Board of Supervisors
Minutes of December 2, 2009
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on December 2, 2009 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Robert Ciervo, Vice Chairman Mike Gallagher, Secretary/Treasurer Matthew Benchener, 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 Ciervo called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence and an invocation by Reverend Dr. Leon Bia of Newtown Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski said that a discussion of the summer camp pricing has been added to the Chairman’s Report.
Public Comment: Resident Jay Sensibaugh said that he had attended the November 4, 2009 Work Session of the Board as well as the November Financial Planning meeting. He has carefully reviewed the 2010 budget. He said that the 2010 budget continues deficit spending, noting that the 2008 budget has a $600,000 deficit and the 2009 budget had a proposed $900,000 deficit. He urged the Board to vote for a balanced budget without any deficit spending.
Dr. Ciervo said the Board had voted on a budget last year using $385,000 of the reserve fund.
Resident John D’Aprile said that he had considered staying home this evening to watch holiday specials on television, but there is an elf in the audience.
Joe the Elf and Joe Camp of the Newtown Fire Association were in attendance to announce a Breakfast with Santa on Saturday at Applebee’s from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM to benefit the Fire Association. This will be followed on Sunday by a parade through Newtown Borough and Township. On Saturday, December 19, 2009 the Fire Association will hold its annual Santa Run through the Township and Borough collecting food for local food banks. The route is posted on www.newtownfire.com
Joe Swerk of Newtown Ambulance Squad urged the Board to continue to fund the Squad at the level it had in the past. The Squad gets no funding from the State or County. Insurance revenues are down, employees have not had raises in over two years. There are 70 employees and a $3.5 million budget. The Squad depends on the Township’s 25% contribution of the Local Services Tax. A change in funding would be a hardship. The Squad would not want to ever have to decide when to provide sought after service because of budget constraints.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of November 18, 2009. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Schenkman abstaining.
Bills: Mr. Benchener moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $367,687.88. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher asked if a payment to Eureka Stone Quarry for paving in the Municipal Complex could be paid from the building fund.
Mr. Czajkowski said that this is maintenance work on the existing facilities.
Mr. Gallagher asked if any of the bills to myrecdept.com could come from the Recreation Capital Fund.
Mr. Garton said that these are operating expenses, not capital expenses.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that if the expense is for software, it is a capital expense.
Mr. Gallagher said that he suspects that the two bills are for the initial set-up of the Web site. The site will eventually save the Township a significant amount for printing of informational materials and advertisements for the Recreation Department. The site also allows residents the convenience of on-line registration for camps and programs.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that it might be helpful to both the Board and residents if additional information could be included in the bills list.
Mr. Czajkowski agreed to investigate this.
The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Benchener moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $380,000. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Officials
Chairman: Dr. Ciervo reported that he had asked the Park and Recreation Board to discuss summer camp offerings and pricing. Park and Recreation Director Kathy Pawlenko had developed a pricing schedule which leaves costs similar to last year’s for residents, has increased the non-resident costs and has added an early morning extended day option.
Mr. Benchener said that the Park and Recreation Department is about 90% self-sufficient. With the changed pricing, how much closer is the Department to self-sufficiency?
Dr. Ciervo said that he did not have those figures available, but the camps have seen an increase in the facilities usage fees charged by the School District. He noted that at one time, the Township camps filled to capacity with waiting lists, but that is no longer the case as the Department competes with many other summer activity options. He will ask for additional self-sufficiency information and will advise the Department to proceed with advertising registration when he attends the Park and Recreation Board’s next meeting.
Police Report: Police Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that the Department had responded to 1090 calls, which included 7 drug investigations leading to 7 drug arrests.
Mr. Calabro noted that the Department responded to 70 medical emergencies. He asked whether the Department ever discriminates.
Chief Pasqualini said that the Department responds to all requests for service for medical emergencies.
Chief Pasqualini said that the FCC is now requiring all emergency services to use narrow banding communications. For the Police Department this will cost $250,000. He asked the Board to write to the County Commissioners requesting that the County provide funding for this initiative from the County’s share of gaming funds.
Mr. Benchener said that the Financial Planning Committee had recently discussed this requirement. Providing funding will be difficult; he urged the Board to seek help from the County’s gaming funds.
In response to Board questions, the Chief said that only those municipalities which have gaming or are contiguous to gaming municipalities share directly in the revenues, however the County does have some funds to distribute.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize signing of a letter to the County Commissioners seeking gaming funds for the required narrow banding communications. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that while he is in support of this request, it was not published as an agenda item. He would prefer postponing action until it has appeared on a published agenda.
Chief Pasqualini said that there is not an immediate deadline and action at the next meeting would be acceptable.
Mr. Schenkman moved to table the request to the Commissioners until the meeting of December 16, 2009. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Chief Pasqualini asked residents to participate in Project Blue Light, which honors fallen police officers by placing one blue holiday light in the window. This is done throughout the Greater Philadelphia area and he would like Newtown to also participate.
Dr. Ciervo showed a sample blue light bulb, which can be used in the candles people display during the holiday season and urged everyone to participate in the program.
2010 Budget: Mr. Czajkowski announced that the budget was advertised and placed on the Township Web site.
Dr. Ciervo said that at the last Board meeting, the Board had left $10,000 in the Legislative budget for donations. The Board had considered whether or not to make equal contributions to Newtown Library Company and Wrightstown Village Library.
Mr. Benchener said that he would like to reduce the amount needed from the reserve by an additional $50,000-$60,000.
Mr. Gallagher said that he would like to discuss ways to evaluate the Township’s spending and revenues going forward. He suggested that the Board adopt a procedure for approving purchase orders rather than authorizing payment of bills for goods and services already received. Perhaps any expenditure over $500 or $1000 would require Board approval of a purchase order.
Mr. Czajkowski said that there are many ongoing and expected expenditures of $1000. This could become burdensome on the Board.
Mr. Gallagher said that his concern is with the unexpected expenditures, not the regular monthly bills or the bulk purchases of supplies, etc. He suggested that the Manager make a recommendation for a procedure to follow for Board approval for the unusual expenses.
Mr. Schenkman said that the staff is generally frugal. He would prefer to see a procedure which would require Board review of only the unusual orders. More important to him is how the Township will respond to changes in situations such as shortfalls.
Mr. Czajkowski explained that currently department heads authorize purchases; these are then reviewed by the Finance Director. He has the final review of expenditures. He would present the Board with an outline of a procedure for an additional Board approval.
Mr. Gallagher said that with the $10,000 fee in lieu from the Promenade, recently added to the general fund, he would like to divide it in half, with $5,000 going to each library. The Board would contribute $16,000 to Newtown Corporation and eliminate the First Fourth and Council Rock Senior Center contributions. He explained to Mr. Schenkman that the Board did not come to an agreement on this, or any final agreement of Board contributions, in Mr. Schenkman’s absence.
In response to Mr. Benchener’s questions, Mr. Czajkowski explained that the contributions to Newtown Corporation were to have been made quarterly. In 2009, one half was paid in the summer and the other half is to be paid shortly. The decision on the allocations to the libraries and other charities does not need to be made immediately. A total contribution amount should be approved with specific division of the allocations done later, if necessary.
Mr. Schenkman asked Mr. Calabro to review his suggestion to reduce the Rescue Squad contribution in order to leave the other donations intact.
Mr. Calabro said he had suggested reducing the Rescue Squad contribution to $78,000. The $20,000 taken from the Rescue squad could be added to the Newtown Corporation amount, then given to the two libraries, the Senior Center and First Fourth while eliminating the proposed Newtown Corporation contribution. He had been unaware of the proposal to add $10,000 from the Promenade to the General Fund. With that additional $10,000 he would favor a $10,000 contribution to Newtown Corporation. He mentioned that the tax collected for support of the Rescue Squad had been eliminated in favor of giving the Rescue Squad 25% of the Local Services Tax. He did not agree that the Board should have repealed the Rescue Squad millage, which had collected about $9 from each household.
Mr. Schenkman said he would not want to reduce the amounts contributed to any of the beneficiaries; in the current economy a reduction could put these institutions in jeopardy. He would suggest looking elsewhere in the budget for reductions and going forward, reviewing the operating budgets of the recipient institutions. He does agree with a the $4,000 reduction for Newtown Corporation, but would like to know the impact of eliminating First Fourth and Council Rock Senior Center. The libraries and Rescue Squad have indicated their need and dependence on our contributions.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Board had only begun making contributions in 2000, when the Earned Income Tax jumped and there was a budget surplus. He said it is difficult to agree to the donations when asking the Township’s non-union employees to forgo pay increases. He agreed to a $5000 contribution to each library. Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Benchener agreed to this.
Mr. Garton explained that the contributions are part of the legislative body line item. The entire legislative body amount cannot change by more than 25%, or about $20,000, with the currently advertised budget but exact donation amounts can be addressed later.
Dr. Ciervo said that there has been some criticism from residents that the Board is reducing its contributions to libraries while spending so much on the municipal expansion and on playing fields. He and Mr. Gallagher reviewed the Township’s various funds, noting that money in the municipal complex fund is from a bond and can only be used for the municipal expansion and the money for parks and playing fields is in the Park and Recreation Capital Fund, which fund is entirely from the fees paid by developers in lieu of providing parks and open space. These funds cannot be moved to other uses.
The Board discussed some of the projected revenues expected. Mr. Czajkowski said that he has done a comparison of fees collected elsewhere in the county and found that Newtown Township’s fees are below its neighbors.
The Board agreed to increasing the fee schedule gradually to be in line with the average of the lower part of the county.
The Board discussed the projected revenue from real estate transfer taxes. Mr. Gallagher explained that in 2009, the Township had projected $900,000 but to date has only collected $688,000, the bulk of that in the last part of the year. He suggested budgeting $700,000, which is in keeping with the amount actually collected.
Mr. Benchener, Mr. Calabro and Mr. Schenkman favored budgeting $600,000, a more conservative amount, saying that they did not think the housing market would rebound in 2010.
Mr. Gallagher said that the amount budgeted is only a guess; the actual amount might differ in either direction and either be made up from the reserve or the reserve will not be used as much.
After some further discussion the Board agreed to budget $650,000 for real estate transfers.
Foxhall Estates: Mr. Garton explained that, depending on whether or not a developer has completed all of the punch list items to the satisfaction of the Township Engineer, the Board of Supervisor may be asked to consider a resolution setting forth the criteria for the developer to complete in order for the Township to accept dedication of the public improvements, including, but not limited to, the streets. As the developer of Foxhall Estates has not completed the improvements, Mr. Garton said that he, as Solicitor, the Township Engineer recommend that the Board authorize the Township to draw down the letter of credit so that there are sufficient funds for the Township to complete the work.
Ms. Fountain said that she does not believe there is sufficient time to complete all of the necessary work before the letter of credit expires on December 15, 2009.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize the Township to draw down on the letter of credit of Orleans Homebuilders for Foxhall Estates. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to Mr. Schenkman’s questions, Ms. Fountain said that the amount of the letter of credit is $486,217. The estimate of the value of work to be completed by the Township is $190,000.
Mr. Garton said that the Township would use the drawdown to complete the work, then would refund any remainder to the developer.
Resident Jim McBride said that he is president of the Foxhall Estates Homeowners Association and speaks in that capacity. He has been working with Ms. Fountain and with Orleans to resolve the issues and he would like to be certain that escrow is not released until the residents are satisfied the work has been completed. This includes the planting of about 30 trees, completed landscaping as shown in the plans and the reforesting of a preserved area that had been accidentally destroyed behinds lots 9 and 10. There are also some streetlights which do not work and some missing covers for utility boxes.
Mr. Garton explained that the punch list items will be addressed for public improvements, only, not for residential items.
Ms. Fountain said that the Homeowners Association should contact the utility companies for the boxes, although she had been in attendance at a meeting where the Orleans representative said that he would contact the utilities.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that, since the Township has franchise agreements with Verizon and Comcast, it could contact the cable carriers about their boxes.
Mr. Garton explained that the Township would not be doing the work, but would put the work out to public bid. The work will not be completed immediately, and will be more costly than if the developer had done it.
Mr. McBride said that one home in the development still has a temporary certificate of occupancy, although the owners has moved in.
Dr. Ciervo said that this would be added to the punch list.
Mr. Garton confirmed that Orleans has been notified of this evening’s action. He also agreed to notify Mr. McBride and the Homeowners Association before any final escrow release to Orleans.
The motion passed 5-0.
Upper Silver Lake Road: Mr. Garton explained that an Ordinance has been advertised, the effect of which, if adopted, would be to vacate a portion of Upper Silver Lake Road in the vicinity of the developments of the Villas and Wiltshire Walk. Notice of the hearing was published in the Advance and Bucks County Courier Times and notices were sent to the owners of all properties which adjoin the portion of Upper Silver Lake Road that is subject to the Ordinance. In addition, notices were sent to the Homeowners Associations of the four developments, The Villas, Wiltshire Walk, Kirkwood and the Reserve, within that area. Lastly, the Township posted the Notice on its Website and a block advertisement was placed in the Courier Times. The Township has acquired easements from the Villas for pedestrian and emergency access.
Dr. Ciervo said that in 2008, it was noticed that the Township had not properly vacated the road, although it has been closed to traffic since 2003, as a condition of final land development approval for Wiltshire Walk. Some residents had taken action to re-open the road. The Township Traffic Engineer has been asked to study the site for improvements necessary to safely re-open the road.
Traffic Engineer Andrew Brown of Carroll Engineering showed an aerial photograph of the area with the closed portion highlighted. He noted that the area has been studied in 2001, 2003 and 2006. If the roadway were opened, the intersection of Upper Silver Lake Road at Newtown Yardley Road would continue to be rated at an “F” level of service. Currently there are delays of 114 seconds during the PM peak hour; if the road were opened it would increase to 120 seconds. There is a sub-standard curve with a 60 foot radius and a posted speed limit of 25 MPH. To be safe at that speed the radius would have to be 154 feet, which would require a taking of a house. The current radius would need a 15 MPH speed limit. The costs to re-align the road would be $445,702. This includes $300,000 for the taking. The estimate of $300,000 is a guess.
Ms. Fountain pointed out that there would be additional costs to widen the lower portion of the road, which is only 16 feet wide, and widen the emergency access, which would be an additional $63,500. She did not think curbing and sidewalks would be necessary, and if installed would also require additional stormwater management.
The Board agreed that it would not approve a taking to re-align the road. Mr. Schenkman asked whether the speed limit could be changed to 15 MPH with the current curve.
Mr. Brown said that with posting of signs and re-striping, this could be done. He noted that the current speed limit on the northern portion of Upper Silver Lake Road is 35 MPH, but the average speed traveled is 41 MPH. There would be some construction costs associated with making the existing curve safe at 15 MPH, but he had not calculated those figures.
Mr. Garton asked about the level of service at the intersection of Penns Trail and Newtown Yardley Road.
Mr. Brown said that this intersection is a level “B.” The intersection at Upper Silver Lake Road would not meet PennDOT signal warrants because it is so close to other signals. The driving difference for travelers going through Upper Silver Lake Road instead of Penns Trail is only 1100 feet. Any time saved driving would be lost at the intersection with Newtown Yardley Road.
Mr. Schenkman asked whether it would be helpful to have a one-way headed north from Newtown Yardley Road to Vera Avenue.
Mr. Brown said that this might be a viable alternative, but would negatively impact the residents of the area below the closed portion of the road. He noted that 27 cars would make that trip; 83 cars make the left at Penns Trail North at the PM peak, coming from all directions.
Mr. Benchener said that he has heard the residents of Wiltshire Walk discuss their safety concerns. He asked whether some traffic calming on Penns Trail North could be installed such as speed bumps or stop signs.
Mr. Browns said that a pedestrian traffic study would be needed; installation of stop signs and speed bumps is regulated by PennDOT. He said that signage would cost under $1000, but crosswalks and signals could cost between $50,000 and $100,000.
In response to Mr. Calabro’s question, Mr. Brown explained that the PM peak hour is determined by conducting traffic counts between 4 PM and 6 PM on Tuesday through Thursday and determining the busiest four consecutive 15 minute intervals. That would be the peak hour. The counts were conducted in September weekdays.
Mr. Schenkman asked about costs associated with leaving the road closed.
Mr. Brown said that minor improvements and signage might be needed. A “no outlet” sign is already in place.
Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt an ordinance vacating Upper Silver Lake Road and entered into the record the following minutes of Newtown Township Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission:
Dr. Ciervo seconded, noting that the December 12, 2001 minutes grant final land development approval for Wiltshire Walk.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Benchener asked that the motion be amended to include a reference in the proposed ordinance to some traffic calming measures for Penns Trail North to address the pedestrian safety concerns of the Wiltshire Walk residents. The measures should include a pedestrian safety study.
Mr. Garton said that if the Board would like to address safety concerns a second motion should be made.
Mr. Gallagher said that he has concerns about the financial commitment to make the road safe if opened. He also would like to honor the commitment made in 2001 by a previous Board.
Mr. Calabro said that the motions granting preliminary and later granting final land development approval, both state that Upper Silver Lake Road would be “closed except for emergency access,” however the final approval motion specifically states, “…closed area of Upper Silver Lake Road will not be vacated.” It is not possible to know what the intent of that Board had been, whether the closing was to have been temporary, but it does say, “not be vacated.”
Ms. Fountain said that note #14 of the plan references maintenance of the “closed” road.
Dr. Ciervo said that throughout the minutes of past meetings are references to a “closed” road, except for emergency access. It is clear the intent was for a closed road. At some point the previous Boards had been advised by counsel that vacating was not necessary, however this Board has learned that leaving it closed without a vacation of the road is not possible.
Mr. Calabro said that because the motion to approve states that the road will not be vacated he is not sure this was to have been permanent.
Mr. Schenkman said that it is not possible to know whether the then sitting Board would have elected to vacate had they known it would be necessary for permanent closure.
Mr. Benchener said that he agreed that the intent was to close the road permanently and that failing to vacate it had been a misstep.
Mr. Garton advised the Board that they must act on the conditions as they exist now. The road must be either opened or vacated.
Mr. Benchener said that he would support closing and vacating the road because of the costs associated with safely opening the road and because of the agreements made with the residents prior to the building of Wiltshire Walk. He also agreed that there are some safety concerns with conditions in Wiltshire Walk that need to be addressed.
Mr. Benchener and Mr. Calabro disagreed as to whether the current Board is obligated to uphold the actions of prior Boards even though circumstances may have changed over the years.
Resident John Lewandowski of Kirkwood said that he had never been informed about the change to Upper Silver Lake Road in 2001. It had never been a difficult road and he had no problem driving on it. He asked that it be re-opened.
Resident Mary McNamara of Wiltshire Walk said that she would like Upper Silver Lake Road to be re-opened. She would support the one-way option. She also asked that an additional stop sign be added to Upper Silver Lake Road. She said by re-opening the road some of the traffic burden would be shared by the two impacted neighborhoods. She noted that there is an enforcement problem on Penns Trail North and that drivers frequently ignore the stop sign. She asked that traffic calming be addressed before the Ordinance is adopted.
Resident John Bernard of Kirkwood said that it had been a wrong decision to close the road and the prior Board had not intended to “vacate” or make the closing permanent. He said that he would support the one-way option and a lower speed limit but urged the Board to re-open the road. He was not aware of the discussions and agreements made in 2001. When asked by Mr. Gallagher why he wanted the road re-opened, Mr. Bernard said it is a matter of principle.
Resident Kurt Dilatush of Kirkwood asked whether the intersection of Upper Silver Lake and Penns Trail North would still have a 4-way stop when the road is closed.
Mr. Brown said that the stop would remain.
Mr.Dilatush said that he supports traffic calming for Penns Trail North. He would like the road re-opened so that he and his neighbors could avoid driving on Newtown Yardley Road when they patronize the businesses at Upper Silver Lake Road. He suggested limiting left turns out of Newtown Rental Center. He also noted that he did not feel that Kirkwood residents had been included in the discussions in 2001.
Resident Barry Hertzburg, president of Kirkwood Homeowners Association, said that it has been his understanding that the road closure was to have been temporary. The residents of the 180 homes in Kirkwood do not want the road to remain closed. The meetings held to discuss the closure in 2001 were unethical. It is an inconvenience to residents using the businesses at Upper Silver Lake Road.
Resident Jay Frank said that he had lived for many years in Kirkwood and currently lives in Villas at Newtown. He said that with the 4-way stop sign and a 15 MPH speed limit, Upper Silver Lake Road would be safe. He would also support a one-way option. Residents of 173 homes in The Villas support re-opening the road.
Resident Linda Scott of Upper Silver Lake Road said that she has lived near the closed portion of the road for 22 years and had participated in the discussions in 2001. Traffic in this area is not a new concern, as there had been plans for a “northern bypass” which would have involved improvements to Upper Silver Lake Road. She said that some Kirkwood residents had participated in the meetings in 2001. She and some of her neighbors, were asked to give up 30 feet of their properties for the stormwater management for Wiltshire Walk and were forced to connect to public water and sewer. She provided photographs of conditions due to stormwater problems because of the Wiltshire Walk construction. She noted that to make the road safe for through traffic will be very expensive. The road is too narrow for two school buses or trucks to pass. She urged the Board to vacate the road.
Resident Susan Iazetti of Upper Silver Lake Road said that she participated in discussions on the Wiltshire Walk development for two years. The development appeared on published Township minutes and agendas for the various committees, boards and commissions as well as in newspaper articles. It is up to the residents to be informed about what is going on in their community. She said that while she had not been directly informed about the plans she became involved, reaching out to Township officials and representatives of the developer. There were no secret meetings or back room deals. The developer agreed to “comply” with the closing. At no time was it to have been temporary. She urged the Board to vacate the road.
Resident Susan Saurman said that she lives in Wiltshire Walk and feels the children in that development are safe. The streets have sidewalks where the children wait for the school bus, whereas the children in the Silver Lake Road area must wait on a muddy corner without any sidewalks. She urged the Board to vacate the road.
Resident John D’Aprile said that the prior solicitor gave the Board bad advice when he closed the road without vacating it. He was in attendance at all of the Board meetings at which the Wiltshire Walk development had been discussed and feels the minutes only give a brief summary. Those in attendance understood that the road was to have been permanently closed. He said that it is the responsibility of every resident to learn what is going on in the community; all of the meetings were amply advertised.
Resident Walter Scott of Upper Silver Lake Road said that Penns Trail North was specifically designed to handle cars; no driveways open onto the street and no mailboxes are located on it. I was designed to accommodate heavy traffic.
Resident Tammy Sutton said that she lives on Vera Avenue; Vera Avenue and old Frost Lane are also impacted by any changes to Upper Silver Lake Road. She noted that three special needs children are picked up by handicapped buses on Vera Avenue. The closing of Upper Silver Lake Road had been discussed by the Township since as early as 1998. She provided copies of a mid-1990’s plan for Concept Way, which was considered as a method to alleviate traffic from the property currently The Reserve and Villas at Newtown. Both of these developments had been zoned for office use. Penns Trail North had been planned to accommodate that business traffic. Ms. Sutton said that it is disingenuous for residents to claim they did not know about any plans for road closings, since it had been a topic of Board discussion and news for many years. Ms. Sutton noted that because she is a public official she did not participate in discussions with the developer which were held in residents’ homes. There is not an agreement between the Upper Silver Lake residents and the developers. The residents had to give up 30 feet of property for easements for stormwater and were forced to hook up to public water and sewer at their own expense; many suffered damage to their wells during the building of Wiltshire Walk. No residents of Wiltshire Walk or Kirkwood are being asked to bear any significant adverse impact from the closing of Upper Silver Lake Road the way the Silver Lake Road residents have been and would be if the road were re-opened.
Ms. Sutton read into the record a letter from resident Joan Baiocchi asking the Board to vacate the road. Her letter pointed out the dangerous conditions of the road near her driveway. She expressed concern that if not permanently vacated, future Boards might not follow through with any conditions attached to the re-opening.
Resident Jason McIlhinney of Kirkwood said that he sees many Wiltshire Walk children waiting for school buses when he drives to work each day. He supports the re-opening of the road and any traffic calming that can be done to remedy dangerous conditions on Penns Trail North.
Resident Paul Deppe of Upper Silver Lake Road said that problems discussed earlier about emergency access have already been addressed. The road should remain permanently closed.
Resident Steve Saurman of Vera Avenue said that the Kirkwood residents are asking only to get home a few seconds faster. The Wiltshire Walk residents are concerned about safety; Penns Trail North is safe, however drivers are not driving safely. The costs to repair Vera and Old Frost Lanes should also be considered when calculating the costs to open Upper Silver Lake Road. He asked that the road remain closed.
Resident Jonathan Dix, president of Wiltshire Walk Homeowners Association, said that Upper Silver Lake should be re-opened so that all residents in both neighborhoods share the burden of the traffic. He urged the Board to reduce the speed limit and make it safe. He said that the County Court has ordered that the road be opened in 30 days. He reminded the Board that at the time of the building of Penns Trail North and the closing of Upper Silver Lake Road, the Township was anticipating office traffic from Brandywine, however that property has now been developed as residential. If the road were re-opened, the residents on Upper Silver Lake would not see a heavy volume of traffic. He reviewed traffic studies of the area by Carroll and Pennoni Associates in the past, none of which showed a strong history of traffic accidents.
Speaking for himself, and not for Wiltshire Walk’s Homeowners Association, Mr. Dix said that there was never a public hearing on closing the road; the Township did not follow proper procedure. Since then, revisiting the issue has been a waste of time and money. The Board passed up the opportunity to have McGrath Homebuilders handle necessary improvements. He said that in his opinion, the road should be made safe but it does not need to be completely rebuilt. He asked whether traffic impact fees could be used to pay for preparing the road for either opening or closing.
Ms. Fountain said that would be permissible.
Mr. Dix said that he does not think the currently closed portion of the road is appropriately barricaded for emergency access. He said that he has concerns about the Wiltshire Walk Homeowners Association’s liability if it is responsible for the road’s maintenance. He said he would support a one-way opening.
Resident John Worthington said that he has lived on Upper Silver Lake Road for fifty years. He urged the Board to vacate the road.
Mr. Schenkman said that he appreciates the level of discourse and finds that residents on each side of the issue have made compelling arguments. He would prefer to see the road re-opened safely, and would want it opened in the right way. He would like the area to be made safe and the burdens to be shared fairly by all residents. As a resident of Kirkwood, and as a parent of a child who bicycles to the convenience store on Newtown Yardley Road, he supports opening the road and making it safe for all.
Mr. Benchener said that he feels that while Wiltshire Walk’s residents are concerned about safety, these concerns can be addressed in ways other than opening the road. The residents of Kirkwood and Wiltshire Walk would not feel the same negative impact if the road remains closed as would be felt by the Upper Silver Lake residents if the road were re-opened. He did not see a compelling reason to re-open the road.
Dr. Ciervo said that he appreciated the way the residents have spoken this evening, making compelling points on both sides of the question. It is a tough decision. The road has been reconnected for emergency access and moveable barriers can be placed there. To re-open the road safely would require great expenditures.
The motion passed 3-2, with Messrs. Schenkman and Calabro voting nay.
Ms. Fountain reported that she has received the deeds confirming the land swap between Newtown Walk and Newtown Township.
Newtown Plaza Shopping Center Signalization: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize pay estimate #1 in the amount of $65,762.77 to Armour & Sons Electric. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Goodnoe’s Corner Certificate of Completion: Ms. Fountain explained that this project should be completed by the end of the month. With this escrow release, $121,310.55 will remain.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize escrow release in the amount of $28,826.69 to Goodnoe’s Corner. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher said that he is concerned about the proliferation of temporary signs for commercial ventures. He would like the Ordinance against these signs enforced.
Dr. Ciervo suggested reviewing the Ordinance and discussing this problem at a work session.
Mr. Benchener reported that he has been working on a resolution of Aria Hospital’s proposed Lower Makefield location.
Mr. Benchener asked the Board to consider a pedestrian safety study for Penns Trail North.
Mr. Schenkman said that there are many locations in the Township with pedestrian safety concerns. Perhaps the traffic committee should be tasked with investigating this.
Dr. Ciervo suggested that the Board talk to residents about pedestrian concerns and whether impact fees can be used on pedestrian studies.
Mr. Calabro suggested adding pedestrian safety concerns to an upcoming agenda.
The meeting adjourned at 12:45 AM.