Board of Supervisors
Minutes of August 11, 2010
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on August 11, 2010 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman, Robert Ciervo, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener, Secretary/Treasurer Jerry Schenkman and Philip Calabro and Michael Gallagher, members. Also present were: Joseph Czajkowski, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Call to Order: Chairman Robert Ciervo called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence and an invocation given by Reverend Sandra Reed of St. Mark’s AME Zion Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski said that the skate park bid opening, Park and Recreation Board report and LaStalla Conditional Use would be taken earlier in the agenda. A presentation by the Newtown Fire Association has been added to the treasurer’s report. The Police Report has been removed from the agenda.
Public Comment: Resident Joanne Bintliffe Ritchie said that she has researched the Township’s pension funds on The Commonwealth Foundation Web site and learned that the funds are considered moderately distressed and have a 12.7 million dollar liability and are four million dollars underfunded. Ms. Bintliffe Ritchie asked about the number of employees close to retirement and what efforts are being made to fund the pensions.
Dr. Ciervo said that the report Ms. Bintliffe Ritchie viewed was taken in 2009 at a very low point. The funds are actually in very good shape; a recent Bucks County Courier Times article compared the pension funds throughout the County and found Newtown’s to be performing well compared to many others. The Board has recently issued requests for proposals for a pension management consulting firm and is in the process of reviewing the responses. The State requires that the Board conduct this periodic review. The current pension management consultant recently met with the pension committee and reported that the funds are performing well.
Mr. Benchener said that the Board is very aware of the volatility of the market and is trying to work with advisors and consultants to get the best results from investments.
Mr. Gallagher noted that the Board has been actively working on the pensions in executive session, conducting interviews and reviewing the proposals.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh asked what the Township’s contribution to the funds are and when they will be made.
Mr. Czajkowski explained that the actuary calculates the Township’s obligation in the fall each year, with the contribution made at that time.
Mr. Gallagher said that it is expected to be about $968,000
Resident John D’Aprile said that the Board has been actively working on the pension funds and has recently held lengthy discussions with the pension management consultant and has discussed the pension investment policy statement during public Board meetings.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of July 14, 2010. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of July 28, 2010. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the Stoopville Road Improvement Project Joint meeting of June 23, 2010. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman said thatauthorizationof payment to Newtown Fire Association would be addressed separately.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $628,881.87. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro noted that the amount should be $418,981.87, removing from this motion the $268,900 to be paid to the Fire Association.
Mr. Schenkman amended his motion to authorize payment of bills totaling $418,981.87. Mr. Gallagher amended his second and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $200,134.40. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment to Newtown Fire Association for bills totaling $268,900. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that the bulk of this, $203,000 is a down payment for a new pumper truck.
Newtown Fire Association President Michael Errico and Treasurer Patrick Scanlon were in attendance to review the Association’s bills and activities. Mr. Errico noted that the pumper truck purchase had been postponed two years. The Association has taken possession of the truck.
Mr. Errico reported that the fire association responded to 571 calls in 2009, including fires, electrical problems, auto extrications, water rescues and mutual aid responses. The members of the Association have participated in CPR certification programs and training programs in weapons of mass destruction, quick response and hazmat operations. Spending 1783 hours of volunteer time in training programs.
Dr. Ciervo explained that the Board had only recently received the bills list and wanted an opportunity to review it and speak to a representative before authorizing payment. The money is collected as a millage from the taxpayers.
Mr. Czajkowski explained that the tax is collected primarily from April through June, with some additional amounts collected later.
Mr. Schenkman asked whether the old truck is still being used.
Mr. Errico explained that the old pumper, which had high mileage, was sold to Bartstown, Kentucky for $90,000. The truck was partially financed through a FEMA loan of $150,000 at 2% interest.
Mr. Calabro noted that the money collected for the Fire Association is millage specifically earmarked for the Fire Association and should be distributed upon collection. The tax was enacted by a referendum. Other taxes collected are distributed without any accounting. He questioned whether this could be considered a violation. He said that the delay of the release is shameful. He also noted that the Township passes tax money to the Rescue Squad without reviewing bills.
Dr. Ciervo said that the referendum enacted a tax for fire services to pay volunteer associations for equipment. The Board does have an obligation to make sure that the money is used properly. The referendum did not specifically name Newtown Fire Association as the recipient of the funds. There is no formal written agreement between the Township and the Newtown Fire Association. The Board was not aware that a major purchase would be made this year. The Board had also agreed to pay the rescue squad 25% of the local services tax.
Mr. Errico said that the association has been working on an agreement.
Mr. Scanlon said that the purchase of the new pumper has been included in reports and past projections. This was not news. He noted that up until 2009, the tax money had been distributed to the Fire Association monthly. He would like to go back to the monthly distribution.
Mr. Gallagher said that he had learned during a PSATS training session that Boards of Supervisors have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the tax money collected. He had begun the process of asking that bills be submitted for payment. The Board was surprised by the very large bill it received for the pumper. This change in procedure was also prompted by the “right to know” laws.
Mr. Scanlon suggested that he would submit monthly reports with bills.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that the Township collects 0.875 mills for fire protection. This is an important organization that the Township is required to fund through tax receipts. He asked that the motion be amended to include future payments on a monthly basis.
The motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Committees Board and Commissions
Skate Park Bid: Ms. Fountain explained that the Township had re-bid this project, seeking quotes for a base bid for concrete and/or bituminous with an ad alternate of surface color for a 75’ X 100’ pad for the skate park. The low bid for concrete was from Rubright Construction Inc. for $24,899.97 and for bituminous with the add alternate was from Harris Blacktopping, Inc for $30,285.90. Harris is currently working in the Township on its road improvement program. Although CKS has had no experience with Rubright, Ms. Fountain has checked their references and they are highly recommended. CKS recommends that the Township accept Rubright’s concrete bid.
Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the bid of Rubright Construction Inc., for installation of a concrete skate park pad. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to Mr. Schenkman’s question, Ms. Fountain said that this bid is good for 60 days.
Mr. Gallagher said that the previous bids had been above $40,000. This is what the Board had been hoping to pay.
Ms. Fountain explained that a concrete pad is preferable because it is not as susceptible to the weather, which can cause cracking in bituminous. Long term, concrete will be less costly to maintain.
The motion passed 5-0.
Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine and Skate Park Committee Chairman Michael Iapalucci were in attendance to discuss the community’s efforts to raise money for the skate park and to present a redrafted skate park design. Mr. Levine noted that this design has only recently been presented by American Ramp and has not been reviewed by the Park and Recreation Board. The new design contains all of the features originally planned. The plan includes enclosures for each piece, a grant from American Ramp for $7300, a bench and free installation for a total of $68,000. He provided a sample of the material used for the equipment.
Mr. Iapalucci said that the fundraising efforts have been very successful. Generous donations have been received from Upper Makefield’s and Newtown Borough’s park and recreation departments, Waitkus Design, Lockheed Martin, the Ciervo Family, Brassell Foundation, Newtown corporation, Newtown Business and Professional Association, Newtown Corporation, Newtown Bike Shoppe, Lawrence Family, Johnson Kendall Johnson, the Leck Family, Newtown Democrats and Newtown Republicans, CKS Engineers, Begley Carlin and Mandio and through sale of tee shirts and cash donations.
Linda Mitchell and Eve Kreiger of Newtown Athletic Club were in attendance to present a check in the amount of $10,000. Ms. Mitchell said that on behalf of NAC owner Jim Worthington, she was pleased to make this donation as a way to promote the enjoyment of physical activity for all in the community. The NAC is proud to be part of this effort by so many individuals and good businesses.
Mr. Iapalucci said that this brings the total to $19,500; with pledges not yet received the total will be $21,571. Fundraising will continue but the effort has already far exceeded the goal of $15,000 to meet the 4-1 match promised by the Township.
Mr. Benchener reviewed the numbers presented and said that even with the additional fundraising, the total is short $12,000 for equipment and pad.
Mr. Levine said that he is looking for more flexibility from the Board. The Township had given the committee the impression that it could arrange for the pad site as part of work being done in the Township and that the $60,000 match would be for equipment only. This additional cost was not anticipated as the committee planned its fundraising efforts.
Dr. Ciervo asked if there is any room for adjustment in the equipment, perhaps reducing the scope or using a lesser quality material.
Mr. Levine hesitated, as the proposal includes free installation and a grant from American Ramp. This might not be available if the project’s scope were reduced. If installation is no longer included, it would be an expensive additional cost, either in money or in time by the already over-extended public works staff.
Mr. Benchener said that the committee has done an excellent job of fundraising, a wonderful example of public/private partnership. He said that the Board is responsible to the taxpayers and in the current economy must be very careful not to go over budget. He suggested that either the committee look for ways to reduce the cost by changing the design or attempt to increase the fundraising to help close the gap.
Mr. Levine said that if the project does not begin to move forward, any momentum for fundraising will be lost. He expected that if the park is begun, if contributors see the project, additional and continued support could be possible. He hesitated to recommend a reduction in the quality or grade of the equipment, which will cost the Township over time. If the project were postponed the Township could be in a new price cycle. If the Board came to an agreement tonight, the park could be ready to open in the fall.
Mr. Schenkman said that as Township Treasurer, he is not sure where the money would come from. Caution is needed to be sure that the funds will be available in the Park and Recreation Capital Fund.
Jeremy Fowler of American Ramp discussed possible pieces to be eliminated to reduce the cost, with an aim toward a final equipment price of $62,000. This would be the most that could be offered at discounted pricing.
Mr. Gallagher reviewed the Township’s budget and noted that the Park and Recreation Capital Fund has $71,000. The committee is now seeking an additional $2000.
Dr. Ciervo said that he felt confident that if the Township committed $62,000, the committee could continue its fundraising to close the gap between the $87,000 final price for pad and equipment and the already raised funds and Township commitment.
Dr. Ciervo moved to commit $62,000 toward a skate park pad and equipment as presented. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Benchener said that this motion puts the committee in a position to need an additional $4000. to complete the project.
Mr. Iapalucci said that during Board discussion he has been reviewing the pricing components. He suggested that if the enclosures were removed from the equipment, the park could be completed for $85,500 for pad and equipment as shown in the design.
Mr. Benchener said that he would not want to over-extend the budget. He compared this decision to the recent discussion of providing Fourth of July fireworks. When the Township did not fund the event, the private sector contributed to fill the gap. He would urge continued fundraising rather than using public money.
Mr. Calabro said that the fireworks were a twenty minute display. This is a park which will be used by our children for years to come. Rather than leave a shortfall he would prefer raising the Township contribution to $63,000, which would close the gap.
Dr. Ciervo amended his motion to increase the Township’s contribution to an amount up to $63,000 for a skate park pad and equipment. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo said that he was confident that if the project begins to move forward the contributions will increase and the committee will be able to raise $25,000.
Mr. Schenkman said that money is very short in the Township Recreation Capital Fund. He urged the Board not to succumb to the emotion of the moment. He suggested looking into some creative methods to finance the project, such as loans.
Mr. Garton said that he did not think this would be feasible because of costs associated with a loan.
Resident Dennis Fisher thanked the committee for its work in raising funds for this project. He urged the Board to approve spending up to $63,000 because this will give the committee impetus for increased fundraising efforts. He was confident that the efforts would be successful and the Township would not need to fund the full amount.
Mr. Sensibaugh reminded the Board that earlier plans for the skate park had considerably higher costs. The committee has done an excellent job or developing the plan and raising funds. He suggested earmarking the next collected developer fees to the project and approving the $63,000 expenditure.
Mr. Gallagher said that he felt that the committee has done what the Board asked; it has shown that there is community interest and had raised more than its original goal.
The motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Benchener voting nay.
Mr. Levine thanked the Board for its support.
Dr. Ciervo again thanked the many donors, especially Newtown Athletic Club, for their generous support. For additional information on donating to the park, visit www.allaboutnewtown.org.
LaStalla Conditional Use: Mr. Garton said that this hearing had been opened and continued on July 14, 2010 for an amendment to LaStalla’s conditional use approval for E-5 eating place for extended hours of operation and for outdoor entertainment. The application has been duly advertised in the Newtown Advance on June 24, 2010 and July 1, 2010. The notice of application was entered as Exhibit T-1.
Mr. Garton asked if anyone wished party status in this application. He explained that if anyone wished to be a party to the application he would have the right to cross-examine the applicant and any of his witnesses, present evidence and witnesses, and make any statement concerning the application. Should the party disagree with the decision of the Board of Supervisors, party status would give him the right to appeal the decision. Anyone present not wishing party status would be allowed to make statements for or against the application after the hearing and before a decision is rendered.
Mr. Marshall said that the Board should have a copy of the recommendation of the Planning Commission. The Commission had discussed testing of a sound system and recommending that a decision on outdoor music not be rendered until after testing has occurred. The sound system has been installed and the applicant is prepared to test it. The Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors are to be included in the testing. Mr. Marshall asked to continue the hearing until after the tests have been completed. All outdoor entertainment will be discontinued until a decision on the application is made.
Attorney Colin Jenei, acting Newtown Borough Solicitor, asked for party status on behalf of Newtown Borough. There was no objection. Mr. Jenei said that the Borough would have no objection to continuing the application with the understanding that outdoor entertainment would be discontinued in the interim.
No others in attendance sought party status.
Mr. Marshall said that any residents interested in being notified of the testing of the sound system should contact him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Board discussed possible dates to continue the application. Mr. Marshall indicated that the applicant would prefer participation of the full Board of Supervisors. It was agreed that all parties and all Board members would be available on October 13, 2010.
Mr. Gallagher moved to continue the application of The Barn/LaStalla for conditional use amendment to October 13, 2010. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Marshall again confirmed that outside entertainment would be discontinued, except for the testing of the system. It is hoped that the system could be tested on next Thursday evening at about 7:00 PM. The system is expected to keep the sound at a certain level.
Jeannie Heckel of Newtown Borough said that she has concerns that the testing of the sound system will produce a different result at different locations.
Mr. Marshall said that the Ordinance requires that the sound be a certain level at the property line.
John Wiseman of Newtown Borough said that he is concerned that the sound level might measure within an acceptable level but would be heard as a constant beat several blocks from the property line. He said that at his home the music is not loud, but late at night the bass beat is heard and felt, making sleeping difficult. He asked if copies of test results would be available to residents.
Mr. Jenei said that Newtown Borough would have copies of sound test results which the Borough would make available. It is possible that the Borough might use its own sound engineers to interpret the report.
Mr. Marshall said that this was discussed at the Planning Commission, which recommended that the nuisance factor be addressed to the satisfaction of the Township. He again invited residents to witness the testing. A decision would not be based entirely on technical data.
The motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions continued
Chairman’s Report: Dr. Ciervo congratulated Newtown Council Rock Little League 12 year old team, which has won the state championship and will be playing at the regional level in a bid to play in the Little League World Series.
Opposition to the sale of 137 acres of Washington Crossing Historic Park: Dr. Ciervo reminded the Board that at the last meeting they had discussed opposing this sale to Bowman’s Wildflower Preserve. He drafted a letter of opposition to the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, expressing the Township’s objection. He read a portion of the letter into the record:
“It has recently come to our attention that 137.5 acres of land known as the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve is to be transferred form the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to a private non-profit group for $1. This piece of land represented in HB 2126 was never identified as part of Washington Crossing Park. Or that it represents over 27% of Historic Washington Crossing Park.”
Mr. Schenkman said that he would like confirmation that the Wildflower Preserve is part of the park.
Mr. Calabro said that the park was created in 1932. He has spoken to the director of the Wildflower Preserve. That organization has maintained the preserve since 1932. When HB 2126 was presented, all but one legislator voted in support of it, including Scott Petri who represents that district. The bill also has the support of Solebury Township, where the preserve is located. The bill contains language stating that the property, if transferred, could only be used for a wildflower preserve. He said that he would not be prepared to support any opposition because the Board has only heard one side of this issue.
Mr. Gallagher said that although the Board has taken positions on issues outside of the Township, and agrees that the Board should speak to the legislature on matters of concern to our residents, he did agree that the Board should have more information before taking a position. Guy Polhemus had made a very good presentation at the last meeting, however, he was not sure whether the Board belongs in this discussion.
Mr. Calabro said that it appears that the transfer will not damage the property, as the same group will continue to maintain it. He pointed out a provision which states that the property would revert to the State if it were not longer a wildflower preserve. He had concerns that the Township’s involvement in this issue could be politically motivated.
Dr. Ciervo noted that a very large number of Township residents signed a petition opposing the transfer. The “reverter clause” does allow for possible overdevelopment of the property.
Mr. Schenkman said that the Board needs to hear from the Wildflower Preserve group before deciding whether to take a position.
Mr. Benchener said that the Board has taken positions on issues outside of the Township on issues which impact our residents. It is appropriate to take a stand on this issue as so many residents feel strongly about it. It is important to preserve this historic property.
Mr. Calabro said that he would like to hear from the other side of this issue, as the Wildflower Preserve organization is the same group which has always maintained the property and would continue. The property is in need of extensive repairs which the State has not been able to fund. He strongly urged that the Board not take a position without all of the pertinent information.
Mr. Schenkman briefly discussed possible advantages to private ownership in some instances, noting the work done by The Heritage Conservancy as an example. The privately held land is not subject to the same crises as is State owned land. He pointed to other recent efforts to sell portions of Washington Crossing Park.
Guy Polhemus of 882 Washington Crossing Road in Upper Makefield said that he has spoken to 37 State Representatives from different counties. They did not know that the land is part of Washington Crossing Historic Park. This is part of the Commonweal and part of our national heritage, established in 1932. The current board of directors of the Wildflower Preserve has only existed for twelve years. There is concern that this is the beginning of selling other portions of the park with the State only retaining 25 acres at the lower end. He said that he has some serious concerns that property turned over to private non-profits do not remain as they are as the groups’ goals change over time. The group he represents is asking that the land be leased rather than transferred by deed.
Mr. Garton said that it is apparent that there is not consensus among the Board. He suggested that the letter be altered to urge instead, that Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) not sign off on transferring this land without a full public hearing.
Dr. Ciervo suggesting tabling the discussion until the Board has had an opportunity to consider both sides of the issue and to redraft the letter to better reflect any consensus reached.
Peggy Kennedy of Upper Makefield suggested that the Board refer to page 33 of the Planning Document for additional information on the future plans for the Park.
Resident Karen D’Aprile said that the Board took a position recently to support Lower Makefield. She urged the members to take a position to support Upper Makefield. This Park is a part of our national history and should not be sold to a private interest.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that this bill was co-sponsored by the State Representative for our district. He noted transfers within Newtown Township to the Heritage Conservancy for preservation. He urged a public hearing to consider both sides of the issue.
Mr. Garton said that he was not suggesting that our Board hold a public hearing, but that the PMHC hold a hearing.
Le Sheppard of Wrightstown Township said that there are two sides of this issue and a hearing would be a good idea. This is a part of American history and must be preserved.
Dr. Ciervo said that the discussion would be tabled to a later agenda.
Other Board Members’ Reports: Mr. Schenkman said that he attended the Borough Council meeting. The Borough Council passed the Frost Lane intergovernmental agreement and also passed a resolution opposing consolidation of local government. He urged the Board of Supervisors to consider this matter as well.
Mr. Gallagher reported that he has reviewed the Township’s finances and reported that the Township has collected 73% of the 2010 projected resident earned income tax and 58% of non-resident earned income tax. The real estate transfer tax is on pace. Revenues from permit and land development fees are below what was projected. Some expenditures have been higher than budgeted, particularly snow and ice removal. Pension payments have not yet been made.
Mr. Benchener asked about interest and dividends.
Mr. Czajkowski explained that the funds must be kept liquid and are in various accounts. The income from dividends and interest is lower than projected. The reserve is kept in money markets and CD’s.
Joint Historic Commission: Mr. Schenkman said that the Joint Historic Commission has received a letter of interest from Paul Beckert seeking appointment. The chairman of the Commission has supported this applicant.
Mr. Schenkman moved to appoint Paul Beckert to the Joint Historic Commission. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Building Code Board of Appeals: Mr. Czajkowski said that this board meets as needed in the event that a builder appeals the building code. It has not met since he has been with the Township. Bradley Longosky, a resident, has sent a letter of interest. His credentials show him to be an excellent candidate as he is a building inspector.
Mr. Benchener moved to appoint Bradley Longosky to the Building Code Board of Appeals. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Environmental Advisory Council Resignation: Mr. Schenkman moved to accept the resignation of Environmental Advisory Council member Aliya Aslam. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher said that Ms. Aslam had served as a valuable member and co-chairman of the EAC. He expressed the thanks of the Township for her years of service.
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that at its August 3, 2010 meeting the Commission reviewed the application for an amended conditional use to permit hours of operation until 2:00 AM seven days and outdoor entertainment a few nights a week. Attorney Don Marshall presented a report from Articulate Pro Audio, which conducted sound tests on the evenings of July 21 and 22, 2010. The report confirms decibel levels at the LaStalla property line and at State Street in Newtown Borough. Articulate Audio offered a plan to mitigate the noise.
The Commission discussed the issue of extended hours at length and agreed by a vote of 4-1 to recommend that the Board approve the extended hours to be consistent with the those approved for the Green Parrot, including the condition that food be served at all times when the operation is open, and that valet parking be included in the approval. The members, for the most part, did not want to limit LaStalla’s hours when other similar businesses are permitted to remain open. The one dissenting voter expressed some concern about the ambient noise of an outdoor bar, and wanted the 2:00 AM hour to be limited to weekends, only.
The members spent considerable time discussing the issue of outdoor entertainment and also heard from a number of Borough residents about the thumping and vibration of the bass, not necessarily of the decibel levels of the music. The Commission reviewed the numerous police complaints. The members agreed to ask the Board to allow the sound issue to be finalized after the applicant has installed and tested the sound system proposed by Articulate Pro Audio in its memo dated July 23, 2010. The Commission members agreed that if the test results show that the sound both meets the existing noise ordinance levels and is not a nuisance to the affected neighbors, outdoor entertainment should be approved for non-amplified music on Wednesdays and Saturdays and amplified music on Thursdays and Fridays until 12:00 AM. The applicant has agreed to cease all outdoor entertainment, except on the occasion of testing of the new sound system, until the conditional use application is resolved. The Commission’s recommendation also asks the Board to address past violations of the existing conditional use and future enforcement of any new conditions. The other conditions of the 2001 and 2007 conditional uses are affirmed.
Bucks County Planning Commission Executive Director Lynn Bush was in attendance at this meeting to review a series of questions she prepared to aid the Commission in formulating recommendations for the TC Zoning District. The members discussed marketability and economic feasibility of proposed uses for the district. This issue might best be addressed by commercial real estate developers. Ms. Bush suggested that feasibility studies could be included in the developers’ requirements for approvals.
Ms. Bush said that Doylestown Borough has been successful in using incentives to promote green building practices. The members were supportive of this concept for promotion of green building and for public amenities such as pocket parks and plazas.
Regarding road connections, the members agreed that the future development of Howard Avenue, even as a driveway access, could be beneficial to the commercial district but were not supportive of an additional connection between Eagle Road and Sycamore Street, primarily because it would involve an additional road opening on Sycamore Street in an already busy area.
The Commission briefly discussed the requirements of the historic district and working to craft requirements that preserve historic properties while allowing new construction. The scale of buildings would have an impact on the historic streetscape and we are suggesting that any ordinance address lot size when setting performance standards.
Ms. Bush will review the Commission’s past discussions to prepare an outline of our suggestions. We would suggest a joint Planning Commission/Board of Supervisors work session to review these ideas and recommendations and then to authorize the Bucks County Planning Commission to draft an ordinance template for our consideration.
Mr. Gallagher asked whether the Commission discussed extending Howard Avenue to the existing signalized intersection at Eagle Road and Swamp Road.
Mr. Fidler said that the Commission is aware of a possible redevelopment of a property in that area which would want to use Howard Avenue. The Traffic Engineer will be at the September 7, 2010 meeting, at which time the members hope to explore a common access at the signal rather than making an additional curb cut.
Goodnoe’s Corner Certificate of Completion #13: Mr. Benchener moved to authorize escrow release in the amount of $11,373.93 to KLS Ryan/Goodnoe’s Corner. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Clark House Rental/Lease Agreement: Mr. Garton presented a listing agreement to list the farm house at Clark Nature Center for rent through Keller Williams Real Estate for $2,150 per month for a one year lease.
Mr. Czajkowski said the rental will bring $26,000 in revenue.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize the agreement to list the Clark farm house with Keller Williams Real Estate. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: In response to questions from Mr. Gallagher, Mr. Czajkowski said that the rental would include the house and two parking spaces. The Township would still retain use of the parklands. The Township would retain responsibility for maintenance.
Mr. Garton said that tenant and owner’s responsibilities are spelled out in the rental agreement. The listing agent would be entitled to one month’s rent as commission. Should the tenant renew at the end of one year, the agent would be entitled to another month’s commission for each year.
Dr. Ciervo objected to this arrangement and asked if it is standard. He suggested that the Township attempt to rent the property without an agent.
Mr. Garton said that he would investigate what is standard practice. Perhaps renewal commission could be limited to one renewal. He and Mr. Czajkowski urged the Board not to attempt to handle the matter without an agent.
Mr. Calabro said that he would expect that the renewal commission is standard.
Mr. Gallagher amended his motion to enter the agreement subject to the condition that an attempt to renegotiate the renewal commission be made. Dr. Ciervo amended his second and the motion passed 5-0.
Solicitor’s Report continued
Honey Baked Ham: Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the conditional use agreement of Honey Baked Ham. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Frost Lane Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement Ordinance: Mr. Garton noted that the ordinance, 2010-O-6, has been duly advertised for adoption.
Mr. Schenkman moved to adopt 2010-O-6. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman reminded the Board that Newtown Borough has adopted this ordinance.
Ms. Fountain confirmed that the Borough’s engineer has billed $1500. The agreement authorizes up to $2500.
The motion passed 5-0.
Authorization to re-advertise JMZO 2010-01: Mr. Garton explained that this has been discussed at the Jointure and with the Board during executive session. It is the amendment which removed all tax map parcels but the Federal Cemetery from the Federal Cemetery Overlay District.
Mr. Schenkman move to authorize re-advertisement of JMZO 2010-01. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that he was in attendance when this was discussed at the Jointure.
Mr. Sensibaugh asked about the costs associated with the re-advertisement.
Mr. Garton said the only costs would be in time for an employee of the Newtown Township Codes Department to post the Melsky tract and for the placement of the advertisement.
Dr. Ciervo said that this will be less expensive than answering the claim being made against the ordinance.
The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Sensibaugh asked why the July 28, 2010 meeting was not televised.
Dr. Ciervo said that the agenda had no action items. It was an extremely short meeting to authorize payment of bills only. The television consultant would charge for a minimum of four hours. It was a considerable savings to not broadcast the quarter hour meeting. All of the Board members were consulted and were in agreement on this decision.
Attorney Ed Murphy said that the Board had discussed the possible redevelopment of a parcel on Swamp Road for a new Meglio’s Restaurant at its June work session. The Board had recommended trying to work out an arrangement with the owner of the adjacent shopping center for access from the property to the signalized intersection at Swamp and Eagle Roads. He and Mr. Garton have been unsuccessful in working with the property owner on an access easement. He said that the agreement of sale on the property is about to expire. The owners of Meglio’s are looking to the Board for further guidance as to whether to extend the agreement, as access through Howard Avenue would be the alternative.
Mr. Garton suggested to the Board that eminent domain should be investigated. If the Planning Commission is considering opening Howard Avenue to traffic, this would be a traffic issue.
Mr. Gallagher said that adding a curb cut so close to the signalized intersection would not be a good idea. It would be better to align Howard Avenue with the Eagle Road signal.
Dr. Ciervo agreed that it might be a good idea to speak to the shopping center owner about possible eminent domain. He suggested reminding the owner that tax dollars paid for the improvement to the parking lot.
Mr. Schenkman said that this would be included in the Planning Commission’s discussion with the traffic engineer.
Mr. Murphy said that as eminent domain must be for the public good, and that seems to be the case here, he would try to extend the agreement until the September meetings.
Dr. Ciervo announced that the Board had met in executive session to discuss matters of personnel and litigation. The executive session would continue after the meeting.The meeting adjourned at 12:10 AM.