Newtown Township

Board of Supervisor Minutes

June 28, 2006


MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting July 12, 2006. MINUTES OF JUNE 28, 2006 REGULAR MEETING: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of June 28, 2006. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Goren noted that page 4, paragraph 4 should read, “…the bus would connect with shuttle buses in Southampton”.

Mr. Weaver amended his motion, Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, June 28, 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: Joseph Caracappa, Township Solicitor; Edward Koehler, 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 Robert Davis, a member of First Baptist Church of Newtown. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Pellegrino announced that a report by the First Fourth Committee would be given under “Special Actions”, and that escrow releases for Newtown Office Park and Newtown Industrial Commons, Lot 21 and signing of Mylars for Brookshire Estates have been added to the Engineer’s Report.

Special Actions

Presentation of Officer Rob Hannah Memorial Scholarship by Newtown PBA: Sergeant Kim Hartman said that the Newtown PBA, made up of Newtown Police Department members with the rank of Sergeant and below, have been supporters of many activities in Newtown Township, including sponsorship of a Little League team, the Wrightstown Elementary School Fair, and the DARE program. Last year the PBA began sponsoring a scholarship for a deserving Council Rock High School student who will be pursuing a post secondary education in criminal justice.

Sergeant Steve Meyers explained that Rob Hannah, a Council Rock graduate, had served the Newtown and Northampton Police Departments proudly until he lost a courageous battle with cancer last year. The PBA has decided to give their scholarship in his name to honor his memory. This is the first Rob Hannah Memorial Scholarship.

Council Rock’s Administration, faculty, students and staff have recommended graduating senior Megan Mcann at the first recipient of the scholarship.

Sergeants Hartman and Meyers presented Ms. Mcann with the $1000 scholarship, wishing her congratulations and best wishes.

Newtown’s First Fourth: Co-chairmen Mark Craig and Victoria Bowe, and committee member John Davis invited the residents to attend this year’s First Fourth celebration on Saturday, July 8, 2006. The day’s events will begin at 7:30 AM with a 5K race, followed by bicycle decorating, a parade, the reading of the Declaration of Independence, tours of the historic district and kite flying contests in honor of the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin. Later in the afternoon, a family fun day will continue at the Newtown Middle School with games, music, entertainment and food court. There will be a Colonial encampment of the Newtown Militia, and a softball game between Newtown Township and Newtown Borough. The evening will culminate in a fireworks display. There will be shuttle buses from the parking areas, as well as golf carts for transportation for those in need. A family drop-off spot will also be used. Newtown Rotary and NBPA are sponsoring a drive for Operation Shoebox to supply our troops overseas with much needed personal items. For information on Operation Shoebox and on the day’s activities, look for brochures and posters in the shops around town or check our Web site, www.newtownfirstfourth.com

Public Comment: Lorraine Pentz and Jeffrey Marshall of the Joint Historic Commission asked about plans for the property across Durham Road from the Municipal Complex, which has been purchased by McGrath Builders for an age restricted community. Ms. Pentz expressed some concern that the Joint Historic Commission, founded to assess structures prior to demolition, had not been notified of plans for the property, although there is a stone house dating to 1780 or earlier, on the property. Preliminary plan approval has already been granted and the Commission has never received formal notice.

Mr. Marshall said that it is essential that the Historic Commission be involved at the earliest stages of plan review to avoid loss of our historic structures.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the Ordinance calls for review by the Joint Historic Commission before demolition permits are issued. The Commission has a 30-day period to report its findings. He agreed with Mr. Marshall that the Commission should be included on the list of entities given plans. He said that he did not know about the house until today, and in response to Mr. Jirele’s question said that there has not yet been an application for a demolition permit. He said that he would telephone McGrath immediately, to work out details to allow the Joint Historic Commission to review and report on the structure. He said that the plan has not been given final approval, and he suggested postponing the vote on the agreement with McGrath that is on this evening’s agenda. He will also arrange for the Joint Historic Commission to be added to the distribution list for plans that are filed with the Township.

Resident Ethel Hibbs expressed concern about the historic structure and some protected species of boxwood on the McGrath property. She said that allowing 30 days before demolition permits are issued does not give the Commission enough time to review the structures and vegetation on properties. She said that there are sketch plans for the Brandywine and Melsky tracts that have historic structures, as well. She said that McGrath can begin clearing brush during the preliminary plan approval phase, and this puts three endangered species of boxwood that should be identified and preserved at risk.

Mrs. Hibbs said that the left turn arrow at Richboro Road and the By-Pass, heading into Newtown, only allows one car to turn before it changes to yellow, and the white line on Jefferson Street at the intersection with Sycamore Street is too close to the corner to allow cars to safely turn onto Jefferson Street. She also asked about the road inspection tour and the content of discussion on land acquisition during a recent executive session.

Mr. Pellegrino agreed to look into both traffic matters. Mr. Pellegrino said that the road inspection tour will be conducted in the fall. Bids for this year’s paving have been rejected. The projects will be added to next year’s paving and put out to bid in the winter. He said that he could not comment of the executive session.

Resident John D’Aprile questioned an article in the Bucks County Courier Times about an agreement between Bensalem Township and Verizon for cable service.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the article was incorrect. Newtown, as part of a consortium that includes Bensalem, is still in negotiations with Verizon.

Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports

Minutes: 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.

Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $240,096.21. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $520,000. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine reported that construction has begun on the Park of Possibilities at Roberts Ridge Park. He has provided a construction schedule to the Supervisors. It is expected to take about ten weeks for completion.

Mr. Levine reported that Council Rock School Board has agreed to permit access to the Woll tract through the District’s property along Wrights Road. Engineering can now move forward. Engineering for the park is to be put out to bid.

Township summer camps are at capacity, and are up and running. The children are having a wonderful time, and the camps are priced very favorably.

The August agenda for the Park and Recreation Board will include presentations of “wish lists” from the sports organizations. The Board will also discuss and prioritize next year’s projects.

The master plan for forest management for the Clark Nature Center will be put out for bid.

Environmental Advisory Council: Vice-Chairman Susan Sciarratta reported that in response to requests from the Board of Supervisors, the EAC has been reviewing the JMZO Ordinances on riparian buffers and floodplains. A report will be forwarded to the Township Solicitor shortly.

The Ecostar Award has had two very strong candidates. Additional information on each application has been needed, so the deadline has been extended. The EAC hopes to recommend recipients to be recognized by the Board of Supervisors in the fall.

The members have begun an open space inventory. A list of parcels has been generated and an evaluation/scoring system is being produced.

A grant application is being prepared for riparian restoration and erosion control of the Newtown Creek in Carl Sedia Park. The application to the National Fish and Wildlife Delaware Estuary requires no matching funds from the Township, but a show of support and some in-kind or volunteer service is necessary. The EAC will be requesting letters of support from the Board of Supervisors, to be included with the application. The Township Manager and Engineer have already given time to this application.

Mr. Pellegrino said that Mr. Boyle, who has been working with the EAC, has already requested that this be added to the July 12, 2006 agenda for the Board of Supervisors.

Historic Architectural Review Board: Mr. Weaver moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for 281N. Sycamore Street, for an emergency (in kind) roof replacement. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mrs. Hibbs, as Secretary for HARB, presented a certificate of appropriateness for 203 N. Sycamore Street for paint color changes for the exterior of the former Township House Restaurant, and sign name change to “The Saloon”.

Mr. Jirele asked if the sign would be the same as the current sign, including the pineapple. He said that the application says “the same”, but the sketch does not show the pineapple. He suggested that the Board approve the paint color change only, and clarify the sign’s appearance before approval is given. The HARB next meets July 11, and the Board next meets July 12.

Mrs. Hibbs said that the new owners are eager to begin the painting, but the delay of two weeks for the sign would probably not be a problem.

Mr. Jirele moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for the color change for 203 N. Sycamore Street, the former Township House Restaurant. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mrs. Hibbs showed the Board a sample of an oval brass plaque that is to be placed at the front doors of historically significant structures along Sycamore Street. She said that HARB is also working on a memorial plaque to honor former member Eleanor Campbell, to be placed on the Old Newtown Presbyterian Church property.

Reports of Officials

Chairman: Mrs. Goren reported that the official ribbon cutting for Sycamore Street had been held this morning. The guest speaker was County Commissioner James Cawley. She thanked all of the many volunteers who worked on the improvement project.

Mrs. Goren reported that she had attended a meeting the previous evening on the Newtown Bus Rapid Transit, which would turn the abandoned rail line into a high-speed bus route. A study has begun to investigate the use and feasibility of such a line. In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, she said the bus would connect with shuttle buses in Southampton to connect with commuter trains to Philadelphia.

Mrs. Goren commended Newtown Township’s Fire Company for its first place performance in fire company competitions in Quakertown last Sunday.

Manager’s Report

Authorization to forward to Jointure a rezoning of the St. Andrew’s Preschool Property: Attorney Ed Murphy presented a sketch plan to the Board for demolition of the existing pre-school building, which is currently zoned R-2, High Density Residential, and construction of an office structure, with parking to the rear. The existing building has no historic significance. DeLuca Builders is requesting a change of this 3.5-acre parcel to TC Town Commercial. A fully engineered plan will be presented in a few weeks. In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Murphy said that Father Picard has had conversations with the Homeowners Association and the adjoining homeowners about the change.

Mr. Pellegrino said that adjoining homeowners will be formally notified before the change is voted on.

Mr. Weaver moved to forward to the Jointure a request for a zoning change for the St. Andrew’s Preschool property, from R-2 High Density Residential to TC, Town Commercial zoning. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Solicitor’s Report

McGrath Homes/Delancey Court Agreement: Mr. Caracappa said that the developer proposes to do site work “at risk” pending final land development approval. A certificate of insurance is provided and an indemnification to the Township is part of the agreement.

Mrs. Goren suggested adding conditions to the agreement prohibiting demolition of the existing house and protecting any endangered species of plants until there is a review by the Joint Historic Commission.

The members discussed whether to add such conditions or postpone signing the agreement.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the builder has a right to proceed at his own risk without the agreement, but that the builder has been cooperative with the Township. He suggested that the signing of the agreement be tabled until he has telephoned the builder and discussed these concerns. McGrath would have to agree to any changes or conditions added to the proposed agreement.

Mr. Jirele said that he would rather wait until the language of the additional conditions has been prepared and he has had an opportunity to see it in writing. He suggested that either the EAC or an arborist review the plantings that are of concern to the Joint Historic Commission.

Mr. Schenkman also suggested that these concerns be documented in a letter as a follow-up to any telephone conversations.

The signing of the agreement was tabled.

Mr. Caracappa reviewed the Zoning Hearing Board applications.

Mrs. Goren expressed some concern about both the Patel and DeMeglio applications, which are appeals from the actions of the Zoning Officer. Both applicants had been cited for failure to comply with conservation easements.

Mr. Jirele said that at the time of construction of these two homes, the builder had disturbed wetlands. There has been an attempt to re-establish the wetlands with switch grass, which the applicants have failed to maintain. He recommended sending the solicitor to support the actions of the Zoning Officer.

Mr. Jirele moved to send the solicitor to support the actions of the Zoning Officer in the applications of Steven DeMeglio and Chetan Patel and Reshma Patel. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

The Board discussed the application of the Promenade at Sycamore Street at the old Acme site. Mr. Jirele noted that during the planning of this project the Board had agreed to support the requests for variances.

Mr. Jirele moved to send the solicitor in support of the application of The Promenade at Sycamore Street, LP. Mr. Weaver seconded.

Discussion of Motion: Mr. Schenkman said that he did not have enough information to make an informed decision on this application, as the plans had been reviewed before he had come onto the Board.

Mr. Calabro agreed with Mr. Schenkman, that he had not been part of the planning discussion and did not feel comfortable supporting the motion.

The motion passed 3-0-2, with Messrs. Schenkman and Calabro abstaining.

Engineer’s Report: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize an escrow release of $187,567.63 to Newtown Office Park. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize an escrow release of $107,916.84 to Newtown Industrial Commons, Lot 21. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize signing of Mylars for Thomas and Lynn Brabazon Minor Subdivision. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize signing of Mylars for the Yamamoto Tract/Brookshire Estates. Mr. Jirele seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Pellegrino noted that there is one outstanding item. He said that the Mylars would be signed and held.

The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Caracappa said that there would be a need for executive session.

The meeting adjourned at 9:45PM.

 

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

 

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                                                                                                                     Richard Weaver, Member