Newtown Township

Board of Supervisor Minutes

August 9, 2006


The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, August 9, 2006 in the Township meeting room at 8:00 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Anne Goren, Vice-Chairman Phillip Calabro, Secretary/Treasure, Jerry Schenkman (late) and members Thomas Jirele and Richard Weaver. 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.

Invocation: The invocation was given by Rabbi Susan Schein of Kol Emet Reconstruction Congregation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Pellegrino said that the petition to change municipal boundaries has been removed from the Solicitor’s Report.

Public Comment: Resident Nancy Crescenzo questioned the benefit to the Township of plans to build 174 age-qualified houses on the Brandywine tract instead of office buildings. She questioned whether the plan benefits the environment, the tax base or traffic. She questioned Mr. Beckert’s representation of the Township in matters involving this property, as he had represented parties against Brandywine’s Zoning Hearing Board application. She also talked about the removal of trees by the developer of age-qualified housing on Durham Road opposite the municipal complex. She expressed concern that some zoning changes were being considered for residential developers but that Stockburger and Fidler had been rejected when they had requested zoning changes.

Member Comments: Mr. Weaver said that he had attended a memorial service for Michael Levin, a Council Rock graduate, who had died serving in the Israeli military. He expressed sympathy for his family and friends, and commended Mr. Levin’s courage and bravery. He also commended the Police and Public Works departments for their efforts in coordinating traffic for the service.

Minutes, Bills List and Reports

Minutes: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of the work session of June 19, 2006. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of July 26, 2006. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Bills List: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $170,453.40. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $198,950.64. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Park and Recreation Board: (Mr. Schenkman arrived.) Chairman Andrew Levine reported that the Park and Recreation Board had met with David Sander, the attorney for the Elliott Building Group, to discuss the Promenade at Sycamore. Mr. Sander summarized the plans for redevelopment of the former Acme property as a three story mixed use building. The Park and Recreation Board is seeking guidance from the Solicitor on recreational impact fees for this project. Mr. Sander has contended that no recreational impact fee is due, as this is a Redevelopment project with a redevelopment agreement in place. The Park and Recreation Board is asking whether this is the case. The members are also seeking guidance in calculating fees for redevelopment projects in general. Should the existing structure be netted out of the fee calculation. This question is asked in reference to all redeveloped properties.

Mrs. Goren said that the Redevelopment Agreement does not waive fees.

Mr. Beckert said that it has been the policy of the Board of Supervisors to allow a redeveloper of a property to benefit from prior payment of traffic and recreational impact fees; however he would have to research the question regarding the Elliott and the St. Andrew’s preschool projects, as both original structures were built before the fees were put into effect.

Mr. Levine reported that the Park and Recreation Board voted to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space for the Villas at Newtown. They discussed with the developer the possibility of installing some handicapped parking for Silver Lake Park.

The Board heard a presentation of DeLuca Builders for redevelopment of the St. Andrew’s Preschool property and voted to recommend that the Board of Supervisors accept a fee in lieu of open space.

The Board discussed using the Wiggins tract for three soccer fields and one practice football field for the upcoming fall season. A temporary gravel parking area would be needed until the development on the other side of the street is begun and the Gaucks Lane improvements are made. Upper Makefield/Newtown Soccer and CYO Football would share the costs for the parking. The Board had attempted to negotiate use of the Restaurant 552 parking lot, but the restaurant has had increased business on weekend mornings recently. He asked the Board of Supervisors to allow the Township Engineer to apply for a temporary highway occupancy permit to open the fields to parking.

Mr. Weaver said that the fields are desperately needed. He has visited the tract and thinks it is ideal for soccer and football. He agreed with Mr. Levine that there would be no need for lights or any buildings on the site.

Mr. Jirele said that he would like to see an engineer’s sketch plan for the parking that has been reviewed by the Planning Commission. He questioned whether restrooms, a water supply and a left turn lane would be needed.

Mr. Weaver noted that no left turn lane had been needed for the restaurant. He said that if necessary, portable restroom facilities could be brought to the site. He also noted that children bring their own water to games.

Mr. Pellegrino briefly discussed the location of the temporary entrance as the same as the permanent entrance to be built by Orleans. He noted that obtaining a Highway Occupancy permit could take months.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize the Township Engineer to prepare a plan for temporary parking at the Wiggins tract. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: In response to questions from Mr. Schenkman, Mr. Levine said that scheduling of the use of the fields would be worked out with the Park and Recreation Director, but would be limited to afternoon and weekend use for the fall season. He suggested that if necessary, the police department could be used to help direct traffic.

The Board briefly discussed the recent problems with the field at Newtown Shopping Center, which cannot be used this fall because of damage caused by Lacrosse. The field will be repaired and back in use in the spring.

Mr. Pellegrino said that there is already plan approval as part of the Orleans development at Gaucks Lane. He suggested requesting that Orleans be approached to install the entrance sooner than originally planned.

Mr. Jirele said that he would prefer that the Planning Commission have an opportunity to review the road opening, and suggested that it be put on the Planning Commission agenda on a fast track for review.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that the Park and Recreation department has no money and cannot pay for the fields and their maintenance; that the use of the police department for traffic control would cost money in overtime and the engineering would also cost money that is not in our budget. She complained that Toll Brothers has failed to complete handicapped access to trails and sidewalks on Eagle Road, so developers cannot be relied on to do work promised. She questioned the Township’s assuming additional liability if the fields are used. She questioned why the field at Newtown Shopping Center had been destroyed. She said that this should have been an agenda item that the Supervisors and members of the public would have been prepared to discuss. Neighbors close to the property should have been notified, in case they would like to object to the proposal.

Mr. Levine responded that the fields at the Wiggins tract are already maintained by the Township Public Works Department; all liability falls under existing Township insurance; the property is zoned for recreation and has been part of the comprehensive plan for field use since 1999, so use is not a surprise to nearby residents; the sports organizations are prepared to pay for the construction of the entrance and parking areas; the use of police for traffic direction, if not part of the Township’s regular police budget, would be assumed by the sports organizations, or parent volunteers would be trained for traffic management.

Mr. Jirele asked about the cost of engineering. He and Mr. Schenkman asked whether the sports organizations would pay these costs. Mr. Jirele suggested that the motion be tabled until the work session on Monday evening, when the sports organizations could be in attendance to support Mr. Levine and to answer questions about their financial commitment to the project. The engineering costs could be calculated in the meantime.

Mr. Weaver withdrew his motion. Mr. Calabro withdrew his second. Mr. Weaver moved to table discussion of installation of temporary parking at the Wiggins tract until the Monday, August 14, 2006, work session. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Calabro asked whether the need for cost estimates from the engineer is a new requirement before a motion can be brought by the Supervisors.

Mr. Jirele said that this engineering expense had not been in the budget. He said that he is not opposed to the project, but would like more information before he votes.

Mr. Schenkman said that he would like assurances that the sports organizations have agreed to make financial contributions to the cost of the project.

Planning Commission: Chairman Shawn Ward reported that the Commission reviewed and tabled the Mastromarco Minor Subdivision final plan. They reviewed and recommended approval of the St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church Zoning Hearing Board application for expansion of its parking lot at 81 Swamp Road. Discussion of JMZO 2006-09, VR-1 and VC-1 Zoning Districts, and JMZO 2006-14, Peripheral Buffering was tabled pending information on the intent and purpose of the amendments.

The Commission discussed the “no turn on red” sign on Jefferson Street at Sycamore Street, which is causing a significant back up of traffic at peak hours.

The Commission asked if the traffic study conducted for the development of the former Acme site could be made available to members.

Mr. Beckert said that he has requested that the study be made available.

Land Development Projects

PRD Variance – Louis and Joann Leigh – 54 Copperleaf Drive: Mrs. Goren opened the hearing for this PRD variance.

Mr. Weaver moved to continue the hearing for a PRD Variance for Louis and Joann Leigh, 54 Copperleaf Drive to August 23, 2006. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver moved to close the hearing. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Reports of Officials

Manager: Mr. Pellegrino reported that the fountain has been installed at Silver Lake, and it is operational. This should improve the water quality.

Solicitor: Mr. Beckert reported that the Department of Homeland Security requires that Lockheed Martin establish a checkpoint leading to the premises, which would include the area within a portion of Campus Drive that is a public thoroughfare. The license agreement provides that Lockheed Martin shall be responsible for maintenance and snow removal of the area within 100 feet prior to the security checkpoint.

Mr. Weaver moved to approve the license for Lockheed Martin. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Beckert said that there would be a need for executive session after the close of the meeting.

Engineer’s Report: Mr. Fazio reported that he has negotiated a bid with K.E. Seifert for drainage improvements in Mardot Village. The original bid had been for $171,000. He has changed the description of the project, removing some of the paving portions, for a reduction in cost to $123,065. He recommended accepting the bid and the change order.

Mr. Weaver moved to accept the bid of K.E. Seifert for drainage improvements in Mardot Village. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize a change order for the drainage improvements to Mardot Village reducing the cost to $123,065. Mr. Jirele seconded.

Discussion of motion: In response to questions from Mrs. Crescenzo, Mr. Fazio explained that the change order removed certain paving items and reconstruction of the cul-de-sac. These items would be included in the request for bids in December. In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Fazio said that the lawns would be restored after work is completed. The grass would be stripped and piping installed, eliminating the ditch. A moderate swale would be constructed. The lawns would be reseeded and mulched in September of 2006.

The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Weaver moved to authorize release of escrow in the amount of $73,840 to Newtown Office Park. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Public Comment Mrs. Crescenzo commented on the Township’s recent donation to the September 11 Memorial Garden. She also asked when discussion of expansion of the municipal complex would take place.

Board members responded that discussion of the expansion has been postponed until questions of land acquisition have been resolved. Mr. Jirele said that he expected the land acquisition issues to be resolved shortly, and discussion of the expansion should begin this winter.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that the trail committee should be reactivated.

In response to Mrs. Crescenzo’s questions, Mr. Pellegrino said that there had been algae in Silver Lake, and the fountain will address this.

Mrs. Crescenzo asked whether the Environmental Advisory Council had been consulted about the fountain.

Resident Karen D’Aprile asked whether the “no turn on red” sign on Jefferson Street would be removed, as traffic is backed up at peak hours. She also asked whether the “keep off shoulder” sign on the By-Pass at the intersection with Buck Road would be removed, as not all drivers obey the sign and there is risk of accidents.

Mr. Pellegrino said that the timing of traffic lights around Sycamore Street and State Street is being adjusted to help alleviate the traffic back up problem. PennDoT has required the “keep off shoulder” sign, and has refused to remove it until the shoulder is re-enforced as a traffic lane. He continues to ask PennDoT to address this issue.

Mr. Calabro suggested bringing the problem to the attention of Representative David Steil’s regional traffic committee.

Resident John D’Aprile suggested that the comprehensive plan should be re-done, as the community’s needs have changed. He said that he is concerned about use of police to direct traffic during soccer games, as they are needed to patrol the neighborhoods.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30PM.


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