Board of Supervisors
Minutes of June 21, 2012
Newtown Borough Council and Newtown Township held a joint meeting on June 21, 2012 at 7:00 PM. In attendance and voting were: County Commission Chairman Robert Loughery, Newtown Borough Council President Robert Walker and members Robert King, Charles Marchion and Perry Warren and Newtown Township Supervisors Chairman Michael Gallagher, Vice Chairman Matthew Benchener, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer Ryan Gallagher and member Philip Calabro. Also in attendance was Bucks County Planning Commission Executive Director Lynn Bush.
Call to Order: Commissioner Loughery called the meeting to order with a moment of silence. This was followed by an invocation by Father Ernest Curtin of St Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Township Supervisors Chairman M. Gallagher explained that the Township Supervisors would be voting on the appointment of a fire chief, the first and only paid full time fire chief in Bucks County. This would be followed by his swearing in.
Resolution establishing position of Fire Chief: Mr. Benchener moved to adopt Resolution 2012-R-12, establishing the position of fire chief and amending the duties of fire marshal. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that the Township Supervisors had hired a consultant to review Newtown’s unique fire services, which include a salaried fire department for daytime coverage and Newtown Fire Association, a volunteer fire department covering the Township evenings and weekends. The consultant recommended that a fire chief be appointed to oversee both departments. After interviewing over forty possible candidates, the Supervisors have selected Newtown Police Lieutenant Glen Forsyth, who has been a member of Newtown’s police department for 28 years and a volunteer with Newtown Fire Association for 37 years. Lieutenant Forsyth was born in Newtown Borough and is currently a resident of the Township.
Judge Donald Nasshorn administered Lieutenant Forsyth’s swearing in.
Lieutenant Forsyth thanked the Supervisors for the faith they have shown in him and thanked Police Chief Pasqualini for his support.
Commissioner Loughery’s Discussion: Commissioner Loughery thanked the Board and Council for inviting him to this joint meeting. He has been attempting to visit each municipality in the County to meet with the residents and the officials. He commended Newtown on its appointment of the first full time paid fire chief in the County.
Commissioner Loughery said that he has been trying to focus on four concerns facing the County and its municipalities:
Mr. Walker asked about the interest rate on the bond.
Mr. Loughery said that the rate has not been determined at this point but it is expected to be low and the rate would be shared with the municipalities.
Mr. Walker said that Newtown Borough has had some concerns about regulating traffic as PennDOT has not permitted installation of stop signs deemed necessary by the local law enforcement. He asked for County support on issues best addressed where best understood, at the local level.
Mr. King said that the Borough and Township had recently had an interaction with PennDOT regarding repair on the Centre Avenue Bridge. When residents expressed concern about preservation of the historic bridge, rather than work with the communities, PennDOT withdrew its funding for repairs.
Mr. Loughery said that there are concerns throughout the County with bridge maintenance and repair. In some parts of the County, there has been less concern with historic accuracy in preservation, in favor of structural repair and maintenance. The County would like to provide support and guidance to all of the municipalities dealing with PennDOT.
Mr. Benchener thanked the Commissioner for his efforts toward economic development and asked what can be done at the County level to first attract new business to the County and then to the particular municipalities.
Mr. Loughery said that when businesses consider location or relocation in Bucks County, the attraction is our quality of life. We must continue to maintain our attractive appearance, quality schools, open space, roads and support for senior citizens. We must strive to create an environment that is a good place to live and to do business.
Newtown Township’s TC Town Commercial Zoning District: Mr. M. Gallagher said that Newtown Township has been attempting to address economic development through its zoning, working with the County Planning Commission. He provided copies of a recently drafted amendment to the JMZO, which would help to create a pedestrian friendly downtown along Sycamore Street.
County Planning Commission Executive Director Lynn Bush said that the Township’s Planning Commission and the County have worked together, first to examine the existing Sycamore Street area from Old St. Andrew’s Church to Goodnoe’s Corner, with special consideration paid to some of the larger parcels which could become subject to redevelopment. On the east side of the street, many properties back to Newtown Creek, and on the west side are a few large parcels which could see major redevelopment in the next few years. The Commissions worked together to draft an ordinance which focused on:
The ordinance contemplates no large parking fields or structures and offers some incentives for providing public spaces.
At this time the draft is being circulated among the Jointure partners for review and authorization to advertise. Ms. Bush said that in reviewing the amendment she has visited with the Jointure’s planning commissions and some of the local business organizations. She would be available to discuss the amendment with Newtown Borough’s Planning Commission and Borough Council.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he would welcome questions after the Council has had an opportunity to review the amendment and also would welcome Borough representatives to attend the Joint Zoning Council when the amendment is reviewed.
Regarding Mr. Walker’s comments on stop signs and Mr. King’s comments on bridge repair, Ms. Bush said that the Bucks County Planning Commission has worked with and has had some influence with PennDOT and can be of assistance.
Regarding traffic control, Mr. M. Gallagher said that at a recent meeting Mr. Marchion had discussed acting as a “pace car” by observing the speed limit, keeping others in line.
Mr. King urged residents to lead by example, as many motorists are coming from the Bypass where the speed limit is 55 MPH, they must quickly decelerate to the Borough speed limit of 25 MPH. The Borough has been sending letters to residents urging them to observe the speed limit and will be installing speed boards along some roads.
Public Comment: Borough resident Paul Salvatore, speaking on behalf of the First Fourth Committee, urged everyone to participate in the First Fourth celebration on July 7, with events planned throughout both the Borough and Township, including a softball game, Revolutionary Encampent and parade. McCaffrey’s Market has donated a shuttle bus to provide rides among the events and Newtown Athletic Club has donated the fireworks.
The meeting adjourned at 8:00 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary