Board of Supervisors
Minutes of November 16, 2011
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on November 16, 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 Pastor Chris McCloskey of Grace Point Church and the pledge of allegiance followed.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski announced that Beneficial Bank Land Development and the PECO Green Grant have been removed from the agenda and a report on the Stockburger project has been added to the Solicitor’s Report.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of October 26, 2011. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Gallagher moved to approve the minutes of the budget meeting of November 2, 2011. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Benchener abstaining.
Bills: Mr. Schenkman moved to approve payment of bills totaling $459,721.52. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0
Mr. Gallagher noted that a large portion of the total amount is for employee health insurance premiums.
Mr. Schenkman moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $334,060.42 Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Dr. Ciervo announced that the Township is seeking volunteers to serve on its many committees, boards and commissions. He asked interested residents to send letters or e-mails to the Township Manager firstname.lastname@example.org or one of the supervisors to be appointed in 2012. The deadline to be considered is December 16, 2011.
Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month: Dr. Ciervo said that November has been recognized as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month by the United States Congress, and read the resolution for Newtown Township.
Dr. Ciervo moved to adopt Resolution 2011-R-10, acknowledging November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. Mr. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman asked whether the Township should adopt a resolution acknowledging every November rather than adopting it annually.
Dr. Ciervo said that he believes that the United States Congress, the states and local governments adopt these resolutions annually to call attention to the disease and in the hope that through education and awareness the statistics included in the resolution will change and improve in years to come.
The motion passed 5-0.
Sycamore Street Update: Bucks County Planning Commission Executive Director Lynn Bush reported that she had met with representatives of the Sycamore Street Community Association to review proposed changes to the TC District zoning which are being considered by the Planning Commission and Supervisors. The Sycamore Street representatives were supportive of the proposed changes and discussed a few points in depth:
Mr. Gallagher said that he is supportive of the different heights on the east and west sides. He had some concerns about removing parking as a permitted use. As the street develops, parking will be needed and he would not want to restrict this.
Ms. Bush said that parking as an accessory would be permitted, but not public lots or garages.
The members discussed the future parking needs and agreed that some provision for parking should be permitted, but possibly not directly on Sycamore Street. Other town centers, such as Doylestown Borough and Princeton, have parking lots and garages, but not directly on the main street.
Ms. Bush said that performance standards could be added to the language to restrict the use but permit it as an accessory. She said that the ordinance would not distinguish between a municipal parking lot or a garage/parking lot as a business.
The members discussed restricting drive through service for financial establishments. Ms. Bush said that she would research whether these generate additional traffic.
The members discussed prohibiting single family dwelling as a permitted use. Dr. Ciervo had some concern about creating non-conforming uses, as there are a few single family homes on the street.
Mr. Schenkman agreed, noting that it becomes difficult to renovate or sell a non-conforming property. He did note that some single family homes are also used for small business offices or shops, and such second uses can enhance the business district.
Ms. Bush suggested that certain performance standards could be added to restrict, while not prohibiting, single family houses, which could then be permitted as a conditional use. The minimum lot size in the TC District is 7500 square feet; a larger lot size could be required for new single family dwellings. She suggested 12000 square feet.
Mr. Garton said that it is possible to carve out existing properties from any restrictions placed on single family dwellings.
Dr. Ciervo noted some confusion in the language regarding museums and galleries which would need clarification.
Ms. Bush asked about green building bonuses. She suggested that she could provide the members with information on the initiative used in Doylestown Borough.
The members agreed that they would prefer to address this later and would want to proceed with the ordinance now without green building bonuses.
Ms. Bush said that signage would also need to be addressed. She suggested that this could also be done at a later time. She would draft the proposed ordinance and forward it to the Township Manager.
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that at its November 15, 2011 meeting the Commission reviewed two residential Zoning Hearing Board applications. Bryan and Joann Mills, 1 Hillside Road, wish a variance for an addition to their home and Chris Bilski wishes a variance for a swimming pool. The Commission had not comment on these. The Commission also reviewed the application of Newtown Raquetball Club for a number of variances, including use variances for an outdoor pool and snack bar, parking variances and setback variances for the Raquetball Club expansion for a baseball academy, a large multi-purpose practice field and outdoor pool complex. The Commission recommended that the Supervisors support this application, as the NAC has been an asset to the community and is a good use for the property. Our only concern is that the setback variance references lights on poles higher than 15 feet. The Commission wants to be clear that the variance is for setback relief only; any lighting would still need to be reviewed as part of land development.
The Commission reviewed the application of Beneficial Bank, 34 South Sycamore Street, for conditional use approval for use E-4, financial establishment on a 1.829 acre lot in the TC Town Commercial zoning district. The applicant proposes to develop a 3,186 square foot bank with associated parking, access drive improvements, landscaping and stormwater management facilities. The Plan has been revised to show a 16 foot setback on the Sycamore Street side of the building. The Commission spent a great deal of time reviewing the requirements of JMZO Section 1301 (B), which requires that the use be consistent with the spirit, purposes and intent of the applicable district, is not a detriment to the properties in the immediate vicinity. Is in harmony with the existing or intended character of the vicinity and is suitable in terms of effects on highway traffic and safety. The Township has spent significant time, money and effort developing a vision for the TC zoning district which focuses on a pedestrian friendly town center streetscape on Sycamore Street. The proposed plan shows a bank building facing Richboro Road with drive through aisles facing Sycamore Street, rather than a front entrance directly onto Sycamore Street. The members felt that the plan was not in keeping with the Sycamore Street vision for this reason. There was also some concern about the traffic patterns at the entrance on Richboro Road, which will conflict with the 7-11 entrance traffic.
After lengthy discussion and input from a number of concerned residents, the Commission voted 8-1 to recommend that the Supervisors not approve this application for its failure to meet the recommendations in the Bucks County Planning Commission review of June 20, 2011 and the conditions of JMZO Section 1301 (B) 1 through 5.
Beneficial Bank requested that the Commission table its Land Development review.
Attorney Ed Murphy and Engineer Michael Jeitner were in attendance to review the preliminary plan for a 3,911 square foot McDonald’s restaurant with drive-through and 41 parking spaces on Durham Road in the PC Planned Commercial zoning district. The plan has been revised to show an entrance to the site from Durham Road and two other access points within the shopping center. Mr. Jeitner reviewed the circulation pattern for drive through customers, noting that at one point in the aisle the width is 18 feet. Our ordinance requires a 25 foot width; the reduced width is adequate for one-way traffic and Mr. Jeitner said that the reduced width functions to keep vehicles in line. Mr. Murphy indicated that PennDOT would agree to a Highway Occupancy Permit for the road opening on Durham Road. Whether that entrance would be right in/right out or full access would be a PennDOT decision.
The Commission discussed sidewalk and pedestrian access. The applicant reviewed some possible restrictions to installing sidewalks along Durham Road, which is bermed and contains utilities. Internal sidewalks and crosswalks are planned for pedestrians walking within the shopping center. The Commission members have a number of concerns about the intensity of the use in this already busy section of the shopping center. There was some discussion about pedestrian safety as well as vehicular traffic safety.
The plan will be revised to comply with the reviews of our consultants and the applicant will return to the Planning Commission.
A number of residents in attendance commented on their concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety and the intensity of the use. In light of our prior discussion regarding Beneficial Bank, a number of residents also questioned whether the plan meets the general requirements of JMZO section 1301 (B).
The members were provided copies of the Newtown Borough TND Ordinance and Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby’s detailed review in advance of the meeting. The Ordinance allows Newtown Borough flexibility in developing properties larger than 2 acres for mixed uses and increased residential density. In addition to the Stockburger property, this ordinance could be used at the former Newtown Beverage property, the CVS property, Lucas Plumbing and Stockingworks I. Commission member Paul Cohen, who also serves as Borough Solicitor, reminded the members that a modified plan for the Stockburger site has recently been submitted to the Borough. The members agreed to continue this discussion after they have had an opportunity to review the modifications to the new plan.
Dr. Ciervo said that he was particularly concerned that this ordinance could be applied to other properties and had asked what kind of density the new ordinance would allow.
Mr. Fidler said that he understood that the ordinance would permit greater residential density than the Newtown Station development. The Commission will continue its discussion and will offer an opinion if called upon to do so.
2011 Roadway Improvement Program Pay Estimate #2: Mr. Gallagher moved to authorize pay estimate #2 in the amount of $199,260.90 to Mid-Atlantic Site Contractors for the roadway improvement program. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Harold Beck and Sons, Certificate of Completion #1: Mr. Benchener moved to authorize escrow release in the amount of $414,555.25 to Harold Beck and Sons. Mr. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Newtown Walk, Phase II, Certificate of Completion #2: Mr. Benchener moved to authorize escrow release in the amount of $127,195.00 to Newtown Walk. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that he thought this development was to have a name change, since use of the word “Newtown” is now prohibited.
Dr. Ciervo said that the plans had been originally approved with that name.
The motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Gallagher voting nay.
New Life Christian Church, 646 South State Street – Conditional Use: Mr. Benchener moved to approve the decision on New Life Christian Church Conditional Use for a daycare center. Mr. Schenkman seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Beneficial Bank, 34 South State Street, Conditional Use: Mr. Garton opened the hearing. Beneficial Bank is seeking approval to operate a use E-4 Financial Establishment, a permitted use under Section 603 of the JMZO. The hearing has been advertised in the Newtown Advance on October 27 and November 3, 2011. The application, plans prepared by Boehler Engineering on May 6, 2011 and revised on September 2, 2011 and reviews of the Township planner, engineer and traffic engineer have been incorporated into the record.
Mr. Garton asked if anyone present wished party status.
Attorney Bradford Lare, on behalf of the Sycamore Street Community Association asked for party status.
Attorney John VanLuvanee asked Mr. Lare asked for an address on the Community Association.
Mr. Lare said that the Association, whose membership includes the businesses located on Sycamore Street, has an address, care of Deborah Manger at 295 North Sycamore Street. Mr. Lare said that he also would represent Ms. Manger individually, although she is not in attendance this evening. He would provide written authorization of his representation of Ms. Manger. He asked for party status for both the Sycamore Street Association and Ms. Manger.
Mr. Van Luvanee objected.
Party status was granted to both the Sycamore Street Association and Ms. Manger.
Joseph Coyle was sworn in. Mr. Coyle is Beneficial Bank’s senior vice president of corporate real estate and branch development. The bank was founded in 1853 and has had a branch at Summit Square in Middletown for twenty years. 70% of Beneficial’s Summit Square customers are residents of Newtown Township or Borough. In response to questions about the historic significance of the structure at 34 South State Street, Mr. Coyle submitted an application to the Newtown Joint Historic Commission, which visited the site and concluded that the building is without historic significance and issued a demolition permit.
Mr. VanLuvanee entered as Exhibit A-1 the letter dated September 17,2011, confirming that the building is not historically significant.
Mr. Coyle said that he and other representatives of the bank had appeared before the Supervisors to request an additional setback for the bank structure. As that request was denied, the plans were revised to comply with the 16 foot setback. These plans were included in the review by the Township’s Planning Commission for conditional use approval. As the Planning Commission had expected the bank to face Sycamore Street, the Commission recommended that the application be denied. The bank had considered that orientation of the building but had favored the plans with the front entrance on Richboro Road for the convenience and safety of its customers as they enter the building from the parking lot.
Mr. VanLuvanee entered as Exhibit A-2 a series of computer generated photographs showing images of the building from the street and as Exhibit A-3 the interior floor plan for the bank.
Referring to Exhibit A-3, Mr. Coyle pointed out the open floor plan and the area with tables and shelves. Boucher and James’ review letter had considered this a separate use as community room. He noted that it would be open with no separate entrance and would be used by employees and the public for using financial materials and books.
Mr. Coyle confirmed that the bank would have ten employees, with a maximum of six per shift. Maximum hours of operation are 7:30 AM to 8:00 PM Monday through Friday and 7:30 AM to 4 PM Saturday and Sunday. The actual hours will probably be shorter, with the bank not opening until 9:00 AM weekdays. The bank would have armored car deliveries about three times per week; for security reasons, no specific time or parking space are provided for these deliveries. There would also be occasional deliveries by UPS trucks for office supplies. The plan shows 39 parking spaces where 32 spaces are required. There will be no hazardous materials, no noxious odors. It is Mr. Coyle’s feeling that the proposed use is in keeping with the town center commercial area and will be a local, not regional, bank. The design will be an improvement for the immediate area. The property is not in the historic district.
In response to questions from Mr. Lare, Mr. Coyle said that the engineers and architects had considered a design with the front entrance on Sycamore Street. It is their opinion that the Richboro Road entrance will be safer and more convenient for customers who have parked in the bank parking lot. There is not any documentation that he is aware of which would show that a Sycamore Street entrance would be unsafe. He did not agree that a bank use has a much higher trip generation than other business/commercial uses.
Mr. Lare asked whether Mr. Coyle had heard the Planning Commission’s discussion about the bank’s compliance with Section 1301 B of the JMZO.
Mr. Coyle said he had heard the discussion and disagrees with the conclusion.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that case law does not allow for subjective denial of conditional use.
Mr. Schenkman asked Mr. Coyle to review the requirement of the FDIC to determine historic significance of a property.
Mr. Coyle explained that the FDIC requires that banks submit a formal application to the state, in this case to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Historic Preservation, about a proposed demolition of an older building. A letter was issued stating that the building at 34 South Sycamore was of no significance. The bank had some informal contact with the Bureau of Historic Preservation in addition to the application. He was not aware of whether the Bureau had any direct contact with Newtown Township.
Mr. Gallagher asked whether Mr. Coyle was aware of the Township’s Sycamore Street Committee.
Mr. Coyle said he was aware of the committee but had not personally read the committee’s report and conclusions. He had been involved in conversations about the committee. He believes the bank is in keeping with the character of Sycamore Street; this plan will be an improvement to the property and to the immediate surrounding area. He noted that all of the surrounding properties are set back farther than the proposed bank and all have front yard parking. He has not had direct contact with customers who are Township residents to know whether they have requested that the bank move.
In response to Mr. Calabro’s questions, Mr. Coyle said that the next nearest Beneficial Branch is in Bensalem, about 15 miles away. He said that pedestrians would be safe on the property; the proposed location of the entrance would be the safest for customers walking from their cars. There will be sidewalk for pedestrians entering from Sycamore Street. No study of pedestrian traffic has been done. There will be security cameras and teller alarms but no guard will be on duty. There are a few restricted access areas. The employees will include a manager, some tellers and customer service representatives; the maximum shift would have six employees.
Dr. Ciervo said that pedestrians would be safer without any drive through service.
Mr. Gallagher asked whether a remote drive through would be considered.
Mr. Coyle said that the bank would not consider eliminating the drive through and had considered but rejected the remote teller.
Dr. Ciervo asked if the plan would be safer with no access to the property from Richboro Road.
Mr. Coyle disagreed.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that a traffic study has been done, but has not formally been submitted to the Township.
Joel Della Carpini was sworn in.
Mr. VanLuvanee entered as Exhibit A-4, Mr. Della Carpini’s resume. Mr. Della Carpini, a registered landscape architect, was accepted as an expert witness.
Mr. Della Carpini said that he has been retained by Beneficial Bank for preparation of the plans for the conditional use and land development of this project. He revised the original plans to comply with the 16 foot setback requirement.
Mr. VanLuvanee entered as Exhibits A -5 and A5a copies of the plan last revised September 2, 2011. Exhibit A5a is a reduced size copy of Exhibit A-5.
Mr. Della Carpini reviewed the history of Howard and German Avenues. He said that in a 1990 proceeding 12.5 feet on either side of German Avenue were vacated and the land given to the adjoining property owners. The property lines now extend to the center line of both German and Howard Avenues. The property is located in the TC, Town Commercial zoning district; it is 1.59 acres to the right-of-way and would require 32 parking spaces. The plan provides 39 parking spaces. The ordinance has no specific criteria for a drive through. During the planning he explored various layouts for the plan including placing the front entrance on Sycamore Street. If oriented with the front on Sycamore Street the drive through stacking and circulation would not work efficiently and pedestrians would have to walk across two lanes of drive through traffic to get to the entrance from the parking lot.
Mr. Della Carpini said that he is familiar with the requirements of the JMZO; the plan meets all setback requirements and resource protection and buffering requirements. The drive through aisle is screened from Sycamore Street because of its elevation above the sidewalk and is further buffered by an ornamental fence and landscaping shrubs and plants. The sidewalk extends from Sycamore Street to the entrance; the corner has some benches and a flagpole.
Mr. VanLuvanee entered as Exhibit A-6 an aerial photograph of the vicinity of the property.
Mr. Della Carpini said that the photograph came from Google Earth. He reviewed the surrounding neighbor properties including 7-11, a service station, the renovated house used for business, the FNBN parking field and the three buildings north of the property on Sycamore Street. All have front yard parking and all are set back from the sidewalk. He said that the design shown on A-2 is appropriate to the surroundings.
In response to Mr. Lare’s questions, Mr. Della Carpini said that he is not a traffic engineer. He has examined the site layout and internal traffic circulation but not the roads and intersections. He has not seen any documentation that would show that an entrance on Sycamore Street would be dangerous or unsafe; he has only noted that pedestrians who have used the parking lot would cross two lanes of drive through traffic to enter a front door on Sycamore Street. He has examined a plan with the building’s design rotated 90º. Eliminating one lane of the drive through aisle would not change the circulation pattern; there would still be the circulation and stacking space. A satellite or remote drive through was not considered feasible because of security and customer safety. There is concern with personal items becoming stuck in the pneumatic tubes and being irretrievable. He was advised by Beneficial not to consider a remote drive through. He did hear the Planning Commission’s review and recommendation but did not know that the entire Section 1301 was referenced in their recommendation.
In response to Mr. Lare’s further questions, Mr. Della Carpini reviewed the location of the four foot high decorative fence, six feet back from the sidewalk, which is four feet wide. He said that he did not know the speed at which cars go through the drive aisle, but disagreed with Mr. Lare’s statement that it would be between ten and fifteen miles per hour. He guessed that it would be less than ten miles per hour, but he did not know exactly. He did not think that pedestrians on the Sycamore Street sidewalk were in danger because there is a curb surrounding the drive aisle, the decorative fence and six feet of lawn. He had not experience with trip generation.
In response to Mr. Gallagher’s questions Mr. Della Carpini said that he has been a landscape architect for eleven years. There have been changes in design standards since he became a landscape architect and he agreed that the design standards for the adjacent neighbors could have changed. The photographs provided in Exhibit A-2 do not show the entire length of Sycamore Street. He is aware of design guidelines for Sycamore Street but noted that this property is not part of the overlay district for these design guidelines. He has met with some of the residents and business owners on Sycamore Street. This design requires no variances from the Zoning Hearing Board; it was designed to avoid the need for variances and to comply with the JMZO. The curb to enter the site, as shown in Exhibit A-5 is about 75 to 80 feet from the curb cut for 7-11. He is not sure of the speed limit on Richboro Road, but believes it to be about 35 MPH.
In response to Mr. Benchener’s questions, Mr. Della Carpini said that he was aware of work being done to review the TC District ordinance. He again stated that the property is not in the overlay district.
In response to Mr. Calabro’s questions, Mr. Della Carpini said he was not sure whether a second entrance to the property was considered. German Avenue could possibly have been used to access the property.
In response to Dr. Ciervo’s questions, Mr. Della Carpini said that the bank is not required to have a drive through; the bank did not consider a plan without a drive through desirable. The distance from the right-of-way to the front door is seven feet. He has familiar with the Bucks County Planning Commission (BCPC) review of June 16, 2011. The bank will be accessible from sidewalk and crosswalk from both frontages and is compliant with the ordinance. Only employees would be required to walk across the drive through aisle from the employee parking spaces.
Mr. Gallagher asked how long Mr. Della Carpini has been working on this project and if the project was timed to be submitted before the Township had adopted a revised TC District zoning ordinance.
Mr. Della Carpini said that he began working on the project in 2008 or early 2009. The plans were submitted when they were completed and were not timed to be submitted before the adoption of a new ordinance.
Dr. Ciervo noted that the BCPC letter references conflicts when backing out of parking spaces.
Mr. Della Carpini said that this is always the case in parking lots. The angled parking for employees helps with this. If those parking spaces are completely eliminated the conflict would be eliminated and the plan would still comply with parking requirements.
In response to Mr. VanLuvanee’s questions, Mr. Della Carpini said that there is pedestrian access to the bank from Sycamore Street. He pointed to the walkway as shown on Exhibit A-5. Pedestrians would be safely protected from the drive though when they walk on Sycamore Street. The sidewalk on Sycamore Street is directly next to the road; he did not know the speed limit but believed it to be 35 MPH. Pedestrians are more safely protected from cars in the bank drive through than they are from cars driving on Sycamore Street.
Mr. Van Luvanee entered as Exhibit A-7 a decree from Judge Gard dated March 13, 1990, an action of quiet title for German Avenue, as Exhibit A-8 the motion for quiet title dated November 15, 1990, and as Exhibit A-9 the stipulation dated January 22, 1990 as related to German Avenue.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that his next witness would be a traffic engineer.
Mr. Gallagher said that he would like to continue the hearing to Monday, November 21, 2011, in order to have the Township’s traffic engineer present to hear the next witness.
Mr. VanLuvanee objected; the Township had been on notice that traffic would be an issue of discussion in this hearing.
Mr. Lare did not oppose the continuance.
Mr. Gallagher moved to continue the hearing of Beneficial Bank, 34 South Sycamore Street, to November 21, 2011. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that he agreed that the Township’s traffic engineer should be present for the testimony.
Mr. Lare asked for a copy of the traffic study.
Mr. VanLuvanee said that the study will not be offered. Only the engineer’s expert testimony will be offered.
The motion passed 5-0.
Repeal of Sex Offender Ordinance: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that an ordinance rescinding the Township’s existing sex offender ordinance had been advertised for adoption. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently declared a similar ordinance in Allegheny County void as the issue of regulation of sex offenders is pre-empted by state law by the adoption of the Pennsylvania version of Megan’s Law. This has also been recommended by the Township’s liability insurance carrier.
Dr. Ciervo opened the hearing.
Mr. Gallagher moved to adopt Ordinance 2011-0-3, repealing Ordinance 2006-0-6. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that in light of recent events at Penn State and the State’s actions to revise its sex offender laws, he would be unwilling to repeal the sex offender ordinance at this time in an effort to avoid some possible litigation. He noted that most sexual predators are known to their victims and they have no prior criminal record. Until the Township has seen that the Commonwealth has its laws in place, we have an obligation to protect our residents.
Dr. Ciervo said that he understands Mr. Schenkman’s position, but feels that the ordinance should be repealed to avoid a possible challenge or judgment against the Township. He would not want to see a successful challenge and payment to a sex offender. This law has never been enforced and the longer it remains in place, the greater the chance it could be challenged.
Mr. Gallagher asked what exposure the Township would have if the law were challenged and immediately repealed.
Mr. Garton explained that the Township could be open to a suit from a group such as the ACLU rather than from an individual, although the ACLU would need to have standing and would have to find an aggrieved party.
Mr. Calabro said that someone would have to come forward and admit to being a sex offender; he would be willing to take that chance rather than repeal the ordinance.
Mr. Benchener said that there are two different risks to be weighed and he would prefer to take a principled stand. He disagrees with the State feeling it knows better than the municipality how to protect the residents. Research indicates that pedophiles have an incurable disease and are not going to be rehabilitated as other criminals might be. He would prefer to leave the ordinance until the State has closed the loopholes in the current law.
Mr. Gallagher moved to table the hearing for six months to evaluate the State’s work in revising its laws. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Garton said that when re-opened, the hearing would have to be re-advertised.
Dr. Ciervo asked whether there is an increase in our liability insurance if this ordinance is not repealed.
Mr. Czajkowski said that there is no increased cost; the insurance carrier was only advising the Township of its possible exposure.
Dr. Ciervo said that he did not think there had ever been any effort to enforce the ordinance.
The motion passed 5-0.
Newtown Raquetball Associates, 209 Penns Trail, Zoning Hearing Board Application: Engineer Luke Teller and applicant Jim Worthington were in attendance to review this application for variances for an outdoor pool and snack bar use, setback relief and parking relief. Mr. Teller explained that the applicant already has parking variances for the number of spaces and for stall size. The loading berth is not needed as there is a loading berth and shared parking aisle with the other building at the site. The proposed field will not be for competition, but for practice. There is a snack bar inside the NAC building; this is a second snack bar at the pool.
Mr. Gallagher said that he agreed with the Planning Commission’s recommendation to not send the solicitor, but to send a letter expressing the Supervisors’ support for the variances.
Mr. Benchener and Mr. Schenkman agreed. Mr. Benchener said that he understood that this is not a variance for lights; lights would be discussed as part of land development.
Dr. Ciervo asked about the pool location, as he is concerned it could be a distraction to motorists.
Mr. Worthington said that the plan is for several small pools; a small portion of one pool will be 60 feet from the right of way. The pools will be screened and fenced.
Dr. Ciervo expressed some concern about lights on the playing fields.
Mr. Worthington said that this is a setback variance request. Lights are planned but this has not been researched thoroughly yet. These will not be lights like those on the high school football field. They will be set back 25 feet from the property line. There are no residential neighbors; after dark the Business Commons is deserted except for the NAC. In response to Mr. Calabro’s questions, Mr. Worthington said that the lights would be used when the field is in use after dark, not all year, not all night and probably not seven days a week. During land development he would consider restrictions on the uses for the lights; he would need to speak to his program director before he could agree to any restrictions. The lights would be focused on the fields.
Mr. Garton said that he would speak to attorney Don Marshall, who represents the applicant, about the Board’s concerns with lighting.
Mr. Gallagher moved to send a letter to the Zoning Hearing Board consistent with the Planning Commission’s recommendation to support this application. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that he prefers passing the application to the Zoning Hearing Board without comment.
Mr. Calabro agreed that a letter is not necessary.
Mr. Benchener said that he would like the Zoning Hearing Board to be aware of the discussions held by the Planning Commission and the Supervisors.
Mr. Calabro asked whether it is a Township policy to forward the Planning Commission synopsis or minutes to the Zoning Hearing Board.
The recording secretary confirmed that the minutes and synopsis are not routinely forwarded to the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Calabro suggested that perhaps the Board should consider a policy of forwarding the Planning synopsis, but he did not favor a letter for this application.
The motion failed with Dr. Ciervo and Messrs. Calabro and Schenkman voting nay.
Mr. Benchener asked whether the Board would want to consider setting a policy of forwarding the Planning or Supervisor minutes to the Zoning Hearing Board.
Dr. Ciervo said that for most applications the Board does nothing to follow up with the Zoning Hearing Board. On a few occasions we have asked the Solicitor to attend or to write a letter either in support or opposition to an application.
Newtown Borough Planning Commission: Mr. Garton reported that on November 7, 2011, the Borough Planning Commission saw a plan for the Stockburger property. The Planning Commission generated a series of questions about the plan and wanted to see the plan a second time on December 5, 2011, before it goes to the Borough Council for conditional use approval on December 7, 2011.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would like the Township to send the solicitor to the conditional use hearing. There is not enough information yet on the types of retail and residential use proposed; there has been no parking or traffic study submitted. He would like the solicitor attend and possibly oppose the application.
Mr. Garton said that he would need more clarity in the Board’s direction. There would not be time to discuss this further if the Board wishes to oppose the application.
Dr. Ciervo moved to send the solicitor to oppose the application for conditional use for the Stockburger property at Newtown Borough Council. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo said that he is very concerned about the impact on the Township of such an intense use.
Mr. Benchener agreed that the application leaves out many details and the plan will have impact on the Township because of its intensity.
Mr. Gallagher said that he is not sure that the Township should take a position in opposition to the plan at this time. He would support seeking party status in order to get more information at to be allowed to ask questions.
Mr. Benchener said that the Board would not have time to review additional information and direct the solicitor to take a position.
Mr. Garton said that as a party, the Township could question witnesses and would have the right to appeal if it disagreed with the outcome.
Mr. Schenkman said that he did not want to be confrontational.
Dr. Ciervo amended his motion to send the solicitor to seek party status and to take a position of opposition if the Borough is making a decision on December 7, 2011. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of Motion: Mr. Schenkman said that he is opposed to seeking party status and opposing the application.
The motion failed 1-4, with Messrs. Benchener, Calabro, Gallagher and Schenkman voting nay.
Dr. Ciervo moved to send the solicitor to participate in the conditional use hearing on December 7, 2011. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro asked Mr. Garton to clarify “participate.”
Mr. Garton said that he would ask for party status and ask questions of witnesses but would not take a position.
The motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Schenkman voting nay.
Police Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that the department had responded to 1206 calls during the last month. There have been many reports of identity theft; he urged residents to make copies of all of the documents in their wallets in case they are lost or stolen and to pay attention to credit reports to be aware of unauthorized activity. He said that sometimes thieves apply for a receive credit cards from applications stolen from the mail. He suggested that residents limit the number of credit cards they use to avoid identity theft.
Mr. Calabro asked about bulk shredding services.
Chief Pasqualini said that First National Bank and Trust of Newtown and Bucks County Community College have offered this service periodically during the year.
Dr. Ciervo asked about the vandalism at Roberts Ridge Park.
Chief Pasqualini said that arrests have been made and trial dates will be set. The Township has filled out paperwork for restitution. He noted that the repairs are very close to completed.
Dr. Ciervo asked whether the Township has enforced the sex offender ordinance.
Chief Pasqualini said that in three and a half years there has only been one incident which he discussed with Mr. Garton.
2012 Budget Discussion
Mr. Czajkowski said that the budget presented on November 2, 2011 had no tax increase and showed $10,674,995 in revenue and $10,670,527 in expenditures, with a fund balance of $804,744 at the end of 2012.
Dr. Ciervo asked the Manager to prepare a budget with no raises for CWA union members. Their contract will expire on December 31, 2011. If no new contract is in place at the start of the new year, those employees will continue to work under the 2011 contract terms. He also asked that the budget include a 5% pension contribution by non-union employees and no raise for non-union employees. He believes these adjustments would result in savings of $90,576.
Mr. Gallagher said that there is an application to PennDOT for a highway occupancy permit on Durham Road between Eagle Road and Ice Cream Alley. He would like to reach out to our State representative and senator to take a position on this.
Mr. Gallagher moved to reach out to our State Senator and Representative to take a position on the Highway Occupancy Permit for an additional road opening on Durham Road. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Schenkman said that while he is in favor of the idea he would prefer to wait until the Board has had an opportunity to discuss this with our Traffic Engineer.
Mr. Gallagher moved to table this motion to Monday, November 21, 2011. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.The meeting adjourned at 11:40 PM
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary