Board of Supervisors
Minutes of March 25, 2009
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on March 25, 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 Father Michael Piccard of St. Andrew’s Church. This was followed by and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Public Comment: Resident Natalie Kay said that a group of concerned residents of Newtown Borough and Township has formed to “insure that Newtown remains a vital residential and business community that respects its past and looks forward to the future.” They will hold a meeting on April 5, 2009, time and place to be determined. For additional information visit www.newtown21stvoice.blogspot.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Jirele said that the Township Planning Commission will be holding ongoing discussions to consider planning for Sycamore Street. He urged interested members of the community to attend the Planning Commission meetings.
Resident Joanne Bintliffe Ritchie asked the Board about its process for selecting members of the community to serve on committees, boards and commissions. She noted that Lower Makefield holds public interviews with prospective candidates and provides more information on criteria used for selection.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board had reviewed its procedure a few years ago. This is a matter that could occasionally be revisited for consideration.
Resident Gary Lumpkin, Activities Director for St. Andrew’s CYO announced the CYO’s partnership with the Ancient Order of Hibernians to host a “Hike for Hunger” on April 18. The event will begin with Mass at St. Andrew’s Church at 9:00 AM with the hike beginning at the Church proceeding to Tyler Park. The Ancient Order of Hibernians’ Hunger Project raises money to purchase food at greatly discounted prices to supply food pantries. This week the CYO partnered with the Hibernians to purchase food for $700 to stock the pantry at St. Luke’s AME Church in Newtown. CYO’s from Lower Bucks will join together to participate in the hike, raising money to supply pantries and food banks throughout the Bucks and Trenton areas. He urged the Board and residents to participate in the event to help those less fortunate. Donations can be mailed to Mr. Lumpkin c/o St. Andrew’s Church 81 Swamp Road, Newtown PA 18940. For more information, please call 215-968-2262 ext. 39.
Mr. Gallagher, a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, said that the money raised buys truckloads of non-perishable food in bulk. He thanked Mr. Lumpkin for his efforts.
Mr. Jirele urged Mr. Lumpkin to attend the next televised Board meeting to repeat his announcements.
Resident Mick Petrucci, President of NBPA, announced the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Pickering Manor on April 4, 2009 at 9:00 AM. 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, which supports 70-80 families within the Council Rock School District. Mr. Petrucci also announced that the NBPA Community Guide will be mailed to the 18940 zip code this week. Additional copies of the guide will be available at local banks, Township and Borough offices and at the NAC.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Schenkman moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of March 11, 2009. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman asked that page 9, paragraph 6 be changed to read, “…to take advantage of market conditions.”
Mr. Schenkman amended his motion, Mr. Gallagher amended his second and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills Lists: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $301,075.61. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo asked Mr. Czajkowski to review the costs for the water coolers and bottled water to see if there could be a reduction in these costs. He asked about the bills for Sparkles Car Wash.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the car wash charges $6.00 per wash for the police vehicles and codes department vehicles. It would be more expensive to pay the Township employees’ wages to do this task.
The motion passed 5-0.
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 said that the Board would meet for an executive session later to discuss matters of litigation.
Board Members: Mr. Gallagher reported that he had attended the EAC meeting on Monday evening and was very impressed with the ambitious agenda the Council is working on. Tom Schneider of Council Rock School District gave a presentation on the District’s efforts to conserve energy, earning the Energy Star Partner of the Year after reducing energy use by 42%. Council Rock participates in Abitibi Recycling, with bins at all District schools and offices. These bins are available for residents to recycle paper, only.
Mr. Gallagher suggested that the Board stay on top of revenue and expenses by having a quarterly overview.
The members agreed that a report should be provided quarterly, with the first one in late April or early May.
Mr. Schenkman announced that the Newtown Creek Coalition would host a presentation at the Newtown Theater on April 11 from 2-4 PM to discuss the Creek’s history and vision for the future.
Mr. Jirele suggested placing information on this meeting on the Web site and teleprompter.
Dr. Ciervo announced that the Township has been notified that Orleans Homebuilders has appealed the Court of Common Pleas decision on plans for the Goodnoe tract to the State Supreme Court. Dr. Ciervo said that he is optimistic that the Township will be successful.
Mr. Garton said that the State had recently refused to hear the appeal of Hovnanian on a similar appeal.
Planning Commission: Mr. Schenkman reported that at its March 17, 2009 meeting, the Planning Commission reviewed the Silver Lake Executive Campus final plan for development of a 34.8 acre parcel in the OR Office Research Zoning District for two 78,000 square foot office buildings connected by a 4,125 square foot cafeteria/gym. The applicant indicated that one tenant is expected to occupy the entire site, however, should that change and multiple tenants are to occupy the site, the cafeteria would probably be eliminated. The Commission recommended approval of the plan subject to certain conditions. The applicant will work with the Township Engineer to develop an acceptable treatment of landscaping along the Bypass.
Mr. Jirele said that at preliminary plan review the Board had deferred a decision on buffering along the Bypass. He suggested that the Board visit the site before this application is brought for final approval.
The Commission reviewed theNewtown Township & Newtown Bucks Association, Durham Road at the Bypass final plan for minor subdivision, which is a lot line change giving the Township an additional 0.68 acres adjacent to its athletic field behind Staples and recommended approval.
The Commission reviewed Zoning Hearing Board applications for Leonard A. Christopher, 277 Stoopville Road and for Robert Hughes and David Rominiecki, 82 Swamp Road and passed them to the Board of Supervisors without comment.
The Commission reviewed all currently permitted uses in the TC Zoning District and identified a few permitted uses that they would like to discuss further. These uses, such as medical and business offices, hotels, funeral homes and service stations, might be of little concern on the smaller lots, but could be of great concern on a larger scale if proposed on any of the 5+ acre lots on Sycamore Street. At future meetings the Commission will be examining the performance standards for these uses to ascertain size, height and parking requirements. There were a few uses that might no longer be appropriate for Sycamore Street, and the Solicitor has been asked to research recent challenges before a decision to recommend removal is made.
The Commission has been provided with a list of all uses in the Jointure as well as a list of uses permitted in the CC and PC Zoning Districts. In preparation for its next meeting, members will review these lists for possible addition to the TC district.
Financial Planning Committee: Chairman Glen Beasley thanked the Board for creating three year terms for the members. He has been elected chairman, with John Stranford to serve as vice chairman. To better accommodate the members, meetings will be held on the third rather than the fourth Thursday of each month, beginning at 7:15 instead of 7:00 PM.
The Financial Planning Committee reviewed its goals, and felt that in light of the current economy, it might be difficult to focus on a five year forecast, but to focus instead on the short term. The Committee has created a list of goals for 2009 as follows:
The Committee developed these recommendations based on the current economic climate and input from the Supervisors.
Referring to goal #3, looking to the private sector for possibilities, Dr. Ciervo suggested that the Committee speak to Andy Levine of the Park and Recreation Board, who has begun to investigate community involvement for such projects as skate park funding.
Mr. Jirele thanked the Committee and suggested that the members attend a quarterly review of the budget.
Mr. Calabro noted that the housing market seems to be suffering greatly in the current economy and questioned whether sales and re-sales are being followed.
Mr. Beasley said that Committee member Andy Salvucci is in the real estate business and has been tracking this closely.
Newtown Township and Newtown Bucks Association, Durham Road at the Bypass- Final Plan for Minor Subdivision: Township Engineer Michele Fountain presented this plan to transfer a 0.68 acre portion of tax map parcel 29-3-24 (28.9393 acres) owned by Newtown Bucks Association, LP, and combine it with tax map parcel 29-3-12-1 (3.52 acres) owned by Newtown Township. No improvements are proposed with this plan. The site is served by public water and sewer. Ms. Fountain explained that the lot line change would increase the Township owned property currently used as a rectangular athletic field.
Mr. Garton said that this change would provide the needed area for an eventual skate park. He explained that the Bucks County Planning Commission review letter had addressed the impervious surface. It should be noted that the original plan had been granted a variance for impervious surface; the calculations are based on the entire site. The Township Planning Commission has reviewed and recommended approval of the plan. He outlined conditions for approval.
Ms. Fountain said that the Township would agree to these conditions.
Mr. Schenkman moved to approve the plan of Newtown Township and Newtown Bucks Association for a minor subdivision subject to the following conditions:
Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Dr. Ciervo thanked Jack Lowe, owner of the shopping center, for his cooperation in working with the Supervisors as well as with the tenants of the shopping center. The property, which will eventually be used for a skate park, was given to the Township at no charge and only minor transfer costs.
Mr. Jirele said that contrary to rumors being circulated via e-mail among the skate park enthusiasts, the park is not dead.
Mr. Garton said that the property would close in about 60 days.
Reports of Officials
Manager’s Report: Mr. Czajkowski reminded the Board that its first regular meeting in April would fall on the first night of Passover. He suggested that the Board could cancel the meeting, reschedule it or replace the April work session with a regular televised meeting.
After some discussion, the Board agreed that on Monday, April 13, 2009 the Board would hold a regular televised meeting. The April work session and the April 8, 2009 meeting would be canceled.
Mr. Schenkman thanked that Board for making this schedule change.
Solicitor’s Report: Mr. Gartonreviewed Zoning Hearing Board applications for Leonard A. Christopher, 277 Stoopville Road for setback relief to install a front porch and for a special exception to alter a building on a non conforming lot and for Robert Hughes and David Rominiecki, 82 Swamp Road for a six foot high privacy fence.
The Board passed these applications without comment.
Mr. Schenkman noted that the Ordinance permits five foot fences, but most commercially available fences are either 4 or 6 feet high. He suggested that perhaps the Jointure should review this ordinance.
Engineer’s Report: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize escrow release for Penns Terrace Office Park in the amount of $27,078.46. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize escrow release for Blacksmith 161, LLC in the amount of $31,010.25. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize a change order to extend the contract time for the signal modernization at Newtown Bypass/Lindenhurst Road and Newtown Yardley Road to May 20, 2009 and to replace the junction boxes for an increased cost of $2900. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Czajkowski noted that with these change orders the project is still under budget.
The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher asked Ms. Fountain for an update on a business owner’s request regarding the detention basin at Newtown Plaza Shopping Center. He asked about what he thought might be abandoned gas pipes in the area.
Ms. Fountain said that she and Mr. Jirele had met with the Shopping Center owner who would like to use the detention basin area for additional parking and move the detention basin to the German Avenue paper street. She is researching the ownership of the paper street. She is unaware of any abandoned gas pipes in the basin, but would investigate further.
Mr. Gallagher said that some nearby residents have had concerns about the clearing taking place on the Rockbridge property.
Ms. Fountain said that she has spoken to the developer about this. The clearing of trees is within the approved plan’s permitted area. The owner will consider providing some additional buffering after construction is completed.
Dr. Ciervo asked whether there has been any update on reporting from the Newtown Corporation to the Board.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board had not given the Newtown Corporation any specifics on reporting.
Mr. Calabro and Mr. Jirele agreed to discuss this further in April at the Newtown Corporation meeting. Mr. Calabro reported that the Newtown Corporation members have been discussing whether they should have a solicitor at their meetings. They have also been working on plans for Newtown’s 325 th anniversary.
Dr. Ciervo asked whether there has been an update on the Council Rock High School request to postpone installation of parking spaces.
Mr. Jirele said that he is setting up a meeting to discuss this with the District.
Mr. Jirele said that there would be an executive session to discuss litigation.
The meeting adjourned at 8:45 PM.