Board of Supervisor Minutes
August 10, 2005
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting August 24, 2005. Minutes of Regular meeting of August 10, 2005: Mrs. Goren moved to accept the minutes of August 10, 2005. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, August 10, 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: David Sander, Township Solicitor; Gerald W. Smith, Township Engineer; and Elaine M. Gibbs, Township Finance Director.
Call to Order: Chairman Richard Weaver called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence.
Invocation: The invocation was given by Sister Francesa Onley of Holy Family University. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Additions and Changes to the Agenda: none
Presentations & Special Actions
Mr. George Stockburger IV thanked the Board of Supervisors and the community for their support and cooperation as his business conducted a survey to determine whether he should seek a zoning change to allow the consolidation of his businesses to one location on land currently zoned for Office/Research. He said that 40% of the surveys had been returned, with the results showing a strong majority against his plan. He said that he had promised to abide by the results of the survey, and so he would withdraw his plan. He said he had thought this would have been a good plan for the community and he was saddened that it had not worked out as he had hoped. He again thanked the Board and the community for their support.
Mr. Weaver thanked Mr. Stockburger for his statements. He said that results of the survey continue to arrive, and the participation total is about 44% of the residents, with 2/3 against the plan. He noted that more people returned surveys than participated in the primary election. He thanked the community for their participation and thanked Mr. Stockburger for his gracious response.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports:
Minutes of July 27, 2005: Mrs. Goren moved to accept the minutes of July 27, 2005, as corrected and presented at the meeting. Mr. Jirele seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Bills List: Mrs. Goren moved to approve bills totaling $934,662.57. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $190,327.04. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions:
Joint Downtown Newtown Corporation: Main Streets Manager Chris Ortwein reported that JDNC has received PennDoT funds for the State Street signalization project, and now could expect the DCED matching funds. She has begun the grant application for Hometown Streets for the State Street Revitalization project. She has met with HARB and the Newtown Business Commons Association (NBCA) about the wayfinding signage project. NBCA has expressed interest in coordinating the appearance of the Business Commons signage with the JDNC signage for a uniform appearance. Parts 2 and 3 of the wayfinding project might qualify for a Delaware Valley regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) grant program for transportation initiatives. The first Friday of each month continues to be “AHA!” Friday. August’s event welcomed “The Nest” to State Street with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The theme for September will be “Peaceable Kingdom”.
Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine presented completed plans for the expansion and retrofitting of the playground at Roberts Ridge Park to be completely handicapped inclusive. Kathryn Elokdah, a recreation therapist who serves on the Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities, volunteered her time to work with the Park and Recreation Board and Boyce Associates to plan a playground that would provide widened turn around areas and ramps, making the existing structure completely wheelchair accessible, and adding events that are enjoyable to handicapped and able bodied children to play together. A doublewide slide has been added to enable a caregiver to ride with a handicapped child, some handicapped swings have been added, and a second rope climb is planned. Mr. Levine showed a sample of a porous safety surface to be placed under the entire structure. This state of the art surface is completely accessible to crutches and wheelchairs. The total estimated cost for the equipment, surfacing, shade trees, picnic pavilion, preparation of the land and installation is about $230,000, with preparation of the site and the safety surfacing being the largest expenses of the playground. However the entire project is to be completed at no cost to the Township. Mr. Levine has gotten a commitment from The Have-a-Heart Foundation and Rotary Club to contribute the costs of equipment and safety surfacing. Some interested local residents and businesses, including Bob Biggs, John Cordisco, Jim Worthington and Commerce Bank, have also committed to helping with financing this “Park of Possibilities”. They are ready to put together funding to order the equipment immediately. The Operating Engineers of Bucks County will donate their services to prepare the site and the Carpenters Union has volunteered to assemble the equipment. Mr. Levine said that because donated labor is being used, it is important to work within their schedules. He asked the board for a motion approving the plans so that he could place orders for the equipment.
Mr. Harp moved to recommend that the plans be moved forward to pursue this project of a “Park of Possibilities”. Mr. Jirele seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Harp asked whether the Board thought that Mr. Levine needed to appear before the Planning Commission again.
Mr. Jirele said that he thought that the Planning Commission should review the plans for such things as location of the picnic pavilion, and the location of parking and restrooms being proposed by the School District. He asked about the durability of the safety surfacing, and about who would oversee the project.
Mr. Levine said that this is a very high quality surfacing, and would otherwise be cost prohibitive. It is very durable, needs little maintenance and should last a very long time. He said that he would speak to Mr. Pellegrino about management of the project. He said that certified installers are present on-site for installation of the equipment.
In response to Mr. Jirele’s questions, Mr. Levine said that the Township would not be under any obligation to any of the contributors. The park design is to serve as a template for other municipalities. He said that Have-a-Heart Foundation had contacted Mr. Weaver to ask if the Township would be interested in working on such a project, and Mr. Weaver responded that we already are trying to adapt our playground. This project is unique; while there are ADA compliant playgrounds, and handicapped specific playgrounds, this would be completely integrated for all children to play together.
Mr. Goodnoe suggested that the Board direct the Township Manager to expedite any permits that would be needed.
Mr. Harp said that the plans should be moved to the Planning Commission to review drainage and placement of the pavilion.
The motion passed unanimously.
Sycamore Street Committee: Chairman Vince Lombardi reported that no firm date has been set for the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark completion of the project, but they are hoping it will be in September. He said that the Committee discussed five issues:
In response to Mr. Jirele’s questions, Mr. Lombardi said that he would ask the Board for a motion to approve the change in crosswalk materials after the Manager and Engineer have met with the company representatives. The material would be less expensive than the concrete product that had been planned, and it is more easily replaced and repaired.
Planning Commission: Mr. Lombardi said that Chairman Shawn Ward asked to report at the August 24 meeting, after the sub-committees have had a chance to meet.
Land Development Projects
PRD Variance – Matt Mount – 233 Stanford Place: Mr. Sander reported that Mr. Mount has requested that this hearing be continued.
Mrs. Goren moved to continue the PRD Variance hearing for Matt Mount to August 24, 2005. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver, and the Board all congratulated Newtown Little League 12 year old team, the State Champions, on their success in the Regional Championship this week, and wished them luck and continued success in the remainder of the games.
Resident Karen D’Aprile expressed disappointment at the results of the Stockburger survey. She said that the plan would have been good for all of Newtown.
Resident Mike Gallagher said that he has created a Web site to serve as a public forum for Newtown residents to discuss issues of concern to the community. In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, he said that the message board would not be monitored for content and messages are not reviewed prior to posting.
Resident Larry Raffle said that voter turnout in elections would be greater if the voters could request direct referendum on spending issues, such as the proposed municipal complex expansion. He said that the response to the survey shows that when residents feel that their votes count they participate.
Resident Mike Piazza said that Mr. Stockburger handled the survey results with great dignity. He said that he thought that two supervisors attempted to sway public opinion with “scare tactics”. He also expressed concern about the height of the lighted signs for the proposed inn/conference center. He hoped that the supervisors are able to work with the hotel chain to keep the signs within the limits of the Ordinance. He also expressed concern that with the introduction of an inn/conference center to the Business Commons our security would be not adequate. He asked if there are plans to hire additional police. He also asked if the Board had line-item veto when passing the budget.
Mr. Jirele responded that the Township had used a consultant to review the adequacy of the police force and to make projections for future growth, and that our police force is of an adequate size.
Regarding the line item veto, Mrs. Goren explained that when the preliminary budget is presented to the Board, they can review it and ask for changes and adjustments, but that when a final budget is presented they must vote either for or against the entire budget. During budget review, items can be removed or adjusted at the request of Board members.
Resident Mike Iapalucci asked if it is more expensive to pave the entire length of Sycamore Street only to dig up the crosswalk areas later. He expressed concern about patching of the area around the crosswalks.
Township Engineer Smith responded that the crosswalk areas would be milled about one inch deep for the crosswalks, and this is the method prescribed by the manufacturers of the crosswalk products, because the streets remain active during the paving process. There will not be any patching around the crosswalks.
Resident Jennifer Dix read into the record a letter she had written to the Supervisors explaining that she disagrees with the results of the survey submitted to the Board by resident Robert Ciervo about the comparative revenue benefits of developing properties for office research versus single-family homes. She said that Mr. Ciervo has a conflict of interest in that he is managing the campaign of supervisor candidate Karen Doorley, who is an owner of property in the OR district and is a real estate agent. She expressed concern that Mr. Goodnoe asked the Planning Commission to review whether single-family homes should be removed as a permitted use in the Office Research District. She felt that his request was to “push through” a zoning change without the residents’ knowledge. She said that her letter contains attachments that illustrate that the tax benefits for development of office research properties are not as great as depicted in Mr. Ciervo’s survey.
Resident Karen Doorley said that she owns her own home in Newtown, a property in Wiltshire Walk, and some business property. She said that she has had nothing to do with Mr. Ciervo’s study; that he, as a concerned resident, conducted the study himself.
Resident Dave Felker, as President of Council Rock Newtown Little League, thanked the local businesses that have sponsored WBCB’s coverage of the regional Little League Championship games. He said that the players in the championship have been receiving many compliments on their sportsmanship and behavior. The Township can be very proud of these boys. He said that they illustrate the many benefits of youth sports programs. He said that Newtown needs the Woll Tract to be developed as playing fields.
Resident Paul Salvatore announced that the NBPA golf outing is August 25 at Middletown Country Club for the benefit of the Neighborhood Outreach Foundation. Anyone interested in participating or sponsoring a hole can contact him at his Century 21 office. He asked whether the shoulder of the Newtown By-pass would be made into a right turn lane, noting that it has become very dangerous as motorists use the shoulder and cut off motorists making right turns from the right lane of traffic.
Mr. Smith explained that PennDoT has rejected the Township’s appeal to make the shoulder into a turning lane, but that the Township will continue to pursue this.
Mr. Salvatore said that he has known Mr. Stockburger for many years, and he is a man of honor of integrity. He said that the public comment portion of the meeting should not be used for political comments, or for malicious comments about some members of the community.
Resident Jay McGuignan said that he is also concerned about the “keep off shoulder” and no right turn on red on the By-pass at Buck Road and Richboro Road.
Mr. Harp commented that the Newtown Gate Homeowners are still concerned about the lighting problems they have with the Law School Admissions Council. He said that the lights remain on until 10:00PM. He asked Mr. Sander to look into this.
Mr. Jirele responded that the last time this had been discussed, the chief of police had recommended that lights remain lit until 10:00PM for security reasons.
Reports of Officials
Plan Expirations: none
Resolution establishing Policy that Protects the Confidentiality of Employees’ Health Care Information: Mrs. Gibbs explained that the Township is required to pass a HIPPA Resolution in order to deal with claim difficulties. She said that the Township insurance broker’s attorney had drafted the resolution.
Mr. Harp moved to approve the Resolution establishing Policy that Protects the Confidentiality of Employees’ Health Care Information. Mrs. Goren seconded.
Discussion of Motion: Mr. Goodnoe suggested that the resolution should be reviewed by both the Township Solicitor and the labor attorney before the Board approves it. He also questioned the use of Mrs. Gibbs’ name in the resolution, rather than just a position title.
Mr. Harp withdrew his motion.
Payment #21 Sycamore Street Construction Improvements: Mr. Goodnoe moved to authorize payment #21 of the Sycamore Street Construction Improvements. Mr. Harp Seconded.
Discussion of Motion: Mr. Jirele noted that at previous meetings there had been some discussion about the quality of topsoil, and he questioned whether this matter has been resolved. Mr. Smith responded that while the soil meets PennDoT standards, the Sycamore Street Committee is still negotiating with the landscaper on this matter.
Mr. Goodnoe amended his motion to remove topsoil and soil supplement payments, authorizing a payment of $93,918.47. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Solicitor’s Report: Mrs. Goren moved to continue the public hearing on Amendments to HARB Ordinance to August 24, 2005. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Engineer’s Report: Mrs. Goren moved to authorize progress payment #1 of the traffic signal battery back-up and L.E.D. installation in the amount of $26,248.50. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Harp moved to authorize progress payment 21 of the traffic signal battery back-up and L.E.D. installation in the amount of $52,727.62. Mrs. Goren seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Hidden Valley Tract: Mr. Sander explained that this three-lot subdivision had been held up because of the sewer moratorium. The closing on the property had been held up because of title problem. He said that the Mylars should be signed and held until all conditions of the letter of Pennoni Associates letter of July 19, 2005 have been met. In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Sander said that all of these conditions are acceptable.
Mrs. Goren moved to authorize signing of Mylars for Hidden Valley Tract with the condition that signed Mylars be held by the Township until all conditions outlined in the Pennoni Associates letter of July 19, 2005 have been met. Mr. Jirele seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Goodnoe expressed concern that there are too many loose ends with these conditions. He asked if there are any disputes over fees in this matter.
Mr. Sander said that there are no fee disputes.
Mr. Weaver suggested tabling the motion until all conditions have been met.
Mrs. Goren withdrew her motion and Mr. Jirele withdrew his second.
2007 TIP Program: Township Traffic Engineer Phil Wursta said that the State Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is a twelve-year plan for roadway improvements. Municipalities, counties and regions present their requests to the state for consideration. There are three upcoming dates for presenting requests for the State Transportation Improvement Program:
Mr. Wursta briefly reviewed the four previously applied for projects and one new project:
In response to Mrs. Goren’s question, Mr. Wursta explained that the Stoopville Road project would make a right turn onto Stoopville Road when heading south on Route 532, with a traffic signal installed. The road would be widened to 11-foot lanes and 4-foot shoulders, and traffic calming recommendations from the Gilmore Associates study would be included. The flashing light at Eagle Road would become a stoplight, and a traffic light would be added at the intersection with Linton Hill Road. He said that this project should also appear on Upper Makefield’s and Wrightstown’s TIP sheets.
In response to Mr. Goodnoe’s questions, Mr. Wursta said that the reactivation of the rail line is not an enhancement, but the trail is an enhancement and would be moved to the enhancement program. He said that Swamp Road is already earmarked for funding, although it is still in the preliminary design stage.
The Board agreed that the new project, to widen the By-pass from Penns Trail to Newtown Yardley Road, should be added as a priority. Mr. Weaver agreed to make the presentation at the local meeting of the State Transportation Commission, with Mr. Pellegrino and Mr. Wursta in attendance to help.
Appointments to Building Codes Appeal Board
Mr. Goodnoe moved to appoint as members of the Building Codes Appeal Board: Richard Walker for a term of one year, Michael Varian for a term of two years and Curtis Rittler for a term of three years, and as alternates Eric Johnson and Michael Hutchinson, each for a term of one year. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Resident Robert Ciervo thanked Mr. Wert and Mr. Pellegrino for repairing the basketball courts at Helen Randle Park. He said that he did not think basketball and tennis courts should be part of the Woll Tract plan, as the existing facilities are adequate. He questioned the allocation of ball fields at the Woll Tract, noting that only one of the four proposed fields is earmarked for softball, which does not provide gender equity in sports.
Regarding comments made by Jennifer Dix, Mr. Ciervo said that he prepared his analysis long before becoming Mrs. Doorley’s campaign manager. He said that his study shows that office use generates more revenue for the Township than does residential use. He said that he thought that the Planning Commission did not gather enough information before rendering a decision on whether to include residential uses in the office research district.
Resident John D’Aprile agreed with comments of other residents that the restriction on the shoulder of the By-pass at Richboro Road and at Buck Road is very dangerous. He also commented that he was sorry about the outcome of the Stockburger survey. He said that he did not think that political issues should be part of the public comment portion of the meeting.
Jennifer Dix said that Mr. Goodnoe had requested the Planning Commission to look at removing residential uses from the OR district based on a resident’s study. She noted that the LaSalle study was flawed, as was Mr. Ciervo’s, in that they both assumed more houses could be built on the Brandywine property than actually could, because 20 acres of the Brandywine property are in the floodplain. She said that most of the revenue generated by office use would be for the school district. She also said that she would prefer to see the properties in the OR district developed as houses because of quality of life issues and flooding concerns. She asked what the procedure for making changes in the zoning ordinance would be.
Mr. Weaver explained that when a zoning change is made, the planning commissions of the three municipalities of the jointure each review the proposed change and make recommendations to the three municipalities’ Boards of Supervisors, who then must all agree to the change. The Jointure Planning Commission also reviews and makes recommendations. Any change must be advertised before it can be voted on and enacted.
Mr. Goodnoe commented that his concern has been to provide a good balance in zoning of properties. The OR district is best suited for offices because of its access to four lane highways. He also said that as an elected official it is incumbent upon him to represent the interests of his constituency to the school district to help mitigate school taxes.
Mrs. Dix responded that some concerned residents feel that there is already enough commercial development and that the infrastructure is inadequate to support further commercial development.
Resident Frank Mendicino attempted to speak about the Planning Commission’s last meeting, however the Board said that the Chairman of the Planning Commission has requested to give a report at the next meeting. Regarding the TIP list, Mr. Mendicino said that he thought that widening of the By-Pass should not be considered until after completion of the new exit ramps of I95 in Lower Makefield and the work on Scudders Falls Bridge, as these improvements could help alleviate some of the traffic problems on the By-Pass. He said that he disagreed with the Board’s decision to permit an E-5, eating place, use in the Business Commons, as he felt the intent of the Ordinance was to provide company employee cafeterias. He expressed concern about the upcoming budget discussions, and about the possibility of a tax increase to help fund the municipal complex expansion. He said that he did not think that a larger municipal complex is necessary because the employees are not complaining and continue to work in the existing conditions. He suggested that the Board begin to look at ways other than tax increases to reduce costs and expenses.
Karen D’Aprile said that she also agreed that the shoulder restrictions on the By-Pass are very dangerous. She asked if cones could be placed on the shoulder to prevent motorists from using it.
Traffic Engineer Phil Wursta explained that the Township has been in communication with PennDoT on this matter. He noted that other municipalities in the area are having similar problems. He said that PennDoT contends that the shoulder is not strong enough and wide enough to support traffic as a turning lane. The Township will continue to pursue this with PennDoT, and is well aware that it is a dangerous situation, but they cannot place cones on a State road.
Mr. Jirele reminded those in attendance that discussion of the municipal complex is on the agenda for the next work session of the Board of Supervisors.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 PM.
Respectfully Submitted: ____________________________________
Mary Donaldson, 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