Board of Supervisors Work Session
Minutes of March 15, 2010
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on March 15, 2010 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Robert Ciervo, Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman, Philip Calabro and Michael Gallagher, members. Not present was Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener. Also present were Joseph Czajkowski, Township Manager and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Members of the audience included: Larry Young, Gilmore & Associates; Eric Kaufman, Gilmore & Associates; Jeffrey Martinides, Merrill Lynch; Representatives from the Bucks County Planning Commission including Lynn Bush, David Sebastian and Maureen Wheatley; Jeff Warner, The Advance of Bucks County; John Boyle, Assistant Township Manager; Township residents Sue Beasley, Harriet Beckert, Vince Lombardi, Walter Leck, and Shawn Ward.
Call to Order: Chairman Ciervo called the meeting to order at 7:35 P.M.
Mrs. Beasley advised that she had comments regarding Stoopville Road. She reported that Elizabeth Bowman (resides at the corner of Stoopville and Linton Hill Roads) is unhappy with the landscape median that is located in front of her property; there were issues accessing her driveway due to the snowplowing. She also reported that Jim Ott has photographs of the flooding that is taking place on the roadway and he too is upset by the medians. She feels that the medians are a danger to the roadway and questioned who is developing the traffic calming plan and what the Township is going to do about the problems. Supervisor Gallagher reported that he did go out to Mrs. Bowman’s property and her concerns are being addressed. Mrs. Beasley hopes that the Township has a better plan for the road. Chairman Ciervo reported that the Township has received complaints about the project and that Gilmore & Associates was here tonight to give an update.
Mrs. Beckert reported that she had no comment at this time, but may have comments after the Bucks County Planning Commission’s presentation. Chairman Ciervo advised that the matter would be discussed after the presentation and comment could be offered at that time. Mrs. Beckert commented on the landscape medians on Stoopville Road, she feels that they are too tall but they do slow traffic.
Stoopville Road Update – Gilmore and Associates
Chairman Ciervo turned the meeting over to Gilmore & Associates to present the update on the Stoopville Road Project. The Supervisors were presented copies of the concept plan of the Traffic Calming Plan (Job. #09-02080Y). Mr. Young updated the Supervisors on Phase I of the Stoopville Road Project. He reported that the project is behind schedule due to the weather. All of the islands are in place, but they not completely finished. The islands will be landscaped and then maintained by the Township. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of May 2010, barring any extensions due to the weather. Most of the traffic signal foundations and control boxes have been installed. He reported on the locations of the landscape medians and traffic signals. The signal at the Eagle Road intersection will be a four-way flasher. The signal at the Creamery/Linton Hill Roads intersection will be a two-way red flasher; Stoopville road will have the yellow flasher. Chairman Ciervo commented on that intersection not warranting a traffic light. Mr. Kaufman advised that the only intersection that warranted a traffic light was Eagle Road. Mr. Young reported on the development of a parcel in Upper Makefield Township and the condition of approval that the developer put aside funds should PennDOT feel that the Creamery/Linton Hill/Stoopville Roads intersection now warrants a traffic light.
Mr. Young offered to update the Supervisors on Phase II of the project. Chairman Ciervo suggested that the Supervisors comment on Phase I prior to discussing Phase II.
Supervisor Gallagher commented on the median curbs being blocked rather than ramped (mountable) and past discussions noting that the curbs would be ramped. Mr. Young reported that the new traffic pattern would take time to get use to and that the medians are working to slow down vehicles. He also advised that the past plan presented showed mountable curbs and during the safety review PennDOT called for barrier curbs. Supervisor Gallagher advised that he was unaware of the curb style being changed. Mr. Kaufman commented on the time restraints and reported that PennDOT required the barrier curb and that the Township was notified of the change. Chairman Ciervo requested Mr. Kaufman to forward the Supervisors a copy of the correspondence stating that the curb style would be changed from ramped to barrier. The Supervisors discussed having to answer to the residents when it comes to what PennDot is requiring and what was presented to the public at a prior televised Supervisor’s meeting. The Supervisors discussed Phase II of the project not being such a fast paced timeline. Mr. Young advised that Phase II would require Gilmore & Associates to make presentations at town meetings for both Townships. Supervisor Schenkman requested Gilmore & Associates to highlight the changes in the future.
The Supervisors discussed the landscape medians with regards to safety. Mr. Young commented on the safety concerns regarding the medians. He advised that currently barrels are in the lanes until the medians are back filled and that Gilmore & Associates is trying to push PennDOT and the contractor to get the traffic signs installed. He reported that the medians are working, people are slowing down.
The Supervisors discussed Mrs. Bowman’s concerns being addressed. Mr. Kaufman reported that Gilmore & Associates would contact PennDOT to discuss the matter. The Supervisors agreed they did not like PennDOT having the final say when it comes to safety.
Supervisor Calabro commented on the curbing of the medians and asked what would be done for safety. Mr. Young advised that there would be reflective warning signs.
Supervisor Calabro commented on Phase II with regards to the walkway and pedestrians crossing Stoopville Road. Mr. Young reported that the walkway crosses the roadway by the Melsky Tract. Mr. Kaufman reported that flashing lights would be posted by that crosswalk, crosswalks at intersections would not be marked by flashing lights.
Chairman Ciervo feels that the walkway is dangerous. He would prefer to use those funds on another project in the Township. As far as the project is concerned he likes the improvements for traffic calming but is against the walkway. He commented on the median by entrance of Linton Hill Chase. He is concerned with regards to the median extending into the turning lane. Mr. Young advised that Gilmore & Associates would look into his concern. Chairman Ciervo also commented on the size of the curbs in Phase I of the project. He suggested marking the medians with reflective paints & signage.
The Supervisors continued discussing Phase II of the project. Chairman Ciervo expressed concern for the walkway being dangerous. Supervisor Schenkman questioned what type of follow up is done to verify that the plan is being implemented. Mr. Kaufman reported that PennDOT has a resident engineer on the job to verify that the project is being completed according to the plan. Supervisor Schenkman requested Gilmore & Associates to update the Township regarding problems, so that the Township could follow up. He also asked when Gilmore & Associates would make another presentation to the Board. Mr. Young recapped Phase I and advised that Gilmore will look into the Supervisors safety concerns regarding the landscape medians. He will update the Township in writing and schedule another public presentation. The Supervisors discussed the need to make a decision regarding the installation of the walkway and the development of the Melsky Tract. Mr. Kaufman reported that PennDOT has approved the walkway and crosswalks with the exception of the midway crosswalk. Chairman Ciervo invited Gilmore & Associates back to a televised meeting to make another public presentation. Mr. Kaufman reported that the scope of Phase II includes three medians with mountable curbs, crosswalks, two gateways, widening of Highland Road and signal timing modifications. Supervisor Gallagher commented on the removal of the spur. Mr. Kaufman advised that removal of the spur is part of Phase I.
The Supervisors thanked Mr. Young and Mr. Kaufman for their time.
Supervisor Gallagher asked the public if they had any questions at this time.
Mrs. Beckert reported that she has more questions regarding the project but would like to review the site before asking her questions.
Mrs. Beasley reported on her concerns with regards to safety.
Mrs. Beckert suggested having a bike lane rather than a walking path. Mr. Kaufman reported on the requirements for a bike lane.
Mr. Leck advised that he would not encourage a walking path or bike lane along Stoopville Road. He commented with regards to safety concerns and signs being located in your line of sight.
Trash Pick-Up Times – Discussion
Chairman Ciervo advised that the Supervisors would now be discussing the 4 th item on the agenda – trash pick-up times. There had been past discussion at a former meeting regarding complaints due to early pick up. Correspondence was provided in the Supervisors’ packets prior to the meeting.
The Supervisors discussed the trash pick-up times in the Township and the noise ordinance. Supervisor Gallagher suggested that the Township enforce the noise ordinance. The Supervisors discussed Ordinance No. 2004-O-2 and measuring sound. Mr. Czajkowski advised that the ordinance would be difficult to enforce due to the definitions. Supervisor Gallagher commented on other noise issues that the Township has dealt with. Supervisor Calabro asked where the complaints are coming from. Mr. Czajkowski and Chairman Ciervo reported that the Township has received complaints from residents in Newtown Grant – trucks are picking up prior to 7 A.M. Mr. Czajkowski reported that the Township has sent out correspondence with a copy of the ordinance to the trash haulers.
Mr. Leck reported that he has been in the trash hauling business for 38 year and they have always started pick up in non residential areas about 4 A.M. He also reported that the trucks have to meet federal guidelines for noise issues and that traffic and pedestrian safety are one of his biggest concerns. He stated that he would telephone haulers who service the Newtown area and advise them of tonight’s discussion. Chairman Ciervo asked what time of day Mr. Leck’s business picks up in residential areas. Mr. Leck advised that his business does not begin residential pick-ups until 6 A.M. He also commented on residents that work in the city or have highschool children already being up and that the residents who work the night shift need to sleep during the day.
Chairman Ciervo reported that the Township would need to talk to residents requesting them to talk to their trash haulers to try to resolve the problem.
Supervisor Schenkman commented on the Township reacting to the complaints and suggested tracking the complaints. Mr. Czajkowski reported that the Township received one complaint.
Mr. Leck commented that restricting one type of business would not be right and suggested that if the problem continues the Police Department should issue a ticket.
The Supervisors thanked Mr. Leck for his time and the offer to make telephone calls.
Township Pension Investment Policy, Discussion – Jeffrey Martinides
Chairman Ciervo advised that the Supervisors would now be discussing the 2 nd item on the agenda – Township Pension Investment Policy. Correspondence was provided in the Supervisors’ packets prior to the meeting.
Mr. Martinides introduced himself to the Supervisors. He gave a brief history on his background and his teams’ background. He reported on the performance review for each of the Township’s pensions:
He discussed benchmarking and reported that as of 12/31/09 each of the plans outperformed their benchmark. He advised that he meets with the Pension Committee quarterly and provides reports on a regular basis. He discussed the request from the Pension Committee to make tonight’s presentation and begin discussions to broaden the Township’s investment allocations. He commented on a shortfall to the pensions and noted that currently the actuarial rate of return is 7.5%.
The Supervisors discussed the Township’s Pension Investment Policy and the Pension Committee’s request to revise the current Investment Policy Statement (IPS), specifically requesting that the allowable minimum and maximum investment ranges be increased or broadened.
Supervisor Schenkman advised that he had some questions and comments with regards to the Pension Committee’s request. He suggested that the Supervisors request the Financial Planning Committee to vet the proposal at their next meeting. He reported that he is happy to see the investments broaden and has some concerns with regards to foreign investments and missed opportunities. He commented on the amount invested in cash and cash equivalents only being 40% and suggested that amount be increased.
Chairman Ciervo requested information on how the 7.5% actuarial rate of return is determined. Mr. Martinides advised that rate is determined by the Actuarial Firm and that the Township is at risk of not meeting that rate.
Supervisor Schenkman suggested that the Township have a more flexible investment policy. He feels that more flexibility is needed and that the employees should be given more options.
Supervisor Gallagher suggested that the Township begin allowing alternative investments.
Mr. Martinides advised that he would like the opportunity to meet with the Supervisors at a later date for further discussions.
Chairman Ciervo asked about the change on page 3 of the resolution with regards to prohibitions and restrictions. Mr. Martinides reported that would give the Township more flexibility and would not prohibit them from investing in gold mutual funds.
Supervisor Schenkman suggested that the matter be reviewed by the Financial Planning Committee and for the Supervisors to have a public discussion at a televised meeting.
Chairman Ciervo agreed that having the Financial Planning Committee review the information regarding the pension investment policy is a great idea. He would like to also hear from Mr. Martinides on his ideas of the document as an investment consultant and any changes he would suggest. He reported that ultimately the Board of Supervisors would vote on changes to the policy.
Mr. Martinides requested the opportunity to meet with the Financial Planning Committee to make a presentation and suggested that the Supervisors’ have more that one representative attend the meeting.
The Supervisors discussed the next Financial Planning Committee’s meeting on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. Mr. Martinides advised that he could not make that meeting. The Supervisors agreed to try to schedule Mr. Martinides presentation for the Committee’s April meeting.
The Supervisors thanked Mr. Martinides for his time.
Sycamore Street Discussion – Bucks County Planning Commission, Lynn Bush
The Supervisors discussed the Bucks County Planning Commission’s vision for Sycamore Street. Ms. Bush recapped on the last presentation the BCPC made before the Supervisors and introduced Mr. Sebastian.
Supervisor Schenkman commented on the Township and Borough Planning Commission members not being present for tonight’s discussion and advised Ms. Bush that her team may be requested to give this presentation again.
Mr. Sebastian gave a power point presentation on the vision for Sycamore Street. The Supervisors were presented copies of the conceptual design plan and a photographic catalogue & visual preference survey for the Sycamore Street Corridor Town Center District. Mr. Sebastian advised that the majority of the Town Center District is located in the Historic District. He discussed the existing land uses and the land uses being proposed. He reported that recommendations included a sidewalk/trail and a park & recreation facility along the Newtown Creek. He noted that four larger parcels are being focused on with regards to possible future uses.
Chairman Ciervo asked if there is a recommendation to remove any of the existing uses. Ms. Bush advised that at this time there are no uses being recommended for removal, once further research is done there might be uses that are recommended for removal.
Supervisor Schenkman advised that First National Bank recently purchased the former St. Andrew School’s property. He reported that he likes what he is seeing tonight, he’s interested in hearing the recommendations for the redevelopment of the creekside and that he looks forward to seeing further details.
Chairman Ciervo asked if the Board likes the BCPC’s recommendations how to implement the plan to change the existing TC District ordinance to match up with the future vision. He commented on developers following the new guidelines. He questioned the timeline for getting a formal ordinance. Ms. Bush advised that she is unsure of the timeline and that the BCPC is up for the challenge. She needs further direction from the Board on how they would like to proceed with regards to the TC District.
The Supervisors discussed getting input from the Township and Borough Planning Commission members.
Supervisor Schenkman advised that he senses that the Township is moving in the right direction and that he would like to hear from the Township and Borough Planning Commissions at a public meeting before having the BCPC proceed.
The Supervisors discussed scheduling the BCPC to make a presentation where all interested parties could attend.
Supervisor Calabro asked if the sale of the large parcels effect the Township vision for the street. Chairman Ciervo commented on the Township being up against the clock to get a new ordinance adopted. Mr. Czajkowski advised that any development plans submitted prior to the ordinance being adopted would be grandfathered under the current ordinance.
Supervisor Calabro suggested having one more meeting to discuss the matter and that the Township Solicitor and BCPC begin working to change the existing TC District or draft an overlay, once that is completed the information could be presented to the Jointure.
Mrs. Beckert reported that she is part of 21-Century Voice and they would be glad to help the Township with regards to organizing a town hall meeting. She discussed the design guidelines and reported that there are a few designs that are not on the street. She questioned if the Supervisors would oppose including those designs in the acceptable design guidelines (federal, craftsman). She advised that she is in favor of pocket parks. She reported on complaints she has received with regards to Goodnoe’s Corner not fitting into Newtown. She commented on the number of signs per business and the need for more uniformity. She reported that HARB has been working on developing design guidelines, that Newtown has a lack of a patter and that HARB should be presenting design guidelines to the Supervisors in the near future. As far as the recommendations presented by the BCPC, Mrs. Beckert had the following suggestions and comments. With regards to the Bill Marsh Ford property, she suggested that the Township consider making that area a park. She asked if First Nation Bank’s parking area would be buffered and advised that she is in favor of the Township keeping the buildings on Mrs. Goodnoe’s property.
Mr. Lombardi advised that he like the concept plan for Sycamore Street being presented by the BCPC. He commented on the need for the Township to move ahead quickly.
Mr. Ward, President of Sycamore Street Association advised on his concerns for how the current businesses would be effected. He questioned First National Bank’s intent for their recently purchased property. The Supervisors advised that the site would be used for parking with the intent to locate an office on the site in the future.
Chairman Ciervo suggested televising the 2 nd April meeting of the Planning Commission and have the BCPC make another presentation. The Borough Planning Commission and other interested parties would be invited, as well as the public.
Mrs. Beasley suggested that the first meeting with the Borough Planning Commission not be televised. Chairman Ciervo reported that the Supervisors need to move forward and make a decision. Supervisor Schenkman advised that he saw no problem with the meeting being televised.
The Supervisors thanked the representatives from the Bucks County Planning Commission for their time.
Ms. Bush reported that the County Commissioners would be meeting at the Bucks County Community College from 5:00 – 8:30 P.M. on March 31, 2010.
Chairman Ciervo advised that the Township still has not finalized the field use fees for this year. He questioned the status of the sub-committee. Mr. Czajkowski advised that he did not believe a plan has been developed, but that the fee schedule did pass. He suggested that at the next televised Supervisor’s meeting a motion be made that the Parks & Recreation Field Usage Fee would refer to the amended 2007 fee schedule.
Supervisor Gallagher commented on the Woll Tract needing an official name and reported that Jim Casey of the American Legion Veterans Association would like to present an idea to the Board. Chairman Ciervo suggested for Mr. Casey to make a presentation to the Parks & Recreation Board. Supervisor Gallagher advised that he feels it is the Supervisors responsibility to name the park. Supervisor Schenkman agreed with Mr. Gallagher regarding the Supervisors responsibility and that the suggested naming of the park should be open the public. He also commented on the possibility of income by getting some type of sponsorship or corporate funding. He discussed historical figures from Newtown that the park could be named after. Chairman Ciervo feels that interested parties should make a presentation to the Parks & Recreation Board. Supervisor Schenkman commented on the number of submissions and that the normal process is to have a selection Committee. The Supervisors agreed that an announcement would be made at the next Supervisor’s meeting advising that the naming of the Woll Tract would be discussed at the next Parks & Recreation Board meeting. A suggest was made to have Mr. Casey come to the next Supervisor’s meeting and address the Board during public comment. It was recommended that the discussion of the naming of the Woll Tract be placed on the next meeting’s agenda. Mr. Czajkowski suggested that the discussion be placed under the Parks & Recreation Report.
Supervisor Gallagher reported that the Tax Collection Committee that he is serving on for the County would be accessing each municipality and school district for a portion of the budget for the year. He expects the Township’s contribution to be approximately $2,000.00.Other Business
Without objection, the meeting was adjourned at 11:05 P.M.
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary