Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors Work Session

Minutes of September 13, 2010

Members Present: Chairman Robert Ciervo, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener. Members Philip Calabro and Michael Gallagher.

Also Present: Manager Joseph Czajkowski, Assistant Manager John Boyle, Township Solicitor Jeffrey Garton, Township Engineer Michele Fountain and Traffic Engineer Andrew Brown.

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

Pension Discussion: Mr. William Asay of Mockenhaupt Benefits Group, the Township’s actuary, was in attendance to update the board on the status of the Police, Fire and Non-Uniformed pension plans.  

The Supervisors asked several questions regarding what other municipalities were doing to offset the down-turn in the economy and markets, and what our options were. 

Mr. Asay responded that municipalities are not doing much at this time, and that there are not a lot of options besides the markets making a comeback and/or more money being placed into the pension plan. 

Dr. Ciervo asked what the Township's options with regard to possible changes that may help bolster the viability of the plans.  

Mr. Asay said that Act 44 allowed municipalities to make changes to plans that would change the benefit structure for new participants; in essence, there would be parallel plans with the new employees participating in a plan with a defined contribution, as opposed to the current defined benefit plan, though current employees may elect to join the new plan.  Any changes to the existing plans would require the Township to negotiate with the various bargaining units. 

Dr. Ciervo said that he would like to bring this up for further discussion at the September 22nd Board meeting.

Meglio’s Update: Attorney Ed Murphy and Traffic Engineer Phil Wursta were in attendance to review the status of an entrance to the parcel being considered for a new Meglio’s restaurant. Mr. Murphy explained that he and Mr. Garton have attempted to work with the owner of the Newtown Plaza Shopping Center on an easement agreement to allow entry to the lot through the signalized intersection with Swamp Road. The owner continues to be very unwilling to grant an easement.

Mr. Wursta showed a plan which would include an interior roadway from the proposed Meglio’s lot, across the Newtown Plaza Shopping Center and through to Holland Flooring. The plan also included an opening of Howard Avenue. The plan would require two access points and would use Howard Avenue for a left turn entrance and right out only. All other traffic would be through the signal. This plan would also help traffic for the businesses on the other side of the street. The plan has already been reviewed by Township Traffic Engineer Andrew Brown.

Mr. Garton explained that through his discussions with the owner of the shopping center he has been unable to reach any agreement. The owner does not see any benefit to his businesses by providing this easement.

Mr. Calabro asked about distances between the signal and the existing gravel driveway to the property and between the driveway and Sycamore Street.

Mr. Murphy said that the existing driveway is 150 feet from the signal and 200 feet from Sycamore Street.

Mr. Calabro said that he has some concern about traffic confusion when cars are waiting to make a left into the new Meglio’s with the signal and turning lane so close.

Dr. Ciervo had similar concerns. He also mentioned the back-up of traffic on Sunday mornings as church services are ending.

Mr. Gallagher said that he did not see this as an issue. The entrance would not be busy on Sunday mornings. The traffic pattern would be the same as it is now, with people exiting church services and some cars turning in to the shopping center for Manhattan Bagels, but not going on to the new Meglio’s.

Ms. Fountain asked whether the plan called for Howard Avenue to be a dedicated street.

Mr. Wursta said that this could be addressed at a later date. The current plan is only anticipating Howard Avenue as an access driveway.

Mr. Czajkowski said that it would appear that the only option for access to this property would be through a condemnation proceeding.

Mr. Garton explained that the condemnation involves both a public and a private purpose, to provide access to the private business and to control traffic at a signalized intersection. There needs to be a record of considerations both public and private. The condemnation cannot be for Meglio’s only.

Dr. Ciervo noted that this condemnation involves about 200 square feet of land in order to provide access to a signalized intersection. This would be a public benefit.

Mr. Brown said that he has some concerns about a left turn into the lot, but agreed that the condemnation and access through the intersection would be the safest alternative.

Mr. Benchener asked about economic consequences to the Township.

Mr. Garton explained that the costs would be reimbursed by the applicant. He briefly reviewed the procedure, noting that such a declaration could be objected to as only for a private purpose. The Township does have an obligation to provide safe access to this property.

Mr. Gallagher asked about the zoning of the property and whether it might be used as residential. He asked about whether other property owners would be impacted.

Mr. Garton confirmed that this is CC, convenience commercial zoning.

Mr. Murphy reviewed the adjacent parcels, most of which also belong to Stockburger, the owner of the proposed Meglio’s property.

Mr. Garton said he would draft an ordinance for the Board to consider at a public meeting. Adjacent property owners would be notified.

McDonald’s Restaurant, Village at Newtown Shopping Center: Mr. Murphy and Laurie Kiedaisch of McDonald’s were in attendance to review plans to build a McDonald’s Restaurant at the Village at Newtown in the section near the Toll House. The doctor’s office building at that location is to be removed and the restaurant will be new construction. Ms. Kiedaisch showed architectural renderings of the new McDonald’s, noting that this plan would have no playground or large golden arches. The new model is a more upscale restaurant with dining area separated from the service area.

Mr. Wursta reviewed the parking requirements for the restaurant. The shopping center has shared parking at 5.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet. He said that he has visited the site on numerous occasions and observed that this section of the shopping center is rarely more than 25% occupied.

Ms. Fountain reviewed the parking requirements for use E-5, one space per two seats plus one per employee. The proposed restaurant would have 68 seats and about ten employees per shift.

Mr. Murphy noted the existing parking spaces around the building would remain; in addition, since the building will be 3900 square feet, replacing a much larger building, 8 to 10 new spaces will be added.

Dr. Ciervo noted that on some evenings the parking lot opposite the site is very busy, as there are a number of other popular restaurants in that section of the shopping center.

Ms. Kiedaisch noted that McDonald’s business is increasingly the drive through, take out business. Most McDonald’s need only 30 to 35 parking spaces.

Mr. Gallagher agreed, noting that the other area McDonald’s lots are rarely full.

Dr. Ciervo asked whether there would be outdoor seating.

Ms. Kiedaisch said that this might be considered, but is not part of the sketch being shown.

The Board discussed the proposed exterior. All agreed that the two samples seemed to fit in with the shopping center but that the Planning Commission would probably have better insight into exterior materials.

Mr. Calabro asked about lighting for the signs on the side of the building.

Ms. Kiedaisch said that the sign is internally lit from behind and would be on the side of the building facing the Toll House, not facing Durham Road.

A representative of Bohler Engineering was in attendance to review the drive through plan, which will exit into the shopping center, not onto an arterial roadway. A bypass lane is provided to go around the drive through window.

Dr. Ciervo asked whether the yellow used could be coordinated to blend with the historic yellow of the Toll House.

Ms. Kiedaisch said that the yellow of the logo is a corporate branding color and could not be changed. Architectural features such as awnings could be coordinated with the Toll House, using some complimentary color scheme.

Mr. Benchener said that he would like some HARB input into the exterior elements.

Mr. Gallagher noted that the Planning Commission will have a voting HARB member to give some input on historic appearance.

Lorenzetti Assisted Living Facility, Eagle and Durham Roads: Mr. Murphy, Gene Lorenzetti, architect J. Randolph Parry, Heritage Senior Living representative Mike McCormack and engineer Heath Dumack were in attendance to review a plan for an assisted living facility on the corner of Eagle and Durham Roads. Mr. Murphy reminded the Board that Mr. Lorenzetti has developed a few other plans for senior living on this site.

Mr. McCormack and Mr. Parry gave a brief PowerPoint presentation about assisted living and the proposed facility, noting that this would be housing for seniors needing some help, such as housekeeping and meals, some personal care, but not medical care. The facility will have 90 units, half for assisted living and half for memory impaired residents. The average age is 86.9 with 75% of the residents female. The proposed building will be 48,000 square feet and two stories.

Mr. Dumack reviewed the proposed stormwater management, which would include a retention basin on the Eagle Road side of the facility. The building and parking areas will be buffered on all sides. He reviewed the parking, noting that the facility requires 224 spaces but the applicant is proposing to develop only 88 spaces, leaving the remainder in green. The stormwater management is designed for the fully developed 224 spaces.

Mr. Murphy said that the Ordinance does not address parking for assisted living facilities specifically. Most residents do not have cars; parking is primarily for visitors and staff. He provided sample parking requirements for assisted living from other municipalities.

Dr. Ciervo asked whether the residents are permitted to have cars.

Mr. McCormack said that while it is permitted, most residents do not drive. Transportation is provided by Heritage, taking residents to their various appointments, shopping and entertainment. The proposed design would not be later converted to an independent living facility.

Mr. Dumack noted that the entrance would be on Eagle Road, with an emergency exit on the stub road to old Durham Road.

Dr. Ciervo asked about the height of the proposed building.

Mr. Murphy said that this is a two story building with decorative roof dormers, not a third floor. No height variance is required.

Mr. Dumack reviewed the possible variances needed:

  • Front yard setback for covered entrance portico, only; not for the building.
  • Impervious surface for full build out of all parking would be 43.2% where 35% is permitted. With 88 parking spaces the impervious would exceed permitted by less than 1%. Stormwater management would comply for the full build out.
  • Parking relief to provide 88 parking spaces.
  • Disturbance of some man made steep slopes.
  • Parking in front yard, facing the shopping center which has parking in the front yard. There is buffering proposed.
  • The Ordinance would require 10 loading berths, but the facility would only need one.

Dr. Ciervo asked if it would be possible to hold some of the front yard parking in green rather than the side yard parking.

Mr. McCormack said that some of the front yard parking is needed for visitors who are coming to take residents out; the spaces should be very close to the entrance for that reason. It might be possible to reduce the number of front yard spaces, but not to eliminate them entirely. The plan had also been designed to keep the parking away from the residential neighbors to the north of the facility.

Mr. Calabro asked about the differences between the proposed facility and a nursing facility.

Mr. McCormack explained that this facility has residences with small one bedroom units and studios. They have small kitchenettes in some of the rooms but meals are served communally. There are numerous recreational areas, such as a media center, library, pool table and card tables. While there is an on-site doctor’s office room, there is no doctor on staff. A doctor would determine whether the care offered is no longer adequate. Mr. McCormack noted that most such changes occur after a medical incident or a hospital stay.

Mr. Gallagher asked about whether this facility would impact the EMS by requiring more frequent ambulance calls.

Mr. McCormack explained that the residents are a more concentrated population; the residents would otherwise still be living in the community, requiring some possible emergency attention. There is a reduction in emergencies, however, as the residents’ health is more closely observed and issues are frequently addressed before they become emergencies.

Mr. Calabro asked about the proposed staff of 43 people.

Mr. McCormack reviewed staffing requirements, including nurses, nursing aides, assistants, kitchen staff and housekeeping. There is not a doctor on staff. A maximum shift is 26 people.

Dr. Ciervo suggested that as the applicant proceeds to land development, he should look at the parking at Gloria Dei, a senior living facility. He guessed that the parking there is far less than would be required, as most residents no longer drive.

Mr. Murphy said that the applicant would proceed to land development.

Old Business

Mr. Czajkowski asked the Board whether to include the donations to the two libraries, Newtown Library Company and Wrightstown Village Library, on the upcoming bills list.

The Board agreed that these donations should be included on the bills list on Wednesday.

Mr. Benchener reported that he had done research on a move in the State to consolidate local governments into county governments. He is working with Mr. Garton on what is being called a “Patrick Henry Resolution” to oppose such consolidation. He provided copies of some information he has found on the many benefits to independent local municipal governments which he asked the members to review in preparation for discussion of the resolution, which should appear on an upcoming agenda. He said that any decisions on consolidation of services should be locally driven, not state mandated.

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 PM.

 

Respectfully Submitted:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary

 

Attest:

Joseph S. Czajkowski, Township Manager


Robert Ciervo, Chairman

Matthew Benchener, Vice-Chairman

Jerry Schenkman, Secretary/Treasurer

Philip Calabro, Member

Michael Gallagher, Member