Board of Supervisors
Minutes of June 25, 2008
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, June 25, 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 Jirele called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence. Reverend David Cramp of Newtown United Methodist Church gave the invocation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski said that Mark Craig of the Newtown Borough Council would give a report before the Public Comment portion of the agenda.
Recognition of Park and Recreation Director Bill Wert: Mr. Jirele presented a plaque to Bill Wert, Park and Recreation Director, commemorating his twelve plus years of service to the Township. Mr. Wert has resigned to take a position as Assistant Township Manager in Hilltown. Mr. Jirele commended Mr. Wert on the work he has done to expand the Township’s parks, open space, trail system and recreation programming, which is almost 100% self-sufficient. He said that when Mr. Wert joined the Township, we had only Chandler baseball fields and Carl Sedia park and one page of recreation programs. Under his direction we have acquired a large park system with playing fields, playgrounds and open space, and a full brochure of classes and programs for recreation. On behalf of the Township Supervisors, administration, staff and residents, Mr. Jirele thanked Mr. Wert for the department he has developed and wished him luck in his new career.
Mr. Wert thanked Mr. Jirele and the Township for the opportunity to work here. He particularly thanked his staff for their hard work and effort in developing the extensive recreation and camp programming.
Environmental Advisory Council EcoStar Awards: EAC Secretary Michael Kaner and Vice Chairman Jay McGuigan were in attendance to present the EcoStar award for 2008. Dr. Kaner said that the awards recognize the efforts of local businesses and other institutions which demonstrate achievement in waste reduction, energy and water conservation, or environmental education and awareness. Dr. Ashish Sitapura’s Signature Medicine was chosen for its completely paperless medical office. Joy Reinstein, representing the Council Rock Art Department, was chosen for focusing on recycled materials in creating art and for promoting environmental awareness in the 2008 District Art Show. Each was presented with an Eco Star trophy.Newtown First Fourth: Newtown Borough Council President Mark Craig and First Fourth Committee member Mick Petrucci were in attendance to announce the festivities planned for Newtown’s First Fourth, to be celebrated on Saturday, July 5, beginning at 7:30 AM with a 5K fun run, followed by a parade, bike decorating contest, reading of the Declaration of Independence and walking tours of Newtown, competitive games, entertainment, food court and ending with fireworks at 9:15 PM. The activities will take place primarily at Newtown Middle School, with parking at Council Rock High School. Additional information is available in brochures placed throughout the Township and Borough and at www.newtownfirstfourth.com This First Fourth marks the start of Newtown’s 325th anniversary year.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Dr. Ciervo moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of June 11, 2008. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Bills: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $352,956.80. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $160,000. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Chairman: Mr. Jirele reported that the Board had met in executive session before the start of this evening’s meeting to discuss matters of land acquisition.
Mr. Jirele reported that he and Mr. Calabro had met with Council Rock School District officials to discuss the relocation of parking at Council Rock High School North for construction of an extension on the natatorium. It was agreed that after completion of the extension, twenty new parking spaces will be constructed, with the location options to be discussed at a later Board meeting.
Board Members: Mr. Gallagher reported that he had attended a conference in Harrisburg on the use of technology by municipalities with the chairman of the Technology Committee. Information gained at the conference will be very helpful as our Technology Committee begins to assess its goals and objectives.
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that Township Planner Michele Fountain gave an instructional presentation for new Planning Commission and other Township committee members on land development prior to the start of the meeting.The Planning Commission reviewed land development plans for Lots 54 & 55 at 170 Pheasant Run which include a lot line change and construction of a 26,00 square foot office building with associated parking and stormwater management for D-1 office use. The Planning Commission recommends that the Board of Supervisors grant preliminary plan approval subject to certain conditions including compliance with the review letters of the Township consultants. The Commission also asked that the plans clearly show planned delivery drop-off areas.
The Commission reviewed a sketch plan for expansion of Newtown Public Storage at 178 Upper Silver Lake Road, which proposes a 2,700 square foot addition to the existing self-storage building and construction of a new, three-story 21,150 square foot self storage building. The Commission had concerns about the change in usage, as the current facility consists of unheated units. The new facility will be climate controlled with a central entrance and elevators. This would increase the intensity of the use. The members had concerns about the width of the drive lanes, particularly the turning radii near the new building. They asked that the applicant seek input from the Fire Marshal before completing the preliminary plan.
The applicant’s attorney briefly discussed the existing stone farmhouse on the property, which is a residence with some office use for the storage facility. At some point, the owners might want to separate the house and residential lot from the storage lot. The owners would want some input from HARB about the historic features of the house that should be preserved.
The Commission reviewed four Zoning Hearing Board applications. Todd Goldberg at 13 Delaney Drive seeks a variance for rear yard setback relief to build a patio. The Commission recommended that the applicant attempt to meet the Ordinance setback requirements, as the patio seems very large.
The Commission reviewed the application of 11 Friends Lane for relief from the parking requirements to allow the full 34,076 square foot building to be medical offices. This applicant had already been granted parking variances for the site for a combined medical and general office use. The Commission recommends that the Board of Supervisors oppose the variance request because a medical use has a more intense parking need. In response to Mr. Gallagher’s question, Mr. Fidler said that the Commission members in attendance unanimously agreed to this recommendation because the site could not support the needed parking for a full medical use.
The Commission had no comment on the applications of Jamie & Scott Sysler at 2. S. Lancaster Lane and of Congregation Brothers of Israel, 530 Washington Crossing Road.
The Commission reviewed JMZO Amendment 2008-05 on detention basins and recommended that the Board authorize adoption. Commission discussed JMZO amendment 2008-06 which would require permits for disturbance of environmental resources. The Commission is supportive of the intent of the amendment but, as currently drafted, it does not clearly define what constitutes a “disturbance”, and if there are violations, what penalties are to be imposed, and whether restitution could be required. Members discussed giving very specific definitions of instances when a permit would be required, to avoid property owners needing to develop costly plans in order to remove a diseased tree, for example.
The Jointure will be celebrating its 25 th anniversary on July 31 at Wrightstown Township.
Historical Architectural Review Board: Dr. Ciervo moved to authorize a certificate of appropriateness for Allstate Insurance at 5 N. Sycamore Street for signage as outlined in the memo dated June 25, 2008. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Lee Kirsch of Allstate was in attendance. He confirmed that the signage meets all Township signage requirements and the temporary sign will be removed when the permanent sign is installed.
Lots 54 & 55 – 170 Pheasant Run/Penns Trail, Preliminary Plan for Land Development: Attorney Don Marshall was in attendance to review this application for a lot line change and construction of a 26,000 square foot office building with associated parking and stormwater facilities in the LI Light industrial Zoning District. The building will be used for D-1 office use. Lot 54 contains a 12,863 square foot office building, occupied by PKF Engineering. The lot line change would move 0.4667 acres, containing 25 reserve parking spaces, to lot 55. PKF would have 30 spaces reserved in green. Mr. Marshall said that the business at PKF does not have the typical square footage allocation per employee. There are frequently only four or five cars in its lot. Both buildings meet the parking requirements.
Richard Doyle, developer of the property, presented a sketch of the proposed elevation of the new building. In response to Mr. Jirele’s questions, Mr. Doyle said that he controls two separate legal entities that own the two lots. He will comply with the sidewalk requirements.
In response to Mr. Jirele’s comments, Mr. Marshall said that the JMZO and the SALDO conflict on front yard parking, with the JMZO allowing it while the SALDO does not. When the Commons was primarily light industrial, rear parking could be accommodated, as loading berths were needed and fewer parking spaces are required for light manufacturing uses. As uses change to office use, business owners want front doors and access to parking from buildings’ multiple entrances. He noted that the businesses in the Commons are desirable and make valuable contributions to the Township’s tax revenues. He also pointed out that for this particular building, to accommodate all parking at the rear would require more impervious surface in order to provide a drive aisle between rows of parking spaces. The applicant will comply with all buffering requirements. Stormwater management will accommodate all parking, including that held in green.
Ms. Fountain pointed out that moving the building forward to put all parking in the rear would encroach on the front yard setback.
Mr. Doyle said that stormwater management involves underground facilities. Del Val Soils has conducted tests and has satisfied the Township Engineer’s requirements.
In response to Mr. Jirele’s question about lighting, Ms. Fountain said that some lights are shown on the plans. The Township is requesting shielding of lights and the applicant has indicated that he will comply with this request.
In response to Dr. Ciervo’s comment on the Carroll Engineering letter regarding parking stall size, Mr. Marshall said that Carroll Engineering was unaware that the Ordinance has changed and now requires only 25% of parking spaces to be 10’X20’ The remaining 75% of spaces are 9’X18’. There are also different requirements for the size of the handicapped spaces.
Mr. Garton reviewed the waiver requests:
In response to Dr. Ciervo’s question, Mr. Garton said that the applicant has agreed to provide a traffic count and to pay a traffic impact fee, which would be calculated at final plan approval if the required traffic study were waived.
Mr. Marshall noted that there have been a few traffic studies performed in the immediate area recently. The Planning Commission agreed that an additional traffic study would not provide any different information. A traffic count will be provided.
Ms. Fountain said that no road improvements would be required for this project and the applicant will provide sidewalks.
The members discussed whether to require a sidewalk for this site, as it would not connect to any existing sidewalks. It was agreed that this issue would be revisited at final plan review.
Mr. Doyle discussed plans for the building. He does not yet know who his tenant will be. It is possible that he might have executive suites or a single tenant. He will comply with the Township’s sign ordinances, but would postpone design of signage until he knows who will occupy the building. In response to Mr. Calabro’s comments, he said that the entrance drives to lots 54 and 55 are side by side, so it might be necessary to have a small second sign at the driveway.
Mr. Marshall indicated that the applicant would agree to all of the conditions of approval that had been outlined in the Planning Commission letter. He again said that 30 parking spaces would remain in green.
Mr. Calabro moved to grant preliminary plan approval RKD Builders, Inc., for the premises located at Lots 54 & 55, Newtown Business Commons, 170 Pheasant Run, Newtown, Pennsylvania, 19840 B being Bucks County Tax Parcel NO. 29-10-134 and 135 prepared by All County Inc., comprising Sheets 1-6 dated March 1, 2008, subject to the following conditions, all of which the applicant has agreed to:
The Commission recommends that the following Waivers be granted to Developer from the SALDO as follows:
Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.Newtown Public Storage, 178 Upper Silver Lake Road – Sketch Plan: Mr. Marshall said that he would defer the review of this plan until a preliminary plan is presented. The comments of the Planning Commission, including concerns about emergency access and turning radii, will be incorporated into the preliminary plan. In response to Mr. Gallagher’s question, he said that the owner of the property has discussed some renovations of the house with the Joint Historic Commission, and might at some time want to separate the residential lot. Offices now housed in the dwelling would be moved to the new building.
Reports of Officials
Newtown Township Ordinance No. 2008-08: Mr. Garton explained that this ordinance has been advertised for adoption. It clarifies that all members of each governing body of each municipality in the Jointure are members of the Joint Zoning Council, however each municipality shall have only one vote regardless of the number of members of the Board of Supervisors in attendance at meetings.
Mr. Gallagher expressed some concern about confusion that might arise when more than one supervisor is in attendance at a meeting, and when voting takes place these supervisors have differing votes.
Mr. Garton said that these votes should be addressed at the Board of Supervisors meeting in advance of the Joint Zoning Council meeting.
Mr. Jirele said that the Jointure has certain safety nets built in. This should be discussed at a work session. The vote is necessary this evening to clear up difficulties with the older ordinance.
Dr. Ciervo moved to adopt Newtown Township Ordinance No. 2008-04. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
JMZO 2008-01: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment will correct discrepancies between the table of uses and permitted uses in the QA – QAA zoning districts.
Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt JMZO 2008-01. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
JMZO 2008-02: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment will correct the display of the Federal Cemetery Overlay District as it impacts the Gunser property so as to be consistent with the metes and bounds description attached as an exhibit to 2006-08.
Mr. Jirele moved to adopt 2008-02. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
JMZO 2008-05: Mr. Garton said that the Planning Commission has recommended that this ordinance, which would amend the definition of “open space” and “structure” and clarify uses permitted be adopted; this amendment would clarify the prohibition against counting detention basins as part of required open space.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize advertisement of JMZO 2008-05. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Mr. Jirele noted that this does not change the Ordinance, but only clarifies it.
Dr. Ciervo said that he thinks this strengthens the intent of the Ordinance.
The motion passed 4-0.
OLLY USA, LLC: Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the decision approving conditional use for OLLY, USA. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Zoning Hearing Board Applications
Todd Goldberg, 13 Delaney Drive: No Comment
Jamie and Scott Sysler, 2 South Lancaster Lane: No Comment
11 Friends Lane, LLC, 11 Friends Lane: Mr. Garton reviewed this application for parking relief to allow 155 parking spaces for 34,832 square feet of medical office use, which would require 227 parking spaces. The applicant had already been granted two variances for parking subject to the condition that medical use would not exceed 19,343 square feet.
Mr. Jirele said that he would like to hear from the applicant what is planned for the space and would like input from the Township Engineer to determine whether the proposed 155 parking spaces would be adequate.
Mr. Gallagher said that because this is an adaptive re-use of an existing building, he would not oppose the application. He would like to encourage re-use of the industrial buildings in the Business Commons.
Mr. Calabro agreed with Mr. Jirele that he would like more information about the revision of plans.
The members discussed the parking requirements for medical uses and agreed that they should be reviewed to determine whether the Ordinance requires too much parking.
Mick Petrucci said that his parents have an interest in this property. While he is not prepared to discuss plans for the site this evening, he confirmed that arrangements have been made for some off-site parking.
Mr. Garton outlined the Board’s options on this application:
Mr. Jirele moved to request that the applicant continue the application and appear before the Board of Supervisors. If the applicant does not agree to the continuance, Mr. Jirele moved to authorize the Solicitor to appear in opposition to the application at the Zoning Hearing Board meeting of July 3, 2008.
The motion failed.
Dr. Ciervo moved to request that the applicant continue the application and appear before the Board of Supervisors to discuss the application. Mr. Jirele seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele said that while he is not opposed to the adaptive re-use of properties in the Business Commons he would like more information about off-site parking and other aspects of the proposed use.
The motion passed 4-0.
Congregation Brothers of Israel, 530 Washington Crossing Road: Mr. Garton said that the applicant is seeking a special exception to construct a 1,680 square foot temporary classroom on a non-conforming lot.
Dr. Ciervo said that he has some concern about the Synagogue’s plans exceeding the building site area.
Mr. Jirele said that he had been in attendance at the Planning Commission when this application was reviewed. This proposed construction would amount to only 11% total impervious surface at the site; it is at the rear of the Synagogue and cannot be seen by neighbors.
Ms. Fountain noted that the applicant will be appearing before the Board shortly on a request for a waiver of land development.
The Board had no comment on the application.
Other Business: Mr. Garton reported that the in the litigation of the sale of Council Rock School District’s property to Toll Brothers, the neighbors have withdrawn their appeal. The Zoning Hearing Board appeal and the two appeals in Upper Makefield are still outstanding.
Mr. Garton said that, in response to the Board’s request for information on ways to raise money for purchase of open space, he has researched four options:
Mr. Gallagher said that the County funds available for open space acquisition are limited. He would support putting a referendum on the ballot for borrowing money. He would like to see it as an agenda item.
Mr. Jirele asked that this be put on an agenda in July.
Mr. Calabro said that he agreed that this should be put before the voters as a referendum question.
Dr. Ciervo said that he is in favor of imposing an earned income tax, as outlined in item #2. He prefers an earned income tax because people who come to Newtown to work would contribute and there would not be an impact on senior citizens. He asked that information on current income from the earned income tax be provided.
Mr. Gallagher said that he would like to consider a bond issuance as well, because that would allow an immediate purchase if desirable land were to become available for preservation.Mr. Jirele suggested that the Board consider a combination of items #2 and #4. All who live and who work in Newtown benefit by open space preservation. He asked that the finance director investigate what size bond an increase in earned income tax would support.
Tudor Square Phase III: Dr. Ciervo moved to authorize escrow release certificate of completion #7 in the amount of $48,022.50. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Jointure has been looking at the OR Office Research District. There are some parcels that could be developed as residential although they are surrounded by offices.
Mr. Jirele asked the Township Planner to identify any such parcels to discuss current uses and impact of any possible change in the zoning. This information should be passed to the Planning Commission.
Mr. Gallagher reported that the Open Space Committee held its first meeting on June 9. The two EAC representatives had reported that their work on the open space inventory is progressing very slowly. The Committee discussed using the EAC’s $1500 budget to hire students to complete the inventory.
Mr. Jirele said that the inventory will be important to the Township as it participates in the County Open Space Program. He suggested that he and Mr. Gallagher meet with the EAC chairman to discuss this.
Mr. Garton suggested that a budget proposal and job description be prepared.
It was noted that the EAC did not have a quorum at its last meeting, but those in attendance did not object to the use of its budgeted funds.
In response to Mr. Gallagher’s questions, Mr. Czajkowski said that the Township’s traffic signals have been converted to LED lights. Newtown will be working with Northampton on a joint grant to fund conversion of the street lights to LED.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board should begin investigating ways that the Township can be more environmentally friendly.
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 PM.