Board of Supervisors
Minutes of July 8, 2009
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on July 8, 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, Philip Calabro and Jerry Schenkman, members. Also present were: Joseph Czajkowski, Township Manager, Jennifer McGrath, 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 Heckman of St. Mark’s Orthodox Church.. This was followed by and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mr. Jirele announced that the Board had met in executive session prior to this evening’s meeting and would meet again after the meeting to discuss matters of personnel and litigation.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski announced that there would not be a report from the Planning Commission. Acceptance of the right-of-way at Stoopville and Eagle Roads has been added to the agenda.
Public Comment: Resident Walt Leck said that he had written to the Board about some concerns he has with the development of the Woll tract. During the years of discussion about the development of the Woll tract as a park, he had always been assured that when the park would be developed there would be a fence installed between his property and the park and that he could connect to the public sewer in the park.
The plans show a six-foot wooden fence, which he has concerns about, because children could get onto his property where he stores dangerous equipment for his business. The Township had required Elliot Builders to install an 8 foot chain link fence between their development and his property. He would like the same security between his property and the new park.
The sewer lines will come as far as the proposed restrooms in the park. Gilmore & Associates has estimated that the cost of extending the sewer to his property line would be $69,000. If he delays in doing this, once the park is completed it would cost an additional $54,000. A sewer extension had not been included in the plans, although he had been assured by previous Boards that it would be. Gilmore would now be charging him to remove and replace topsoil for the sewer that had already been moved as part of grading for the park. Had the sewer been extended as part of the original grading work these additional costs would have been unnecessary. He said that he is eager to switch to public sewer for the benefit of the environment and had been certain that this was to have been part of the Woll development. He noted that Mr. Fleming at Rosebank Winery had been given the same assurance. Mr. Fleming’s estimate was not as high as Mr. Leck’s.
Mr. Leck also noted that the retention basin on the Woll site contains stagnant standing water and has become a mosquito problem.
Mr. Leck said that he feels he has been overlooked and that the sewer connections should have been part of the original plan.
Mr. Jirele first asked Ms. Fountain to address the complaint about the retention basin.
Ms. Fountain explained that this is a sediment basin, which is designed to hold water to prevent sediment from washing away. The Bucks County Conservation District allows certain treatments for mosquitoes. She will investigate the situation.
Mr. Jirele said that he did recall discussions about a fence between the Leck property and the park, but did not recall the specifics. He asked Mr. Czajkowski to investigate this further.
Mr. Jirele asked Ms. Fountain where the sewer line would enter the park property and where it would end.
Ms. Fountain said that the line comes into the park from Wrights Road and ends at the area designated as a restroom.
Mr. Jirele asked Mr. Czajkowski to investigate whether the line could be extended to the Leck property line.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he would speak to Gilmore & Associates.
Dr. Ciervo left the meeting at this point to attend to a family emergency.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of June 24, 2009. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mr. Gallagher abstaining.
Bills: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $605,635.45. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $182,411.78. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Board Members: Mr. Gallagher reported that Newtown Township had won the Township vs. Borough annual softball game with a score of 15-12.
Technology Committee: Chairman Ed Lipski reported that the Technology Committee has welcomed three new members and has elected Anand Shukla to serve as co-chairman. The Committee has reviewed the plans for the new municipal building and discussed ways to incorporate technology for use by employees and for meeting rooms and televised Board meetings including providing wireless capabilities for the main meeting room, providing conference calling capability to the main meeting room and some conference rooms and offices, and using large screen televisions and Smartboards in the meeting room to view electronic copies of plans.
The Committee will work on the efforts to reduce the use of paper through expanded use of electronic copies.
Working with the Park and Recreation Department and Park and Recreation Board, the committee has developed a requirements document for a more interactive Web site which would allow on-line registration for camps and programs. Mr. Lipski and the Park and Recreation Director have already met with some third party vendors and have been impressed. The Committee will prepare some cost comparisons and recommendations shortly, to be presented first to the Park and Recreation Board then to the Board of Supervisors.
At Supervisor Gallagher’s suggestion, a few of the Technology Committee members will be working with the Financial Planning Committee to help determine technology priorities in future budgeting plans.
The Committee will meet with Tax Collector Tammy Sutton to see if it can help her make better use of technology to modernize methods for billing, collecting and distributing taxes.
Mr. Jirele thanked the Committee for the help it has given so far. He said that many of the Township’s departments and committees are eager to work with the Technology Committee. Regarding conference calling, Mr. Jirele said that there had been a recent vote taken by telephone by one of the advisory boards lacking a quorum. He asked the solicitor whether the Board of Supervisors could take such a vote.
Ms. McGrath said that the Board could adopt this as a policy. She will research this further to determine whether there is a prohibition against this.
Mr. Schenkman said that perhaps there is information available on this through PSATS or the League of Cities.
The Board agreed that consideration of hardware for technology for the new building would be discussed at a work session in July or August.
Historical Architectural Review Board: HARB member Joseph McKiernan was in attendance to present a certificate of appropriateness for Zephyr Gallery. This is a change to make the gallery handicapped accessible; a certificate had already been approved. This is an amendment.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize an amendment to the certificate of appropriateness for Zephyr Gallery dated November 2008. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. McKiernan said that he has met with the Planning Commission chairman to discuss Sycamore Street. HARB has been working on a book of appropriateness modeled in part by a book created for Doylestown Borough.
Penns Trail Storage, 104 Penns Trail – Final Plan for Land Development: Attorney Don Marshall was in attendance to present this application for land development for a self-storage facility on a 3.47 acre parcel in the LI, light industrial zoning district, consisting of two buildings, a 27,000 square foot building and a 36,180 square foot building for self storage, use G-4. Also included are associated parking facilities and stormwater management facilities. The plan received preliminary approval on December 12, 2007. The Planning Commission reviewed and recommended approval at its May 19, 2009 meeting.
Mr. Marshall noted that Zoning Hearing Board relief has been granted for disturbance of a floodplain. The applicant has obtained an easement from the adjoining property owner. No waivers are requested. The applicant is in agreement with proposed conditions recommended by the Solicitor. Bucks County Conservation District approval is still outstanding.
Mr. Schenkman asked about the revised turning movement plan for the parking area.
Engineer Mark Haver said that a new template has been submitted to Carroll Engineering but there has been no response letter. The applicant will comply with Carroll Engineering.
Ms. Fountain said that the Zoning Hearing Board application had sought relief for 5200 square feet of floodplain disturbance but there are 5400 square feet of disturbance.
Mr. Marshall said that the Zoning Hearing Board has granted relief of 5700 square feet subject to the condition that previously granted impervious surface relief is withdrawn.
Mr. Schenkman moved to grant final plan approval for land development to Friends Lane, LLC for the premises located at 104 Penns Trail, Newtown, Pennsylvania, 19840 B being Bucks County Tax Parcel NO. 29-10-94, subject to the following conditions, all of which the applicant has agreed to. Prior to the signing of the Revised Final Plan and its recordation, and subject to the waivers granted and the variances secured on August 24, 2007 and December 14, 2007, the Revised Final Plan shall be revised to comply with the following professional consultant’s review letters:
Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Reports of Officials
PennDOT Maintenance Agreement and Resolution: Mr. Czajkowski said that as part of the Stoopville Road improvement project the Township must adopt a resolution to allow PennDOT to install landscape median islands and must sign an agreement to maintain those medians. In response to Mr. Jirele’s question, Mr. Czajkowski said that if a snow plow were to damage the median, it would be an insurance matter. The Township is agreeing to maintain the landscaping. Not all median locations have been determined.
Mr. Schenkman noted that page 2, paragraph 5 of the agreement requires the Township to indemnify PennDOT. He said that this should be reciprocal.
Mr. Czajkowski said that this is language similar to that in traffic signal agreements.
Mr. Schenkman said that this is more than just indemnifying PennDOT if, for example, the Township fails to adequately maintain the landscaping and it causes an accident.
Mr. Czajkowski said that there is some urgency to the signing of the agreement and adoption of the resolution.
Ms. McGrath agreed that some of the language in the agreement could be made more specific.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the resolution and the agreement require two separate motions from the Board. He again expressed concern about the time constraints, as the project is close to beginning.
Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt resolution 2009-R-16, allowing PennDOT to install landscaped medians as part of the Stoopville Road Improvement Project. Mr. Jirele seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Ms. Fountain said that there are some specific locations for medians listed in the agreement. These are part of Phase I of the project and will be placed where the road is already widened.
Mr. Jirele moved to authorize signing of the landscape agreement with PennDOT. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that he has concerns about the Township’s liability, and also noted that page 2 paragraph 4 permits PennDOT to terminate the agreement on 30 days notice, but states that the Township is still liable. He has concerns about such an open ended liability.
Mr. Gallagher suggested that the Solicitor speak to PennDOT about some clarification of these issues. He suggested tabling the motion until Monday’s work session.
Mr. Jirele said that the Board does not usually vote at work sessions, which are not televised, however the matter is being discussed at a televised meeting.
Mr. Gallagher moved to table signing of the landscape agreement until the July work session. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Acceptance of Right of Way at Stoopville and Eagle Roads: Mr. Czajkowski said that as part of the Stoopville Road project it was discovered that the Township had not formally accepted dedication of the intersection of Stoopville and Eagle Roads. A resolution is necessary. Orleans Homebuilders, formerly FPA Corporation is the grantor.
Mr. Jirele asked Mr. Czajkowski to review the records to see if any other portions of Eagle Road had not been accepted.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt Resolution 009-R-17, accepting the right-of-way of Stoopville and Eagle Roads. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman expressed some concern about things that had been missed years ago.
Mr. Czajkowski said that there had been some problems with record keeping years ago that are being rectified. The metes and bounds have been reviewed from the approved plans.
The motion passed 4-0.
Newtown Plaza Update: Mr. Czajkowski reported that German Avenue near Newtown Plaza has not been vacated. There had been no notification of vacation and no hearing; it is still a Township road. If the Board were to decide to vacate the road, the land would go to Mr. Derassouyan’s neighbors.
The Board agreed that it might not be a good idea to vacate the street until the future planning for Sycamore Street has been completed. This paper street could possibly be used as a link to Sycamore Street.
St. Andrew’s Briar Update: Mr. Czajkowski reported that work on the St. Andrew’s Briar detention basin has been completed and the Homeowners Association has sent a check to the Township.
Berkheimer Agreements: Mr. Czajkowski reported that he has polled other municipalities and all are using Berkheimer for LST collection. Newtown Township is charged the lowest rate in that the same rate applies to collection of the tax and the delinquent taxes.
Bucks County Community College – Waiver of Land Development: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize signing of a waiver of land development agreement with Bucks County Community College. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Jirele explained that in the past the Board had voted on issues but the Board’s practice has changed to voting first on the issue and later on the signing of any agreements. This is on the advice of the Solicitor.
Signal Modernization of Newtown Bypass and Newtown Yardley Road/Lower Silver Lake Road & Newtown-Yardley Road and Lindenhurst Road/Campus Drive – Estimate #2: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment of signal modernization estimate #2in the amount of $130,315.23. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Grainhouse Developers (11 Penns Trail) - Certificate of Completion #3: Mr. Calabro moved to authorize escrow release #3 in the amount of $69,435.96. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Grainhouse Developers (11 Penns Trail) - Request for reduction of maintenance amount: Mike Tulio of Grainhouse Developers was in attendance to request this reduction. He explained that Karen Miller has not been able to secure a maintenance bond and is asking instead for a reduction to post cash in the amount of $12,500.
Ms. Fountain said that the bond is usually held for 18 months; for this project the bond amount would be $37,400. At this point there are still a few punch list items to be addressed including some stormwater BMP’s and street trees. A letter of credit would be acceptable instead of a bond.
Mr. Tulio said that he did not think a letter of credit would be possible either. He pointed out that Ms. Miller has her own offices in the building and will be available in Newtown to address the punch list items.
The Board discussed whether they have the authority to reduce the amount. Mr. Gallagher said that the Board should attempt to work with Ms. Miller, who has been an active participant in the business community. He suggested possibly holding back some of the escrow.
Mr. Schenkman suggested possibly granting an extension.
Mr. Tulio said that he would speak to Ms. Miller about these suggestions.
Mr. Gallagher reported that the current collection of earned income tax is below last year at this time, but only by about 10%, less than the finance department had feared. He noted that real estate transfer tax income has been very low.
The meeting adjourned at 9:15 PM.