The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, February 27, 2006, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: 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

Ms. Sciarratta called the meeting to order at 7:03 PM.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Heil moved to accept the minutes of January 23, 2006. Mr. McGuigan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Discussion of Projects

Newtown Creek

Ms. Sciarratta reported that she was in attendance at a site visit at Carl Sedia Park with Riverkeepers Network, DEP and Bucks County Conservation District. DEP and BCCD gave pointers for the grant application. They suggested that the application should include letters of support from the Township. A letter of support has been written by the Newtown Historic Association. Riverkeepers has completed a draft application, and a budget should be completed today. The Township Manager and Engineer will be reviewing this budget.

Mr. Boyle advised the members that the Board of Supervisors does not meet again before the application deadline, and they will not have an opportunity to review and comment on the application. There is some concern about the commitment of Township resources to the project.

Ms. Sciarratta said that letters of support could be submitted after the application deadline. The Township Engineer had told her that the project would be put out to bid for contractors if grant money were received.

Mr. Boyle said that the Public Works Manager is very cooperative and would help if possible, but the department is very busy.

Ms. Sciarratta said that the DEP was impressed with the educational component of the project and with the cooperation between municipalities.

Ms. Sciarratta said that future applications would need financial support from the Township. She will meet with the Township Manager to review the budget and keep the members informed. She asked Mr. Boyle for help with a brief narrative about Newtown Township.

Mr. Heil said that he would check to see if he would be available to attend the Park and Recreation Board meeting to talk about theproject.

Ecostar Award

The Council discussed whether to extend the deadline for the Ecostar Award, as there had only been one application. Since there had not been an influx of applications, reviewing any late applications would not force an extension of the proposed award date of Earth Day/Arbor Day.

Mr. Heil agreed to phone the applicant to get further information on the data supplied in the application. All agreed that the applicant had made significant efforts to run a paperless business and to recycle. There was some positive comment on the applicant’s creative methods of recycling of furniture and office equipment.

Mr. McGuigan expressed concern that the only applicant, LSAC, has been the subject of frequent resident complaints about a lighting issue. He wondered if awarding LSAC for its commitment to the environment might upset the complaining residents. He said that it was his understanding that LSAC had not made any efforts to address the residents’ concerns.

Mr. Boyle suggested keeping the Board of Supervisors informed on the status of applications. He said that EAC could ask the Supervisors for an update on LSAC’s lighting issue. It had been his understanding that efforts were being made to replace the outdoor lights, but that the chief of police had required that lights remain on all night for security reasons.

Dr. Kaner said that the application shows that LSAC is working in an environmentally responsible way, and residential complaints about a non-environmental issue should not be weighed into consideration of the award. He suggested that the EAC not become involved in what appears to be a political issue.

Mr. McGuigan agreed to contact the Board of Supervisors for input on the award applications.

Dr. Kaner said that he would contact Newtown Borough to share information on the applications, noting that the only applicant thus far is a Township business.

The members agreed to continue to accept applications, and to actively approach prospective applicants. It had been noted that PNC Bank has a “green” building, and should be approached to fill out the application.

Mr. Boyle said that he would work with the technology department to address concerns about the accessibility of the application on the Web site that had been brought up by Dr. McEachron at the Supervisors meeting. He said that once recipients were chosen, he would help with preparing an appropriate certificate or plaque.

Review of Open Space

Mr. Heil reported that he had contacted the Bucks County Planning Commission and received a map that shows open space on parcels greater than 10 acres. He has begun to create a database of the parcels and their owners. He noted that the very large parcels are owned by the Township, Council Rock School District, and the Church. The open space shown on the map could be park, open space, or stormwater management basins and common grounds owned by homeowners associations.

Mr. Sensibaugh said that the Jointure and the Regional Planning Commission are working on updating the comprehensive plan, and might have maps that show smaller parcels than 10 acres. He also suggested contacting the Heritage Conservancy, which has helped Upper Makefield acquire open space.

Mr. McGuigan agreed to help Mr. Heil on the project.

Other Business

The recording secretary provided copies of the Floodplain Ordinance and the Riparian Buffer Ordinance, both of which are being reviewed by the Township Solicitor. Dr. McEachron had expressed interest in reading these for possible input from the EAC as they are being reviewed. Ms. Sciarratta suggested adding this as an agenda item for the next meeting. She noted there has been no request for a review from the Board of Supervisors; however members might want to ask questions or discuss these amendments.

Mr. Sensibaugh said that he would be able to get tickets to the exhibits at an upcoming environmental conference in Harrisburg for members interested in attending. The dates are March 17 and 18.

Ms. Sciarratta moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed 4-0.


Respectfully Submitted:


Mary Donaldson Recording Secretary