Board of Supervisors
Minutes of July 13, 2011
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on July 13, 2011 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: 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 : Vice Chairman Benchener called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence and an invocation by Pastor John Stange of Core Creek Community Church. This was followed by the pledge of allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski announced that the land development agreements for Newtown Athletic Club have been added to the Solicitor’s Report.
Special Action, Promotional Swearing In of Officer Frank Ambrose: Judge Donald Nasshorn administered the oath of office to Frank Ambrose on his promotion to the rank of Sergeant.
Police Chief Henry Pasqualini congratulated Sergeant Ambrose, who has served Newtown Township for sixteen years and achieved the highest rank on the promotional examination.
Sergeant Ambrose thanked the Chief, Judge Nasshorn and the Supervisors and he thanked his fellow officers and his family for their show of support in attending his swearing in ceremony.
Public Comment: Resident Shawn Ward, representing the Sycamore Street Community Association, reported that the SummerFest was a great success. He thanked everyone who participated. The Association also worked with NBPA on Welcome Day, held on Sycamore Street this year. A Halloween Festival is also in the planning stage. All of the planting beds are now sponsored. Donations from Green Parrot, Leck Family, United Color, Sycamore Kitchens, Burns Auto, Tyrol Insurance and the Sycamore Street Community Association will cover the cost of maintaining the flower beds.
Mick Petrucci, representing NBPA, announced that Welcome Day was a tremendous success, with over 10,000 visitors. The NBPA annual antique car show will be held Sunday, July 17 on State Street. NBPA also participated in the First Fourth celebration, which was a tremendous success. He thanked Joe Gordon for his efforts on the events of that day, including the Township/Borough softball game.
Resident Jim McBride, president of the Foxhall Estates Homeowners Association said that he has been working with Ms. Fountain to address a number of outstanding matters before the development is dedicated. He asked for the status of Orleans Homebuilders and the remaining escrow account.
Mr. Garton said that Orleans in out of bankruptcy, but the Township is handling the outstanding public improvements. No escrow is to be released until the Township Engineer has been satisfied that all outstanding improvements have been addressed.
Mr. McBride said that he has heard from some residents that a portion of the open space area had been used for dumping of construction debris, including certain hazardous materials.
Mr. Garton said that if this has occurred, construction debris is to be removed at the developer’s expense.
Mr. McBride said that the homeowners would like broken sidewalks repaired before dedication.
Ms. Fountain explained that Orleans had done most of the work; outstanding items were put out to bid and a contract was awarded to All Seasons. She suggested that the Township might want to accept dedication and address outstanding items during the 18 month maintenance period.
Mr. Garton suggested that Ms. Fountain look at the conditions and decide the best way to address the homeowners concerns.
Steven Dillenno, the Township’s trash and recycling contractor, was in attendance to introduce himself to the Board.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Schenkman said that page 7, paragraph 7 of the minutes of June 22, 2011 should read, “…should receive 50% of the rent, retroactive to the expiration of the prior lease.”
Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the minutes of June 22, 2011, as amended. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to approve payment of bills totaling $328,141.75. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher said that he would like to discuss reimbursement to the Fire Association for fundraising expenses.
Mr. Schenkman suggested that the Board meet with the Fire Association to discuss a policy regarding this.
Mr. Schenkman amended his motion to reduce the total by $1951.36 for Fire Association fundraising. Mr. Gallagher amended his second and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $201,303.08. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Schenkman noted that $175,000 of the transfer is for payroll expenses.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Sycamore Street Zoning: Lynn Bush, Executive Director of the Bucks County Planning Commission, was in attendance to review a draft Town Commercial Zoning District ordinance. She said that after her last meeting with the Supervisors, she made changes to her recommendations to include a review of the entire TC zoning district, to expand the definitions section, to review the sign regulations as they apply to the TC district, which is only in Newtown Township and to consider green building incentives.
Mr. Schenkman said that the ordinance has many uses by right and he would prefer to see more of those uses, including financial establishments, to require conditional use approval to give the Township better control of the individual uses.
Mr. Gallagher said that he would like to see twin dwellings and single family dwellings as conditional uses.
Mr. Benchener said he has a similar request for medical uses.
Mr. Garton reminded the Board that if an applicant meets the criteria in the ordinance, the Board cannot withhold conditional use approval.
Ms. Bush said that she has made some recommendations for performance standards, including minimum lot size for a single family dwelling. She is recommending that for mixed use there should be a certain ratio of the uses, such as 60/40, to avoid something like an apartment building with a newsstand.
Mr. Schenkman asked about grandfathering of non-conforming uses, as he is concerned about existing uses which would like to make changes or expansions. He also asked about discontinued uses.
Mr. Garton said that non-conforming uses can change ownership; non-conforming uses can expand by special exception. If a use is discontinued it is not lost if an effort is being made to market that use.
Ms. Bush said that the JMZO allows discontinuance for up to six months.
Mr. Schenkman said that the Joint Historic Commission has some concerns about historic preservation and is seeking to expand the historic district further down Sycamore Street. It has written to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to make inquiries about this.
Mr. Gallagher expressed some concern about the appointed volunteer committees approaching State agencies without the Supervisors’ knowledge or approval.
Mr. Benchener asked about the efforts in Doylestown Borough toward certain green building incentives.
Ms. Bush said that it is her understanding that the efforts have been well received; she agreed to provide more detailed information to the Board.
Resident Shawn Ward, representing the Sycamore Street Community Association, said that the Association’s government committee would like an opportunity to review Ms. Bush’s memo and discuss it with her. The Association is supportive of some adjustments to the sign regulations in the TC district and of moving “financial establishments” to a conditional use. He noted that the vision of the Sycamore Street Committee has always been mixed use, with retail at first floor, residential above. There is concern about the open parking field as a use. He asked about approvals for First National Bank and Trust to use the former St. Andrew’s School site as a private, non-accessory, parking lot; there is some concern that Sycamore Street is being used to address the Borough’s parking problem. He suggested that the revised ordinance address parking structures.
Mr. Gallagher said that perhaps representatives of the Sycamore Street Association should meet with the Board at a work session to address their ideas and concerns.
Mr. Ward noted that making too many uses as conditional uses can burden development; some uses should be by right. He did agree that single family and twin dwellings might work well as conditional uses.
The Board agreed that the Sycamore Street Association should meet at a work session to further discuss the TC ordinance. Mr. Schenkman suggested that Newtown Borough be notified of such meeting.
Board Members: Mr. Benchener thanked all who helped make the 1 st Fourth celebration a success.
Mr. Calabro commended Dr. Ciervo’s recent efforts to sponsor a “run over cancer” which raised $36,000 for research into pancreatic cancer. He thanked Dr. Ciervo for his efforts for a very worthy cause.
Mr. Gallagher announced that the Township’s wind turbine is now up and running; he is proud of the Township’s efforts at energy conservation, including the LEED certification for the municipal complex, the wind turbine and the composting restrooms.
Foxhall Estates Pay Estimate #2, Final: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment to All Seasons Landscaping in the amount of $10,639.85 for Foxhall Estates. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. Garton noted that $350,000 remains in the escrow fund, which is sufficient to cover any outstanding work including an 18 month maintenance period for the trees.
Newtown Athletic Club Development Agreement and Stormwater Management Agreement: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize signing of the NAC development and stormwater management agreements. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Cricklewood Green Office Park , Project Extension: Mr. Garton explained that he has received correspondence from Don Marshall, attorney for Cricklewood Green, asking to extend the 2005 extension on approvals for completion of the project, which is now set to expire on December 31, 2011.
Hal Hoeland, project manager of Cricklewood Green, explained that the fully approved plan was for five office buildings, associated parking, renovation of the farmhouse and barn for meeting space. Three of the buildings have been completed and the farmhouse has been renovated. Two of the buildings are occupied and in recent months there has been renewed interest in the third building. At the time of approval all fees for the entire project were paid and all public improvements had been installed. Two buildings and the barn meeting space have yet to be built and the parking for those buildings has not yet been installed. Mr. Hoeland is asking for an extension of approvals to protect the plans from any future zoning changes.
Mr. Gallagher asked whether these plans were not included in an automatic extension granted by the State.
Mr. Garton said that extension runs through 2013; Cricklewood Green is asking to extend approvals through 2017.
Mr. Hoeland said that he is hoping the economy will improve and the buildings can be completed. He noted that he has extended the Township’s requirement to spend the impact fees.
Mr. Schenkman asked if there is a downside to granting the extension.
Mr. Garton said that this would only be an issue if the Township were eager to fight commercial development.
Mr. Schenkman said that this is one of the nicest business facilities he has seen.
Mr. Gallagher moved to extend the approvals for Cricklewood Green through December 31, 2017. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Police Report: Police Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that the Department had responded to 1219 calls in the last month, including three burglary investigations, 13 thefts, 10 drug arrests and 12 fraud investigations. He thanked the Board for its support during the department’s promotional process. He said that the Department has partnered with the District Attorney and Council Rock School District to purchase a drug drop box for unused prescription drugs. He noted that it is important to dispose of prescription drugs, particularly narcotics, which are no longer needed, so they do not fall into the wrong hands.
Mr. Schenkman commented on the number of auto break-ins he has seen in the police reports recently.
Chief Pasqualini said that it is believed that groups of teens are walking through the neighborhoods at night opening cars and taking the loose change and other items left unlocked. He urged residents to lock their cars and close their garage doors and not to leave valuables in plain sight. He also urged residents to use security lights and leave night lights on as a preventive measure.
Mr. Garton noted the large number of false alarms and asked whether there are consequences for repeat calls.
Chief Pasqualini said that there is a fee after the third call. He agreed to discuss with the manager changing the fee to after two false alarms.
Mr. Schenkman asked for an update on the Roberts Ridge Park vandalism.
Chief Pasqualini said that this is still under investigation. There had been a recent arrest for graffiti. He and the Park and Recreation Director have included security lighting and cameras for the parks in their capital budgets.
Mr. Calabro asked whether there have been continued complaints about the skate park.
Chief Pasqualini said that he has been closely monitoring use; there have been no complaints and use is down somewhat because of the heat.
Mr. Benchener asked whether traffic calming at Penns Trail would be on the work session agenda.
Mr. Czajkowski said that TMA has offered to do a review of the traffic at that location. The review will not be until later in the month, so he would like to postpone the discussion until the report is completed. He agreed to notify homeowners associations and residents of Upper Silver Lake Road when this is to be on an agenda.
Mr. Gallagher said that he would like the truck unit to increase enforcement to address residents’ complaints about quarry trucks.
Mr. Benchener announced that there would be an executive session after the meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary