Board of Supervisors
Minutes of June 21, 2012
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on June 21, 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, member. 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 at 8:15 PM.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Planning Commission Report: Vice Chairman Robert Whartenby reported that at its June 19, 2012 meeting, the Planning Commission reviewed four Zoning Hearing Board applications. The Commission had no comment on the application of Faith and William McManimon, 21 Jasmine Court. They are requesting a side yard setback variance of three feet to build a wooden. Mike Walsh, 385 Stoopville Roadis seeking relief of the minimum open space ratio in order to subdivide a 6.345 gross acre lot into two lots with one lot totaling 2.85 acres, creating one non-conforming lot in the CM Zoning District. The Commission passed it to the Supervisors without comment. The Commission reviewed the application of Karate for Kidz, 2110 South Eagle Road, for a variance for a commercial school use in the PC Planned Commercial Zoning District. The members voted to recommend that the Supervisors support the application; the Commission is pleased to see a business coming into this section of the shopping center where there are so many vacancies.
The Commission reviewed the application of S&H Securities, LLC, 74 Richboro Road for a number of variances to create an E-9 entertainment use in the CC Convenience Commercial Zoning District. Most of the variances dealt with technical issues for parking lots and entrances/egresses. The applicant plans to create a “haunted mansion” attraction in a residential building, which is already an existing non-conformity. The plan would allow the attraction to be open for 21 days in the fall, with the use reverting to residential the remainder of the year.
The Commission had a number of concerns with possible traffic issues at both the entrance and exit, as well as conflict with the high school traffic during football season. The members also had concerns about the intense commercial use adjacent to a residential neighborhood, although the applicant had assured members that he has the support of his neighbors and he owns some of the adjoining parcels. He also has the support and cooperation of the adjacent American Legion post.
The Township’s Code Enforcement Officer explained to the Commission that the “haunted mansion” would have to meet some very strict building codes for this particular use and for commercial uses in general. The house currently only meets residential code requirements. The Commission has concerns about the many dangers of this type of attraction if not built to the proper building codes and would like the Supervisors to be aware of their concerns before the application proceeds to the Zoning Hearing Board.
The applicant’s attorney informed the Commission that he is not expected to appear before the Supervisors for review of the application. The Commission did not have any specific recommendations regarding the relief requested, but did want the Board to be aware of its many concerns about the impact the use could have on the community as well as the possible burdensome expense to the applicant to meet the codes for the use.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that the Supervisors had reviewed a sketch plan for this project and had seen the Zoning Hearing Board application, but did not feel a need to send the Solicitor to oppose the application. He suggested that the Planning Commission’s synopsis or the minutes from the Planning Commission meeting be forwarded to the Zoning Hearing Board for its consideration.
Mr. Garton said that the Planning Commission synopsis in the Board’s packet is a public document and can be shared.
Mr. Gallagher asked that the Synopsis be forwarded to the Zoning Hearing Board members.
Board Members: Mr. M. Gallagher said that he is saddened to report that the son of former Township Assistant Manager John Boyle passed away this week. On behalf of the Board and the Township, he extended condolences to the Boyle family.
The Birches, 54-84 Durham Road- Final Plan for Land Development: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that this plan to consolidate tax map parcels 29-06-06 through 29-06-12 to build an assisted living facility had been granted preliminary plan approval on September 21, 2011. It has been revised on May 23, 2012. The Planning Commission had reviewed and recommended preliminary as final approval last year.
Attorney Ed Murphy represented the applicant. He said that this is a very proud time for Newtown as this is the second of three eyesores in the Township to be approved for redevelopment. The Promenade had been approved last week and he expects the Weglos dental office to be presented very shortly for final approval. He expects all three projects to be well underway by September.
Mr. Murphy said that the outstanding issue at preliminary approval had been PennDOT input on intersection improvements. The applicant will comply with all review letters; the applicant is awaiting some clarification of the Gilmore comments.
Messrs. Benchener and R. Gallagher agreed with Mr. Murphy that this is a significant time for Newtown as it works to move forward on these projects.
Mr. Benchener moved to approve the Final Plan for Land Development of The Birches(“Applicant”) for the premises located at the northwest corner of Durham and Eagle Roads, Newtown Township, Bucks County for Tax Map Parcels ##29-006-006 through 29-006-012 prepared by Dumack Engineering dated January 11, 2011, last revised on May 23, 2012, subject to the following conditions and variances previously granted:
Mr. R. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that no specific location for planting of trees has been determined at this time.
The motion passed 4-0.
Toll Brothers, Inc., Newtown Walk Street Name Change: Mr. Murphy explained that a number of purchasers of homes in Newtown Walk would like the street name changed from Worstall Alley to Garret Alley. They find the word “Worstall” difficult to pronounce. All of the purchasers have been contacted and all are in agreement that they support the name change. It appears that Worstall is difficult to pronounce.
Mr. Benchener moved to change the name of Worstall Alley in Newtown Walk to Garret Alley. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Garton reminded the Board that this would need to be reported to the fire chief, so that information can be updated with the postal service and GPS.
Mr. Murphy said that he would need a written confirmation to be presented to the recorder of deeds.
Mr. Calabro asked the number of homes involved in the name change.
Mr. Murphy said that there are 11 lots on this street.
Resident Lisa Peterson said that she is the only home settled on this street. She had received an e-mail from the property manager asking if she would approve of the name change prior to her settlement, however all of her documentation. She has made changes to Garret Alley for all of her contact information and all of her mail. At settlement she learned that the name had not been changed, so she again changed her documentation to Worstall Alley. She would like the name to stay Worstall Alley rather than change all of her mail again.
Mr. Calabro asked to see the e-mails confirming approval. He asked whether any other purchasers had closed on their homes.
Mr. Murphy confirmed that Ms. Peterson is the only purchaser to have closed.
Mr. Garton noted that Worstall is on Township documentation, but that name is not on file with the recorder of deeds.
Mr. Murphy explained that he had not been sure what the correct process to change the name would be but Chief Pasqualini said that if the residents were in agreement the Supervisors could authorize the change.
Mr. R. Gallagher asked if any of the future residents who requested the name change were in attendance and also asked the significance of the two names.
Mr. Murphy said that only Ms. Peterson was in attendance this evening. The two names seem to have some historic significance, but he was not sure of that history.
Ms. Peterson said that she had been told that only one resident wanted the name change and the others did not care but wanted to be cooperative. She, herself, did not initially object, but it has now become a large inconvenience.
Mr. Calabro said that he did not think there is a compelling reason to change the name, as it would be a large inconvenience to this resident. Newtown has many funny street names and throughout this evening’s proceedings, no one has had difficulty pronouncing Worstall.
Messrs. Benchener and R. Gallagher said that did not feel prepared to make a decision, as they have not heard a compelling reason to change the name but would prefer postponing decision until those supporting the change have spoken to the issue.
Mr. Benchener moved to table his motion. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 3-1, with Mr. Calabro voting nay.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. Benchener moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of June 13, 2012. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mr. Calabro abstaining.
Bills: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve payment of bills totaling $162,107.69 Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mr. Calabro abstaining.
Mr. Calabro asked for an update on the Woll Tract/Veterans Park.
Chief Pasqualini said that he, Mrs. Pawlenko, Mr. M. Gallagher, Mr. R. Gallagher, Mr. Garton and representatives of Superior Turf visited the site last week to get an assessment of costs for bringing the fields to playable conditions. Legal council will then give direction for the next steps.
Mr. Garton reminded the Board that at the time of the approval of Corner Bakery Café, the Board had left open questions regarding construction of reserve parking currently held in green and installation of a raised crosswalk.
Ms. Fountain provided copies of the plans for a sidewalk from the café to the location of the crosswalk and reserved parking.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he recalled discussing waiting until the café had been open for business and evaluating whether customers are parking and walking across West Road. The reserve parking might be used for employee parking, but he did not want to pave if it is not needed.
Mr. Garton said that the shopping center would be responsible to install the reserve parking. Funds for the crosswalk have been escrowed.
Mr. Benchener agreed with Mr. Gallagher, and preferred to evaluate the need for the crosswalk and additional parking until a few months after the café has been open for business.
The Board agreed to postpone a decision on the raised crosswalk and reserve parking until the need has been evaluated with the café open for business.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that the Board would remain for an executive session to discuss matters of personnel.The meeting adjourned at 9:45 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary