Board of Supervisor Minutes
January 25, 2006
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting February 8, 2006. MINUTES OF JANUARY 25, 2006 REGULAR MEETING: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of January 25, 2006. Mr. Jirele seconded.
Discussion of Motion: Mr. Beckert noted that page 5, second sentence should read, " one-story addition with a rear yard setback of 25.1 feet and a side yard setback of 9.2 feet, and an existing shed with a side yard setback of 2.9 feet and a rear yard set back of .3 feet."
Mr. Weaver amended his motion to accept the minutes of January 25, 2006, as corrected. Mr. Jirele amended his second and the motion passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Anne Goren, Vice-Chairman/Assistant Treasurer Phillip Calabro, and Members Thomas Jirele and Richard Weaver. Also present were: Paul Beckert, Township Solicitor; Chris Fazio, Township Engineer; and Robert Pellegrino, Township Manager.
Call to Order: Chairman Anne Goren called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence.
Invocation: The invocation was given by Reverend Michael Gerald of Macedonia Baptist Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Additions and Changes to the Agenda: none
Public Comment: Jane Johnson of Upper Makefield asked that the Supervisors consider the environmental issues, traffic and stormwater management when Toll Brothers asks for a re-zoning of the Melsky tract for denser housing. She said that she is concerned that this re-zoning might not go through the proper channels for review.
Carole Stuckley of Upper Makefield, representing Save Historic Dolington, expressed concern about the possible re-zoning of the Melsky tract in Newtown and the White tract in Upper Makefield from Conservation Management to VR-1 zoning. She said that this change would allow three times as many houses to be built. She said that she is greatly concerned about the high-density housing’s impact on traffic and school taxes. She said that it would change the agricultural nature of the area. She asked that the Supervisors deny this request.
Resident Dave Felker, President of Council Rock Newtown Athletic Association announced that registration for the 2006 baseball season is now open to all Newtown Township and Borough children. There is on-line registration available at www.crnaa.com.
Resident Robert Ciervo expressed concern about the increased spending in the 2006 budget. He thought that there should have been more cost saving measures. Of particular concern to him was the salary of the naturalist. He questioned why there has been no effort tofind a volunteer to do this work. He questioned the appointment of a Township Solicitor without municipal law experience, and the appointment of engineers who had made contributions to the Supervisors’ election campaign.
Mrs. Goren responded that the Board is permitted to appoint consultants without public input.
Member Comments: Mr. Calabro responded to recent accusations of cronyism, saying that the Board has appointed consultants that they trust. He said that the changes that have been made are in response to residents’ requests for change in the local government. He said that he and Mr. Shenkman intend to represent all neighborhoods and suggested that residents visit his Web site, www.philandjerry.org to learn where he stands on the issues.
Minutes, Bills List and Reports
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Jirele moved to accept the minutes of January 11, 2006. Mr. Weaver seconded.
Discussion of motion: Resident Ethel Hibbs said that in the Minutes of January 11, 2006, Messrs. Shenkman and Calabro voted to approve the minutes of December 14, 2005, although they had not been in attendance at that meeting. She also questioned their votes on the bills lists presented at that meeting.
Mr. Jirele responded that Messrs. Calabro and Shenkman were permitted to vote on the December bills because those bills would be paid during their term of office, however he amended his motion to reflect that Messrs. Calabro and Shenkman abstained from voting to approve the minutes of December 14, 2005. The motion passed 4-0.
Bills List: Mr. Weaver moved to approve bills totaling $151,385.12 for December 2005. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve bills totaling $159,332.19 for January 2006. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Jirele noted that this bills list includes a payment of $400 to PECO for the annual lease on the right-of-way along the power lines. He suggested that the Supervisors direct the Park and Recreation Board to plan some use for this property.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve interfund transfers of $150,300. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Telecommunications Advisory Board: Chairman James Manahan thanked the Board for filling the vacancies on the Board. He reported that at the January meeting the Board discussed using the colleges and universities to provide content for the local television station. The discussed seeking grants to televise other Township board and committee meetings. They have asked Comcast to provide information on the number of businesses in the Business Commons using Comcast Internet services. Verizon has complied with the Township permit process. The Telecommunications Board will meet on February 1, 2006 at the Newtown Borough Fire Station.
Sycamore Street Committee: Chairman Vince Lombardi reported that the committee prioritized a list of seven items to be addressed as follows:
Planning Commission: Chairman Shawn Ward reported that the Commission reorganized at its January 17, 2006 meeting, re-appointing himself, Mr. Lombardi and Mr. Fidler as officers. They reviewed the Park and Recreation Board’s plan for the Woll Tract, and had some comments and recommendations for traffic, access and parking. They recommend approval of the plan. They discussed the review letters for the Homewood Suites plan, but tabled a decision on recommendation until the traffic study has been submitted. They recommend approval of the Newtown Rental Center preliminary as final plan for land subdivision. They recommend approval of JMZO amendment 2004-12, agricultural sales, and JMZO amendment 2006-7, nursery use.
Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andy Levine reported that at the January meeting the Board re-organized and re-appointed himself and Joel Grosso as chairman and vice-chairman. The members agreed to begin meetings at 7:00 PM instead of 7:30 PM. He announced that the fee schedule has been modified and developers must pay a recreational impact fee based on square footage rather than the footprint of buildings.
Mr. Levine expressed his support and respect for the Township Naturalist, Russell Strover.
Mr. Levine presented a plan for development of the Woll Tract as an active recreation park. This 40-acre parcel would include three lighted baseball/softball fields, a lighted all purpose rectangular field and two additional soccer fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a restroom/snack bar pavilion. This pavilion would have some storage space and meeting rooms. Access to the facility would be through a signalized entrance at Rte 413 and possibly also through Wrights Road. Landscaping and stormwater management has been planned to shield neighboring homes from the park. The total control lighting standard to be used is 1/10 of one foot candle at the border with residential properties. The distance from the Leck property to the nearest light is 332 feet, from the Fleming property is 472 feet, from St. Andrew’s Briar is 760 feet and from Pheasant Point is 416 feet. There will be no public address system, except for emergency announcements. The Planning Commission has reviewed the plan and recommended relocating some of the parking closer to Newtown Elementary School. He asked that the Board of Supervisors begin negotiations with the School District to arrange access to the park through Wrights Road. He asked that a member of the Park and Recreation Board be included in these discussions. He said that this plan was developed with input from hundreds of residents, the nearby neighbors and representatives of the sports organizations. He asked that the Board approve the plan, so that an engineering plan can be developed. This is necessary in order to begin working with PennDOT on access and for the sports organizations to begin grant applications for field development.
In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Levine noted that the park would have walking trails that would connect with the trail on Eagle Road. He said that they would work with the residents to provide acceptable buffering along the perimeter of the park.
In response to Mrs. Goren’s question, Mr. Levine said that the 291 proposed parking spaces would be adequate for typical use. There are 70 additional spaces along the proposed Wrights Road access road, which would also be available for school functions.
In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Levine said that the schools would be provided with easy access to the park. The Park and Recreation Board is currently reviewing the rules for all of the parks, and would address hours that the park would be available to the schools.
In response to Mr. Pellegrino’s question, Mr. Levine said that a storage space of maintenance equipment could be included in the engineering plan, and a location for storage of infield mix would be provided.
Mr. Ward said that the Planning Commission has some concerns about traffic at the intersection of Rte 413 and Wrights Road.
Mr. Pellegrino responded that a traffic study would be conducted during the plan review stage.
Mr. Jirele suggested that he and Mr. Calabro continue to work with the School District to negotiate access to the park through district property.
Mr. Levine introduced Susan Sutton, Kathy Kelly and Joel Grosso, Park and Recreation Board members who spent many hours developing this plan.
Mr. Felker thanked the Park and Recreation Board for all of the work that has gone into this plan. He said that they have done a wonderful job developing this park.
Mr. Jirele moved to approve the master plan for the Woll Tract with the recommendation that further negotiations be conducted with the School District to access the park. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Jirele moved to add to the reserve fund the RCN settlement money and the recreational impact fees from the Brandywine project. Mr. Weaver seconded.
Mr. Jirele said that the recreational impact fees for 2006, estimated to be about $500,000, has been set aside in a reserve fund for this project. He suggested that the RCN settlement money, $750,000, also be placed in this reserve fund, along with recreational impact fees from the Brandywine project. He said that this would show the Township’s support of the project as the sports associations begin seeking grants for field development.
Mrs. Goren said that she thought it is premature to discuss Brandywine impact fees. She said that there is ongoing litigation involved with the Brandywine project, and it might not ever be built. She also hesitated to include Brandywine impact fees at this time as it might seem that she and this Board are in support of the Brandywine project.
Mr. Jirele said that it is his thought that if the Brandywine project is built, the impact fees would be placed in the Woll tract reserve fund, if the project is not built, then there would be no impact fee.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh said that he was concerned that the fees from Brandywine might not be received until the park has been fully funded.
The motion passed 4-0.
Land Development Projects
PRD Variance – Thomas Coates – 12 Pinetree Court: Thomas Coates was present to ask for a variance for a 20 foot by 14 foot one-story addition to his home and for a shed that would have a 25 foot setback instead of the required 30 foot setback at the rear and a 9 foot setback instead of the required 15 feet at the side. Mr. Coates explained that the Brookside Community Association had some concerns about the appearance of the addition and the shed, and had withheld approval. He has since provided more detailed plans and has received approval from his neighbors and from the Brookside Community Association. Mr. Coates entered the following Exhibits:
Mr. Jirele moved to grant a variance from the Brookside final plan to permit a 20’ X14’ one-story addition and to permit an existing shed with a rear yard setback of 25.1 feet and a side yard setback of 9.2 feet with the conditions that:
Mr. Weaver seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Coates said that the Architectural Review Board had approved of the plans and their letter has been forwarded to the Township.
The motion passed 4-0.
Preliminary as Final Plan for Land Subdivision – Newtown Rental Center – 861 Newtown Yardley Road: Shannon Wilson and Jeffrey Skinner, Engineer on the project, presented a plan to consolidate two adjacent parcels into one to create a 3.392-acre lot for commercial development (lot 1) and a 10,000 square-foot lot for a single family detached dwelling (lot 2). On lot 1, which contains an existing warehouse and service business, two new buildings will be constructed totaling 7,500 square feet, to be used as a retail business, a service business a wholesale business and wholesale storage and warehousing. The plan includes an expanded parking lot, expanded detention basin and a redirected driveway. The existing stone house has already been relocated successfully to lot 2. Mr. Wilson will comply with the review letters of Pennoni Associates dated January 10, 2006 and Boucher and James dated January 12, 2006. In response to Mr. Beckert’s question, Mr. Wilson said that Suburban Lighting has not yet completed review of the lighting plan, but he will comply with whatever they require. He has spoken to his surrounding neighbors and has agreed to extend the fence and plant buffer trees.
Mr. Skinner pointed out that the lighting is already existing, and should be somewhat improved by the proposed canopy on the building, which will shield some of the lights.
Mrs. Goren expressed concern about approving the plan with the lighting review still outstanding. She noted that there have been difficulties in the past with neighbors opposed to lights that have been left on all night. She suggested that the property should be fenced and locked at night.
Mr. Ward said that this had been discussed at the Planning Commission, and it was learned that the lights are necessary because the property has been subject to thefts. He said that these are existing lights. The property is already fenced, and Mr. Wilson has agreed to comply with the review of Suburban Lighting. He has agreed to provide additional buffering if needed.
Resident Jonathan Dix said that he is an immediate neighbor to the Rental Center. He has been assured that Mr. Wilson will extend the eight-foot high fence along his property line and will provide buffer plantings. He is satisfied that Mr. Wilson will be a good neighbor and he has no objection to the plan.
Mrs. Hibbs said that Mr. Wilson has worked with the Township and the Historic Commission to preserve the Pittner House, which had been a tollhouse for the Newtown Yardley Road.
Mr. Jirele moved to grant approval of preliminary as final plan for subdivision of Newtown Rental Center, 861 Newtown Yardley Road with the conditions that:
The Board of Supervisors grants the following waivers from the Newtown Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance:
The Board of Supervisors granted the following waivers from the Newtown Township Stormwater Management Ordinance:
Mr. Weaver seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Skinner noted that some of the parking is being held in reserve, as per the Zoning Hearing Board decision.
Mrs. Goren said that she is still very concerned about lighting left on all night, which has become a problem to other neighbors to businesses in the Township.
Mr. Wilson said that he has worked with his neighbors to satisfy them, and will continue to do so.
The motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Officials
Plan Expirations: None
Mr. Pellegrino reported that LSAC has received a sample light fixture to be installed once the correct globe has arrived. Neighbors can then decide which of the two sample light fixtures they prefer.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve adoption of a resolution to appoint the firm of Stanley & Booz LLC as independent auditors. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Beckert reviewed the application to the Zoning Hearing Board. He reported that the Third Federal application has been withdrawn and Mr. Terry has requested to meet at the February work session to further discuss his application for signage on Newtown Yardley Road.
Mr. Jirele asked that Mr. Beckert review sex offender ordinances that have been adopted by neighboring municipalities.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve Newtown Office Park escrow release #7 in the amount of $49,473.06. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve Blacksmith 161 LLC escrow release #1 in the amount of $155,943.49. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve Community Association of Underwriters escrow release #2 in the amount of $106,291.00. This release is to be held until the maintenance bond in the amount of $38,008.07 has been provided. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Pellegrino said that because the Re-Occupancy Inspection has been defeated, the inspection service will be provided without charge to interested residents. This information will be posted on the cable channel and in the Township newsletter.
Public Comment: Mr. Sensibaugh asked about a proposal from Brandywine to provide recreational facilities on site rather than pay a fee in lieu of open space.
Mr. Pellegrino said that this proposal had been withdrawn.
The meeting adjourned at 10:15 PM.
Respectfully Submitted: ____________________________________
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary
Minutes Approved as submitted __________ as corrected___________
Robert M. Pellegrino, Manager Anne Goren, Chairman
Phillip Calabro, Vice-Chairman
Jerry Shenkman, Secretary/Treasurer
Thomas Jirele, Member
Richard Weaver, Member