Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Minutes of March 11, 2009

 

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on March 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, and Philip Calabro and Jerry Schenkman, 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 and an invocation by Reverend Klein of Addisville Reformed Church. This was followed by and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski added a request from the Fire Company to the Manager’s Report.

Special Action

Eagle Scout, Josh LePine: On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, Mr. Jirele presented Josh LePine with a proclamation on his attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He extended congratulations to Mr. LePine for his efforts with the Newtown Historic Association.

Mr. LePine thanked the Board. He said that his project involved fixing a storage garage belonging to the Historic Association and landscaping the area around it.

Public Comment

Resident Jay Sensibaugh announced that the Newtown Creek Coalition will host a presentation on a vision for the creek on April 11, 2009 at 2:00 PM at the Newtown Theater. A discussion of history and opportunities for the creek will be part of the presentation.

Resident JoAnne Bintliff Ritchie thanked the Board for her recent appointment to the Joint Traffic Task Force. She reported that she had recently attended Newtown Borough’s Traffic Committee meeting and saw a presentation which can also be viewed on the Newtown Borough Web site.

Resident Mick Petrucci, President of NBPA, announce the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Pickering Manor on April 4, 2009 at 9:00 AM, sharp. All children are welcome, and this year there will also be adult and grandparent categories for the hunt. After the hunt, a fundraising “Breakfast with the Easter Bunny” will be held at the Brick Hotel. Proceeds will be donated to the Neighborhood Outreach Foundation.

Resident Jennifer Dix asked whether there is a very recent study of traffic on Silver Lake Road, and if so, could it be made available to her.

Mr. Jirele said that the studies are available through the Township administrative offices during the business day. There had been a study last year.

Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports

Minutes: Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the minutes the work session of February 17, 2009. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Schenkman abstaining.

Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of February 25, 2009. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Schenkman abstaining.

Bills Lists: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $449,023.57. Mr. Calabro seconded. The motion passed 5-0.

Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $183,410.44 Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Chairman and Board Members

Stoopville Road Traffic Calming: Mr. Jirele reported that he and Mr. Gallagher had just attended an Upper Makefield Board of Supervisors meeting at which the federal funding for Stoopville Road traffic improvements wasdiscussed.

Mr. Schenkman said that thanks to efforts of former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and current Congressman Patrick Murphy, an estimated $2,000,000 will be available for traffic calming on Stoopville Road in conjunction with the Federal Cemetery Overlay District. Gilmore & Associates has developed a plan and some additional stimulus package funds are also available for funding of portions of the project in Upper Makefield, Lower Makefield and Newtown. The project will be completed in two phases, with phase I consisting of roadway construction and phase II involving connecting walkways and trails.

Mr. Czajkowski said that because the project involves stimulus money there is a tight time frame on this project. It is expected to be ready for the bidding process in 120 days. PennDOT will cooperate in expediting the process.

Mr. Jirele noted that the usual requirement of a 20% match by the Township has been waived.

Eric Kaufman of Gilmore & Associates presented a large aerial photograph superimposed with the proposed improvements. He reviewed the plans, which include “gateway” treatments at the entrances to Newtown from Wrightstown and Upper/Lower Makefield, and landscaped medians at Rosefield Drive and at Eagleton Farm Lane. These medians will help calm traffic by narrowing of the roadways. The intersection of Eagle and Stoopville Road will be widened and improved and will have either a flashing stop signal or a fully signalized traffic light. An additional median will be placed between Eagle and the Linton Hill Chase developments. A signal will be installed at Linton Hill/Creamery Road which will be either a four way red flashing light or a two way red/two way yellow flashing light. This will depend on sight distance requirements. Three additional medians will be placed along the road between Linton Hill/Creamery and the intersection with Route 532. That intersection will be fully signalized. The details of the design of that intersection have not been completed. Lower Makefield will pass a resolution for the traffic signal there. The roadway will be widened at Highland Road, with turning lanes added, as will the intersection at Lindenhurst Road.

Mr. Kaufman reviewed the plans for walking paths along the road, noting connections with existing trails in Lower Makefield and near Linton Hill Chase. Because of some environmental issues that could delay the project, the trails will be part of the second phase. In addition to the trails, crosswalks will be part of the second phase. The trails in Phase I are in Upper and Lower Makefield. These are 6 foot wide walking trails, not multi-use trails. At this point the trails have not been engineered.

The proposed improvements have been approved by PennDOT and are expected to calm traffic, reducing speeds on the road by 4 to 6 MPH. Mr. Kaufman explained requirements for the plantings in the medians, noting that they must be either no higher than 2.5 foot shrubs or very tall trees with no low branches. A landscape architect should have the plans completed shortly.

In response to questions from the Board, Mr. Kaufman discussed the signal for the Eagle Road intersection. He said that currently during peak hours this intersection is at either E or F. There are long delays between 7:00 and 9:00 AM and between 4:00 and 6:00 PM. A full signal could bring service to an A or B, reducing the delays by allowing more vehicles to pass through the intersection. The signal can be used as flashing only during non-peak times.

Mr. Calabro had some concern about the truck traffic passing through the intersection during non-peak hours not having to stop at the intersection for a flashing yellow. Currently everyone must stop for a four way red flashing light.

Mr. Kaufman explained that if the Township decides to use only the four way red, then PennDOT will require that it remains that way until the project is completed. If, however, the Township elects a full signal to be installed, that signal can be left as only red flashers. If a full signal is later needed, the Township would be responsible for conversion of the signal. Without the full signal the crosswalks might not be included in the project. He urged the Board to decide on this rather quickly as PennDOT is urging a 10 day turn around on the project. He said that this decision can be discussed further at the next work session. One of his associates, familiar with the project, could attend that meeting. In the meantime, he would attempt to learn whether PennDOT would pay for crosswalks without the full signal.

Mr. Jirele asked whether any residents would like to make comments or ask questions.

Ms. Bintliff Ritchie said that she has spoken to the residents who live along Stoopville Road, and she believes they will be pleased with the plan. The residents would prefer some back-up of traffic rather than quickly moving traffic. She suggested that a reduced speed limit might be helpful.

Mr. Jirele noted that the plan is designed for a 35 MPH speed limit.

Resident Jim Ott said that he lives on Stoopville Road and does not appreciate being included in blanket statements of approval for the plan. He objected to the proposed raised medians, noting that they have not been effective along Lindenhurst Road, where they have been damaged by vehicles and snow plows, but have not slowed traffic. One median is planned for the road right in front of his house. He noted that there is an already approved plan for development of the Melsky tract; this plan includes two additional entrances onto Stoopville Road. That plan had shifted the right-of-way to the north side of the street. He also pointed out some issues with drainage along the sides of the road.

Mr. Kaufman said that drainage will be addressed as needed for Phase I of the project. Other aspects of the drainage concerns will be considered during Phase II when the walkways are installed. He said that the plans are not yet fully engineered but that the proposed Melsky development has been considered in the planning. He will research further the right of way issue Mr. Ott has discussed. At Mr. Jirele’s suggestion, he agreed to consider elimination of the medians in front of Mr. Ott’s and other residents’ homes, if those residents object.

Mr. Ott said that he also has some concerns about proposed locations of walkways, as they appear to run very close to existing homes, especially at the intersection of Stoopville and Eagle Roads. He also has some concerns about the intersection at Linton Hill Road. He prefers that traffic continue to move at a steady pace, rather than stop at that intersection.

Mr. Kaufman said that the walkway plan is not yet engineered and will be part of the second phase. Mr. Ott’s concerns will be considered when that plan is developed.

Mr. Sensibaugh suggested that when considering walking paths, the Village Market at the intersection with Route 532 be considered, as this will probably be a destination for walkers and bike riders.

Mr. Jirele noted that this will be part of the second phase and that Village Market is in Lower Makefield.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the up-front engineering costs for the project will be an additional $100,000. These funds will be Newtown’s and Upper Makefield’s responsibility, although they will be reimbursed later. The budget will have to be amended to pay up to an additional $50,000.

Mr. Calabro moved to amend the 2009 budget for up to $50,000 for engineering fees for the Stoopville Road improvement project, with funds coming from the TSA 1 fund. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Mr. Kaufman said that, should the Board choose to fully signalize the intersection with Eagle Road, a resolution will be required.

Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Jim Ott reported that at its March 3, 2009 meeting, the Commission reviewed the McLaughlin Preliminary Plan for subdivision of a 2.54 acre parcel in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District and recommended that the Board approve the plan subject to certain conditions. The members were not sure whether a traffic impact fee would be required, but did recommend waiver of the requirement for curbs and sidewalks. The Commission briefly discussed when to recommend a fee in lieu of sidewalks, and tentatively agreed that perhaps at the difference between minor and major subdivision. In this particular case, the frontage is on Durham Road, and, minus the driveways, there would be a very small area for a sidewalk that would be unconnected to any other sidewalks.

Mr. Sensibaugh, the Commission’s liaison to the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission, reported that Jointure partner Upper Makefield had a number of reservations, questions and recommendations for changes to JMZO 2008-10, the historic preservation ordinance. Wrightstown also has some concerns. He also pointed out that some of the suggested additional uses for historic properties should be given careful consideration, as they could have a serious impact on Newtown Township. The Commission members agreed to table discussion until the other municipalities concerns have been addressed.

The Planning Commission was provided copies of the Acme Visioning Committee Report. A list of uses that are currently permitted or not allowed in the PC, TC and CC Zoning Districts was developed as a starting point for discussion of a vision for the future of Sycamore Street. Former Planning Commission member and current member of the Sycamore Street Community Association Vince Lombardi was in attendance to participate in the discussion. Mr. Lombardi reviewed some of the history of the reasons for current zoning and permitted uses and suggested that going forward the Commission give careful consideration to the larger parcels that could possibly become subject to redevelopment in the future, including the two auto dealerships, the Goodnoe home and the DeLuca (St. Andrew’s School) properties. He suggested including Joe McKiernan of HARB in discussions about mixed/residential/condominium uses, as Mr. McKiernan has considerable experience in this area. The Commission has agreed to add this to the agenda for our upcoming meetings, with a goal to having recommendations for the Board by the end of June.

The members were provided with copies of the Newtown Business Commons streetscape map, which should be very helpful when reviewing redevelopment of properties and discussing when/whether to include sidewalks.

Dr. Ciervo urged the Commission to work on presenting recommendations on Sycamore Street sooner than the end of June. He suggested that the members focus on the TC Zoning District, perhaps by forming a special sub-committee.

Mr. Jirele said that recent activity on Sycamore Street has made this discussion more urgent.

Mr. Ott explained that the Commission members felt that it would be easier to include interested residents if the work were conducted as part of the regular agenda of each meeting.

Environmental Advisory Council: Co-chairmen Aliya Aslam and Jay McGuigan were in attendance to review the EAC’s focus for the coming year. Ms. Aslam said that one of the primary objectives for this year would be communication with the community on certain environmental issues such as recycling of electronics and uses of pesticides and herbicides. The EAC has asked Township Assistant Manager John Boyle to help disseminate information on environmental issues on the Township Web site and through an “EAC Green Corner” in the Township newsletter.

The EAC will also focus on energy use and conservation by investigating joining “Cool Cities”, which are cities that have made a commitment to stopping global warming by signing the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. Begun in 2005, the “Cool Cities” campaign empowers residents and local leaders to implement smart energy solutions to save money and build a cleaner, safer future. Newtown Borough, Lower Makefield and Bucks County have already joined Cool Cities. By signing the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement the Township would agree to strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land-use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns; urge state and federal government to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol -- 7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012; and urge Congress to pass the bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation, which would establish a national emission trading system. Because the County has already joined, BCPC will be providing us with our current carbon footprint.

The Board expressed interest in focusing on specific ways that Newtown Township can work on its energy conservation efforts. Programs designed for major cities might not be the best alternative for small municipalities like Newtown. Mr. Jirele suggested that the EAC develop a report with recommendations for the Township to lead the residents by example.

Ms. Aslam noted that Pennsylvania is already a leader in the nation in use of alternative energy. She said that public input is welcome and invited interested Board members and residents to attend the regular EAC meetings or the joint EAC meetings being held in the area with representatives of all of the neighboring EAC’s sharing information. The next Newtown EAC is March 23 and the next joint meeting will be March 30 at the Yardley Library.

The EAC is again seeking applicants for our Ecostar award for environmental practices. Applicants in business and organizations can apply. Last year Council Rock Art Department was awarded for its recycled art projects and Signature Medicine for its paperless office.

Mr. McGuigan reported that the EAC completed an inventory of open space and is awaiting word from BCPC on the evaluation form submitted as part of the Open Space Comprehensive Plan. Once the EAC has comments from the County, the work of comparing the inventory, prepared using maps, with actual on-site conditions will begin. The EAC continues to work toward developing a Wildlife Management Plan. The EAC has cooperated with the Public Works Department this past winter in placing warning signs about deer crossings at various locations throughout the Township. Mr. McGuigan presented graphs of this year’s deer/vehicle accidents to the Board, noting that each year the number goes up.

Mr. Czajkowski agreed to help gather information on Upper Makefield’s deer hunt for the EAC to review.

Mr. McGuigan said that EAC member Michael Kaner has resigned after serving five years. This creates an opening on the EAC for a new member.

Land Development

McLaughlin Minor Subdivision, 174 Durham Road - Preliminary as Final Plan for Land Development: James McLaughlin and Jose Grande of D.S. Winokur Associates were in attendance to review this plan for subdivision of a 2.54 acre parcel in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District. The subdivision will create two lots, with lot #1 containing the existing dwelling, will be 1.24 acres and lot #2 will be 1.3 acres and will contain a new home. The plan was last revised on February 25, 2009. Mr. Grande reviewed the plans with the Board.

Dr. Ciervo questioned the site calculations as they appear on page #1 of the plan.

Mr. Grande explained that rather than show the totals, he has broken the numbers to show calculations for each new lot.

Ms. Fountain confirmed that the two lots meet all Ordinance requirements for natural resource protection. She pointed out the preserved open space at the rear of the lots.

The Board briefly discussed the width of the shared driveway, which will be 12 feet. Mr. Jirele expressed some concern about this aspect of the plan.

Mr. Grande said that the shared portion measures about 50 feet. He pointed out that the driveway is 18 feet at the entrance to Route 413. The driveway narrows to 12 feet, but the entire driveway is clearly visible to any drivers. There is a pull over area to allow two cars to pass one another. The driveway will be shared by only two homes. There is some concern about the increased impervious surface if the full driveway is widened to 18 feet.

Ms. Fountain noted that the Fire Marshal approved the proposed driveway configuration. The Board members agreed to the 12 foot width in light of the Fire Marshal’s approval.

Mr. McLaughlin said that he is requesting a waiver of the traffic impact fee since he has already dedicated ½ acre of land to the Township and other two-lot subdivisions have been granted waivers. He also noted that in 2001 this property was in TSA 1 and is now in TSA 2, which has a higher traffic impact fee. He asked if this is a mistake.

Mr. Garton noted that the donation of land was for the ultimate right of way. The traffic impact fee would be $1755.

Mr. Czajkowski and Mr. Jirele confirmed that the lines have been adjusted for the TSA 1 and 2 since 2001.

Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the McLaughlin minor subdivision which said plan proposed to subdivide Tax Parcel 29-3-38 into two (2) lots. Lot No. 1 will contain the existing dwelling, a two-story garage, the widening of the existing driveway and will be located on approximately 1.24 acres. Lot No. 2 will contain approximately 1.3 acres and is intended to be the new residential dwelling unit. The plan that was approved by the Board was prepared by D.S. Winokur Associates, Inc., consisted of sheets 1 through 9, was dated April 8, 2008 and was last revised February 25, 2009. The Board of Supervisors approval was subject to the following conditions:

1. Compliance with the CKS Report dated March 5, 2009 except the following comments shall be resolved as follows:

A. Zoning, Paragraph 3. The proposed and existing landscaping required to satisfy the conditions of the Zoning Hearing Board Decision dated October 23, 2005 shall be provided;

B. SALDO, Paragraph 1. The only additional monuments needed are along the easements;

2. The Board of Supervisors granted the following waivers:

A. From the provisions of Section 402.3(B) and (C) so as to not require that the plan show the location of all manmade features within 400 feet of the site;

B. From the provisions of Section 403.1.A which would require that the plans be drawn to a scale of 1 inch equals 50 feet or 1 inch equals 100 feet;

C. From the provisions of Section 516.2 which would require curbs along existing streets; and

D. From the provisions of Section 517 which would require sidewalks along existing streets.

No fee in lieu of the waivers referenced in the preceding two (2) subsections shall be required to be paid by the Applicant.

3. Applicant shall comply with the terms and conditions of any and all variances, conditional uses and/or special exceptions granted by the Zoning Hearing Board and/or the Board of Supervisors especially any conditions imposed by the Zoning Hearing Board as part of their Decisions rendered on October 23, 2007 and June 5, 2008;

4. Compliance with the Carroll Engineering letters dated February 11, 2009 and March 5, 2009 with the understanding that the Applicant shall pay a traffic impact fee in the amount of $1,755.00;

5. Compliance with the Bucks County Planning Commission review dated May 9, 2008;

6. Compliance with the Newtown Emergency Services Department letter dated August 22, 2008;

7. Applicant shall secure any and all permits required from any agencies having jurisdiction over this project including the Township, Bucks County, the State and Federal governments including, but not limited, to the Bucks County Conservation District and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection;

8. Applicant shall provide a will serve or appropriate agreement from the appropriate water and sewer agencies confirming the availability of public water and public sewer to the project;

9. Applicant shall comply with the Township Engineer’s recommendation as to storm water management and best management practices;

10. Applicant shall execute a storm water management agreement in a form acceptable to the Township;

11. Applicant shall pay all review and professional fees in connection with all prior reviews and the reviews in connection with this approval as required by the Township Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance and its applicable rate structure;

12. No use shall be permitted which is noxious or offensive to the immediate area by reason of odor, dust, smoke, gas, vibration, illumination or noise or which constitutes a pubic hazard by fire, explosion or otherwise and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating;

13. Any signage proposed to be placed shall comply with the applicable Township sign ordinances and shall only be placed after securing any and all permits from the Township;

14. All lighting shall comply with all Township Ordinances (except to the extent any waivers or variances have been granted) and no glare shall extend onto adjoining properties and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating; and

15. Applicant shall execute a Declaration of Unilateral Restrictions and Covenants as it relates to the notes contained on the plan, which said Declaration will be filed contemporaneously with the final plans.

Mr. Schenkman seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. McLaughlin asked that he not be required to execute a land development agreement, which would require escrowing of funds, as this is a project which will only involve one new home.

Mr. Gallagher amended his motion, adding:

The Applicant shall not be required to execute a Land Development Agreement and post financial security to guarantee the completion of improvements, but rather, the Board of Supervisors agreed that this issue would be resolved with the understanding between the Township and your client that no building permit will be issued for the construction of a new residential dwelling on Lot No. 2 until such time as all of the required improvements to meet the conditions of the Zoning Hearing Board Decisions and to meet the other requirements of the approval have been completed to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer.

Mr. Schenkman amended his second and the motionpassed 5-0.

Mr. McLaughlin said that the Board has not been consistent in its collection or waiving of fees for subdivisions.

Reports of Officials

Manager’s Report

Pension Discussion: Mike Leone of Merrill Lynch and Craig Colbert and Bill Lynch of Allianz Global were in attendance to discuss the Township’s pension funds. Mr. Leone said that the funds were off 19% in 2008. The funds are to be allocated 40% bonds and 60% stock but the allocation drifted to 50/50 in part because 2008 contributions had remained in cash.

Mr. Leone explained that Merrill Lynch’s Consults Program has terminated the Boston Company, which managed large cap growth. At this time, he is recommending that the pensions be moved to a more streamlined investment platform with one overlay manager overseeing all of the accounts. The costs and fees would be the same. All three pensions would be managed the same way in integrated accounts which would be automatically rebalanced. All of the managers in the program are in good shape and are not in need of TARP money. The equity managers would be Neuberger Berman, Cadence an NFJ. PIMCO would manage the bonds.

In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Leone explained that there is always an option of keeping funds in cash; this is a decision for the Pension Committee. He noted that 2003 through 07 have been positive years.

Mr. Schenkman asked about investment in natural resources and precious metals.

Mr. Leone said that a change in the investment policy would be required to invest in commodities, energy, real estate, etc. There are hedge funds that do this but they are not used often for pensions.

Mr. Jirele said that the Pension Committee has discussed this, but that commodities are riskier investments.

Mr. Schenkman said that he would like the funds invested more nimbly to be able to take advantage of market conditions.

Mr. Jirele stressed that the Pension Committee has preferred to remain conservative, although there has been some diversification by the adjustment in the allocations.

Mr. Leone said that going forward it is possible to invest on a small scale in commodity and currency funds, but changing to this management platform is the first step.
The Board discussed the advantage of each of the three pension funds, police, firefighters and non-uniform, being treated the same way. They also discussed whether there would be any advantage to keeping cash.

Mr. Leone stressed the importance of taking a long term view and of putting the money to work. With the new platform there can be some exposure to commodities and energy indirectly. The funds are not now invested internationally.

Mr. Lynch said that the emerging markets have been down recently. With a change in investment policy there could be some exposure to world markets.

Mr. Leone said that Allianz Global is being recommended because they are the best in the Merrill Lynch platform.

Dr. Ciervo moved to authorize the Township Manager to sign documents that would put the recommended program in place for management of the Township’s pension funds. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Schenkman voting nay.

Solicitor’s Report

Council Rock Natatorium Parking: Mr. Garton reported that the Board had waived land development for an addition to the Council Rock High School North natatorium addition on the condition that the District locate sufficient new parking spaces to make up for the parking lost be the expansion. The Board subsequently agreed to a delay in the construction of the parking spaces until completion of the addition. The District has requested that the Township waive the requirement to install the parking spaces in order to defer the costs, estimated at about $70,000 to $80,000, until the economy has recovered.

Tom Schneider, Supervisor of Operational Services for the District, was in attendance to discuss this matter. He explained that the School Board is reviewing the budget and looking for ways to reduce costs. The installation costs for 14 parking spaces would equal one classroom teacher. The Board is looking to postpone this for about 18 months.

Mr. Gallagher noted that this could cause parking problems.

Mr. Schneider said that the High School limits the number of students given parking permits. There are not parking problems at the school now.

Mr. Schenkman noted that students are parking in the shopping centers and the surrounding community. He asked whether any plans are contemplated to help alleviate some of the parking issues.

Mr. Schneider said that a policy change will allow maintenance workers to park their own vehicles at the schools they are working in rather than at the high school.

The Board discussed the new pool addition, which cost $2,600,000. It is open and being used by both North and South High Schools as well as community groups. Dr. Ciervo said that the parking spaces were a very insignificant portion of the total cost. They are also a very insignificant portion of the budget for the district. He suggested that in the current economy it might be better to install the parking spaces now, rather than pay more for them at a later date.

Mr. Schneider said that the District is attempting to review all expenses and make reductions throughout the budget. It has, for example, reduced its energy usage and costs considerably. The School Board is asking for a postponement to August of 2010.

Mr. Jirele suggested that there are ways that the School District could better cooperate with the Township in exchange for this postponement, noting the District’s recent policy which does not allow distribution of Township Park and Recreation materials. He suggested that the question be tabled until the next meeting, and meanwhile the District could re-examine ways to help the Township.

Office Research Zoning Ordinance: Mr. Garton presented a draft ordinance that would rezone certain already developed parcels north of the Newtown Bypass currently in the OR zoning district. Included are the Villas at Newtown, which would change to R-2, and Norwalk and the Reserve which would change to CM Conservation Management. Also changed to CM would be the McGowan tract.

Dr. Ciervo said that he has spoken to the Jointure partners about this. He is concerned that some parcels already developed as residential have remained OR. The remaining, undeveloped parcel is surrounded by residential uses and if developed as OR could house 240,000 square feet of office space with 1200 parking spaces. He would like to see the developed parcels zoned for their current uses and the last remaining parcel also zoned for residential, rather than office, use. The Bucks County Planning Commission has agreed and has noted that there is already enough land zoned for office/research use.

Mr. Gallagher said that he agreed that the parcels already developed should be zoned in accordance with their current uses. He expressed some concern however, about rezoning the undeveloped parcel. While he agrees that this might not be the best location for an office use, as it is surrounded by residential uses, he would like to learn more about the zoning’s impact on property values. He would like to confirm that land zoned conservation management might hold a different value than office zoned land.

Mr. Schenkman agreed and suggested that perhaps some discussion with commercial brokers would be helpful in evaluating this. He said that the parcels being discussed now are the last remaining farms in the Township. He has some concern about violation of the Farm Protection Act. He is very concerned that the Board’s action could harm the current landowners, as zoning might affect the land’s value when it is being borrowed against.

Mr. Calabro expressed similar concern that the change could negatively impact the property owner. He does not believe that the property is in immediate danger of being developed for commercial use.

Mr. Jirele said that while he agrees that this property should probably not be zoned OR, he does not know whether there would be an economic impact on the property owner if it were to be rezoned. He does not believe this is an urgent matter. He suggested that the Board work with the property owner.

Dr. Ciervo disagreed, noting that the land is close to I95 and could be sold and developed as offices. The Board has an obligation to protect the community from future legal battles over commercial plans. He strongly urged that the zoning reflect uses that make sense for the surrounding area.

Resident Bill Sterling said that he would like the Board to leave his property alone. He said that people are spreading rumors about him and his plans. There is no truth to rumors that an office park is proposed for his land. The value of his land is directly related to the zoning; OR zoning gives his land more value.

Resident Paul Sterling said that there is no truth to rumors that his and his brother’s property is to be developed. A Board member had commented at a recent meeting that the individual does not count. He disagrees with that statement and he suspects that the Township is trying to gain open space in the cheapest way possible. He resents the Board’s placing this on the agenda without notifying the property owners, and he is very hurt by the rumors circulating about his family.

Mr. Sensibaugh said that at a recent Planning Commission meeting there was some discussion about the importance of providing balanced zoning with areas set aside for every use. He expressed concern that a change in the OR zoning could open the Township up to challenges.

Dr. Ciervo said that the Bucks County Planning Commission did not think this would be the case, that the Jointure has provided ample space for office uses.

Mr. Schenkman said that it would appear that the Sterling family intends to continue farming the land, and so it is protected in its current form. He did not see the need to rezone the land.

Mr. Calabro said that he is concerned that tabling the matter will only prolong the discussion. It keeps coming back onto the agenda. He asked that a vote be taken.

Mr. Calabro moved to send the draft ordinance to the Jointure for consideration. Dr. Ciervo seconded. The motion failed 1-4, with Messrs. Jirele, Schenkman, Calabro and Gallagher voting nay.

(Mr. Gallagher stepped away from the dais for a brief time)

Bucks County Consortium: Mr. Schenkman moved to award road materials bids to Eureka Stone Quarry, Hansen Aggregate and Haines & Kibblehouse as outlined in a memo from Public Works Director Gary Crossland dated March 3, 2009. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0, with Mr. Gallagher away from the dais for this vote.

(Mr. Gallagher returned to the dais)

Mr. Gallagher moved to award bids for sign materials and posts to U.S. Municipal Supply as outlined in a memo from Public Works Director Gary Crossland dated March 3, 2009. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Police Report: Police Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that the department had answered 1295 calls in February. He would like to apply for a justice assistance grant which would pay the base salary for two additional police officers for three years. The Township must commit for three years. He is not sure, but will research further, whether the money would include medical benefits or whether this would be the Township’s responsibility. The grant is very competitive, but the department’s work in Wrightstown would be a consideration.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize Chief Pasqualini to apply for this grant. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Chief Pasqualini presented the bids for the Department’s second motorcycle. The bid from Hannum’s Harley Davidson in Chadds Ford was the low bidder at $14,332. Once purchased the motorcycle would be serviced at Bryan’s in Langhorne.

Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the bid for a second motorcycle for the Police Department as outlined in a memo dated March 5, 2009. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Chief Pasqualini said that in response to recent questions from Board members he has researched the history of traffic incidents at the intersection of Stoopville and Linton Hill Road and found that there have been four traffic accidents in the last four years.

Mr. Jirele noted that in reviewing the traffic citation reports he is pleased to see that the Department has been patrolling throughout many neighborhoods in the Township.

Mr. Gallagher said that he has no objection to the purchase of the motorcycle, which had been discussed with the Board during the budget process, but has some concern that the Board should have a policy regarding departments using money that has been saved from other budgeted items without Board input and discussion. He would have preferred in this instance that the Board had been consulted before bids were sought, and going forward, that departments do not seek to make un-budgeted purchases with money saved from their budgets without discussion by the Board.

Engineer’s Report: Ms. Fountain provided the Board with information about the E-22 Conference Center use, which is permitted by conditional use in the LI and OLI Zoning Districts. She said that the Board had requested that she review this use. She suggested that the Board might consider adding it as a permitted use in the OR district.

Mr. Schenkman said that he has had recent conversations with Business Commons tenants who have expressed interest in such a facility with banquet facilities somewhere near the Business Commons. He suggested that the Board consider appropriate performance standards to allow such a use in the OR district.

The Board agreed that this could be a valuable asset to the Township. Mr. Jirele suggested that after the hotel in the Business Commons has opened the Board could evaluate its success and make a more informed decision.

Mr. Schenkman said that doing a proper analysis of the viability of such a project could cost upwards of $20,000. It might be an opportunity for a public/private partnership.

Mr. Jirele said that there would be an executive session to discuss personnel matters.

The meeting adjourned at 12:00 AM.

 

Respectfully Submitted:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary

 

Attest:

Joseph S. Czajkowski, Township Manager


Tom Jirele, Chairman

Robert Ciervo, Vice-Chairman

Michael Gallagher, Secretary/Treasurer

Philip Calabro, Member

Jerry Schenkman, Member