Board of Supervisors
Minutes of February 22, 2012
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on February 22, 2012 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Michael Gallagher, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener, Secretary/Treasurer Ryan W. Gallagher and Philip Calabro and Robert Ciervo, members. Also in attendance were: Joseph Czajkowski, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Call to Order : Chairman Gallagher called the meeting to order with a moment of silence. This was followed by an invocation by Pastor Tim Smith of Crossing Community Church and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Czajkowski said that a Park and Recreation Board report and an appointment to the Technology Committee have been added to the agenda.
Public Comment: Resident Karen D’Aprile said that Newtown Theater, the oldest theater in America, must raise funds to make the switch from film to digital projection. The Theater is asking the community to help with this effort as the theater struggles to stay open during this technical change. To make donations, please contact the director of the theater at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mrs. D’Aprile asked whether this information could be placed on the Township’s television station.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he would like the Board to develop a policy on which community activities can be placed on the television, as the Board would not want to exclude or be obliged to any particular group.
Resident Keith Reynolds, speaking on behalf of the Brookside Homeowners Association, urged the Board to prioritize the sound barriers along the Bypass, which the Board recently added to the TIP. Residents of Brookside have experienced great increase in noise from the Bypass in recent years as the area has grown and truck traffic has increased.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he has visited the homes in the area abutting the Bypass with State Representative Santarsiero and State Senator McIlhinney and agrees that noise abatement is needed. With the support of our state representatives, we can petition PennDOT on the best noise abatement solution.
Mr. Reynolds noted that there is a wall on top of a berm along the Middletown side of the Bypass near Summit Square. He would like a similar solution between State and Sycamore Streets to help with sound abatement.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Historic Architectural Review Board
Sycamore Salon, The Organic Option, 9 South Sycamore Street: HARB member Joseph McKiernan presented this application for signage.
Mr. Benchener moved to approve a certificate of appropriateness for 9 South Sycamore Street as outlined in a memo dated February 13, 2012. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Salon owner Candis Krzacsyk thanked the Board for the approval. She said that her shop will offer hair and skin care with natural, organic products for men, women and children.
Park and Recreation Board: Chairman Andrew Levine and Council Rock Athletic Association President Kevin O’Shea were in attendance to review a plan to open portions of Veterans Park for use during the spring season. Mr. Levine said that the Little League had first discussed the possibility of assuming certain maintenance activities at the fields during a Supervisors Work Session. The league would also finance the construction of pitchers mounds on the three baseball fields.
Mr. M. Gallagher reminded the Board that the Township still has some ongoing concerns about conditions in the park and has not accepted possession from the contractors. There is also some concern about taking possession of only the skinned field with the understanding that the League will maintain it. If the Township were to agree, it would seek a three year formal memorandum of understanding with the League before it would accept dedication from the contractor.
Mr. O’Shea said that he has gotten quotes for installation of the pitchers mounds but has not investigated costs for maintenance. He would not be able to agree to the memorandum without the permission of his Board. He noted that the Township would save money if the League, rather than the contractor, were to bring the fields up to playable condition for this spring and he would like that reflected in any agreement.
Mr. Levine said that the League is not prepared to enter a formal agreement at this time, as Board approval would be needed, but is seeking conditional approval so that it can proceed with contracting for the pitchers mounds and making certain purchases.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that if the League fails to maintain the fields and the contractor had been absolved of further maintenance, the taxpayers would be burdened with the maintenance. He is looking for some protection for the taxpayers. He noted that the League had initially only discussed use of the skinned field; the Board would need to consider whether to allow all three fields to be included in an agreement.
Mr. O’Shea said that the League would like use of all three baseball fields, the parking lot and the pavilion/snack shed.
Mr. Garton said that he believed the only ongoing concerns are with grading, landscaping and the condition of the fields. The parking lot and pavilion are not part of the ongoing discussions with the contractors. He said that any memo of understanding would outline all of the details.
The Supervisors agreed that their initial discussion of an agreement had only been for the skinned field. Mr. M. Gallagher said that the Board is prepared to agree to allowing use of that skinned field, the parking lot and pavilion and a storage shed donated by the Boy Scouts.
Mr. Czajkowski suggested that, since it appears the Board is in favor of working out details with the league, he thought a formal agreement could be worked out between Mr. Levine and Mr. Garton for Supervisors approval at the March 14 meeting.
Mr. Garton said that he felt confident that the League would not be at risk if it proceeded with ordering equipment and materials for the fields at this time.
New Term Appointments: Mr. M. Gallagher reminded the Board that resolutions had recently been passed changing the length of appointments for the Technology, Joint Traffic and Township Traffic Committees. Individual members would need to be appointed for three year terms with appointments staggered this first year.
Mr. Benchener moved to appoint the Technology committee members to three year terms as follows: Ed Lipski, Kyle Davis and Prasad Ramnath through 2014, Jonathan Schnell and Dan Paramesh through 2013 and Bob Penland and one vacancy through 2012. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Benchener moved to appoint the Joint Traffic Committee members to three year terms as follows: Timothy Swedo and one vacancy through 2014, Greg Kramer and two vacancies through 2013, and Judith Norkin and one vacancy through 2012. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Benchener moved to appoint the Township Traffic Committee members to three year terms as follows: : Timothy Swedo and one vacancy through 2014, Greg Kramer and two vacancies through 2013, and Judith Norkin and one vacancy through 2012. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Calabro voting nay.
Appointments to Township Committees
Financial Planning Committee: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to appoint Richard Fuerman to the Financial Planning Committee to complete the unexpired term of Ryan Gallagher (2012). Mr. M. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Benchener abstaining.
Technology Committee: Mr. Benchener moved to appoint Alex Kasyanov to the Technology Committee for a term to end in 2012. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Historic Architectural Review Board: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to appoint Peggy Driscoll to HARB as Planning Commission liaison for a term to end in 2015. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bond Issue Ordinance: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that this ordinance has been advertised. The ordinance sets parameters for refinancing of the Township’s bond should the market reach a favorable point. PFM is then authorized to proceed with the refinance.
Ryan Brockman of PFM explained that this move should save the Township about $300,000. The conditions in the market have not changed since the last meeting. If conditions continue it is expected that the bond sale would occur in mid-March. He explained that the parameter is set at 2%, as is typical for this type of transaction; 2% is a benchmark. The current assumed savings is 3.38%. The Board could amend the ordinance to use a different parameter, but PFM is looking for some flexibility.
Mr. Benchener moved to amend the ordinance to show a parameter of 2.5%. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Benchener moved to adopt Ordinance 2012-O-1, as amended. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Benchener said that this is a good move at this time and should save the Township at least $250,000 this year.
The motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Calabro abstaining.
NAC –Outdoor Pool and Baseball Academy, 209 Penns Trail –Final Plan: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that this plan is for lot consolidation of six tax map parcels and construction of an outdoor recreational pool with snack bar and changing rooms, practice playing field and baseball academy building with associated stormwater management and parking. The Board granted preliminary approval on December 21, 2011.
Luke Teller of Langan Engineering was in attendance to discuss final approval. He noted that the applicant is withdrawing his request for lighting on the practice field at this time. In addition, the applicant has agreed to install sidewalks on the Pheasant Run frontage but is still seeking a waiver for sidewalks on Penns Trail. Mr. Teller pointed out the portion of sidewalk to be installed, noting the gap between the applicant’s proposed sidewalk and the sidewalk in front of Homewood Suites. That parcel is the former Clearview Printing site.
The Board was in agreement that the partial waiver should be granted.
Allen Lothian, traffic engineer on the project, said that he had provided Gilmore & Associates with the Saturday peak PM traffic counts with the new driveway in place and the Penns Trail entrance closed. Gilmore was satisfied that the traffic was less than weekday PM traffic.
Dr. Ciervo moved to grant final Land Development Plan approval for Newtown Racquetball Club for the premises located at Penns Trail being known as Bucks County Tax Parcel Nos. 29-010-137-140 and 29-10-39-1 prepared by Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, comprised of 34 sheets, dated June 24, 2011, with no revisions, along with a Post Construction Stormwater Management Plan Narrative prepared by Langan Engineering, seven supplemental plan sheets prepared by Cairone and Kaupp, Inc., and six supplemental sheets prepared by Innovative Electrical Systems dated June 24, 2011 with no revisions, subject to the following conditions:
A. The January 12, 2012 Review Letter from CKS Engineers , with the following comment: Paragraph II 7 f- a partial waiver form Section 517-4 of the SALDO to permit no sidewalks along Penns Trail only.
B. The January 10, 2012 Review Letter of Boucher & James, Inc.
C. The January 9, 2012 Review Letter from Gilmore & Associates, Inc.
D. The January 17, 2012 letter from the Bucks County Planning Commission .
E. The January 4, 2012 Letter from the Fire Marshall.
Mr. R. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo asked whether the condition of seasonal membership would apply to the baseball academy, and whether the NAC will continue to partner with the Township’s recreation programs. He noted that his children participate in the swim lessons through the Township.
Applicant Jim Worthington said that the baseball academy is a separate membership and would continue as such. The club membership would be year round and include the pool. He thanked the Board for adding this condition, as it will be helpful to his business. He will continue to partner with the Township on recreation programs, classes and lessons for non-members.
The motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Officials
Firearms in Parks: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that this proposed ordinance would amend the existing ordinance which prohibits firearms in Township parks. State law preempts the Township from regulating the carrying of firearms in parks. The Township can still regulate the discharge of firearms.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to authorize advertisement of an ordinance amending the Township’s ordinance prohibiting carrying firearms in Township parks. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Garton said that he has contacted PSATS about this. There has been litigation elsewhere challenging local laws. Responding to a challenge or defending the ordinance would only cost the Township money.
Mr. Calabro said that this Board has discussed the rights of municipalities being preempted by state laws. He would prefer challenging the state to change its position. It is dangerous to carry firearms into the park, as they can be lost, stolen or accidentally discharged.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that the Township had received correspondence from a person looking to take action against the Township’s ordinance. The goal is to avoid a challenge and comply with state law.
Mr. Calabro said that he disagreed with this position and would support challenging the state’s laws permitting firearms in local parks. Firearms do not belong in our public parks.
The motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Calabro voting nay.
Non-union Contribution to Pension Plans: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that it had agreed to mandate contributions of 2.5% of salary to Township pensions for non-union employees and to adopt a modified plan for employees hired after July 1, 2011 with a fixed employer contribution of 5%. The proposed ordinances were prepared by William Asay of Mockenhaupt Benefits Group, the Township’s actuary.
Dr. Ciervo moved to authorize advertisement of ordinances addressing non-union employee contributions to pension and establishing a defined contribution retirement plan for new hires after July 1, 2011. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Foxhall Estates: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that it had accepted dedication of Foxhall Estate’s improvements. He asked that the Board sign the deeds of dedication and release of funds.
Police Report: Police Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that the Department responded to 1179 calls last month including eight burglaries. There has been an increase in burglaries in Newtown and in all of the surrounding communities. He urged residents to be alert to suspicious activities in their neighborhoods. The area’s police detectives are working together on the cases, but rely on reports from residents.
The Department is working with surrounding communities on Lowjack training, which has proven very useful in tracking special needs children and the elderly.
The Department had its construction meeting for the new sallyport.
The Department, under the direction of Corporal Lupinetti, has begun using social media. A Facebook page has been established and is being used for community outreach.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that he has read of other communities using police Facebook pages. He asked if the Department is also using Twitter.
Chief Pasqualini said that Corporal Lupinetti has been researching this as well.
Mr. Calabro said that he saw a truck detail on Route 413 in Wrightstown and asked for an update.
Chief Pasqualini said that there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of trucks being taken out of service. The quarries have been strict about overweight trucks and gypsy trucks and the details have been successful in eliminating many of the failing trucks from our roads.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Benchener moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of February 8, 2012. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. M. Gallagher abstaining
The recording secretary noted that page 2, paragraph 9 of the minutes of the work session of February 13, 2012 should read, “… while he likes the suggestion of maintenance by the leagues which will be using the fields, he is concerned that making any decisions…”
Mr. Benchener moved to approve the minutes of the work session of February 13, 2012, as corrected. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Dr. Ciervo abstaining.
Bills: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve payment of bills totaling $158,172.90. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $382,865.98. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Benchener noted that Berkheimer still appears on the Bills Lists.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that Berkheimer still collects delinquent taxes; this will be the case wherever Berkheimer had been the original collector.
Dr. Ciervo said that he would like the Board to discuss the Township’s position regarding Newtown Corporation. It has been some time since a financial report has been presented. The Township had tasked Newtown Corporation with economic development for the entire Township, which has not happened. It seems Newtown Corporation’s entire efforts have centered around events like parades. Newtown Corporation was supposed to have concentrated its efforts on promoting Newtown as a business location. It was supposed to have marketed Newtown Business Commons and the PC district, but seems to have concentrated entirely on State Street in the Borough and Sycamore Street. He is eager for some accounting and a plan for moving forward.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he has met with Mr. Brassell of Newtown Corporation to discuss this matter. It was his understanding that a report is being prepared for Newtown’s Borough Council, to be ready in late March. Newtown Corporation is exploring reentering the Pennsylvania Main Streets program. He would like the Township to wait until March to be updated at the same time as the Borough. He also suggested that Newtown Corporation might use some of the office space available in the Municipal Complex for its offices.
Dr. Ciervo said he would not support providing office space until the Board has had a recent financial report and update on plans for future direction.
Mr. Benchener said that it was his understanding that Newtown Corporation’s relationship with Newtown Borough is also at issue.
Mr. Calabro agreed with Dr. Ciervo, noting that Newtown Corporation has been given a lot of leeway in reporting on its finances to the Township. He would also like to see some written goals and directions. The Township has asked Newtown Corporation to prepare marketing literature and lists of commercial vacancies in the Township, but has received neither. He suggested that the Township sponsor its own economic development group.
Dr. Ciervo said that the Township had hoped Newtown Corporation could serve as an economic development organization bringing together the many business organizations. He feels the focus has been entirely on retail events and parades. He also noted that when Newtown Corporation had been applying for grants, most of the grant money went to Newtown Borough.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that he sees a need for an economic development plan. He said that in developing a plan he would like to consider all of the various business districts throughout the Township and Borough as a whole and consider all of the many different business groups in both municipalities.
Dr. Ciervo suggested that Mr. R. Gallagher review the Newtown Corporation bylaws and mission statement to see whether it can become the economic development organization that the Township needs.
Mr. M. Gallagher urged the Board to hold off any decision making until after Newtown Corporation has put together its presentations for the Board and the Borough Council this spring.
The Supervisors agreed that Mr. R. Gallagher would continue to draft an economic development plan and the Board would consider the future of Newtown Corporation to see if the two can be melded in the spring.
Mr. R. Gallagher reiterated Mrs. D’Aprile’s earlier plea for residents to support the Newtown Theater efforts to raise funds for digital projection equipment. As the oldest theater in America, this theater has played an important role in our history and should be a part of our future.
Mr. R. Gallagher reminded the Board that Wednesday, February 29, 2012, is national Mom & Pop business day. He urged residents to visit and support the Township’s small, family owned businesses.
Mr. M. Gallagher announced that the Board had met prior to the start of this evening’s meeting and would meet again at the close of the meeting executive session to discuss matters of personnel after the meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 10:10 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary