Board of Supervisors
Minutes of October 24, 2007
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, October 24, 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 Member 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.
Invocation: The invocation was given by Reverend Klein of Addisville Reformed Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Boyle informed the Board that adoption of JMZO 2006-05 – Agricultural Accessory has been added to the Solicitor’s Report and that escrow release for Hidden Valley has been added to the Engineer’s Report.
Public Comment: Supervisor candidate Nancy Crescenzo urged the community to vote in the upcoming election. She said that she would be starting a program she is calling “Stamps for Democracy”, to provide postage stamps for armed service members stationed in war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq to send mail back home. Residents wishing to donate stamps should send them to her home at 8 Bridal Rose Court.
Supervisor candidate Dennis Fisher said that he has spoken to many residents who have concerns about the installation of roundabouts on Stoopville Road. He does not support this concept, nor do the residents who live in the Stoopville Road area.
Mrs. Goren said that Gilmore & Associates had suggested the use of roundabouts as a traffic calming measure, but they are very expensive to install, costing as much as $1,000,000. She would rather use other traffic calming methods.
Mr. Schenkman said that the Board has not held a formal discussion of the use of roundabouts, but he did not think there is sufficient support for roundabouts. DVRPC has recommended a roundabout at the Washington Crossing/Stoopville Road intersection, in Lower Makefield, which he does not support; he would prefer an improved intersection with stop signs.
Mr. Weaver said that he agrees with Mr. Schenkman. He has seen more effective traffic calming methods that should be considered for Stoopville Road.
Mr. Calabro said that he would take the concerns of the Stoopville Road residents into consideration when improvements are being considered. He would not support the use of roundabouts.
Mr. Fisher said that he is attempting to bring residents’ concerns to the attention of the Board, and as a candidate for Supervisor he would not be negative in his campaigning.
Mrs. Goren asked that all comments be limited to pertinent Township issues.
Supervisor candidate Mike Gallagher said that he also supports efforts for traffic calming on Stoopville Road. He said that the Swamp Road Residents Group has been meeting with State Senator McIlhinney to discuss their concerns about the PennDOT Swamp Road improvement plans. Through Senator McIlhinney’s efforts the plans have been changed and no longer include widening and straightening the road. These plans are to be announced at a meeting on Friday afternoon.
Mr. Schenkman said that Senator McIlhinney would not speak to him about Swamp Road.
Resident Jeff Duffy asked the Board to support an amendment limiting the use of ATV’s.
Mr. Schenkman said that this is on the agenda for this evening.
Paul Salvatore of Newtown Borough announced that the Newtown Business and Professional Association would host its annual Halloween parade on Saturday morning at 9:15 beginning at the Stockingworks. In the event of rain the parade would take place at the fire house on Washington Avenue. Newtown Rotary is sponsoring upcoming Pedals for Progress, which will collect used bicycles to be shipped to third world countries. Collection will take place on the morning of November 3 at the old St. Andrew’s Preschool on Sycamore Street. Rotary is asking for a $10 donation to cover costs of repairs and shipping. Rotary will be donating a dictionary to every third grade student in Council Rock School District. Saturday night Grace Point Church at Route 532 and Stoopville Road will host a benefit concert for St. Mark’s AME Church. Sister Sledge will be appearing.
Mr. Salvatore asked about a changed speed limit on Newtown Yardley Road.
Mr. Beckert said that the speed limit reduction was part of a recently adopted traffic ordinance. The new 35 MPH speed limit is awaiting installation of new signs.
Supervisor candidate Robert Ciervo thanked the Board for the recently installed sidewalk on South State Street from the Newtown Bypass to the Borough. He asked whether crosswalks could be installed to connect Newtown Gate to the new sidewalk.
Resident Moe Sood offered additional copies of a petition he had submitted to the Board at an earlier meeting in support of traffic calming for Swamp Road.
Mrs. Goren said that the Board had met prior to this evening’s meeting to discuss matters of litigation, land acquisition and personnel.
Mr. Weaver said that on Saturday he had attended a ceremony for Gold Star Families of Bucks County. There are 16 families in Bucks who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a very touching ceremony, the pictures of the fallen Service Members were displayed in the memorial courtyard in front of the County Courthouse.
Mr. Weaver commented that the police report he received this week shows that 78 traffic citations were issued, of which 63% were to residents and 68% were issued on only two roads, Frost Lane and Fountain Farm Lane. He said that the Township hopes to extend Terry Drive in the Newtown Business Commons through to the Bypass, eliminating some cut-through traffic from the Business Commons along Fountain Farm Lane, which is a residential street.
Mr. Schenkman said that there had been some technical difficulties with the sound on the rebroadcast of televised Board meetings. Investigation has revealed faulty Comcast equipment, which has since been replaced. The difficulties were not the fault of Video Gold.
Mr. Schenkman also reported that negotiations are moving forward for a new franchise agreement with Comcast. Outstanding issues should be ironed out for the new contract by the year’s end.
Mr. Calabro reported that he had attended the Newtown Brewfest, sponsored by the JDNC. It was a tremendous success and he congratulated everyone involved for a wonderful event.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mrs. Goren asked that on page 1 of the minutes of October 10, 2007 the last paragraph should read, “concrete curbs and gutters”.
Mr. Weaver moved to accept the minutes of October 10, 2007, as corrected. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $800,515.49. Mr. Weaver seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Weaver noted that the annual contribution to pension funds was a major part of this bills list.
The motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $171,000. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Jay Sensibaugh reported that at the October 16, 2007 meeting the Commission reviewed four Zoning Hearing Board applications. On the KLS Ryan Rite Aid Pharmacy at Goodnoe’s Corner, the Commission did not reach consensus, but wanted the Board to be aware that the three additional signs proposed for the front of the building reading “1 hour photo”, “drive thru” and “food mart” appeared to be advertising, and could set a precedent for other businesses to want similar signage. It was noted that the Commission had recommended that Petsmart not be permitted to have two additional signs advertising services available inside the store. Regarding Penns Trail Storage of Newtown, 104 Penns Trail, the commission did not have comment, provided the applicant moves the fence to prevent parking on grass areas. The Commission had no comment on M&N Homes LP, 136 Hidden Valley Lane and 109 Pheasant Run, LLC (Johnson Kendall Johnson) 109 Pheasant Run.
The Commission reviewed two JMZO amendments. On graphic and video signage the Commission agreed with the Bucks County Planning Commission which felt that this type of signage is inconsistent with the character of the Jointure, and that no Ordinance should be adopted at this time. The Commission asked the Solicitor to convey to the Jointure Solicitor that the concerns about the landscape contractor ordinance might better be addressed in a nuisance ordinance.
The Commission will meet on Tuesday, October 30 at 7:30 PM to review the preliminary/final plans for the Woll tract.
Historical Architectural Review Board: Mr. Weaver moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for Cheryl Lucas, 101 N. Sycamore Street. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Attorney John Coopman, representing Arya Rugs, submitted to the Board copies of proposed blade signs recommended by HARB.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve certificates of appropriateness for 2 signs for Arya Rugs, 159 N. Sycamore Street. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to approve certificates of appropriateness for the Ink Stop, Inc., 260 N. Sycamore Street. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mrs. Goren abstaining.
Mr. Weaver moved to approve certificates of appropriateness for Sweet Pea Creams and Confections, 254 N. Sycamore Street. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mrs. Goren abstaining.
Reports of Officials
Manager: Mr. Boyle presented the opened bids for salt as provided by the Bucks County Consortium. The low bidder is Cargill, Inc, with a cost of $47.42 per ton.
Mr. Weaver moved to accept the salt bid of Cargill, Inc, for salt at $47.42 per ton. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Boyle presented to the Board a request for the use of temporary field lights on the field behind Staples by Upper Makefield Newtown Soccer Association. This request came through Park and Recreation Director Bill Wert, who reported that lights had been used on this field in 2005. There had not been any complaints in 2005. Mr. Wert sent 250 letters to surrounding neighbors advising them that this would be on this evening’s agenda.
Mr. Weaver moved to grant permission to Upper Makefield Newtown Soccer Association to use temporary field lights on the field behind Staples subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman asked whether proof of insurance was required of the Soccer Association.
Mr. Weaver said that the Association is already using the fields, and has provided appropriate documentation to the Park and Recreation Department.
Mr. Weaver amended his motion to add as a fifth condition that the Association provide a certificate of insurance. Mr. Calabro amended his second.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Crescenzo said that this is setting a precedent. Other teams have requested lights at Helen Randle Park and have been rejected. All teams should be treated the same. She expressed concern that the parking lot area will not be lighted and it will be dangerous when the field lights are extinguished. She said that the glare is visible on the Bypass.
Mr. Weaver said that the lights can be adjusted if there is glare on the Bypass. He said that this is a request for temporary lights on short standards, which is very different from the request by Rock Softball to install permanent lights at Helen Randle Park.
Mr. Calabro and Mr. Schenkman both said that this is not setting a precedent for allowing lighting. It is temporary permission and it had been granted in the past. Residents did not complain in 2005, and have been notified of this request and have not objected.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that a policy on field lighting should be in place and adhered to equally for all requests.
Mr. Schenkman said that perhaps a policy should be established, but at this time no policy is in place. It is at the Board’s discretion to review requests on a case-by-case basis. Until a policy is in place, it is safe to review and approve this request.
Mr. Sood said that he is opposed to lighting of fields as it could set a precedent for lights at Helen Randle Park.
The motion passed 4-0.
Solicitor’s Report: Mrs. Goren asked that item 1, a motion to appoint Joseph Czajkowski as Township Manager be tabled as there is not a full Board in attendance.
Mr. Weaver moved to adopt a resolution in support of the Open Space Referendum. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Sensibaugh urged the Board to adopt this resolution. He briefly reviewed the open space already preserved in Newtown Township, which includes 650 acres of State and County property, 271 acres of Township owned property and 1168 acres of open space preserved as part of the development approval process. In response to a question from Mr. Schenkman, Mr. Sensibaugh said that a referendum had failed in the past because there is concern that taxes will increase and the County determines where the land will be preserved. He said that if the referendum passes, he hopes some land in Newtown will be preserved as a result.
Dr. Ciervo said that he supports this resolution and the Open Space Referendum. He said that Newtown has not had success in getting County money in the past, as only the Clark property was funded by the last referendum. Other Township preserved properties were funded over ten years ago.
Mr. Schenkman said that he is aware that there is a concern about raising taxes, and that this referendum will involve a tax increase, but he believes the Township should preserve open space.
Mrs. Goren said that preservation of open space saves money, as it limits development, reducing the strain on roads, schools, emergency services, etc., all of which have a far greater impact on taxes.
The motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt an ordinance revising the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance to require provision of Historic Resources Impact Study. Mr. Weaver seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver moved to adopt an amendment to the Newtown Township Traffic Ordinance to provide a four-way stop sign at the intersection of North Drive and Sequoia Drive. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize advertisement of a proposed ordinance revising the Nuisance Ordinance relating to the operation of all terrain vehicles and dirt bikes and related vehicles declaring certain conduct to be a nuisance. Mr. Weaver seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro asked if this ordinance is similar to one recently passed in Doylestown.
Mr. Beckert said that it is similar; it limits the hours of use of ATV’s and dirt bikes to 7:00AM to 10:00PM, including on private properties. They would not be permitted within 50 feet of adjoining properties and certain sound levels would be set. Maintenance and emergency vehicles are excluded from these provisions. A fine of not more than $1000 is attached to violation of the ordinance.
Mr. Duffy said that he is a resident of Pheasant Point development, and supports the ordinance. He confirmed that use of these vehicles would be prohibited within 50 feet of adjoining properties.
The motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt a resolution to support traffic calming and other traffic safety measures on Swamp Road. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Mr. Calabro said that he is in support of all of the measures advocated in the resolution.
Mr. Schenkman said that the resolution specifically addresses safety issues. It will be attached to the Township’s comments to the DVRPC report at the Traffic Task Force meeting on Oct. 29, 2007. This document brings issues of quality of life to the forefront. The resolution will be shared with other members of the Jointure and of the Traffic Task Force.
Mr. Fisher said that he supports the resolution, which has incorporated the list of suggested measures advocated by Mr. Sood, who had used residents’ input in creating the list. He is particularly in support of a stop sign at the intersection of Twining Bridge Road and Swamp Road and of the lowering of speed limits.
Mr. Sood thanked the Supervisors for the resolution, which incorporates the ideas put forth by the Swamp Road Residents Group.
Sue Herman of Lower Makefield asked whether the Board would also submit written comment on the DVRPC report.
Mr. Schenkman said that a written comment would be submitted, which would include comment on the suggested roundabout at the intersection of Stoopville and Washington Crossing Roads.
Mrs. Herman said that many residents are not happy that the County Commissioners did not comment on the report. She said that she is opposed to a roundabout at Washington Crossing/Stoopville Roads. She thanked candidates Marseglia and Santarsiero for stating a position on the study. She urged residents to attend the Regional Traffic Task Force meeting in Northampton on October 29, 2007.
Resident George van der Horn commended the Board on adopting the resolution which includes quality of life issues as well as the points requested by the residents.
Mrs. Crescenzo asked the Board to conduct neighborhood traffic studies to develop a traffic calming plan and to form a traffic advisory committee, as other areas of the Township need to be addressed.
Resident John D’Aprile said that he is happy to see something being done about traffic safety but he resented the Board’s allowing a non-resident to speak in support of political candidates.
Dr. Ciervo commended the residents who have worked hard to have their concerns addressed by State officials. State Senator McIlhinney has gotten involved on the residents’ behalf.
The motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Beckert reviewed Zoning Hearing Board applications for M&N Homes, 109 Pheasant Run, LLC, Friends Lane, LLC and KLS Ryan LP. The Supervisors had no comment on these applications.
Mr. Beckert advised the Board that an amendment to the JMZO concerning agricultural accessory use has been advertised by the Jointure for adoption. This amendment addresses such uses as roadside stands, retail shops and agricultural entertainment.
Mr. Weaver moved to adopt JMZO 2006-05, Agricultural Accessory Use. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Engineer’s Report: Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release to Village at Newtown South, PNC Bank in the amount of $104,415.53. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release to Villas at Newtown in the amount of $192,312.35. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release to Goodnoe’s Corner in the amount of $28,035. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mrs. Goren abstaining.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release to Delancey Court of Newtown in the amount of $355,572.68. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Weaver moved to authorize escrow release to Hidden Valley, M&N Homes, in the amount of $35,368.30. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Public Comment: Resident Mike Contreras said that, regarding Mrs. Crescenzo’s project to collect “Stamps for Democracy”, through the Congressional Research Service he has confirmed that “members of the armed services engaged in combat or other dangerous activities are permitted to send personal correspondence free of charge to places within the delivery limits of the U.S. post office. This privilege is currently available to those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan…” He resented what he called Mrs. Crescenzo’s “political grandstanding.”
Mr. Schenkman asked that public comment not involve personal attacks.
Mr. Contreras also said that a recently installed crosswalk at Jonquil and Eagle Roads has been ineffective, in that drivers do not stop for pedestrians.
The Supervisors briefly discussed installing standing pedestrian crossing signs in the middle of the street and asked Mr. Boyle to look into this.
Mr. van der Horn asked the Board about whether it would be possible to have a bike path with crosswalk and flashing lights installed between Tyler Walk and Tyler State Park, similar to the crossing between Newtown Crossing and the park.
Mrs. Goren suggested that Mr. van der Horn approach the Planning Commission about this request.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that the trail committee has been absorbed by the Park and Recreation Board as a sub-committee. Trail extensions have been included on the Township’s TIP program. He suggested speaking to the Park and Recreation Board about locations for trail extensions and pedestrian and bike paths.
Mr. D’Aprile said that, as a Vietnam veteran, he resented Mr. Contreras’ criticism of Mrs. Crescenzo’s attempt to do something to support our troops.
Mr. D’Aprile said that he thinks the Board wasted Township money in hiring the engineering firm that recommended roundabouts. He said that plans for traffic calming on Lindenhurst Road will cause further congestion.
Mrs. Herman said that it is her hope that the traffic calming measures on Lindenhurst Road will help reduce speeding.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that she had not intended to appear to be grandstanding when she discussed plans for a postage stamp program for the troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. She said that when mail is sent by the military from these foreign locations, it goes through a military mail system, not the post office of the foreign nation, but once it arrives in this country it goes through our post office to its final destination, for which a U.S. postage stamp is necessary.
Mrs. Goren said that there would be a brief executive session to discuss personnel matters.
The meeting adjourned at 10:15PM.