ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
MINUTES OF MEETING OF NOVEMBER 28, 2005
DRAFT - SUBJECT TO AMENDMENT BY THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS UNTIL APPROVED.
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, November 28, 2005, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Donald McEachron, Chairman; Susan Sciarratta, Vice Chairman; Michael Kaner, Secretary; William Heil and Nancy Crescenzo, members. Also in attendance was John Boyle, Assistant to the Township Manager.
Call to Order
Dr. McEachron called the meeting to order at 7:30.
Approval of Minutes
Dr. McEachron moved to approve the minutes of October 24, 2005. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Dr. McEachron abstaining.
Dr. McEachron reported that he had been in touch with William Heineman of Newtown Borough EAC, who indicated that there was some interest in partnering on the award, but that it would have to be discussed further and presented to Borough Council.
Dr. Kaner suggested that Dr. McEachron write to Mr. Heineman indicating the Township EAC’s eagerness to work with the Borough on this project, but that the Council would like to make its first presentations on Earth Day in April 2006. He suggested asking the Borough to respond by a certain date, thereby allowing the Township EAC to proceed alone this year if the Borough is not interested in joining.
The Council agreed to ask the Borough to respond by December 20, 2005. If they respond in the negative, or do not respond, Ms. Sciarratta would edit the application, cover sheet and press release to eliminate mention of the Borough. Dr. McEachron said that he would frame his request for response in such a way as to allow the Borough to join the Township in later years if a decision cannot be made by the deadline.
The Council agreed that after the December 20th deadline, Ms. Sciarratta would forward the final drafts to the recording secretary to be copied for distribution to various business groups. Ms. Sciarratta suggested forwarding applications by e-mail to the Newtown Business and Professional Association, of which she is a member. Mrs. Crescenzo suggested asking the JDNC to help with advertisement and promotion of the program. All agreed that distribution of applications electronically would be preferable to multiple paper copies.
Review of Open Space
Mr. Boyle provided a copy of a map of the Township. He suggested that it could be reproduced in sections, to help with a review of open space. He also suggested that the Council first determine which Township owned properties have already been evaluated by the Park and Recreation and Public Works Departments. He said that while the Ordinance establishing the EAC includes inventorying of open space, it does not add the EAC to the review process for land development. He suggested that the EAC use the map to visit areas of open space to create an inventory. He also suggested that, as had been decided at an earlier meeting, members attend Planning Commission meetings to learn how the Township Planner and the Planning Commission are reviewing land development proposals.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that she had asked the Board of Supervisors to allow the EAC to review plans for a minor subdivision that included some wetlands, but the Board had denied her request.
Dr. McEachron suggested that before any inventory is begun, the Council should prepare a standardized data sheet to collect information. He suggested using “Implementing a Municipal Open Space Program; a Guide for Pennsylvania’s Municipalities” as a starting point. He said that the Drexel Environmental Science Department might have some worksheets already prepared. Ms. Sciarratta agreed to contact Wrightstown and Bucks County Planning Commission to see if there is already a standard checklist. Mrs. Crescenzo volunteered to contact Upper Makefield.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that she would begin photographing some of the open space in the next few weeks, to help document the conditions observed. She urged the Council to begin evaluating conditions at the Clark Nature Center. She said that she would volunteer to continue with the photography project if she is not reappointed to the EAC when her term expires.
Ms. Sciarratta suggested that the Council first re-examine the definition of “environmentally sensitive areas” when creating the checklist. She suggested prioritizing specific concerns.
Dr. McEachron suggested asking science classes in the school district to help with collection of data once the standardized checklist has been created.
Mr. Boyle shared an e-mail he had received from Khiet Luong of Watershed/EAC Programs. Mr. Heil offered to respond to this inquiry about the status of the Newtown Township EAC.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that her term on the Council would end in January. She suggested that the Council consider asking for a budget from the Board of Supervisors, and for additional members, since the work that they have decided to take on might require more than only five people. She said that currently the Council has no money for any projects. She said that the Township Planner gives a presentation to new Planning Commission members, and she thought that the EAC might want to request a similar presentation. She urged the Council to request that a Supervisor liaison be appointed to attend Council meetings.
Mr. Boyle said that according to the enactment ordinance, expenses of Council members may be reimbursed by the Township as part of the Board of Supervisors’ budget. He suggested that the Council keep track of their expenditures this year to help them gauge their budget needs for future years.
Dr. McEachron said that he would be reluctant to request additional members until the Council has completed some of its tasks, including the Ecostar award and the creek study. He said that he would discuss the appointment of a liaison when the Board of Supervisors reorganizes.
Mrs. Crescenzo said that the upcoming budget will include the hiring of an expert consultant to advise the Park and Recreation Department on preserving the Clark Nature Center. She said that the deer have ravaged the rhododendrons and erosion has damaged the creek area. She suggested that the Township does not need to hire expert consultants, but should utilize the expertise of the members of the EAC and take advantage of free programs offered by the Morris Arboretum.
Mr. Boyle said that the Clark Nature Center qualifies for Community Development Block Grants, and they have been used for preservation and repairs on the house and barn. There might also be some grant money available to help with erosion control.
Dr. McEachron said that he supported the Supervisors’ decision to hire an expert consultant for the Clark Nature Center. He has visited the park and agrees that there is a need for some expert help to preserve the property.
Mr. Heil said that he would like to eventually use the inventory of open space to help locate properties to be purchased and preserved using grant money.
Mr. Boyle shared an article from a County pamphlet about properties available through tax default.
Council members expressed gratitude to Mrs. Crescenzo for her work this year.
Mrs. Crescenzo moved to adjourn at 8:40 PM. Dr. McEachron seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary