Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors 

Work Session Minutes

January 18, 2006


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 22, 2006. Minutes of work session meeting of January 18, 2006: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of the work session of January 18, 2006. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


Members Present: Anne Goren, Chairman; Philip Calabro, Vice Chairman; Jerry Schenkman, Secretary/Treasurer; Tom Jirele, Member; Richard Weaver, Member; Paul Beckert, Solicitor; Robert M. Pellegrino, Township Manager; Tom Beach, Engineer.

Also Present: Don Marshall, Esq.; Mr. Terry, Newtown Industrial Commons; Eric Kaufman, Gilmore & Associates, Inc.; Don Harris, Newtown Emergency Services Director; Various Newtown Township residents including Ethel Hibbs, Brandon Wind, Shawn Ward, John D’Aprile, Tom Londolt, E. Weiss, James Ott, Jennifer Dix, Sue Herman, Jay Seinsbaugh, Paul Salvatore and Tom Salvatore; Several local realtors including Matt Bain; Doylestown resident Larry Shaffer.

Call to Order: Chairman Goren called the meeting to order at 8:00 P.M.

Ordinance Requiring a Certificate of Occupancy Upon Re-Occupancy of Any Premises

The Supervisors discussed the proposed ordinance requiring a certificate of occupancy upon re-occupancy of any premises.

Ms. Goren advised the Supervisors with regards to the negative feedback she has received from the residents and local Real Estate Agents. She questioned how the other Supervisors feel about this issue.

Mr. Weaver advised he feels the ordinance is a good idea, he also commented with regards to the negative feedback he has received.

Mr. Jirele advised that he is against the proposed ordinance.

Mr. Schenkman commented with regards to providing copies of the proposed ordinances to the public at future meetings for their review. He advised the Supervisors on his concerns with the proposed ordinance and discussed the pros and cons he advised that he is against the proposed ordinance.

Mr. Calabro advised that he is against the proposed ordinance.

One resident/realtor advised that she is against the proposed ordinance and explained why. She asked that the Supervisors oppose the proposed ordinance.

Mr. Bain, ReMax Properties advised that he is against the proposed ordinance and explained why.

Ms. Weiss advised that she is opposed to the proposed ordinance and explained why. She also suggested that the Township produce a fire safety program to be show on the Township’s community channel.

Mr. Ott advised that he has mixed feelings with regards to the proposed ordinance and explained why.

Mr. Wind advised that he is against the proposed ordinance and commented with regards to the fire safety inspection service already being available, currently at no cost.

Mr. Harris advised that his intent with the program is public safety and the need to enforce public safety. He discussed the experience of a home fire and advised what the fire inspector would be looking for. He also commented with regards to the testing requirements for a Certified Home Inspector.

Mr. Bain suggested that the Township inform the public that free fire safety inspections are available.

Mr. Harris advised that the Township has made this information public in the past and that the Emergency Services Departments is currently updating their web site to provide information on the free fire safety inspection. He discussed the need to practice fire escape routes and to check the batteries of smoke detectors.

One resident questioned who would perform the fire safety inspections. Mr. Harris advised that the Emergency Services Department would handle the fire safety inspections and explained the process.

One resident/realtor commented with regards to the administration side of the fire safety inspections. She advised that she is for public safety but feels that the proposed ordinance is unfair. Mr. Harris discussed the fire safety inspection process.

Mr. P. Salvatore commented with regards to the number of houses for sale within the Township that have caught on fire. He discussed ways to compromise and suggested that the Township draft a list of requirements for the Home Inspectors to use. He questioned how long the inspection would take. Mr. Harris advised that the fire safety inspection should take one-half hour to forty-five minutes.

Mr. Schenkman suggested that the Township offer the residents the ability to volunteer for the free fire safety inspection. He commented that the whole Township could be inspected within a year and a half.

Mr. Bain commented with regards to the Township offering the free fire safety inspections.

Mr. P. Salvatore commented with regards to residents having their heater inspected yearly. He also commented with regards to working fire alarms. He advised that he is against the proposed ordinance due to the cost of the inspection. He also advised that he was unaware that the Township offered a free fire safety inspection. Ms. Goren advised that the Township would include information regarding the free fire safety inspection in the next newsletter.

Mr. Jirele advised that he would like to see the Emergency Services Department target one neighborhood per month to offer the free fire safety inspection. He suggested that the Township send out flyers to update the residents.

Mr. Calabro made a motion not to enact the proposed ordinance requiring a certificate of occupancy upon re-occupancy of any premises. The motion was seconded by Mr. Schenkman and passed unanimously.

Ms. Goren thanked Mr. Harris and the public for their input.

Emergency & Municipal Services Tax Increase Ordinance

The Supervisors discussed the proposed Emergency & Municipal Services Tax increase ordinance.

Mr. Jirele suggested that the minimum income level be increased to $10,000.00 per individual and increasing the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax to $25.00 per year.

Ms. Goren advised that she is in favor of Mr. Jirele’s suggestion.

Mr. Beckert advised that if the Supervisors agree to Mr. Jirele’s suggestion that the proposed ordinance would need to be re-advertised.

Mr. Schenkman advised that he likes Mr. Jirele’s idea and would like to see an analysis of the different exemption levels.

Ms. Goren questioned Mr. Pellegrino with regards to raising the limit from $5,000.00 to $10,000.00, would do for the community. Mr. Pellegrino discussed the current minimum income level and advised that the law allows the minimum income level to be $12,000.00. Mr. Pellegrino advised that he would research the matter with Berkheimer.

Mr. Pellegrino advised the Supervisors that the Township has a timing problem with regards to the proposed ordinance and explained that the Tax Collector needs notification. He suggested that the Township advertise the proposed ordinance to show $30.00 for the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax and the minimum income level to $10,000.00 or $12,000.00. He advised the Supervisors that they can always lower the tax and minimum income level but they can not raise the tax or minimum income level without re-advertising the proposed ordinance.

Mr. Jirele made a motion to authorize the Township Solicitor to re-advertise the proposed Emergency & Municipal Services Tax increase ordinance showing that the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax has increased from $10.00 to $30.00 per year and that the minimum income level has increase from $5000.00 to $10,000.00. The motion was seconded by Mr. Weaver and passed unanimously.

Zoning Hearing Board Application – Newtown Industrial Commons – 111 –115 Pheasant Run

Mr. Marshall updated the Supervisors with regards to the Zoning Hearing Board application for the Newtown Industrial Commons property located at 111 – 115 Pheasant Run. He advised the Supervisors on discussions with the Zoning Hearing Board. He discussed why more signage is needed for the property and the traffic conditions on Pheasant Run.

The Supervisors discussed the size of the signs.

Ms. Goren advised that she is concerned with the signs being located along the roadway. She suggested relocating the signs to the inside of the complex.

Mr. Jirele discussed the need to identify tenants by the roadway.

Mr. Calabro advised that he agrees with Ms. Goren’s concerns regarding vehicles stopping along Pheasant Run to read the signs.

Mr. Terry advised that vehicles should be pulling in the driveway to read the sign. He also discussed the need to identify where the tenants are located.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to the zoning and the number of tenants on one property.

Mr. Schenkman advised that he has no problem with the location or the number of signs. He has concerns with regards to driving safety. He suggested that the signs located along Pheasant Run have the address and name of building and that the property have smaller signs within the complex to advise where a tenant is located.

Ms. Goren discussed having two address signs along Pheasant Run and two directional signs within the complex.

Mr. Marshall asked the Supervisors to advise him on how they would like him to proceed.

Mr. Jirele suggested that property have two signs to identify the buildings, moving the signs closer to the driveway entrances and having three directional signs located inside the complex.

Mr. Marshall advised that the Farm House and the Carriage House could share one directional sign.

Mr. Terry advised that the tenants would probably want their names on the address signs located by the roadway.

Mr. Beckert commented that he feels the Supervisors are in agreement to the size and number of signs, but have concerns with having the tenants’ names on the signs so close to the roadway.

Mr. Marshall advised he would provide the Supervisors with more information at their next meeting.

Mr. Marshall thanked the Supervisors for their time.

Zoning Hearing Board Application – Third Federal Bank – Signage

Ms. Goren advised that this item has been removed from tonight’s agenda.

Stoopville Road Traffic Calming Study

Mr. Pellegrino updated the Supervisors with regards to the Stoopville Road traffic calming study. The Supervisors were provided a draft copy of the study dated November 2005 for their review.

Mr. Kaufman advised the Supervisors on the study conducted by Gilmore & Associates. He discussed the suggestions made by Gilmore & Associates and advised he was looking for feedback from the Supervisors.

Mr. Pellegrino questioned if there was enough room for the suggested roundabouts. Mr. Kaufman advised this is only a preliminary plan.

Mr. Pellegrino advised that the intent is to develop a plan that the Township is satisfied with and then to seek grant funds.

Mr. Jirele questioned the size of a roundabout. Mr. Kaufman advised that the size of the roundabout can vary.

Mr. Calabro questioned the types of vehicles maneuvering around the roundabouts. Mr. Kaufman advised that emergency vehicles could make a left in front of the roundabout, he also discussed mountable roundabouts. Mr. Kaufman advised that the roundabouts could be designed so that a large truck could maneuver around them.

Mr. Jirele commented with regards to the road size and the size required for a roundabout.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to the possibility of having a traffic light at the intersection of Stoopville Road and Linton Hill Road/Creamery Road and suggested having traffic lights at some of the other intersections verses roundabouts.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to page 3, item 3 – installing Seminole County speed humps along Stoopville Road between Durham Road and Rosefield Drive. She questioned why the suggestion was not made to continue the speed humps down Stoopville Road. Mr. Kaufman advised that other areas of Stoopville Road did not meet the Penn Dot requirements. He discussed traffic volumes along Stoopville Road.

Mr. Beach commented with regards to the speed humps and the posted speed limit. Mr. Kaufman advised on how the speed humps are intended to work.

Mr. Jirele discussed traffic calming and enforcing the traffic regulations.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to page 3, item 5 – Gateway treatment along Stoopville Road near Washington Crossing Road as the roadway enters the Township. She questioned the type of treatment and how it would work. Mr. Kaufman advised the treatment could be a center median.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to page 6 – traffic volumes and speed data. She questioned when the data was collected and if Swamp Road open or closed. Mr. Kaufman advised that Swamp Road was open.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to page 7 – average truck peak hours. She questioned when that information was collected. Mr. Kaufman advised.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to the upcoming improvements to the Newtown Bypass and a possible decrease in traffic volume on Stoopville Road. Mr. Kaufman advised that the recommendations would remain the same.

Mr. Beckert questioned where the Township starts along Stoopville Road. The Supervisors agreed that the Township begins at the Jehovah’s Witnesses property.

Mr. Calabro commented with regards to a similar roadway with these types of improvements. Mr. Kaufman advised on similar roadways in Richland Township and Chester County.

Ms. Goren commented with regards to raised crosswalks at the intersections. Mr. Kaufman advised with regards to raised crosswalks.

Mr. Pellegrino commented with regards to installing a flashing light for road crossings.

Mr. Schenkman suggested having a visual tour. Mr. Pellegrino advised that could be arranged.

Mr. Schenkman suggested Gilmore proved the Supervisors with a multi media presentation of the proposed traffic calming plan. Mr. Kaufman advised that could be arranged.

Mr. Calabro questioned the roundabouts and how they work for vehicles on side roads that want to make a left turn. Mr. Kaufman advised that the traffic calming study only included Stoopville Road, not the side roads. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the scope of the traffic calming study was Stoopville Road.

Mr. Beach questioned what is the Supervisors’ goal. Ms. Goren advised on the type of vehicles that use the roadway and the concerns with traffic exceeding the speed limit.

The Supervisors discussed the right of way of the roadway.

Mr. Ward commented with regards to Penn Dot approving the speed humps and roundabouts. Mr. Kaufman advised on Penn Dot’s approval with regards to roundabouts and speed humps.

Mr. Kaufman advised the Supervisors of their options with regards to having the project approved by Penn Dot.

Mr. Ward commented with regards to having raised crosswalks and the effects of Township maintenance.

Mr. Ott commented with regards to the history of the roadway and the proposed traffic calming plan. He discussed the speeds and the traffic counts. Mr. Kaufman commented with regards to the proposed traffic calming plan. Mr. Ott advised that he against having speed humps on Stoopville Road.

Ms. Weiss commented that she feels that speed humps don’t work and that a flashing sign would be better.

Mr. D’Aprile advised that he is against roundabouts and the speed humps.

Ms. Dix discussed the suggestions made by Gilmore & Associates. She also commented with regards to the Penn Dot’s Traffic Calming Manual and the traffic calming measures taken on Sycamore Street being the least effective.

Ms. Herman discussed the non-vehicle traffic currently on the roadway and the need to educate the residents with regards to public safety. She also commented with regards to having a traffic calming plan with effective traffic calming measures. She discussed the effectiveness of the roundabout.

Mr. Wind commented with regards to the proposed roundabout located at the intersection of Stoopville Road and Hemlock Drive. He discussed the prior closing of Stoopville Road and the police presence. Mr. Pellegrino advised on the patrol of the Newtown Police Department.

Mr. Wind commented with regards to an emergency vehicle being able to drive over the roundabout. He questioned what was to stop a forty ton truck from driving over the roundabout. Mr. Kaufman advised on the proper use of the roundabout.

Mr. Shaffer, Doylestown resident advised that he is on the Delaware Valley Regional Transportation Committee and commented with regards to roundabouts. He discussed the benefits of the roundabouts. He advised that the roundabouts are currently being used in Richland Township and Doylestown Borough.

Mr. Seinsbaugh commented with regards to the advantages of the roundabouts.

Mr. Wind discussed the benefits of the roundabout. He questioned if there is a real need for a roundabout at the intersection of Stoopville Road and Hemlock Drive/Eagleton Farms Road.

The Supervisors discussed the differences between a traffic light and a roundabout. The advantage of a roundabout is that the vehicles do not have to stop and traffic keeps flowing.

Mr. Calabro discussed the size of the roadway and questioned if the roadway is large enough for a roundabout.

The Supervisors discussed New Jersey with regards to the circles. Mr. Kaufman and Mr. Shaffer explained the differences between the New Jersey circle and a roundabout.

Ms. Goren recommended that the Supervisors review the matter further.

Mr. Pellegrino advised the Supervisors on the next step in the process. Mr. Pellegrino advised that he would work with Mr. Kaufman to put together a program for the Supervisors to review.

The Supervisors agreed more information is needed and to discuss the matter further at a future Work Session.

Mr. Pellegrino advised that Mr. Kaufman is scheduled for the February Work Session to present Gilmore’s findings with regards to the intersection of South Eagle Road and Swamp Road.

Ms. Dix suggested anyone who has any questions with regards to the roundabout to do a google search on the Internet.

Community Comments

Mr. Londolt commented with regards to the moving of the poles located along Stoopville Road. He questioned who is paying to remove the poles. Mr. Pellegrino advised that Toll Brothers is paying for the pole removal. Mr. Londolt questioned when the poles would be moved. Mr. Pellegrino advised that should be taking place in the spring of 2006.

Ms. Hibbs commented with regards to the dips on Eagle Road and culvert repairs (two (2) dips on the east side/two (2) dips on the west side.). Mr. Pellegrino advised that the Township is investigating the matter. He discussed work that was done in 2005.

Ms. Hibbs questioned the $5,000.00 that the Township received from Commerce Bank in 2005. Mr. Pellegrino advised that the funds are in an escrow account and will be used for Silver Lake Park.

Mr. Ott commented with regards to Stoopville Road. He discussed the police activity along the roadway. He discussed the cost to purchase speed boards and the posted speed limit on the roadway. Mr. Pellegrino advised on how the speed limits are set.

Mr. Ott commented with regards to Toll Brothers’ sketch plans for the MelskyTract and the need for the Board of Supervisors to be consistent with regards to the right of way.

Mr. Londolt commented with regards to the 80 feet right of way and Toll Brothers.

Mr. Ott commented with regards to the ultimate right of way. Ms. Goren advised on prior discussions with regards to ultimate right of way.

Ms. Goren thanked the public for their input.

Other Business

Mr. Beckert updated the Supervisors with regards to the Joint Zoning Council; he advised that Upper Makefield is sending their Solicitor and questioned if the Supervisors would like him to attend the meeting. The Supervisors agreed to have Mr. Beckert attend the meeting.

Adjournment

Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 10:29 P.M.

Once the meeting adjourned the Supervisors met in Executive Session.

 

Respectfully Submitted by:

 

_____________________________
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary