Newtown Township

Board of Supervisor Minutes

July 12, 2006

MINUTES WERE APPROVED at the regular meeting July 26, 2006. MINUTES OF JULY 12, 2006 REGULAR MEETING:  Mrs. Goren noted that on page 3, the eighth bullet point under the Promenade at Sycamore should read,”52%”.

Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of July 12, 2006, as corrected. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, July 12, 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 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 Father Picard of St. Andrew’s Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Boyle announced that a report by the Planning Commission has been added, and under Engineer’s Report the signing of Mylars for Newtown Rental Center has been added.

Special Actions:Mr. Weaver presented a trophy to Newtown Borough Councilman Mark Craig in recognition of the Borough’s victory in the First Fourth annual softball game. He congratulated the Borough team members.

Mrs. Goren welcomed Boy Scout Troop 29 of Lutheran Church of God’s Love to the meeting.

Public Comment: Resident Nancy Crescenzo said that she had attended the Planning Commission held to review the plans for the Promenade at Sycamore Street. She said that the plans presented were very different from the recommendations of the Acme Visioning Committee. She said that committee had heard presentations for a community center. The Board of Supervisors preferred to redevelop the property commercially, with a parking garage. She was concerned that the Board had voted to support the developer’s application for zoning variances.

Mrs. Goren said that the Board had voted to support the variances that were part of the concept plan already approved. She said that there now appear to be some differences between the plan presented to the Planning Commission and the original concept plan. She suggested that the Board review and discuss the two plans at the work session scheduled for next Monday. In response to Mrs. Crescenzo’s objection to the discussion’s taking place during a non-televised meeting, Mrs. Goren said that this would be the only opportunity for the Board to review the plans together before the conditional use hearing and the zoning hearing board meeting.

Resident Dennis Luff of 543 Sterling Street said that he has recently been disturbed by extremely loud noise from his neighbor’s landscaper. The landscaper was using two large mowers, a trimmer and a blower at the same time at about 9:00 AM, waking his very ill wife. He attempted to speak to the landscaper, who was very rude. He contacted the code enforcement officer, and was given a copy of the Township noise ordinance, which only permits the use of “a tool”, singular, during the day. The landscaper was using four tools at the same time.

Mrs. Goren suggested that Mr. Luff contact the Township Manager to further investigate the problem, and attempt to resolve it.

Mr. Jirele said that the police department would immediately respond to noise complaints to enforce violations.

Resident Howard Weisman of 531 Grant Street said that he is the owner of the property that is the subject of Mr. Luff’s complaint. He said that his landscaper had serviced his lawn at about 10:30 AM, and was at his home, using the four pieces of equipment for about fifteen minutes. Using fewer tools would more than double the time needed to complete the job. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Weisman said that he has used the landscaper for the year he has owned his home, but that this is the same landscaper used by the previous owner. The lawn is usually serviced on Wednesdays in the late morning or early afternoon. He was told that the two mowers are not used together in the rear of his home at the same time. He has requested that the mowers be kept separate to minimize the noise disturbance.

Mr. Luff complained that the Township does not monitor or require permits from landscape companies, while such permits are required for plumbers and electricians. There is no monitoring at all of the landscapers.

Mr. Schenkman suggested that the two neighbors attempt to work out their differences privately. The neighbors agreed that this was the only time there had been a complaint.

Mr. Luff said that it was the very rude response from the landscaper that made him bring the matter to the attention of the Supervisors.

The Board briefly discussed the noise ordinance, which permits noise up to 60 decibels, during the hours of 7:00AM to 10:00PM.

Member Comments: Mr. Weaver reported that the First Fourth Celebration had been a tremendous success, from the early morning 5K Run for Sight to the fireworks display at night. He thanked all of those who volunteered and those local businesses that sponsored the day’s events, especially Victoria Bowe, the Township Public Works Department and the staff at Newtown Middle School.

Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports

Minutes: 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.

Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $169,435.30. Mr. Weaver seconded.

Discussion of Motion: Mrs. Crescenzo questioned whether expenditures for travel to attend conferences and continuing education had been included in the budget.

Mr. Calabro responded that departments’ budgets include some travel and education expenses.

Mrs. Goren and Mr. Schenkman both confirmed that these expenses had been included in the approved budget.

The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $20,662.97. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Historic Architectural Review Board: Ethel Hibbs, Secretary to HARB, reported that HARB had met with the new owners of the former Township House Restaurant, and have clarified questions on the signage. The three existing signs are to be painted with the approved color palette, with the new name, “The Saloon” replacing “Township House”. The pineapple will not appear on the newly painted signs. There is no historic significance to the pineapple.

Mr. Jirele moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for signage at 203 North Sycamore Street. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Planning Commission: Chairman Shawn Ward reported that the Planning Commission held a special meeting to complete its review of the conditional use application for The Promenade at Sycamore Street. The Commission unanimously voted to recommend that the application be denied for a mixed use building for the following reasons:

The Commission noted that recommending approval was of no benefit to the community, citing non-compliance with the following sections of 13.01 General Conditions in the Ordinance for conditional use approval:

The Commission also voted to recommend that the Board of Supervisors oppose the variances sought in light of the recommendation for denial of conditional use approval. There is some concern that once variances are granted the project can proceed. Some of the variances sought are in accordance with the agreement of May, 2005, but some technical and dimensional variances are not.

In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Ward said that the Planning Commission continues to support the concept for the mixed use of the property, but are very concerned about the proposed height, which at 55 feet is equivalent to a five-story building, the increase in square footage, the proposed setbacks and the possibility of some removal of mature trees. Concerned residents, representatives of HARB and of the Presbyterian Church were in attendance at the meeting to express similar concerns.

Mr. Jirele said that review of the plan is on the agenda for the next work session. He asked that Mr. Ward attend as a representative of the Planning Commission, and that the applicant also be invited to attend. He noted that the Board had previously agreed to support the Zoning Hearing Board application, and that some of the Board was aware of some of the concerns and was willing to accept them for the project to proceed, but other concerns are new and need to be discussed.

Land Development Projects

Conditional Use – The Promenade at Sycamore LP – North Sycamore Street: Mrs. Goren opened the hearing for conditional use.

Mr. Jirele moved to continue the hearing for conditional use for The Promenade at Sycamore, LP to July 26, 2006. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver moved to close the hearing for conditional use. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Reports of Officials

Manager: Mr. Schenkman moved to approve a letter of support for Environmental Advisory Council’s grant application for Carl Sedia Park. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Solicitor: Mr. Beckert reported that the agreement between the Township and McGrath Builders has been revised to state that no work is to be done in the vicinity of the historic structure without the support of the Board of Supervisors. The concept plan now shows that the historic structure is to be moved to the front of the development. The agreement states that all work is done at the developer’s own risk. Preliminary plan approval has already been granted.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize signing of the agreement with McGrath Builders. Mr. Jirele seconded.

Discussion of motion: John McGrath explained that the 20 x 30 foot structure is to be moved to the front of the development, across from the community center. It will be connected by walking trail to the community center. It will be used by the homeowners, possibly as a library or computer room. Only the historic portion of the building will be preserved. In response to Mr. Calabro’s question he said that the structure will be visible from Rte 413.

Mrs. Hibbs noted that the new agreement does not include the conditions of item 3, as it appears in the original agreement.

Mr. Beckert said that this would be corrected.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked if the interior would be preserved.

Mr. McGrath said that it would be restored.

Mrs. Crescenzo spoke at length about the parking plans for the community center. She felt that the 48 spaces provided would not be sufficient if an event for non-residents were held.

Mr. McGrath said that the same provisions have been sufficient at other McGrath developments.

Mr. Koehler explained that the parking requirements are based on the square footage of the building, not on the maximum occupancy.

Mrs. Goren noted that the plans exceed the standards for parking for a building this size. She said that there is ample street parking for overflow.

Mrs. Crescenzo continued to object that the 48 parking spaces provided would be insufficient if 100 people attended the community center in separate cars.

The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Beckert informed the Board that there would be a need for an executive session after the meeting.

Engineer: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize signing of Mylars for Newtown Rental Center. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Public Comment: Mrs. Crescenzo expressed concern about the Promenade at Sycamore plan presented to the Planning Commission. She said that the Commission had carefully reviewed the plan and the developer had been given opportunity to address the Planning Commission’s many concerns. She expressed concern about possible water run-off and impact on Newtown Creek.

Mrs. Crescenzo complimented the work being done by the Environmental Advisory Council and said that a liaison from the Board of Supervisors should be appointed to attend EAC meetings. She suggested that the Newtown EAC should review plans for development as do Wrightstown’s and Upper Makefield’s EAC’s. The Sycamore Street project should be reviewed by the EAC. 

The meeting adjourned at 9:35PM.


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