Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Minutes of September 22 , 2010

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on September 22, 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, 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 Father Ernest Curtin of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski said that the EAC report would be moved up on the agenda and the Beneficial Bank sketch plan review has been removed.

Public Comment: Lower Makefield resident Sue Herman said that she is very concerned that proposed changes to the scope of Phase II of the Stoopville Road improvement project would help to create a connection between I78 and I95, a north to south expressway or a northern bypass. She showed some maps of concept plans designed in 1988 which showed a roadway plan along a route which might have included Stoopville Road. She feared that such a highway, if built, would destroy the rural environment of Newtown. She asked the Board not to approve the proposed Stoopville Road improvements as they could facilitate the highway concept.

Dr. Ciervo said that the Stoopville Road improvements would be discussed later in the agenda. He asked those wishing to comment to wait until the Board opens the Stoopville Road discussion.

Resident Rich Feuerman said that he recently learned the Township does not have an animal control officer. He attempted to report a mistreated animal to the Township but was directed to the police department. He spoke to Lower Makefield’s animal control officer who indicated a willingness to partner with Newtown Township to address animal control issues.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the Township is working on an animal control proposal with the County and the SPCA.

Resident Jay Sensibaugh announced that the Newtown Creek Coalition October clean-up will be rescheduled. A new date for the clean-up should be announced shortly.

Mr. Sensibaugh said that in 2008 the reserve fund balance had been 30% but it is now down to 18%. He asked whether the auditors had questioned the decrease and is the 18% based on $1.9 million.

Mr. Benchener said that the auditor considered that the decreased reserve was due to an increase in expenses without a tax increase. The amount of reserve was based on the $1.9 million.

Mr. Gallagher said that the auditor had noted the reserve is better than many other municipalities.

Dr. Ciervo said that the Township’s reserve had dipped further earlier in the year before the Township taxes began to be collected. There has been a decrease in the amount of transfer tax collected but there has been an increase in the amount of earned income tax collected. The reserve fund had been put aside for a “rainy day.” Many municipalities have no reserve and must borrow money until taxes are collected each year.

Resident John D’Aprile said that a large portion of the reserve was spent on park construction.

Resident Steve Ross said that he has some concern about the increase in the deer herd and an increase in deer/vehicle collisions. He asked whether the Township would be starting a wildlife management program.

Dr. Ciervo said that the some of the surrounding communities have worked on wildlife management. The Environmental Advisory Council has been researching this for a number of years and is expected to make some recommendations later this evening. He urged Mr. Ross to stay and participate in that discussion.

Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports

Minutes: Mr. Benchener asked that discussion of the Patrick Henry Resolution in the September 13, 2010 minutes be moved to “Old Business”.

Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the work session of September 13, 2010, as corrected. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Schenkman abstaining.

Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of September 15, 2010. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Schenkman abstaining.

Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize payment of bills totaling $156,341.12. Mr. Benchener seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher asked whether the discrepancy in last month’s bills list had been resolved.

Mr. Czajkowski said that there had been a payment by wire transfer, not by check, so it appeared in a different column on the bills report.

Mr. Sensibaugh asked whether there is enough money in the general fund to cover expenses and what the remaining reserve fund amount is.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the reserve is still at $1.9 million; there are sufficient funds to cover expenditures.

The motion passed 5-0.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $181,822.02. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Chairman: Dr. Ciervo extended sympathies to the family of longtime Township resident Elizabeth Dolly Gish who passed away recently. Ms. Gish had been a member of the Joint Historic Association, and had been instrumental in the restoration of the Schofield Bridge.

Stoopville Road Phase II Concept Plan: Eric Kaufman of Gilmore & Associates showed the plans for improvement including a traffic light and additional signage. This plan had been approved by Wrightstown Township on Monday evening. This plan would not include a reconfiguring of the intersection. There is a 10 foot widening of Durham Road to accommodate a left turn lane and lane shifts. The plan anticipates a 0.48% growth in population in the next ten years. There will be acquisition of right-of-way from four properties: Dodge, Scholski, Sheppard and Lions. It is possible that Darr, the Church and Hibbs properties could also be involved. Without the traffic light, land would also be acquired from some properties on Stoopville Road.

Dr. Ciervo said that there has been some concern about traffic back up on Stoopville Road with a signal light.

Mr. Kaufman said that 90% of vehicles turn right at the corner. The preliminary study shows a level of service of “B” or “C” looking ahead ten years.

Mr. Gallagher said that he parked at the Brown property on Stoopville Road to observe traffic on Saturday morning and noted that left turning vehicles did cause some back up. These vehicles had to edge forward beyond the stop bar into Durham Road to see oncoming traffic. He also observed cars driving in the ditch on Stoopville to pass stopped left turning cars. He said that the proposed plan will best resolve problems making the intersection safer.

Dr. Ciervo said that he also spent time at the intersection and observed similar conditions.

Mr. Calabro said that he observed conditions on Monday afternoon at noon and again at 5:30 PM. At both times he made left turns and waited less than one minute to make the turn, without relying on left turning cars from Durham Road waving him across. He had no difficulty making legal left turns from Stoopville. He was not sure where he stopped in relation to the stop bar.

Mr. Schenkman asked how the improvements will impact both safety and traffic calming.

Mr. Kaufman said that the traffic light will not impact traffic calming. He reviewed current driving patterns for vehicles passing on the right around vehicles waiting to make a left turn onto Stoopville Road. A traffic light would allow those vehicles to pass safely. The light will create a gap in traffic which will allow vehicles to more easily exit the driveways on Durham Road. Mr. Kaufman said that he has reviewed police reports of accidents at this intersection and further research would be done, but there have not been a significant number of accidents. The signal would make the intersection safer, although he would not characterize it as unsafe today.

Mr. Gallagher moved to “un-table” his motion from the meeting of September 15, 2010. Dr. Ciervo seconded. The motion passed 3-2, with Messrs. Schenkman and Calabro voting nay.

Mr. Gallagher re-read his September 15, 2010 motion: Mr. Gallagher moved to support the Phase II project as outlined in the memo of Gilmore & Associates dated August 27, 2010, with the understanding that the project includes “installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Stoopville Road & Durham Road OR realignment of Stoopville Road at Durham Road…”

Mr. Gallagher moved to amend this motion, removing the phrase “…or realignment of Stoopville Road at Durham Road.” The motion is to support the Phase II project with the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Stoopville Road & Durham Road. Mr. Benchener seconded the amended motion.

Mr. Garton suggested that the Board withdraw the current motion and frame a new motion to avoid confusion.

Mr. Gallagher moved to withdraw his motion. Mr. Benchener moved to withdraw his second. The motion died.

Dr. Ciervo moved to proceed with the plan for Stoopville Road Improvement Project Phase II as outlined in the Gilmore & Associates memo dated September 22, 2010. Mr. Benchener seconded.

Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo stressed that this decision has not been rushed; it has been discussed at length by each of the Jointure Boards and at two combined meetings. He read the memo to the community, stressing that the Wrightstown portion would include “widening of Durham Road at Stoopville Road for a 10 foot left-turn lane with 11 foot through lanes…., Installation of a Traffic Signal at the intersection of Stoopville Road and Durham Road...” This plan has already been approved by Wrightstown Township.

Mr. Calabro asked about the reference to decorative crosswalks at either Stoopville and Eagle or Stoopville and Eagleton Farm Road.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the crosswalk will be installed to connect the path. It has not yet been determined whether the path will be on the north or south side of Eagle Road. The decision will depend in part on right-of-way acquisition.

Mr. Schenkman said that he did not have any issue with the proposed gateway treatments and crosswalks, but questioned the Stoopville/Durham Road portion as it does not seem to impact traffic calming. While he agreed the intersection is inconvenient, there are many other areas in the Jointure which need attention. He said that if this portion is unnecessary, perhaps the Boards should consider returning that portion of the money.

Resident Gerald Carl White said that he lives on Twining Bridge Road and travels through the Stoopville Road intersection regularly. He agreed with Mr. Gallagher that the intersection is dangerous. He noted very heavy traffic on weekday mornings with frequent back ups on Stoopville Road for vehicles attempting to turn left, using this as a route via Twining Bridge Road to Bucks County Community College. He has also observed many drivers using Newtown Grant as a cut through to Twining Bridge in order to avoid the intersection. He suggested that the traffic light include both a turning arrow and a red arrow to prevent left turns and a “no turn on red” from Stoopville Road. He asked whether the “concept” plan approved could change very much during the engineering. He suggested forming a traffic committee to monitor the project.

Mr. Gallagher said that the Board, as the client, would be kept up to date of every aspect of the engineering and any changes would be called to the Board’s attention.

Mr. Schenkman noted that the Township does have a traffic committee. He asked Mr. White to consider participating in the committee.

Mr. Kaufman said that the stop bar would have to be moved farther back on Stoopville Road, so it is possible thatright turns on red would be prohibited. PennDOT would determine whether the turning arrow would be warranted.

Mr. Benchener asked whether the traffic light could be installed without any road widening.

Mr. Kaufman said that it would be possible to install the light only but the intersection warrants the left turn lane.

Resident Ron Kaisar agreed with Mr. White that making the left turn from Stoopville is dangerous. He supports the proposed improvements.

Jonathan Gold of Upper Makefield, representing the committee for a bicycle friendly county said that he would like to see bicycle friendly improvements made on the roads and is happy to see that Phase II still includes some trails.

Mr. Sensibaugh asked the Board to review the specific money allocations for each aspect of the project. He is concerned that the plans do not include stormwater management to help alleviate some icing problems.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the Public Works Department has met with PennDOT to address the ice sheeting issue. Some drains are being cleared and other measures are being taken to remedy this; it cannot wait for the Phase II money.

Dr. Ciervo reviewed the monetary allocations for the proposed Phase II:

  • Wrightstown improvements - $230,000, widening of Durham Road, left turn lane and traffic light;
  • Newtown improvements - $540,000, pedestrian walking paths and decorative crosswalks;
  • Upper Makefield improvements - $230,000, gateway treatments and walking paths.
  • Project design and engineering - $270,000
  • Right of way acquisition - $370,000

Township ordinances require developers to install paths or sidewalks as part of development. The Melsky portion of the paths has been removed for this reason.

Resident Kristin Strohbelt said that she is disappointed in the changes to the plans which now eliminate some of the walking paths which would have connected some of the isolated developments at the northern portion of the Township. She feels the trails promote a healthy lifestyle for walkers, bicyclists and runners, who are currently forced to share Stoopville Road with cars and trucks. She urged the Board to leave the Melsky portion of the trail in the plans.

Resident Ethel Hibbs said that she has seen minutes from one of the special meetings held in June to discuss this project. They have not been approved by the Boards of Wrightstown and Upper Makefield. She pointed out that there is some confusion in those minutes as to a motion made and then amended. Roberts Rules and Parliamentary Procedure say that the vote taken on the amendment is only for the amendment, not for the motion which precedes it. She asked that the other municipalities be forwarded copies of these minutes for their Boards’ approval.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the minutes of the special June meeting had been forwarded to the other Townships’ managers. He is not aware of whether they were voted on.

Mr. Gallagher said that he had suggested that each municipality make its own motion.

Mr. Benchener said that the June meeting was only to determine whether the three municipalities were in agreement as to the direction of the project. Since then, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown have individually voted to approve this concept. Now Newtown Township is taking a similar vote; this should remedy any concern about voting procedures.

Mrs. Herman again spoke about her concern that this change in the Stoopville Road plan would be the beginning of the four lane highway, “Northern Bypass,” changing the rural character of Bucks County. She complained that the regional traffic task force had been a waste of time and money. She said that the trail should not have been removed.

Mr. Gallagher strongly disagreed with Mrs. Herman’s assessment that this is the beginning of the creation of a four lane highway.

Dr. Ciervo said that the old maps Mrs. Herman has been showing are depicting projected regional growth, not proposed roads. Newtown’s past and current Boards have not supported a four lane highway. The motion before the Board includes over $700,000 for walking trails. While this is not the originally proposed plan, it is a plan agreed to by the three municipalities impacted.

Mr. Calabro reminded Dr. Ciervo that in the past he had stated he would not support “earmarks” yet this project is an “earmark” from the federal government.

Mr. D’Aprile said that nobody would return an earmark. He also said that he resented statements made earlier by non-residents accusing our Board members of covert activities to build a “northern bypass.” Most residents agree that the intersection in question needs to be improved. The funds are not unlimited and he agrees that the funds should be used first to make the roads safe. He said that those seeking to preserve the rural feel of the community should want no improvements at all, but to have country roads with no trails or sidewalks.

Mr. Benchener called the “northern bypass” a red herring and urged residents and Board members to keep the discussion on the motion on the table.

Le Sheppard of Wrightstown said that he lives at the intersection. He supports the idea of a left turn arrow which would become a red light prohibiting left turns. He urged more joint meetings of the municipalities to discuss issues of mutual concern. He expressed some concern that the length of the proposed passing lane on Durham Road is not confirmed and it could grow as the project is fully engineered. He asked the Board to keep the residents involved up to date as the project moves forward.

Ruth Brown of Wrightstown Township said that her home is on Stoopville Road near the intersection. She asked the Board to keep the impacted residents informed as the project progresses.

Resident Karen D’Aprile said that she is resentful of non-residents’ criticism of our Board members. She said that the “northern bypass” is used as a scare tactic every time road improvements are considered. The Supervisors of the three municipalities have been working to improve some dangerous road conditions for the good of the traveling public. This is no longer a small country town and the roads must accommodate the growing suburban community.

Mr. Benchener said that the motion addresses two issues: addressing the safety of those making left turns at the Stoopville/Durham Road intersection and widening of the roads. He said that he is not supportive of taking of land unless there is an overwhelming public need. He suggested that the plan be altered, eliminating the taking of land for the widening of Durham Road, saving $370,000 allocated for land acquisition and $120,000 for widening of the road.

Dr. Ciervo noted that the project has $370,000 budgeted for all right of way acquisition, including the land for trails in Newtown and Upper Makefield. The widening of Durham Road is only a portion of the land acquisition budget. He would not support an amendment eliminating the road widening. Both the widening and the traffic light are needed for safety.

Mr. Schenkman said that he is not sure whether PennDOT would support the project without the road widening as it could create other liabilities.

Mr. Kaufman noted that without the widening for a through traffic lane there would be stacking, blocking driveways as vehicles waited for left turning vehicles. He reviewed the proposed widening and said that it would not be possible to widen using only the School District property because lanes would have to be realigned after the intersection.

Dr. Ciervo said that he understands the residents’ and Board members’ concerns however the existing conditions cannot remain. If left turns were prohibited, traffic would be directed through a small residential road from a State road. The cemetery is expected to bring an increase in traffic; the federal government and congress have agreed and have allocated the funds to address this.

Mr. Schenkman noted that the Newtown Board of Supervisors had requested the funds from our congressmen.

Mr. Calabro said he is concerned that the scope of the project has been dramatically changed to include this intersection, which had not been part of Phase II at the start. The improvement has been on Wrightstown’s TIP for twenty years and Wrightstown did not consider it urgent enough to pressure PennDOT to advance it on the TIP. The change in the scope is removing an important aspect of the trail system. Newtown is giving away its share of the stimulus for a project Wrightstown had never considered important enough. He had some concern about relying on Toll Brothers to build the trail as part of land development at some time in the future. He said that this could possibly become part of a north/south through route, pointing to recent improvements to the Route 412/611 corridor in the northern part of the county.

Mr. Benchener said that while it is true that the intersection is located within Wrightstown it impacts Newtown’s residents. Looking ahead the road will need these improvements to make it safe.

The motion passed 3-2, with Messrs. Calabro and Schenkman voting nay.

Chairman’s Report Continued: Dr. Ciervo suggested that due to the late hour, discussion of the pension and appointment of a pension consultant should be postponed.

Dr. Ciervo moved to table items 2 & 3 of the chairman’s report on this evening’s agenda, discussion of pension and appointment of pension consultant. Mr. Schenkman seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Sensibaugh asked whether postponing the appointment would impact a shortfall in the pension funds.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the minimum municipal obligation was addressed at the September 15, 2010 meeting and will be paid in October. The agenda items will be added to the October 13, 2010 agenda.

Mr. Feuerman asked whether the changes to the pension investment policy discussed over the summer had been resolved.

Dr. Ciervo said that the Board had postponed changing the investment policy statement until the matter of appointment of a pension consultant had been resolved.

Mr. Feuerman said that when the Board last discussed this they had authorized investment in a passive index fund. He urged the Board to exclude investment in Vanguard because of Mr. Benchener’s conflict as a Vanguard employee whose bonus is tied to the investments.

Mr. Gallagher said that the Board had considered this and had included a prohibition against allowing the pension consultant to invest in his firms own products as part of the new pension investment policy statement.

Dr. Ciervo said that the Board will be voting to table this discussion. He urged Mr. Feuerman to return and participate in the discussion at the next meeting.

Mr. Benchener noted that he does not work in the investment of Vanguard’s business and would be supportive of any measures taken to avoid a conflict of interest.

Mr. Feuerman said that he also disagrees with the current policy’s assumption of an 8% return.

Mr. Czajkowski said the assumption is 7.5%.

The motion passed 5-0.

The Board took a five minute break at 11:15 PM. Upon returning Mr. Garton informed the members that Luis Flores has asked that his sketch plan review be removed from this evening’s agenda and rescheduled for a later date. Mr. Garton has spoken to Mr. & Mrs. DeYoung whose HARB application is on the agenda. He has assured them that their application will be addressed expeditiously and they did not need to be in attendance.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions, continued

Other Board Members

Resolution – Opposition to the forced merger and consolidation of local governments within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Mr. Benchener reported that House Bill 2431 is being considered by the State Legislature. The bill proposes to consolidate the local governments by county. Recently the State had required consolidation of tax collection agencies by county. While some consolidation of services can be beneficial to the participating municipalities, the decision to consolidate should come from the local level, not mandated by the state. Mr. Benchener read a resolution he had drafted, with some assistance from Mr. Schenkman, which noted that the governing bodies of the townships and boroughs are best equipped to understand the diverse and unique needs of their residents and larger, more centralized governments by their very nature are more removed from the people they serve, and house bill 2431 would, if adopted, begin the process of amending the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so as to establish the county as the basic level of local government. The resolution concludes with, “ be it resolved that the Board of Supervisors of Newtown Township, Bucks County Pennsylvania opposes any measure, initiative, plan of effort to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution so as to require the forced merger or consolidation of local governments; and be it further resolved, that the Board of Supervisors urges the general assembly to not support but in fact oppose House Bill 2431 and Senate Bill 1357 or any similar legislation…”

Mr. Benchener moved to adopt Resolution 2010-R-15, opposing the forced merger or consolidation of local governments. Mr. Gallagher seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Benchener noted that this evening’s meeting is a good example of local government addressing local issues. Concerns as were discussed this evening would not get the same attention at the county level.

Mr. Schenkman agreed with Mr. Benchener on the resolution. Pennsylvania’s diversity of government is a benefit citing the Jointure of as a good example of consolidation

Dr. Ciervo agreed that any consolidation should come from the municipalities. There are instances when consolidation can save money and the Township has participated in this as with the Jointure.

Mr. Gallagher noted that many other municipalities in the state have passed similar resolutions.

Mr. Benchener provided the Board and residents with copies of a report showing that consolidation does not necessarily save money.

Mr. Czajkowski said that Newtown already participates voluntarily in the Bucks County Consortium with the municipalities throughout the county working together to get more competitive pricing on such things as fuel oil and road salt.

The motion passed 5-0.

Newtown Corporation Resolution: Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt Resolution 2010-R-16, recognizing Newtown Corporation as a non-profit organization pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code whose several purposes include protecting the architectural heritage of Newtown Borough and Township. Mr. Benchener seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher explained that the Newtown Corporation has moved its annual Brewfest from the Stockingworks in Newtown Borough to the Newtown Swim Club in the Township. This resolution by the Township will help Newtown Corporation obtain a special event permit from the Liquor Control Board for the event.

Mr. Schenkman asked how Newtown Corporation is protecting the architectural heritage of the Township, as mentioned in the resolution. He also suggested that the use of the resolution to obtain a temporary liquor license should be included in the resolution.

Mr. Gallagher said that Newtown Corporation maintains a standing Design Committee to help with historic preservation.

Dr. Ciervo noted that Newtown Corporation is working with the Joint Historic Commission to preserve the toll house at Village at Newtown Shopping Center.

Mr. Gallagher read the resolution aloud, noting that items #3 and #4 reference the special occasion permit from the Liquor Control Board.

Mr. Calabro asked why this resolution has never been needed before although Newtown Township has been the location of other events where alcohol was served.

Mr. Gallagher said that in the past the Brewfest has been held within the Borough but this year it will be at Newtown Swim Club. It was his understanding that recent events like the Strawberry Festival were able to use the liquor licenses of the participating restaurants; the Strawberry Festival was sponsored by the Sycamore Street Community Association.

Mr. Schenkman said that although he would not want to stand in the way of this upcoming event, he would like an end date on the resolution, as the Township still has some unresolved issues with Newtown Corporation.

Mr. Gallagher said that the resolution could be rescinded.

Mr. Schenkman said that since the Board still has unresolved issues, perhaps this resolution could be reviewed again next year.

The motion passed 5-0.

Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan Update: Mr. Gallagher said that he recently read that Upper Makefield had some issues with its Act 537 plan and thought that Newtown should consider an update as the plan was last updated in 1992. The Township has had considerable development since then and the plan should be reviewed.

Dr. Ciervo agreed, as the plan should also account for possible future development.

Mr. Czajkowski said that a consultant would review and make recommendations. There would be some interaction with the Sewer Authority. He could interview professionals to handle the task..

Mr. Garton noted that there is some statutory grant money available for this.

Board Members’ Reports: Mr. Calabro asked whether the Newtown Little League would be recognized on an upcoming agenda.

Mr. Czajkowski said that they would be honored at the October 13, 2010 meeting.

Mr. Gallagher reported that he had visited the recent Rock Softball Tournament at Helen Randle Park. The attendees were using the college parking lot and a shuttle to Helen Randle. He suggested that the Board consider expanding the Helen Randle parking lot.

Ms. Fountain said that she would review the plans to determine whether there is some parking area set aside which has not been constructed.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the parking is not adequate for large tournaments. The League and the Township have been working on making the crossing safer when the College is used for off site parking.

Environmental Advisory Council: Chairman Jay McGuigan reported that the EAC has conducted extensive research on wildlife management. He presented the Board with copies of reports on deer/vehicle collisions going back many years, pointing out that the number of accidents is increasing dramatically every year. The EAC had two goals regarding wildlife management, providing the Board with adequate information and developing a plan for wildlife management to reduce the number of accidents and preserve the Township’s natural resources. The EAC found that each year the number of accidents has increased 22% over the preceding year. The EAC conducted interviews with a number of providers of wildlife management services, including a group advocating non-lethal methods. The alternatives are to either do nothing, attempt a lethal management program or a non-lethal program. Research indicates that at this point the non-lethal methods are completely ineffective. The EAC issued a request for proposals and has reviewed the responses and recommends that the Board consider the plan offered by Eccologix Wildlife Management. This group has conducted a very successful program in Upper Makefield, using both archery and sharpshooting. The combination of sharpshooting and archery seems to be the most effective method. Eccologix offered pricing of $189 per deer for the sharpshooting portion, which would enable the Township to place a cap on the amount to be spent this year. The price for the archery component was $750.

Greenbelt Archery has offered to conduct an archery only program at no charge, although their proposal did not provide any information on their success rate. Its members are Township employees and residents, and should be given consideration as the Board reviews the proposals.

Mr. McGuigan said that all of those responding to the RFP have indicated a willingness to coordinate efforts with the State’s Tyler Park hunt and would provide a public education program in advance of the hunt. Tyler Park has also indicated a willingness to work with the group chosen.

Dr. Ciervo thanked the EAC and said that a great deal of information has been provided in the written report. The Board would review the report and provide a decision at an upcoming meeting to be able to coordinate with the Tyler hunt in December and January.

Mr. Gallagher said that he would speak to Wrightstown’s EAC, where Greenbelt has been conducting a wildlife management program,

Newtown Joint Sewer Authority, 50 Year Extension: Eric Johnson, Chairman, was in attendant to discuss the 50 year extension of the Sewer Authority charter. He said that at this time Newtown is 100% compliant with Act 537 and the Authority can provide any data the Board might need. The Sewer Authority was founded in 1961 and maintains 100 miles of sewers for 8500 customers, 92% residential at a base rate of $40 per quarter, less than half the rate of other surrounding authorities.

Mr. Benchener asked how rates are kept so low.

Mr. Johnson said that the system is well maintained by Warren Gormley and the staff; there is no in fill and no water running into the system. He introduced Serita Tupac, the Sewer Authority’s accountant and Ed Warden of Gannett Fleming, the Authority’s engineering firm. He said that the staff, Board and consultants are in attendance to answer any questions the Board might have. They are asking for a 50 year extension on the charter. Newtown Borough has already signed the extension.

Mr. Gallagher asked the ratio of Borough to Township customers.

Mr. Gormley said that the Authority does not keep separate records, but he estimated that about 1000-1500 of the customers are in the Borough. It is difficult to estimate the amount of time and money spent in the Borough or Township as the workers spend time throughout both municipalities each day.

Mr. Gallagher asked whether the Authority anticipates any significant expenses in the near future. He noted letters sent to Nob Hill customers.

Mr. Gormley said that the Authority is doing sump pump inspections in Nob Hill to determine whether repairs are needed.

Mr. Johnson explained that the Authority has funds set aside to take care of any possible repairs needed in Nob Hill. Should a major unexpected repair of old terra cotta lines also become necessary at the same time, the Authority might need to float a bond.

Mr. Schenkman asked whether the reserve fund would influence bond rates.

Ms. Tupac explained that the Authority has a $2.5 million trust fund for capital improvements which would help with bond rates. A certain portion of the fees goes directly into the trust fund. All connection fees go into the trust. Once development stops that source of revenue would stop. The Authority has an operating fund and a capital improvement fund plus the value of the system’s assets.

Mr. Johnson said that Authority has certain regular expenses including maintenance of equipment and buildings. The only time rates are raised is when Philadelphia or Bucks county raise their charges.

Mr. Warden said that the Township and Borough both have some old terra cotta pipes, but the Authority has been proactive in maintaining these. The Nob Hill concern is a ground water issue. The DEP is satisfied with the sump pump inspections at this time. Some sump pumps are connected to the sewers on private properties and groundwater gets in the joints. The pipes have been lined but that has not solved all problems with laterals on private properties. There is some hydro-geologic issue and the Authority is working to divert ground water from the sewer.

Mr. Gallagher asked about the Authority’s exposure in a lawsuit with the County.

Mr. Johnson said that the Authority has been advised not to discuss this in a public meeting because the Township’s solicitor also represents the County in this matter. He said that the Authority would meet in executive session with its solicitor and the Board but not with the Township’s Solicitor in attendance.

Dr. Ciervo reviewed the accounts the Authority holds.

Ms. Tupac confirmed that the operating fund is $3.5 million annually, capital improvements held in a money market fund is $2.8 million. The Authority is required to keep the 85% in reserve.

Mr. Gormley noted that some projects are very costly, noting that the recent extension of sewers to Mardot Village cost $1.8 million.

Mr. Johnson said that rates are kept low because of good workers keeping a well maintained system. He offered the Authority’s assistance with a review of the Act 537 plan.

Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize advertisement of an ordinance extending the Newtown Joint Sewer Authority Charter. Mr. Calabro seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that he did not want to further delay this. The Authority is doing everything right to keep the system running while saving the customers’ money. The Borough has already adopted its ordinance.

Mr. Benchener said that he is not yet prepared to vote on a 50 year extension.

Dr. Ciervo said that he would prefer waiting until the Board has met in executive session without the Township Solicitor in attendance. He would like more information on the outstanding lawsuit.

Mr. Johnson said that the lawsuit has nothing to do with the charter.

Mr. Calabro said that the presentation has given him confidence to support the Sewer Authority. He is sorry that those in attendance had to wait so late in the evening, as he fears the motion will be defeated.

Mr. Sensibaugh said that this is a motion to authorize advertisement, not to adopt the ordinance. He said it is a waste of time to prolong this. He urged the Board to support the Sewer Authority.

Mrs. Hibbs said that in Wrightstown she has seen notices mailed to residents for development sewer systems charging $900 per dwelling unit per quarter. The Township needs to support the Sewer Authority, as the alternative is very costly.

The motion failed 2-3, with Dr. Ciervo, Mr. Benchener and Mr. Gallagher voting nay.

Mr. Johnson said that he is very disappointed and urged the Board to set up an executive session as soon as possible.

HARB: Mr. Benchener moved to authorize a certificate of appropriateness for Gerald and Mary DeYoung, 103 North Sycamore Street, as outlined in a memo dated September 13, 2010. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Reports of Officials

Manager’s Report: Mr. Czajkowski reported that the Township has received a grant for a wind generator, which is to be installed shortly.

Mr. Czajkowski said that the skate park pad site has been cleared. He expects equipment to be installed shortly with an opening by the end of October.

Mr. Schenkman asked whether donation funds for the park have been co-mingled with other Newtown Corporation funds.

Dr. Ciervo said that it is his understanding that a separate account has been set up. He asked Mr. Czajkowski to send a letter asking that the funds be released to pay for the project.

Mr. Czajkowski said that there are currently two vacancies on the Traffic Impact Fee Committee. State law requires that 70% of the committee be either realtors, developers or members of the building trades.

Solicitor’s Report: Mr. Benchener moved to approve the Newtown Walk Development Agreements. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 3-2, with Messrs. Gallagher and Schenkman voting nay.

Mr. Gallagher said that he disagrees with the name chosen for this development.

Mr. Garton reminded the Board that they had authorized advertisement of JMZO 2010-2, creating a municipal services overlay district for Chippewa Farm in Wrightstown Township to help Wrightstown market the improved portion of the property. This ordinance only impacts the Chippewa Farm property in Wrightstown.

Mr. Benchener moved to adopt JMZO 2010-2, Municipal Services Overlay District at Chippewa Farm. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Dr. Ciervo said that the Board had met in executive session to discuss matters of personnel prior to this evening’s meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 12:15 AM.

 

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