Newtown Township

Board of Supervisor Minutes

March 22, 2006

MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting April 5, 2006. MINUTES OF MARCH 22, 2006 REGULAR MEETING:  Mr. Weaver moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting dated March 22, 2006. Mr. Jirele seconded. Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren said that the motion at the bottom of page 4 should read, “…provided additional information, or send the solicitor to represent the Township in opposition to the application”. Mr. Weaver amended his motion to include Mrs. Goren’s correction. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, March 22, 2006 in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Anne Goren, Vice-Chairman Phillip Calabro, Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman and member Thomas Jirele (late). 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.

Public Comment: Resident Jay Sensibaugh suggested that the Supervisors review a recently completed report on traffic taming by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. This might provide some guidance on possibly forming a citizens advisory committee on traffic issues.

Minutes, Bills List and Reports

Minutes: Mr. Schenkman moved to approve the minutes of the work session dated February 13, 2006. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Mr. Calabro moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of March 8, 2006. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Bills List: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $668,096.80. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $155,000. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Sycamore Street Committee: Chairman Vince Lombardi reported that the Committee had continued to work on old business. The Committee briefly discussed a proposal for the St. Andrew’s Pre-School site.

Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Lombardi reported that at the meeting of March 21, 2006 the Homewood Suites (Cameron Troilo) 104 Pheasant Run Final Plan was reviewed. The Commission members were concerned about the proposed liquor sales in the inn/conference center lounge, and noted that this had not been discussed at previous review meetings. There was also some concern about traffic impact; although a traffic study has been completed which concluded that traffic is not an issue. Members were very concerned about traffic back up at the intersection of Terry Drive at Pheasant Run, and discussed a flashing red light to replace the existing four-way stop sign. The Commission voted to recommend approval of the final plan for D-1 office use, E-4 financial establishment, E-5 eating place and E-22 executive inn/conference center, with the condition that there be no liquor sales, and compliance with various use, traffic and stormwater management issues.

The Delancey Court, 298 Durham Road preliminary plan for major subdivision and conditional use were reviewed. It was noted that a zoning change from PS-2 to R-2 would be necessary for this age restricted townhouse development. It was also noted that 21 waivers and 6 variances would be needed. Of particular concern to the Members was the length of the cul-de-sac and the access roads. Also of concern were the requirements to provide ready access to commercial and professional services for a B-17 elderly housing use. The Commission recommends approval of the preliminary plan and conditional use provided a zoning change is made.

The Commission recommended approval of the conditional use application of Council Rock School District at 661 Penn Street for the Sloan Alternative High School.

The Commission reviewed the applications to the Zoning Hearing Board and recommended that the Board of Supervisors oppose the application of Applegate Floors, 8 Pheasant Run. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Lombardi explained that this is a retail establishment in the Business Commons, which was designed and built for industrial and office, not shopping uses. There is concern about introducing retail businesses and their traffic into the Business Commons.

Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine reported that in response to recent public comment, he has researched the issue of self-sufficiency of our Park and Recreation Department, as compared to other municipalities, specifically Middletown Township. It has been discovered that Middletown’s self-sufficiency calculation does not include the cost of the department director and staff. When Newtown Township accounts for self-sufficiency using the same method as Middletown, eliminating the salaries and benefits of departmental employees, our self-sufficiency rate is 130%.

Regarding criticism of planting programs at the Clark Nature Center, Mr. Levine said that all of the planting done at the property has been recommended by DCNR and is non-invasive. There is an infestation of a multiflora rose that the Department hopes to address this spring as part of a forest management evaluation. The programs at the Clark Nature Center have won two prestigious awards given by the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society at their 59th Annual State Conference. “Excellence in Programming” awards were given to “The Woodland Explorers” in the Environmental Education category, and “Kids Archeology Dig” in the Historic/Social/Cultural Site category.

Roberts Ridge Park of Possibilities equipment has been ordered and will be installed in June. Mr. Levine explained that the safety surfacing for the park must be installed in warm weather.

Mr. Levine announced that because of a conflict with the Board of Supervisors schedule, the April meeting is canceled.

In response to Mr. Schenkman’s suggestion, Mr. Levine agreed to ask the Park and Recreation Director to report his self-sufficiency using his current method of accounting and the method used by Middletown.

Historic Architectural Review Board: Mrs. Hibbs reported that HARB has been working with the Code Enforcement Officer to address outstanding violations along Sycamore Street. It is expected that the properties discussed at previous meetings should be brought into compliance shortly.

HARB will recognize the Brooks House on Sycamore Street with a bronze commemorative plaque.

Mrs. Hibbs reported that HARB is planning to honor the memory of Mrs. Eleanor Campbell, who had served on the Board for many years in addition to acting as a historic guide for school children visiting the Newtown Presbyterian Church, where Hessian soldiers were imprisoned during the American Revolution. HARB is working with the Church to design and place a plaque in Mrs. Campbell’s memory.

Mr. Calabro moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for wrought iron railings at Newtown Presbyterian Church, 76 N. Sycamore Street. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Land Development Projects

Revised Final Plan forCommunity Association Realty Inc: Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant. Mr. Marshall said that the applicant proposes to revise the location and size of the barn/meeting house from 7163 square feet to 9100 square feet, and to add fourteen additional parking spaces. The expansion is planned to better accommodate meetings and conferences held at the facility by expanding the restrooms and adding elevators. The use of the expanded facility is intended only for the owners of the property.

Mr. Marshall noted that the applicant agrees to comply with all review letters, and is seeking two stormwater management waivers and a waiver of the traffic impact fee. He said that he was also requesting a waiver of the recreation fee. He said that the Planning Commission reviewed the plan on February 21, 2006 and had recommended approval.

In response to Mr. Beckert’s question, Mr. Marshall said that his client would agree to limit the use of the facility to the occupants as an accessory use as a condition of plan approval.

In response to Mrs. Goren’s question, Mr. Marshall said that he was requesting waiver of the Park and Recreation fee because the applicant had paid the fee in advance and has had the use of the interest on that fee.

Mrs. Goren said that the Board always collects Park and Recreation fees.

Mr. Schenkman moved to grant final plan approval for Community Association Realty, Inc. (CAR) at 2 Caufield Place for expansion of the barn meeting house as part of a previously approved development of an office park consisting of five separate buildings with the conditions that:

The following waivers are granted:

Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Mr. Marshall noted that the additional parking spaces would be kept in green until needed.

Reports of Officials

Chairman: Mrs. Goren reported that she had attended the volunteer fire banquet at Middletown Country Club on Saturday, March 18, 2006, along with Messrs. Weaver, Schenkman and Calabro.

Members: Mr. Schenkman reported that he had attended the PSATS workshop for new supervisors along with Mr. Calabro and Mrs. Goren.


Zoning Hearing Board Appeal – Congregation Banai Jacob: Mr. Pellegrino reported that Congregation Banai Jacob has requested an extension on a Zoning Hearing Board decision.

Attorney Allen Toadvine represented the Congregation. He explained that this small congregation had been granted a three year variance for a house of worship at 141 Friends Lane in the Newtown Business Commons. The congregation only has 45 members, and has not occupied the location for the past year. The facility is too large, and the congregation intends to sell the property and is seeking a one year extension of the variance. They intend to address the issues of concern mentioned in the Fire Marshal’s letter dated February 22, 2005.

Mr. Schenkman moved to extend the variance of the Zoning Hearing Board dated January 23, 2003 until December 31, 2006, with the condition that the property not be used until a certificate of occupancy has been issued. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Mr. Pellegrino reported that he and Mr. Beckert are scheduled to meet with representatives of LSAC to discuss the lighting issue. There are sample replacement fixtures on the property, and they were to have had sodium vapor lights. Some residents have visited the Hun School to see similar lights. These lights would satisfy final plan approval. The Township will set a timetable for replacement of the fixtures.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s comment, that the Township should be setting deadlines for compliance, Mr. Pellegrino said that they must first ascertain when the replacement fixtures would be available for installation. He noted that the final plan requires sodium vapor lights, but does not require residential neighbors’ approval.

Mr. Schenkman urged Mr. Pellegrino to impress upon LSAC that the Township has held off legal action because LSAC had represented that they will comply with the final plan. This should not have an open-ended date.

Mr. Jirele arrived at 9:00PM

Solicitor: Mr. Beckert reviewed the Zoning Hearing Board applications for April 6, 2006. He noted that the application of Applegate Hardwood Flooring at 8 Pheasant Run seeks a variance for a retail use in the LI zoning district.

Mr. Schenkman and Mr. Calabro expressed concern about permitting an exception to this applicant for a retail use, and suggested that the Solicitor attend the hearing to oppose.

Mr. Jirele said that he thought that there might already be some low-impact retail uses in the Commons, and suggested that the applicant should provide more detailed information about the business.

Mr. Pellegrino said that he was aware of two retail establishments, Sir Speedy Printing and Direct Buy, which is a membership showroom, not open to the general public.

Mr. Beckert said that this firm has already opened for business. The code enforcement officer has issued a violation. Once a violation has been issued, the business must either cease operation or request a variance. Since a variance has been applied for, the business can continue until the Zoning Hearing Board renders its decision.

Mr. Jirele moved to request that the applicant withdraw the application until he has reviewed it with the Board of Supervisors at a work session and provided additional information. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Engineer: Mr. Fazio reported that he has reviewed the 48” reinforced concrete culvert pipe at the municipal parking lot at Silver Lake Park. It was determined that the pipe can withstand HS20 loading (meaning that a twin axle truck can drive over the pipe). There is substantial drop-off from the top of the gravel surface to the bottom of the swale. He suggested that a total of 80 feet of guide rail on each side of the culvert be installed and that end treatments and reflectors should be installed at all four ends of the guide rail.

Mr. Pellegrino said that he has discussed this with Mr. Fazio and with the Public Works Director. They agree that wooden guide rails could be installed by the Township for a cost of about $3500. Because this is a driveway, and cars are traveling at a low rate of speed, wooden rails would be sufficiently strong.

Old Business: Mr. Pellegrino reported that he and Mr. Fazio had inspected the reported dips at Eagle Road and Wrights Road and found that the road is adequate and does not pose a hazard.

Public Comment: Mrs. Hibbs said that she disagrees with Mr. Pellegrino’s assessment of the dips in the surface of Eagle Road. She also questioned whether the Township inspects the dam at Hidden Lake. She said she is concerned that the earthen dam could fail in a heavy storm.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the Township owns the property, however the County has an easement for the dam. The dam is maintained and inspected annually by the County. At Mr. Calabro’s suggestion, he agreed to forward a copy of the County’s inspection report to Mr. Fazio for review. The Township maintains the dam at Silver Lake. There is also a dam in Tyler Park maintained by the State.

Mrs. Hibbs reported that Newtown Township and Borough would host a seminar for senior citizens on March 30, 2006 at Chandler Hall at 9:00 AM. Speakers would discuss topics of interest to seniors, including scams and identity theft; living wills and powers-of-attorney; insurance and long term care; Medicare and prescription coverage; and transportation for senior citizens. This seminar is the first to be held in the County as a follow-up to a summit on aging held last May. Members of Newtown’s committee who attended the summit have spent the intervening time interviewing senior citizens throughout the Township to determine the concerns facing our seniors. This seminar will serve as a pilot program for the County. She noted that the professionals presenting topics will not be soliciting any business. Refreshments will be served.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the agenda is available on the Township Web site.

Mrs. Hibbs said that she would like to see some information on plans for the use of the surplus money collected with the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the Financial Planning Committee would be meeting to discuss this. In response to Mrs. Hibbs’ question about the municipal complex expansion, he said that the Township is still negotiating acquisition of property.

In response to Mrs. Hibbs’ question on the Brandywine litigation, Mr. Beckert said that an appeal has been filed, but there has been no additional action.

Mrs. Hibbs noted that some minutes of Township meetings show Mrs. Goren discussing an expansion of the By-Pass. She asked if there are plans for such an expansion.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the Township’s Traffic Engineer had stated that at some time in the future, with continued development in Newtown and Lower Makefield, such an expansion might be necessary. If this were to happen, it would be a federal project, with the Township responsible for a small portion of the expense.

Mr. Sensibaugh said that at the time that the LI District’s permitted uses were changed the Planning Commission had some discussion of traffic impact and widening of the By-Pass.

Resident Karen D’Aprile asked that the turning lane on the By-Pass and Buck Road be re-installed and the “no-turn on red” prohibition be removed.

Mr. Pellegrino said that PennDot has denied Newtown’s request for this change.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM


Respectfully Submitted: ____________________________________
                                          Mary Donaldson,  Recording Secretary


Minutes Approved as submitted __________ as corrected___________


Attest: _________________________                                                         ___________________________
           Robert M. Pellegrino, Manager                                                            Anne Goren, Chairman


                                                                                                                     Phillip Calabro, Vice-Chairman


                                                                                                                     Jerry Shenkman, Secretary/Treasurer


                                                                                                                     Thomas Jirele, Member


                                                                                                                     Richard Weaver, Member