Board of Supervisors
Minutes of June 11, 2008
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, June 11, 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. Ahman Rowshan of the Baha’I Faith gave the invocation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski said that the Special Solicitor’s report on the Promenade at Sycamore Street has been removed from the agenda. A report from Police Chief Henry Pasqualini has been added to “Reports of Officials”.
Special Actions: Sarah Minton was presented with a proclamation read by Mr. Jirele to commemorate her receiving of the Girl Scout Gold Award, an honor given to those few Girl Scouts who have shown outstanding leadership skills and have helped the community. Sarah created a children’s crawl trail at Silver Lake Nature Center in Bristol.
Public Comment: Lower Makefield resident Sue Herman said that she objects to the location of the Veterans Cemetery entrance on Highland Road, as it will bring traffic along Lindenhurst Road; she also objected to the Bucks County Courier Times’ characterization of the VA as cooperating with neighbors when it selected the entrance location, as some residents are not in support of this location. She entered into the record a letter dated April 2, 2008, outlining her organization’s many concerns with the DVRPC’s Regional Traffic Task Force recommendations, particularly the roundabout at the intersection of Stoopville and Washington Crossing Roads.
Resident John D’Aprile congratulated Police Captain Norman Moorehead on his retirement after 40 years serving the people of Newtown and Bucks County.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the minutes of the work session of May 19, 2008. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Jirele abstaining.
Mr. Calabro moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of May 28, 2008. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $201,756.49. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $7,290.87. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of $808.26 to the Communications Workers of America, a check that was omitted from the bills list. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Conditional Use – OLLY Shoes – 2690 S. Eagle Road: Mr. Garton said that this application has been advertised in the Newtown Advance on May 22 and 29, 2008, and adjoining neighbors have been notified. The application is incorporated by reference into the record. conditional use approval for use E-1, retail store in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District. The shop will occupy 2,568 square feet in the Village at Newtown South, next to Petsmart. He outlined the conditions to approval, including the hours of operation as 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM seven days a week and the maximum number of employees on site as five.
Kyle Hipple, director of real estate for OLLY Shoes accepted the conditions referenced.
In response to questions from the Board he said that OLLY Shoes is a chain of fourteen stores for infants and young children up to about 8 years old. He said that he is proud of the appearance of the shop and eager to open a location in Newtown. In discussing the maximum number of employees, he said that the shop will employ two managers and some part time employees, with a maximum of ten people on the payroll. The maximum number of employees at the shop at any one time would be five, and normally there would be fewer than five. These would be local employees. He said that 9:00 PM is the latest he would remain open; the shop would probably close earlier most nights. He pointed out that the shop’s customers are younger than eight years old. He is authorized by OLLY to act as its representative at this hearing.
Mr. Calabro moved to grant conditional use approval to OLLY Shoes Fit for a Kid (OLLY USA, LLC) for a E-1 retail use at 2690 South Eagle Road ,subject to the following conditions:
The applicant meets the requirements of JMZO Section 1301.B. applicable to all conditional uses, as well as the specific use regulations applicable to the E-1 retail use in the Planned Commercial Shopping District as set forth in section 803 of JMZO.
Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Grainhouse Developers – 11 Penns Trail – Preliminary Plan for Land Development: Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant. He explained that this is an adaptive reuse of a 47,819 square foot warehouse building for flex space of 15,000 square feet of D-1 office and 32,819 square feet of G-3 warehouse. Variances had been granted by the Zoning Hearing Board for elimination of loading berths, for parking, to permit 194 parking spaces where 239 spaces are required and for 70% impervious surface. At sketch plan phase, the plan had been for 30,000 square feet of office use. With this change to flex space, the loading berths are now shown on the plan. The parking variance is no longer needed and the impervious surface is at 69%.
Mr. Marshall asked the Board not to take action this evening, but to allow the applicant to review the plan and revise it in order to return for preliminary/final plan approval when revisions have been completed. He noted that, with certain conditions, the Planning Commission had recommended preliminary plan approval.
Mr. Garton reviewed the waivers requested:
Mr. Marshall discussed the waiver requests for the detention basins. He explained that the site had been developed years ago without any stormwater management provisions. The area to provide detention facilities is limited. The applicant will demonstrate that maintenance equipment will be able to access the basins. The waiver of street trees is needed because the stormwater management facilities are located under the street tree area.
Ms. Fountain said that she has been in discussion with the project’s engineers about the waivers for the berms and slope of the detention basin; these issues should be worked out to her satisfaction shortly.
In response to questions from Dr. Ciervo, Mr. Marshall said that three large trees would be lost to permit the front yard parking. The front yard parking is necessary because the building will be renovated to have front access points. He pointed out a conflict between the JMZO and SALDO concerning front yard parking. This is a routine waiver request frequently sought in the Commons; all surrounding properties have front yard parking. The plan now shows 147 parking spaces. Although a variance for parking has been granted, with the change in percentage of warehouse space, the variance is no longer needed. The parking accounts for the possibility that a tenant might require storage of company vehicles.
Karen Miller of Grainhouse confirmed that the building’s renovations place entrances at the front, requiring the front yard parking.
Mr. Marshall said that the applicant would agree to pay a fee in lieu of planting street trees; ten trees would have been required at $350 per tree, or $3500.
Ms. Fountain agreed that this would be a correct fee.
Mr. Jirele suggested that the fee be applied to the Park and Recreation capital fund for park trees.
Mr. Garton advised Mr. Marshall to seek and extension and to submit revised plans to be reviewed by the Supervisors as preliminary/final.Mr. Marshall asked for an extension of 30 days and said he would submit the request to the Township in writing.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Telecommunications Advisory Committee: Chairman Harry Stevens reported that Comcast will be adding to its digital HD and video offerings. Verizon will be all digital later this month, which will require viewers to have a cable box. Comcast and Verizon are working on issues with the sound quality of the Board of Supervisors meetings; Verizon has resolved the problem, Comcast should have it addressed very shortly.
The Committee has been working with both carriers on problems a blind resident has had with reception of his Descriptive Video Service. This service, from station GBH in Boston, provides audio descriptions of action during a television broadcast for many PBS, NBC, ABC, Turner Classic and Nickelodeon programs. Both Comcast and Verizon are working to resolve the issues.
Mr. Stevens said that when carriers switch from analog to digital signals, a converter box will be required. The Federal Government will provide two $40 coupons per person to purchase converter boxes, which will be needed for older televisions. As a test, Mr. Stevens obtained two coupons from www.dtv2009.gov and purchased a converter box which he hooked up to an older television without cable connection. Using the box, his television was able to clearly pick up over 20 stations. Coupons can also be ordered by phoning 1-888-DTV-2009.
Mr. Czajkowski said that this information would be available on the Township Web site.
Reports of Officials
Board Members: Mr. Gallagher reported that he would not be at the upcoming work session because he will be attending a technology summit in Harrisburg. He also reported that the Open Space Comprehensive Plan Update Committee held its first meeting on Monday. Representatives of the Park and Recreation Board, Planning Commission and EAC are participating on the Committee. Lynn Bush of the Bucks County Planning Commission will be invited to attend the next meeting on July 14 to advise on ways the County can assist in the plan update.
Mr. Calabro asked for an update on the Acme site.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the owners of the site will be giving a presentation on their vision in the next few weeks. Currently the Water Authority has arranged with the owners to store stone on the property. Any activity residents might have observed is the Water Authority; construction has not begun.
Mr. Jirele asked about the DeLuca property, which had been rezoned from R-2 to TC zoning.
Mr. Garton said that DeLuca has withdrawn its plans for an office building. He will research the permitted uses of the current zoning.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the hotel project has run into some temporary difficulties with financing. It is expected that these issues will be resolved and construction will resume shortly.
Mr. Schenkman asked about the possibility of installing a traffic light at the Headley/Friends Lane intersection with Newtown Yardley Road. He noted that at certain times of the day, Headley residents are unable to get out of the development because of traffic.Mr. Czajkowski said that a traffic impact fee had been paid for this intersection. He will follow up on whether a traffic signal or better timing on the traffic lights at Newtown Yardley Road at the Bypass, at Terry Drive and at Penns Trail will resolve the problem.
Environmental Advisory Council Appointment: Mr. Czajkowski presented a letter and resume from Autumn Marie Thomas, who has volunteered to serve on the EAC.
Dr. Ciervo moved to appoint Autumn Marie Thomas to serve on the EAC. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Police Chief: Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that he has been interviewing the officers and reviewing the equipment and future needs of the department and expects to present goals and objectives to the police staff in September. The department has responded to 1054 calls; he is very impressed with the high caliber of the officers. Signs have been placed on Grant Street about truck parking.
In response to questions from the Board, Chief Pasqualini said that he has reviewed both the original and the revised plans for the renovated and expanded police facility. Current conditions are not functional. He had worked with Mr. Phillips of Donovan & Associates Architects in the past and should have some recommendations for the expansion some time in August.
He is evaluating the concerns of the Board on traffic enforcement and should have a report in September.
He said that he welcomes input from the residents and he can be reached at chief@twp,newtown.pa.us. His door is always open.
Mr. Jirele said that he has gotten a great deal of positive feedback from residents on Chief Pasqualini.
The Promenade at Sycamore Settlement Agreement: Mr. Garton explained that the Elliott Group had posted $50,000 with the Township pursuant to its Redevelopment Agreement. Elliott Group has subsequently filed for bankruptcy. During the development process, the Township used approximately $17,000 to pay legal expenses. The Township no longer has a legal basis to retain the remaining $35,000. A settlement Agreement should be approved by the Board of Supervisors to confirm that the matter has been settled and the funds will be paid to an escrow agent for ultimate disposition by the Bankruptcy Court. In response to Mr. Gallagher’s question, the amount to be paid reflects interest on the money held by the Township.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize signing of a Settlement Agreement with Promenade at Sycamore. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
JMZO 2007-07 – Accessory Landscape Contractor: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment has been advertised for adoption by the Jointure. It creates two uses, accessory landscape contractor and low impact landscape contractor.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt JMZO 2007-07, Accessory Landscape Contractor. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele said that this amendment is needed in Wrightstown and Upper Makefield and will have very little impact on Newtown. There is a five acre requirement, and the use is by conditional use.
The motion passed 5-0.
Newtown Township, 100 Municipal Drive – Preliminary as Final Plan for Land Development: Mr. Jirele said that the Planning Commission had reviewed these plans at its June 3, 2008 meeting and had recommended approval subject to a number of conditions.
Township Engineer Michele Fountain presented the plans for a municipal complex expansion which includes a 17,644 square foot administration building, a 20,438 square foot maintenance building, a 4,125 salt shed and a 4,745 square foot addition to the police administration building with associated parking and stormwater management facilities on a 21.2 acre tract in the MS Municipal Services Zoning District. It is her understanding that the full plan is being presented for approval, although the police expansion might not be part of the first phase. Ms. Fountain showed the plan and architectural rendering of the proposed buildings. She noted that the Township has been granted a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board for a front yard setback on the Municipal Drive side of the administration building.
Ms. Fountain reviewed the waivers being sought:
She discussed the request to waive sidewalks along Durham Road, noting that the adjoining properties do not have sidewalks. If, in the future, sidewalks are considered, there would be adequate space. A system of internal sidewalks in proposed, which would link the buildings and parking areas. There is also a sidewalk along Municipal Drive, which would allow residents who cross over from Delancey Court/Newtown Grant to walk to the administration building.
Mr. Garton reviewed the conditions recommended by the Planning Commission.
Ms. Fountain said that those conditions would be acceptable to the Township.
In response to questions from the Board, Ms. Fountain showed an acetate overlay of the plan highlighting the locations of internal sidewalks.
Mr. Calabro asked about a sidewalk to connect the meeting rooms to the Municipal Drive sidewalk in such a way that residents would not have to circle Municipal Drive to get to the building entrance. He noted that the meeting rooms could be used as a polling place, so easy access for pedestrians as well as from overflow parking areas would be important.
Ms. Fountain said that the sidewalks could be adjusted somewhat to accommodate that suggestion, but the proposed rain garden might be in the path. The sidewalk would be brought as close to the building as possible.
Ms. Fountain reviewed the stormwater management plans, showing the areas for run-off. She noted that the waiver to allow a less than 2% slope of the basin would allow sediment to settle before discharge. A waiver from section 222.1 is also requested to not require the two-year post development flow to be reduced to the one year pre-development flow because to do so would require smaller outlet pipes that would frequently become clogged.
Ms. Fountain pointed out a revision to the plan which moves the public works building to align with the curve in Municipal Drive so that vehicles would enter directly into that parking area rather than having to turn first on the driveway, then at the entrance to the building.
The members discussed the 19 required street trees. Ms. Fountain said that copper beech is not included in the list of approved street trees in the ordinance; it might need a waiver.
Mr. Garton noted that usually all of the same species are not planted together along the street to avoid loss of all trees to certain blights.
Mr. Jirele suggested alternating trees of similar size and appearance that would grown at the same rate. A specimen tree such as a copper beech could be planted in front of the meeting room window.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would rather grant a waiver from the requirement to provide street trees in order to save money.
Ms. Fountain and Mr. Czajkowski reviewed the Planning Commission condition to explore a possible second access point. The Fire Marshal had not required a second access because this is an expansion of an already existing and functioning site. The entrance is 35 feet wide, which would be adequate in an emergency. The other possible access points to Durham Road have very steep slopes and emergency access points could interfere with the stormwater management. The suggestion of an emergency flashing light system to stop traffic would be addressed in a separate application to PennDOT.
Ms. Fountain agreed to review documents on Delancey Court on installation of a traffic signal at the intersection.
In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Ms. Fountain said that Carroll Engineering had provided an independent review of the plans. She had included copies of their review letter dated June 9, 2008 in the Supervisors’ packets.
In response to Mr. Gallagher’s question on the Bucks County Planning Commission letter’s parking comment, Ms. Fountain said that parking calculations are for the entire complex; 212 spaces are required and 255 spaces are provided.
The Board had requested that plans meet the ordinance. Mr. Jirele said that he is very pleased that the plans comply except for one minor variance for front yard setback.
Dr. Ciervo said that he thinks the administration building is too big and that the community rooms are unnecessary. He asked whether the Board is committed to the entire project with approval of these plans.
Mr. Garton said that the Board can move forward with the plans, or can reduce the scope with this approval. The plans cannot be made larger without additional approvals.
Mr. Schenkman moved to grant preliminary/final plan approval for land development plan of Newtown Township, Bucks County, for the Newtown Township Municipal Complex, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, being Bucks County Tax Parcel Number 29-003-018-02 (the “Premises”) prepared by CKS Engineers, Inc., comprising Sheets 1 through 11 dated May 9, 2008 (the “Plans”), subject to the following conditions, all of which the applicant has agreed to:
Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Dr. Ciervo voting nay.
Old Business: Dr. Ciervo asked about installation of a crosswalk light at the Bypass at Newtown Gate Drive. He said that pedestrians do attempt to cross the Bypass to walk to the shopping center in the existing crosswalk, but the timing of the light is short. He would like a button to change the light.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the Township has been working with PennDOT on the timing of lights on the Bypass. The Township would have to pay for a crosswalk pedestrian light; he was not sure what the cost would be.
Mr. Jirele expressed some concern about creating a dangerous situation if a crosswalk light were installed. It would interfere with the timing of the lights on the Bypass. He asked that the Traffic Engineer review the timing of the light at that intersection. He is concerned that the green light might be too short to allow a pedestrian to cross all lanes of traffic and commented that it might be better to remove the crosswalk.
Mr. Garton said that there is need for an executive session to discuss land acquisition.
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 PM.