Board of Supervisors
Minutes of May 14, 2008
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance were Supervisors: Vice-Chairman Robert Ciervo, Secretary-Treasurer Michael Gallagher, Jerry Schenkman and Philip Calabro, members. Also present were: Joseph S. Czajkowski, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Call to Order: Vice Chairman Ciervo called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence. Reverend Klein of Addisville Reformed Church gave the invocation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Public Comment: Mick Petrucci of Newtown Business and Professional Association invited the public to attend Market Day on Sunday, May 18, 2008 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on State Street in Newtown Borough. He thanked the event’s planning committee and sponsors. For additional information visit www.newtownbpa.org
Resident Patrick Flanagan introduced himself to the Board and said that he would like to see a dog park in Newtown. He is currently working to collect residents’ signatures on a petition of support.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Dr. Ciervo noted that in the minutes of April 23, 2008 the second paragraph of page 5 should read, “…3 rectangular fields”
Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of April 23, 2008, as corrected. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the minutes of the work session of April 14, 2008. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Bills: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $539,202.66. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $176,818.54. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Dr. Ciervo noted that the recent police reports show an increase in traffic enforcement.
Mr. Gallagher reported that the newly formed Technology Committee held its first meeting at the end of April and will be reviewing the Township’s existing infrastructure at its next meeting.
Environmental Advisory Council
Chairman Donald McEachron reported that the EAC has been working on a number of projects. Members have collected data on deer/car accidents for the past two years, charting locations of frequent accidents as well as times of day, times of year when accidents occur. As would be expected, the accidents are occurring most often in the fall at dusk and dawn, but surprisingly there are also a number of accidents at midnight. When documentation of the accidents is completed this spring, the EAC would like to begin planning an educational campaign which would include updating the Township Web site, placing informational articles in the newspaper and Township newsletter and placing temporary warning signs at some of the locations of frequent accidents. As part of the Wildlife Management research, members have also begun gathering data on the rise in instances of Lyme Disease as well as the impact of devastation to the undergrowth in our remaining open space. The EAC would eventually like to initiate a comprehensive wildlife management plan.
In response to questions from the Board, Dr. McEachron said that the EAC, if authorized by the Board of Supervisors to do so, would look at methods to control deer population, analyze collected information and make some recommendations. Many of the municipalities surrounding Newtown have already commissioned studies by consultants. The EAC would first review these studies and their recommendations, and develop a data base of information on what is being done in surrounding communities and what results are gained. A presentation would be made to the Supervisors once all information has been carefully reviewed by the EAC. Efforts by the State at Tyler Park would be included in any collection of data.
The Supervisors agreed that the EAC should continue to research methods to control deer population.
Regarding placing warning signs, Dr. McEachron suggested that the EAC has already identified a few locations where temporary signage could be helpful in keeping motorists alert to the danger.
Mr. Garton said that the proposed signs would be considered traffic control devices, and the Township has broad authority to install them with the cooperation of the Police and Public Works Departments
The Council is very pleased to nominate Signature Medicine of 780 Newtown Yardley Road for an Ecostar award for its paperless office, and Council Rock School District’s Art Department for its use of recycled materials in creating art and its efforts in promoting recycling and environmental awareness through art. In response to questions from the Board, Dr. McEachron said that the Ecostar program was begun two years ago to recognize the efforts of local businesses to promote “green” practices, and to promote the EAC. This year, the criteria were expanded to allow public institutions as well as businesses to apply. EAC members do conduct site visits, and in the case of the Art Department, attended the District Art Show.
Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the recommendations of the EAC and to award Signature Medicine and Council Rock Art Department the EAC Ecostar Award for 2008. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
The EAC has been creating an inventory of open space using a series of maps and overlays. Dr. McEachron said that members have developed a form for evaluating the open space, noting topography, forestation, waterways, etc. It is hoped that this inventory will be helpful for the planned update of the Open Space Comprehensive Plan. Dr. McEachron said that the inventory should be completed in late June. The data base is nearing completion, but site visits will still have to be done to determine whether what had been charted as open space on the maps is still undeveloped. The Council is not prioritizing or ranking the open space, only confirming the conditions.
EAC members have been attending the Newtown Creek Coalition meetings, where recent efforts have been made to develop a comprehensive inventory of the streamside corridor along Newtown Creek in order to evaluate and enhance pedestrian access to and connections across the creek, which forms the boundary between Newtown Borough and Newtown Township, and to raise community awareness of the historic and environmental significance of the creek through physical enhancements, interpretation and interactive program
The Newtown Township EAC, in conjunction with the Newtown Borough EAC and the Sierra Club will sponsor a meeting to discuss the Sierra Club’s “ Cool City” program. Begun in 2005, the Cool Cities campaign empowers city residents and local leaders to join and encourage their cities to implement smart energy solutions to save money and build a cleaner, safer future. The meeting will take place here at the Township Building lower Level Meeting Room next Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 7:30 PM.
Reports of Officials
Volunteer Appointment to the Technology Committee: Mr. Calabro moved to appoint John Davis to the Township Technology Committee. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
PACC Automotive and Equipment Contract: Mr. Czajkowski explained that a resolution is needed to allow the Township to participate in PACC contracts to purchase equipment necessary for operations at a substantially reduced cost. The Township will be purchasing a plow for a 2008 Ford F-350 at a savings of $3500 and a dump body for a Ford F-550 at a savings of $4000. Mr. Czajkowski did not have the purchase total costs available at the meeting. He noted that these items had been in the 2008 budget.
Dr. Ciervo moved to adopt Resolution 2008-R-12. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Czajkowski reported that the proposed extension of Terry Drive through to the Newtown Bypass for a right in/right out access is now in the survey stage. A meeting with PennDOT is scheduled for late May. Easement issues with adjacent property owners are being resolved.
Mr. Czajkowski said that easements are being acquired in order to vacate Upper Silver Lake Road by late June.
At this point, non-resident Earned Income Tax in the amount of $594,293 has been collected.
JMZO 2006-08 Lighting Regulations: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment would delete the lighting requirements from the JMZO and authorize the Townships to enact separate stand alone ordinances to accommodate each of the jointure Townships’ individual preferences.
Ms. Fountain confirmed that a new Township lighting ordinance is being prepared and a draft would be presented to the Board shortly.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize advertisement of JMZO 2006-08. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
JMZO 2007-05 –Accessory Landscape Contractor Ordinance: Mr. Garton explained that this ordinance would establish a new accessory landscape contractor use as an accessory to a residential dwelling and would also create a new ‘Low impact home landscaping contractor” use. The Accessory Landscape Contractor use would be permitted in the CM Zoning District by conditional use; the Low Impact Home Landscape Contractor use would be permitted by right in the CR-1, CR-2 and CM Zoning Districts. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Garton said that any already existing landscape businesses would be considered pre-existing non-conforming uses.
Mr. Schenkman said that this amendment had been discussed at the Jointure quite a bit as an attempt by Wrightstown Township to eliminate certain nuisance situations.
Mr. Calabro moved to authorize advertisement of JMZO 2007-05. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0..
JMZO 2008-01- QA-QAA Use Tables: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment would correct some discrepancies between the permitted uses and the table of uses in Section 703 and 703.1 of the JMZO.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize advertisement of JMZO 2008-01. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
JMZO 2008-02 0 Zoning Map Changes: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment would correct the display of the Federal Cemetery Overlay District on the Gunser tract so as to be consistent with the metes and bounds description attached as an exhibit to Ordinance 2006-08. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Garton confirmed that the entire Gunser property is located in Upper Makefield.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize advertisement of JMZO 2008-02. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Zoning Hearing Board
Mr. Garton said that the Zoning Hearing Board extension and Zoning Hearing Board application for Michael Sullivan have been removed from the agenda at the applicant’s request.
McLaughlin – 174 Durham Road: James McLaughlin was in attendance to discuss his application to the Zoning Hearing Board for a variance from the setback requirements to construct a two car garage. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. McLaughlin said that there would not be a need for a variance for increased impervious surface as the garage is to be constructed over an existing pad. He had subdivided the property last year, and had been granted a variance, however there had been an error in calculating setbacks, and it had only recently been discovered that a variance would be required. Mr. McLaughlin said that the proposed garage would be about 400 feet from the street and 150 feet from the nearest house. Construction on the garage has not begun.
The Board had no comment on this application.
Fashakin – 11 Waterford Place: Emmanuel Fashakin was in attendance to review this application to the Zoning Hearing Board for a variance for increased impervious surface and side yard setbacks to construct a pool with decking and coping and a tennis court. The relief requested would exceed the maximum impervious surface permitted by 8,692 feet. Mr. Fashakin explained that his is a three-acre lot adjoining a retention basin. In his development, each lot was allocated 7718 square feet for impervious surface rather than a percentage of the lot size. It is his understanding that at the time of development, each lot was also allocated a portion of the retention basin and roads in their impervious surface. If the usual CM calculation had been used, he would have been permitted 15% impervious surface. His property currently has 5.5% impervious surface.
In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Fashakin explained that his property had some drainage problems, but two underground storage tanks had been installed, and water is directed via piping into the retention basin adjoining his property; stormwater run-off is no longer a problem.
Ms. Fountain confirmed that the proposed improvements would produce a 12.5% impervious surface, which is below what is permitted in the Conservation Management District.
Dr. Ciervo expressed some concern about the very large increase in impervious surface being sought. He also had some concern about the setback variance sought.
Mr. Gallagher questioned the setback, as Mr. Fashakin’s property abuts the Township owned Wiggins tract, which could be developed for active recreation.
Mr. Fashakin said that he would not object to the Township’s development of playing fields, or playing fields with lights, as he proposes to build a tennis court in the encroachment. It would be a distance from his house and there are existing trees buffering the property from the Wiggins tract. He also noted that his neighbors are supportive of his plan, as is his Homeowners Association.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that if Mr. Fashakin does not object to the Township’s plans for future development of the Wiggins tract for active recreation, some reference to this be made in any Zoning Hearing Board decision.
Mr. Garton suggested that he would contact the Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor to ask the Zoning Hearing Board to acknowledge the possible development of the adjoining property for active recreation in its decision should the Zoning Hearing Board decide to grant a variance.
The Board agreed to pass this application to the Zoning Hearing Board with no further comment.
Reilly – 4 Hillview Drive: Chris Kaizer was in attendance, representing the pool construction company to review this application for a variance for an increase in impervious surface of 2,444 square feet to construct a swimming pool, patio and walkway. Mr. Kaizer said that the applicant has reduced the size of the pool and is now asking for relief of 1900 square feet. This applicant is a Township resident who had contacted the codes office prior to purchasing this house to determine whether there would be sufficient room for a pool.
Mr. Garton suggested that the applicant should be in attendance to discuss this with the Board and asked that the discussion be placed on the May 28 agenda.
Dr. Ciervo expressed some concern about increasing the impervious surface for this home, as the developer had been granted many waivers and variances to construct the development. He requested that the applicant appear to discuss this application.
Kim – 27 Sibelius Road: David Kim and Vince Piscitelli of Crystal Clear Signature Pools were in attendance to review this application for a variance to increase the impervious surface ratio to 24.33% to construct a pool and spa, decking and coping, equipment pad, cabana, fishpond and driveway extension.
Dr. Ciervo expressed concern about increasing the impervious surface in the Conservation Management Zoning District.
Mr. Piscitelli said that this development’s stormwater management system had been constructed to be sufficient for a 25% impervious surface ratio. He also pointed out that this is noted in a 2001 Zoning Hearing Board decision granting 25% impervious surface ratio to Mr. & Mrs. Hou at 30 Sibelius Road.
The Board reviewed Dr. Kim’s plans. Dr. Ciervo suggested ways to scale back the impervious surface by eliminating certain features or using pervious decking materials.
Mr. Piscitelli presented a plan that would accommodate increased run-off from the increased impervious surface by installation of seepage beds.
Ms. Fountain said that although she has not fully reviewed the plans for seepage beds, they do appear to be a reasonable accommodation to alleviate additional run-off.
Dr. Kim said that he would prefer presenting his plans to the Zoning Hearing Board, then presenting the seepage beds if required, rather than scaling back the plans at this time.
Mr. Calabro said that he is certain the Zoning Hearing Board will carefully review this application and consider concerns about run-off.
Mr. Schenkman said that the tone of the Township has changed since 2001 when the previous Zoning Hearing Board granted the variance to Dr. Kim’s neighbors. He suggested that Dr. Kim consider possibly reducing the scope of the project.
Mr. Gallagher said that while he agrees with Dr. Ciervo about retaining the impervious surface allowed in the Conservation Management Zoning District, he was reluctant to single out this one application for opposition at the Zoning Hearing Board.
Dr. Ciervo moved to send the Solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board to oppose this application.
The motion was not seconded. The Board continued to discuss ways to reduce the impervious surface and urged Dr. Kim to consider eliminating some portion of the plan.
Mr. Piscitelli said that he would present the plans to the Zoning Hearing Board along with evidence that the existing retention basin can accommodate run-off from 25% impervious surface. He would also present the plans for the seepage beds.
The Board forwarded the application without comment.
2007 Road Program Change Order: Ms. Fountain said that this change order is for items not on the punch list for Twining Bridge Road. The work is necessary to maintain safety; without the change the road will rapidly deteriorate.Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize change order #5 of the 2007 road program. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Dr. Ciervo asked that the Township begin to discuss the 2009 budget. He suggested that increases to the budget be addressed by certain percentages.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that the Financial Planning Committee consider a comparison of percentage based and needs based budgeting.
Mr. Gallagher said that the Financial Planning Committee has been very busy with the upcoming bond issue. He said that he would speak to the chairman about adding this to an agenda, but also suggested that the Board begin discussions at a work session.
The Board briefly discussed budget planning based on needs, on revenue and on percentage increases.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the method of budgeting would be a policy decision. The staff would work within any parameters set by the Board. He said that he could look at a 5% increase and also consider revenues as he moves forward with this year’s budget. Some increases, such as employee health benefits, are not avoidable. Some expenses can be deferred but some are not discretionary. He noted that increased oil and fuel costs will have an impact on the budget.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would like to consider possibly changing the employee contribution toward health benefits, using a percentage formula instead of a dollar amount.
Mr. Czajkowski pointed out that the employee contribution is dictated by contracted agreements.
Mr. Garton announced that the Board had met prior to this evening’s meeting to discuss matters of real estate acquisition and litigation.
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 PM.