Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Minutes of August 13, 2007

 

Members present: Chairman Ann Goren, Vice Chairman Philip Calabro, Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman, Members Richard Weaver and Thomas Jirele.

Also Present: Township Solicitor Paul Beckert, Township Manager John Boyle and Township Traffic Engineer Matthew Johnson.

Call to Order: Mrs. Goren called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. She announced that the Board had met in executive session to discuss matters of personnel and litigation.

2009 TIP: Mr. Johnson presented a draft narrative for presentation at the Pennsylvania Transportation Commission public hearing on August 16, 2007. This narrative outlines the four TIP projects to be presented:

  1. Newtown Business Commons Access Improvements
  2. Stoopville Road Rehabilitation
  3. Newtown Township Recreational Trail #2
  4. Newtown Rail Line

Mr. Johnson explained that the TIP is reviewed every two years and presented to the state for possible funding. The projects proposed forecast needs for the next 12 years, with requests balanced with anticipated funding.

Regarding item #3, the recreational trail would be extended from Tyler Park at Schofield Bridge, through Bucks County Community College property to Swamp Road. Plans for the Swamp Road improvement project were requested at the last open house. Mr. Johnson said that some of the pedestrian accommodation could be incorporated into the Swamp Road project.

The Planning Commission has recommended that a Township representative accompany the Traffic Engineer to the August 16 oral presentation meeting. Mrs. Goren said that she would be interested in attending and representing the Township. She asked that item #4 be looked at more carefully, as the cost estimate is $50,000,000. That cost could be reduced with use of dual mode locomotives. There is land near the Bypass zoned for railroad station and parking.

Mr. Schenkman asked that reference to the Gilmore & Associates report on traffic calming be included in the testimony on Stoopville Road rehabilitation, as well as information about possible federal contributions if the National Veterans Cemetery moves forward.

The Board also discussed including some traffic calming for Swamp Road, if PennDOT would consider it.

Resident Nancy Crescenzo said that enforcement of existing speed limits could help greatly with traffic calming on Stoopville and Swamp Roads. She noted that Gilmore & Associates has recommended forming a traffic advisory committee.

Mr. Schenkman said that recent meetings with police have focused on traffic enforcement.

Mrs. Goren noted that there had been a traffic advisory committee at one time, but its function has been incorporated into the Planning Commission. The Township Traffic Engineer meets monthly with the Planning Commission.

Resident Moe Sood requested that the Transportation Commission testimony be made public.

Mrs. Goren agreed to post the testimony on the Township Web site when it has been finalized. That testimony is to be submitted in written form on September 23.

Resident Jim Ott, 271 Stoopville Road, said that cars travel on Stoopville Road in front of his house at speeds of 50 MPH. He requested that the speed board be used more frequently along Stoopville Road.

In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Boyle said that he would report on the use of the speed board. He will be meeting with Chief Duffy this week to discuss traffic enforcement. They are considering some community outreach programs.

In response to questions from Mrs. Crescenzo, Mr. Jirele said that there is a RUSH bus providing a link between Newtown and the SEPTA rail station at Woodbourne Road. There have been assurances from the Community College that if a trail is built linking Swamp Road, the Community College and Tyler Park, the public will be provided access to some of the College’s parking.

Rosebank Winery Sketch Plan – 258 Durham Road: Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant. He presented a concept plan for a permanent addition to the existing barn to hold indoor functions. The existing building would continue to serve for smaller events and wine production. The proposed addition would be 5230 square feet, and could accommodate 250 people. The tent would be eliminated. No food preparation would take place on premises, and outdoor music would be eliminated. Because of sight distances, the applicant is suggesting possibly relocating and widening the driveway entrance. Discussions have taken place with the Park and Recreation Board about bringing public sewer to the Winery when it is brought to the Woll tract. The Sewer Authority has been contacted and has confirmed this. The new addition will match the existing barn architecturally; no other changes are anticipated.

Mr. Marshall reviewed the existing facilities, which include a frame building used for bottling, retail and storage, and hosting of small events. The existing barn’s second floor will be used for wine promotional events. The first floor is for wine production. The existing house is the Fleming family home. There are two non-conforming residential units, an agricultural building, storage shed and sheep shed. The parking area will remain the same. Impervious surface would be slightly reduced. The applicant will not seek any changes to the stipulation agreement.

The Board expressed support for moving all activities indoors, eliminating noise problems. They did express some concern about lighting.

Mr. Fleming said that lights affixed to the barn light the parking area when needed. This would continue; not additional lighting is planned.

In response to Mr. Beckert’s questions, Mr. Marshall said that there are no Board of Health issues. Outside catering is used. Restroom facilities are provided by portable trailers. The new addition would have restrooms. Temporary septic tanks would be used until the sewer system is brought to the property. Extensive water testing is done because of wine production. Nothing about the use is inconsistent with existing or proposed ordinances.

In response to questions from Mrs. Crescenzo, Mr. Fleming said that he cannot sell liquor, only his own wine. At events, hosts are permitted to bring and serve their own liquor. There are never simultaneous events held; there are never more than 250 people at events.

Toll-Melsky Subdivision Plan – Newtown Township: Attorney Ed Murphy, representing the applicant, reviewed a site plan for the Melsky property in conjunction with the Federal Veterans Cemetery. The Melsky property is 134 acres, 94 of which are to be sold to Toll Brothers, 40 to Leo Holt by Council Rock School District. This plan had been presented last fall, showing 45 houses on the Upper Makefield portion of the property and 45 in Newtown. Access to the development is on Stoopville Road. The homes will be on ½ acre lots. The Newtown homes will have public water and sewer. The plans have been coordinated with Upper Makefield to meet requirements of both Newtown and Upper Makefield. The Newtown Trail will extend along the frontage. The only streetlights will be at the entrance. The plans have been filed with Newtown and Upper Makefield, and will be reviewed in September by the Newtown Township Planning Commission and by Upper Makefield’s Planning Commission on August 30. In Upper Makefield, plans for the White tract will be reviewed at the same time as these.

In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Murphy said that the VA has been kept informed of all plans. In this plan, no portion of any lot is located in both Townships; lot lines are along municipal lines. There are a total of 90 homes, and there are no zoning, water or sewer issues. Public Works has been consulted on roads and cul-de-sacs.

Regarding the 40 acres to be sold to Leo Holt, the School District has sought Court approval for the sale. Once sold, the property will be privately owned with a conservation easement; it will remain permanently as open space.

In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Murphy said that the footpath shown on the plan had been at the suggestion of the Board as pedestrian access to the 40-acre parcel when it was expected to have been a school. It would no longer be needed.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that this development of 90 homes will burden the Council Rock School District with many more students. A new school will be needed.

Mr. Ott expressed concern that the road improvements associated with this development and with the cemetery might be part of a northern bypass. He noted that there has been a marked increase in traffic along Stoopville Road; in 1988, 2500 cars per day were on the road and now that number is up to 8200.

Mrs. Goren said that the cemetery will occupy 200 acres, which could have been developed a residential, and it is expected that with the cemetery there will be $2,000,000 from the Federal government for traffic calming.

Mr. Murphy said that it is his understanding that Congressman Patrick Murphy is committed to allocating Federal funds, as was former Congressman Fitzpatrick.

In response to comments from Mr. Ott, Mr. Johnson said that Stoopville Road has been upgraded to an urban collector road.

Mr. Murphy and Mr. Ott discussed the possibility of reducing or relocating the ultimate right-of-way so that it is farther to the north. Mr. Murphy said that he would attempt to accommodate Mr. Ott’s request, but there could be some issue at the portion of the road at Millstone Drive. He advised Mr. Ott to contact the water company about tying into the public water that is being brought to the development.

Mr. Sensibaugh asked about other plans for development that have been submitted to Upper Makefield.

Mr. Murphy said that once the Melsky tract sale has been approved, Toll Brothers will sell to the VA and withdraw other plans under consideration.

Gene Lorenzetti – Route 413/Eagle Road – Redevelopment Plans: Attorney Ed Murphy represented Gene Lorenzetti. Mr. Murphy reminded the Board that at previous meetings there had been discussion of redeveloping the parcels as age-qualified housing or as some other use. The eight parcels, which includes the Goldberger/Kelly property, are zoned R-1. Without the Goldberger/Kelly property, the parcels total 9.5 acres. In considering other possible uses for the property, the applicant has developed an alternate plan for a Sunrise Assisted Living facility. This facility would have 76 assisted living units and 80 independent living apartments. The average resident of the assisted living facility is female between 82 and 84 years old; the independent living residents are primarily female and between 77 and 80 years old. He noted that Abington Jr. High School has been converted to a Sunrise facility. The plans show a right in/right out entrance on Rte 413 and a full entrance on Eagle Road. There would be 60% open space. The plan is being presented to gauge the Board’s and the public’s opinion

Mr. Lorenzetti said that he has spoken to the Cliveden and Tyler Walk Homeowners Associations, who expressed concern about lighting and traffic. Although traffic studies have not been done, he estimated that there would be very little traffic with the Sunrise development, much less than with the age-qualified townhomes. There would be a total of 156 units. Most traffic would be staff, as most residents do not drive, and do not have frequent visitors. Mr. Lorenzetti showed a sketch of the proposed facility, noting that it would be a three-story building. The facilities draw tenants from the immediate area, and are priced at market rate for studios and one bedroom units. There is a similar facility under construction at Township Line and Langhorne Yardley Road. This would be assisted living, with a staff to help residents with medications, meals, bathing, etc, but no medical doctors on premises. A transportation van is provided for residents.

In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Murphy and Mr. Lorenzetti said that a by-right plan would have 7 to 12 single family houses and to be economically viable would have to be priced in the million dollar range. The townhome plan would be more in keeping with the density of surrounding developments at Cliveden, Overlook and Tyler Walk.

In response to Mr. Calabro’s questions, Mr. Murphy said that about 25% of residents at Sunrise would probably be Alzheimer’s patients. The building would be close to the road, as are other Sunrise facilities.

In response to Mr. Sensibaugh’s question, Mr. Murphy said that some zoning relief would be needed for the Sunrise project.

Mr. Jirele said that he thought that the townhome plan could be minimized to reduce density, so that less zoning relief would be needed.

Resident Fran Poole, President of Cliveden Homeowners Association, said that Cliveden residents had been opposed to commercial development of the property. The Sunrise plan is new, and he has not had an opportunity to discuss this with many neighbors. He, and the few neighbors he has spoken to, are opposed to the Sunrise plan because of traffic safety and lighting issues. He would continue to speak to Cliveden residents about the assisted living proposal.

Mr. Murphy again spoke about the very low traffic impact if an assisted living facility were to locate on the property. He offered to arrange a meeting with homeowners and representatives of Sunrise.

Mr. Murphy said that Mr. Lorenzetti is not planning to purchase Drs. Goldberger and Kelly’s property; the assisted living facility would have a shared entrance with that property, so it has been included in the sketch. It might be possible to develop a plan with a mix of age qualified townhomes and single family homes similar to Flowers Mill. The townhomes would probably be priced in the $5-600,000 price range.

Resident Mike Horan asked about stormwater management and traffic, as he lives on Eagle Road. He said that he prefers the assisted living plan.

Mr. Murphy said that stormwater would be self-contained.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that the assisted living plan would not have the same traffic impact; not many residents would drive and there unfortunately might not be many visitors. The age qualified housing, for those 55 and over, would probably attract families with two cars. She asked about sidewalks and buffering.

Mr. Schenkman expressed support for the assisted living facility, as an economically viable project that would provide a valuable service to our senior citizens. It would also generate less traffic.

Mrs. Goren asked for traffic data for both plans.

In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Murphy said that Sunrise prefers building its facilities close to the street. He briefly discussed a full entrance a Durham Road, but noted that it is a much busier street than Eagle Road, with more traffic traveling at higher speed. It would be too dangerous to allow a left turn from an exit there.

Rock Softball League – Field Lighting – Helen Randle Park: Pat Cawley and Joseph Garvey were in attendance to request permission to install field lighting on field 3 of Helen Randle Park for girls softball. The league is rapidly growing, with over 400 girls on 32 teams, including a travel team for older girls. In order to remain competitive, the organization would like to field a fall ball league and host tournaments. They have recently hosted a tournament and an event featuring the Women’s Olympic Softball Team, as well as a softball camp. All of these activities have been taking place on 3.5 fields. The use of field lighting would extend the playing day, especially in the fall, allowing for more practices and fall early evening games.

Rock Softball would like to purchase and install Musco Total Control Lighting on field 3. The League would assume all costs for purchase and installation. Mr. Garvey provided specs for the proposed Musco lighting. The Rock organization has worked hard to maintain and improve facilities at Helen Randle and will continue to do so. The League has also discussed the possible swap of certain fields with boys Little League at the Woll tract when it comes on line, making Helen Randle the home for Rock softball.

Mr. Garvey said that he has met with the Park and Recreation Board and there are no objections to this proposal. The new lighting is better at controlling spillage and glare, and Musco has indicated that the lighted fields will be much less intrusive than the Community College’s lights. There have been no objections from adjoining neighbors, as the field chosen is in the center of the park, far from any houses. The lights will be aimed onto the field and toward Swamp Road, not toward any residential properties.

Mr. Schenkman pointed out that this evening’s meeting is informational, only. The Board would not make a decision on the field lighting. He asked about enrollment in the league.

Mr. Garvey indicated that the current enrollment is 400 girls, but if there was more field availability that number could double. In order to stay competitive and to be considered for hosting ASA tournaments, lights are necessary. In response to Mrs. Goren’s questions, Mr. Garvey said that the League would pay for purchase but that the Township would be responsible for electricity. He did not know the costs, but believed Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director, had this information.

In response to questions about fundraising, Mr. Garvey said that the League would like to offer sponsorships. He noted that the program has been very successful bringing scholarship opportunities to the girls.

Mr. Jirele expressed some concern about sponsorship and display of signage on field fencing. He questioned whether Rock softball would still want a lighted field at the Woll tract.

Mr. Garvey said that the girls would want to have lights at Helen Randle Park as soon as possible. They would follow Board direction as to girls softball at the Woll tract.

Mr. Weaver said that he had attended the recent tournament with the Olympic team, and was very impressed with the wonderful organization, which provides many opportunities for girls. He agreed that field 3 would be the least obtrusive location for lighting.

Mr. Sood said that he, and other residents of Colonial Commons, are opposed to lighted fields at Helen Randle Park. He questioned the size of light fixtures, the use of banners and the number of cars expected during a tournament.

Mr. Garvey said that the lights are on 60 foot poles. Banners of sponsors are affixed to fences during the season, then removed. Tournaments bring about 200 cars to the park. Township approval is needed for hosting of tournaments. The Community College provided some overflow parking for a recent event.

Mr. Jirele said that he is not in favor of lighted fields at Helen Randle Park. He has heard that surrounding neighbors do not oppose the lights, but would like written confirmation. He also had some concern that the boys’ teams would also want lights at fields at Chandler.

Resident James Robb of Colonial Commons said that he is opposed to field lights, because of the light and the noise continuing into the evening. He said that longer park hours will contribute to additional trash problems. He complained that at a recent event, the park was closed to residents and only those who bought a $20 ticket were permitted into the park. He asked whether the Woll tract is making progress toward completion.

Resident Carl Carter echoed Mr. Robb’s sentiments, and noted that the park must close at sunset according to an ordinance.

Mr. Cawley responded that teams play until about 8:30 in the summer. With lights, they could continue until about 9:30. In the fall, practices could extend beyond early evening, but not into the night, since the teams are made up of school children. The League has made, and will continue to make, every effort to remove trash and keep the park clean. After the last tournament, trash was picked up on Monday morning. This presentation is to discuss lights, but the League would be obliged to obey any ordinance requiring the park to close.

Mr. Garvey provided the residents in attendance with the specs for the lights and asked that they review them. He noted again that field #3 is in the center of the park, and farthest from any residences.

Mr. Jirele spoke briefly about plans for the Woll tract, which has been engineered, and is being reviewed by the Township’s consultants. It will be before the Planning Commission shortly for review, then before the Board of Supervisors.

After some further discussion, Mrs. Goren asked Mr. Garvey and Mr. Cawley to return with more specific information about pole heights, sight distances, and other information, as well as some information on electricity and maintenance costs.

Mr. Sensibaugh suggested that the Park and Recreation Board and Planning Commission formally review this request.

Mr. Garvey said that he had spoken to the Park and Recreation Board years ago and been advised to come to the Board of Supervisors.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that she had attended a Park and Recreation Board meeting at which the a sales representative said that the Musco lights require 70 foot poles. She noted that the Township Comprehensive Plan refers to only the Woll tract for lighted fields, and asked where the Comprehensive Plan for Helen Randle Park is. She noted the electric bill for the fountain in Silver Lake as being high, and speculated that lighting sports fields would be expensive. She also expressed concern for increased traffic when events are held in the park.

Resident Ethel Hibbs said that there might be agreements with Homeowners Associations guaranteeing that the park would not have lights.

Mr. Calabro suggested that the Solicitor research whether lights would be permitted at all in the park, and whether there are any agreements with Homeowners Associations stating that the park would not have lights on fields.

Solicitor’s Report

Zoning of Woll Tract from POS to EIR: Mr. Beckert explained that a large portion of the Woll tract is currently zoned POS, and that the Park and Recreation Board is requesting that the zoning be changed to EIR, Educational, Institutional, Recreational, in order to accommodate the needed impervious surface for parking. EIR zoning has recreational facility, use C-5, as a use by right, and has an impervious surface ratio of 35%. He asked that, if the Board is of a mind to proceed, a motion to that effect would be necessary in order to allow the matter to be forwarded to the Jointure for the review process to begin.

Mr. Jirele expressed some concern about plans for a park that is too intense for park zoning. He questioned the current zoning of Helen Randle Park. He also expressed some concern about taking a vote on a zoning matter during a work session.

Mr. Beckert said that the Park and Open Space, POS zoning, is for passive recreation, and has a very small ratio of impervious surface. While use C-5 is permitted in the POS zoning district, the Park and Recreation Board has made this request in order to accommodate parking.

Mrs. Goren said that the Board has already approved the sketch plan for this park and this is the first step in rezoning. It is a chance to ask Jointure members for input, as it might be appropriate to update the zoning as passive open space becomes active recreational space.

Mr. Weaver agreed with Mrs. Goren and noted that the proposed parking will also alleviate some congestion along Wrights Road.

Mr. Schenkman agreed that the process should begin with forwarding the request to the Jointure for comment.

Mr. Weaver moved to forward to the Jointure a request to rezone the POS zoned Woll tract to EIR zoning. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mrs. Crescenzo objected to a vote being taken at an un-televised work session.

Mr. Jirele said that this request would go to the Jointure as a request from Newtown Township. He said that he objects to the vote being taken, and to the rezoning. He said that the Board had never voted on the Woll tract.

Mrs. Goren disagreed, noting that the Board has voted on the concept of changing the Woll tract from passive to active use, and has authorized engineering of the project. She would like a vote to move the rezoning request forward. There would be ample opportunity for public discussion at future meetings.

Resident Marty Siler of Eagle Road said that the plans are for more much more than a park; they are for a sports complex. This is a very intense use, bringing noise and light into the night, changing the quality of life of nearby residents.

Resident Paul Furlong of Blaze Court asked about plans for berms and buffering between the park and his development.

Mr. Ott asked whether topsoil has been collected for berms in the park.

Mr. Calabro said that topsoil has been moved to the Woll tract and that berms and buffers are planned.

The motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Jirele voting nay.

Joint Historic Commission- SALDO Relating to Demolition by Neglect: Mr. Beckert reported that the Joint Historic Commission had requested the Township to look into the issue of demolition by neglect in light of certain problems it has experienced within the Township and the possibility of a Joint Historic Overlay District. Part of an ordinance requires a classification of historic resources by the Township. The Joint Historic Commission has undertaken classification and is the process of providing an update. Jeff Marshall has been attempting to find a student of the historic preservation program to take photographs, but there is no budget or stipend. The Joint Historic Commission would like some budget help to cover expenses.

Mr. Schenkman said that he would like more detailed information in writing before considering this request. The Board agreed.

Upper Silver Lake Road Status: Mr. Beckert reminded the Board that at the time of final land development approval of Wilshire Walk a condition of approval had been:

“…the closed area of Upper Silver Lake Road will not be vacated; the Township will retain the right-of-way and maintain the barricade; the homeowners association will maintain the landscaping…”

Currently the road’s condition is closed and may at this point be inaccessible to emergency vehicles. As part of approval of the Villas, the developer has agreed, at its cost, to open the road, or to arrange for the road to be in some status for emergency access.

Mr. Beckert asked the Board to consider this matter as an Ordinance clarifying the status of the road and a direction for McGrath is in order. He noted that initially the road had been closed in anticipation of commercial development by Brandywine, and anticipated business traffic.

Mr. Schenkman said that the condition is currently an eyesore and could be dangerous. He asked that the traffic engineer look at this area.

Mr. Jirele agreed that the traffic engineer should evaluate what should be done.

May McNamara of Wilshire Walk said that she and her neighbors would like to see Upper Silver Lake Road open to through traffic.

Mr. Jirele suggested investigating a possible one-way street or right-in/right-out. He suggested that the traffic engineer consider this option.

Reserve Parking at Village at Newtown South: Mr. Beckert said that the shopping center owner is prepared to conclude all site construction and has requested that the Township advise on reserve parking. If both the reserved parking as shown on the approved plan and the proposed additional parking adjacent to Petsmart and the Farmers Market are developed, an impervious surface variance would be needed.

The Board discussed the usefulness of increased parking behind the Farmers Market. There was some discussion about whether parking behind the shops would be used.

Mr. Jirele suggested that some of the less accessible parking could be used by employees and by valets for the two restaurants.

The Board agreed that they would like both areas of reserve parking developed.

Old Business

Mr. Beckert informed the Board that the application to the Zoning Hearing Board by Newtown Artesian seems not to have met with disapproval by neighbors, who initially had concerns about the height of the well. The capped well would be 3 feet high. The Zoning Hearing Board will notify all affected parties by mail prior to the hearing.

Public Comment: Mr. Sensibaugh informed the Board that agreements are in place to have the League of Women Voters moderate a forum of candidates for Township Supervisor in October at the Chancellor Center at Council Rock School District.

Mrs. Crescenzo complained that Mr. Garvey gestured at her surreptitiously during her comments on Rock Softball.

Mrs. Goren asked Mr. Boyle to write to Mr. Garvey reminding them that all comment is to be addressed to the Board at public meetings, and that Board meetings are to be conducted in a civil manner.

The meeting adjourned at 12:10AM

 

Respectfully Submitted:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary

 

Attest:
John Boyle, Acting Township Manager

Anne Goren, Chairman

Phillip Calabro, Vice-Chairman

Jerry Schenkman, Secretary/Treasurer

Thomas Jirele, Member

Richard Weaver, Member