Board of Supervisor Minutes
May 24, 2006
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting June 14, 2006. MINUTES OF MAY 24, 2006 REGULAR MEETING: Mr. Calabro noted that in the minutes of May 24, 2006, page 5, the second bullet point in the motion should read, “grooming”. Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of May 24, 2006, as corrected. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, May 24, 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 members Thomas Jirele and Richard Weaver. Also present were: Paul Beckert, Township Solicitor; Edward F. Koehler, Township Engineer and John Boyle, Assistant to the 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 Klein of the Addisville Reformed Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Boyle announced that an escrow release for Vincent A. and Sally A. Lombardi has been added to the Engineer’s Report.
Public Comment: resident Jim McCrane thanked Mr. Boyle for his help in providing information to the residents of St. Andrew’s Briar. He asked Mr. Beckert whether the Rosebank Winery issue has been resolved.
Mr. Beckert said that at the May 10, 2006 Board of Supervisors meeting an agreement resolving the appeal of the Zoning Hearing Board decision had been signed. There are still other outstanding issues with the Winery, which must be addressed during the land development review.
Mr. McCrane said that he had requested that the St. Andrew’s Briar residents be kept involved with any resolution with the Winery.
Mr. Beckert said that there had been a deadline to either resolve the Zoning Hearing Board appeal or proceed. Only the Township and the Winery were parties in this appeal. The agreement to settle the appeal was discussed during an executive session, followed by a vote, during a public meeting, to sign the agreement.
Mr. Jirele said that this matter had never appeared on an agenda, and had only been discussed in executive session. The Board had decided not to notify the residents, and the settlement vote had been 4-1.
Mr. McCrane said that he was disappointed about the failure of the Board to include the nearby residents in discussions on this, although the residents surrounding the Brandywine project and LSAC have been given every consideration during their ongoing issues. He said that it is his understanding that the Board chose to discuss this matter behind closed doors.
Mrs. Goren said that matters of litigation are discussed in executive session. She asked Mr. Boyle to make the settlement agreement available to Mr. McCrane.
In response to Mr. McCrane’s questions, Mr. Beckert said that the agreement only addresses the Zoning Hearing Board appeal on the use of the tent. There is no limit on the number of events to be held in the tent; however there is a limit on the number of events with amplified sound. There is no specific limit on the number of people permitted at an event. The permit for the tent is not granted on a “per event” basis, but for the entire season. Mr. Beckert said that this was an appeal of the relief granted by the Zoning Hearing Board, and there was some “give and take” involved in the negotiations.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that the agreement be posted on the Township Web site.
Resident Nancy Crescenzo said that she had been in attendance at the May 10, 2006 meeting until after midnight. She was the last resident to leave the meeting, during the executive session. She questioned the late hour for the vote on the agreement. She also questioned whether any of the Supervisors have any conflict of interest, or if they are hosting fundraising events at the Winery.
Mrs. Crescenzo reviewed the minutes of this year’s Planning Commission meetings, noting the lack of attendance of the full membership at any but the organization meeting. She said that when residents ask to serve on Township committees, they should commit to attend all meetings. She was particularly unhappy about the lack of a quorum on May 16, 2006, until 8:30 PM and questioned whether Chairman Shawn Ward was not in attendance because he was at a Republican Party event in a bar, drinking.
Resident Shawn Ward, Chairman of the Planning Commission, said that May 16, 2006 was the only Planning Commission meeting, since he has been a member, at which a quorum was not reached until after 8:00 PM. The Planning Commission members give a great deal of their time, as volunteers, to carefully review plans in advance and to attend two meetings each month, giving applicants a very well informed and thoughtful review. Prior to each meeting, a telephone survey is made to assure a quorum. He said that he takes umbrage at Mrs. Crescenzo’s accusations that the members are not dedicated, and at her accusation that he had been “sitting in a bar, drinking” instead of attending the meeting. He asked for a retraction, or he would consider suing her for defamation.
Resident Robert Ciervo said that he is very concerned about recent changes proposed to allow dense residential zoning at the tract opposite the municipal complex and in the Office Research zoning district. He noted that some residential use is currently permitted in the OR district, but the change would increase housing density and produce a great burden on the roads, with increased traffic.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of the work session of April 10, 2006. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of May 10, 2006. Mr. Jirele seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Crescenzo said that she objected to page 9 of the minutes, as it did not state that she had been denied the opportunity to comment on a motion in the conditional use hearing.
Mrs. Goren said that Mrs. Crescenzo had been permitted to give testimony, as the minutes reflect on page seven. She said that the conditional use hearing is a quasi-judicial proceeding, and the record is closed before the Supervisors vote. There is not public comment on the motions made.
Mr. Jirele said that he thought that public comment had been permitted on conditional use motions at other times. He said that the Board should establish a policy on this. He asked whether the law does not permit comment after a motion is made.
Mr. Beckert said that there is no prohibition against public comment. It is the decision of the Board to allow it or not.
The Board discussed what procedure to follow during conditional use hearings. Mr. Schenkman said that he thought that there had been some confusion at the May 10 meeting because after the failed motion to approve there was a motion to deny. He suggested that the public be informed that in the event that a motion to approve fails, a second motion, denying an application, would immediately follow. There would not be comment on that motion.
Mrs. Goren said that once the record is closed, there should be no further comment. She suggested that prior to a motion being made, the public could be asked for any final comments.
The motion to accept the minutes of May 10, 2006 passed unanimously.
Bills List: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $431,060.61. Mr. Weaver seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Crescenzo questioned the cost to lease night vision goggles, noting that she did not think they are necessary. She asked if they had been in the budget.
Mr. Jirele said that this is part of the police equipment budget, which the police chief allocates to specific items needed.
Mr. Weaver said that the goggles are leased, rather than purchased, because they are replaced as technological advances are made. He said that the Township police are part of an area wide emergency preparedness group.
Resident John D’Aprile also questioned the necessity of night vision goggles.
The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $160,000. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Sycamore Street Committee: Chairman Vince Lombardi reported that there are still some outstanding punch list items being addressed, and some beautification work being done. A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for June 14 at 9:30 AM at the corner of Sycamore Street and Silo Drive. He said that the street would be decorated with American Flags in honor of Flag Day.
Planning Commission: Vice-Chairman Vince Lombardi reported that the Commission reviewed the final plan for land development for Tudor Square III, Newtown-Yardley Road, and voted to recommend that the Supervisors approve the plan. There had been some discussion about fencing the stormwater basin, but it was agreed to refer this to the Supervisors for consideration.
The Commission voted to recommend approval of the conditional use application for Philly Crab Express at 2102 South Eagle Road, for an E-6 take-out restaurant.
The Commission voted to recommend approval of the conditional use application of Petsmart at 2600 South Eagle Road. There had been some discussion about possibly needing the parking that had been held in reserve for a second occupant of the building.
Discussion of the Ordinance review for rezoning of the Melsky tract was tabled, as there were a number of questions still to be answered.
The Commission reviewed six Zoning Hearing Board applications, one was removed from the agenda, and one did not provide enough information for the members to review and comment on. They had no comment on the other four applications.
Land Development Projects
Conditional Use – Philly Crab Express – 2102 South Eagle Road:
Mrs. Goren asked whether anyone wished to be party to this application. There was no response.
Mr. Beckert entered the following exhibits:
Steven Clark was sworn in.
Mr. Clark said that he has two sit-down restaurants, and wants to expand with a take-out seafood restaurant at Village at Newtown South. The restaurant would be open 11:00AM to 8:00PM Monday through Thursday, 11:00AM to 10:00PM Friday and Saturday, and 12:00PM to 7:00 PM on Sunday, with ten employees working two shifts. He expects one refrigerated delivery truck per day.
Nancy Crescenzo was sworn in. Mrs. Crescenzo expressed concern about increased traffic, and parking in the fire lane to pick up orders.
Mrs. Goren announced that the record was now closed to public comment or testimony.
In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Clark said that he did not think it would be necessary to designate any take-out parking, but he would be willing to do so. He said that his business would be take-out only, with no home delivery.
The Board discussed requiring that some parking spaces be reserved for take-out customers, to prevent use of the fire lane. It was agreed that if it should become necessary, Mr. Clark would designate two spaces for take-out customers, only.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve the conditional use application of Philly Crab Express, 2102 South Eagle Road for an E-6 take-out restaurant, subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Conditional Use – Petsmart – 2600 South Eagle Road:
Attorney Adam E. Laver represented the applicant.
Mrs. Goren asked if anyone wished to be party to this application. There was no response.
Michael Darden, Petsmart store manager, and Rena Burnett, of Banfield Veterinary Services, were sworn in.
Mr. Beckert entered the following exhibits:
Mr. Laver said that the location of the building had been part of a previous land review for the shopping center. This application is for a retail pet supply store with veterinary, training and grooming services. All activities will be held indoors. Filtration and sound barriers are within the building to prevent noise and odor from bothering neighbors.
Ms. Burnett said that the veterinary portion of the business is part of a national chain, Banfield Veterinary. She said that all veterinary trash and medical waster are disposed of by Stericycle, a national medical waste disposal company. Grooming and training waste are also separated and picked up by private haulers.
Mr. Laver said that the store complies with the Ordinance’s requirement of 5.5 parking spaces per 1000 square feet. The building is separated from the other buildings in the shopping center, with its own parking area.
Nancy Crescenzo was sworn in.
Mrs. Crescenzo expressed concern about the increased traffic to South Eagle Road. She questioned whether there had been traffic studies conducted.
Mrs. Goren and Mr. Boyle reviewed data from a study conducted by the Newtown Township Police Department, completed in March of this year. Mr. Boyle said that the study showed 12,287 car trips on March 6, with the majority traveling between 25 and 34 MPH, with 34 MPH the highest speed.
Mrs. Crescenzo questioned the formality of the study and the accuracy of the results. She noted that there are public bus stops, the ambulance headquarters, and numerous school buses along this road, along with pedestrians and exercising student athletes. She expressed concern for public safety because of the heavy traffic and road conditions.
After ascertaining that no other members of the public wished to make comment, Mrs. Goren closed the record on this application.
In response to questions from Mr. Calabro, Ms. Burnett said that occasionally small pets would be euthanized at the site, and a crematory deals with the remains, unless the owner takes the pet home. Occasionally a pet might be kept over night for a medical emergency, but there is not routine hospitalization or boarding of pets.
In response to Mr. Schenkman’s questions, Mr. Laver said that Petsmart will be offering different products and services than the other pet shops in the shopping center.
In response to Mr. Jirele’s questions, Mr. Darden said that the shop would sell small pets, such as hamsters, fish and guinea pigs. Petsmart has partnered with local animal charities to host adoption days for dogs and cats, but will not be selling dogs and cats daily. All activities are held indoors. Pets are permitted inside the store. There are clean-up stations and receptacles outside for animal accidents. Staff members are trained in sanitary procedures, and regularly clean up the sidewalks and parking areas. There have never been any problems with Petsmart neighbors at other locations.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve the conditional use application of Petsmart, 2600 South eagle Road, for E-2 large retail store and E-20 – veterinary facility, subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Schenkman moved to close the conditional use hearing. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Final Plan for Land Development – Tudor Square Phase III – Newtown Yardley Road: Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant. Mr. Marshall explained that the applicant wishes to build a three-story office building, with 45,456 square-feet of office space. Two existing buildings currently located on the site are to remain. The site has frontage on Newtown-Yardley Road and has already been granted preliminary plan approval and conditional use approval. Some variances had been granted for parking and impervious surface ratio; however, the plans comply with recent changes to zoning in the O-LI District, and these variances would not have been necessary. The applicant will comply with all of the review letters. The applicant will be removing 31 existing pine trees at the rear of the property, but they are to be replaced. At the Planning Commission there had been some discussion about fencing the detention basin. The basin has a ten-foot wide safety ledge, where water is less than one foot deep, and the basin is surrounded by businesses and parking areas. Since the basin is not near any residential properties, the applicant would rather not fence it.
In response to Mrs. Goren’s question, Mr. Marshall said that the basin would be aerated.
In response to Mr. Weaver’s question, Mr. Marshall said that there is a retention basin in the area already, and there have never been any problems.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve the final plan for land development for Tudor Square Phase III, Newtown-Yardley Road, for a three-story office building as depicted in the plans of Rittler Engineering dated February 28, 2006, subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Marshall said that the traffic impact fee at the time of preliminary plan approval had been $178,726.28. No number was given for the park and recreation fee; however at the time of the signing of the preliminary plan the fee was calculated by the footprint of the building.
Mr. Jirele noted that the fee schedule has been changed and is now calculated by the square footage of the building. Using that formula the fee would be computed at $58,684. There was some further discussion of which method of calculation should be used.
Mr. Beckert noted that the previous ordinance had some ambiguous language, referring in some parts to square footage and in other parts to footprint.
Mr. Marshall suggested that the Board compromise with the applicant, and instead of asking for a $20,000 fee, based on the footprint, his client would agree to pay $30,000.
Mrs. Goren suggested splitting the difference, and requested a fee of $40,000.
Applicant William Messick agreed to pay an additional $10,000 for a total recreation fee of $40,000.
Mr. Weaver amended his motion to include a park and recreation fee of $40,000. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Reports of Officials
Solicitor’s Report: Public Hearing: Amendments to JMZO 2006-01 – Definition of Family, Eliminate Use B-18, Group Home, Establish New Use – Community Treatment Facility and to Promulgate regulations Governing That Use
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize approval of amendments to JMZO 2006-01, definition of family, eliminating Use B-18, group home and establish new use, community treatment facility and to promulgate regulations governing that use. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Authorization to Advertise Amendment 2006-07: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize advertisement and forward to jointure amendment 2006-07 of the JMZO, nursery and greenhouse uses. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Resident Walt Iwaskiw asked what this amendment is proposing.
Mr. Weaver explained that the motion is to advertise a proposed change to the Ordinance, separating the various agricultural, nursery and winery uses, which are currently under the same ordinance.
The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize advertisement of ordinance to be forwarded to the jointure for agricultural accessory sales. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to Mr. Schenkman’s questions, Mr. Beckert said that the proposed amendment would not have any impact on Newtown, as it would only govern new uses. Existing uses would continue as non-conforming uses.
The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Beckert reviewed six Zoning Hearing Board applications, noting that the DeMeglio application has been continued.
Mr. Beckert said that there would be a need for an executive session after the close of the meeting.
Engineer’s Report: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize signing of Mylars for the Linton Hill Pumping Station. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release to Vincent A. and Sally A. Lombardi in the amount of $14,713.27. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
New Business: Mr. Weaver moved to appoint Dominic J. Marziani and his architectural firm, Marziani Associates, to the Historic Architectural Review Board. Mr. Jirele seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to questions from Mr. Calabro and Mr. Schenkman, Mr. Jirele explained that Mr. McLean wished to resign his position on HARB and has waited until he could be replaced. HARB requires that the appointee be a licensed architect.
Mr. Beckert said that HARB must have an architect, a realtor and a representative of the code office, along with a resident member. This appointment is to replace the architect.
Mr. Schenkman read into the record Mr. Marziani’s letter volunteering to serve on HARB. He noted that Mr. Marziani has been awarded a Historic Preservation Commendation for Outstanding Achievement by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Bureau of Historic Preservation. He has requested that the appointment allow for him, or his firm, be appointed, so that in the event that he is unavailable to attend a meeting, his associate could attend in his stead.
Mrs. Crescenzo complained that she had not seen this position advertised.
Mrs. Goren said that at the start of each year, the Township requests resumes from interested residents to serve on committees, boards and commissions. She noted that Mr. Pellegrino has been working a long time at finding a replacement for Mr. McLean. She said that it has been advertised, but she was not aware of the specifics.
Mr. Calabro suggested that if the appointment is not urgently needed, action be postponed until Mr. Pellegrino is present to address questions.
Mr. Weaver withdrew his motion.
Public Comment: Mr. Iwaskiw thanked the Board for postponing a decision on the HARB appointment and keeping the public informed about the process involved. He said that a number of residents are very interested in the settlement agreement in the Rosebank Winery appeal. He noted that a great many residents had attended the Zoning Hearing Board meetings for this application. He suggested that the settlement be posted on the Web site. The Board agreed to this.
Mrs. Crescenzo referred to minutes of the Financial Planning Committee about its discussion of priorities for the committee. She said that the Committee’s mission and priorities should be discussed by the Board of Supervisors at a work session.
Mr. Schenkman said that the Committee’s priorities are first, to reorganize, second to review budgets with department heads, and third to plan for major capital projects, such as the expansion of the municipal complex.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that the Financial Planning Committee chairman should give a report to the Board of Supervisors the same way other committees report.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that the cones along the entrance to Silver Lake’s parking area are ineffective and questioned the Township’s liability in the event of an accident. She asked about a proposed fountain for Silver Lake, and about responsibility for the electricity to run such fountain. She also questioned the handicapped access to the trail at Silver Lake.
Mrs. Goren said that money for the fountain is held in escrow at this time.
Mr. Jirele said that there are currently no plans for further development of Silver Lake Park, and there is no trail to provide handicapped access to. If a fountain is installed, the Township would be responsible for the cost of electricity to run it.
The meeting adjourned at 11:00 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