Board of Supervisor Minutes
September 28, 2005
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting October 26, 2005. Minutes of regular meeting of September 28, 2005:Mr. Harp moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of September 28, 2005. Mrs. Goren seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, September 28, 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 (arrived 9:15 PM) and Member Raymond Goodnoe. Also present were: Stephen B. Harris, Township Solicitor; Chris Walker, Township Engineer; and Robert M. Pellegrino, Township Manager.
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 Father Larry Snyder, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Additions and Changes to the Agenda: none.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports:
Minutes of work session meeting of August 15, 2005: Mrs. Goren moved to accept the minutes of the work session of August 15, 2005. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Minutes of regular meeting of September 14, 2005: Mrs. Goren moved to accept the minutes of September 14, 2005. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Bills List: Mrs. Goren moved to approve bills totaling $246,313.80. Mr. Harp seconded.
Discussion of motion: Resident Jerry Shenkman questioned the $20,000 payment to JDNC. Mr. Goodnoe explained that in 2001 the Township had committed to a five-year contribution of $20,000 per year to JDNC. This would be the second $20,000 payment. There has also been about $5,000 in miscellaneous start-up expenses. In response to Mr. Shenkman’s questions, Mr. Goodnoe said that JDNC’s mission is to promote the downtown area. It is part of a national and statewide effort to revitalize downtowns, preserve historic buildings and promote their re-use. The “Newtown – The Seat of Culture” brochure, featuring State Street businesses, was paid for by the Newtown Borough Retailers Association, using a logo created by the JDNC. This branding effort is being used by many Borough and Township entities. The publication “Destination Newtown” is a product of Inter-county Newspapers. JDNC contributed to its content. The next issue, which will be published after the completion of the Sycamore Street project, will feature Sycamore Street businesses.
Mrs. Goren questioned the contents of a packet dealing with the façade program and its “Design Challenge Grant” application. She questioned the availability of grant funds for Newtown Township businesses and taxpayers, as the application only refers to the Borough. She noted that 80% of the financing commitment for JDNC comes from Newtown Township, while only 20% is contributed by Newtown Borough.
Mr. Goodnoe responded that JDNC works closely with Newtown Township’s HARB, and that Township businesses have received façade grants. Grants are awarded on merit to both Township and Borough entities. The upcoming October “AHA! Friday” will focus on Sycamore Street.
Mrs. Goren asked for a breakdown of the façade grants awarded in the Township and Borough, and that the grant guidelines be linked on the Township Web site. She also asked that this payment be postponed until the next Board meeting, October 5, 2005.
Mr. Weaver said that the Township has already committed to this annual contribution.
Resident Ethel Hibbs said that, as Secretary of Newtown Township’s HARB, she is aware that the Township design challenge grant is to be discussed at the next HARB meeting. Ms. Ortwein, the Main Streets Manager, has worked closely with HARB to insure that the program works within the Township’s HARB guidelines. She said that HARB is in possession of the application. She noted that any taxpayer with a façade on Sycamore Street must submit to HARB for approval. She confirmed Mr. Goodnoe’s statement that some of the grants have been awarded to Township taxpayers. She also noted that HARB has worked with JDNC on a “Destination Newtown” brochure featuring Sycamore Street.
Mr. Goodnoe said that the $20,000 contribution on this evening’s bills list is not to fund façade grants.
Mr. Harp commented that he thought that the Township should be working to help smooth the way for Township businesses, such as Freestyle Salon, to be awarded grants for their façade improvements.
Mr. Goodnoe said that the public should know that Freestyle Salon made $1900 in improvements, and sought a 50% design challenge-matching grant after completion of work. The granting committee was not given an opportunity to comment on improvements before they were made, and decided to award $850 instead of the full 50%, or $950, because Freestyle used vinyl shutters. He again noted that all improvements had been made before the application was submitted.
Mr. Goodnoe also said that it is unfair to hold up JDNC’s payment with these questions when Ms. Ortwein has made monthly reports and has never been questioned on these matters.
The motion passed 4-0.
Mrs. Goren moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $170,000. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine reported that the Board reviewed a sketch plan for the Goodnoe tract at the September 7, 1005 meeting. The Board is interested in working with the developer to accept dedication of open space on this tract, to create Township owned contiguous open space.
The Have-a-Heart Foundation, and Messrs. John Cordisco and Jim Worthington, have guaranteed funding for the Park of Possibilities, and the playground equipment has been ordered. Township Planner Judith Stern Goldstein has offered her services as landscape architect for the project. It is hoped that this handicapped inclusive playground will be installed before the start of cold weather.
The Board discussed the extensive deer damage and stormwater erosion damage at the Clark Nature Center. There are over 70 deer in an area that can only support two deer. The Board would like to put together a matching funds grant application to DCNR for a forest management plan. The Board feels it needs the advice of expert consultants, citing the very high cost and less than perfect results of the fencing of the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. The Township Naturalist has reported that the erosion of the streambed is the result of stormwater run-off coming from the area of the Woll Tract. This might be greatly alleviated when that tract is developed as a park, as the stormwater management plans will reduce the velocity of run-off. In response to Mr. Goodnoe’s questions, Mr. Levine said that he did not know whether the run-off was caused by any malfunctions of the stormwater systems at the elementary schools. The stormwater run-off would be addressed in the application for a forest management consultant. He asked if the Board would need to formally act on such an application. He expected that the total cost of the project would be about $30,000, for consultation of deer population control, stormwater management and propagation of forest plants and rhododendrons.
Mr. Pellegrino responded that a resolution of the Board of Supervisors for a commitment of matching funds would be required for an application.
Mr. Levine reported that the Park and Recreation Department has had a 1% increase in revenue and a slight decrease in participation since this time last year. The decrease in participation is partially attributed to the later distribution of the fall program brochure, which has now been mailed and contains 331 programs for adults and children. He reported that the department sponsored 4H Club took first place in topiary at the Grange Fair, and that program is rapidly growing.
Mr. Harp commended the 4H Club members on their success.
Telecommunications Advisory Board: Chairman James Manahan reported that the Board expects to meet with the new Comcast representative at its next meeting. The Board had been reviewing the draft franchise agreement. There has been some concern about a boilerplate franchise agreement, and Newtown’s Advisory Board would like to continue to negotiate the agreement. Comcast is beginning to offer telephone services, and Verizon is also offering internet and telephone and cable television, and there should be some opportunity for competition. Problems with the Verizon installation work seem to have been resolved, but Mr. Manahan asked residents to contact him if they are still dissatisfied. The Advisory Board has been reaching out to the local colleges for some educational content for the local channel.
Chairman Shawn Ward reported that at the September 20, 2005 meeting the Planning Commission reviewed the Roberts Ridge Park of Possibilities. They reviewed the following PRD Variances and made recommendations:
The following land development applications were reviewed and recommendations made:
Land Development Projects
Final Plan for Minor Subdivision – Leck – 210 Durham Road – Mr. Don Marshall represented the applicant. Mr. Marshall explained that the applicant is seeking to change the lot line between two existing parcels, to add 0.32 acres to correct a non-conformity. One parcel is zoned R-1 Medium Density Residential and one is zoned CM Conservation Management. By adding this 0.32-acre parcel to the CM lot, it will now conform to the three-acre zoning requirement. The subdivision would have a shared driveway, and would either have cross-easements, or the rear lot would be a flag lot.
Mr. Harris said that the Ordinance requires that the two lots should be combined to form one conforming lot. He also noted that there is no frontage for the second lot.
Mr. Marshall said that flag lots are permitted in the CM District, and the second lot is zoned CM. He said that the proposed lot line change would allow the property to subdivide and comply with the ordinance.
Mr. Ward said that the Planning Commission prefers that there be a shared driveway and one curb cut for these two large lots. The Planning Commission has no preference for cross-easements or a flag lot. Either would satisfy the intent of the Ordinance.
Mr. Marshall said that because the two lots are in different zoning districts, there would be different impervious surface requirements, and the flag lot would affect that impervious surface calculation.
Mr. Harris said that there is less potential for conflict between owners if the second lot is a flag lot.
Mr. Goodnoe and Mr. Harp expressed a preference for the flag lot.
Mr. Harp moved to grant final plan approval for a minor subdivision for Leck, 210 Durham Road with the following conditions:
The following waivers will be granted:
Mrs. Goren seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Brabazon Minor Subdivision – 14 Eldridge Road – Don Marshall represented the applicant, who is seeking to subdivide a 6.5 acre lot into two lots, lot one being 2.623 acres and lot two being 3.586 acres. The Zoning Hearing Board granted relief to subdivide, and to allow the minimum width to be less than 200 feet at building setback line.
Mr. Harris noted that this is an area not mapped by FEMA, but the HEC-2 study designated a floodplain. Section 905A of the Ordinance requires that prior approval must be given by the Federal Insurance Program. He noted that Exhibit A of Section 905 outlines the procedure for an applicant wishing to change the floodplain.
Mr. Marshall said that the area is not a floodplain, only alluvial soils.
Mr. Walker agreed with Mr. Harris that this must be approved by FEMA.
Mr. Marshall and Mr. Harris discussed whether approval from FEMA is necessary, as Mr. Marshall said that this is not redrawing the floodplain, only noting the alluvial soil on the property.
In response to Mr. Harris’ question, Mr. Marshall said that he was not eager to return to the Zoning Hearing Board for relief to build the driveway in the floodplain because the relief the Zoning Board has already granted had as a condition that there would be no crossing of the floodplain. .
Mr. Don Brabazon said that his plan was designed so that the driveway would avoid the Bowmansville soils. He has had some problems when the drainage ditches back up, because his roadway was not put in properly after the gas main was put in. He also noted that the homes behind his property, in Mardot Village, are built on Bowmansville soils.
After some further discussion, Mr. Marshall agreed to a 30-day extension to attempt to get clarification from FEMA about whether approval is needed. He agreed to return at the October 26, 2005 meeting.
Preliminary Plan for Land Development – Cameron C. Troilo “Homewood Suites” – 104 Pheasant Trail: Don Marshall represented the applicant, who is seeking approval for land development for D-1 Office Use, E-4 – Financial Establishment, E-5 - Eating Place, and E-22 – Executive Inn/Conference Center. This plan has already been given conditional use approval for all of the proposed uses, and has been granted Zoning Hearing Board relief for height, parking and signage. Mr. Marshall presented pictures of the proposed signage for the inn/conference center, noting that there will be only one wall mounted sign, facing the easterly side of the building, between the fourth and fifth floors. Instead of a second wall-mounted sign, there will be a monument sign at the entrance. The Zoning Hearing Board granted relief for the height of this sign, which includes the planter base.
Mr. Marshall said that his client will comply with the review letters. Some members of the Planning Commission had expressed some concern about the location of the café. Mr. Marshall said that it had been the intention of his client to place the café on the corner of the office building, visible to and easily accessible to the entire Business Commons. His client does not want to locate the café elsewhere on the property, and would remove this use from the plan if the location is a problem to the Board.
Mr. Harp said that he would prefer to see the café on the side of the building facing the inn/conference center, to provide easy walking access for guests.
Mr. Marshall said that the café’s hours of operation are limited to 6:00AM to 6:00PM, serving only breakfast and lunch. The inn will be serving breakfast to guests, and those attending conferences would usually be served a catered lunch. The café would be closed for dinner.
Mr. Harp said that there is a request for a waiver of the traffic study. He said that he would not be inclined to grant this request, as the office building and inn/conference center would have an impact on traffic.
Mr. Weaver said that the Economic Development Committee and the Newtown Business Commons Association have expressed interest in some sort of food service available for breakfast and lunch, and he would prefer the café at the proposed corner location for easy access to all of the Commons employees.
Mr. Jirele agreed with Mr. Weaver. He also said that because the hours of operation are limited to breakfast and lunch he did not think there was cause for concern that chain restaurants would be looking to build in the Commons.
Mrs. Goren agreed with Mr. Harp, that the café should be located for the convenience of the inn guests.
Mr. Goodnoe said that it is in the Board’s best interest to see that the café is placed in the most viable location, on the corner.
Mr. Harp moved to grant preliminary plan approval for land development to Cameron C. Troilo “Homewood Suites” at 104 Pheasant Trail with the conditions that:
Mr. Goodnoe seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mrs. Goren voting nay.
Conditional Use – K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons at Newtown By-Pass and Buck Road. Mr. Harris noted the time as 10:22 PM.
Mr. Jonas submitted as Exhibit A-19, an unsigned letter dated August 11, 2005, from Eastburn and Gray regarding the appointment of Terry Clemons as counsel for the Township; Exhibit A-20, a letter and attachments, dated August 12, 2005, from Eastburn and Gray regarding the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance sections on B-17, Elderly Housing; Exhibit A-21, a letter, dated October 14, 1986, from Newtown Township Code Enforcer to the Board of Supervisors regarding a Quaker Elderly Housing Project on this property.
Mr. Kirk Clauss was recalled. Mr. Harris reminded Mr. Clauss that he was under oath.
In response to Mr. Jonas’ questions, Mr. Clauss said that the cartway in the proposed development would be 30 feet wide, as per the ordinance, and that under Section 504.17 .b of the Ordinance there are no restrictions to on street parking on local streets.
Mr. Jonas entered as Exhibit A-22, a plan dated September 1, 2005, that is the same plan as Exhibit A-3, but including recreation facilities and overflow parking.
In response to Mr. Jonas’ questions, Mr. Clauss said that the insert on Exhibit A-22 shows a fire truck safely passing through the street with cars parked on either side. The plan shows 38 on street parking places along the straight portions of the streets and 13 overflow spaces at the entrance and at the end of the cul-de-sac. A walking trail and bocce courts are shown on the plan. The stormwater basin is depicted at the south end, but at this stage of planning it is conceptual only. The Ordinance requires that the after development the stormwater be released at a rate of 75% of pre-development rate. The release rate will be lower than it is currently. Any drainage issues would be addressed prior to construction, during the design and review phases.
In response to Mr. Jonas’ questions, Mr. Clauss said that because the B-17 Elderly Housing use requires ready access to commercial and professional areas, the project has a sidewalk connecting the development to Buck Road at Mill Pond Road, where it would connect with existing sidewalks leading the Village at Newtown shopping center. There is no distance requirement in the Ordinance.
Mr. Clauss said that he has designed seven projects with a single access point.
Mr. Clemons objected to inclusion of these developments, as none is located in Newtown Township.
Mr. Clauss enumerated these seven developments, ranging in size from 35 to 154 units.
Mr. Jonas referred Mr. Clauss to Exhibit A-22 and asked about the scale of the insert.
Mr. Clauss said that the insert is drawn to scale, and that the fire truck depicted is 8.5 feet wide and 45 feet long.
In response to Mr. Clemons’ questions, Mr. Clauss said that none of the single access developments he has designed are located in Bucks County. He said that there is no pedestrian access to the Sycamore Street business district from the development, because there is no pedestrian crossing of the By-Pass. He said that exhibit A-22 does not show compliance with stormwater management regulations. The cul-de-sac length for York Lane is 750 feet, and the other cul-de-sac would be 900 feet. The cul-de-sac lengths are longer than permitted by the Ordinance, and would require waivers. Such waivers have been granted before.
In response to Mr. Clemons’ questions, Mr. Clauss said that the walking trail and bocce courts were added to show compliance with the Ordinance requirement for recreation. These activities have been popular recreations among people 55 and over, although they are not activities enjoyed only by people over 55 years of age. Mr. Clauss was not able to think of a recreational activity that would be exclusively for the enjoyment of people over age 55.
Mr. Clauss said that only one of the developments that he has designed with a single access point also had an emergency second access.
In response to Mr. McGuigan’s questions, Mr. Clauss said that the insert on Exhibit A-22 shows an 8.5-foot wide fire truck and 6.5-foot wide cars. Ambulances are not 9 feet wide, and so there is ample room for an ambulance to pass. The parking spaces are staggered so that oncoming cars have sufficient room to pull over and yield to the oncoming emergency vehicles.
Mr. McGuigan began to question Mr. Clauss about some drainage issues involving other K. Hovnanian developments in Upper Makefield and Northampton.
Mr. Jonas objected and Mr. Harris agreed that this was not relevant.
In response to Mrs. Goren’s questions about Exhibit A-22, Mr. Clauss said that a fire truck would be able to turn around in the cul-de-sac, even if cars are parked there. If this became an issue, it would be addressed during land development, and parking could be limited in the cul-de-sac.
In response to Mr. Harris’ questions, Mr. Clauss said that the plan, as shown would require some waivers. He said that during the course of design, some situations might arise that would call for some waivers. The recreational activities provided are not part of a specific list of activities, but are chosen as popular activities for people over 55.
In response to Mr. Clemons’ question, Mr. Clauss again stated that the trail and bocce courts do not serve the specific needs of the elderly for recreation, but are activities that the people buying homes in these communities seem to enjoy.
Mrs. Goren moved to continue to conditional use hearing of K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons until October 5, 2005. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Harris noted the time as 11:05PM.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh said that he had sent correspondence to the Board requesting permission to use the community room and cable channel 23 to host a “Meet the Candidates” debate, moderated by the League of Women Voters. He had not received a response.
Mr. Weaver responded that Channel 23 is the government channel and he did not think that political debate should take place at the municipal complex. He suggested using the Comcast public access channel.
Mr. Jirele and Mr. Goodnoe agreed with Mr. Weaver on this, pointing out that individuals should fund their own campaigns and that taxpayer funds should not be used.
In response to Mrs. Goren’s question, Mr. Sensibaugh said that he had not contacted Channel 66 or Comcast. He said that this would not be political, but a discussion of the issues.
Resident Karen Doorley asked about the property for the municipal expansion that would be purchased from the Archdiocese. She said that she is aware that all departments of the Township, especially Public Works, need more room. She hopes that everyone works toward cutting some costs to make the expansion less expensive.
Resident Phil Calabro asked who would be the operator of the café to be built in the Business Commons.
Mr. Harris said that it is unknown at this time, but at the time of final plan approval Mr. Calabro would have an opportunity to ask Mr. Troilo.
Mr. Calabro said that the municipal expansion should be voted by referendum.
Resident Jerry Shenkman asked about the “make a difference” program.
Mr. Jirele said the program was started about eight years ago for Homeowners Association members to meet together and with Township officials, to address Homeowners Association issues. They meet about every eighteen months.
Mr. Shenkman suggested that the program meet quarterly to give residents an opportunity to address concerns of specific neighborhoods.
Reports of Officials
Board Members: Mrs. Goren said that a recent issue of The Newtown Advance has misquoted her, attributing to her a statement that the Brandywine Bridge would alleviate some traffic in the surrounding residential areas. She read her letter to the editor, in which she said that she had been misquoted. She does not think the bridge would help with traffic, but will increase traffic through the residential communities, as the bridge, and Brandywine Boulevard will act as the first leg of a Northern By-Pass, and as a link to Newtown Yardley Road through Wiltshire Walk.
Plan Expirations: none
Acknowledgement of Pension Plan Minimum Municipal Obligations: Mr. Pellegrino informed the Board that the estimated State grant funding would amount to $152,192 for Police Pension, $84,876 for Non-uniformed pension and $45,948 for the Firefighters pension.
Patel Zoning Appeal: Mr. Harris said that the Township had monitored the appeal of the Zoning Hearing Board’s decision, and would be required to authorize signing of the agreement reached between the parties. In response to Mr. Jirele’s questions, Mr. Harris said that Mr. Patel had applied for a variance and Dr. Mlkvy had protested. The Zoning Hearing Board had denied the application because the applicant had failed to demonstrate hardship. The agreement between the parties includes a well guarantee.
Mrs. Goren moved to authorize signing of the proposed settlement of the Patel Zoning Appeal. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Glazier (Mitzvah Way) – Request for extension of Relief granted by Zoning Hearing Board: Mr. Harris explained that the former Kosacci property has been sold to Jason Glazier, who now proposes to build one house, as opposed to three houses proposed by Kosacci. The Zoning Hearing Board had granted relief to install utilities, including sanitary sewer facilities, within floodplain soils and wetlands.
Mrs. Goren moved to extend the relief granted by the Zoning Hearing Board for Glazier (mitzvah Way). Mr. Jirele seconded.
Discussion of Motion: Mr. Jirele suggested that the motion be conditioned on the plan being for a single lot.
Mrs. Goren amended her motion to include the condition that the property be developed as a single lot. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Harris reviewed four Zoning Hearing Board applications. The Board agreed to take no action on any of the applications.
Mr. Jirele moved to authorize signing Mylars for 161 Blacksmith Road. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mrs. Goren moved to authorize signing Mylars for Lombardi – Sycamore Street, with the condition that they be held until the Sewer letter has been received. Mr. Harp seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The meeting adjourned at 12:10AM.
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