Board of Supervisors
Minutes of April 25, 2012
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on April 25, 2012 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Michael Gallagher, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer Ryan W. Gallagher and Philip Calabro and Robert Ciervo, members. Also in attendance were: Police Chief Henry Pasqualini, Interim 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 Sandy Rowshan of the Baha’I faith and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Eagle Scout Proposal: Matthew Katz of Boy Scout Troup 74 explained that he would like to build two benches and plant three or four shade trees at the Newtown Skate Park. He is hoping to provide a place in the shade where parents and spectators can watch the skaters.
Dr. Ciervo moved to approve Matthew Katz’s project as outlined in his service project proposal at the Township Skate Park. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. M. Gallagher thanked Mr. Katz for his efforts to improve the Township park.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Historic Architectural Review Board: HARB Vice Chairman Bill Mahler presented an application for signage for Today’s Kitchens & Baths of Newtown at 258 North Sycamore Street. The colors on the signage will be the same as the previous tenant’s.
Dr. Ciervo moved to authorize a certificate of appropriateness for Todays Kitchens and Baths of Newtown at 258 N. Sycamore Street, as outlined in a memo dated April 18, 2012. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby reported that the Commission reviewed a plan submitted by Michael Walsh to subdivide a 6.1 acre parcel into two parcels, with lot #1 at 3.028 acres and lot #2 at 3.073 acres at 385 Stoopville Road. The applicant plans to renovate the existing house on lot #1 and will live in the house with his family; his son will build a new home on lot #2. At this time, no decision has been made as to the existing barn on lot #1, which, it was noted, is in very poor condition. Plans for the house on lot #2 have not yet been prepared. Lot #2 will take access from Linton Hill Road. The Commission voted to recommend that the Supervisors grant approval for this minor subdivision with conditions including compliance with the review letters of our professional consultants.
Appointment of New Township Manager: Mr. M. Gallagher announced that the Supervisors have selected a new Township Manager to replace Joseph Czajkowski, who resigned in February, after a search and thorough interview process. Kurt Ferguson, currently manager of Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County has been selected; Mr. Ferguson has extensive experience in economic development, finance, land development, zoning and recreation. His references have been superior.
Mr. M. Gallagher asked the Board to approve an employment agreement with a start date of July 2, 2012, and a compensation package with starting salary of $117,500.
Mr. Benchener moved to appoint Kurt Ferguson as Township Manager, effective July 2, 2012. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro asked whether Mr. Ferguson had agreed to the terms of the agreement.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that Mr. Ferguson has already signed the agreement.
Mr. Benchener said that he was very pleased with the results of this very rigorous search and interview process. He is excited to work with Mr. Ferguson.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that he had been very concerned that it would be difficult to find a new manager. He is very pleased that Mr. Ferguson will be coming to Newtown. He will be an asset to the Township
The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. Benchener moved to approve the employment agreement with Kurt Ferguson. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to set the compensation for Mr. Ferguson as Township Manager at $117,500 per annum. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Other Board Members’ Reports: Mr. M. Gallagher thanked all of the residents who participated in the recent primary election and urged all campaigns to remove signage they placed along the Township roadways.
Mr. Garton announced that the Board had met in Executive Session on April 16, 2012, before its work session, to discuss matters of personnel.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Benchener moved to approve the minutes of the regular meeting of April 11, 2012. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the work session meeting of April 16, 2012. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Benchener abstaining.
Bills: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve payment of bills totaling $115,256.27. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $180,756.72. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. M. Gallagher reminded the Board that at the time of the approval of the Corner Bakery Café’s conditional use, a condition had been that the Café address traffic calming. There had been a requirement that a raised crosswalk, not a speed bump, be installed. He said that the Board’s opinion of whether this is an immediate requirement or something to be installed if needed, should be discussed.
Mr. Garton said that the Board had suggested connecting the Village at Newtown with the Corner Bakery Café pad site by means of a walkway; this is not an option.
Mr. Benchener said that it was his recollection that the crosswalk would be installed if necessary, after the Café had opened and traffic patterns had been reviewed.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he also felt that the crosswalk may or may not be necessary. He suggested perhaps escrowing funds to install a crosswalk at a later time should it become necessary.
Mr. Garton said that it should be made clear that a crosswalk would be installed “if warranted;” the situation should not be characterized as “a hazardous condition.”
Mr. Benchener said he still favors a “wait and see” position, because he does not feel the location will generate a great deal of pedestrian traffic. He also questioned whether pedestrian traffic should be encouraged in a shopping center which primarily serves customers who are driving.
Mr. Calabro said that he would like to insure the safety of customers who park on the Acme side of the shopping center then decide to walk across to the Café while they are doing numerous errands.
Dr. Ciervo said that when the pad site was occupied by Blockbuster, the parking was adequate but he does not feel the parking in that section of the shopping center is sufficient for a Café use. He favors installation of the crosswalks now to be sure anyone crossing from the other parking areas will be safe. He also has concerns that if the installation is postponed, the situation will not be monitored. The area is already a problem and he would not want to wait until it becomes an urgent need. He is hesitant to force a business to do this, but he feels that it should be done in advance of opening the Café.
Mr. Benchener said that if the crosswalk proves necessary, it would be in the Café’s best interest to install it to allow customers to find parking and safely cross. He also felt that this section of the shopping center is not suitable for pedestrian traffic as it is already very congested.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that the warm weather is approaching and the Café is expected to open shortly. He favors evaluating the situation for three to six months to see whether it is necessary.
Ms. Fountain said that if money is escrowed now, installation of the crosswalk could be addressed at a later time. She noted that the installation of the reserve parking is up to the shopping center owner, not the Café.
Mr. Garton said that the original decision of the Board had required the shopping center to install the reserve parking spaces and a sidewalk connecting it to the Café’s pad site. The crosswalk/traffic calming is to be installed if the Township determines it is necessary, costs to be borne by the Café. The Café cannot get a certificate of occupancy without the installation of the reserve parking spaces.
The Board agreed to escrow funds for a crosswalk and to ask the Township Manager to keep the Board informed as to whether the crosswalk is warranted.
Mr. M. Gallagher announced that the Board had met in executive session prior to the start of the meeting and would remain this evening for an additional executive session.
The meeting adjourned at 8:15 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary