ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
MINUTES OF MEETING OF MARCH 27, 2006
Approval of Minutes: Mr. Heil moved to accept the minutes of March 27, 2006. Mr. McGuigan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, March 27, 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 was Jay Sensibaugh, Planning Commission Member.
Call to Order
Dr. McEachron called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes
Dr. Kaner moved to accept the minutes of February 27, 2006. Mr. Heil seconded and the motion passed 4—1, with Dr. McEachron abstaining.
Discussion of Projects
Dr. McEachron reported that he; Mr. Heil and Ms. Sciarratta had met with representatives of Delaware Riverkeepers Network, the Township Engineer and Township Manager Bob Pellegrino to discuss the Newtown Creek stream bank stabilization and riparian buffer project. The grant application has been withdrawn, as the time frame did not allow the Township to review the proposal completely. Dr. McEachron said that he will work at keeping the Board of Supervisors and the Township management better informed of all that the Council is doing, and will attempt to work more closely with Mr. Boyle to accomplish this.
Ms. Sciarratta said that the short time line did not permit the Township to evaluate the project properly. There is some basic background work that the Township will need to do to ascertain the ownership of the properties involved in the project. The Township Engineer would also be involved in the design phase.
Dr. McEachron said that there are some other grant opportunities with May deadlines, which will give both the EAC and the Township time to better prepare the proposal. The EAC had hoped to use both Township in-kind services and volunteers, along with the contracted portion of the project. Riverkeepers can give the EAC some guidance on the division of the components of the project. The EAC should begin seeking opportunities for volunteers, and will act as volunteer coordinators during the project. The Township will need to do some soil analysis.
The Council discussed working with groups of students through the schools. Dr. McEachron agreed to contact the school district, the Bucks County Community College, and Delaware Valley College to discuss organizing a volunteer group. Grant recipients would probably be notified in the fall, and the project would be done next spring. This would allow time for the Council to prepare a memo of agreement with the volunteers.
The Council reviewed the application of LSAC. Mr. Heil said that he had contacted LSAC to clarify certain points on the application, and was very favorably impressed with their recycling efforts.
Mr. McGuigan expressed concern about the ongoing lighting problem at LSAC. He said that the lights are not in compliance with the final plan, and there is an issue of light pollution. He said that he was disinclined to give an environmental award for recycling to a firm that is not environmentally conscious on other issues. He noted that the lighting is a problem for the surrounding neighbors.
Dr. McEachron agreed with Mr. McGuigan that light pollution is an environmental problem and LSAC should not be awarded if the problem is unresolved.
Dr. Kaner noted that the application has not asked about lighting, but only that applicants have demonstrated promotion of environmental awareness and conservation.
Mr. McGuigan said that it was his understanding that Township representatives would be meeting with LSAC to resolve the non-compliance issue in the next few days. The lights approved as part of the final plan were to have been high-pressure sodium vapor lights.
Mr. Heil said that high pressure sodium lights would not solve problems of light flooding onto adjoining properties unless the fixtures were also changed to shield the lights. The Council agreed that it is possible that the surrounding neighbors might not be satisfied, even if LSAC meets the requirements of the approved final plan.
Dr. Kaner noted that LSAC has done an excellent job at conservation and recycling. He suggested that the Council postpone recommendation of the award until after the Township has been satisfied that LSAC has complied with the approved final plan. The members agreed with Dr. Kaner to table voting on a recommendation for one month.
Mr. Heil suggested that future applications include a comparison for recycling. He said that the application currently shows the amount recycled, but does not show the percentage that is recycled.
Review of Open Space
Mr. Heil provided large maps of the Township showing 10-acre and 5-acre parcels. He said that he has continued to enter ownership and acreage onto a spreadsheet, and is attempting to label open space and common space. He noted that many of the larger parcels of open area are owned by non-profits – the Township, churches and schools.
Dr. McEachron said that this is one of the charges given to the EAC in its creating ordinance. He said that he would borrow from existing evaluation worksheets to provide a standardized evaluation sheet for reviewing the open space.
Ms. Sciarratta suggested that the members review the maps and begin to prioritize which parcels to evaluate first.
Review of JMZO Floodplain and Riparian Buffer Ordinances
In response to comments from the members, Mr. Sensibaugh said that when the Riparian Buffer Ordinance was passed, Newtown and Core Creeks were excluded because the properties around the creeks are built up. Newtown Creek flows through developments and through the business district behind Sycamore Street.
Ms. Sciarratta presented a memo listing some of her comments. She noted that the Floodplain Ordinance reflects FEMA Ordinances. She said that most already developed areas are grandfathered and are not required to be brought into compliance with changed ordinances. She said that she is very familiar with the language of these ordinances and could provide simple translations of the meaning to help the members understand and review.
Dr. McEachron suggested that the members review the ordinances and Ms. Sciarratta’s comments and communicate any questions, concerns or comments to each other via e-mail before making any comments or recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
Ms. Sciarratta reported that she contacted Mrs. Sutton of the Park and Recreation Board to offer help with the Arbor Day celebrations. This year the activities will be held on April 28 from 10:00 until noon at the new playground next to the Chancellor Street Center. Volunteers will play games, do craft projects and plant trees with children from Goodnoe School. Ms. Sciarratta agreed to forward contact information for Mrs. Sutton to those who wish to volunteer.
Ms. Sciarratta reported that she attended a meeting of Bucks and Montgomery EAC’s. Some EAC’s are newly formed; some have been together for many years. Each participating member shared information of projects their groups have undertaken. Ms. Sciarratta agreed to provide copies of her notes on the meeting.
Mr. Sensibaugh offered tickets to an environmental exhibition in Harrisburg to any interested members.
Dr. Kaner moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Heil seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary