Board of Supervisors
Minutes of May 11, 2011
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on May 11, 2011 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 Ciervo called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence and an invocation by Reverend Peter Nashke of Lutheran Church of God’s Love. This was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.Public Comment
Resident George Wilson, representing the First Fourth Committee, asked the Supervisors to permit a parade in the Township as part of the First Fourth festivities. This parade had been held in the Borough in past years, but was not given approval this year. He explained that the Borough did not feel there was sufficient time to coordinate the event with the extra police presence required.
Mr. Czajkowski assured the Board that the Township typically seeks 30-day notice for such an event in order to coordinate with Township staff for adequate police and emergency services.
The Members were in agreement to approve a parade in Newtown Township and suggested that Mr. Wilson schedule an event planning meeting with Township staff.
Mr. Wilson thanked the Board for its support of this and for Welcome Day on May 22. He said that First Fourth has been seeking sponsorships and will have a fireworks display.Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Benchener moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of April 27, 2011. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to approve payment of bills totaling $189,810.41. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $177,944.96. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Chairman : Dr. Ciervo reported that he had attended a Borough Council meeting to seek support for an effort to preserve the barn and maze in Tyler State Park. State Senator McIlhinney has joined the effort and has been working with DCNR to save the structures. If there is an indication that private funds could be raised to help with the preservation, the State will be supportive. The repairs will cost upwards of $30,000. Donations are tax deductible and can be sent directly to Tyler Park, c/o Mike Crowley, 101 Swamp Road, Newtown. Write “Tyler Maze Fund” in the memo line of the check. Once the State has an indication that fundraising is underway, the State will put the project out to bid. This could provide some employment for local contractors.
Technology Committee: Chairman Ed Lipski reported that the Committee has been meeting regularly in public meetings and in electronic meetings from home to develop a 5 year technology plan for the Township. He explained that the Committee is:
The Committee has recently welcomed four new members with a wide variety of technology experience and expertise. As the Committee progresses in its work, the members would like to include the Township’s technology consultant in some of its meetings.
Mr. Gallagher said that there is a budget line item for “technology consultant.” This should be an appropriate use of the consultant’s time.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that the Financial Planning Committee should be included in the development of the plan, as its members have a better understanding of the Township’s budget.
Mr. Benchener asked about the goal of the plan.
Mr. Lipski said that the first portion of the plan would be identifying the mission and goal of the plan, including better serving the Township’s residents, providing resources to residents via the Township’s Web site, as well as providing the Township staff with the tools they need to serve the residents.
Mr. Gallagher said that another goal would be to help the Township’s many committees, boards and commissions through the use of technology. He reminded the Board that the Planning Commission has recently reviewed some zoning applications electronically. He asked about the use of “go to meeting.”
Mr. Lipski explained that the Committee members are able to work on the document from their homes, together. The document is in “the cloud” and each member is able, from his own computer, to add and edit the document while the other members discuss the document. It has been very successful. It might be possible for the public to also log onto an electronic meeting, although at this point, the committee has relied on the technology only for work sessions.
Mr. Schenkman said that while he is supportive of the electronic meetings and reviews, he felt there is a benefit to face-to-face public meetings.
Environmental Advisory Committee: EAC Vice Chairman Perry Katz reported that the Environmental Advisory Council has begun to research Bird Town, a program sponsored by the Pennsylvania Audubon Society. This voluntary program helps those who care for both private and public landscapes to implement the best practices to support wildlife and protect natural resources, linking adjacent properties through a broader community plan for greater conservation outcomes, stabilizing bird populations. The Audubon Society will train volunteers to help the community plan to re-introduce native species to their yards, open spaces and parks. The EAC is hoping to raise the necessary $850 enrollment fee, which will give Newtown Bird Town street signs and banners, brochures and training. One local business person has offered to give a donation. With the Board’s permission, the EAC would like to approach some other local businesses which have community outreach for environmental initiatives.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would be very supportive of this program. He suggested providing residents with additional information in the Township Newsletter and on the Web site.
In response to Board questions, Mr. Katz said that he thought there would be interest in the program throughout the community. There are 51,000,000 bird watchers in the country. This program helps to create and maintain bird habitats. Interested residents would voluntarily track the birds they see. Newtown would be the first municipality in Bucks County to join. The only other local member is Lower Moreland, in Montgomery County.
Mr. Gallagher said that he would like the Board to discuss a policy about Township committees seeking private funds for their initiatives.
Dr. Ciervo said that having the committees come to the Board to explain the project and seek approval on a case by case basis seems like a good approach.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that the Board should take time during a work session to draft language making it clear that these volunteer efforts will need Township approval.
Mr. Benchener asked whether this $850 would be an annual expense.
Mr. Katz was not sure about the ongoing enrollment costs, but assured the Board that the EAC will continue to raise funds as needed.
Mr. Gallagher moved to support the effort to make Newtown Township an Audubon Society Bird Town and to authorize the EAC to pursue the necessary fundraising efforts. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Katz said that EAC Co-Chairman Autumn Thomas has been the driving force behind this effort.Manager’s Report
DCED Letter of Intent, Police Regional Study : Mr. Czajkowski asked the Board to sign a letter of intent to be sent to the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services to study the regionalization of police services. Upper Makefield has already approved the letter. Copies have been sent to Wrightstown and Newtown Borough for consideration as well.
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize signing of a letter of intent to study the regional consolidation of police services. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro asked whether the Board is bound by this.
Mr. Czajkowski said that this is a non-binding study. No funding is required.
Mr. Garton confirmed that by asking the State to assist in the process the Township is not making a commitment. The study will provide an evaluation of both the benefits and negatives of regionalization.
Mr. Benchener said that while he has some reservations about regionalization of municipal services, he does agree that this deserves to be investigated. It is possible that there are some benefits and efficiencies with regional police services.
Mr. Schenkman said that he understood that the study would be similar to what is being undertaken with our fire protection. There can be no harm in becoming educated on this. He would be supportive of consolidation if it were something the people were in favor of.
Mr. Calabro said that while he is not opposed to signing the letter of intent to study this, he has reservations about losing our local, municipal police department.
Dr. Ciervo said that he has some similar concerns although he sees that the regional arrangement with Wrightstown for police protection has been mutually beneficial.
The motion passed 5-0.
Skate Park Update: Mr. Czajkowski reported that the Public Works Department will be working with volunteers who have donated foam insulation over the weekend, after which enclosures will be installed. It is hoped that the park will be ready for reopening sometime next week.Old Business
Mr. Czajkowski reported that the Penns Trail traffic calming devices will be installed next week.
Mr. Benchener asked the Board to remain for an executive session to discuss some old business.
Dr. Ciervo said that he is concerned about the impact the Borough’s Traditional Neighborhood Ordinance will have on Newtown Township. He asked that our Planning Commission review the ordinance and comment. This ordinance is supposed to be for the Stockburger property, but he believes it could be applied elsewhere in the Borough. It involves increased residential density and reduced parking and could have a very negative impact on the Township. The Bucks County Planning Commission has expressed some concern about the proposed parking calculations.
Mr. Gallagher agreed that this would be a good idea. Our Planning Commission has had a great deal of experience with this type of review. The Township has also had considerable experience in defending our ordinances when challenged by developers. He suggested sharing the Township’s experiences with Borough representatives.
Mr. Schenkman urged the Board to extend a spirit of cooperation to the Borough. He has spoken to developer Allen Smith about his project for the Stockburger property and has asked him to make a presentation to our Board and Planning Commission. He suggested that perhaps the Borough and Township Planning Commissions could meet jointly to discuss this.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would like to begin by having our Planning Commission first review the ordinance. The Commission has had a great deal of experience reviewing zoning changes that are meant to only involve land in Upper Makefield or Wrightstown but which will have some impact on Newtown. He would like to see a similar review.The meeting adjourned for an executive session at 9:00 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary