Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Minutes of September 17, 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

Call to Order: Mrs. Goren called the meeting to order at 8:07 pm.

Proposed revision to the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance relating to the requirement to provide a Historic Resources Impact Study

Mr. Beckert reported that the Joint Historic Commission has made the appropriate classifications in accord with the ordinance and are re-examining the classifications on a site by site basis. He asked if the Board wished to add any amendments to the draft attached to his Solicitors letter dated 9/12/07, or if he should present the draft ordinance at the next Board meeting for authorization. He noted that Wrightstown Township is looking favorably on the ordinance.

Mr. Beckert noted that under the ordinance, if a developer proposes demolitions, studies would be required to show a structure needed to be demolished. Mrs. Goren voiced a concern that demolition could be delayed but not prohibited; Mr. Beckert said the state Supreme Court has ruled that when a joint historic commission has classified resources appropriately, historic resources can be protected. It was clarified that a developer would be required to classify resources with a certified appraiser as a condition of the application for development. Mr. Jirele suggested that an expert from the township, possibly from the Joint Historic Commission, should review the developer’s assessment.

It was noted that the classifications would go on the township inventory and map resources. It was clarified that no arbitration clauses were necessary, as the ordinance would be part of land development.

It was the consensus of the Board that Mr. Beckert move the issue forward.

Ms. Crescenzo suggested that citizens have the opportunity to speak with the township regarding preservation of historic properties and structures. Mr. Beckert noted that residents could check the classification of sites on the township zoning maps and could contact the Joint Historic Commission for information. He said that an historic district is comprised of contiguous properties, but that an historic overlay would identify houses not contiguous; if houses/properties were identified by the Joint Historic Commission they could be protected.

Proposed draft of an Agreement of Sale between Newtown Township and Elliott Builders/Bankruptcy Trustee regarding the Acme site

Mr. Beckert cited the redrafted agreement from the bankruptcy counsel for Elliott Builders, which encompasses the changes requested by the township. He noted that bankruptcy could null/void previous agreements with the township; many Elliott properties will be auctioned and this property may be excluded. Mr. Beckert said that the township could push to enforce the development agreement. It was clarified that the township would need to own the Acme site before demolition of the old Acme building could take place.

It was the consensus of the Board to move forward with the issue. Mr. Beckert will bring the formal draft to the Board.

Motion to authorize Township Solicitor to act on behalf of the Township regarding the Gigliotti Avignon Appeal

Ms. Crescenzo stated that she felt the project was ill conceived and the developer had not met the necessary requirements. Mr. Schenkman noted that the development has changed hands and plans have been revised; he suggested that requiring an environmental impact study might be a way to avoid environmental issues late in a project. Mr. Jirele suggested the study should be done by the Planning Commission. Mr. Calabro suggested that the Environmental Advisory Council review developments. Mr. Beckert said that clear standards were needed. He said that the zoning ordinance defines wetlands and floodplains and that these physical areas to be clearly defined, with citations referencing ordinances and statutes. Mr. Schenkman suggested that the engineer be asked to review floodplains and wetlands; Mr. Beckert noted that there must be a clear basis for the classification of such areas. Mr. Schenkman suggested the township take a proactive approach and make its own map.

Mr. Schenkman said he would like to see what other municipalities are doing, and to see if the EAC and township engineers have the expertise required to evaluate a development environmentally. Mr. Beckert clarified that the township was neutral to involvement by interested parties in this matter.

Mr. Dennis Fisher said the EAC has a tool to assess environmentally sensitive issues; Mr. Schenkman said he would like to know how the tool was developed and if it would hold up legally. Ms. Crescenzo noted the expertise of EAC Board members and invited the Board to attend an EAC meeting. She noted there are two vacant positions on the EAC and urged the Board to fill the positions promptly.

Mr. Jirele made a motion to authorize the township solicitor to support the township decision to deny the application for final land development for the Gigliotti development. Mr. Schenkman seconded the motion, which was passed 3-2.

 Brookshire Estates – Phase II – Intergovernmental Agreement between Newtown Township and Lower Makefield Township

Mr. Beckert reviewed the portions of the draft agreement prepared by the township solicitor of Lower Makefield Township regarding Brookshire Estates, Phase II, relative to the extension of water and sewer service, maintenance of the storm sewer facilities and roadway, and the apportionment of park & recreation and traffic impact fees. Mr. Beckert said he assumed the position of the Board was the same as in the preliminary land development approval. Mr. Schenkman said the maintenance and fees should be negotiable. It was the consensus of the Board that Newtown Township should receive all the traffic impact fees, as the traffic from the development would exit onto the Newtown Township road system. Mr. Jirele said that Lower Makefield should be propelling the issue.

2009 Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) submission to the State Transportation System

Ms. Goren cited the 2009 Transportation Program Project Abstracts that were to be submitted to the State Transportation Committee by September 23, 2007. Ms. Goren reviewed the proposed improvements to Stoopville Road and clarified that the TIP submission includes application for funding of the project.

Ms. Crescenzo suggested that if the township was serious about the Newtown Rail Line that it should begin planning; she suggested putting a Park & Ride in the proposed rail line location and look at in & out traffic and parking. Ms. Goren clarified that George School owns the majority of the property in question. In response to Ms. Crescenzo’s question about the township’s seriousness about the project, Ms. Goren noted that in 1994 the township zoned the area for a railway station; her concern is about possible developers of the site and she would like to see development that would allow the rail line. It was suggested that the issue could be discussed with a future developer. It was noted that inclusion on the TIP list indicates interest, and that putting a project on the list is the usual process to pursue funding.

Ms. Crescenzo asked if the Board had investigated the feasibility and possibility of development of the rail line. Ms. Goren noted that the property is privately held and the transportation authority is involved. She said if the rail line were taken off the TIP list it would indicate that Newtown was no longer interested in the railroad. Mr. Jirele said the township should not spend money now to study the issue or develop a Park & Ride if the item was just on the list to indicate interest. Mr. Schenkman noted that other projects on the list were of higher priority and having the rail line on the list would not preclude other uses for the property. Mr. Schenkman said that, as George School moves forward, he would like to be involved in discussions about how the property might be most fully developed.

Community Comment – None.

Old Business - None.

Traffic concerns

Mr. Schenkman noted the upcoming Traffic Task Force meeting on Thursday, September 20 th, and expressed concern that the Board has not sufficiently discussed traffic issues to submit comments on the draft of the regional traffic study to the DVRPC at that meeting. The Board felt further discussion was warranted, as traffic issues are important to the township; Ms. Goren suggested that the next regular Board meeting on September 26 th would provide a good opportunity to hear public comment, particularly since PennDOT would be present.

Mr. Schenkman made a motion to request a 45 day extension to submit comments to the DVRPC regarding the draft report of the regional traffic study. Mr. Weaver seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved 5-0 by the Board.

Ms. Goren noted that she has received many emails regarding speeding on Swamp Road and Stoopville Road. Mr. Jirele said the answer was to have enforcement every day for an extended period. Ms. Crescenzo suggested the use of cameras to record traffic, as in some other municipalities.

Ms. Goren said that at the September 26 Board meeting, PennDOT would make a presentation, there would be time for public comment, then Board members would comment. She suggested that a representative for a group of citizens could present opinion at the meeting. Mr. Boyle noted that the township had begun working on the September 26 th televised meeting in April; presenters will include Jerry Coyne from DVRPC; township traffic engineer Matt Johnston; Gilmore Engineering on the Stoopville project; and PennDOT on the Swamp Road project. Presentations will be following by a question and answer period. Mr. Boyle said the police have met with the Swamp Road citizen group and could also meet with the Stoopville citizen group; he could facilitate further meetings.

Without objection, the Board adjourned at 9:30pm to executive session and did not come back in session.


Respectfully Submitted:
Leslie Dunleavy, Recording Secretary


John Boyle, Acting Township Manager

Anne Goren, Chairman

Phillip Calabro, Vice-Chairman

Jerry Schenkman, Secretary/Treasurer

Thomas Jirele, Member

Richard Weaver, Member