Board of Supervisors
Minutes of June 12, 2013
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on June 12, 2013 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: Kurt Ferguson, 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 followed by an invocation by Reverend Doctor Paul Sorcek of Advent Lutheran Church and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Changes to the Agenda: Mr. Ferguson said that discussion of Delancey Court’s Park and Rec fee has been removed from the agenda. He has added an item to the bills list.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that at its June 4, 2013 meeting, the Commission reviewed the application of KVK Tech, 114 Pheasant Run, to add use G-1, manufacturing to a facility where research and warehousing are currently the permitted uses. The applicant intends to manufacture, package and store small volume liquid pharmaceuticals in this secure facility. The Commission recommended that the Board grant conditional use approval subject to a number of conditions.
Attorney Ed Murphy, Engineer Heath Dumack and applicant Monty Patel of IHM Properties were in attendance to discuss a sketch plan for development of a ten acre parcel at the intersection of Newtown Bypass and Silver Lake Road as a 110 room hotel, two restaurant pads and a medical office building. The site is intersected by a 150 foot wide PECO property with high tension wires and utility lines as well as a stream, waters of the Commonwealth and woodlands. The applicant acknowledged that flood studies, traffic studies and tree counts will be necessary before fully engineered plans are developed or applications to the Zoning Hearing Board are made.
The members discussed some of their concerns with intense development of this parcel. The Township has been resistant to uses E-5 and E-6, eating place and drive through in the OR zoning district and advised the applicant that asking for two pad sites for restaurants may meet with some opposition, especially if fast food were considered. The applicant assured the Commission that he will be offering the site for family friendly restaurants with no drive through service. The applicant said that he intends to cooperate with Township signage regulations, which is another of the Commission’s concerns. The members discussed access to the site and sidewalks within it, so that pedestrians would have safe access among the uses.
Regarding the hotel, the Commission discussed the proposed height and location on the lot; the subsurface is rock, limiting its possible placement. It will be set back and not will dominate the view from the Bypass.
The Commission advised the applicant of the Township’s history of resistance to restaurants at this location, acknowledging the desirability of eating places in easy proximity to hotels. The Commission advised the applicant to be flexible, possibly locating the restaurant inside the hotel or seeking relief for only one restaurant and having only three buildings at the site.
A traffic engineer has been brought on to the project but no preliminary work has been done yet to determine whether roadway improvements will be necessary for Silver Lake Road.
The Commission was receptive to development of this property and did not express strong objections to the hotel concept, provided signage complies with Township ordinances. There were no strong objections to the medical office building, although there was some concern about possible parking relief for the three different uses’ shared parking concept. Should the medical office change to a use with evening hours, the sharing of parking with restaurants and a hotel could become an issue.
Dr. Ciervo noted that parking is shown on the PECO property and that the three uses proposed are not permitted in the OR zoning district.
Mr. Fidler said that the Commission had some concern about the intensity of the proposed development but until the flood lines are delineated it is difficult to discuss in detail. The surrounding business community is eager to see service businesses, especially a hotel with meeting facilities, in this area. The applicant has not contracted with a specific hotel chain but is considering upscale facilities. The Commission expects this to be a very long process, but the applicant was flexible and eager to work with the Township.
Board of Supervisors Report: Mr. R. Gallagher thanked Piccolo Trattoria for donating $3500 to pay for the First Fourth fireworks. The First Fourth Committee is still looking for volunteers for events throughout the day on Saturday, July 6, 2013.
Mr. M. Gallagher reminded the Board of the Township vs. Borough softball game on First Fourth, noting that the Township has been the winner for the last five years and he is eager to see this continue.
The Board agreed to casual dress for the summer Supervisors meetings.
Dr. Ciervo asked the Board to discuss the redevelopment of the Newtown Swim Club property. He said that he recently read a 1989 Philadelphia Inquirer article which stated that David Platt had wanted to develop his property as a 109 home development, a 9-hole golf course and driving range and some changes to the swim club. Residents opposed the houses and golf course and the plan was dropped, however the property has since become Wiltshire Walk and what was to have been Brandywine office complex is now The Villas. The Township now has plans before it for a 56 townhouse development at the Swim Club. The trailer park plan is still open. He suggested that the Board bring the trailer park plan in for review and vote to either approve or deny it before considering the townhouse plan. He is concerned that the developer will use the trailer park as a threat if he is not given approval for everything he wants with the townhouse plan. He noted that if the property had been developed as proposed in 1989, there would have been 109 houses and a golf course, which is a permitted use. Instead, the property will have 350 homes once the swim club adds either trailers or townhouses. He urged the members to consider the long term impact of decisions.
Dr. Ciervo moved to bring the Newtown Trailer Park plan to the Board of Supervisors for review before it considers the townhouse plan for the Newtown Swim Club. Mr. Calabro seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. M. Gallagher noted that the Township professionals have already completed their formal reviews of the townhouse plan and it is ready for Planning Commission review.
Dr. Ciervo said that there are also completed reviews of the trailer park.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he believed this had been addressed in the prior discussion of the PRD. A majority of the Board had agreed that the townhouse PRD plans would move forward but the trailer park plans would not be withdrawn.
Mr. Calabro said that the Board had recently indicated that it would approve the PRD after reviews; the developer should have withdrawn the trailer park plans at that time. Instead they remain open, leaving the Board in a weakened position.
Mr. Garton said that the Board agreed to consider the townhouse PRD plan, which will still require reviews; it also agreed that the trailer park plan would remain in abeyance.
Mr. Benchener said that this had also been his understanding. The builder has made capital outlays for both plans and both are to remain.
Dr. Ciervo said that he has concerns that the trailer park will be held over the Board as it considers aspects of the townhouse PRD. He would like to eliminate that threat by either approving or denying the trailer park now. He was not concerned about possible appeals.
Mr. Garton said that he had written Mr. VanLuvanee, attorney for the developer, outlining the Board’s agreement to consider the PRD, along with the signed and approved copy of the minutes of the meeting at which the PRD was discussed.
Mr. Benchener said that the majority of the Board agreed to allow the trailer park plans to remain open. He would not want to open the Board to any lengthy or expensive appeals process by going against the decision already in place regarding the PRD plans.
Mr. M. Gallagher reminded the Board that after the trailer park plans were submitted, Newtown submitted an amendment to the JMZO increasing the minimum lot size for mobile home parks to 25 acres. The Swim Club could not resubmit its plans if they were withdrawn now.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that he thought it would be pointless to review the plans now because nothing will be changed by a vote. The property was zoned for mobile homes; they are permitted.
Mr. Garton reminded the Board that the JMZO amendment has been adopted by all of the Jointure partners and 25 acres are required now. The applicant could not submit a new plan for this 15 acre parcel.
Mr. Benchener said that the PRD plan is supported by the residents and by the Board majority. To bring the trailer plan to the Board would expose the Township to an appeal in which it might not be successful.
Mr. Calabro agreed with Dr. Ciervo that the mobile home plans would be used as a threat during any negotiations on the PRD. He would like to eliminate that threat by dealing with the trailer park plans now.
Dr. Ciervo said that he was confident that the Township, with its use of public resources to defend its decisions, would be successful in appeals and would put the Township in a better negotiating position while reviewing the PRD plans.
The motion failed 2-3, with Messrs. M. Gallagher, Benchener and R. Gallagher voting nay.
Roadway Improvement Program: Ms. Fountain reported that she is recommending that this year’s roadway improvement bid be awarded to Kehoe Construction. Kehoe is new to the Township, but CKS is familiar with their work.
Mr. Benchener moved to award the 2013 roadway improvement bid to Kehoe construction in the amount of $375,495. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded.
Discussion of motion: Ms. Fountain noted that $13,608.50 of the award would come from the general fund and the remainder would come from the liquid fuels fund.
Mr. Calabro asked how many miles of road would be repaved for the $375,000.
Ms. Fountain said that it is difficult to discuss the dollars per mile because some portions of the roads include storm drains and curbs and milling as well as repaving. This bid will include 2.4 miles of roads with four intersections.
Mr. Calabro noted that with 80 miles of roadway in the Township it will take more than 35 years to repave every road. He said that he could recall a time when as much as ten miles were repaved each year.
The motion passed 5-0.
Lieutenant Robert Matthews reported that in the last month the Department had responded to 1252 calls for service, including 65 suspicious circumstances, 4 frauds, 2 assaults and 6 DUI’s. There were 37 traffic accidents and 196 citations issued.
ICMA 457 Defined Contribution Plan: Mr. Ferguson reminded the Board that it had agreed to contribute 5% of the salary of the Township manager and fire chief to a 457 deferred compensation plan. A motion is needed to acknowledge the Township’s contribution of the 2012 salaries and to acknowledge actual participation in the ICMA defined contribution plan beginning in 2013.
Dr. Ciervo moved to acknowledge the Township’s participation in a 457 deferred compensation plan with a 5% Township contribution and to actually participate in the ICMA 457 defined contribution plan in 2013 for the Township’s manager and fire chief. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0-2, with Mr. Benchener abstaining.
Treasury Report: Mr. Ferguson reported that the current balance in the Treasury is $3,247,032.31. The audit is under way as is the Fire Association audit. He is recommending some changes to the TD Bank accounts so that some fees will be eliminated and he will be closely monitoring the interest bearing accounts. He hopes to see an increase in earnings to about $3500-$5000.
Other Business: Mr. Ferguson reported that Public Works has begun planting in the islands on Stoopville Road. The work should be completed shortly.
Following up on Monsignor Picard’s public comment on traffic conditions on Walnut and Linden Streets at Swamp Road, Public Works has cleared the intersections to allow better sight distances and some thermal plastic tape has been added at the stop bars. The police and traffic engineer will be monitoring for other possible traffic calming including possible one way restrictions during certain hours.
Mr. Ferguson said that he is working with the Historic Architectural Review Board to revise applications for certificates of appropriateness to make for a more streamlined process with clearer instructions as to what will be needed to meet historic district requirements.
This year’s summer camp staff will be wearing identification badges so that parents can easily identify staff when they pick up and drop off their children. The staff will undergo criminal background checks. The cost of those background checks has been added to this week’s bills list.
Mr. Calabro asked for an update on the Sewer Authority.
Mr. Ferguson said that the Township is moving forward with its Act 537 plan. The ongoing issues between Newtown Joint Municipal Authority and Bucks County Sewer Authority have been settled, although he has not seen a written confirmation. He will follow up on this and on whether the 537 Plan will proceed with or without a sewage treatment plant.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that there is much confusion as to whether the DEP is still holding up issuance of EDU’s for new construction.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve the minutes of the work session of May 13, 2013. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro noted that Dr. Ciervo and Mr. Benchener were not in attendance at that meeting.
Mr. R. Gallagher amended his motion. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 3-0-2, with Mr. Benchener and Dr. Ciervo abstaining.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of May 22, 2013. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve payment of bills totaling $183,762.65. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded. The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $348,823.31. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded. The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approved payment of $360.00 for child abuse clearances for summer camp employees. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Dr. Ciervo said that it has been a long time since the Township has discussed the trail system and he would like to add this to a future agenda. He would like the Board to consider a plan to extend the trail so that Veterans Park is connected to existing trails and possibly extended to the library tract near Newtown Elementary School.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he believed that an updated trail map had been completed only a few years ago. He understood that the update showed where the trails connect with sidewalks within developments. He suggested that the Board review that map as part of any discussion.
Mr. M. Gallagher noted that as part of the mapping of the trails a map of sidewalks inside the Business Commons had been prepared. He suggested that a review of that map also be included in a trail discussion. The Board might want to consider connecting some Business Commons sidewalks with the trails or with other existing sidewalks as part of land development review.
Mr. M. Gallagher announced that the Board would remain for an executive session.
The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary