Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Work Session

Minutes of September 18, 2006


Members Present: Anne Goren, Chairman; Philip Calabro, Vice Chairman; Jerry Schenkman, Secretary/Treasurer; Richard Weaver, Member; Paul Beckert, Solicitor; Robert M. Pellegrino, Township Manager; Edward Koehler, Engineer. Not present was Tom Jirele, Member.

Also Present: Township residents Jim Ott and Walt Iwaskiw, Courier Times reporter.

Call to Order: Ms. Goren called the meeting to order at 8:05 pm. Mr. Pellegrino added an item to the agenda under Discussion: consideration of payment #29 for Sycamore Street.

Proposed Concept Plan – Self Storage Unit – Newtown Business Commons

Attorney Joseph W. Pizzo; Maryellen Saylor from Pickering, Corts and Summerson; and project manager Rich Shore were present. Mr. Pizzo presented the proposed project, noting:

  • Self storage facilities on a currently developed 4 acre site in the Commons
  • Two 2-story buildings, with elevator access to the partially climate controlled second level.
  • The project should meet all area and dimensional requirements; project will also need to comply with Commons association requirements.
  • Proposing their own detention basin, noting changes in stormwater management
  • Proposed buffering, noting they would like to retain as much vegetation as possible on site.
  • Security: gated (wrought iron), probably cameras, hours of operation 7am-7pm or 7:30am-7:30pm
  • Ground level storage units to be accessible from outside
  • Parking will comply with zoning requirements; if deemed excess for facility, are requesting for some to be kept in reserve – this would be the only request for a variance in the project
  • Project will meet all fire safety requirements; there will be exterior lighting with much buffering.
  • The building façade would probably be brick or another material, not metal; façade would need to meet Commons Association requirements.

It was clarified that no hazardous materials would be allowed to be stored at the facility, with monitoring by cameras and policing by two managers. Mr. Calabro asked if there were any homeland security requirements; Mr. Pizzo will look into the matter. Mr. Beckert requested that Mr. Pizzo bring a copy of the facility contract agreement and details concerning how prohibited materials would be dealt with.

Stormwater management was discussed; Ms. Saylor noted that water outfall would run into an existing drainage area. It was noted that climate control units on the roof would be screened. Ms. Saylor said she would check if the ultimate right of way had been dedicated yet.

Mr. Pizzo said they would be presenting the proposal to the Commons Association, and that the next step would be to develop land development plans. Mr. Beckert requested that the applicants take the concept plan to the Planning Commission before returning to the BOS; he noted that the applicants could go directly to preliminary plan if they so chose.

Authorization to Advertise: Ordinance Amendment Regarding Regulations Relating to Engine Brake Retarders on Highways within Newtown Township

Mr. Beckert said he researched the noise issues, and clarified that the township could prohibit jake brakes on township roads but did not have authority to do so on state roadways without PennDOT approval. It was noted that the steeper the road the less apt PennDOT was to prohibit the use of jake brakes, as a safety issue. Mr. Beckert said that signs could be established on the township borders to inform of a prohibition of jake brakes on township roads, if the policy were adopted. He noted that the intent is to eliminate the gratuitous use of the brakes.

Mr. Weaver noted that some trucks used baffles not required for safety to increase the noise. Mr. Schenkman said he had received many complaints from residents along Stoopville Road, which is a flat road, and said that the current $25 fine should be increased. Mr. Calabro suggested that there be time limits on the use of the brakes, particularly during late night/early morning. Mr. Beckert said he would clarify which roads could be limited, including time limits and the use of baffles.

Mr. Iwaskiw said he would like to see signs posted prohibiting jake brakes. Mr. Ott said that truck drivers should have the jake brakes when needed so it would be foolish to ban their use, but that they needn’t be used as frequently as they are presently.

Demolition by Neglect: Historic Homes

Mr. Beckert noted that the Melsky Barn had been allowed to deteriorate and could not be repaired or restored; he said the ordinances are not addressing the issue of historic buildings being allowed to be demolished by neglect. He said he is drafting an ordinance to prevent historic buildings or buildings in the historic district being allowed to fall into such disrepair as to require demolition; he said owners should be required to repair such buildings. Mr. Beckert raised the question of enforcement and said the Joint Historic Commission should be willing to determine which properties are relevant to this issue.

Ms. Goren noted that private property is involved and questioned if inspections at private property were allowed; Mr. Beckert noted that the codes office can presently inspect on private property if violations are presumed. Mr. Weaver suggested that Jeff Marshall could investigate; Mr. Beckert will speak with the Joint Historic Commission and Mr. Marshall for their feedback and suggestions and the JHC’s willingness to enforce the issue. Mr. Beckert said he has already asked the JHC to review for historic buildings when new developments come in.

It was the consensus that Mr. Beckert would continue to pursue the matter as suggested; Mr. Schenkman said he would like to hear public comment on the issue.

Approval of Payment #29 for Sycamore Street

Mr. Pellegrino cited a letter dated September 18, 2006 to Mario L. Palena of PennDOT regarding payment of $251,644.45 due for Sycamore Streetscape, mostly for the Borough closed loop signals. He noted that the improvements are shared 80%-20%; the enhancement funds are gone. It was clarified that the township will receive 80% back and the Borough would be billed for 20% of the cost, approximately $75,000 upon completion.

Mr. Weaver made a motion to authorize the payment of bill #29 for $251,644.45 for work on the Sycamore Street project. Mr. Calabro seconded the motion, which was approved 4-0 by the Board.

Joint Comprehensive Plan Update

Ms. Goren said that when considering the Comprehensive Plan she would like the Board to consider their vision of Newtown, and would like the impact of proposed ordinances on all municipalities in the Jointure to be considered. She said the Board should consider the impact of such issues as density of zoning, what vision should be presented to the Jointure, and whether Newtown should be the economic hub of the Jointure. She reviewed the comments from Wrightstown in the Board packet.

Mr. Schenkman requested that the township planner review and comment on issues relative to Newtown. He said it was not clear on the meeting agenda that the issue would be discussed, and said the issue should be discussed at a televised Board meeting and open to public comment. Mr. Schenkman suggested there should be a presentation at a televised meeting to present an overview of the Joint Comprehensive Plan before inviting public response. It was clarified that the Planning Commission’s input was welcome and could be useful; Ms. Goren said the PC could give insight into the visions of Upper Makefield and Wrightstown.

Resident Jim Ott suggested that a subcommittee including Planning Commission members who attend Jointure meetings review the Comprehensive Plan, and said he thought planner Judy Goldstein was supposed to recommend changes. Mr. Ott asked if there was a timeline to review the current zoning map.

Ms. Goren suggested there be a survey to gather input for a vision of Newtown; Mr. Pellegrino noted that a survey had been done earlier and this would be a follow up. He said that the Bucks County Planning Commission should handle such a survey. Mr. Schenkman suggested that the plan’s appendix be put on the website, and that a skilled facilitator help guide any visioning session. He said the plan should be thoroughly considered, so as not to miss any unintended consequences and so all points are considered. Mr. Pellegrino said there would be public presentations and public comment on any comprehensive plan review; He said that Lynn Bush should be involved in the process.

Mr. Calabro said he would like Ms. Goren to direct the Planning Commission chairman to form a subcommittee, comprised of persons from various backgrounds, to review and study the plan; Ms. Goren said she would happy to make that recommendation. It was clarified that Board members should not be members of the subcommittee but should receive information. Mr. Weaver noted that Lynn Bush intends to visit each township to discuss the comprehensive plan; Mr. Pellegrino noted that this is a master plan, from which the zoning ordinances are developed.

Cemetery Overlay

Mr. Calabro noted that at the BOS meeting on September 13 th he had raised concerns over the cemetery overlay; he said he had recently emailed his concerns to the Board and Planning Commission. He said he had requested information and would like written confirmation of the seven points he raised. Ms. Goren said she would check for her email and suggested that the issue could be raised at the regular BOS meeting as well.


On motion from Mr. Calabro, and with no objection, the meeting was adjourned at 9:45 pm to Executive Session to discuss personnel issues.


Faithfully submitted,


Leslie P. Dunleavy, Acting Recording Secretary