ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
MINUTES OF MEETING OF JANUARY 23, 2006
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Heil moved to accept the minutes of January 23, 2006. Mr. McGuigan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, January 23, 2006, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Donald McEachron, Chairman; Susan Sciarratta, Vice Chairman; Michael Kaner, Secretary; William Heil and Jay McGuigan, members. Also in attendance were Jay Sensibaugh, Planning Commission Member and John Boyle, Assistant to the Township Manager.
Call to Order
Dr. McEachron called the meeting to order at 7:30.
Mr. Heil nominated Dr. McEachron to serve as chairman. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Dr. McEachron nominated Ms. Sciarratta to serve as vice-chairman. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Dr. McEachron nominated Dr. Kaner to serve as secretary. Mr. McGuigan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Approval of Minutes
Ms. Sciarratta moved to approve the minutes of November 28, 2005. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. McGuigan abstaining.
Ms. Sciarratta introduced Richard Albert of Delaware Riverkeepers Network. Riverkeepers had prepared a written Stream Assessment and Recommendations, a copy of which had been provided to each of the EAC members.
Mr. Albert referred to pages 7 and 8 of the report, “Planning and Municipal Level Activities” and “on the ground projects”. He said that there might be some money available through a “Growing Greener” grant for these projects. The Council members reviewed the three projects and agreed that, because this would be the first EAC project, they preferred to start with only one of the recommendations, Carl Sedia Park Riparian Restoration. The portion of the stream bank to be restored extends behind the ball fields at Chandler Park. This project involves invasive species control, bank stabilization and riparian plantings. Mr. Albert said that the cost of the project would be about $30,000. Riverkeepers would help with the application for the grant, but it would be written in the name of the EAC.
Mr. Heil suggested asking the Newtown Borough to co-sponsor this project, as one side of the creek is in the Borough. Both sides of the creek could be restored at the same time. Dr. McEachron agreed to contact the Borough EAC.
Ms. Sciarratta said that Jayne Spector of JDNC has also expressed interest in creek projects. Ms. Sciarratta agreed to speak to Ms. Spector about this particular project.
In response to Mr. Boyle’s questions, Mr. Albert said that there would not be an expectation of matching funds from Newtown Township for the grant, but there should be a show of support from the Township, in the form of in-kind contributions, such as use of Township equipment. The grant should include a letter of support from the Township. Because the project involved Township park property, a letter of support from the Park and Recreation Board would also be necessary. The deadline for the grant is March 3, 2006, however the deadline for contacting the DEP watershed manager is February 3, 2006. Mr. Albert agreed to contact DEP about the project.
Dr. McEachron agreed to speak to the Park and Recreation Board at its February 1, 2006 meeting. He would contact Mr. Wert and Mr. Levine in advance of the meeting. He said that he would prefer to approach this project as a partnership with the Borough and the Park and Recreation Board.
In response to Mr. Boyle’s questions, Mr. Albert said that the project would involve restoring the existing buffer, not expanding it. There would be some signage and an educational component to the restoration.
Mr. Albert said that he would provide the Council with copies of a similar project, Kemper Park in Warminster.
Mr. McGuigan moved to recommend that the EAC pursue page 8, item #1 of the Delaware Riverkeepers recommendations for the Newtown Creek, Carl Sedia Park Riparian Restoration. Mr. Heil seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Sensibaugh commented that this is a wonderful project with many opportunities for community involvement, using school and scout groups.
In response to Mr. Sensibaugh’s questions, Mr. Albert said that the area to be included in the grant would not extend to the housing development downstream of the baseball fields, but that this could be a starting point, with future projects extending up- anddownstream.
Ms. Sciarratta reported that the Board of Supervisors and Borough Council has approved the award. She provided a press release that appeared in the Courier Times Business section and Focus on Newtown section and in the Advance. The Newtown Gazette has also agreed to print the release. The Gazette is also planning an article about the Borough and Township’s Environmental Advisory Councils. She gave a brief presentation at a JDNC meeting, and they have agreed to forward the application and cover information to everyone on the JDNC e-mailing list. The information is to be included in a packet to be distributed at an upcoming Newtown Business Commons Association meeting.
The Council members agreed to approach some local businesses and invite them to apply. If necessary, the deadline could be extended.
Review of Open Space
Mr. Sensibaugh suggested that the Council contact the Bucks County Planning Commission (BCPC), whose comprehensive plan includes land maps of open space.
Mr. Boyle provided maps of the Township, divided by voting districts. Dr. McEachron suggested working first on coordinating information from BCPC with the maps prepared by Mr. Boyle.
The Council agreed that before an inventory could be completed, a standardized evaluation form should be developed, in order that everyone involved in the project would be noting the same information as open space areas are visited. Mr. Heil said that there is a form included in the booklet from the Heritage Conservancy, “Implementing a Municipal Open Space Program”. This might be a good starting point for an evaluation form
Ms. Sciarratta provided copies of an e-mail letter she had received from Jayne Spector of JDNC regarding the Newtown Creek and her interest in its history.
Mr. Sensibaugh commented that he had contacted Upper Makefield to learn whether the EAC reviews plans for land development. He learned that, while EAC review is not part of the land development process, the EAC is copied on upcoming projects and does make comment. The Municipal Planning Code does not include EAC review in the land development process. He said that he thought that the EAC should be copied on land development applications. He suggested that perhaps the EAC should have more than five members.
Mr. Boyle said that there has been some concern among the Board of Supervisors about adding an additional step to the land development process. He also noted the expense involved in reproducing and distributing applications to EAC members. He suggested that the EAC members familiarize themselves on the land development process by attending Planning Commission meetings. He said that an EAC member should act as liaison to Park and Rec and Planning Commission in order to better understand how plans are reviewed.
Mr. McEachron agreed that the EAC should first concentrate on the stream project and Ecostar award, and also send liaisons to the other meetings, but not to take on any additional work at this time. Once these projects are underway, and the open space review has begun, they would have a better idea of whether more than five members would be needed.
Ms. Sciarratta moved to adjourn at 9:10 PM. Mr. McGuigan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.