay the appropriate fees.
Mr. Pellegrino said that he is reluctant to support this request. The Township has granted such waivers in the past when the project has been very simple, like a concrete slab. He recommended the Board consider the following options:
Several members said they favored the first option. Mr. Goodnoe said he wants to review the Zoning Hearing Board decision before deciding how to respond to Holland’s request. Mr. Pellegrino said he can put this item on the agenda for the 6/13/05 work session if Holland provides a copy of the Zoning Hearing Board decision before the end of this week.
FIRST FOURTH: Mr. Harp reminded residents that the First Fourth celebration will be on Saturday, 7/9/05.
BLOCK PARTY: Mr. Goodnoe announced there will be a Block Party in front of the Newtown Fire Association on 6/18/05 to benefit Pickering Manor.
INFORMATIONAL MEETING ON STOCKBURGER PROPOSAL: Mr. Jirele announced that the second of two informational meetings on the Stockburger proposal hosted by the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation will take place at the Chancellor Street Center on 6/15/05.
APPRECIATION FOR COMMUNITY SERVICES: Mr. Jirele thanked the Police Department and the Newtown Fire Association for providing prompt and efficient services when he experienced a fire at his home recently.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (FIRST SESSION)
Paul Salvatore, a Township resident, said the guest speaker at the next meeting of the Newtown Business and Professional Association will be Mr. Pellegrino. He also said the recent Welcome Day was a great success, and he has posters for the Block Party on 6/18/05.
Paul Beckert, a Township resident, spoke about his objections to the Stockburger proposal. He said he believes the proposal is more about land speculation than business decisions. He said another car dealership and General Motors oppose this move and Stockburger should prove they can overcome this opposition before they request a zoning change.
Mr. Jirele said Stockburger is seeking a zoning change just for their use, so this is not land speculation.
John D’Aprile, a Township resident, spoke in favor of the Stockburger proposal.
Robert Ciervo, a Township resident, said he supports a plan for a hotel and conference center on Pheasant Run Road but has some concerns about the traffic the project will generate. He suggested consideration of traffic calming measures like stop signs on Fountain Farm Lane. He also encouraged the Township to renovate or finish existing parks before spending money on new ones.
Mr. Pellegrino commented that PennDOT does not allow the use of stop signs to slow down traffic, but the Township can look at other options.
Paul Zotter, a Township resident, said Verizon did a good job of repairing damage from their recent installation of fiber-optic cable in the Devonshire Meadows development. He also asked if it is possible to change the zoning on the Bypass for just one business. Mr. Weaver responded that it may be possible and the Township will research this when the survey results are in.
Phil Calabro, a Township resident, asked that the Township not send the Stockburger survey to residents until the question of opposition from another dealership and General Motors is resolved. He said he is concerned that Stockburger will get the zoning change and not be able to move their present franchises to the Bypass.
REPORTS OF OFFICIALS
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS: None.
PLAN EXPIRATIONS: Mr. Pellegrino said there are no expirations requiring Board action.
PAYMENT #18 – SYCAMORE STREET PROJECT: Mrs. Goren moved to pay $111,348.52 for construction work on the Sycamore Street project for the period ending 5/30/05, as recommended by a 6/2/05 memo from Pennoni Associates. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jirele and passed unanimously.
PUBLIC HEARING – ORDINANCE 2005-O- 10- AUTHORIZING INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT FOR LEGAL SERVICES FOR NEGOTIATION WITH VERIZON FOR CABLE TELEVISION SERVICES: Mr. Sander provided copies of the proposed ordinance and the intergovernmental agreement. He explained that the Township is serving as the lead agency for the Bucks County Cable TV Consortium in an effort to hire legal counsel to negotiate with Verizon. The ordinance is necessary to authorize the Township’s participation in the agreement and to authorize the Chairman and the Manager to sign it. He noted that the legal counsel will be Fred Polner, who has served the Township in the past.
Mr. Harp moved to enact Ordinance 2005-O-10- authorizing the Township’s participation in the intergovernmental agreement for legal services regarding cable TV negotiations. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Goren.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Harp said this is a positive step and Verizon is making a big investment in the Township. He also congratulated the Township’s administrative staff on organizing 58% of Bucks County municipalities into the Consortium.
Mr. Harp’s motion passed unanimously.
MONTHLY REPORT: Members received the Engineer’s monthly report on Township engineering projects in their packets.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
COMMUNITY COMMENTS (SECOND SESSION)
Paul Zotter asked if requests to rezone parcels of land are common. Mr. Jirele said has happened several times during his term, and he mentioned a few examples. He said it should not be done lightly, and the Board should consider it only if there is a clear benefit to the Township.
Planning Commission Chairman Shawn Ward said the Commission has also discussed several such requests. In his experience the requests usually are not successful. He mentioned a recent case in which the Commission recommended that an applicant seek a use change in the existing zoning district instead of a zoning change.
Mr. Weaver commented that a zoning change has to be approved by all members of the Jointure.
Mr. Goodnoe said the Township has made a few zoning changes in the past. He said the Municipalities Planning Code refers to zoning as a dynamic process that should be responsive to factors such as the needs of the community and court decisions.
Mike Iapalucci, a Township resident, said he supports the survey on the Stockburger proposal and encouraged the Township to use surveys on other issues.
Frank Mendicino, a Township resident, said the Township should determine if Stockburger can move their franchises to the Bypass site before sending out the survey, because residents should have the facts before responding to the survey. He said the zoning ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan should be reviewed with the welfare of everyone in mind. He asked where the firm conducting the survey is getting information. Mr. Weaver and Mr. Pellegrino said they were interviewed by the firm. Mr. Pellegrino said Stockburger has not been contacted. Mr. Mendicino said he fears that the Township will encounter legal issues if it pursues spot zoning.
Mr. Weaver said the only purpose of the survey is to give the Board some information about residents’ attitudes and wishes about the Stockburger proposal.
Mrs. Goren asked what would happen if the survey results are positive and Stockburger finds they cannot move to the Bypass. Mr. Weaver said Stockburger will have spent $10,000 in vain. He said that if the Township undertakes an investigation now of what Stockburger can and cannot do it will cost the taxpayers much more.
Karen D’Aprile, a Township resident, supported the survey and said the Board of Supervisors should listen to residents more.
Paul Salvatore expressed appreciation for the Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation’s hosting of the informational meetings and thanked the Board of Supervisors for helping to fund this group. He also said he has heard volunteer firefighters say they have trouble getting to the firehouse quickly because of the Sycamore Street construction. Mr. Jirele responded that the situation may be better when the construction is completed this summer.
Mr. Salvatore also spoke in support of installing a right turn lane on the shoulder at the intersection of Buck Road and the Bypass, and suggested that the Township form a traffic committee to study all traffic issues.
Mr. Goodnoe commented that a major goal of the Sycamore Street project was to make Sycamore Street pedestrian-friendly, which necessarily involves slowing traffic.
Brandon Wind, a Township resident, asked that residents and the Township not rely on rumors for information about the Stockburger proposal. He also asked if the Engineer had checked on the impact of recent stormwater management measures during a recent large storm. Mr. Smith said he was out of town during the storm but the Township received no complaints.
In response to further questions from Mr. Wind Mr. Pellegrino said a bridge on Wrights Road will be repaired for the second time this year, paid for by insurance. He said it is very narrow, and inattentive drivers have hit it several times. Nearby residents have not supported widening the bridge.
Mr. Wind also asked about a $1,000 payment for the Jointure that appears in the bills list. Mr. Weaver said it was part of the Township’s regular support of the Jointure, not a special expenditure.
Shawn Fraley, a representative of Stockburger, said an interview in the newspaper with a representative of the Reedman-Toll dealership was one-sided and contained inaccurate statements. He said that General Motors has never rescinded their letter of support for Stockburger’s proposed move, and Stockburger’s present locations are already within five miles of Reedman-Toll. He also said that the question of whether they can make the move or not is largely an issue between Stockburger and the state, not the manufacturer. Mr. Frawley also said no one from Stockburger has seen the questions on the survey. He urged residents to come to the informational session on 6/15/05 to hear the facts.
Robert Ciervo announced that there will be a public hearing on 6/9/05 at the Upper Makefield Township Building on the proposed Toll Brothers development. He said the plan has been reduced from 300 homes to fewer than 100, but residents remain concerned that their school taxes will be raised. He encouraged Newtown residents to attend the meeting.
Mr. Ciervo also asked about a Commerce Bank donation towards the cost of a fountain in Helen Randle Park, and suggested the Township pursue more corporate donations for public improvements.
John D’Aprile said he expects to see more spot zoning in the Township.
EXECUTIVE SESSION: None.
ADJOURNMENT: With no objections the meeting was adjourned at 10:35 PM.
Respectfully Submitted: ____________________________________
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