Board of Supervisors
Minutes of March 12, 2014
The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 in the Township meeting room at 7:30 PM. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Michael Gallagher, Vice Chairman Ryan Gallagher and Philip Calabro, Kyle Davis and Jennifer Dix, members. Also in attendance were: Kurt Ferguson, Township Manager, Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor and Michele Fountain, Township Engineer.
Prior to calling the meeting to order, Judge Donald Nasshorn administered the oath of office to newly appointed Supervisor Kyle Davis.
During this meeting our television feed was disrupted a few times. Not all portions of the meeting were televised live.
Call to Order : Chairman Gallagher called the meeting to order with a moment of silence followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Newtown Business Association Featured Business
NBA Chairman Mick Petrucci thanked the Board for allowing him to highlight an NBA business each month. He introduced Gwenn Frischman of BC Discoveries.
Ms. Frischman said that her business, BC Discoveries is a dance and theater arts instruction and performance company located in the barn at the Brookside development. In addition to instruction and performance of all types of dance and theater, the Company is sponsoring summer camps and a relay for life team.
Mr. Petrucci announced that April 12, 2014 will be the NBA annual Easter Egg Hunt at Pickering Manor beginning at 9:00 AM sharp. All ages from toddlers through grandparents are welcome to join in the fun. Over 3,000 eggs will be hidden, some with candy and some with gold coins and prizes. Any local business which would like to sponsor the event is welcome as well. He reminded those planning to attend to be prompt, as the event begins at 9:00 but is over in a few minutes.
Mr. Petrucci also announced that Welcome Day will be Sunday, May 4 on Sycamore Street from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM. Space is still available for vendors. For more information, visit newtownba.org.
NBA will be mailing its local business directory shortly. He urged residents to support the local businesses listed in the directory.
Resident Shawn Ward, President of the Sycamore Street Community Association, announced the fourth annual Irish Festival at the Green Parrot from Friday afternoon through St. Patrick’s Day. The event will feature live music and dance performances as well as traditional Irish food and drink. Sycamore Street Community Association will again sponsor the June festival on Sycamore Street. This is early in the planning stages, but he will provide information as it becomes available. He thanked the Police, EMS and Public Works for their help with the Irish Festival. He also commended the Public Works Department for its excellent work at both snow removal and pothole repair.
Resident Karen Barton said that she has seen two articles in the Bucks County Courier Times about the ongoing issues with the Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority and asked the Board for an update.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that Bucks County Water and Sewer Authority has reached a settlement with DEP. The Township received a letter inviting it to attend an information meeting on March 19 at Bucks County Community College. The Supervisors and Mr. Ferguson will be in attendance as will representatives of the other municipalities impacted by the sewer moratorium. It is his understanding that DEP will begin signing planning modules for new EDU’s shortly, but each municipality will be expected to address stormwater concerns. He is optimistic that the Township will be in a position to begin issuing building permits for a number of homes and businesses.
Ms. Barton asked whether the meeting would be open to the public.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that it is his understanding that this is an informational meeting for representatives of the municipalities and would be closed to the public. Information would be shared with residents by the Supervisors as it is known.
Mr. Garton said that this does not violate any sunshine laws as no action is to be taken. This is an information meeting only.
Mr. M. Gallagher assured residents that he would bring a report on the meeting to the next Supervisors meeting.
Ms. Barton said that residents of Crown Pointe continue to be concerned because Newtown Joint Municipal Authority continues to say it would like to build its own treatment plant.
Mr. Ferguson said that CKS is working on the Township’s updated Act 537 Plan. DEP was part of a meeting to review the plan which shows the Township’s intention to remain with the Neshaminy Interceptor. This is a long process but the Township is working diligently on it and has already gotten maps of the sewer system from the Sewer Authority, which has been very cooperative thus far.
Board of Supervisors
Mr. R. Gallagher reported that the Township Park and Recreation Department will be hosting free tree pruning classes this Saturday. After so many branches have been lost in recent storms, this class is timely and helpful. For more information, visit newtownfun.com. The Park and Rec Department is now accepting registrations for drivers education, SAT prep and summer camps. In addition the Department has received a grant from Bucks Beautiful for planting 100,000 daffodils at Township parks at the roadway entrances. They should begin blooming shortly. Residents and businesses can purchase additional daffodil bulbs, $26 for 50 bulbs, through the Park and Rec Department for planting next fall.
Mr. Davis thanked the Board for giving him this opportunity to serve the community. He is looking forward to working with all of his fellow board members.
Mr. M. Gallagher thanked the Public Works Department for its excellent work in snow removal and pothole repair. He also announced that Congressman Fitzpatrick will be holding a job fair at Bucks County Community College on Saturday at 11:00 AM at the Gallagher Auditorium.
Wildgust, 104 St. Andrew’s Place: Mr. Garton reminded the Board thatlast year Mr. Wildgusthad asked the Board to allow him to install a swimming pool in deed restricted open space on his property. Mr. Wildgust is again asking the Board to consider his request.
Mr. Wildgust said that he has been a Newtown resident for more than twenty years and purchased his home on St. Andrew’s Place specifically to have a larger yard for a swimming pool. His realtor told him the rear yard would accommodate a pool and the deed restriction did not appear on his deed or any other papers he was given at the time of purchase. It was not until he applied for a permit that the Township showed him the “as built” plan, which shows most of his rear yard, up to the steps to his house, is deed restricted. He has learned that the Board of Supervisors can grant permission to construct in the deed restricted open space. He has spoken to his adjacent neighbors, the Goslings and the Petsises, and they have no objection and he has gotten the approval of his Homeowners Association. He has researched the matter further and is now asking to relocate the deed restricted land in his rear yard for unrestricted land in his front yard. He has lost 13 trees in recent storms, so the pool will not involve removal of trees. He has attempted to design stormwater management for the additional impervious surface and has reviewed his plans with Ms. Fountain to determine that no wetlands are impacted.
Mr. M. Gallagher thanked Mr. Wildgust for his efforts to address all of the Board’s concerns. He has visited the site and spoken to some of Mr. Wildgust’s neighbors and would be supportive of the plan if the same amount of open space is deed restricted in the front yard.
Mr. Ferguson said that he has spoken to Ms. Fountain and learned that even with Board approval of the swap, Mr. Wildgust will still need some zoning relief.
Mr. Garton noted that the swap of deed restriction will have to be further investigated to determine that no utilities are in the new restricted areas.
Mr. Wildgust said that he would work on this as he revises his plans to possibly avoid the need for zoning relief.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that he feels this is a hardship for the homeowner. The deed restriction encompasses his entire rear yard and there is no area where he can build anything. Even the existing steps out of the house are partially in violation now. He suggested that the Board consider granting permission for the pool, even without the relocation of restricted space.
Mr. Davis asked whether the deed restricted area includes any wetlands.
Ms. Fountain said that there are no wetland concerns on this property.
Mrs. Dix said that she is concerned about precedent if a swap is allowed. She reminded the Board that it had recently denied Mr. Gardner’s request to build a fence around his deed restricted land. She asked if the hardship is enough to differentiate this case from the previous request.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that this will not set a precedent. It has been done before and the issue of hardship is determined on a case by case basis.
Mr. M. Gallagher agreed that this is a very rare occurrence, as there is no available space in the rear yard at all.
Mr. Ferguson noted that Mr. Gardner still had access to most of his yard and the deed restricted area was a very small percentage.
Mr. Calabro confirmed that Mr. Wildgust had no knowledge of the deed restriction at the time of purchase of his home.
Mr. Wildgust said he learned of the restriction when he viewed the “as built” plan on file at the Township building. The restriction does not appear on his deed and he was not told of it by his realtor or the seller of the property. He had seen other pools in his development and had no reason to believe a pool would be prohibited on his property.
Mr. Calabro asked Ms. Fountain whether other properties in this development have similar deed restrictions; it appears on the plans as if the adjacent property is completely deed restricted.
Ms. Fountain said that there is deed restricted land throughout the development but that the other homes do have use of their rear yards.
Mr. Garton noted that this house has two frontages and adequate setbacks but will need zoning relief for impervious surface. He further explained that to swap the deed restricted land with front yard land would not be very costly, but Mr. Wildgust would need the permission of all of the other residents of the development. The subdivision plan shows deed restricted open space throughout the development and all homeowners purchased their homes with the understanding that this land is deed restricted. All of their signatures will be required. He would forward Mr. Wildgust the appropriate form for the neighbors to sign if the Board grants permission for the swap.
Mr. M. Gallagher moved to approve the construction of a pool in deed restricted open space on Mr. Wildgust’s property at 104 St. Andrew’s Place, subject to the conditions that deed restriction will be moved to the front yard, no vegetation or plantings will be moved unnecessarily, that the homeowner acquires signatures of approval from all homeowners in the development, as required by law, and that the plan is approved by the Township Engineer. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Newtown Place, Approval of Development Agreement: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve the development agreement for Newtown Place for a pool and pool house. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Davis abstaining.
Transfer of Liquor License for 2817 South Eagle Road: Mr. Garton opened a public hearing to transfer liquor license R-103-07 from 7 East Ferry Street, New Hope PA to 2817 South Eagle Road. He incorporated the application and letter from Newtown Township Police Department into the record. The hearing has been duly advertised in the Newtown Advance dated February 23 and March 2, 2014.
Attorney Matthew Goldstein represented the applicant. He noted that the application was submitted in the name of John Im but it should have been the name of the corporation, Ko Restaurant Incorporated.
Mr. Goldstein entered as Exhibit A-1 a packet of information about the proposed restaurant. He explained that Mr. Im would take over the space currently occupied by Oishi Restaurant, which is moving to another space in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center. Once Oishi has moved to the new location, 2817 South Eagle Road will close for about two months for renovations and will reopen as a Korean restaurant with 100 seats, with hours of operation seven days from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM. There will be a ten seat bar and all staff will be RAMP trained.
Mr. Garton noted for the record that Mr. Im’s family has operated the Oishi restaurant for fifteen years and both the police and codes departments have confirmed that there have been no issues of concern at this location.
Mr. Im said that he hopes to move Oishi to the new location at the end of March, once the Fire and Codes Departments have inspected it.
Mr. Calabro asked what type of liquor license this will be.
Mr. Goldstein said that it is a full service restaurant license for service of beer, wine and alcoholic beverages from 7:00 AM until 2:00 AM; two six packs of beer per customer can be sold for carry out.
Mr. Calabro asked about the number of licenses in Newtown and whether the resort exception applies here, as the license is coming from New Hope, a resort area.
Mr. Goldstein said that the resort exception no longer exists.
Mr. Garton said that the number of licenses is limited for each municipality, except that licenses can be transferred within the same county with approval of the governing body.
Mr. Calabro asked whether the license can be shared between the two locations.
Mr. Goldstein said the license could be used for off-premise catering for private parties but cannot be shared between the two locations.
Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve the transfer of Liquor License R-103-07 to John Im, Ko Restaurant incorporated. Mrs. Dix seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Reports of Officials
Manager’s Report: Mr. Ferguson reported that the current general fund balance is $2,773,591.
Mr. Ferguson said that he has been in touch with Middletown Township, which is currently repaving Woodbourne Road. He would like to arrange to have them continue the paving onto Newtown’s very small portion of the road up to the intersection with the Bypass. He would also like to add a discussion on the roadway improvement program to the March 26, 2014 agenda. The Township had budgeted $500,000 for this year’s roadway improvement program using liquid fuels funds. Those funds are also used for rock salt purchases and pothole repairs, which have been higher than originally estimated. The Board may want to discuss making some changes to the budget to keep with the roadway improvement program as planned.
Mr. Ferguson also reported that the auditors will be at the office next week.
Sign Material and Post Bids: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to accept the sign material and posts bids as recommended by the Bucks County Consortium. Mr. M. Gallagher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Police Report: Police Chief Henry Pasqualini reported that the department had responded to 1423 calls for service last month, including 84 medical emergencies and 35 suspicious circumstances and 3 burglaries. He urged residents to continue to call police if they see anything unusual. These calls have been instrumental in solving some burglary cases.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that some time ago the Township had distributed refrigerator magnets with the police tip phone number. Should the Township consider re-issuing these magnets?
Chief Pasqualini said this would be an excellent idea. Anonymous tips can be called in to 215-504-2201. Many people are unsure whether to dial 911 when something is happening that is not an urgent emergency and some are reluctant to give their names.
Chief Pasqualini reported that during a routine traffic stop Officer Bartle found over 120 bags of heroin in a car. The Department and the County are seeing great increases in the cases of heroin overdose and poisoning.
The Police Department has been forced to issue tickets for cars illegally parked during snow emergencies. The officers do not want to ticket residents parked on the streets, but if cars are left out in snow emergencies, it makes plowing difficult or impossible, which endangers everyone when emergency vehicles cannot get through. He urged residents to park in driveways or parking lots until the plows have come through.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he has heard that the police officers are sometimes knocking on doors asking residents to move cars off the streets, going above and beyond to help keep the streets clear. He urged residents to make arrangements to park in garages, parking lots or with neighbors during snow emergencies.
Minutes, Bills Lists and Reports
Minutes: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to accept the minutes of the regular meeting of February 26, 2014. Mr. Calabro seconded and the motion passed 3-0-2 with Messrs. Davis and M. Gallagher abstaining.
Bills: Mr. R. Gallagher moved to approve bills totaling $322,821.51. Mrs. Dix seconded and the motion passed 3-1-1, with Mr. Calabro voting nay and Mr. Davis abstaining.
Mr. M. Gallagher moved to authorize interfund transfers totaling $193,812.73. Mrs. Dix seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Davis abstaining.
Mr. Calabro said that he had asked some time ago about hiring a finance director. He asked if the Board would be discussing this further. He noted that Mr. Ferguson is pulled in many directions and has many areas making demands on his time.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he recalled Mr. Calabro bringing this up but has not considered discussing this further. Although the Township does not have a finance director, the two finance department clerks working with Mr. Ferguson are very competent, professional and knowledgeable.
Mrs. Dix said that she recently attended a PSATS conference where she learned that Townships the size of Newtown typically have finance directors.
Mr. Calabro asked for an update on Mr. R. Gallagher’s planned economic development committee.
Mr. R. Gallagher said that at this time the Township has received some applications but they do not match with the names of people who have told Board members they are interested in volunteering. He asked anyone interested in serving on this committee to send a formal letter of interest to the Township Manager or his administrative assistant as soon as possible.
Mr. Calabro asked whether any effort has been made to fill the vacancy on the Zoning Hearing Board.
Mr. Ferguson said that he has advertised on the Township Web site and the teleprompter. The deadline is Friday. One person had expressed interest in December and one other person has submitted a letter of interest. These will be circulated among the Board for consideration.
Resident Michael Iapalucci, representing Tyler Walk Homeowners Association, asked whether Skyview Way will be paved this year.
Ms. Fountain said that a priority list is being submitted to the Township shortly and she did not believe Skyview Way is on that list. This year Skyview might have some base repairs but she did not think it would be fully repaved. She will know more next week about which streets are to be completely repaved.
Mr. Ferguson said that last year’s road program is completely finished and everything must be re-evaluated and re-bid.
Resident John D’Aprile commended the Public Works Department for the excellent job it has done with snow removal and pothole repair. He also urged the Board to work with the State’s many programs for retraining for those being laid off at Lockheed Martin. He had some experience working with state agencies some time ago when the Philadelphia Navy Yard closed and these agencies were very helpful in guiding employees to new jobs and new careers.
Mr. M. Gallagher said that he has contacted various State and County agencies as well as working with Congressman Fitzpatrick to help with those laid off and with finding new tenants for the site.
Mr. Gallagher said that the Board would remain for an executive session.
The meeting adjourned at 10:00 PM.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary