Board of Supervisors
Minutes of December 3, 2008
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Thomas Jirele, Secretary-Treasurer Michael Gallagher, Jerry Schenkman and Philip Calabro, members. Also present were: Joseph 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. Pastor Janet Peterman of the Lutheran Church of God’s Love gave the invocation. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski noted that the Neil Morris Zoning Hearing Board application has been removed from the Solicitor’s report.
Mr. Jirele said that there would be a need for an executive session after this evening’s meeting. He asked that Park and Recreation Board Chairman Andrew Levine remain for the session.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Gallagher asked that in the minutes of the regular meeting of November 12, 2008 on page 2, under reports of Board members, his statement on the completion of the Open Space Comprehensive Plan be clarified to reflect that the work of the Committee on the draft would hopefully be completed by the end of the year, at which time it would be sent to the Bucks County Planning Commission for additional input before being presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval.
Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of November 12, 2008, as amended. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of November 17, 2008. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Bills Lists: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $212,024.24. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $170,000. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Chairman: Mr. Jirele announced that Dr. Ciervo and his wife had a new baby girl this morning and extended the congratulations of the Board to the Ciervo family.
Other Board Members: Mr. Schenkman reported that he had attended a meeting of the Regional Traffic Task Force at which it was noted that the Task Force rejected the concept of a roundabout at the intersection of Stoopville and Washington Crossing Roads. Lower Makefield has indicated a preference for a “T” intersection.
The task Force does not have a sunset provision and the members agreed to table dissolution for one year, during which year activities will be suspended. While the members agreed that their work was completed, they also agreed that there are still ongoing matters to be discussed among the participating municipalities. Issues of continued concern might be addressed by the Lower Bucks County League of Municipalities.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board had at one time begun discussion of traffic and parking concerns with Newtown Borough. The Board should possibly consider revisiting these discussions.
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that at its December 2, 2008 meeting the Commission reviewed a report by the Traffic Engineer. The members agreed to urge the Supervisors to authorize needed traffic counts for the proposed extension of Terry Drive through to the Newtown Bypass. The Commission also discussed the intersection of Silo Drive and Sycamore Street and recommends that a traffic study be done after the completion of the Green Parrot Pub to determine whether a traffic signal will be warranted. The members suggest that the study be done between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM.
Mr. Czajkowski said that Carroll Engineering has estimated that the traffic count work requested by PennDOT for Terry Drive would cost about $4500. He believes there are traffic impact fee funds available that could be used for this.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize the traffic engineer to move forward with traffic counts for the extension of Terry Drive through to the Bypass, using available traffic impact fees. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
The Commission reviewed the Comprehensive Plan and discussed current road classifications at length. Two Planning Commission members and a resident in attendance urged the Commission to change Swamp Road’s classification from arterial to collector road. While the Commission was in agreement that Swamp Road might not currently be appropriately classified, the vote was 7-1 to recommend that the Board adopt the plan. The Commission recommends that maps used in the plan be revised more frequently and that road classifications throughout the Jointure be reviewed to be more consistently and accurately classified. The Commission members agreed that this is a very well done plan that allows each municipality flexibility for future development.
Mr. Jirele said that with the Board’s approval, he would like to recommend that the Jointure consider road classification a priority in the coming year.
The Commission reviewed and recommended that the Board of Supervisors grant final land development approval for lots 54 and 55, Pheasant Run at Penns Trail for a 26,000 square foot office building and lot line change, subject to certain conditions, including that a fee in lieu of a sidewalk on the Pheasant Run side of the building be paid, such fee to be used elsewhere in the Business Commons for sidewalks.
The Commission reviewed a sketch plan for Rosebank Winery at 258 Durham Road for construction of a 5,400 square foot barn for winery and wine sales, with existing barn to be converted for hosting of wine events, and recommended that the Board support the plan. The members agreed that the activities being held at the winery would be better conducted indoors, rather than in the tent that had been used in the past. Some suggestions regarding pull-off areas in the driveway to better accommodate two way traffic were made.
The Commission reviewed the sketch plan of Stockland, Inc. on Sycamore Street at Richboro Road for construction of a Chevrolet showroom on the lot adjoining the McBride Chrysler showroom and recommend that the Board support it. The members suggested that the applicant investigate possibly providing access to the rear parking area through the Newtown Plaza parking lot once improvements to the Swamp/Eagle intersection have been completed, rather than add another opening to Swamp Road. There was some discussion of certain paper streets in this area that had been vacated. The Commission was unsure whether those included Howard Avenue, which is referenced in this plan.
The Commission recommended that the Board adopt JMZO 2008-04 – Wetland Transition Areas, JMZO 2008-05 – Detention Basins, JMZO 2008-06 – Permits for Disturbance of Natural Resources, JMZO 2008-09 – CM Revisions, however on JMZO 2008-09, CM Revisions, our vote was 5-3, as some members continue to object to the elimination of the B-14 use, which they feel provides opportunities for preservation of contiguous open space.
The Planning Commission will be losing three members: Jim Bowe, Vince Lombardi and Shannon Wilson. We thanked them for their many years of service to the Township; they will be missed. Mr. Lombardi has been serving the Township’s committees, boards and commissions for 23 years. His institutional memory has been a great asset to the Planning Commission.
On behalf of the Board, Mr. Jirele thanked Messrs. Bowe, Wilson and Lombardi for their years of service to the Township. He noted that with the loss of Mr. Lombardi after 23 years, that left Mr. Fidler as the longest serving member of the community, with 21 years on Township committees. He thanked Mr. Fidler for his leadership of the Planning Commission.
Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine reported that at its November 19, 2008 meeting, the Park and Rec Board reviewed plans for a replacement playground for Helen Randle Park. The Board recommends two separate structures for 2-5 year olds and for 6-12 year olds. Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko enrolled Newtown Township in the U.S. Communities program, allowing Newtown to qualify for up to 17% discount on playground equipment. If the Supervisors authorize purchase of the selected equipment quickly, the playground will also qualify for free delivery, a savings of about $5,000. Mr. Levine provided photographs and a quotation for purchase of the equipment selected by the Park and Rec Board. The total cost of equipment is $33,150.36. An additional $5000 will be needed for surfacing and installation could cost between $10,000 and $12,000. The Township has allocated $40,000 in the budget and there is a $10,000 grant. In response to Mr. Schenkman’s question, Mr. Levine said that he has investigated the Kaboom program, however Newtown might not qualify because of the Township’s demographics. That program also requires volunteer installation, and the Park and Rec Board has found it difficult to organize skilled volunteers on a consistent basis.
Mr. Levine explained that U.S. Communities is a program which allows one municipality to act as contractor for other municipalities throughout the country so that orders for equipment are in large quantities, qualifying for additional discount. By using the program, the project does not have to be put out to bid.
Mr. Jirele thanked Mrs. Pawlenko for her hard work in finding this program, and said that he would like to investigate whether other Township departments could use it, or whether it is only for recreation equipment.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize purchase of Play Builders 804 with Max Play and three stepping stones for Helen Randle Park. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Levine reported that Ed Lipski, chairman of the Technology Committee attended the Park and Rec meeting to discuss working together to improve the Park and Rec Department’s use of technology, through an improved, more responsive Web site and through on-line registration. With the School District no longer distributing the Department’s program flyers, there has been a decline in participation in youth non-athletic, or special interest, programming. Mr. Levine asked that the Board support the two committees working together. As volunteers serving the Board, Mr. Levine did not think it was appropriate for one committee to assign a project to another committee.
Messrs. Schenkman and Gallagher expressed support for the two committees working together on this project.
Mr. Jirele suggested that the Park and Recreation Department be allowed to use the Township newsletter to highlight certain activities and programs.
Mr. Levine said that he would speak to Mrs. Pawlenko about this. The Department has also had favorable response to the temporary signage placed around the Township promoting certain special interest programs.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board is discussing this. He noted that retailers would not be permitted to place signage along the roads, and he prefers to hold the Township to the same standards.
Mr. Calabro said that the various sports organizations have been permitted to promote registration using roadside signage, and he would not want to single out Park and Rec programs when other organizations are permitted the signage.
Mr. Levine reported that the Park and Rec Department has begun a partnership with Northampton Township for a few programs. The two municipalities might better serve their residents if resources are pooled for certain activities.
Mr. Levine reported that Park and Rec revenues are up 4.4% and participation is up 9.8%, with 4,257 residents participating in activities. Half of the revenue is generated by the summer camp program.
In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Levine said that not many children are turned away from the camp programs. Hiring and training of an appropriate number of counselors is planned well in advance of the start of camp, with a carefully worked out ratio of counselors to children. Most rejections are for last minute enrollments.In response to Board questions, Mr. Levine said that the department is 99% self sufficient., up from 97% last year and from 85% in past years. The increase is due in part to restructuring of camp fees. He noted that some municipalities do not include staff in self-sufficiency calculations, as Newtown does. If staff costs are not included the Department is over 150% self-sufficient. More accurate numbers will be available after the new year. Mr. Levine said that the Park and Recreation Department’s director is charged with bringing the many developments and subdivisions together into a single community, an important function. The hiring of a part time employee is already a downsizing of the department. The part time worker is necessary. The Board wants all personnel available to begin the preparation work for the summer camps.
Reports of Officials
Police Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that he has sent letters to residents of Honey Locust Lane about the ongoing dispute about head-in/parallel parking. He strongly recommends that the Township paint hash marks delineating a no-parking area, with a no parking sign erected to allow the complaining resident easier access to his driveway. The police department will not be writing tickets on this street. The residents are in agreement to a compromise on the area of restricted parking.
Mr. Schenkman thanked the Chief for his efforts to resolve this neighborhood dispute.
Chief Pasqualini reviewed the November activities of the Police Department, which included 1,080 calls for service. He commended the detectives who worked on three burglaries in Newtown and Wrightstown. He noted that there were 55 calls reporting suspicious circumstances. He urged residents to continue to call if there is anything unusual happening in their neighborhood.
Mr. Jirele asked the Chief to evaluate the speed limit on Upper Silver Lake Road.
In response to Mr. Gallagher’s questions, Chief Pasqualini said that a laser tool has been ordered to help with monitoring of speeding. Four officers will be trained in its use.
Resident Steve Proster of Honey Locust Lane said that he appreciates the efforts that the Board and Police have made in resolving the parking situation on his street. He wanted to make sure that the solution was a compromise and that there will still be on-street parking available to the other residents.
Chief Pasqualini assured Mr. Proster and the Board that only a small portion of the street would have restrictions, to provide easier driveway access to the one resident. The remainder of the street will still be available for on-street parking.
Appointment of Auditor: Mr. Garton explained that the Township had solicited proposals for certified public accountants to conduct an independent audit for fiscal years 2008, 2009 and 2010. A resolution will be needed to appoint the auditor.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt Resolution 2008-R-21, appointing Majors & Mastro, LLC, Certified Public Accountants as Township auditor for 2008, 2009 and 2010. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
JMZO 2008-09 – CM Revisions: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment has been advertised. It will eliminate the B-14 use from the CM Conservation Management Zoning District and would modify density standards for other residential uses.
Mr. Jirele moved to table consideration of JMZO 2008-09. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Jirele explained that this somewhat controversial amendment had been spearheaded by Dr. Ciervo and he would like to postpone consideration until he is present to participate in the vote.
The motion passed 3-1, with Mr. Calabro voting nay.
JMZO 2008-05 – Stormwater Management Facilities: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment which clarifies the prohibition against inclusion of detention basins in calculating of required open space has been advertised for adoption.
Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt JMZO 2008-05. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
JMZO 2008-06 – Permits for Disturbance of Natural Resources: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment, which would require issuance of a permit prior to disturbance of natural resources including floodplains, lakes, ponds, streams, wetlands, steep slopes and woodlands, has been advertised for adoption.
Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt JMZO 2008-06. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
JMZO 2008-04 – Wetland Transition Area: Mr. Garton explained that this amendment, which would provide additional protection of wetlands by establishing a transition area in the JM, CM, CR-1 and CR-2 Zoning Districts has been advertised for adoption.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt 2008-04. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize escrow release for Villas at Newtown in the amount of $50,264. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize escrow release for Delancey Court in the amount of $40,877. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize escrow release for Goodnoe’s Corner in the amount of $49,402.76. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize escrow release for Village at Newtown South in the amount of $40,376.55. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Gallagher urged residents interested in serving on Township committees, boards and commissions to send letters of interest and/or resumes to Township Manager Joseph Czajkowski at 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown PA 18940 or firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in the Board packets of December 19, 2008.
The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM.