Board of Supervisors
Minutes of May 28, 2008
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, May 28, 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, 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: Chairman Jirele called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence. Father Ernest Curtin of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church gave the invocation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Police Chief Oath of Office: District Justice Donald Nasshorn administered the oath of office to Police Chief Henry Pasqualini.
Chief Pasqualini thanked the Board of Supervisors and Township Manager for selecting him, and thanked the members of the law enforcement community for their attendance this evening. He looks forward to serving the people of Newtown and Wrightstown, and will always have an open door to address the concerns of the residents.
Mr. Jirele welcomed Chief Pasqualini on behalf of the residents.
Newtown Athletic Club 30 th Anniversary Recognition: Mr. Jirele read a proclamation congratulating Newtown Athletic Club on its 30 th anniversary. He thanked the NAC for the spirit of community it has fostered over those years, as a gathering place for residents, and for the owners’ many contributions to support Township programs and events.
On behalf of Jim Worthington, who was unable to attend the meeting, Linda Mitchell, marketing and public relations director, thanked the Board for this recognition and proclamation, and thanked the residents of Newtown for their support.
Public Works Week: Mr. Jirele proclaimed the week of May 20 -26 as Public Works Week, presenting a framed proclamation, on behalf of the Board of Supervisors. He commended the Public Works Department and Director Gary Crossland for outstanding work in repairing and maintaining our buildings, parks and roadways, particularly in emergency situations and in snow and ice storms.
Ron Weaver, on behalf of Director Crossland and the entire Public Works Department, thanked the Supervisors for this recognition.
Outstanding Achievements Awards for Recycling: Tina Leck of George Leck and Son and Bob Milligan of Recyclebank were in attendance to present recognition awards to five Newtown families for their outstanding efforts in recycling during this initial year of the Recyclebank program. Mr. Milligan pointed out that since the program’s inception one year ago, the residents have increased recycling to 894 tons, which saves 9,122 trees, 596,000 gallons of oil and 3,750,000 gallons of water.
Ms. Leck noted that since the Recyclebank program began, the residents participating have almost doubled their weekly recycling, from 17 to 30 pounds of recycled materials per week. On behalf of Recyclebank and in conjunction with the Recyclebank local partners, Ms. Leck presented the Caracappa, Marley, McCarthy, Crane and Rife families with blue ribbons and gift baskets.
Walt Leck of Leck and Son presented a plaque with the five families names to the Township. He thanked the residents for their efforts in recycling and urged everyone to continue to recycle.Mr. Jirele thanked the residents for their efforts in recycling.
Public Comment: Resident Jay Sensibaugh said that he is a member of the Planning Commission, and as such had the opportunity to review the Park and Recreation Department’s Zoning Hearing Board application seeking increased impervious surface for development of the Woll tract for active recreation. He expressed concern that the plan presented with the application is very different from the approved preliminary plan, and that parking and trails have been reduced. He said that eliminating parking will force park attendees to park on the grass, which could create some hazards such as ruts. He also felt that the reduced trail width would make emergency access and police patrols during closed hours difficult. He urged the Board to seek the full amount of impervious surface for full build out of the park now, rather than seek only that portion needed for this first phase of the park. He also pointed out the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors have not conducted a full land development review of this abbreviated plan, and it is possible that the 9.1% impervious surface sought might not be adequate for the plan once fully engineered.
Mr. Jirele pointed out that this Board has been carefully considering all requests for increased impervious surface variances in an effort to preserve open space and control stormwater. The Board would not want to see the Township granting large increases to itself while not allowing similar variances for residents. The Township should be held to the same standards. He also noted that the approved preliminary plan had parking in excess of that required and the phase to be constructed meets the parking requirements of the Ordinance. Grass pavers are to be used for overflow parking to prevent rutting.
Resident Mike Horan asked the Board to enforce maintenance of the property on Durham Road at Eagle Road, where there are abandoned houses and the yards are overgrown with tall weeds. He said that the buildings on the property will be demolished at some point; he asked that they be removed now. There are children playing, riding motorcycles around the property and he has concerns that someone will be injured.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he would ask the Code Enforcement Officer to look into this complaint right away.
Resident Edward Twining spoke about Newtown Township’s many changes over the course of his life, pointing out that at one time his family had farmed the Woll tract. He said that he had recently been ticketed for driving a tractor along the road, but pointed out that tractors do not need to be registered, nor do the tractor drivers need to be licensed. He also complained that there are not adequate curb cuts near the shops at Village at Newtown and Newtown Shopping Center for wheelchair access. He began to discuss a recent property line dispute with his neighbor.
Mr. Jirele asked Mr. Twining not to discuss his dispute with his neighbor in this forum. He also offered to bring Mr. Twining his morning coffee and bagel rather than see Mr. Twining driving his wheelchair along busy Durham Road in the morning.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Gallagher pointed out that on page 1 of the minutes of May 14, 2008, Mick Petrucci’s name is misspelled and in the EAC report, the Board authorized the EAC to begin to formulate a deer management program.
Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the minutes of May 14, 2008, as corrected. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Jirele abstaining.
Bills: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $254,390.95. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $370,025. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Discussion of B-14 Housing Use in the Conservation management Zoning District: Dr. Ciervo reported that the Joint Zoning Council and Joint Planning Commission have recently discussed the B-14 housing use in the CM Conservation Management Zoning District. This use allows for village style developments. He feels that this use is no longer needed in the Jointure, especially in Newtown, where there are very few large parcels as yet undeveloped. He noted that when the use was created, large developments had been required to provide a mixture of housing types, but in recent years, small B-14 developments have been built, frequently requiring a number of variances for open space and other items.
Mr. Schenkman said that Lynn Bush of the Bucks County Planning Commission has begun to research this issue and is preparing to offer alternate proposals to replace the B-14 use. He suggested that the Board postpone discussion until the County’s proposals have been made available to the Joint Zoning Council.
Mr. Jirele said that he agrees with Mr. Schenkman that the Board should await information from the County Planning Commission, but suggested that the Township Planner also investigate the use and its impact on Newtown Township.
Dr. Ciervo said that it can take time for a change in the JMZO to be drafted and reviewed by all of the Jointure Planning Commissions and Boards before it is enacted. One concern he said he has is that the concept of B-14 housing as village style housing was to have been close to the existing small historic villages throughout the Jointure, but this does not seem to be the case anymore.
Mr. Gallagher agreed with Dr. Ciervo, saying that he would like Mr. Garton to begin to investigate options for an ordinance change.
Mr. Calabro said that he has a concern about the impact the change in permitted uses could have on current land owners and questioned whether owners of larger parcels should be included in this discussion.
Mr. Jirele said that this conversation has only just begun. He suggested that landowners should be included later, as the conversation progresses.
Ms. Fountain agreed to begin her research by reviewing the existing B-14 uses in the Township.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that the B-14 use can allow preservation of larger tracts of contiguous open space. He did, however, agree that the continuation of the use should be investigated in the Jointure.
Summary of the PLCM Southeast Spring District Meeting: Mr. Schenkman presented a written report to the Board on the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities meeting he recently attended. Among topics discussed and resolutions passed at the meeting was a resolution to allow tax relief to municipalities with high tax exempt property rolls; there was also discussion of a grant fund to offset the loss of tax revenue from State owned tax exempt higher education properties. Discussions were also held on collective bargaining laws and municipal employee pensions. The PLCM annual convention will be held in June in Gettysburg. Mr. Schenkman said that a resolution appointing him the voting delegate for Newtown Township at this convention would be necessary.
Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt Resolution 2008-R-13, appointing Mr. Schenkman as voting delegate to the PLCM convention. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo said that the Board had considered not rejoining the League of Cities, particularly since it covers many of the same issues as PSATS. He did not want to indicate by this vote that he is supporting renewing the Township’s membership.
Mr. Schenkman said that a representative of PLCM will be attending the June work session to discuss the benefits and costs of membership.
Mr. Gallagher said that he did not think that a vote to support Mr. Schenkman’s attendance was an indication of membership renewal.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he is not sure of the date when the current membership expires, but the PLCM organization is aware of the Township’s concerns about the organization. This
should not impact Mr. Schenkman’s participation.
The motion passed 5-0.
Other Board Reports
Mr. Gallagher reported that he attended the “ Cool City” meeting sponsored by the Township and Borough EAC’s and the Sierra Club. There was a presentation by Lower Makefield’s EAC about becoming a cool city, and Bucks has recently signed the initiative to become a “ Cool County”.
Financial Planning Committee
Jim McCrane of the Financial Planning Committee was in attendance to review the Township’s options in selecting a bond underwriter. The choice is between a negotiated transaction, as with Boenning and Scattergood, or an auction as with PFM. Costs for either choice would be similar and would include bond counsel, a rating firm, wrap-around insurance, administrative fees and printing. Many professionals in the field believe that an auction would bring a more competitive price, although there are not studies available that prove this. Mr. McCrane said that in his research he spoke to the Council Rock School District, which indicated that the District uses auctions. The Board should also consider a “bank qualified” issuance, which must be $10,000,000 or less. It would have a lower rate, but would require a second issuance later in the project as more funds are needed. In response to comments from Mr. Garton on the additional costs of a second issuance, Mr. McCrane said that in the current market this would not be an issue of concern.
Mr. Jirele said that the administration supports the auction option.
Mr. Garton said that he would also agree, noting that Central Bucks also prefers auctions. He suggested that the Township issue some solicitation letters to bond firms.
Mr. McCrane briefly discussed the Township’s rating, which he said would probably be a AA, and the length of the bond. He said that a decision on length would be made before bids are solicited; the Financial Planning Committee has not fully investigated this.
Mr. Czajkowski indicated that he has been involved in this type of transaction before.
Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the recommendation of the Financial Planning committee to move forward with PFM for the Township’s bond, to be issued at auction as a bank qualified bond. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo questioned whether the Committee had considered the proposal from First American Municipals.
Mr. McCrane said that First American offered a negotiated transaction, not an auction.
Mr. Gallagher said that the auction would take place on-line; the Board would be able to watch the auction.
In response to questions from the Board, Mr. McCrane said that PFM has an automatic extension on the auction to be certain that qualified bidders are not locked out. He said that he would expect that because of the size of the issuance, it would probably be sold to only one buyer, a qualified individual or a municipal fund such as Vanguard.
Mr. Twining said that he is in favor of the auction rather than the negotiated transaction.
The motion passed 5-0.Mr. Gallagher thanked Mr. McCrane for donating his time and expertise on bonds to the Financial Planning Committee.
Historical Architectural Review Board
HARB Chairman Harriet Beckert was in attendance to present applications for certificates of appropriateness.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize a certificate of appropriateness for Newtown Pizza, 231 N. Sycamore Street, as outlined in a memo dated May 28, 2008. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
The applicant was in attendance. In response to questions from the Board he said that this is a pizza shop in the same location formerly occupied by Westshore Pizza. He will be open for business in about two weeks.
Mr. Calabro moved to authorize a certificate of appropriateness for Zephyr Gallery, 243 N. Sycamore Street as outlined in a memo dated May 28, 2008. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Applicant Tori Quintel said that the sign is temporarily in place, but had not been permanently affixed pending this evening’s approval. The shop, which sells modern crafts and jewelry, is relocating from New Hope.
Mrs. Beckert noted that all applicants are told that HARB is an advisory body, and that approval from the Board of Supervisors is necessary before any work can take place.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize a certificate of appropriateness for Metro, 258 N. Sycamore Street, as outlined in a memo dated May 28, 2008. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mrs. Beckert explained that two different color plans are shown in the memo, both acceptable to HARB, however a final choice will be made pending the repainting of the building where the shop is located. This is the pink building at Goodnoe’s Corner. A portion of the building is white and the new color chosen to replace the pink is Providence Green. The shopping center owner has indicated that he might want to change that color choice.
The motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Officials
Plan Expirations: Mr.Czajkowski said that there are no plan expirations.
Mr. Garton noted that Rosebank Winery’s attorney has indicated that he will meet with the Board at a work session to discuss plans prior to the expiration.
Planning Commission Report: Mr. Czajkowski read a report on the Planning Commission’s May 20, 2008 meeting. The Traffic Engineer gave a report at the meeting, noting that the traffic responsive system on the Newtown Bypass is not yet fully functional. The Commission would like the Township Manager to contact PennDOT to urge them to make this a priority, as it affects thousands of motorists each day. Mr. Czajkowski said that he has already followed up on this recommendation.
The Commission reviewed the Bucks County TIP for 2007-2010, and noted that Newtown Township’s projects are not to be funded until later years. The Commission would urge the Township Manager and Traffic Engineer to attend the June 2, 2008 comment hearing to request that Newtown’s projects be funded earlier than is currently proposed. Mr. Czajkowski said that he will be attending this meeting.
The following Zoning Hearing Board Applications were reviewed:
Newtown Township Parks and Recreation Dept: Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine was in attendance to review this application for an increase in impervious surface to 9.1% for development of the Woll tract for active recreation. He explained that the increase would allow for a parking area and a main trail from the entrance to the center of the park, but at this time wide walking trails, court sports pads and additional parking are not to be included as had been shown on the preliminary plan.
The Commission felt that it is short sighted on the part of the Township to seek a variance only for the impervious surface area to be constructed in this phase of the park. The preliminary approved plan, which showed full build-out, could be constructed in the future and will require the time and expense of an additional application to the Zoning Hearing Board. Some members also pointed out that the narrowing of the trail and the elimination of some of the paved parking could create hazards for visitors to the park and for emergency service workers. The Commission would have preferred to see all of the impervious needs for full build-out be addressed at this time rather than seeking only what is needed for the first phase.
The Commission voted 6-1 to recommend that the Board of Supervisors support this application.
In response to Dr. Ciervo’s question, the recording secretary, who had attended the Planning Commission meeting and composed the written synopsis, said that it is her understanding that, although all of the members in attendance had concerns about the application for only this phase of the park, six voted to recommend support rather than see the park construction delayed further.
Stephen C. Costalas – 26 Delaney Drive: No comment
Thomas & Helen Landolt – 375 Stoopville Road: No comment
Lithos LP – 10 Friends Lane: No comment
Newtown Township – 100 Municipal Drive: No comment
JMZO 2008-03 (FCO- Melsky/Newtown) The Commission tabled discussion until some of the technical issues discussed at the Joint Zoning Council have been addressed.
Village at Newtown Parking: Mr. Solomon presented a chart outlining current uses in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center. The Commission discussed the current mix of uses as compared to the mix that had originally been expected. The Commission recommends that for shared parking to be effective, a ratio be established that would limit the number of E-5 and E-6 (restaurant) uses.
Mr. Calabro asked about the practice of listing those in attendance at the Planning Commission meeting, but not those who were absent, as had been done in the past. He also asked whether the dissenting voters’ names should be listed in the synopsis.
The recording secretary explained that this format was prepared at the direction of the current Chairman.
Mr. Jirele said that it is not necessary to include the names of the nay voters. The vote tally is included to let the Board know that the decision was not unanimous. This is important when a vote is close, to inform the Board that there is a strong difference of opinion on a recommendation. Full vote tallies are included in the minutes to the meeting, which become available to the Board after the Commission members have voted to approve them.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that the Board consider asking the Chairman, or a representative of the Planning Commission to attend Board meetings to address any additional questions the Board might have.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would like the Chairman to give the report and answer questions from the Board where clarifications are needed.
Mr. Jirele suggested that the Board table this discussion on reporting procedures until the next work session.
Newtown Township Employment Agreement: In response to Mr. Schenkman’s question, Mr. Czajkowski said that the agreement had not been reviewed by the Township’s labor counsel yet.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize signing of the employment agreement with Henry Pasqualini, after review by the Township’s labor counsel. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to Dr. Ciervo’s questions, Mr. Garton and Mr. Schenkman explained that item #10 is mandated. Item #9 ties Mr. Pasqualini’s benefits to the Township exempt employees collective bargaining agreement. The terms are purposely left undated to allow Mr. Pasqualini’s contract to reflect benefits of exempt employees, should those benefits change. Mr. Garton offered as an example that at some point in the future employee contribution to health benefits could change. If the agreement were dated, this contract would freeze the contribution.
The motion passed 5-0.
Volunteer Appointment to the Financial Planning Committee: Mr. Gallagher moved to appoint Ronald Kaizar to the Financial Planning Committee. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher noted that Mr. Kaizar has been attending and contributing to the Financial Planning Committee recently as a resident. He also noted that there are a few other openings on this and other Township committees and asked residents to come forward and volunteer.
Authorization to Advertise Bid for Township Municipal Expansion: Mr. Czajkowski said that the bidding process could take some time, and the Township would like to break ground in early fall. Authorization to advertise would not preclude the Township from making further changes to the plans.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize advertisement for bid for Township Administration and Public Works buildings. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Garton reviewed the following Zoning Hearing Board Applications:
Newtown Township Park and Recreation Department/Woll Tract: Variance requested for increase in impervious surface to 9.1% where 8% is the maximum permitted. Mr. Garton said that he would represent the Township with Gilmore & Associates giving testimony.
Newtown Township Municipal Building/ 100 Municipal Drive: A variance is requested for a front yard setback of 25.7 feet where 75 feet is required. Mr. Garton said that the setback is on Municipal Drive, not Durham Road.
Steven C. Costalas, 27 Delaney Drive: A variance is requested to allow a 25 foot rear yard setback where 30 feet is required to allow construction of a deck.
Thomas and Helen Landolt, 375 Stoopville Road: A special exception is sought to allow construction of single family dwelling. The existing building will be demolished. No further subdivision is sought.
Lithos, LP, 10 Friends Lane: Attorney Ed Murphy was in attendance to review this application for variances for parking, elimination of a loading berth and steep slope disturbance. Mr. Murphy explained that the applicant will be improving an existing building, adding three stories and an additional 35,700 square feet of office space. Because the use will be D-1 office, there is no need for loading berths. Steep slopes to be disturbed are the man made slopes of the stormwater management system, which is to be improved. Parking variances are sought to allow 23% of spaces, rather than 25%, to be 10 feet by 20 feet. Some of the spaces will not be close to the building as required. Portions of seven parking spaces will be within the right-of-way of Walker Lane.
In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Murphy said that the seven spaces in the right-of-way will be entirely on Lithos property. There will still be sufficient room for sidewalks in the future. If the Board would like some spaces to remain in green, this can be discussed at land development. He noted that after completion of improvements, 11% of allowed impervious surface will still be available in green.
Reilly, 4 Hillview Drive: Mike Reilly was in attendance to review this application for a variance to permit 8,444 square feet of impervious surface where 6,000 square feet is permitted for construction of a pool.
Dr. Ciervo said that he is concerned about the large increase in impervious surface in this development, where variances have already been granted to the developer. Mr. Reilly’s application is the first for a very new development. He said that he would like to see the plan substantially downsized.
Mr. Gallagher agreed with Dr. Ciervo.
Mr. Schenkman said that the Board needs to be consistent in reviewing these applications, finding a way to accommodate the residents while still protecting natural resources.
Mr. Reilly said that he has reduced the plan and is now seeking 2200 square feet, not 2444. He will attempt to reduce the request further. He said that he had already been a Newtown Township resident when he purchased his new home. He visited the codes office prior to buying the house and had been told that there would be room for a pool. He did not know at the time of purchase the number of square feet of impervious surface permitted on his lot.
After some further discussion about the size of the pool and surrounding patio, Mr. Reilly said that he would attempt to make additional modifications. He would seek a continuance from the Zoning Hearing Board.
Sullivan, 178 Durham Road: Attorney Susan Piette was in attendance to review this application. She indicated that the variance request for increased impervious surface is no longer needed. The applicant has signed an easement agreement with Mr. Twining, the owner of the front lot, for a shared entrance, making the second, right in/right out, driveway unnecessary. The applicant is still seeking an extension on the variance granted last year.
Ms. Piette said that as a result of the shared driveway, lot #1, the Twining lot, will have 17% impervious surface because of the wider driveway and the house and outbuildings on the property. An application for that lot will be needed.
Mr. Jirele said that the applicant has done all that the Board had requested. He said that the Board should send a letter of support for the variance on lot #1, as well as support for any change of conditions regarding the Highway Occupancy Permit needed for subdivision.Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize extension of the Zoning Hearing Board decision issued on December 23, 2007. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Escrow Release, Tudor Square Phase III – certificate of Completion #6: Mr. Calabro moved to authorize escrow release to Tudor Square Phase III in the amount of $71,816.50. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
The meeting adjourned at 10:15 PM.