Board of Supervisors
Minutes of October 25, 2006
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, October 25, 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 member Richard Weaver. Also present were: Paul Beckert, Township Solicitor, Edward F. 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 Pastor Christopher Edwards of Northampton Presbyterian Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Pellegrino said payment for work in the 2006 road program has been added to the Engineer’s Report and the Environmental Advisory Council would make a report.
Public Comment: Resident Ethel Hibbs said that a demonstration of new voting machines had been held at the firehouse this evening. Those in attendance found the new machines very easy to use. She urged all residents to vote in the upcoming election. Trained poll workers would be available to help voters with the new machines.
Resident Dave Matthews asked about plans for improving the road and sewers on Linden Avenue.
Mr. Pellegrino and Mr. Koehler were unfamiliar with the plans Mr. Matthews referred to, but asked that he leave contact information so that they could investigate and respond to his concerns at a later time.Paul Salvatore of Newtown Borough announced that the Newtown Rotary Club has donated dictionaries to all local third graders. Sponsored by Newtown Business and Professional Association, the annual Halloween parade will be held on Saturday. The Newtown Theatre will show “Frankenstein” at 2:00PM on Saturday, with admission free for those in costume and $1 for those without costume. The Pedals For Progress program will collect used bicycles on November 4 behind Newtown Bicycle Shop to be shipped to third world countries.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Schenkman noted that page 3, paragraph 1 should read, “…in section 401(F)(1)”.
Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes as corrected. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $414,795.12. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $150,000. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Telecommunications Advisory Board: Chairman James Manahan reported that Verizon is expected to offer cable service in Newtown early next year. The Board discussed featuring Newtown Chamber Orchestra as content for the local channel. The Board began discussions of parameters for other content for the channel. There was discussion of reviewing the available high speed Internet, for possible improvements and upgrade. Members discussed creating a video of existing municipal facilities. Future plans include preparation for review and renewal of the Comcast Cable Franchise Agreement.
Historic Architectural Review Board
255 North Sycamore Street
Mr. Schenkman moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for 255 North Sycamore Street. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
247 N. Sycamore Street
Mrs. Hibbs, Secretary of HARB, explained that the applicant is seeking to have two signs facing Sycamore Street, a free standing sign and a logo on an awning over the front door. Only one sign is permitted in the historic district.
Mr. Pellegrino said that the Zoning Officer would decide if the logo on the awning is an additional sign. He suggested that the Board only address the freestanding sign.
Mr. Calabro moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for a freestanding sign at 247 North Sycamore Street. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
1 North Sycamore Street
Mr. Schenkman moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for 1 North Sycamore Street. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
135 South Sycamore Street
Mrs. Hibbs reviewed an application for extensive renovations to the old St. Andrew’s Convent at 135 South Sycamore Street by DeLuca Builders, who intend to use the building for office space.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for 135 South Sycamore Street. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Planning Commission: Chairman Shawn Ward reported that at the October 17, 2006 meeting, the Commission reviewed a revised preliminary plan for land development for the Fidler tract on Newtown Yardley Road. Attorney Ed Murphy had agreed that his client will comply with the review letters. There was some discussion of a traffic study. When put to a vote, with two members abstaining, the motion to recommend approval failed. The applicant will return on November 21, 2006, to discuss the plan further.
The Commission reviewed two conditional use applications, for “my Girlfriend’s Kitchen”, a take out meal preparation shop at Village at Newtown South, and Cosi Café at 104 Pheasant Run. The Commission recommends approval of both, with conditions, including that Cosi Café does not advertise outside of Newtown Business Commons.
The Commission reviewed a Zoning Hearing Board application for the Center Club at 11 Friends Lane. There is a great deal of concern about approving this request for relief from the parking requirement. Although the Center Club’s hours of operation compliment the medical office use in the same location, once a variance is granted, the operation hours could change, and the parking would no longer be adequate. The Commission recommends that the Board oppose this application. An application for relief for impervious surface for an in-ground pool at 24 Amy Circle caused some concern, as there had been flooding in the area. The engineer suggested that the applicant be required to provide appropriate drainage to offset the additional impervious coverage. The Commission passed the other Zoning Hearing Board applications to the Board without comment.
Mr. Sensibaugh presented members of the Commission with eleven suggested amendments to the Veterans Cemetery Overlay Ordinance as follows:
Environmental Advisory Council: Chairman Donald McEachron reported that the EAC has been working on an evaluation form to be used in preparing an inventory of the Township’s open space. Members are planning to meet with the science director of Council Rock to discuss using high school and middle school students to help with the evaluations.
At Monday night’s meeting, Mike Sellers of Newtown Borough Planning Commission and EAC made a presentation about the Borough’s interest in revitalizing the Newtown Creek and restoring the Newtown Commons. Mr. Sellers asked the EAC to attend a special meeting, along with representatives or our Park and Rec Board and Planning Commission to discuss long-term projects involving the Creek.
The members unanimously voted to recommend that the Law School Admission Council receive the first annual Environmental Ecostar Award for its outstanding work in recycling and energy conservation. The EAC is asking the Supervisors for input on an appropriate time to present the award.
The EAC has been operating without any budget, with members using their own resources. This year, the EAC will be preparing a request for a small operating budget.Mrs. Goren indicated that the Board of Supervisors is beginning to prepare the annual budget, and suggested that Dr. McEachron submit the EAC’s requests to Mr. Pellegrino.
Land Development Projects:
Conditional Use Hearing – My Girlfriend’s Kitchen – 2100 South Eagle Road: Mrs. Goren opened the Conditional Use Hearings.
Mr. Beckert entered the following exhibits:
John Anderson and Melissa Bender were sworn in.
Mr. Anderson said that “My Girlfriend’s Kitchen” will occupy the retail space at Village at Newtown South formerly occupied by “Quiznos” and will be a similar use. Meals are assembled on the premises for take out and cooking at home. Minor cooking would take place on-site.
Mr. Beckert reviewed the hours of operation, numbers of employees, and trash screening requirements. In response to Mr. Anderson’s question, Mr. Beckert said that the owners of the shopping center are to provide concrete pads and screening for all dumpster areas behind the buildings, but that the applicant must be sure make use of the proper screening. The Codes Department will be in touch with the owners of the shopping center about this. If the Township finds it necessary, the applicant is to provide trash receptacles at the front of the shop.
Mr. Calabro questioned the Boucher and James review letter’s reference to a “drive-in”, and asked if this applicant intends to have a “drive-in” window.
Mr. Beckert explained that the use “E-6 Eating Place” use, as described in the Ordinance, is primarily for take-out and can have a “drive-in” component. This particular applicant, at this location, will not have any “drive-in” window.
In response to Mr. Schenkman’s question, Ms. Bender said that “My Girlfriend’s Kitchen” is a franchised business.
Mrs. Goren closed the record.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve conditional use for use E-6, eating place/drive-in for “My Girlfriend’s Kitchen” at 2100 South Eagle Road, subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Conditional Use Hearing – Cosi Café – 104 Pheasant Run: Mr. Beckert entered the following exhibits:
Ed Murphy represented the applicant.
Michael Novak was sworn in.
Mr. Murphy explained that the applicant wishes to provide a restaurant facility in the Newtown Business Commons that will target all business within the Commons. The Cosi Café business plan is to provide restaurant facilities to office parks. The applicant will only advertise within the Commons with mailings and flyers, and will not advertise to the general public. Deliveries will be limited to the LI and OLI districts. This applicant has agreed to close at 9:00 PM instead of 10:00PM, as the previous applicant had requested. The applicant would like to remain open until 9:00PM to service guests of the adjacent hotel.
Mr. Murphy entered as Exhibit A-1, the Cosi Café brochure.
Mr. Murphy said that the restaurant will occupy 3000 square feet of the newly renovated building at 104 Pheasant Run. There will be 68 seats. The parking is adequate. The business will have a trash compactor, so there will be no need for a dumpster.
In response to Mr. Calabro’s questions, Mr. Novak said that he was aware that the original approval for this site was only until 6:00 PM. He would like to stay open until 9:00PM for late business and for the hotel clientele.
Mr. Calabro expressed some concern that the evening hours would attract business from outside the Commons.
Mr. Murphy said that all advertising and deliveries would be within the Commons only, and, while non-guests of the hotel would not be turned away, the primary focus is to provide service to guests of the hotel who are arriving in the evening, and don’t want to go back out again. He said that this is not a full service restaurant. It is marketing to businesses. There will be no liquor license.
Mr. Weaver said that the Board has received a number of letters of support for a restaurant with evening hours from business owners in the Commons. Many of the businesses are open in the evening, and would support this venture.
In response to Mr. Schenkman’s questions, Mr. Novak said that there would not be a patio at this location. In the evening, doors would be closed at 9:00 PM. The average time a customer spends in the shop is twenty minutes. He would anticipate that a customer who arrived at 9:00 to be served would leave by 9:20 PM. The restaurant has 68 seats, and no private rooms, but would attempt to accommodate a dinner meeting, if customers requested it.
In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Novak said that the exterior of the building at 104 Pheasant Run has been completed. The restaurant would occupy the space behind the clock on the corner with Terry Drive.
Resident John D’Aprile was sworn in. Mr. D’Aprile said that he did not think that 9:00 PM is too late, especially for guests arriving at the hotel after business meetings. He supported this application.
Resident Ellen Parisi was sworn in. Ms. Parisi said that she is an owner of a business, Parisi, Inc., with offices in the Business Commons. Her business frequently holds evening meetings, and would greatly appreciate a restaurant nearby. She presented a letter of support for the application.
Mr. Murphy entered Ms. Parisi’s letter as Exhibit A-2.
Resident Donna Catelli was sworn in. Ms. Catelli said that her children are in daycare at The Learning Center, in the Business Commons. The restaurant would be a great convenience for parents dropping off or picking up their children. She expressed support for the application.
Paul Salvatore was sworn in. Mr. Salvatore questioned why the original application requested hours only until 6:00PM.
Mr. Beckert said that Mr. Troilo, developer of the property, had requested conditional use for a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch with closing at 6:00PM in his original application, before he had attempted to find a restaurant tenant. All prospective tenants felt that evening hours would be necessary for a viable business.
Mr. Salvatore said that the Newtown business community is working hard to bring people to Newtown for events and for business. It would be more welcoming if the hotel has nearby restaurant facilities. He noted that the proposed restaurant should also alleviate some of the midday traffic in and around Newtown, as workers attempt to leave the Commons at lunchtime.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve conditional use for Cosi Café, 104 Pheasant Run, subject to the following conditions:
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.
Reports of Officials
Manager’s Report: Mr. Pellegrino asked the Board to authorize the bid to purchase rock salt through the Consortium from Cargill Incorporated Deicing Technology at $44.03 per ton. Last year’s price had been $45.77 per ton. He expects to spend about $35,000 on rock salt.
Mr. Schenkman moved to enter a contract to purchase rock salt from Cargill Incorporated Deicing Technology at $44.03 per ton. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Solicitor’s Report: Public Hearing – Trash Haulers Regulations Ordinance: Mr. Beckert explained to the Board that the current trash haulers ordinance was preempted by state legislation. The revised Ordinance corrects issues and allows registration of trash haulers within the Township in accordance with certain guidelines required for environmental purposes.
Mr. Weaver moved to pass the Trash Haulers Ordinance. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Public Hearing – Ordinance Authorizing Condemnation of Property: Mr. Beckert explained that the Township has negotiated with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to purchase eleven acres of land adjacent to the municipal complex to expand the municipal complex. In order to maximize the net proceeds to it, the Archdiocese has requested that the Township file a friendly condemnation proceeding.
Mr. Weaver moved to pass an ordinance to begin condemnation proceedings on the Archdiocese’s eleven-acre parcel contiguous to the Township Municipal Complex. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Public Hearing – Authorization to Advertise Township Ordinance Amending Township Realty Transfer Tax: Mr. Beckert said that the Commonwealth has passed a statute amending certain provisions within the Realty Transfer Tax statute and an amendment to the Township Ordinance relating to computation of interest on delinquent payments is necessary to bring the Township Ordinance in line with requirements of state law.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize advertisement of a Realty Transfer Tax Amendment. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Public Hearing - JMZO 2006-17 – Zoning Map Change: Mr. Beckert explained that DeLuca Corporation has requested a zoning reclassification of the St. Andrew’s Preschool property from R-2, high density residential to TC- Town Commercial in order to build an office building on the site. The amendment proposed has been favorably reviewed by the Planning Commission.
Attorney Ed Murphy said that this zoning change will allow construction closer to the street, in order to conform with the Sycamore Street streetscape. The homeowners association of the adjoining property has supported the change. There are no other adjoining neighbors.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize adoption of JMZO 2006-17. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Public Hearing - Cemetery Overlay Ordinance – JMZO 2006-18: Mr. Beckert explained that this amendment creates a cemetery overlay district relating to properties mostly situated in Upper Makefield Township, but affecting the Melsky property, located in Newtown Township. The Ordinance in its present form has been approved by Wrightstown Township and Upper Makefield Township.
Pursuant to direction from the Board, letters were sent to Congressman Fitzpatrick, Undersecretary Tuerk, Upper Makefield Township, Council Rock School District and Toll Brothers. These letters, and their responses, have been published on the Township Web site. The letters address some of the changes recommended by the Newtown Township Planning Commission.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt JMZO 2006-18. Mr. Weaver seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman suggested that the Planning Commission’s proposed amendments be sent to Upper Makefield in letter form.
John B. Rice, attorney for Upper Makefield Township, reviewed the provisions of the Ordinance, which creates a cemetery zone on 200 acres, and an open space buffer of 27 acres in Upper Makefield, with zoning to accommodate 80 residential units and age qualified units in Upper Makefield and an additional area of residential units spanning Upper Makefield and Newtown Township, with 40 acres in Newtown Township retained by Council Rock School District for an elementary school. Upper Makefield is aware of the suggested amendments, and feels that some involve technical language. Many can be addressed in an amendment to “clean up” the Ordinance; other concerns would be addressed as part of land development. In response to Mr. Beckert’s questions, he said that he expects a short amendment for “clean-up” of technical issues by year’s end. The issue of the selection of an appropriate entrance to the Cemetery is part of land development.
Sue Herman of Lower Makefield said that she, and Residents for Regional Traffic Solutions, are in support of the Cemetery, but she strongly opposes approval of this Ordinance prior to completion of traffic studies. She said that improvements to Stoopville Road are part of a “northern by-pass”. She is opposed to an entrance to the Cemetery on Highland Road, as processions would enter via Lindenhurst Road, causing “road rage”. She said she prefers an entrance on Washington Crossing Road, north of Dolington Village.
Jim Barbera of Upper Makefield said that he lives in Dolington Village, and is vice-president of Save Historic Dolington. He noted that the historic homes in Dolington Village are only a few feet from the road. There have been many serious accidents on the curve in Washington Crossing Road in Dolington Village. He urged the Supervisors not to approve a provision requiring entrance on Washington Crossing Road. This is a land development issue, and should be addressed at that time. He noted that most of the homes on Lindenhurst Road are in planned developments with wide setbacks and berms, and the rear of the homes face the road. These residents would be less impacted by additional traffic than the Dolington Village homes, which face the road with very short setbacks.
Paul Salvatore said that he disagreed strongly with predictions of greatly increased traffic caused by the Cemetery. He said that it is important to honor our veterans with this Cemetery.
Resident Bob Assora, a veteran, thanked the Supervisors for supporting the veterans. He noted the large numbers of World War II and Korean War veterans dying each day. A new cemetery in this area is greatly needed. He said that the selection of an entrance is part of the land development phase.
Resident John D’Aprile, a Vietnam War veteran, said that the issue of a “northern by-pass” is not true, as portrayed by Mrs. Herman. He asked the Supervisors to pass the ordinance.
Tracy Hunt, attorney for resident Leo Holt, said that his client has attempted to offer an agreement of sale to Council Rock School District to purchase the Melsky property. His client is opposed to the Melsky tract’s inclusion in the proposed ordinance, as it has been included in planning for a Veterans Cemetery to benefit a private developer. In response to Mr. Schenkman’s question, Mr. Hunt said that the attorney for the School District has some issues with the agreement of sale his client has offered, and has not responded. This would be addressed at an upcoming School Board meeting.
Ron Schmidt of Upper Makefield, a member of Save Historic Dolington said that if the Cemetery ordinance does not pass, the land would be developed as residential, with a much greater traffic impact. He strongly disagreed with Mrs. Herman’s statements about locating an entrance on Washington Crossing Road, noting that if an entrance were placed north of Dolington Village, traffic would still exit I95 at Newtown and travel up Lindenhurst Road through the Village.
Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick, US House of Representatives, said that he is very proud to have this opportunity to do something so significant for Bucks County. He urged the Supervisors to pass the Ordinance, noting that he has reviewed other traffic studies for the area, and is actively seeking $2,000,000 funding for traffic calming on Stoopville Road to mitigate the impact of Cemetery traffic. There are 60,000 veterans in Bucks County who deserve this Cemetery in such a historic location. He urged the Supervisors to support the Ordinance as written, without conditions or amendments. In response to Mr. Schenkman’s question, Congressman Fitzpatrick said that Undersecretary Tuerk could better address the roadway improvements that the Veterans Administration would make.
William F. Tuerk, Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs, said that the Veterans Administration would be open to proposals for traffic improvements. He noted that the cemeteries are designed with a meeting area inside the entrance, where cars can gather before they proceed to the burial site, in order to avoid road congestion.
Resident Ed Hackett, a Vietnam War veteran, urged the Board to support this amendment. Veterans in the County are very eager to see this plan go through. There have been many meetings with many different groups, and many concessions made, and now is the time to approve the ordinance.
Mr. Hackett also thanked the Supervisors for the display for American flags along Sycamore Street, and he invited residents to attend the Veterans Day Memorial Ceremonies at Council Rock North High School on November 10, 2006.
Resident Philip Mangona said that he resents that a builder has turned a Veterans Cemetery into a bargaining chip, turning this into an emotional issue.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh urged the Board to pass the ordinance “the right way”.
Mrs. Herman said that she agrees with Mr. Mangona.
Mr. Salvatore said that the real issue is the Veterans Cemetery. While it would have been wonderful if the land had been donated, that is an unrealistic expectation. He urged the Supervisors to pass the Ordinance to honor our veterans.
The motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver thanked the members of Save Historic Dolington, the participants in the round table discussions, the Veterans Administration, the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commissions of the Jointure and Congressman Fitzpatrick for the efforts made to bring about this agreement. He is very proud to have worked with everyone on this very important effort.
Mr. Schenkman said that he would like to give some recognition to the members of our Planning Commission, who spent many hours carefully reviewing the ordinance. He said that the proposed amendments should be given careful consideration. He suggested that a letter be written to Upper Makefield, including these suggested amendments, for their consideration. He agreed that the entrance to the Cemetery is a land development matter, and that the Veterans Administration has agreed to give equal consideration to all possible entrances.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize the solicitor to draft a letter to Upper Makefield, asking to amend the ordinance in accordance with Planning Commission recommendations numbered 3, 5, 6, 9, 10a, and 11. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Zoning Hearing Board Matters: Mr. Beckert reviewed the Zoning Hearing Board applications, noting that the Planning Commission had sent the residential applications without comment, except for Jason and Joyce Laviscout at 24 Amy Circle. At this location, an increase in impervious surface is requested for an in-ground pool. The Planning Commission has some concern about flooding in the area, and has recommended that the Zoning Hearing Board condition approval upon the applicant’s agreement to contain any additional water caused by the excess impervious surface cover within the site by stormwater management methods approved by the Township Engineer.
Mrs. Goren suggested that the Codes Officer be asked to convey this recommendation to the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Beckert reviewed the Planning Commission’s concerns about the application of the Center Club at 11 Friends Lane. The Center Club is requesting relief to operate an athletic facility on 3.68 acres instead of the required 5 acres, and for parking relief. This property has received a parking variance to reduce parking requirements. There is now a proposal for 30 parking spaces for a use that would require 302 spaces. The applicant has stated that the other uses on the property have different hours of operation, and are complimentary uses. The Planning Commission is concerned that the variance, once granted, runs with the land, and any change in use within either the medical office or the athletic facility would cause a significant parking problem.
Paul Salvatore, who is renovating and retrofitting the building, said that he understands the concern, but would like to present his case to the Zoning Hearing Board unopposed. He said that the medical use has 72 parking spaces, of which only 60 are needed. The Center Club, an established business, is moving to this location, but not expanding its offerings. The hours of the two businesses are complimentary. The tenants are owners, not renters, so there would not be turn over of use.
Mrs. Goren said that she is concerned that the variance would remain in place if the property were sold to another type of business, or a more intense medical use than the current tenant.
In response to Mr. Salvatore’s comment that the property is not at the full 65% impervious surface, Mr. Koehler noted that the additional impervious surface would only gain about three or four parking spaces. There would still be a need for a substantial variance.
Mr. Pellegrino said that the Zoning Hearing Board could grant relief with some conditions.
Mr. Salvatore said that Center Club has been in business in Newtown for fifteen year, has an established clientele, and intends to move to improve facilities, not to expand business. The Center Club has an established pattern of parking. He asked to present his case to the Zoning Hearing Board, unopposed.
The Board was in agreement that the concern is not with the relief for the two uses currently proposed, but for changes that could occur at the property.
Mr. Calabro moved to send the Township Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to oppose the application of The Center Club, 11 Friends Lane. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Engineer’s Report: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release #4, totaling $203,965.20 to Linton Hill Chase. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize 2006 Road Program payment certificate #1 totaling $116,906.16. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Pellegrino said that the contractors on the Road Program have done an excellent job.
Public Comment: Mr. Salvatore announced that the JDNC’s first annual Brewfest, held last Saturday, was a tremendous success. All 1500 tickets were sold. He complimented Chris Ortwein and the many volunteers who worked to put the event together.
Mr. D’Aprile reminded everyone to vote in the upcoming election on November 7.
The meeting adjourned at 11:20 PM.