Board of Supervisors
Minutes of June 24, 2013
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on June 26, 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 Father Brown of St. Mark’s Orthodox 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 and he has added a discussion of the Goodnoe Elementary School permit fees to his report.
Paul Salvatore, chairman of the Newtown First Night Committee presented a $350 check to Mr. M. Gallagher for the Police DARE program. He thanked the Council Rock Entre-Act club for its fundraising efforts on First Night; Entre-Act sold raffle tickets to raise the DARE money.
Joe Gordon, Chairman of First Fourth Committee, announced that Fami, of Piccolo Trattoria, has donated the funds for the First Fourth fireworks display at Newtown Middle School on July 6. Piccolo will also sponsor a raffle for children; the winner will start the fireworks show. There will be festivities throughout the day, including a food court and the annual Borough v. Township softball game, which Newtown Township has won for four years in a row. McCaffrey’s Supermarket will provide a shuttle bus from the High School parking lot to the middle school.
Mr. Salvatore said that at the pre-event meeting he learned that this year there could be a charge for police overtime for the event. In the past, this event was sponsored by the Township and police coverage was included in the sponsorship.
Mr. Ferguson confirmed that the event would require four officers for three hours each.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved toapprove waiving of fees for police overtime for First Fourth. Mr. Benchener seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Mr. M. Gallagher thanked the Committee for its efforts to provide a safe and fun celebration of our independence.
Mick Petrucci, president of Newtown Business Association announced the annual car show, which will be held on State Street on July 21, 2013. To register a classic car, interested residents can visit www.newtownbca.org.
Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions
Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that at its June 18, 2013 meeting the Commission reviewed the application of Kenneth Bonn of 26 Bayshore Drive for Zoning Hearing Board relief for an increase in impervious surface of 0.65% to install a shed. The Commission suggested that the applicant consider some simple stormwater management mitigation for the small increase in run-off and agreed that the Supervisors should not oppose this application.
The Commission reviewed a sketch plan for Luis Flores on Linton Hill Road for subdivision of a 12.91 acre parcel in the CM conservation management zoning district into three lots. Lot #2 will consist of the existing house and barn on 6.91 acres. The remaining area will be subdivided into two 3-acre building lots, each containing a 6,000 square foot dwelling unit. The two new dwellings will take access by a shared driveway through an easement on the adjacent parcel. This property has a number of sensitive environmental areas, including woodlands, wetlands, floodplain soils, a pond and waters of the Commonwealth. The plan will require some zoning relief for floodplain soil disturbance, diverting waters of the Commonwealth, wetland and woodland disturbance and steep slope disturbance. The Commission had a number of concerns about this plan, especially as it might impact the County dam which is directly downstream. The Engineer and Planner asked the applicant’s engineer to provide more detailed information, including flood studies, clearly defined woodlands and riparian buffers, information on any agricultural soils to be disturbed and stormwater management plans. The Commission briefly discussed plans for the proposed houses. The Code Enforcement Officer discussed leaders and gutters to divert stormwater and Ms. Fountain suggested possibly eliminating basements from the houses. The Commission did not think a traffic study or roadway improvements would be needed, but deferred this question to the Supervisors. The reviews of our consultants pointed to a number of areas of concern where additional information and engineering would be needed before the Commission could comfortably make any recommendations. One of the members suggested that the applicant consider only dividing the property into two parcels to better protect the environment.
Board of Supervisors Report: Mr. M. Gallagher reported that he, Mr. R. Gallagher and Mr. Calabro attended a ribbon cutting for Bucks-Mercer Cardiology at 104 Pheasant Run. He welcomed this new business to the Township and said that Newtown has been seeing an increase in new and expanding businesses.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that this is the first anniversary of paperless committees, boards and commissions. The program has been very successful thanks to the cooperation of staff and committee members, who bring their own electronic devices to meetings to view their packets. The initiative has saved the Township many hundreds of dollars. He thanked all for their efforts.
Dr. Ciervo announced that Saturday, July 6 is the annual “Run over Cancer” 5K run. This year’s event will be at Council Rock South. He thanked Northampton Township for its support in waiving permit fees. To enter or to make a donation to help fund research in pancreatic cancer visit www.fundacure.com.
Dr. Ciervo announced that Council Rock School Board will be discussing a possible referendum to raise our Earned Income Tax and eliminate some of our other taxes, including the per capita tax and the occupational privilege tax at its July 18 meeting. He urged residents to participate in this discussion and become informed of the possible changes to our tax structure.
KVK Tech, Inc. 110 Terry Drive: Attorney Ed Murphy explained that KVK Tech would like to postpone land development for a portion of its expansion plans at 110 Terry Drive in order to meet a DEA deadline. He explained that KVK has plans to expand its facilities and has not filed for land development yet. It is now required to build a secure vault to upgrade its storage of controlled substances manufactured at the site by a certain deadline. He showed an aerial view of the facilities with the vault area and the proposed addition. He said that the vault would be included in the full land development plan but KVK would like to pull permits for the vault immediately.
Mr. Garton said that this would require a Board action to temporarily waive land development.
Mr. Benchener moved to temporarily waive land development for the vault portion of KVK Tech’s expansion plan with the understanding that the vault would be included in the full land development plans to be submitted at a later date. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Weglos Dental, Newtown Yardley Road, Certificate of Completion #4: Mr. Benchener moved to authorize escrow release in the amount of $8789. Mr. R. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Treasury Report: Mr. Ferguson reported that the current general fund balance is $3,035,747.56. Earned Income Tax, Local Services Tax and Transfer tax are all averaging above budgeted and anticipated amounts.
Goodnoe Elementary Permit Fees: Mr. Ferguson explained that he has been contacted by the School District asking whether the Township would consider waiving any portion of the permit fees for the Goodnoe Elementary expansion. The district is eager to start construction and fees are about $139,000.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that since the School District and the Township are both collectors of taxes from the same taxpayers and the District has been very cooperative in offering facilities for our recreation programs and camps, he would be inclined to considering a waiving of some of the fees.
Dr. Ciervo asked why the fees are so high.
Mr. Ferguson said that this is a very large project, costing about $15 million. Fees are based on both the size and cost of projects, and are estimated at about 1% of the project budget.
Dr. Ciervo asked what the actual cost to the Township for this project would be.
Mr. Ferguson said that the project is expected to take about two and a half years and would involve ongoing inspections. He said that he had not yet begun to research actual costs but guessed that it would be about 60% of the fees to cover the time of code officials and staff.
Mr. Calabro said that he was concerned that the Board was being asked to consider this without any advance notification or any paperwork spelling out exactly what the Board is being asked to waive. This item was added to the agenda only this evening and he felt unprepared to address it. He did hear some reference to it at the ribbon cutting this afternoon, but not with any specific information.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that this morning Mr. Ferguson informed him that the District had requested some waiving of fees and he advised Mr. Ferguson to put it on the agenda. He mentioned it to the other Supervisors at the ribbon cutting. He advised Mr. Ferguson to poll the other Supervisors to see if they are inclined to consider such a waiver, with the understanding that he would research the costs further if the Board wanted to pursue it.
Mr. Ferguson said that he had been approached informally by Mr. Taylor at the School District before he went on vacation and was reminded of this today. He would provide the Board with detailed figures of costs to the Township and actual fees charged if the Board would like to consider the question.
Mr. Calabro moved to table the question of waiving of permit fees for Council Rock School District’s Goodnoe Elementary construction project. Dr. Ciervo seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. R. Gallagher suggested that the Board be provided with a breakdown of costs for inspections as compared with permit fees charged. The Board can then consider the question at a later meeting.
Dr. Ciervo asked that copies of any correspondence or e-mails from Mr. Taylor and Superintendent Klein also be included in the packet.
The motion passed 5-0.
. Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of June 12, 2013. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Bills: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve payment of bills totaling $231,807.72. Mr. Benchener seconded.
Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro asked about the bill from Begley Carlin for general services.
Mr. Garton said that he provides detailed billing to the Township but he is unfamiliar with the codes used in the billing department. He does not have the specific information on this particular bill right now.
Mr. Ferguson said that those portions of Begley Carlin’s bill for legal services which cannot be charged to particular projects’ escrow funds are considered “general services.” This would include attending meetings, speaking on the phone to staff, etc. Our budget for this is $50,000 for the year.
Mr. Calabro asked about a Delaware Valley Insurance Trust payment for a deductible on an employee claim.
Mr. Mr. Gallagher said this involves a pending litigation and could be discussed in executive session.
The motion passed 5-0.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve interfund transfers totaling $175,430.08. Mr. Benchener seconded. The motion passed 5-0.
Dr. Ciervo said that he is very disappointed with the appearance of the medians in Stoopville Road. While the beds are being cleaned up and weeded, and do look cleaner, the plants are very small and weeds are already reappearing. He had hoped that larger plants would have been planted. He had requested juniper bushes similar to the Newtown Grant medians. These plants are only seedlings and some seem to already be dying. Larger plants would look nicer and would eliminate the need for weeding and watering. He would like the remaining beds planted with larger bushes.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that he agreed that the appearance is disappointing but he would like a better understanding of costs involved in switching to larger bushes.
Mr. Ferguson said that the staff had consulted with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which recommended three inch juniper bushes, planted three feet apart. These plants are expected to grow 18 to 20 inches the first year. The watering would be the same with small or large bushes. The price difference would have been considerable, with the 3 inch pots costing $1.20 and the 12 inch pots costing $8.00 each. The same number of plants would have been needed because of the spacing 3 feet apart. There is a weed barrier in place. The Horticultural Society advised that within a year the 3 inch plants would attain the same size as the 12 inch plants because of rapid growth in the first year.
Dr. Ciervo disagreed, saying that these are slow growing plants. When the Board discussed this, he expected it to be an expensive project which would save over time by eliminating maintenance work. He suggested that larger plants be purchased for the as yet unfinished beds and the remaining small plants be used to supplement the already completed beds.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that this would be eight times the cost of the original project. He said that he is inclined to rely on the advice of the experts at the Horticultural Society. Waiting a year to see whether the plants do fill in seems a more prudent approach. If, next year, we see that the plants did not grow, we can address it then.
Mr. M. Gallagher and Mr. Benchener agreed with Mr. R. Gallagher to follow the Horticultural Society’s advice. Mr. Benchener noted that inaction at this time will not compound the problem.
Mr. Calabro said that he had always questioned the wisdom of building the medians and favored paving them over.
Mr. Calabro said that he recently purchased one of Newtown Borough’s “pace car” stickers for his car and suggested that the Township adopt a similar program or join with the Borough on a “Newtown” pace car sticker. We have 25 MPH speed limits through many of the developments and residents frequently complain about speeding on the developments’ cut-through streets. This might be a good program to promote within the neighborhoods throughout the Township.
Mr. M. Gallagher agreed and said he would reach out to Charles Marchion, who developed the Borough’s program to learn more about it and to explore a joint effort.
Mr. Ferguson announced that Police Chief Pasqualini would return to work on Monday. He thanked Lieutenant Matthews for his work while filling in for the chief during his illness.
Mr. M. Gallagher announced that the Board would remain for an executive session to discuss pending litigation and personnel.
The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary