Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

Minutes of June 7, 2010

 

Members Present: Chairman Robert Ciervo, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener. Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman and Members Philip Calabro and Michael Gallagher.

Also Present: Manager Joseph Czajkowski, Township Solicitor Jeffrey Garton and Township Engineer Michele Fountain.

Call to Order: Dr. Ciervo called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.

Community Comments
Shawn Ward, representing the Sycamore Street Community Association and the Newtown Corporation reported that the “takin’ it to the streets” festival, held the preceding Saturday, June 5, 2010, had been a tremendous success, providing a day of family fun to over 4,000 participants. The event was held in conjunction with Newtown’s Historic Presbyterian Church’s Strawberry Festival. The Church reported that in its fifty years of hosting the Strawberry Festival, this was its most successful year. He thanked the Board and Township staff and administration, including the fire and police departments for their help and support. The participating vendors were very pleased with the event and all are looking forward to making this an annual occurrence. The activities for children, including face painting and horse wagon rides were the most successful. Detoured traffic patterns did not seem to inconvenience motorists, who quickly adapted.

Bills

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $190,302.46. Mr. Benchener seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher said that the list includes payment of Skotleski Video Productions for consulting services totaling $400. While he is aware that this bill is for training of Township personnel, he feels payment should be withheld until the Board is satisfied with the microphones in the meeting room. The Township had paid for wireless microphones, which Skotleski has stated cannot be installed because of interference from the nearby cell tower. The current microphones are not satisfactory. Our other video consultant has indicated that the difficulties with wireless microphones could be worked around and a wireless system could be installed. He requested that payment be withheld until the Board’s concerns are addressed. He asked about the cost associated with the current microphones compared with the expected wireless microphones.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the costs were about the same for each system.

The Board discussed the dissatisfaction with the current microphone system. Dr. Ciervo said that he is not sure whether Skotleski or the installer is responsible for the microphones.

After some further discussion the members agreed to withhold the $400 payment and ask Skotleski to attend a meeting and discuss the microphone issues with the Board.

Mr. Schenkman amended his motion, authorizing payment of bills totaling $189,902.46, withholding payment of $400 to Skotleski Video Productions. Mr. Benchener amended his second.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher questioned a U-Haul rental fee on the bills list.

Mr. Czajkowski explained that a U-Haul was rented to empty the Wrightstown storage facility and move the files to the municipal complex. This was a one-time rental and the storage facility is no longer needed.

Mr. Calabro asked that a list of Township cell phone users be provided to the Board.

Mr. Gallagher said that he would like copies of the bills list to be made available to the public and the list be affirmed at the next televised meeting.

The motion passed 5-0.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $200,000 for payroll. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Wiggins Conservation Easement

Attorney Ed Murphy and Bill and Sandy Wiggins were in attendance to discuss their 61.5 acre property fronting Washington Crossing Road. Mr. Murphy explained that in 1998, Mr. Wiggins’ parents executed a conservation easement in favor of Newtown Township which established various permitted uses as well as identified restrictions on those uses. The property is used for training horses for harness racing and has an existing tenant house and other barns and outbuildings used for the business. Mr. and Mrs. Wiggins would like to construct a new single family home where they would live. The additional home is specifically authorized in the conservation easement, however it has recently been discovered that some inconsistencies exist in the conservation easement documents and exhibits.

Mr. Murphy pointed out that the documents allow one house to be built and the impervious surface to be limited to 12,000 square feet, less than 1% of the property. On existing documents, including the two-lot subdivision creating the Township’s 25 acre open space parcel, the property shows well over 12,000 square feet of impervious surface. At the time the conservation easement was granted, the allowable impervious surface for that zoning district had been 10%. A Pickering Corts and Summerson survey done at the time shows an impervious surface of 5.9%, including existing buildings and the fine gravel horse track.

Dr. Ciervo asked the current square footage and proposed new house square footage of impervious surface.

Mr. Murphy said that the current impervious surface is 158,647 square feet. The new house and driveway total 11,100 square feet, and increase in impervious surface of 0.4%.

Mr. Garton suggested that the original conservation easement might have contemplated and additional 12,000 square feet of impervious surface, not a limit of 12,000 square feet. He suggested that if the Board is in agreement, a re-filing of the easement with a corrected plan attached as an exhibit would correct this.

The Board agreed to re-filing the conservation easement.

Meglio’s Swamp Road Sketch Plans

Attorney Ed Murphy and Bill and Bob Delia were in attendance to review some sketch plans for a new restaurant location on the property to the east of the existing Newtown Plaza Shopping Center. This ½ acre parcel containing one house is owned by Stockburgers and has recently come on the market.

Mr. Schenkman said that he recently met with the Delias and Mr. Murphy along with the Township staff and Planning Commission Chairman Allen Fidler to discuss the proposed restaurant.

Mr. Murphy said that the Delias also met with Township Traffic Engineer Andrew Brown and with an architect and developed four concept plans, some involving the paper street, Howard Avenue.

Mr. Murphy showed the four concepts to the Board:

  1. A new, expanded building would be constructed and parking would be added, facing Swamp Road. This plan would require an access easement through the shopping center entrance. The shopping center owner is opposed to this plan as he has concerns about traffic back-ups at the recently signalized entrance intersection with Swamp Road.
  2. This plan shows the same frontage but with a separate entrance on Swamp Road with exit onto Howard Avenue. Mr. Brown suggested this, but also pointed out the difficulty of a new business entrance so close to the traffic light.
  3. This plan shows access through Howard Avenue only, with no connection to the existing shopping center. The plan shows a 25 foot cartway in the 38 foot right of way.
  4. This plan shows the same configuration as plan #3, only with a 19 foot cartway entirely on Meglio (Stockburger) property.

Mr. Murphy showed the Board an architectural rendering of the proposed 1.5 story 3,000 square foot restaurant building.

Dr. Ciervo said that plan #1 makes the most sense. The Township has already invested money in the traffic signal and intersection improvements.

Mr. Bob Delia indicated that the shopping center owner is opposed to this plan. The original owner has recently passed away and Mr. Delia has had difficulty working with his wife and son.

The Board briefly discussed the traffic at the new signal. All favored plan #1, noting that development of Howard Avenue is not contemplated at this time. All agreed that the shopping center has benefited by the upgraded intersection and the re-alignment of the shopping center entrance, which resulted in some better parking arrangements.

Mr. Garton suggested that the Township’s representatives speak to the shopping center owners to try to work out any difficulties.

Dr. Ciervo agreed that this should be attempted. He also noted that the shopping center had recently been granted an impervious surface variance for its addition for an ice cream shop.

Ms. Fountain asked whether the proposed plans would require any variances.

Mr. Murphy said that a small parking variance would be needed as the plans contemplate 9 on-street parking spaces.

Mr. Murphy said that Meglio’s has extended its lease at the current shopping center location. The Delias would like to extend the agreement with Stockburger if the Board will help with negotiations with the shopping center owner.

The Board was supportive of extending the agreement and working to resolve issues with the shopping center.

The Board briefly discussed a recent change in tenants at the shopping center and asked the staff to investigate whether a conditional use application or permit would have been required

Newtown Joint Municipal Authority

Mr. Czajkowski reminded the Board that the Township has recently discussed extending the Sewer Authority’s charter and had requested a meeting with representatives of the Authority.

J. Eric Johnson, Chairman of the Authority and Warren Gormley, Authority Director were in attendance to review the Authority’s work and budgets. Mr. Gormley explained that the Authority is a non-profit with 8,500 customers serving Newtown Borough and Township with 5 wastewater pumping stations, 8 metering stations, 50 easements and over 100 miles of sanitary sewer lines. The Authority does not process or treat wastewater but collects and pipes it to the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority for conveyance to the city of Philadelphia for treatment and discharge.

Mr. Gormley said that the Authority has six employees. He reviewed their duties including maintaining, cleaning and repairing the pipes. He explained that the Authority rents or subcontracts when specialized equipment is needed. He described methods for cleaning the pipes and repairing the Borough’s old terra cotta pipes without digging. He described the monitoring system’s ability to detect leaks or increased flow when sump pumps are discharged into the system.

Mr. Schenkman asked if the Authority is prepared to service more than the current 8,500 customers.

Mr. Gormley said that the engineering firm of Gannet Fleming has conducted capacity studies indicating that the system could comfortably accommodate over 10,000 customers.
Mr. Schenkman asked if the Authority anticipates any significant expenses in the coming years or whether any rate raises are expected.

Mr. Johnson said that the Authority has budgeted for improvements and upgrades. No major expenses are anticipated but he would research this question further and provide additional information. All five pumping stations have recently been upgraded. The rate structure from the city is based on a 5 year projected rate structure.

Mr. Calabro complimented Mr. Johnson and Mr. Gormley on the knowledgeable and dedicated staff of the Authority.

Dr. Ciervo asked for a breakdown of repair costs for the Borough and Township.

Mr. Gormley said that he does not have costs separated for Borough and Township but would investigate this further.

Mr. Benchener asked whether the Authority has any endowments and whether its liabilities are greater than its assets.

Mr. Johnson said that there is no endowment and the assets and liabilities are equal.

Mr. Garton said that the original request to the Township from the Sewer Authority had been for the Board to adopt a resolution to extend the charter an additional 50 years, but what is needed is an ordinance dated 50 years from the date the charter was approved by the Commonwealth. He will work with Mr. Danese to make sure that the Borough’s and Township’s ordinances are coordinated.

Mr. Schenkman suggested that at some point in the future the Sewer Authority make a similar presentation during a televised meeting to let residents know all the Authority does.

Dr. Ciervo suggested making the Township Newsletter available to the Authority to give residents information on sump pumps and other discharges.

Old Business

Dr. Ciervo asked for an update on the lease for the Clark house.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the Newtown Corporation has ended its lease with the Township.

Mr. Garton said that he will provide a specimen lease. He will also provide information on the lease arrangement that Lower Makefield has for the house in Five Mile Woods.

New Business

Mr. Czajkowski reported that Dick Weaver has asked to be appointed to the Traffic Committee as a representative of the Newtown Business Commons Association, where he is executive director. He has also asked to represent the Township at PSATS.

The Board was supportive of Mr. Weaver’s appointment to the Traffic Committee, however, Dr. Ciervo noted that Mr. Schenkman is the Township’s representative at PSATS. The Board was in agreement that a supervisor should be the PSATS representative.

Dr. Ciervo reported that he has been trying to schedule a meeting among the supervisors of the Jointure on June 16, 2010 to discuss the Stoopville Road improvement project. At this point it appears that Wrightstown’s representatives might not be available.

Dr. Ciervo announced that the Board would meet in executive session after the meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 9:25 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted:
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary

 

Attest:

Joseph S. Czajkowski, Township Manager


Mike Gallagher, Chairman

Robert Ciervo, Vice-Chairman

Matt Benchener, Secretary/Treasurer

Philip Calabro, Member

Jerry Schenkman, Member