Board of Supervisors
Minutes of August 13, 2008
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, August 13, 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 Picard of The Church of St. Andrew gave the invocation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Jirele welcomed Boy Scout Troop 99, in attendance to earn a government merit badge.
Special Action: Mr. Jirele presented a proclamation to Alan J. Carey on his attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He congratulated Alan on behalf of the Board and Township, and commended him for his project, a footbridge over the Newtown Creek in Newtown Grant, which required 470 hours of hard work. This bridge is a valuable asset to the community.
Alan thanked the Board. He said that his project took 18 months of work to get appropriate approvals from Newtown Township, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and FEMA, and four days of construction.
Newtown Borough Resident Henry DeSilva announced a program to be held at the Township Building on September 11, 2008 at 7:30 PM at which Ralph Copleman of Sustainable Lawrence will discuss ways that communities can support environmental efforts to preserve our natural resources. He provided the Board with information on the event and the Sustainable Lawrence program, and invited the Board and the public to attend. Information on the program can be found at www.sustainablelawrence.org
Mr. Jirele said that the Township would place the flyers and information in the lobby for interested residents.
Resident Mick Petrucci announced that Newtown Business and Professional Association will be sponsoring a talent show at the Grange Fair this Saturday at 2:30 PM. There are still slots available to enter the show and contest. To enter, contact Bob Habla at firstname.lastname@example.org
Resident Paul Sterling of Upper Silver Lake Road said that he has been following the activities of the Board and the advisory committees, boards and commissions for many years. He complimented Mr. Jirele on his manner in chairing the Board. He congratulated Dr. Ciervo on his recent appointment as Republic Committee Chairman in Newtown. He asked that properties being considered for preservation as open space be identified for the public. He asked for some changes at the televised Board meetings:
Mr. Sterling expressed some concern about the current condition of the closed portion of Upper Silver Lake Road. It had been his understanding that the road would remain open for emergency access, but it is now impassable.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he would investigate this, as the road is to be made accessible for emergency vehicles.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of July 23, 2008. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $320,443.60. Mr. Calabro seconded. The motion passed 5-0..
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $296,233.11. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Chairman: Mr. Jirele said that the Board had met in executive session prior to the start of this evening’s meeting to discuss matters of land acquisition.
Mr. Jirele announced that the Jointure had celebrated its 25 th anniversary at a special meeting on July 31, 2008 in Wrightstown Township. That meeting is being televised on the Township station. A presentation of the history of the Jointure and of the revised comprehensive plan were part of the program.
Other Board Members: Mr. Gallagher announced that an Irish Hunger Festival will be held on Saturday, August 16, 2008 at Shadybrook Farm beginning at 11:00 AM.
Mr. Calabro asked about placing information on the program Dr. DeSilva spoke of on the Township television station.
Mr. Gallagher said that he had some concerns about placing some events on the television station and not others. He had concerns about being approached by every charity sponsoring events.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that the Board develop a policy for such requests.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he would research what other municipalities in the area are doing and would report to the Supervisors.
Mr. Jirele suggested that Board members continue to announce events they wish to support during the Supervisors meeting.
Reports of Officials
Five Year Winter Traffic Services Agreement Resolution: Mr. Czajkowski explained that the Township’s Public Works Department provides certain services, including snow plowing, on State roads, for which PennDOT will reimburse the Township. The cost of plowing of 13.2 lane miles of road, including portions of Newtown Richboro Road, Durham Road, Washington Crossing Road and Buck Road, will be reimbursed at $10,005 per year for five years. There is an additional amount of $5,000 available for extreme weather conditions. In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Czajkowski said that the rate has increased since the last agreement. A resolution is needed to enter into this agreement.
Mr. Garton said that PennDOT sets the price. It makes sense to adopt this resolution, because the Township vehicles must traverse these roads to get to roads that we are obligated to plow. The Township sets the priorities for plowing, and the work is done more efficiently.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt Resolution number 2008-R15, Five Year Winter Traffic Services Agreement. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Construction Management Proposals: Mr. Czajkowski reported that he, along with Township Assistant Manager John Boyle, and Supervisors Gallagher and Schenkman, met with representatives of Hill International, Jingoli and Son, Inc. and Boyle Construction Management. State law requires that on municipal projects, each component of the construction be bid separately. A construction management firm would act as general contractor, on site every day, supervising construction to make sure the project is completed on schedule and on budget, overseeing all phases of construction, including change orders.
Mr. Schenkman said that five firms responded to the Township’s request for proposals. Of the three low bids, Hill International seemed not to be the right fit for Newtown Township. He reviewed the pros and cons of the two remaining firms:
Jingoli & Son, Inc.
Boyle Construction Management
Mr. Gallagher said that he agreed with Mr. Schenkman’s impressions of the two firms and added that each of the firms stressed its commitment to job safety. Jingoli conducts regular site safety inspections. During the meeting, LEEDS certification for the project was discussed, and Jingoli is a member of the Green Building Council. Jingoli will provide daily reports to strengthen communication on the project. Mr. Gallagher said that he is concerned about change orders, which can add greatly to the cost of a project. There are three common reasons for change orders: unforeseen conditions, owner changes and errors and omissions. Jingoli’s pre-construction project review helps to keep errors and omissions low, and Jingoli’s change order rate has been 2-2.5%. Its recent Bucks County Community College Bristol Campus project’s change orders brought costs down. There has been no litigation on any Jingoli project in the past seven years. For these and for Jingoli’s extensive experience on municipal projects, he would recommend that the Board choose Jingoli and Son.
Mr. Calabro said that he is very concerned about the cost difference, as Jingoli is more than $144,000 more than Boyle. He said that perhaps Jingoli had a more polished sales presentation, but he would still prefer considering the lower bidder. Boyle is not inexperienced. They are eager for the opportunity, which could provide advancement for the firm. Our architect is LEEDS certified, and will be involved in assuring that our project gains LEEDS Silver certification. Boyle has been favorably recommended by our Township professionals, including our architect.
Dr. Ciervo said that he agrees with Mr. Gallagher. Boyle is less experienced with large municipal projects. Jingoli has worked on many large local projects, including the Community College and the Middletown Police Department. It could be a risk providing a “proving ground” for Boyle here. He would favor Jingoli.
Mr. Jirele said that the Township Engineer and Township Manager have each supported both bidders. Both are highly qualified and highly recommended. Boyle has managed the Hilltown Municipal Building project; Hilltown gave a glowing recommendation. There is almost $150,000 difference in the two bids, and for this reason he would prefer to choose Boyle, the lower bidder.
Mr. Schenkman said that he has given careful consideration to all of the points discussed. He noted that, while Boyle is not as old a firm at Jingoli, it is not new, and has been in business for over 30 years. While either firm would be good, he would choose Boyle because the price is better and the firm is eager to prove itself.
Mr. Gallagher said that if price is the deciding factor, he would like to ask Jingoli to see if its price can be re-negotiated.
Mr. Schenkman did not object to this suggestion.
Mr. Czajkowski noted that postponing the decision would cut into the pre-construction time.
The Board discussed whether to re-negotiate, but Mr. Calabro noted that if Jingoli were asked to re-negotiate, all bidders should be given the same opportunity, further delaying the project.
In response to Mr. Gallagher’s continued concerns about possible costs associated with change orders, Mr. Jirele said that not all change orders can be prevented, and that many are at the request of the owner of the project. The percentages referenced by Jingoli do not tell the entire story.
Mr. Calabro moved to select Boyle Construction Management for the Township Municipal Complex expansion at a cost of $274,000.
Mr. Gallagher moved to table the selection of a construction manager. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Mr. Jirele noted that there is a possibility that not all of the Supervisors will be in attendance at the next meeting, and that postponing a decision will reduce the preconstruction period.
Mr. Jirele called the question of tabling the selection. The motion failed 1-3-1, with Messrs. Schenkman, Calabro and Jirele voting nay and Dr. Ciervo abstaining.
Mr. Schenkman seconded Mr. Calabro’s motion selecting Boyle Construction Management. The motion passed 3-2, with Dr. Ciervo and Mr. Gallagher voting nay.
Police Chief’s Report: Chief Henry Pasqualini reviewed the recent activities of the Police Department, noting that the Department responded to 1,170 calls for service, which included 274 traffic citations, 32 traffic accidents, 45 medical emergencies and 10 drug investigations. The Department responded to 46 calls reporting suspicious circumstances. He urged residents to call if they notice any unusual activity in the community. The Department has a booth at the Grange fair.
In response to Dr. Ciervo’s questions, Chief Pasqualini explained that cars of drivers who are stopped without valid drivers licenses are impounded. Current technology available to officers allows them to verify whether those who are not carrying a license when stopped are, in fact, licensed drivers.
In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Chief Pasqualini said that the “terroristic threats” listed in the report refer to threats to do harm made during altercations between residents, not risks to national security.
Ordinance to Permit Sidewalk Signs on Sycamore Street: Mr. Garton provided a draft ordinance that would permit sidewalk signs. This ordinance would allow businesses along Sycamore Street to better advertise by using sandwich board signs. This is not a zoning ordinance, but a licensing ordinance to permit specific signs.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize advertisement of an ordinance to permit sidewalk signs on Sycamore Street. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to Mr. Schenkman’s questions, Mr. Garton explained that he and Mr. Solomon discussed annual renewal of permits. By renewing each year, the Township has better control of all existing approved signage. Partial year permits would be issued when a business first applies, with renewal at the start of each new year. Section 7, which addresses the placement of signs on the sidewalk and liability insurance can be separated into two sections. Liability would be a rider to existing business insurance.
Mr. Jirele said that he would like signs to be stored indoors when not in use. He was concerned about stacking of unused signs. He also questioned the times that signs would be permitted to be displayed.
The Board discussed times and agreed that the signs should be permitted when businesses are open, and the ordinance should not list times certain, as each business has different hours of operation, with some, such as restaurants and taverns open late into the evening.
The Board discussed whether to ask the Planning Commission to review this ordinance. Mr. Gallagher and Dr. Ciervo did not think review would be necessary, as the ordinance had been discussed by the Board, with the business owners and has been modeled after Doylestown Borough’s ordinance. The Historic Architectural Review Board and the Code Enforcement office would be involved in issuing permits.
Mr. Garton noted that the proposed ordinance only addresses businesses fronting on Sycamore Street. Once enacted, other businesses in other zoning districts might approach the Board for similar opportunities.
The Board discussed the requirement of 4 feet of unobstructed sidewalk, or at the discretion of the Zoning Officer, as outlined in section 7. Ms. Fountain noted that the ADA requires a 36 inch width. She noted that using the phrase “ADA Compliance” in the ordinance could place an undue burden on some of the businesses along Sycamore Street, which could be faced with great expense to bring their businesses into compliance.
It was agreed to use 3 feet, rather than 4 feet as the guide and not have a second sentence in section 7 referring to the Code Enforcement Officer.
The Board discussed whether the Ordinance, as written, requires that the signs be placed on the sidewalks, or if they would be permitted on the lawns of the businesses that have lawns. The Board agreed that the intent is to permit the sandwich board without obstructing foot traffic, and that they would approve signage on the lawns or on the sidewalk.
Resident Vince Lombardi said that the Sycamore Street sidewalks are all 4 feet wide. He suggested that the ordinance might permit signs to be placed within two or three feet of the sidewalk where that is possible, just not near the curb. He also noted that the business owners are interested in a standard for signage, which might require the HARB approved colors, the business logo, name and other identification, in addition to some specific information. He showed a sample sign stand and some sample signs which could be inserted into either side of the stand. Each sample showed some specific information, such as sale prices or brand names of products carried by the business. The standard would allow some flexibility, so that signs could be changed without having to go through the permit/approval process, when advertised information, such as sales, change.
Mr. Jirele said that he is concerned that there are aspects of the ordinance that the Supervisors might miss; the Planning Commission has some expertise in reviewing ordinances. He said that he would prefer that the Planning Commission review the ordinance before the Supervisors adopt it.
Resident Shawn Ward, who, along with Mr. Lombardi, represents the Sycamore Street Association, said that currently signs are not permitted on sidewalks. Some of the buildings along Sycamore Street are very close to the street; passing motorists cannot see the signs above doorways. The sandwich signs on the sidewalk give passing motorists an opportunity to learn about the businesses.
Mr. Schenkman asked whether the business owners objected to the code enforcement officer making determinations as to location of signs.
Mr. Garton pointed out that the Board meets regularly; those with concerns about determinations have the option of speaking to the Board at a public meeting.
Mr. Ward agreed with this. He also agreed with the requirement that signs not in use be stored inside.
The Board discussed whether to permit signs to be placed close to the curb, which could interfere with exiting of parked cars. After some further discussion, the Board agreed that Mr. Garton would make the suggested changes to the ordinance that had been discussed this evening, and would ask the Planning Commission to review the revised ordinance. HARB would also be asked to prepare standards for the signs.
No vote was taken on the motion to authorize advertisement of the ordinance.
Extension of Zoning Hearing Board Decision , Nancy and Jim Reisenberger, 69 Autumn Drive: Mr. Gallagher moved to extend the Zoning Hearing Board decision in Nancy and Jim Reisenberger for six months. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Calabro asked Mr. Czajkowski to look into some recent complaints about the stop sign at Barclay Street near Chandler Hall being blocked by trees.
Mr. Czajkowski agreed to investigate this matter.
The meeting adjourned at 10:20 PM.