Newtown Township

Board of Supervisors

Minutes of June 13, 2012

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on June 13, 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, Michele Fountain, Township Engineer and Amy Kaminski, Township Traffic Engineer.

Call to Order : Chairman Gallagher called the meeting to order with a moment of silence. This was followed by an invocation by Rabbi Howard Cove of Congregation Kol Emet and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission Report: Planning Commission Secretary Peggy Driscoll reported that at its June 5, 2012 meeting, the Commission reviewed the conditional use application of GreenStraw Smoothies, LLC, at 243 North Sycamore Street for use E-5, eating place in the TC, Town Commercial Zoning District. Ms. Fountain noted that this property is located in Sycamore Center shopping center, which was granted a parking variance in 1986 for 14,500 square feet of retail and 10,000 square feet of residential apartments. The Commission voted to recommend approval of this use, subject to a number of conditions, including confirmation that the ratio of retail to residential is still the same balance so that the 1986 variance is still in effect.

Dr. Ciervo asked who would be responsible to confirm the ratio.

Mr. Garton said compliance with the condition will be part of any approval. The applicant will need to work with the Township to show that the parking variance is still viable.

The Commission reviewed the revised final plan for land development for 200 North Sycamore (The Promenade). The applicants presented revisions to the approved final plan for development of a 1.96 acre site to include 20,000 square feet of retail space and 26 residential rental apartments in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District. The plan was approved in 2009. In 2011 variances were granted to allow for the revisions presented to the Planning Commission, which include a change from one large building to two buildings, one a free standing, single story retail building and a second, larger building with ground floor retail spaces and two floors of residential apartments. The Commission voted to recommend that the Supervisors approve the plan subject to certain conditions, including:

That changes to the crosswalks in the parking lot be made to the approval of the Township Engineer,

The Commission urged the applicant to revise the plans to comply with the review letters prior to seeking final approval, rather than seek approval with a lengthy list of “will complies.”

Board Members: Mr. M. Gallagher noted that the Supervisors have begun to explore using electronic packets. All were provided electronic packets; some on the dais have brought their own laptops as part of the pilot program. If successful, it is hoped that other Township committees, boards and commissions will also “go paperless.”

Land Development

The Promenade, 200 North Sycamore Street – Revised Final Plan: ( Attorney Donald Williams acted was special counsel for this application.) Attorney Ed Murphy represented the applicant. Mr. Murphy explained that this project had been approved in 2009, after which it was delayed. A new group of investors sought and received Zoning Hearing Board relief in December 2011, which enabled revisions to the plan. This amended final plan for a 2 acre site in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District has changed in that the 2009 plan showed a three story building with 24,000 square feet of retail space and 25 condominium units. The new plan has eliminated the pass-through arcade aligned with Jefferson Street and now shows two buildings containing a combined 20,000 square feet of retail space. One building will have three stories, the top two containing 26 one-bedroom rental units. The second building, adjacent to the historic Newtown Presbyterian Church, will be a single story retail building. The underground parking has been eliminated and a variance was granted to allow 116 parking spaces. The entrance to the rear parking lot which aligns with Jefferson Street will be a two way drive; the northern entrance will be a one way (right turn only) entrance with a 12 foot cartway.

Mr. Murphy said that the Plan has been reviewed by the Planning Commission, which has recommended approval. The applicant will comply with all review letters. The applicant has met with the Newtown Ambulance Squad and Newtown Presbyterian Church and has agreed to construction easements which should be in place shortly.

Mr. Murphy noted that one of the investors, Jim Worthington, has indicated that he hopes to demolish the existing building before the end of the summer.

Engineer Carl Janetka and Landscape Architect Scott Mills of VanCleef Engineering, Gene Grimaldi of Omnia Architects and Traffic Engineer Joseph DeSantis of McMahon Associates were in attendance to review the plans with the Supervisors.

Dr. Ciervo noted that the Traffic Engineer has suggested that certain parking spaces be reserved for residents only.

Ms. Kaminski said that she had suggested restricting certain spaces to resident use only during hours when the retail businesses would probably be closed. She was concerned that the parking might be used by customers of the nearby restaurants.

Mr. DeSantis said that this had also been discussed at the Zoning Hearing Board, but no specific conditions had been added at that time because it was agreed that some flexibility would be needed. There will probably some peak, late afternoon and weekend hours when there will be overlap of retail and residential needs. The owners of the building would prefer to evaluate needs after the building is occupied.

Mr. Murphy noted that the Saloon restaurant across the street has a reciprocal parking agreement with the adjacent dentist’s office; customers would probably not park across the street.

Dr. Ciervo asked about a second traffic impact study.

Ms. Kaminski said that at some point the traffic lights might need to be re-timed and there are a few ADA issues. The permit plan will need to be revised. Post construction, a traffic study should be done to re-evaluate the new traffic patterns. She suggested that funds be escrowed for this.

Mr. Murphy indicated that the applicant will comply with the ADA issues and with escrow of funds for a traffic study.

Mr. Janetka pointed out that the plan has already been revised to address the handicapped parking concerns. A “hammerhead” has been added to avoid conflicts.

Dr. Ciervo asked about maneuvering of trash vehicles.

Mr. Janetka noted that trash is to be collected during off hours as a condition of the Zoning Hearing Board decision. The trash hauler can wheel the dumpster out of the corral if necessary, but the dumpster should be accessible when the parking lot is not full.

Dr. Ciervo noted that the Fire Marshal rejected the plan.

Mr. Janetka said that the Fire Marshal had already approved the 2009 plan. Some required signage is to be noted on the plan.

Dr. Ciervo asked whether the site will be screened.

Mr. Janetka said that the construction staging will be fenced.

Mr. M. Gallagher reminded the Board that they had discussed screening slats for the existing chain link fence if the project were to be delayed indefinitely. If the project moves forward as indicated, this might not be necessary. He said that he and Mr. Calabro, as liaisons to the Planning Commission, had both attended their meeting. The Planning Commission had carefully reviewed all of the plans and the comments of the professionals. He commended the Commission on its very thorough and detailed review, especially since the plans were a late addition to the PC agenda.

Mr. R. Gallagher asked about street trees.

Mr. Mills said that the plan shows six Japanese Alcorva (?) trees. These will grow better in the small space allowed on a town street and will not interfere with utilities the way sycamore trees would.

In response to Dr. Ciervo’s further questions, Mr. Murphy said that the applicant will comply with all stormwater management requirements. No full service restaurant will be located at the site and all residential units will be one-bedroom only.

Mr. M. Gallagher moved to approve the revised final plan of land development of the Promenade at Sycamore Street, being known as Bucks County Tax Parcel No. 29-10-7 prepared by Van Cleef Engineering, dated July 24, 2009, revised October 6, 2009 and revised May 30, 2012, subject to the following conditions, all of which the Applicant has agreed to:

1. Prior to the signing of the Final Plan and its recordation, and subject to the variances granted and waivers secured, the Plan shall be revised to comply with the following professional consultants’ review letters:

A. June 5, 2012 review letter from CKS Engineers, except for the

following comments which shall be resolved as indicated:

B. June 5, 2012 letter of Boucher and James;

C. June 5, 2012 review letter of Gilmore & Associates, except for the following comments which shall be resolved as indicated:

D. June 1, 2012 review letter from the Newtown Emergency Services Department.

2. The Applicant shall comply with all terms and conditions of the variances granted

by the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board on July 2, 2009 and November 10, 2011;

3. The applicant shall comply with any review from Bucks County Planning Commission;

4. The Applicant shall supply all permits required by all Township, County, State and Federal governmental agencies

5. The applicant shall obtain E-1 Conditional Use approval for all retail tenants,

6. The applicant shall comply with conditions of land development approval dated November 18, 2009

7. The Applicant shall supply and execute all development and financial security documents in a form satisfactory to the Township Solicitor;

8. The Applicant shall provide a will serve or appropriate agreement from the

appropriate water and sewer authorities confirming the availability of public water and public sewer to the project.

9. The Applicant shall provide an adequate letter from the Bucks County Conservation District as to erosion and sediment control;

10. All lighting shall comply with all Township Ordinances (except to the extent any

waivers or variances have been granted) and no glare shall extend onto adjoining properties and a note shall be added to the plan so indicating.

11. The Applicant shall comply with all storm water management ordinances and the

Township Engineer recommendations and the Applicant shall execute a storm water management agreement in a form acceptable to the Township’s professionals.

12. No Use shall be permitted which is noxious or offensive to the immediate area by

reason of odor, dust, smoke, gas, vibration, illumination or noise or which constitutes a public hazard by fire, explosion or otherwise and a note shall be added to the Plan so indicating.

13. If applicable, the Applicant shall pay a traffic impact fee pursuant to the schedule

of fees of Newtown Township and as assessed by the township traffic engineer.

14. Applicant shall execute a declaration of unilateral restrictions and covenants as

it relates to the notes on the Plan, which Declaration will be filed contemporaneously with the final plans.

15. Applicant shall pay all review and professional fees incurred by the Township in connection with all prior reviews and reviews in connection with this approval as required under the Township SALDO and its applicable rate structure.

16. Applicant shall provide sufficient landscape buffering so as to preclude headlights from impinging upon nearby intersections.

17. All signs shall be subject to and comply with Township sign ordinances and

shall only be placed after securing any and all permits from the Township.

18. A fee in lieu of dedication of park and open space area shall be paid in accordance with the Township Fee Schedule.

19. The property shall be ADA compliant.

20. The façade of both proposed buildings shall be consistent with the 2009 plans as to appearance, footprint and height and shall comply with the HARB recommendation of November 30, 2009;

21. Construction easements with Newtown Rescue Squad, Village at Newtown Shopping Center and Newtown Presbyterian Church are to be secured.

22. All waivers granted as outlined in minutes of prior approval dated November 18, 2009, letters A through P are incorporated into this approval.

Mr. R. Gallagher seconded.

Discussion of Motion: Resident Walt Jamison, Chairman of the Board of the Historic Newtown Presbyterian Church Committee, said that he has met with Messrs. Murphy, Worthington and McGrath on numerous occasions. The Church is in full agreement with the plans as presented. The Church is pleased with the redesign, especially the reduction in the size of the building directly adjacent to the Church, which was built in 1769.

Resident Shawn Ward, President of the Sycamore Street Community Association, said that his organization has met with the applicants to review the plans and is fully supportive of the plans and looks forward to welcoming Promenade to Sycamore Street.

Mr. Murphy confirmed that all of the Supervisors’ conditions are acceptable to the applicant.

The motion passed 5-0.

Applicant Jim Worthington thanked the Board and Planning Commission for their help in moving the plans through the review process on an expedited schedule. He is looking forward to bringing the project to Sycamore Street. He hopes to hold a demolition party in August to celebrate the start of the project and to thank the Township, residents and businesses for their support through this long process. He said that this proves that Newtown is a very good place to do business.

Reports of Officials

Engineer’s Report

Newtown Walk- Phase 1, Certificate of Completion: Dr. Ciervo moved to approve a certificate of completion #9 and escrow release in the amount of $63,215 for Newtown Walk, Phase 1. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. M. Gallagher voting nay.

Newtown Walk- Phase II, Certificate of Completion: Dr. Ciervo moved to approve a certificate of completion #2 and escrow release in the amount of $29,830 for Newtown Walk, Phase 2. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. M. Gallagher voting nay.

Newtown Walk – Phase III, Certificate of Completion: Dr. Ciervo moved to approve a certificate of completion #2 and escrow release in the amount of $62,013.50 for Newtown Walk, Phase 2. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 4-1, with Mr. M. Gallagher voting nay.

Solicitor’s Report

GreenStraw Smoothies, LLC, 243 North Sycamore Street, Conditional Use: Mr. Garton opened this hearing for this application for use E-5, eating place in a 1050 square foot retail space in the TC Town Commercial Zoning District. This application has been duly advertised in the Newtown Advance on May 22 and May 31, 2012. The application and all review letters are incorporated into the record.

Mr. Garton asked if anyone present wished to be party to the application. There was no response.

Mr. Garton noted that the Planning Commission had recommended approval of this application.

Jeff Troy and Kelly Troy, applicants, said that they would open a shop that would sell smoothies and healthy snacks and juices using organic and locally grown products.

Dr. Ciervo asked about the number of seats in the shop.

Mr. Troy said that there would be ten seats, otherwise they would need to purchase additional EDU’s from the Sewer Authority.

Mr. Garton explained that there had been a 1986 Zoning Hearing Board decision granting reduced parking based on the square footage of commercial/retail space. The applicant would need to confirm that the ratio of retail to residential was still accurate so that the variance is still valid.

Mr. Troy said that he had done some informal traffic counts at what he expected would be his business’s busiest AM time and found that there were at least 35-45 available parking spaces in the upper section of the parking lot.

Dr. Ciervo said that if the Township grants conditional use approval based on ten seats, if the business were to expand, the applicant would need to return. He encouraged them to ask for more seating so that they would not need to return to the Township but could add seats and purchase additional EDU’s. He also suggested that the applicant increase the maximum number of employees to 6, in case the business expanded.

Mr. Troy said that the Sewer Authority had suggested monitoring their water use for a few months, since the business plan calls for certain water conservation methods. It might be possible to add a bench in front without purchasing additional EDU’s.

Mr. Calabro asked Mr. Troy the exact location of the business.

Mr. Troy said it would be in the shop which had been Zephyr Gallery, directly across from the Green Parrot.

Dr. Ciervo moved to approve GreenStraw Smoothies’ application for conditional use for an E-5 eating place at 243 North Sycamore Street in the TC, Town Commercial Zoning District, subject to the following conditions:

  1. That the applicant comply with the Boucher and James review letter dated May 16, 2012,
  2. That the applicant comply with the CKS review letter dated May 30, 2012,
  3. That the proposed use satisfies the general requirements applicable to the proposed use, E-5, under Section 803 of the JMZO,
  4. That the average number of employees will be 2 per shift with a maximum of 6;
  5. No hazardous, flammable or explosive material which require special handling shall be stored or used in the building,
  6. No noxious, hazardous or offensive impact upon surrounding areas be created by the proposed use by reason of dust, odor, smoke, gas, vibration, illumination or noise, or which constitutes a public hazard by fire, explosion or otherwise.
  7. No loud music shall be generated on site and no music shall be audible from the premises .
  8. Hours of operation shall be 7:30 AM to 10:00 PM, Monday through Sunday;
  9. The premises shall be ADA compliant.
  10. That the proposed use satisfies the specific requirements applicable to the proposed use under Section 1301.B of the JMZO;
  11. All review, legal, engineering, administrative and other review fees shall be paid to the Township;
  12. The applicant shall provide proof of equitable ownership as required under Section 1302.B of the JMZO shall be provided to the Township.
  13. The applicant shall obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Architectural Review Board for all signage,
  14. The applicant shall provide evidence of adequate parking for this use as per variances granted,
  15. Deliveries shall be coordinated with neighboring eating places,
  16. No alcoholic beverages shall be served,
  17. No drive-through service shall be permitted,
  18. The applicant shall comply with all applicable codes, ordinances, laws and regulations of the Township;
  19. The business shall have a maximum of twenty seats, subject to purchase of additional EDU’s from the Sewer Authority, if necessary.

Mr. Benchener seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Benchener said that he appreciated Mr. and Mrs. Troy’s efforts to open a business in Newtown, especially a business that fits so well into the Township’s efforts to make Sycamore Street a more walkable downtown.

Mr. Ward, on behalf of the Sycamore Street Community Association, said that the Association had reviewed this application and is fully supportive of it. He welcomed GreenStraw Smoothies to the neighborhood.

The motion passed 5-0.

Newtown Racquetball Association, 209 Penns Trail- Zoning Hearing Board Application: Mr. Garton explained that the NAC is seeking a setback variance to allow a 33 foot front yard setback where 75 feet is required in order to amend its plan for a baseball academy building.

Ms. Fountain said that the NAC wants to relocate the baseball academy closer to Pheasant Run to allow more green area between the new fitness addition and the proposed pool complex.

Mr. M. Gallagher said that it is his understanding that the originally planned practice field is to be relocated and the space between the building and pool would be held in green for possible future parking needs.

Mr. Benchener said that he thought this made sense as it appears the pool might be very popular and the applicant may need additional parking nearer the pool entrance.

The Board had no comment on this application.

Manager’s Report

Newtown Walk Name Change: Chief Pasqualini said that current and future residents of Newtown Walk have expressed a desire to change the name of Worstal Alley to Garret Place in Newtown Walk. He and the Township professionals have no objection to this request.

Dr. Ciervo moved to allow the change from Worstal Alley to Garret Place subject to the condition that Toll Brothers change the name of the development from Newtown Walk to some other name without “Newtown” or “Eagle” in the title. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. M. Gallagher said that the Township had an ordinance prohibiting the use of the words “Newtown” or “Eagle” in development names as they are overused. Toll Brothers has been asked to change the name and has not.

Mr. Benchener said that he disagrees with the motion. The request comes from residents of Newtown not from the developer. At this point, Toll Brothers has built its marketing and branding around the name “Newtown Walk.” He noted that the Board voted to release escrow for this development, so only the residents are punished by withholding approval of the street name change.

Mr. R. Gallagher asked why the residents have asked for the change.

Mr. Garton said that he did not know the reason, only that attorney Ed Murphy had been approached by a group of residents asking for the change.

Mr. Calabro asked that the motion be repeated.

Dr. Ciervo moved to allow the change from Worstal Alley to Garret Place subject to the condition that Toll Brothers change the name of the development from Newtown Walk to some other name without “Newtown” or “Eagle” in the title. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded.

Dr. Ciervo said that he disagreed with Mr. Benchener, noting that the development is very near to completion and the change will have minimal impact on the marketing efforts.

The motion passed 3-2, with Messrs. R. Gallagher and Benchener voting nay.

Terry Drive Extension Professional Services Proposal: Mr. M. Gallagher explained that this proposal involves engineering work for the project to extend Terry Drive through to the Newtown Bypass.

Dr. Ciervo asked how this project would be funded.

Chief Pasqualini said that TSA 1 funds are to be used. The money has been budgeted for this project for some time.

Ms. Kaminski said that the engineering is for some additional improvements PennDOT has required as part of its approval process.

Mr. M. Gallagher moved to approve the professional services proposal of Gilmore & Associates for the Terry Drive extension. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Approval of CWA Fire Fighters Contract: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve the Firefighters CWA Contract. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded.

Discussion of motion: Mr. M. Gallagher said that this contract includes the 8 members of the collective bargaining unit of CWA 13,000, paid firefighters. They are responsible for fighting fires during the daytime, building fire inspections and fire education in the Township. This contract extends some of the concessions made by the union last year, which included a change in healthcare coverage with a higher co-pay. The members will get a on-time $2000 payout plus increases of 3% in 2013 and 2014 and 3.5% in 2015. This agreement represents a compromise; the firefighters did not get everything they had hoped, nor did the Township.

The motion passed 3-1-1 with Dr. Ciervo voting nay and Mr. Calabro abstaining.

Mr. Benchener said that he agreed with Mr. Gallagher that this represents a good compromise. The change in healthcare coverage is an important concession, saving the Township money during some very tough times.

Police Report: Chief Pasqualini said that he would like to commend the Police Department and particularly Corporal Robert Lupinetti, Officer Thomas Rawa and Officer Daniel Bartle, whose police work contributed to solving a series of burglaries in the community. He noted that the officers had some help from community members who had reported suspicious circumstances in their neighborhoods. He urged residents to continue to report anything out of the ordinary as it can help with solving crimes.

Chief Pasqualini reported that he Police Department had responded to 1036 calls in the last month, including 25 animal complaints, 4 burglaries and 48 suspicious circumstances.

Mr. R. Gallagher asked about reports of bear sightings.

Chief Pasqualini said that there have been a number of such calls, which are reported to the State Wildlife Commission. He reminded residents to keep their trash tightly sealed and if they see a bear, go inside.

Chief Pasqualini reported that the sallyport is very near to completion and has been only $3200 over bid. There will be $14,000 left in the ten million dollar construction loan.

Mr. Calabro asked the Chief to discuss use of fireworks.

Chief Pasqualini said that use of fireworks is illegal in Pennsylvania, although there are laws in place allowing the sale to non-residents. If the officers respond to a fireworks report, they usually warn and only issue citations for repeat calls. He noted how very dangerous fireworks can be and how many emergency calls for accidents are reported all over the country at this time of year.

Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports

Minutes: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of May 23, 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 $189,184.07. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Mr. R. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $172,102.81. Dr. Ciervo seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Old Business

Dr. Ciervo asked for an update on traffic calming for Sycamore Street.

Chief Pasqualini reported that he and Ms. Kaminski have been studying traffic speeds from Durham Road to Cliveden Estates’ entrance for a possible reduction in speed to 35 MPH. They are also studying the “no right turn on red” at Durham and Sycamore. Both would need documentation and PennDOT approval.

Mr. Ward asked about solar powered speed signs.

Chief Pasqualini said that he is still investigating the cost but would make it part of next year’s capital budget.

Mr. Calabro asked about enforcement of speed limits on North and South Drives in Newtown Grant.

Chief Pasqualini said that now that school is out, enforcement would be stepped up on the developments’ through streets. He noted that most of the offenders are residents of the developments.

Mr. M. Gallagher said that at a recent Borough traffic meeting, residents discussed being their own “pace cars” in their neighborhoods. By adhering to posted speed limits in the neighborhoods, residents will slow up traffic behind them. He urged Township residents to do the same.

Mr. M. Gallagher said that he had asked at one time for a wireless microphone for presenters so they do not have to stand at the podium when showing plans. He again asked for an estimate from Video Gold.

New Business

Mr. M. Gallagher said that he has asked for a proposal to wire the podium for an Ethernet connection as the Board and committees eventually move to a paperless packet.

Mr. M. Gallagher suggested that perhaps the Board could work with the Newtown Business Association to allow businesses in the community to make brief presentations during the meetings as a way to promote the many businesses in the Township.

Mr. Benchener agreed that this would be a good idea; so many of the residents are unaware of the many businesses here in our business districts.

Mr. M. Gallagher suggested that the Board adopt casual dress for the summer meetings. There was no response.

Public Comment

Mr. Ward reported that the third annual Sycamore Street Festival, “takin’ it to the Street” was a tremendous success. This year is combined the Presbyterian Church Strawberry Festival and a Corvette Car Show with the street fair. More than 4500 people attended the events. He thanked the Township’s staff, police, fire and EMS for their help in making this a very successful day.

Mr. M. Gallagher said that the Board would remain for an executive session to discuss matters of personnel.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30 PM.

 

 

Respectfully Submitted:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary

 

Attest:

Henry Pasqualini, Interim Township Manager


Michael Gallagher, Chairman

Matthew Benchener, Vice-Chairman

Ryan W. Gallagher, Esq., Secretary/Treasurer

Philip Calabro, Member

Robert Ciervo, Member