Board of Supervisors
Minutes of October 12, 2011
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on October 12, 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 in attendance were: Joseph Czajkowski, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Call to Order : Dr. Ciervo called the regular meeting to order at 7:35 PM with a moment of silence. An invocation by Reverend Paul Chreiman of Newtown United Methodist Church and the pledge of allegiance followed.
AED Donation: Craig Spector of CPR Heart Starters was in attendance to present the Police Department with an automated external defibrillator. Officer Paul Deppi, the Police Department’s AED trainer, thanked Mr. Spector on behalf of the Department for the lifesaving equipment.
Special Commendations for Police Officers: Police Chief Henry Pasqualini presented Life Saving Award Commendations to Officers Julius Ferraro and Danial Bell and Sergeant Kim Hartman for responding to and preventing a suicide and administering first aid at the scene in March of this year and to Officer Ferraro for crisis intervention during a fire-arm stand-off situation in June of this year.
Chief Pasqualini presented commendations to Detective Christopher Bush and Officer Bell for their investigation into the vandalism at Roberts Ridge Park which led to the arrest of those responsible for the very extensive damage to the playground and restrooms in the Park. Chief Pasqualini praised all of these Officers for their dedication and hard work to keep our community safe.
On behalf of the Board and the Township, Dr. Ciervo thanked the Department.
Resident Mark Joseph asked for an update on Veterans Park.
Dr. Ciervo reported that turf work on the fields has been completed.
Mr. Czajkowski confirmed that work, as outlined in the Penn State recommendations, has been completed and grass is beginning to germinate at the fields. He did not know when the fields would be ready for play.
Mr. Joseph said that he had been assured that the fields would be dedicated and available for play next spring, but he questioned whether this is still a possibility.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Township has been disappointed with the progress on the fields up to this point, but it appears that work to remedy the situation has been completed and now we must wait to see whether the grass grows and fills in to be suitable for play.
Mr. Schenkman confirmed that he has visited the park on numerous occasions and had observed some areas where the grass has begun to germinate, but he continues to have concerns that all bare spots will fill in. He expressed some concern that growing grass adequate for play could be a chronic problem.
Mr. Joseph asked what the Board will do if the problem is not remedied by the measures recently undertaken and when the alternate plan will be put into motion.
Dr. Ciervo said that he understood the frustration of residents with the field problem but at this point we must wait to see whether the grass will grow in the fall and then come back in the spring. Once the Township has determined that the fields are acceptable for dedication, then a decision will be made as to whether the fields are suitable for play.
Mr. Joseph said that all deadlines have passed and it is time to move onto an alternate plan. He asked whether there are plans for irrigation should the spring and summer be very dry next year.
Mr. Calabro said that there is no irrigation equipment in place; this feature had been removed from the original plan because of budget constraints.
Resident Jay Sensibaugh said that he has reviewed the Township audit conducted by Major and Mastro, which shows a deficit in the general fund on December 31, 2010 of $838,331. Included in the deficits are $24,604 in the Woll Tract fund, $37,847 in the recreation capital fund and an overstatement of capital assets. He urged the Board to provide the public with budget information prior to the beginning of public hearings on next year’s budget and to work toward avoiding deficits next year.
Resident John D’Aprile said that he feels discussion of the Veterans Park field conditions is politically motivated. It takes a long time to grow a good lawn, sometimes as long as four years. He also feels that all of the Township’s deficits are caused by recreation spending. The Township spends too much money on parks and recreation.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of September 21, 2011. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to approve payment of bills totaling $618,201.69. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Gallagher noted that a large portion of this bills list includes money passed through from the State. He asked about expenses for a donated motorcycle.
Mr. Czajkowski said that a motorcycle was donated to the Township’s Police Department; the expense is for radio equipment for the motorcycle. The Department now has three motorcycles.
Mr. Gallagher asked about expenses to repair Roberts Ridge Park.
Mr. Czajkowski reported that the insurance has a $1000 deductible; the Township has received $17000 in insurance payments for repairs which will begin shortly. The composting mechanisms were not damaged, only the fan and solar panel, which will be replaced.
Mr. Schenkman asked about additional security for the parks in light of the recent vandalism.
Mr. Gallagher said that the Police Department and Park and Recreation Department have included security lighting and cameras in their capital budgets for next year. Meanwhile it is his understanding that the Police Department has increased patrols in the parks.
Mr. Sensibaugh asked what would remain in the general fund after payment of these bills.
Mr. Czajkowski said that there is over $2 million remaining, less the pension contributions.
Dr. Ciervo noted that the revenues continue to come in; the earned income tax for residents is already higher than what had been budgeted, which could indicate that residents are getting raises and their incomes are improving.
Mr. Schenkman noted that it could also indicate that some residents have taken second jobs to make ends meet.
The motion passed 5-0
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $626,885.23 Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Schenkman said that the transfers are primarily for payroll expenses.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Chairman’s Report: Dr. Ciervo said that he would like the Board to discuss the proposed redevelopment of the former Stockburger property on State Street in Newtown Borough and the transitional neighborhood ordinance drafted to allow this development. If the project moves forward as it has been shown, it would greatly impact the Township’s traffic. He has asked the Planning Commission to review this ordinance and discuss it, but it has not yet been added to an agenda. If the project seeks conditional use approval in the Borough, he asked the Board to consider whether the Township should seek party status in the hearings. It is his understanding that the currently considered project would redevelop over seven acres for 150 residential condominiums and large retail and office space, plus a possible parking garage facility.
Mr. Benchener said that he is supportive of the Township’s participation, as he had been when the Board had agreed to participate in the Aria Hospital zoning appeal in Lower Makefield. Although neither the Stockburger nor Aria plans are in the Township, they would greatly impact our residents, particularly as they will increase traffic through the Township.
Mr. Gallagher said that he is not opposed to seeking party status as it leaves the Township’s options open. He asked whether the Township would have a right to appeal any decisions it did not support without party status in the initial proceedings.
Mr. Garton confirmed that only parties to the proceedings would have a right to appeal.
Mr. Schenkman said that he feels the discussion is premature, as no plan has been presented for approval as of yet. Once a plan has been submitted the Township will have an opportunity to review it and discuss an appropriate response. He questioned whether this discussion is not politically motivated.
Dr. Ciervo said that he recently read in the newspaper that the developer would be submitting plans. He thought that because of the Board’s staggered meeting schedule, this could be the only opportunity to discuss the matter before it goes to the Borough Council.
Mr. Schenkman noted that the Township residents who live in close proximity to the project can seek party status if they are concerned. The Borough is our neighbor and it might be more prudent to seek information and attend Borough meetings to learn more about the project before sending lawyers to become directly involved.
Dr. Ciervo said that even if the Township did not actively participate in the proceedings, having party status give the Township options; he noted that the Township has taken a similar position with the Aria Hospital proceedings.
Mr. Schenkman reminded the Board that Lower Makefield’s Supervisors had asked the Township to participate in its proceedings.
Mr. Calabro said that he feels Township involvement at this time would be insulting to Newtown Borough. Each Board member is free to express his own opinions at Borough Council but as no formal plan has been submitted, voting to participate is premature. He did agree that the original concepts presented would have a negative impact on the Township, but he preferred to wait until a plan has been presented for review.
Mr. Gallagher said that he was offended by accusations of political motivation in this discussion.
Dr. Ciervo said again that he had read about plans in the newspaper and thought a submission of plans would be imminent.
Dr. Ciervo moved to authorize the Township Solicitor to seek party status in any conditional use application to Newtown Borough for the Stockburger redevelopment. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. D’Aprile said that this is not a political matter; the plans will impact Township traffic and we should be participants in the hearings.
The motion passed 3-2, with Messrs. Calabro and Schenkman voting nay.
Board Members Reports: Mr. Calabro reported that the Park and Recreation Board’s regular meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, October 13 at 7:00 PM. Representatives of Gilmore & Associates will be in attendance to update the Board on Veterans Park.
Reports of Officials
2011 Roadway Improvement Program: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize payment #1 of the 2011 Roadway Improvement Program to Mid Atlantic Site Contractors in the amount of $15,396.30. Mr. Schenkman seconded.
Discussion of motion: Ms. Fountain explained that this payment is for inlet replacements in the area around Fountain Farm Lane. The next payment will be larger and will include Wrights Road.
The motion passed 5-0.
Corner Bakery Café, 3 West Road – Conditional Use: Mr. Garton explained that the applicant wishes to open a restaurant, uses E-5 eating place and E-6 carry out in a 5,000 square foot building in the Newtown Shopping Center in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District. The application has been advertised on September 22 and 29, 2011. The application and review letters of the Township Consultants have been incorporated into the record.
Dr. Ciervo opened the hearing and asked if anyone in attendance wished party status. There was no response.
Attorney Don Marshall represented the applicant. Jason Rose was sworn in.
Mr. Marshall said that the Planning Commission has reviewed this plan and recommended approval for a 5000 square foot sandwich shop restaurant in a free standing building formerly occupied by Blockbuster Video. The restaurant proposes 119 seats, hours of operation Monday through Saturday from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM and Sunday from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. There will be a total of 20 employees with a maximum of ten per shift. This use is permitted in the PC district by conditional use. There are 1122 parking spaces in the shopping center with 174 spaces held in reserve. There will be daily box truck deliveries of produce and tractor trailer deliveries three times per week during off-peak hours. The plan shows an area originally marked as a community room. This will not be additional seating, but rather a private dining room available for business breakfast meetings for the Rose Group. The applicant is removing the patio from the original application at this time, as it would require some zoning relief. The shopping center has been granted prior zoning relief for 9’X18’ parking stalls and for 51% impervious surface. The applicant has not seen the full signage package yet, but is not seeking signage relief at this time. No signs will be in the windows or on the awnings. The applicant will comply with the review letters and the Planning Commission’s recommended conditions.
Dr. Ciervo expressed some concern about parking. The area surrounding the building has only 50 parking spaces. If this use were not part of the shopping center more spaces would be required.
Ms. Fountain noted that the business would require 70 spaces if it were not part of a shopping center with shared parking.
Mr. Marshall noted that the shopping center use has 5.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet. He suggested that the Township could monitor parking and if it was deemed needed, it could require installation of the 174 reserve spaces. The applicant cannot compel the installation of the spaces; that must come from the Township.
Mr. Benchener said that he did not see this as an issue to be resolved this evening. The parking will be self-regulating. Inadequate parking will impact the business.
The Board discussed the location of the reserve parking; Ms. Fountain pointed out the areas currently held in green.
Mr. Garton reviewed the conditions recommended by the Planning Commission which specifically mentioned the parking concerns as follows:
Mr. Benchener asked what kind of traffic calming could be appropriate at this location.
Ms. Fountain explained that the Planning Commission was concerned that customers of the restaurant might park on the opposite side of West Road, near The Gap, and walk across the street. They envisioned a possible need for signage and/or a raised crosswalk.
Mr. Marshall said that the applicant would work with the shopping center owner on traffic calming measures, but that only the Township can require the owners to build the reserve parking spaces.
Mr. Calabro said that he is concerned that the restaurant’s parking needs could be a burden to the TD Bank, which shares the same parking area and similar busy hours, particularly at the lunch hour. He also had some concern that people parked on the Acme side of the street might not use the crosswalks. He pointed out some parking in Village at Newtown which is rarely used to capacity near the medical offices and insurance office. He suggested installing some kind of path between the two shopping centers. This would eliminate the need to cross the street to go from one parking area to another.
Mr. Marshall noted that the two shopping centers have two different owners. While the applicant would agree to working with both the install such a path, it would require help from the Township to encourage cooperation of the two owners.
Mr. Schenkman said that he thought it would be a good solution, but the path between parking lots could not be a condition of approval since it would require the cooperation of the two owners. He favored leaving the original conditions suggested by the Planning Commission.
Mr. Gallagher suggested waiving the reserve parking if the path were installed. This could be an incentive for the shopping center to cooperate.
Ms. Fountain noted that the Board should not waive the need for reserve because if other uses change in the shopping center, the reserve parking might be needed.
Mr. Garton said that the path cannot be a condition and it cannot be forced. He suggested that if the Township were to require the installation of the reserve parking, this could serve as a negotiation point with the center owners. If the path is installed, approvals can be amended to eliminate the need to install the reserve parking.
Mr. Gallagher moved to approve conditional use for the Corner Bakery Café for an E-5 eating place and E-6 drive-through/carry out eating place at 3 West Road, in the PC, Planned Commercial Zoning District, subject to the following conditions :
Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Benchener moved to direct the Township staff to meet with the applicant and the Newtown Shopping Center and Village at Newtown Shopping Center owners to discuss connecting the parking from the Bank of America section of Village at Newtown to the pad site #4 section of Newtown Shopping Center by means of a path, instead of requiring installation of the reserve parking at Newtown Shopping Center.
Discussion of motion: Ms. Fountain noted that the installation of a path could impact Village at Newtown’s impervious surface calculations, but that this could be worked out.
The motion passed 5-0.
The Birches Conditional Use: Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize signing of the conditional use decision for The Birches, WEN-Hamilton, 54-84 Durham Road. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Salt Bids: Mr. Czajkowski presented the Bucks County Consortium 2011-12 salt bids and the recommendation of Public Works Director Gary Crossland to accept the bid of International Salt Co., LLC for $52.77 per ton delivered.
Mr. Gallagher moved to accept the bid of International Salt Co., LLC for salt for the 2011/12 season. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Benchener noted the increase of price since last year and asked whether the Township could over-purchase and hold salt from year to year.
Mr. Czajkowski explained that the Township has the ability to purchase and hold salt until the next year, however there is not any place to store a large quantity from one year to the next. The Township has purchased at the end of a season to hold over until the next, when possible.
The motion passed 5-0.
Police Report: Chief Pasqualini reported that the Department has responded to 1116 calls in the past month, including 24 theft reports, 12 from vehicles. There has been an increase in calls for mental health issues. The Township is partnering with Newtown Borough on another drug take back program on Saturday, October 15 here in the Township Building. The Chief again urged residents to phone the Police if they see anything suspicious in their neighborhoods and to keep their cars locked.
Mr. Schenkman asked about the report of a stolen car found.
Chief Pasqualini explained that a car had been stolen elsewhere and abandoned in the Township where another car was then stolen. The stolen car was left unlocked. He has been in contact with the police departments of neighboring communities and learned that the car break-ins are happening throughout the area. The departments are working together to solve the problem and arrest the thieves, but he again urged everyone to keep their cars locked at all times.
Police Building Lower Level Renovations: Ken Duerholz of Boyle Construction was in attendance to review the proposals for renovation of the lower level room. Ivyland Enterprises was the low bidder at $9,260.
Chief Pasqualini said that Ivyland had done the renovations to the administrative offices in the Police Building. The proposed renovations will allow the Department to eliminate the trailer. The detective unit will be moved into the lower level.
Mr. Gallagher moved to award the bid for renovation of the police building lower level room to Ivyland Enterprises. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo noted that the renovations will be funded by the remaining funds in the municipal bond for the municipal complex.
The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Duerholz asked the Board to approve the CMU and Stucco Masonry System for construction of the police sally port at a cost of $164,000. He showed a comparison of the masonry with the wood frame and recommended the masonry as more appropriate for the proposed use. The cost does not include relocation of utilities, although no utilities will need to be relocated.
Mr. Gallagher noted that this is the last of the expenditures from the municipal construction project.
Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the masonry construction for the police sally port. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro asked if there is any room for negotiation of the price.
Mr. Garton said that this is an estimate. The construction will still have to go to public bid.
The motion passed 5-0.
Old Business: Mr. Calabro asked whether the Township could open Veterans Park for a public walk through.
Mr. Czajkowski said that he would schedule a walk through open to residents after November 1.
Dr. Ciervo announced that the Board had met in executive session before the meeting to discuss matters of personnel and litigation.
The meeting adjourned at 10:00 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary