Board of Supervisors
Minutes of December 22, 2010
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on December 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 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. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Public Comment: Resident Dick Weaver, former Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said that he has been following the Township’s budget process this year as reported in the Bucks County Courier Times. He urged the Board to begin planning for the renegotiation of the union contracts in 2011, but to avoid layoffs by increasing the millage by 2.75 mills for debt service. He also suggested that the Board forgo its annual compensation for this year. There has not been a tax increase in fifteen years; this proposal would cost the average homeowner $47 per year. It is wrong to try to balance the budget on the backs of the employees. He noted that Newtown is a leader in this state in consolidation of services, but reduction of staffing in the police force could jeopardize the arrangement with Wrightstown.
Resident Sean Carbone said that he lives directly across the street from the skate park. He feels the park was poorly conceived and rushed through despite the Township’s financial crisis. The park is noisy, keeping night workers from being able to sleep in the daytime; it has no fences or supervision and could be a liability. In addition to the construction costs the Township police must patrol it and public works must monitor conditions and remove trash.
Dr. Ciervo said that the park was financed by private donations and developer impact fees. The Township’s liability carrier has reviewed the park and found no additional liability without an attendant or fence.
Mr. Carbone said that there are ongoing expenses to maintain the park. The park should not have been opened in a fiscal crisis, when staff reductions are being considered. He urged the Board not to lay off any staff. Those working for the Township are part of our community, providing a safe environment for our families. A commitment to the staff should be a priority, not opening a skate park.
Resident Joe Ceolo commended the excellent work of our municipal employees; Newtown is the safest, best maintained town in the County. He expressed some concerns that layoffs would lead to a re-active rather than the current pro-active police department. He asked whether any feasibility study had been conducted to evaluate a reduced workforce.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Township is not considering making any cuts to essential services. No feasibility study has been done.
Mr. Ceolo said that the police staffing level has been the same for eight years although the population has grown considerably. The employees have a contract negotiated in good faith and it should be honored. He noted that although these are tough economic times, we have not seen a tax increase in many years, with Newtown having the lowest taxes in the County. The proposed concessions sought from the unions have a value of $10,000 per employee, whereas the $47 tax increase amounts to only $0.13 per day per household.
Dr. Ciervo said that our residents also pay a 1% earned income tax, which is the main source of Township revenues. The contracts call for a greater than 4% salary increase next year. Our EIT collections have been decreasing or flat, indicating that our residents have not been getting raises.
Mr. Ceolo said that the $47 average real estate tax increase is about 1/36 of the average cable bill. He did not think the residents would object to paying such a small increase to maintain our current levels of service.
Resident Carole Klaus said that if the tax increase is only $47 per year, she would support it, but she is not supportive of an 80% increase. Everyone in the Township employ should take a pay freeze during these difficult economic times and share the burden with the residents.
Resident Debra Neihoff said that she is a psychologist who has written about and teaches the psychology of law enforcement. She discussed the many difficult aspects of the policeman’s job, noting that 156 police were killed and 26,000 injured in the line of duty and most of these casualties occurred in small towns, not major cities.
Police suffer from extreme stress, never knowing when they answer a call, what to expect. The threat of layoffs only adds to the stress. She urged the Board to live up to the staff’s contracts.
Resident Karen D’Aprile said that she thinks it is outrageous to lay off police and firefighters when the Board has spent so much money on parks. The police and firefighters are in dangerous jobs.
Resident Dennis Fisher said that he is very concerned that the Board is considering terminating more staff. He had spoken at the podium last spring urging the Board not to lay off any employees. This proposed layoff will impact the community’s safety. He hoped the Board had explored all other options to make cuts in spending. Taxes have not been increased in fifteen years although the Township has incurred significant debt without planning to address debt service. He is very concerned about the Township’s long term financial planning. He suggested changing the policy to allow a reserve of 5% for one year; raise taxes the $47 for one year; forgo Board salaries for one year, which would indicate good faith to the bargaining units. After these measures have been taken, approach the bargaining units to negotiate as responsible partners.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would like to clarify that the Township taxes were raised seven years ago for the fire company.
Resident David Deutch discussed the dangers and stresses of firefighters’ and police officers’ jobs. He said that we are all, including the Board members, neighbors in the community and in the spirit of community, we should support our municipal staff. Their lives and livelihood should be considered. He urged the Board to act as neighbors, not politicians, and consider a raise in taxes if it will keep the current staff and service levels.
Resident John Meyers said that he knows and works with the entire staff of police, fire fighters and public works. These are wonderful people and we should not lose any of them; we should do “whatever it takes” to keep current staff levels.
Mr. Benchener said that he would like to re-frame the discussion; the Board agrees that the staff are wonderful people doing a great job, but the Board is looking to be fiscally responsible in these difficult economic times.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh said that he has had concerns about the financial condition of the Township for some time. We have added $600,000 to our debt service without a plan for meeting that obligation; it should not be on the “employees’ backs.” He said that the Board has made a commitment to the employees, whose contract will expire at the end of next year, at which time the Board can renegotiate. He urged the Board to explore all avenues, including expanding partnerships with neighboring municipalities.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that he had been asked by Wrightstown resident Le Sheppard to remind the Board that Wrightstown pays $500,000 for police protection by Newtown’s police force. Mr. Sheppard would not want to see a reduction of staff or of valuable programs like Dare.
Resident John D’Aprile urged the Board to honor its contract with the unions; to ask for the concessions which were outlined in the newspaper is not right. The Township has known the terms of the union contracts all year and could have begun negotiations much earlier. He said that the Board should not have spent so much money on parks, especially without considering the added burden the new parks would place on Township employees. He urged the Board not to raise taxes just to keep a large reserve, to not raise taxes until the reserves are depleted.
Resident Ethel Hibbs said that she had been a Township employee at the time that the workers organized to join CWA. The employees joined the union to protect their jobs. It is the Board’s responsibility to protect the investments the Township has made in the community. The Township buildings must be maintained; the police building restrooms are not cleaned properly anymore. Some years ago a previous board had worked to separate Parks and Recreation into a separate fund with a separate dedicated tax millage; this fund should be reinstated. Parks and Recreation can be self sustaining and should not be impacting the general fund. She urged the Board to consider a small increase in taxes; the increase will not impact the residents and will protect the Township’s investments in the community. People move to Newtown because of its good reputation and they are willing to pay for our quality of life. She, herself, is on social security, but would find a way to meet the additional tax. She urge the Board to plan ahead so that we are not at the same impasse again next year.
Resident Joanne Bintliffe Ritchie said that as president of the Eagleton Farms Homeowners Association she hears that the residents are concerned about their safety, quality of life and property values. After a recent spate of burglaries in the neighborhood, she has learned of the pro-active approach of our police force. The force should be strengthened, not reduced, in order to maintain this level of service. Our public works department keeps our property values high with excellent roadway maintenance, park maintenance and snow removal. Our Park and Recreation department contributes to our quality of life by providing programs and camps to augment our school programs. An additional $47 a year is well worth it to our residents to keep staff at the current levels.
Resident Ian Franklin said that while he values the work done by our police, fire and municipal staff, he feels there is broad support for reducing park and recreation.
Resident Keith Schmidt said that he does not feel the police are doing such a good job, as they have been unable or unwilling to address his complaints about noise, odors and loose dogs. He has repeatedly called police about his neighbors’ ATV’s, plant sprays and dogs, but the police have not enforced existing noise ordinances nor enforced the correct use of chemical sprays.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Board is familiar with Mr. Schmidt’s ongoing concerns and suggested that he meet with the Police Chief, Township Manager, the Board and Solicitor to discuss these concerns privately.
Glen Golembski, representing the Fraternal Order of Police, thanked all who spoke in support of the police. He asked the Board to commit to no layoffs of police, to negotiate with the union to reach an agreement, which might include some tax increase.
Mr. Gallagher said that the Board of Supervisors does not want to have any layoffs.
Dr. Ciervo confirmed that the Board is in negotiations with the bargaining units to avoid layoffs.
Mr. Golembski said that the Board should be listening to the many residents who have spoken out in support of the police and have indicated that they do not object to a small tax increase to avoid layoffs.
Dr. Ciervo said that he is hoping that the Board and unions will reach an agreement to avoid layoffs.
Mr. Golembski again asked for a commitment from the Board to avoid layoffs. He said that refusing to consider raising taxes is a political move. The Board needs to listen to the residents and keep current staffing levels. Even the talk of layoffs impacts the morale of the department.
Mr. Benchener said that he is the newest member of the Board and during his campaign last year, as he knocked on doors, he was repeatedly told by residents that they did not want their taxes to go up. This is a very diverse Township and there are many who cannot afford even a small increase in taxes. It is up to the unions to come to a reasonable compromise to avoid a tax increase.
Mrs. Hibbs asked Mr. Golembski for permission to speak and then reminded Mr. Benchener that this is public comment, during which time the public addresses the chairman, only. It is not the proper time for Board members to speak. They have opportunity elsewhere in the agenda. Mr. Golembski has the floor.
Mr. Golembski said that he was sure the residents would not mind paying the additional $4 each month for police protection. It is a shame the Police have to come here to ask the Board to do the right thing and honor the contract.
Kim Hartman, president of the Newtown PBA said that the Board’s demand letter still stands. The letter to the police stated, “make concessions or police will be laid off.” The membership is here because they care. They signed a five year contract which runs through 2011. The union agreed to a five year contract so that the Township could make financial decisions. The union came to the Board three times last year offering some concessions which were rejected, although the Board chairman has stated that the PBA refused to negotiate. The chairman had said during his campaign for higher office this past October that Newtown has more police on the street, but Newtown has no more police now than when the chairman took office. New hires were made to replace retiring police. Any lay offs to the police department risk officer and public safety. The Board has had time to address financial matters, but instead is blaming the financial problems on employees. Newtown’s police were the first in the County to pay into the medical plan, they agreed to change insurance carriers to save the Township money, they pay 5% into the pension. The Board sent a demand letter and allowed only eight days for a response. This is an attempt to make this a partisan political issue. Remember that the Township staff are residents of Newtown; some live here, we pay taxes here, we work here and we shop here. He reminded the Board that the Township employees are at work, keeping Newtown safe while the Board sleeps.
Jim Gardler, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 13000, said that the union has agreed to have discussions with the Board, but has not agreed to open up the contract to negotiations. The unions were notified of the Board’s demands after those demands had appeared in the press. There had been no prior conversations with the membership. The unions had some conversations last year and attempted to work out some agreements but the Township was unwilling to work with the unions and as a result two employees lost their jobs. He asked the Board how many employees would need to be laid off or what amount would need to be saved to balance the budget this year.
Dr. Ciervo said that last year the Board had asked the unions to take a wage freeze to avoid layoffs. The Board discussed approaching the unions during executive session and later spoke of it briefly at a Board meeting. The Township Manager had composed a letter which was not received by the union before a writer had reported it in the newspaper. This was not the fault of the Board. The Board is looking to save $600,000 in concessions.
Mr. Gardler said that e-mails had been sent to members of two different Republican organizations asking people to come to this evening’s meeting to support the Board on this matter. This should not be made a political issue. He reminded the Board of the large expenditure on contractors for snow removal. This demonstrates that rather than reduce, the Township should consider increasing staff. He asked about possible reductions in fire coverage if firefighters are laid off. He reminded the Board of how critical response time is, as fires double every twenty seconds. He suggested that when speaking of wage freezes, management should be included in that request.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Township is required to have four firefighters on duty between 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Coverage will not be reduced. Non-union personnel did not receive a wage increase last year; the Board is reluctant to ask for that concession two years in a row without some concession from the union personnel.
Mr. Gardler discussed the pension funds, asking whether the Board has changed its pension investment policy statement, whether it has changed pension managers, whether the Board voted to move money from a money market fund to the another fund, where it lost money. He asked whether there is a pension committee and what part that Pension Committee played in all of these decisions.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Pension Committee, consisting of representatives of the three union pensions, and Township administrative personnel participate in the pension committee, which reviews the funds quarterly with the pension consultant. The Board has discussed the pension investment policy, but has not made a change yet. A new pension consultant has been hired by the Board and he will be involved in a change in the investment policy. The Board did not vote to move funds to any other fund. The pension consultant and his various fund managers make those decisions.
Mr. Gardler asked whether the Board voted to move funds to an exchange traded fund.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Board is trying to find a better manager and better investment policy in order to meet its pension obligations. The Board is also seeking some concessions from the unions on pension matters, but is not directly involved in choosing which funds the pensions are invested in.
Mr. Gardler said that the Board is gambling with the pension funds and putting the community at risk. He asked the Board to also consider not raising management salaries and to have better oversight of the pensions.
Resident Mike Horan said that he is a union member at his own job and understands that both sides need to step back; the issue is not $47. The Board and unions need to find a way to work together and compromise without raising taxes.
Brian Alesworth of Newtown Borough said that the Board does not understand what fire fighters go through, taking someone out of a burning building and then trying to sleep that night. It is a very difficult job, deserving of respect.
Gabi Lefew of Newtown Borough said that her goal is to become a Newtown police officer; she is currently a student and EMS worker. While she does not want to pay more in taxes, she would not want to see any layoffs. She reminded the Board that the municipal employees are at work while we sleep.
Coleen Rosenfeld, a Newtown Borough police officer, said that the issue is public and police safety. The police protect us, the public works employees keep the roads safe and firefighters respond to our emergencies. She is proud of the cooperative relationship between the Borough police and the Township. Any layoffs will certainly impact services.
Ben Cotrona of Richboro asked whether the residents could vote on whether to increase taxes to retain the employees and avoid layoffs.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Board must pass a budget on December 29, 2010. There would not be time for any voting.
Lisa Hansbarger, a former resident, said that some of the Board members have not been paying attention to the speakers. She said that the Board is legally bound to honor the union contracts. She urged the Board to forgo their salaries, freeze management salaries and make other cuts.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Board determines the staffing levels. The Board is attempting to negotiate with the unions but must pass a budget by the end of the year. This could mean layoffs. Labor negotiations are not conducted at public meetings; he does not know what concessions will be made. The non-union employees did not get a raise last year. He stressed that there would be no reductions in fire protection. The Township is required to provide four paid firefighters from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM every day. We have a volunteer fire department at night.
Resident Ryan Gallagher, a member of the Township Financial Planning Committee, said that he would not want to see layoffs or a tax increase. He hopes the Board will work diligently to find the best solution. The Financial Planning Committee has been involved in long term planning for the Township. He urged the Board to work toward a solution which will not reduce staff or put the Township into a deficit situation.
Amber Kurtzer of Wrightstown said that she has felt safe here with the protection provided by Newtown’s police. She does not want to see anyone lose his job and is prepared to pay the $47 to Newtown.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Benchener moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of December 8, 2010. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to approve payment of bills totaling $921,745.66. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Sensibaugh asked what would remain in the general fund after payment of these bills.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the reserve would be between $1.1 and $1.2 million after payment of bills of over $900,000. The Township has received and will continue to receive revenues from cable franchise fees, real estate and earned income taxes, transfer taxes and receipts from the State contribution to the pension funds. The only outstanding expenditures will be operating expenses.
The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $245,562.35. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Chairman: Dr. Ciervo wished everyone happy holidays. He said that the Board has been working on the 2011 budget. The Township has seen decreases in revenues from Earned Income taxes this year after a drop from 2008 to 2009, while spending has increased 1% each year. The only area where the budget has not seen cuts is in salaries and benefits for employees. The Board does not want to reduce the workforce; it is asking for some concessions from the bargaining units to avoid a tax increase in order to preserve the reserve fund.
Other Board Members: Mr. Benchener said that the Board would discuss the details of the financial picture of the Township at next week’s budget meeting.
Mr. Gallagher said that this evening’s meeting gave the public an opportunity to speak to the Board. There are ongoing labor negotiations which cannot be discussed in a public meeting.
Mr. Schenkman said that he was heartened by the large turnout of residents, speaking eloquently in support of the Township. He hopes everything will work out with minimal layoffs. He urged those who spoke so passionately to get involved in the Township government.
Dr. Ciervo said that there are many openings on Township committees, boards and commissions, and he asked residents to send letters of interest to the Township Manager or directly to any one of the Supervisors.
Mr. Calabro thanked all who came out to the meeting and urged them to continue to come to meetings and let the Board know how they feel on issues. He noted that the Board does not always have a consensus, that a majority of three is needed for any decision.
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler said that at its December 21, 2010 meeting the Planning Commission reviewed the three Zoning Hearing Board applications to be discussed by the Supervisors later this evening. A written synopsis has been submitted to the Supervisors and all three applications were passed to the Board without comment.
Mr. Schenkman said that during discussion of the WEN Hamilton application for variances, the Planning Commission had discussed removal of trees.
Mr. Fidler said that this project involves demolition of some houses along Durham Road to build an assisted living facility. Some trees and hedgerows which had formed borders between the homes are to be removed. The removal qualifies as woodlands, although the trees are not really in a wooded area.
Dr. Ciervo noted that the plans had been changed since the sketch plan phase. He asked whether the Planning Commission had any comment on the changed entrance.
Mr. Fidler said that the Commission was supportive of the relocation of the entrance to Durham Road. A secondary access on Eagle Road is still being discussed; this might be a right in/right out access to help mitigate congestion at the intersection. PennDOT is supportive of the Durham Road entrance if the slope issue can be resolved. This would all be considered during land development.
Historical Architectural Review Board: HARB member Joseph McKernan presented the application for a sign for Apple Cleaners and the application of Newtown Presbyterian Church for a railing on the steps at 76 North Sycamore Street.
Mr. Gallagher moved to approve certificates of appropriateness for Apple Cleaners and Newtown Presbyterian Church as outlined in a memo dated December 15, 2010. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. McKernan asked the Board to please review the completed “book of appropriateness” which HARB has drafted.
Mr. McKernan asked the Board to host a joint meeting with the Newtown Borough HARB and the Joint Historic Commission in the coming year to discuss concerns impacting both the Borough and Township, including some homes slated for demolition.
Mr. Gallagher said that he was supportive of the idea.
Reports of Officials
Foxhall Estates Pay Estimate #1: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize pay estimate #1 to All Seasons Landscaping in the amount of $38,567.20 for Foxhall Estates. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Ms. Fountain confirmed that the Foxhall Homeowners Association has been notified of the payment. The work is about 85% completed; twenty spruce trees still must be replaced.
Mr. Garton said that the drawdown had been about $400,000.
The motion passed 5-0.
Penns Trail Storage Certificate of Completion #1: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize escrow release in the amount of $482,066.00 to Penns Trail Storage. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Ms. Fountain reported that about $91,000 remains for some stabilization work.
The motion passed 5-0.
Frost Lane Drainage and Road Improvement Project Phase 2, Final Payment: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize final payment to A.H. Cornell & Son for the Frost Lane Road Improvement project in the amount of $9,190.50. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Ms. Fountain said that there had been some road widening. The Borough has already signed off on this project.
The motion passed 5-0.
Newtown Athletic Club, 209 Penns Trail: Mr. Garton explained that this application to the Zoning Hearing Board seeks relief to permit construction of a two-story addition to the existing athletic facility. The relief sought would increase impervious surface to 71.05% and would seek a reduction in the required parking to 101 spaces, would permit parking within 20 feet of the street and within 10 feet of the property line, would eliminate a loading berth and would permit a sign within 1000 feet of the Bypass. The application was reviewed by the Planning Commission and passed to the Board without comment. The Board had reviewed a sketch plan and discussed these variances at a previous meeting.
The Board passed the application to the Zoning Hearing Board without comment.
Dr. Mark Weglos, 759 Newtown Yardley Road: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that this applicant had reviewed a sketch plan for a dental office in the R-2 zoning district. The applicant is seeking a use variance as well as an impervious surface of 65.5%, reduced parking and screening of the parking, a reduction in side yard setback and parking within 10 feet of the property line.
Attorney Ed Murphy was in attendance to discuss this application. He said that he has spoken to Mr. Garton about certain conditions to be suggested to the Zoning Hearing Board should they be inclined to grant the variances, including hours of operation limited to four days per week and no weekends; employees limited to four; and the use shall be limited to a dental office only.
Mr. Murphy said that a letter from the Joint Historic Commission had suggested that the abandoned house on the property might be of some historic significance. He has reviewed this with both Allen Fidler and Jeffrey Marshall of the Heritage Conservancy. Both seem to recall that the building had been moved to its present location and is not of historic significance. The applicant has agreed to allow the Historic Commission access to the property to photograph and document the building prior to demolition.
Mr. Garton said that with the Board’s permission he would send a letter to the Zoning Hearing Board solicitor outlining the suggested conditions should the Zoning Hearing Board grant the variances.
The Board agreed that Mr. Garton should contact the Zoning Hearing Board solicitor but had no further comment.
WEN-Hamilton, LLC, 54-84 Durham Road: Mr. Garton explained that the applicant is seeking variances in order to construct an 87,000 square foot assisted living facility. Variances include impervious surface of 43.8% where only 35% is permitted, front yard setback relief and woodland and steep slope disturbance.
Mr. Murphy, representing this applicant, explained that the applicant has withdrawn the request for a parking variance. At the Planning Commission, it was suggested that rather than seek a variance, the applicant ask the Supervisors to allow the applicant to hold the parking in reserve, constructing only 88 spaces. The Board, then, would have the flexibility to require construction of the additional parking spaces when and if they are needed. Stormwater management would address the full 224 parking spaces.
Mr. Murphy explained that since the sketch plan was shown to the Board the design has changed, creating a main access on Durham Road, as requested by the Cliveden Homeowners Association. The Planning Commission, Township Traffic Engineer and PennDOT are supportive of the change. It is still to be determined whether a second access on Eagle Road will be full or limited access.
Dr. Ciervo asked about tree replacement.
Mr. Murphy confirmed Mr. Fidler’s summary, that the trees are not a real woodland, but the borders between the original lots. The applicant will replace them or make a contribution to a tree bank; this would be considered at land development. If the Board prefers, Mr. Murphy could work with the Township Engineer to include some agreement on tree replacement in the Zoning Hearing Board decision.
Mr. Murphy said that during his recent conversations with Jeffrey Marshall and Mr. Fidler, he learned that there could be some interest in the historic significance of some of the houses on the property. Mr. Marshall said that he believed they were Sears Catalog houses. The applicant would agree to allow the historic society to document and photograph the buildings prior to demolition.
Mr. Gallagher said that these houses had been subject of discussion at the Jointure. They do not appear to be of historic significance.
The Board passed the application to the Zoning Hearing Board with no further comment.
JMZO 2010-13: Mr. Garton explained that this ordinance, removing some tax map parcels from the Federal Cemetery Overlay District, had been approved by the Board in June 2010. Subsequent to the adoption of the ordinance, Toll Brothers filed an action in Court averring that the three municipalities did not follow the required procedures related to the adoption of the ordinance. Subsequent to the appeal, the three solicitors discussed same and it was the joint recommendation that the posting problem be corrected and that the ordinance be re-advertised for re-adoption. The Board authorized the re-advertisement and the matter is now ready for action. Our Planning Commission has reviewed the ordinance again and it has been adopted by Upper Makefield and Wrightstown.
Dr. Ciervo said that this ordinance removes certain parcels from the FCO, reverting them to conservation management zoning. Plans already approved for land development are not impacted by this ordinance.
Mr. Gallagher said that this is a good thing for the Jointure and has been discussed for a number of years. It was Dr. Ciervo’s idea to remove the parcels from the FCO.
Mr. Benchener said that limiting high density housing makes financial sense.
Mr. Schenkman asked whether Mr. Garton had an opinion on Mr. Murphy’s recent letter to the Board regarding this ordinance.
Mr. Garton said that the Board could proceed. There will be no negative impact on the cemetery.
Mr. Murphy, representing Toll Brothers, asked that his letter to the Board be made part of the record. The FCO made sense in 2006 and no circumstances have changed.
Mr. Garton advised that Mr. Murphy’s letter should be attached to the minutes of this meeting.
Mr. D’Aprile said that a deal had been made, but Toll Brothers changed the deal. He supports adoption of this ordinance.
Dr. Ciervo moved to adopt JMZO 2010-13, amending the provisions of Section 401.1, the Federal Cemetery Overlay District, and amending the zoning map so as to remove certain parcels of real property located in Newtown and Upper Makefield Townships from the Federal Cemetery Overlay District. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Calabro voting nay.
Plan Expirations: Mr. Czajkowski reported that since the report had been printed the Township had received an extension for the Tedisco/DeFinis subdivision.
Fee Schedule: Mr. Czajkowski provided the Board with copies of the 2011 fee schedule, noting a 25% increase in some fees. He also provided a comparison of similar fees in neighboring municipalities, noting that Newtown is in the middle for most fees. The schedule is to be adopted as part of the 2011 reorganization meeting.
Dr. Ciervo asked that Lower Makefield, Newtown Borough and Middletown be included in the comparison. He also noted that not all recreation programs have a 25% non-resident surcharge. He disagreed with this, saying that Township tax dollars provide these programs for residents and non-residents should not reap the benefits, but should pay for the service. The Township is subsidizing municipalities which do not provide recreation programs. He said that the Park and Recreation Board does not agree with him on this matter.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the Park and Recreation Department is attempting to fill classes and adding the 25% to some programs would price them above the cost for going directly to the providers.
Mr. Gallagher said that he is concerned that some of the recreation programs compete directly with private businesses and he is opposed to this. He noted that we offer cooking and yoga, which compete with local cooking schools and yoga studios.
Mr. Benchener agreed with Mr. Gallagher that government should not compete with private industry. Recreation is not a core function of government. He felt that this evening’s public comment indicated that residents do not support recreation in the Township. He objected to using tax dollars to support recreation used by only some of the residents. He also objected to our recreation programs competing directly with Newtown businesses which provide similar services.
Mr. Schenkman said that he disagreed wholeheartedly with Messrs. Gallagher and Benchener but would reserve his comments until he is asked to vote on something specific regarding this.
Dr. Ciervo asked for an update on Eccologix’ efforts to cull the herd. He asked that Mr. Czajkowski report at the next meeting and that Eccologix come to a work session at the end of hunting season to discuss the program.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Board would meet in executive session at the close of the meeting to discuss matters of personnel.
The meeting adjourned at 11:55 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary