Board of Supervisors
Minutes of May 23, 2007
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, May 23, 2007 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 Tom Jirele and Richard Weaver. Also present were: Paul Beckert, Township Solicitor, James Watson, Township Engineer and John Boyle, Acting Township Manager.
Call to Order: Chairman Anne Goren called the regular meeting to order at 8:00 PM with a moment of silence. Father Heckman of St. Mark’s Orthodox Church gave the invocation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Boyle informed the Board that there would not be a HARB report because the applicant had asked for an extension.
Public Works Week, May 20-26, 2007: Mrs. Goren proclaimed the week of May 20 though 27, 2007 as Public Works Week, presenting a framed proclamation to Mr. Boyle on behalf of the Board of Supervisors. She commended the Public Works Department and Director Gary Crossland for outstanding work in repairing and maintaining our buildings, parks and roadways, particularly in emergency situations and in snow and ice storms.
Mr. Boyle thanked the Board and added his commendations to Mr. Crossland and the Public Works employees.
Public Comment: Resident Roger Taylor asked about a continuation of the remanded hearing of the final plan for Gigliotti Avignon Associates/Rockbridge Way.
Mr. Beckert said that the engineers and soil scientists continue to work toward a solution to outstanding issues, and the applicant has requested an extension to June 27, 2007.
Mr. Rogers said that through the Environmental Advisory Council he has learned that Carroll Engineering, at the behest of the County, has been updating the evacuation plan in the event that the Hidden Lake dam is compromised. He urged the Board to look into rectifying some deficiencies of the dam, including adding concrete retaining walls and apron to the spillway.
Mrs. Goren asked Mr. Boyle to look into this on behalf of the Board.
Resident Ethel Hibbs commented on the very short time that the turning light remains green on Richboro Road for cars making a left turn onto the Newtown Bypass. She noted that only two cars can get through the light before it turns yellow.
Mrs. Goren said that there had been similar complaints about the light from Lindenhurst Road to the Bypass.
Mr. Boyle said that he had investigated this complaint and learned that there is a six second green light during non-peak hours and ten seconds during peak hours, followed by a two second yellow light. If the timing of one light is changed, they all must be changed.
In response to Mrs. Hibbs’ question about the “no turn on red” sign at Jefferson Street, Mr. Jirele said that there is a sight distance problem; cars have to go too far forward into Sycamore Street to see oncoming traffic, impeding drivers making left turns from Sycamore Street into Jefferson Street.
In response to Mrs. Hibbs’ question about the Township’s purchase of property from the Archdiocese, Mr. Beckert said that engineers’ survey, deed description and title search are completed, and closing is to be in early June.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of May 9, 2007. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of Motion: Mrs. Goren noted that page eight should read: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize an interim agreement with the developer of Goodnoe’s Corner to permit foundation work at the developer’s own risk. Mr. Calabro seconded.
The motion passed 3-0-1, with Mrs. Goren abstaining.
Mr. Weaver amended his motion; Mr. Calabro amended his second and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Schenkman abstaining.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $261,482.42. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $180,000. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine reported that the Park and Recreation Board held a special meeting on April 25 and met again on May 3 to discuss rezoning of the Woll Tract, which is partially zoned POS and partially zoned CM. Members also prepared detailed comparisons of possible locations for a skate park. The Board would like to make a more detailed presentation at a work session on both topics. The Park and Recreation Board would like the Supervisors to rezone the Woll tract to EIR, which has active recreation as a permitted use by right, and has a larger impervious surface ratio than the current zoning. This would be a better match for Woll, which will have, in addition to some impervious surfaces for sports courts, a large parking area. The Woll subcommittee recently met with Gilmore & Associates, who have completed perk tests, stormwater management planning, parking design and field layout. There is a 35 to 40 foot grade from the St. Andrew’s Briar corner of the property to the Leck property, which will present some grading difficulties. Public Works has been participating actively in planning of the park, to better insure that their concerns are adequately addressed.
A detailed mid-year financial report on the Park and Recreation department will be available at the June Park and Rec Board meeting, but at this time, Mr. Levine was happy to report that the camp registration has been very successful. There is currently a waiting list for the teen camp program, and the department is searching for a larger facility to host that camp and increase the maximum enrollment.
Mr. Levine reported that he and Mr. Boyle are working on a grand opening for the Roberts Ridge playground. This playground has been very successful, and Have-a-Heart foundation is currently working on retrofitting another park at Doylestown Borough to be handicapped inclusive as Roberts Ridge is.
Mr. Levine said that the Public Works department is working on the restrooms at Chandler fields, the dugouts are completed and 125 forsythias have been planted as a buffer with the residential neighbor.
Park and Recreation Director Bill Wert and Township Naturalist Russell Strover have been awarded a $12,000 grant for a Clark Nature Center Natural Resource Management Plan from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society “tree-vitalization” program. A contract has been signed with the Heritage Conservancy to develop the management plan, which will be used by the Horticultural Society as a model for other municipalities for natural resource management. At Mr. Schenkman’s request, Mr. Levine agreed to notify the Board through Mr. Boyle when the Heritage Conservancy is on site. He said that he believes Mr. Boyle might already have the specific dates.
Land Development Projects
Conditional Use – Goodnoe Tract – Eagle Road: Mr. Beckert entered the following exhibits:
Mr. Beckert said that the applicant’s attorney, Ed Murphy, has requested that this application be continued.
Mr. Weaver moved to continue the conditional use application of Goodnoe Tract to July 11, 2007. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Reports of Officials
Chairman: Mrs. Goren said that there would be an executive session to discuss personnel matters.
Manager: Mr. Boyle reported that there had been some damage to Verizon lines at Sycamore Street and Durham Road. If any residents are experiencing problems, please contact Joe Deery at 215-364-6206. The number also appears on the Township Web site.
Solicitor: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize advertisement of the Joint Municipal Ordinance enactment. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of Motion: Mr. Beckert explained that there have been recent challenges to zoning ordinances in other Pennsylvania municipalities for procedural errors made at enactment of the ordinances or amendments. There is no statute of limitations for procedural errors. Although the solicitors of the Jointure are not aware of any procedural errors occurring during the enactment of the JMZO of 1983, or of its amendments, the Jointure Solicitor has recommended that the JMZO of 1983 and its amendments through December 18, 2006, be re-adopted as JMZO 2006. This is a cost effective way to insure that no challenges are made suggesting a procedural error. There have been no substantive changes to the Ordinance.
Mr. Schenkman expressed some concern that this could affect pending challenges.
Mr. Beckert said that the re-adoption would not affect the Holt challenge, which is already underway; there are no other challenges pending in the Jointure.
The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Beckert reported that a meeting had been held with representatives of the Township and representatives of Robert Shasha regarding various issues at Village at Newtown South. There are forty reserve parking spaces which were to be built behind the storefront area. Mr. Shasha has requested his engineers to prepare an alternate reserve parking plan utilizing green space between the Farmers Market and the new retail building (Petsmart). This parking area has approximately the same dimension of impervious surface area as the area in reserve for the forty parking spaces and therefore can be built without variances. However the new area only contains eighteen parking spaces, but those spaces are in an area in which parking is more in demand and would be more accessible to the public. If the Board were to request both parking plans, some relief would be needed for impervious surface. Because the detention basin is not yet completed there can be some adjustment made.
Mr. Jirele said that the eighteen spaces would be very helpful, but he was reluctant to give up the reserve that is currently held in green.
Mr. Schenkman expressed some concern that the parking difficulties near LaStalla would not be addressed. The outdoor area is larger than had been anticipated, and LaStalla’s conditional use needs to be re-evaluated and valet parking still need to be addressed.
Mr. Beckert said that the Zoning Officer has cited LaStalla for seating in excess of the conditional use. An appeal has been filed, which stays the citation.
The Board agreed to withhold decision on parking until the amended conditional use hearing.
Mr. Beckert reviewed the Zoning Hearing Board applications. He reminded the Board that because of the primary election, the Planning Commission did not review the applications. No members had contacted him with any particular concerns.
Regarding the application of James and Darla McLaughlin for subdivision of 174 Durham Road, Mr. Beckert reported that the adjoining property owner has objected, because the property had been previously subdivided. The attorney for the applicant has indicated that the applicant will seek a continuance.
Tricia McLaughlin of Newtown Veterinary Hospital, LLC, 107 Penns Trail, was in attendance to discuss the hospital’s planned relocation from 671 Newtown Yardley Road to a larger space. The Ordinance requires 99 parking spaces. The applicant is seeking relief to provide 54 parking spaces, 40 of which would be 9 feet by 18 feet. Ms. McLaughlin said that the hospital would not need 99 spaces, as all hours are by appointment. In response to Mrs. Goren’s questions, Ms. McLaughlin said that the practice is not expanding, but is adding additional treatment rooms. There are currently 14 spaces for visitors, 9 for employees plus 8 additional spaces in gravel. There are six veterinarians on staff. The staff has counted no more than 24 occupied parking spaces at any given time. The staff of thirty work in two shifts. The hospital has been in the current location for 49 years.
Mr. Jirele said that he would be in support of the variance to reduce the number of parking spaces, but has concerns about reducing the stall size because the visitors are bringing animals to the location and need room to maneuver the animals in and out of the cars safely. He briefly discussed limiting the smaller spaces to an employee area, only.
The Board agreed that, since Mr. Beckert will be in attendance at the Zoning Hearing Board meeting, he should indicate to Mr. Solomon the Board’s concerns about the reduced size stalls.
Mr. Jirele moved to authorize the Solicitor to express the Board’s support of the application to reduce the number of parking spaces needed, provided any reduced spaces are for employee use only. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
In the application of Bright Future, LLC, 18 Richboro Road, Mr. Beckert explained that the applicant is appealing the action of the zoning officer, and in the alternative, seeking a variance for a C-3 Commercial School. He said that the applicant has a business that involves an exchange of written materials and critique of work done at home, not classroom instruction. A commercial school is not a permitted use in the CC zoning district. A variance would be needed if the Zoning Hearing Board were to determine that the use is a commercial school and not a retail business, as claimed by the applicant.
Mr. Schenkman said that the application gives no indication of the number of students or exactly what is happening at the location. He suggested inviting the applicant to a work session.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board should support the actions of the Zoning Officer, but that the Zoning Hearing Board can make determinations as to variances.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize the Solicitor to support the actions of the Zoning Officer, however use and parking variances should be left to the Zoning Hearing Board. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Engineer: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize signing of Mylars and improvement agreement for 660 Tudor Square, Phase 3. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize signing of Mylars for Goodnoe’s Corner. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mrs. Goren abstaining.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize signing of Mylars for Lewis, 46 Maple Lane. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize signing of Mylars for Friends Lane Commons, 121 Friends Lane. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize a resolution on sewage facility planning modules for Brookshire Estates. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release totaling $146,586.14 for The Villas at Newtown. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release totaling $115,251.57 for Penns Terrace Office Park. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Public Comment: Resident Dennis Fisher thanked Mr. Jirele for his support in discussions with PennDOT on the Swamp Road improvement project. He said that residents are very concerned about safety in the Swamp Road area.
In response to Mr. Fisher’s questions, Mrs. Goren said that a regional traffic meeting is scheduled for May 30 in Upper Makefield. She asked Mr. Boyle to follow up on a meeting for Newtown.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh briefly noted a recent article in the Bucks County Courier Times about the regional traffic meeting. He said that the Planning Commission had voted to recommend to the Supervisors that the Township Traffic Engineer review PennDOT plans and represent Newtown’s interests in regional and Swamp Road Improvement meetings.
Mrs. Hibbs said that the streetlights on Sycamore Street in front of the former Goodnoe Restaurant property are in the middle of the sidewalk. This property is not slated for a shopping center with store entrances along Sycamore Street, and the streetlights will prevent wheelchair bound people from using the handicapped designated on-street parking spaces.
Mr. Jirele said that he thought that the developer had intended to widen the sidewalk in front of the businesses.
Mr. Schenkman said that this concern should be discussed with the developer, noting that handicapped accessibility is a requirement.
Mr. Beckert noted that an executive session is needed for matters of personnel, real estate and litigation.
The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM.