ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
MINUTES OF MEETING OF MARCH 28, 2005
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Heil moved to accept the minutes of March 28, 2005. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed 3-0.
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council held its first meeting on Thursday night, March 28, 2005, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Nancy Crescenzo, William N. Heil, Michael Kaner, D.L. McEachron, and Susan Sciarrotta. Also in attendance were: John Boyle, Assistant to the Township Manager; Tom Jirele, Township Supervisor; and Jay Sensibaugh, Planning Commission Liaison.
Call to Order
Mr. Jirele called the meeting to order at 8:00 PM. He said that he would be attending the first meetings of the Council to help with the organization and to offer guidance, and that Mr. Sensibaugh was also in attendance to help, but that at this time there are no official liaisons from other boards or commissions. He noted that the members of the Council are all new to Township committees, and suggested that before they organize they introduce themselves.
Ms. Sciarrotta said that she is an environmental engineer formerly with the Environmental Protection Agency. She is currently staying athome with her young children, but wanted to volunteer to help in an area where she has some knowledge and expertise.
Dr. McEachron said that he has become interested in ecology because of his childrenís interest. His work experience has been with the Bio-Medical Engineering department at Drexel University.
Dr. Kaner said that he is a dentist in the community, and has been very interested in environmental issues both as a resident and because his business is environmentally sensitive.
Mr. Heil said that he is an environmental protection specialist with the Department of Defense, specializing in stormwater management issues.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that she had been active in the community in pursuing the formation of the Environmental Advisory Council. As a resident she has become very concerned about such environmental issues as water and sewer management, as well as preservation of the environment as the community develops.
Mr. Jirele said that the Ordinance forming the Council specifies that a chairman, vice-chairman and secretary be appointed. In response to Mr. Sensibaughís question he said that the chairman might occasionally be asked to report to the Board of Supervisors during a public meeting, but that this would not be required every month.
Mrs. Crescenzo questioned how the Council is to be funded since there has been no budget assigned to it.
Mr. Jirele said that the Councilís expenses would be a line item on the Board of Supervisorsí budget. Most committees in the Township plan an estimated budget in August to be included in the following yearís budget. By next fall, this council should have a better idea of what expenses to budget for.
Dr. Kaner moved to nominate Dr. McEachron as chairman. Mr. Heil seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Dr. Kaner moved to nominate Ms. Sciarrotta as vice-chairman. Dr. McEachron seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mrs. Crescenzo moved to nominate Dr. Kaner for secretary. Mr. Heil seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Review of Ordinance
Mr. Jirele said that this Council would not be an additional level of review for plans for development within the Township. He said that it is up to the Council to set its own goals and to identify projects it wishes to undertake, within the context of the Ordinance. Occasionally the Board of Supervisors might ask for the Councilís input on proposed plans, but this would be in an advisory capacity only.
The Council discussed writing a mission statement using the Ordinance as a guide. It was agreed that the mission statement should be short, but should be careful not to conflict with the Ordinance.
Discussion of Goals and Objectives
Dr. McEachron suggested that the members explain their reasons for joining the Council, and if they have any particular goals in mind.
Ms. Sciarrotta said that she has an interest in water quality and storm water management. She would like to see the communityís storm water management plans develop in an environmentally friendly manner, and would like the Council to focus on community education on environmental issues.
Dr. Kaner said that as a resident and community business owner he is involved with environmental issues on a daily basis. He would also like to focus on community education on environmental issues.
Mr. Heil said that he would like to work primarily on storm water management.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that she is concerned with preserving the environment as the community develops. She said that of particular interest to her is gaining an understanding of where our open space is located and how it is being preserved and maintained. She noted that although developers are required to preserve a certain percentage of open space that is environmentally sensitive, she does not know whether that open space is being maintained or allowed to become overgrown, causing difficulties for the storm water management systems already in place. She would like to learn of a way to identify open space, both public and privately owned.
Dr. McEachron said that he had discussed some environmental issues with his child, who has become very interested in ecology. His son had noted that Council Rock does not have an adequate weather disaster plan. This is what motivated him to get involved in an environmental project within the community. He said that he had done some research into a program called GLOBE. GLOBE is a cooperative effort of schools, led in the United States by a Federal interagency program supported by NASA, NSF and the U.S. State Department, in partnership with colleges and universities, state and local school systems, and non-government organizations. Internationally, GLOBE is a partnership between the United States and over 100 other countries. For Students, GLOBE provides the opportunity to learn by taking scientifically valid measurements in the fields of atmosphere, hydrology, soils, and land cover and reporting their data through the Internet. He suggested modifying this program to enlist students and community-based clubs to document the Newtown environment. He said that any such program would have to be designed to be sustainable, as students pass through the program. He said that he thought that he would be able to enlist Drexel University to help with a way of reporting data using the Internet.
Mr. Jirele suggested beginning such a project by focusing on one area of the community such as within one of the larger developments.
Ms. Sciarrotta suggested contacting other Environmental Advisory Councils in neighboring communities to learn about their programs and activities.
Dr. McEachron suggested that before the next meeting they should do a Web search to learn what resources are available to help outline possible projects.
The Council agreed to keep in touch via e-mail over the next month. For the April meeting, Mrs. Crescenzo and Ms. Sciarrotta will prepare a draft mission statement; Dr. Kaner and Mr. Heil will prepare a list of Web sites for environmental information; and Dr. McEachron will contact the Wrightstown, Upper and Lower Makefield EACís.
Mrs. Crescenzo suggested contacting State Representative Scott Petri, who has been very supportive of environmental issues in the community.
Dr. Kaner suggested that the business community be included in any outreach effort.
Mr. Boyle suggested that in drafting a Mission Statement the Council be guided by page 3 of the Ordinance, which clearly outlines the Councilís specific powers.
The Council agreed to change their regular meeting time to 7:30 PM. Mr. Boyle noted that there is a conflict with a Board of Supervisors meeting on April 25, and the Council would meet in the Martindell House instead of the Municipal Building.
Dr. Kaner moved to adjourn at 9:30PM. Ms. Sciarrotta seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary