Board of Supervisor Minutes
June 14, 2006
MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting June 28, 2006. MINUTES OF JUNE 14, 2006 REGULAR MEETING: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of June 14, 2006. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mrs. Goren abstaining.
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Vice-Chairman Phillip Calabro, Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman and members Thomas Jirele and Richard Weaver. Also present were: Paul Beckert, Township Solicitor; Christopher Fazio, Township Engineer and Robert Pellegrino, Township Manager.
Call to Order: Vice-Chairman Calabro welcomed Boy Scout Troop 29, working toward Citizenship badges, to the meeting. He then called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence.
Invocation: The invocation was given by Father Heckman of St. Mark Orthodox Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Pellegrino announced that the Park and Recreation Board would not report; appointment to HARB has been removed; and paving bids have been added to the Engineer’s report.
Public Comment: Resident Nancy Crescenzo extended condolences to Ethel Hibbs upon the death of her husband.
Mrs. Crescenzo noted that Goodnoe’s Dairy Bar is closing in September and said that it would be missed. She thanked Mr. Goodnoe for his help in teaching her about local government.
Resident John D’Aprile asked why the Federal Government has purchased night vision goggles with taxpayer money, and these goggles are now being leased by the Township using local taxpayer money.
Mr. Pellegrino said that he did not know why the government leases the goggles. The goggles are in common use and many police departments have them.
Resident Mike Piazza read a letter he had written to the Bucks County Courier Times, explaining his absence from the Planning Commission meeting of May 16, 2006. He said that he, and all members of the Planning Commission, take their duties seriously, and he was offended by Mrs. Crescenzo’s remarks at the previous meeting.
Resident Jim McCrane expressed some concern about the provisions in the agreement with Rosebank Winery regarding monitoring of noise levels. He questioned why members of the Board voted to support the agreement, despite previous statements against the Winery. He also asked about the closed-door nature of discussion of the agreement.
Mr. Schenkman said that it was his understanding that ongoing litigation was discussed in executive session. He did not realize that there would be a need for further public discussion on the evening that a public vote had been taken.
Mr. Calabro said that he had heard a demonstration of the sound barriers that had been installed; he had walked out across the field between Rosebank and the near neighbors, where he was unable to hear sound at all as he approached the residential neighborhood. He felt that the barriers were sufficient; sound-monitoring equipment is to be installed. There was need for some compromise in this matter.
Mr. McCrane said that he was very disappointed that residents were not contacted during negotiations or during sound barrier demonstrations. He questioned whether the Township would monitor the sound.
Mr. Beckert said that the Township has a right to inspect the sound monitoring equipment. The Township would respond to complaints, and would monitor for violations. The Winery is obliged to notify the Township two weeks in advance of events with amplified sound held in the tent. The notification is to be a formal written notification. This will be confirmed with the attorney representing Rosebank.
Mr. McCrane said that he had complained about an event on a recent weekend, which was held inside the barn on the Winery property. He is very concerned that the agreement only addresses events held in the tent.
Mr. Beckert said that in an effort to resolve all issues, Rosebank has agreed to submit land development applications for all uses on the property. The recently signed stipulation agreement only addresses events in the tent. Concerns about events in other facilities on the property would be addressed during the land development review. The agreement sets aside the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board, and the terms follow the property if it were sold to another owner.
In response to Mr. McCrane’s continued questions, Mr. Pellegrino explained that the agreement was signed, in part because there was an outstanding question as to whether the Township had filed a timely appeal. The judge at the county level had put pressure on all parties to resolve the matter. There had also been the concern of the Township that it could lose on appeal, and the Zoning Hearing Board decision would have been upheld. The agreement is a compromise.
Resident Karen D’Aprile inquired about the procedure to be followed in the “no place for hate” program, if she had a concern to be addressed.
Mr. Pellegrino said that this is a police program, one of the very few in the area. If Mrs. D’Aprile has concerns she should contact the Chief of Police to discuss them. The Chief could best advise whether a formal complaint is necessary.
Mrs. D’Aprile commented on the small size of the Public Works Director’s office, and suggested that the expansion of the municipal complex should take precedence over the development of the Woll tract. She also questioned the recently installed “no turn on red” sign on Jefferson Street at Sycamore Street.
Mr. Beckert noted that the sign had been discussed at the Planning Commission. The Township traffic engineer is looking into it.
Mr. Pellegrino said that there is not a clear sight distance at the intersection. Conditions should improve with completion of the timing of traffic signals along Sycamore Street.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh, a member of the Planning Commission, said that he works very hard for the Commission, as do all of the members.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of May 15, 2006. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
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.
Bills List: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $274,495.76. Mr. Weaver seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Crescenzo questioned the charge for supplies for a fountain in Silver Lake Park. She noted complaints she has made at past meetings about the culvert and handicapped access to the park. She commented on a charge of Pennoni Associates for work on Wrights Road, and she questioned charges to a credit card issued by Commerce Bank. She said that she did not think Township employees should use a credit card, but should be reimbursed for business expenses paid out of pocket, instead. She expressed doubt that the credit card is interest free.
Mr. Schenkman and Mr. Pellegrino reviewed procedures for purchase orders and the use and payment of credit card and other bills to avoid payment of interest or to take advantage of discounts; they noted that only two employees, Mr. Pellegrino and Finance Director Elaine Gibbs, have credit cards. The Supervisors are reimbursed for out of pocket expenses.
Resident Walt Iwaskiw questioned whether Stanley Booz is the Township CPA.
Mr. Pellegrino said that he is.
Mr. D’Aprile questioned a trip made by Mr. Harwood, who has retired.
Mr. Pellegrino said that the trip was taken before Mr. Harwood retired.
Mr. D’Aprile said that as a federal employee, he had been offered a credit card for work related travel. This is standard procedure.
The motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $165,489.89. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Vince Lombardi reported that at the June 6, 2006 meeting, the Commission reviewed an application for Oishi Japanese Restaurant to expand their facility. If the restaurant is to have a hibachi table, the owners have agreed to follow all safety procedures and will connect the table to the natural gas used in the kitchen. The Commission recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve this application.
The Commission began a review of the Promenade at Sycamore Street, which is to occupy the former Acme site. There were a number of unanswered questions about deliveries, parking, traffic and emergency access. The review was tabled until the June 20 meeting, when the applicants will return with some clarifications. During the discussion of this project the members did discuss the “no turn on red” sign on Jefferson Street, and had asked the traffic engineer to look into it.
Land Development Projects
Conditional Use – Oishi Japanese Restaurant, 2817 South Eagle Road
Mr. Calabro opened the hearing. He asked if anyone present wished to be a party to this application. There was no response.
Mr. Beckert entered the following exhibits:
Gina Im was sworn in. Ms. Im explained that Oishi Restaurant would like to expand into the space next door, currently occupied by GNC. The new space will give the restaurant a total of 3,210 square feet. There would be a maximum of ten employees. There are no exterior improvements planned. There is a hibachi table planned, which will be attached to the natural gas line used in the kitchen and will comply with all safety requirements.
Mr. Beckert said that a payment to the Sewer Authority would be required for this expansion.
In response to Mr. Beckert’s question about parking, Ms. Im said that this evening the restaurant is full, and there are about forty empty parking spaces available.
In response to Mr. Schenkman’s questions, Ms. Im said that the restaurant would remain open while the adjacent site is renovated. They would close briefly to make improvements to join the two spaces. They hope to open in September.
In response to questions from Mr. Sensibaugh, Ms. Im said that there are no plans to change the signage, but if new signs are to be added, all required procedures would be followed.
Mr. Schenkman moved to grant conditional use approval to Oishi Japanese Restaurant, for expansion of an additional 1605 square feet at 2817 South Eagle Road, subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Conditional Use – The Promenade at Sycamore Street.
Mr. Calabro opened this hearing.
Mr. Beckert entered the following exhibits for D-1 Office Use:
For E-1, Retail Use:
For E-5 Eating Place:
Mr. Beckert read into the record a letter dated June 9, 2006 from Elliott Building Group requesting a continuance and granting an extension of the time frame for holding a conditional use hearing to a deadline of September 8, 2006. Mr. Beckert entered this letter as Exhibit T-10.
Mr. Weaver moved to grant a continuance to Elliott Building Group for a conditional use hearing for the Promenade at Sycamore Street. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to close the conditional use hearings. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Jirele said that he was concerned about parking in the shopping center, noting that a 128-seat restaurant has been allotted 18 parking spaces, based on its square footage. At the shopping center 5.5 spaces are required per 1000 square feet of business space. While this is working now, if one of the larger stores were taken over by a restaurant, the parking could be a problem. He asked whether the Board of Supervisors has the right to change the parking requirements after land development.
Mr. Beckert said that this has also been discussed at the Planning Commission. There is some land held in reserve that could be developed as parking, if it becomes necessary.
Reports of Officials
Manager’s Report: Mr. Pellegrino reported that Roberts Ridge Park will be closed beginning June 19, 2006 for about eight to ten weeks for construction of the “Park of Possibilities”. The playground will be fenced and signage will be placed around the area, explaining the project. A continued stretch of warm weather is required for the poured in place safety surfacing necessary for the handicapped accessible equipment that is being installed.
Stoopville Road will be closed from June 19, 2006 to September 18, 2006 between Eagle Road and Linton Hill Road for realignment of the road. Detour signs will be posted. In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Pellegrino said that the project should be completed before the re-opening of school in September.
Solicitor’s Report: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize amendment of the Code of Ordinances regarding traffic regulations, stop signs, prohibition of U-turns on public streets in various locations. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Crescenzo questioned the prohibition of parking on Wrights Road and asked whether the school principals have been notified of the vote on this evening’s agenda.
Mr. Pellegrino said that the Township has discussed these changes with the School District and St. Andrews. The changes are necessary for safety. When cars are parked on both sides of the street it is difficult for emergency vehicles to get through. The change allows parking on one side of the street only. There is to be no parking near the driveway entrances and exits, to allow easy access for emergency vehicles and school buses.
Mr. Jirele said that the District and St. Andrew’s are both aware that this change would be made and they have voiced no objection.
In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Pellegrino said that the 25 MPH speed limit on North and South Drives was recommended by the Police Department.
The motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Beckert informed the Board that an executive session would be necessary at the close of this evening’s meeting.
Engineer’s Report: Mr. Jirele moved to authorize signing of Mylars for the lot line change on the Leck property. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Fazio reported that the bids for road resurfacing are very high. He recommended rejection of both bids.
Mr. Pellegrino suggested combining this year’s road program with 2007’s program and putting both out for re-bidding in December for a more competitive price.
In response to Mr. Schenkman’s question, Mr. Fazio said that the project could probably get bids of about $500,000 in the winter, instead of the two bids received at $800,000 and $1,300,000.
Mr. Jirele moved to reject the bids of Tulio Landscaping and Asphalt Paving Systems for the 2006 road program. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Public Comment: Mrs. Crescenzo said that she thinks that appointees to committees, boards and commissions should plan to attend all meetings, and should plan their schedules accordingly. She said that those who are unable to attend meetings should not ask to be appointed. She complained about the Township’s rental of trailers and storage spaces. She thought that there should be some discussion of an expansion of the municipal complex.
Mr. Jirele said that discussion of a municipal complex expansion had been postponed to allow the new Supervisors some time to become comfortable. He suggested that this should be added to an agenda at a work session over the summer.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that she thought that residents should be included on a committee for the expansion.
Mrs. Crescenzo read a list of activities for Senior Citizens in communities other than Newtown and complained that Newtown does not have a senior or community center.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that he had been at a conference the night of May 16, 2006, the night Mrs. Crescenzo had mentioned in her complaint to the Board about Planning Commission members’ attendance.
Resident Victoria Bowe announced that this year Newtown will celebrate the First Fourth on Saturday, July 8, 2006, with events beginning with a 5K run in the morning, followed by a parade, bike decorating contest, reading of the Declaration of Independence, walking tours of the historic district, and evening food court and entertainment, culminating with a fireworks display. To honor the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin, there will be a kite-flying contest. Volunteers are needed for the parade, security, traffic and parking. Information on times and locations, as well as volunteer opportunities can be found at www.newtownfirstfourth.com
Mr. D’Aprile said that the Planning Commission should have rescheduled its meeting. He also questioned the Winery’s construction of a barn for storage, when it was apparent that the barn would be used for catered events. He said that the Winery should be made to follow the proper procedures for a catering facility.
The meeting adjourned at 10:10 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