Board of Supervisors
Minutes of March 26, 2008
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Chairman Thomas Jirele, Vice-Chairman Robert Ciervo, Secretary-Treasurer Michael Gallagher, and Philip Calabro, member. Also present were: Joseph S. Czajkowski, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Call to Order: Chairman Tom Jirele called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence. Pastor Harry Whyte of More View Bible Church gave the invocation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Special Actions: To Honor the late Eleanor Slack Campbell during Women’s History Month, Mr. Jirele presented Mrs. Campbell’s daughter, Jeanne Detmer, with a copy of the plaque that had been placed at the Newtown Presbyterian Church and read a proclamation. Mr. Jirele spoke of Mrs. Campbell’s long dedication to Newtown and to the preservation of its history, as a history teacher in Council Rock, as a historian for the Presbyterian Church and as a founding member of the Historic Architectural Review Board.
Mrs. Detmer thanked Mr. Jirele, noting how very proud her mother would have been with this honor.
Public Comment: Resident Lisa Kruse of 35 Stoopville Road asked for the Board’s support and help in the matter of upholding a 2000 Zoning Hearing Board decision that requires her neighbor to provide at least 388 feet of clear sight distance from Mrs. Kruse’s driveway entrance so that she can safely exit onto Stoopville Road. She stated that here are large trees and shrubs blocking her view of oncoming traffic. In January, 2008, the Codes Officer issued a violation notice, and she asked that this be enforced. She also questioned the difficulty she had in obtaining copies of records of her ongoing discussions with the Township about this matter, noting that her first request was made in December 2007, however the records were not made available until after a second request on March 17 of this year. From these records she referred to measurements of the sight distance as taken by various Township Traffic Engineers over the years, and at no time has there been a clear 388 feet of unobstructed view.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board and Township Manager are attempting to pursue this matter on Mrs. Kruse’s behalf, and would speak with her after the meeting about the status of the ongoing negotiations with the offending neighbor. Mr. Jirele said that the Township would like to resolve this quickly and amicably; to pursue the matter through the courts could take a very long time.
Mrs. Kruse expressed some dismay that the Township did not inform her that negotiations were taking place with her neighbor, and she indicated that she would speak to the Supervisors at the end of this evening’s meeting.
Mr. Gallagher asked Mr. Czajkowski to investigate the delay in providing Mrs. Kruse with copies of her records, as he felt that a three month wait is unacceptable.
Resident Nancy Crescenzo said that she was displeased with discrepancies among the various Township Engineers about Mrs. Kruse’s driveway sight distance.
Resident John D’Aprile said that a Newtown Grant resident had complained about skate boarders to the police, who did not pursue the matter. The police only enforce the “no-skateboarding” ordinances in commercial areas. Mr. D’Aprile also pointed out that skate boarders have no place to go to use their boards.
Mr. Calabro said that he has been speaking with the Township Manager and the police department about this issue and it is being addressed.Resident Randy Beck, President of Newtown Exchange Club, announced an upcoming fundraiser for the Exchange Club and Newtown Theater, a Boldly Bluegrass Concert, to be held at Newtown Theater on April 6, 2008, with a matinee at 2:30 PM and an evening performance at 7:30 PM. For additional information visit either www.boldlybluegrass.com or www.newstownexchangeclub.org or phone 1-800-838-3006.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of March 12, 2008. Mr. Jirele seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo noted that on page 1, Mr. Pasella’s name is misspelled.
Mr. Gallagher amended his motion to accept the minutes as corrected. Mr. Jirele amended his second and the motion passed 4-0.
Bills: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $354,715.85. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Czajkowski explained that bills submitted by former professional consultants, associated with work done on certain developments, are not paid until money has been transferred into escrow accounts. For this reason, bills from prior professional consultants continue to appear. He and Financial Director Elaine Gibbs have discussed this with Mr. Gallagher.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that the current solicitor’s bills are not as high as the past solicitor’s bills had been.
The motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $170,627. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Chairman: Mr. Jirele reported that the Board of Supervisors had met in executive session prior to the start of the meeting to discuss matters of personnel. He also noted that the Board had agreed to continue discussion of the closing or re-opening of Upper Silver Lake Road. A 2001 traffic study has been distributed to the Board and is being reviewed by the Township Traffic Engineer. This item will be placed on the next regular meeting agenda.
Board Members: Dr. Ciervo reported that he recently met with Mr. Dallas and Mr. Errico of the Newtown Fire Association to discuss a master plan and the working relationship with the EMS Department. He noted that the Township contributes $267,000 to the Fire Association each year for the Fire Association’s excellent service.Dr. Ciervo said that he does not believe there is an ordinance specifically prohibiting skateboarding in the Township, although there are ordinances addressing loitering. The Park and Recreation Board has been working on bringing a skate park to Newtown.
Parks and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine reported that he and Susan Sutton have volunteered to represent the Park and Recreation Board on the committee to revise the Open Space Comprehensive Plan. He noted that the Township’s Park and Recreation Director, Bill Wert, is a member of the County Open Space Task Force.
Mr. Levine asked that the Woll Tract be placed on an upcoming work session agenda in order to work out some of the final details for the park. Some as yet unresolved issues include:
Council Rock School District Superintendent Mark Klein, in attendance on another matter, assured Mr. Levine that the District has forwarded its minor modifications to the Wrights Road easement agreement to the Township Solicitor.
Mr. Levine reported that at a recent meeting, a resident had asked the Board to consider building a dog park. The Board will add this to its May agenda, allowing the Board time to learn more about dog parks and to gauge interest among residents.
The Clark Nature Center Resource Management and Stewardship Report, prepared by the Heritage Conservancy and funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has been completed and posted on the Township Web site. The Park and Recreation Board will be reviewing the report and discussing ways of implementing its recommendations over the summer.
The Board has formed a sub-committee to investigate possibly placing some playing fields inside Tyler Park.
The Board will be investigating grant opportunities for updating the Township Park and Recreation Comprehensive Plan.
Mr. Jirele suggested that the Board consider future extensions of the trail system.Mr. Garton noted that Doylestown Borough and Township were recipients of PennDOT funding for trails.
Council Rock High School North - 62 Swamp Road – Natatorium Addition Sketch Plan and Land Development Waiver Request: Thomas Schneider, Supervisor of Operations, and Superintendent Mark Klein were in attendance to present this plan for renovation of the pool, which involves a 2618 square foot addition to the building, renovation to the faculty lockers to accommodate handicapped students participating in adaptive swimming classes, an additional swim lane, and increased depth to the diving tank. Mr. Schneider explained that because there is only one pool in the district, which must serve two high schools and the community, additional swim area is needed. The new lane and diving tank will allow teams to make better use of practice time and open up more area for community swim programs.
The addition would require the removal of 14 parking spaces. Mr. Schneider pointed out the area where the 14 parking spaces would be removed. He noted that the addition would be built on an already paved area, so there is no increase in impervious surface. He noted that the storm drainage system is adequate for this addition.
Mr. Gallagher expressed some concern about the loss of 14 parking spaces and asked that they be relocated elsewhere on the High School property.
Mr. Schneider indicated that the District is creating an existing features plan, and the current impervious surface is about 27% where 35% is permitted, so the 14 spaces can be relocated in an area behind the school. An exact location would be determined after completion of the existing features plan.
Mr. Garton outlined the conditions that had been recommended by the Planning Commission and Mr. Schneider said that the district would agree to these conditions.
Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the request for a waiver of land development for Council Rock High School North for an expansion of the natatorium, use C-2, subject to the following conditions:
Mr. Jirele seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo pointed out that the application indicates that there are 700 parking spaces on site, while the Ordinance requires 1385 parking spaces.
Mr. Schneider said that the Ordinance requires that a space for every employee, plus one for every two students, should be provided. The site is 61.8 acres, with 9 playing fields. Space is very tight. In response to Planning Commission concerns about students parking in the commercial areas near the school, he has investigated, and found that 46 students had parked off-site and walked to school on Monday morning. These students were disbursed throughout the commercial properties. The High School issues 280 parking permits to students. In response to questions from the Board, he said that there is very little room to add more parking, as there are so many playing and practice fields. The fields are already not sufficient for the athletic department, which relies on the use of Township owned fields for some sports.
Mr. Klein said that fewer than half of the students have drivers licenses. The District prefers to encourage those students who do not have parking permits to ride on school buses. The District is very willing to work with the Township and the Police Department on problems with students parking in the commercial district. In response to further suggestions for additional parking, Mr. Klein indicated that the District would cooperate with the Township, as major renovations are planned for District properties in the future.
Resident Sue Beasley complained that there is not enough parking for all students who need to drive to school because of after-school jobs, and she also noted that many students are using spaces in front of the Farmers Market that are needed for Farmers Market customers. She suggested that some field land should be converted to parking.
Mrs. Crescenzo suggested eliminating the High School tennis courts to provide additional parking, and using the Middle School tennis courts for the High School team.
Mr. Klein noted that the Middle School also fields tennis teams and all of the courts are needed.
Mr. D’Aprile urged the District and the Board to resolve the parking issues at the High School.The motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Officials
Manager: Mr. Czajkowski reviewed the Synopsis of the Planning Commission meeting of March 18, 2008, noting the following:
American Cell Tower Agreement: Mr. Czajkowski and Mr. Garton reviewed a proposed amendment to the agreement with American Cell Tower, which currently leases space at the municipal complex. The amendment will extend the term of the lease to June 30, 2036, with rent increases of an additional 5% every 5 years. The Township will place an antenna on the cell tower at no charge, and there will be a $5000 bonus for prompt signing of the agreement.
Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the agreement with American Cell Tower to extend the lease for 4 additional 5 year terms with lease modifications, and to provide a location for a Township antenna for public safety. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Township Municipal Complex: Mr. Czajkowski presented a memo to the Supervisors discussing the financial report of Scott Shearer of PFM Group, regarding bond financing of the proposed municipal complex expansion. The report outlines how various options would affect the tax rate. Mr. Shearer’s report gives information on 25 and 30 year bonds for financing the municipal expansion both with the renovation of the Public Works building for Park and Recreation use and without it. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Czajkowski explained that the bond would include money already borrowed from a line of credit.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board needs to reach a decision on the direction to proceed. He asked that the members plan to discuss the following at the April 14 work session:
Mr. Gallagher said that he had some concerns about increased costs for architectural changes. He asked whether it would be possible to discuss reducing the size, or eliminating certain features with the architect to determine the affect reductions would have on overall costs. He would like more information on the costs of specific components of the plans.
Dr. Ciervo said that an overall reduction in the size of the project would save money.
Mr. Jirele said that the design is workable. He does not want another year to pass without making a decision. He urged the Board to attend the work session prepared to discuss the plans and come to a decision.
Resolution Establishing Preserve America Community Designation: Newtown Corporation Executive Director Chris Ortwein was in attendance to ask the Board to adopt a resolution indicating its commitment to the preservation of the Township’s historic assets. The Preserve America program is an administrative initiative developed in cooperation with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior. It highlights efforts of the President and Mrs. Bush to preserve our national heritage. Newtown Borough and Newtown Township would submit jointly for two separate designations. Newtown qualifies in all categories. This would provide certain grant opportunities to Newtown. The application deadline is June 1, 2008.
Dr. Ciervo moved to adopt Resolution 2008-R-10 establishing Preserve America community designation. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Ordinance to Approve and Authorize the Execution of Cable Agreement between Newtown Township and Comcast: Telecommunications Advisory Committee Chairman Harry Stevens said that the Committee, along with Township Assistant Manager John Boyle and Supervisor Schenkman had met with Brian Jeter of Comcast on March 5, 2008 to review the terms of the agreement. The agreement was drafted with the Cable Consortium, which includes many municipalities in the County. Newtown Borough is also adopting this agreement.
Mr. Gallagher moved to approve and authorize execution of the cable agreement between Newtown Township and Comcast. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Metro at Goodnoe’s Corner: Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt the decision of conditional use approval for Metro at Goodnoe’s Corner. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Cricket Communications: Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt the decision of conditional use approval for Cricket Communications. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0.Zoning Hearing Board Application: Mr. Garton reviewed the application of Dennis and Kathleen Morton, 14 Meridian Circle. The Board had no comment.
Old Business: Mr. Jirele reminded residents that discussion of Upper Silver Lake Road would take place at the next regular meeting on April 9, 2008.
In response to Dr. Ciervo’s question, Traffic Engineer Amy Kaminsky said that survey work on an extension of Terry Drive through to the Newtown Bypass has been completed and submitted to the Township.
Mr. Czajkowski said that discussions of easements for the extension are proceeding smoothly.
In response to Dr. Ciervo’s question, Mr. Czajkowski said that work on a crosswalk at lower State Street near Fountain Farm Lane will be done in April and should be completed before election day.
Mr. Garton said that there would be an executive session to discuss a matter of potential litigation.
The meeting adjourned at 10:10 PM.