Board of Supervisors
Minutes of February 11, 2009
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on February 11, 2009 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Thomas Jirele, Vice Chairman Robert Ciervo, 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. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Public Comment: Resident Richard Thompson, president of Newtown Area Republicans, announced that a screening of prospective candidates seeking Republican Party endorsements will be held on February 16, 2009 at the Temperance House at 7:30 PM. For further information contact Mr. Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minutes, Bills Lists, and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Schenkman moved to approve the minutes the regular meeting of January 28, 2009. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Board members provided some corrected spellings of names of people giving public comment.
Mr. Gallagher said that under “bills list,” discussion should have noted a “payment to the Township” and that he abstained from the vote. He said that the payment referenced did not appear on that bills list, but is on this evening’s bills list.
The motion passed 5-0.
Bills Lists: Mr. Gallagher noted that the bills list includes a $75 payment to the Township for a seminar that he attended.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $590,201.52. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Gallagher abstaining.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $180,000. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Chairman: Mr. Jirele reported that he attended the most recent Newtown Borough Council meeting. The Borough Council thanked our Board for its spirit of cooperation on matters of mutual concern to both municipalities. The Borough is also planning to attend some Jointure meetings to investigate whether to rejoin the Jointure.
Other Board Members: Mr. Schenkman reported that he had attended the most recent work session of the Newtown Business Commons Association, where work was done on an updated strategic plan. The plan will outline ways to better work with the Township Board of Supervisors to promote business and to market the Commons.
Planning Commission: Planning Commission Secretary Peggy Driscollreported that the Commission reviewed an amended final plan for Rockbridge Estates for subdivision of 10.84 acres on the eastern side of Washington Crossing Road in the R-1 Medium Density Zoning District. The plan divides the property into three lots, with two building lots of 1.94 acres each, and the Township acquiring the remaining third lot of approximately 5.75 acres. The property is the subject of a settlement agreement between Gigliotti Avignon Associates and the Township dated September 10, 2008. The Commission recommended that the Board approve this plan, subject to certain conditions, including that deed restrictions be placed on wetlands on lots 1 and 2. This was not a unanimous vote, as one member felt that the lot is too wet and could not support any development.
After the applicant’s attorney left the meeting, the Commission informally discussed the possible need for tree replacement after construction, and agreed that since the property is already densely wooded, if tree replacement is warranted because of ordinance requirement, the Board might consider collecting a fee in lieu or the planting of replacement trees elsewhere in the Township.
Supervisor Jirele invited the members to attend the February 17, 2009 work session to discuss the priorities for the Planning Commission going forward this year. Members will make every effort to attend the Board meeting.
Mr. Schenkman commented that it had been his understanding that the one member in opposition to approval has felt the property “should not” be developed because of wet conditions.
Rockbridge Estates, Washington Crossing Road – Amended Final Plan for Land Development: Attorney Ed Murphy represented the applicant. Mr. Murphy reviewed the history of the property, which had been approved by the Courts for a three lot subdivision and was the subject of a settlement agreement in September 2008. The Township has negotiated to purchase and preserve a six acre portion of the property with two building lots to be developed for residential use. The plans have been amended to show these changes. Mr. Murphy showed the amended plan to the Board.
Pointing to a gray shaded section of the plan, Mr. Garton explained that in addition to the almost 6 acres being purchased by the Township, there is a portion subject to a quitclaim deed that the Township is also acquiring.
Mr. Garton reviewed the conditions of approval with Mr. Murphy.
Mr. Murphy showed the Board the portions of lots 1 and 2 that are wetlands and said that the applicant will place conservation easements on these areas with a third party such as the Heritage Conservancy. As part of the unilateral restrictions and covenants the applicant agrees that there will be no further subdivision of the property.
Mr. Murphy showed an area near the proposed driveway entrance where trees might be removed, which would require replacement according to the Ordinance. This area is already heavily wooded, so the applicant is suggesting that, should replacement be required, a fee in lieu be paid.
Mr. Schenkman said that perhaps the Board might establish a “tree bank” to accept contributions in lieu of replacement. The trees could then be planted in Township parks.
Mr. Jirele said that there had been some outstanding issues with the proposed basin.
Ms. Fountain said that the poor soils on the property are not conducive to absorbing runoff. She has discussed this with Mark Haver, the engineer for the developer, and they have agreed to a re-sized pipe that will withstand the 100-year storm.
Mr. Garton noted that a trail easement to provide access to the open space along the creek will be part of the settlement agreement.
Dr. Ciervo asked about a fee in lieu of park and recreation open space.
Ms. Fountain explained that subdivisions of two or fewer dwellings do not require a fee.
In response to Dr. Ciervo’s questions regarding disturbance of natural resources, Mr. Haver pointed out the 1.36 acres to be disturbed for the driveway and a small area surrounding the houses. The developer has already obtained a variance for wetland disturbance.
Dr. Ciervo commended the developer and engineer for the work they have done to keep disturbance of resources at a minimum.
Mr. Calabro said that he had concerns about disturbance of the wetlands and construction in such a wet area. The houses will be placed very close to the wetlands. He is concerned that the residents of these homes will experience flooding and leaks.
Mr. Gallagher said that when the plans were presented in 2007, the builder had reviewed the many steps being taken to waterproof the homes.
Dr. Ciervo said that since the developer already has been granted variances for disturbance of wetlands, there is nothing the Board of Supervisors can do.
Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the final plan for land development of Gigliotti Avignon Associates, L.P. for Rockbridge Estates, Newtown, Pennsylvania, 19840 – being Bucks County Tax Parcel NO. 29-10-13.2 prepared by Pickering Corts and Summerson dated January 9, 2009 (“the Plans) subject to the following conditions, all of which the applicant has agreed to:
Reports of Officials
Mr. Czajkowski reported that there has been some activity at the site of the new municipal complex buildings. Trees have been removed and some earth moving has started.
Chief Henry Pasqualini reviewed the police report with the Board. He noted that he has included with the report a spreadsheet of information on traffic citations including locations. The officers have begun training on the newly acquired ENRADD speed detection system. He said that the Department has responded to 1301 calls this month and issued 248 traffic citations. In response to questions from the Board he said that the new police officer is a great asset to the Department and is working out well. Two officers have completed motorcycle training. The motorcycle was used in the recent funeral procession for Middletown Officer Chris Jones. A second motorcycle is on order. It is hoped that the motorcycle will be on patrol daily, weather permitting.
Dr. Ciervo asked if the traffic data could be distributed to Board members electronically in the future.
Mr. Jirele and Mr. Calabro asked whether there has been any increase in crime in Newtown or any serious problems on Sycamore Street.
Chief Pasqualini said that there has not been any spike in crime and Sycamore Street is safe except for some traffic issues.
In response to Mr. Gallagher’s question, Chief Pasqualini said that he has not heard anything about release of DEA forfeiture funds.
Resolution Establishing Joint Traffic Committee: Mr. Garton reviewed changes made to the draft resolution, which include the insertion of the word “oral” with respect to reports and to specifically noting that the priority for investigation would be areas located where the Township and Borough experience traffic problems.
Mr. Jirele said that he did not think that Newtown Borough had adopted its resolution yet. He asked interested residents to contact the Township offices to serve on the committee.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt a resolution establishing a joint traffic committee with Newtown Borough. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher said that there are also openings on the Township Technology Committee. Interested volunteers should contact the Township offices to join this committee.
Change Order #1 – and Final Payment for the 2008 Road Program: Ms. Fountain explained that this change order reflects an adjustment in the price of bituminous. This is for work completed during August and September when gas prices were very high. If the change order and payment are not approved the Township would be in violation of its contact.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize change order #1 for the 2008 road program. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Calabro moved to authorize final payment for the 2008 road program. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Ms. Fountain noted that the difference in price from the bid reflects actual work done.
Mr. Czajkowski noted that this is still very much below what had been budgeted.
The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM.