Board of Supervisors
Minutes of August 10, 2011
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on August 10, 2011 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener, and Philip Calabro and Michael Gallagher, members. Also in attendance were: Joseph Czajkowski, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Call to Order : Mr. Benchener called the regular meeting to order at 7:30 PM with a moment of silence and an invocation by Dr. Leon Vial of Newtown Church. This was followed by the pledge of allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski announced that the Beneficial Bank presentation and Pension Manager Discussion have been removed from the agenda.
Resident Jim McBride, representing Foxhall Estates Homeowners Association, said that the Homeowners Association had contracted with a radar detection firm to look for buried debris on Foxhall common grounds. The Township has excavated a portion of the area and found construction debris, including plastic, glass, metal, concrete and paint. This was buried only about four feet deep. He asked the Board how to proceed on this matter, as there is nothing in the final plan showing a construction dump site.
Mr. Gallagher said that the Township has withheld escrow funds for completion of certain public amenities.
Ms. Fountain said that there is a difference of opinion between the Township staff and the HOA on this. Public Works and CKS were on site with a backhoe and excavated the areas marked by the HOA using the radar and found debris which filled a five gallon bucket. CKS contacted DEP, which felt that as there is no liquid, no batteries and no odor, there is no danger to residents. CKS feels the Township has excavated all of the sites where debris was detected and has removed it.
Mr. Garton noted that the Township has also notified Orleans of this issue and is awaiting a response regarding this. Escrow is still being held by the Township.
Mr. Gallagher asked Mr. Garton to contact Orleans to do additional testing to determine whether all of the buried debris has been uncovered.
Mr. McBride asked Ms. Fountain to provide the Homeowners Association with a punch list of all outstanding issues.
Ms. Fountain said that the project has been certified as complete. Any outstanding issues are to be part of the 18 month maintenance period. She suggested that she meet privately with Mr. McBride to discuss his concerns in greater detail.
Resident Mark Joseph said that he is a coach of both Little League and Rock Softball. He is concerned about the conditions at Veterans Park and asked the Board for an update as to when the fields will be available for play.
Mr. Gallagher said that the Supervisors have been disappointed with the performance of the park contractors, which have failed to deliver playing fields in a timely fashion. The Board is still involved in planning a legal strategy to address the park and is not free to discuss conditions in detail.
Mr. Joseph noted that the next growing season is rapidly approaching and he would like any legal issues addressed so that re-grading and reseeding can begin in the fall.
Mr. Garton said that the Township is seeking advice from experts on the appropriate remedy for the fields and is waiting for a response so that action can be taken in the next growing season while also pursuing legal remediation.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh announced that the Newtown Creek Coalition’s clean-up day on Saturday had been very successful. He thanked the volunteers and Waste Management, which provided a dumpster and carted the trash.
Mr. Sensibaugh said that he has been reviewing the Township’s 2010 audit and noted a discrepancy of $250,000 in the Township’s general fund in the 2011 budget compared to the audit. He asked how such an error was made and what would be done to prevent such errors going forward.
Mr. Czajkowski said that this is not an error, but a difference between the expected and actual amounts in the general fund. The budget was prepared using numbers available from October and November. Budgeted and audited numbers are rarely the same.
Mr. Gallagher noted that throughout the budget season Mr. Sensibaugh had been asking for the general fund balance to date, and Mr. Czajkowski came to each Supervisors meeting prepared with that day’s balance.
Mr. Sensibaugh asked about other deficits which appeared in the audit, including a $37,847 deficit in the recreation capital fund, a capital project deficit of $14,520 and a Woll tract deficit of $24,604.
Mr. Benchener said that these are deficits from the recreation capital, capital project and Woll tract funds, not debts, as the Township spent more than it brought in at the end of the fiscal year for these funds. The expenses were paid by the general fund, and as impact fees have been collected, the general fund has been reimbursed.
Mr. Sensibaugh asked if all of the deficits have been made up.
Mr. Czajkowski said that the Township has collected impact fees in excess of the numbers quoted above. There have been no further transfers from the general fund.
Mr. Sensibaugh urged the Board to stop deficit spending; it is unacceptable and unsustainable.
Mr. Calabro expressed some concern that the Township might not be taking in enough to cover the deficit.
Mr. Benchener agreed that the Township spent more than it took in, due in part to long term plans made before the economy turned down. He noted the municipal complex and labor contracts which were signed during a different economic climate. The Board has tried to address decreased revenues by making efficiencies where possible and using some of the reserve to carry the Township through the downturn.
Mr. Calabro asked what the current reserve fund balance is.
Mr. Czajkowski said that balance is $1.7 million.
Mr. Calabro suggested that since budget discussion had not been an agenda item, this discussion should be tabled and perhaps added to an upcoming agenda.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Mr. Garton explained that the three Board members present would need to pass motions unanimously in the absence of a full Board.
Minutes: Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the minutes of July 27, 2011. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 3-0.
Bills: Mr. Gallagher moved to approve payment of bills totaling $714,098.57. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro asked about a number of payments to Newtown Swim Club.
Mr. Czajkowski said this was payment for instructors, etc., for recreation programs.
The motion passed 3-0
Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $282,899.78 Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 3-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Appointment to Planning Commission: Mr. Gallagher moved to appoint Craig Deutsch to the Planning Commission. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher said that Mr. Deutsch is an experienced architect and planner and would be a good addition to the Planning Commission.
Mr. Calabro moved to appoint Dick Weaver, a former Township Supervisor, to the Planning Commission.
Mr. Gallagher said that since it appears that the full Board might wish to participate in this discussion of this action, he would withdraw his motion.
Mr. Calabro withdrew his motion.
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that at its August 2, 2011 meeting the Commission reviewed the application of David Wheeler, owner of Red Berry Yogurt for a frozen yogurt shop, uses E-5 and E-6, in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center, 2830 South Eagle Road. It should be noted that the use E-6 refers to carry out service; no drive through service is proposed. The Commission reviewed the application and recommended that the Supervisors grant conditional use approval subject to certain conditions, including that outdoor seating be limited to a few benches in front of the shop and that deliveries be made during off peak hours. The applicant indicated that he would allow his vendors access to the premises when the business is closed, early in the morning. The Commission also suggested that the applicant amend his application to include hours of operation from 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM to accommodate his busy season and special events, and to include the maximum number of employees he might expect during his opening weeks.
Mr. Fidler thanked the Board for attempting to address the vacancy on the Planning Commission, as the Commission has struggled with attendance due to members’ other commitments.
Mr. Benchener asked about the E-5 and E-6 uses.
Mr. Fidler said that the E-5, eating place, addresses restaurants, only. Most restaurants also offer carry out service of some kind, and expect a certain percentage of the business to be carry out, so most applications must include the E-6 use. E-6 is defined as both a drive through window and carry-out service. The Commission would like to consider some modification to the ordinance to allow for some percentage of carry out business to be included in the E-5 use and for E-6 to address the drive through component.
Mr. Gallagher suggested that the Board and Planning Commission discuss this further at a joint work session.
Reports of Officials
Red Berry Yogurt, 2830 South Eagle Road, Conditional Use: Mr. Benchener opened the hearing.
Mr. Garton explained that this is an application for conditional use approval for uses E-5 eating place and E-6 eating place/drive-in in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center. The application has been advertised on July 21 and 28, 2011 in the Newtown Advance. The application and Planning Commission recommendation are incorporated into the record. Conditions of the Planning Commission recommendation are as follows:
David Wheeler was sworn in. Mr. Wheeler explained that he will have only one vendor, who will deliver twice weekly in a six wheel refrigerated truck. Deliveries take about 10-15 minutes. The vendor cannot guarantee the time of delivery, as this will be one stop on the route. He showed the Board a photograph of the truck and one of a delivery parking space outlined in the roadway in front of his shop. He asked the Board to permit twice weekly deliveries in the designated delivery spot without a restriction on the time of delivery. His shop is in a phase of Village at Newtown with few other restaurant uses and few front entrance deliveries. He will provide a key so that deliveries can be made when the shop is closed. He does not want deliveries during times when the shop is busy and would interfere with the customers, but the vendor cannot agree to a restriction.
Mr. Benchener asked whether it would be possible to restrict deliveries during peak hours of 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Mr. Garton explained that the applicant has no choice of vendors for his products and no control over deliveries, as this is one stop along a route.
Mr. Gallagher expressed some concern that approval for this owner would carry with the property to future occupants who might not be as cooperative.
Mr. Garton suggested that approval could be restricted to this applicant, only. The deliveries could be restricted to no tractor trailers and only twice per week.
Mr. Calabro noted that the truck seems very large and would block traffic if stopping during peak times. He asked whether there are other Red Berry shops in the area and whether other spaces are available in the shopping center with rear entrances.
Mr. Wheeler said that he is opening a second store in Lower Makefield, which will be a stop along the delivery route. This is the only small shop available in the shopping center. It is 1,000 square feet; the only other small shop is 1,600 square feet, which is too large for this business.
The Board expressed concerns about traffic during peak times and possible deliveries to other businesses also arriving together. Mr. Gallagher suggested that the applicant speak to his neighbors to get their approval to the delivery arrangements.
Mr. Garton suggested that the Board approve the application for this applicant only, for two deliveries per week and with no tractor trailer deliveries.
After further discussion the Board agreed that the applicant should return with letters of agreement from his immediate neighbors and Bagel Junction.
Mr. Garton said that he would speak to the applicant to outline content of such letters.
Mr. Gallagher moved to table the application of Red Berry Yogurt to August 24, 2011. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 3-0.
Bucks County Community College – Waiver of Land Development Agreements: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that it has agreed to waive land development for the College’s proposed gym deck improvements provided the College signed waiver agreements with the Township.
R. Gallagher moved to authorize signing of waiver of land development agreements with Bucks County Community College. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher reminded residents that the Board had discussed the College’s involvement with the Newtown community.
The motion passed 3-0.
Police Report: Police Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that the Department had responded to 1,180 calls for service in the past month. There have been many thefts from vehicles recently, but Detective Bush has recovered a large number of stolen items. Residents can contact Detective Bush to reclaim their missing property here at the Police building. He urged residents to lock their cars at all times and not leave valuable items in plain sight. Chief Pasqualini also reminded residents not to give personal information over the phone when called by banks or other institutions. These calls are part of scams to steal identities. It is better to hang up and telephone your bank yourself to determine if information is, in fact, needed. The Police Department is installing a drug drop box in the police building lobby for prescription drugs.
Mr. Calabro asked about the calls to check well-being.
Chief Pasqualini explained that sometimes neighbors will notice newspapers and mail piling up next door and ask the Department to check on a neighbor, or a relative might not be able to reach someone by phone after repeated calls. The Department will check on the well-being of these residents, who may be ill.
Police Sallyport Addition: Mr. Czajkowski reported that the Department has received two bids for the site design, foundation and installation of a prefabricated sallyport for the police building. Donovan and Associates, who designed the municipal building, has bid $28,000 and Boyle Construction, the manager of the municipal construction, bid $19,550.
Chief Pasqualini explained that the sallyport is a garage-like building that the police would use when transporting prisoners from patrol cars to the detention area in the building. The sallyport can be closed so that prisoners cannot escape and run out onto the road. It is for the safety and protection of both the officers and the prisoners.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he and Chief Pasqualini recommend Boyle Construction.
Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the bid of Boyle Construction for design, foundation and installation of a prefabricated sallyport. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 3-0.
Mr. Calabro asked how long it would take to complete this project.
Mr. Czajkowski said it would go up quickly. The prefabricated building would also have to be bid, unless a product is available under state contract.
Mr. Calabro questioned whether the Township can accept donations meant specifically for a certain use, such as LSAC’s recent offer of $6000 for a skate park fence. He asked how it would be deposited.
Mr. Garton said that this is a conditional gift; it would go into the general or park and recreation fund, but the Township would be obliged to meet the condition, such as the fence.
Mr. Calabro said that he recalled the Township had been unable to accept a donation once offered for tennis courts at the Woll tract because the Township did not have an appropriate account for the gift.
Mr. Gallagher said that he recalled that the tennis court offer would have required some matching contribution from the Township, but that tennis courts had been removed from the Woll tract plans before the plans were finalized.
Mr. Benchener announced that the Board would not meet for an executive session.
The meeting adjourned at 9:20 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary