NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL

100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940

Internet: http://www.twp.newtown.pa.us

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Minutes for the meeting held on October 23, 2006

 

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, October 23, 2006, in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Donald McEachron, Chairman; Susan Sciarratta, Vice Chairman; Michael Kaner, Secretary, and Jay McGuigan, member.

Call To Order

Dr. McEachron called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.

Approval of Minutes

Dr. McEachron moved to accept the minutes of September 25, 2006. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Discussion of Projects

Review of Open Space

Park and Recreation Director Bill Wert, Township Naturalist Russell G. Strover and Jeffrey Marshall of the Heritage Conservancy were in attendance to discuss the proposed inventory of open space.

Mr. McGuigan provided copies of the draft evaluation form for review.

Ms. Sciarratta reported that she has spoken to Mr. Solomon in the codes office and Mr. Wert about maps that might be available to help with the evaluation forms. Mr. Solomon is trying to locate original maps from the last comprehensive plan.

Dr. McEachron explained that the Council is attempting to create an inventory of all open space, both public and privately owned, with an evaluation of the conditions on each parcel.

As those in attendance reviewed the proposed form, there was discussion about such items as invasive species. Mr. Strover pointed out that almost all land within the Township has been disturbed.

Mr. Marshall provided a number of sources for information on the occurrences of rare or endangered species within the State. He also discussed briefly the meaning of the phrase “open space”. He cited the example of a ten-acre parcel with one home. He said that when Upper Makefield set about creating such an inventory, their EAC first generated lists of very large parcels. He and Mr. Wert discussed the implications and perceptions when targeting specific parcels. There has been some concern among owners of large parcels that these evaluations could affect their property values. They noted that the point value for each item on the form gives an impression that properties are being rated, rather than just inventoried.

Mr. Wert reviewed a series of maps of the Township. He noted that these maps are somewhat out of date, but they do show such features as the open space within the housing developments. He pointed out the trail system, and its many additions provided by developers throughout the Township. He also discussed the Park and Recreation Board’s plan for a forest management and natural resources plan. He said that he hopes that this would be included in the 2007 budget. It would address deer populations and invasive species, and would include mapping of the property.

Mr. Marshall said that he has worked in other counties, where maps were created using color overlays on the tax maps, so it becomes very clearly visible which individual parcels have features such as dense wooded areas, wetlands, intermittent streams, and floodplains. He suggested that Newtown Township’s most recent map could be used as a starting point to create a similar overlay map.

Dr. McEachron said that he did not expect the EAC inventory to rate properties, only to document conditions on open space parcels.

After further discussion, the members agreed to revise the form, eliminating reference to a rating system, and to test the form together with Mr. Marshall, Mr. Wert and Mr. Strover. Mr. Wert suggested using one of the Township’s open space parcels for the testing. Once members have evaluated a parcel together, they could begin to select parcels to be evaluated individually.

Environmental Ecostar Award

As the issue of light pollution at the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has been resolved, the members discussed awarding the first Ecostar award. Mr. Heil had been in contact with the applicants, and it was agreed that he would notify LSAC of the award. Dr. McEachron would bring the recommendation to the Board of Supervisors during his next report.

Dr. Kaner suggested that the award be presented at a Board of Supervisors meeting in late winter. It could then be used for publicity for the 2007/08 Ecostar Award.

Dr. Kaner moved to recommend that the Law School Admission Council receive the first annual Environmental Ecostar Award. Mr. McGuigan seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Newtown Creek

Michael Sellers, representing Newtown Borough EAC, Planning Commission and JDNC, and Julia Waldorf, chairman of Newtown Borough EAC were in attendance to discuss possibly working together on projects involving Newtown Creek. He noted that both municipalities have certain goals in common in revitalizing the downtown area. He presented a map, originally created in 1776, which shows the original Newtown Commons as the center of Newtown. He said that restoring the Commons would be a goal both municipalities should be working on. There has also been discussion of creating some additional footbridges over the creek to enhance pedestrian flow from State Street to Sycamore Street.

Ms. Sciarratta briefly reviewed the Township’s recent application for a grant to restore the riparian buffer along the creek in the area near Carl Sedia Park.

Mr. Wert said that DCNR frequently considers grants for projects that involve cooperation between municipalities. He suggested that trail projects along the creek, and footbridges connecting the two Newtowns would possibly be of interest to State granting agencies.

Mr. McGuigan moved to recommend that Newtown Township participate in meetings to plan joint projects for Newtown Creek with Newtown Borough. Dr. McEachron seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Mr. Sellers said that he would arrange a meeting place and time, and extend invitations to Newtown Township’s EAC, Planning Commission and Park and Recreation Board. He asked Dr. McEachron to make initial contact with Mr. Ward, Chairman of the Planning Commission. He said that he would try to arrange for a Saturday morning, possibly at the Council Rock meeting room.

Mr. McGuigan moved to adjourn at 10:10 PM. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Other Business

The members agreed that the projects outlined for 2007 would require some funding. The Board of Supervisors would need to give some guidance on the objectives of the open space evaluation. Arrangements would need to be made to award the Ecostar. Dr. McEachron asked the recording secretary to arrange to have the EAC added to the agenda for the next Supervisors meeting so that he could discuss these items with the Board.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary