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 July 23, 2007

 

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Tuesday, July 23, 2007 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Donald McEachron, Chairman; Susan Sciarratta, Vice Chairman; and Michael Kaner and Jay McGuigan, members. Also in attendance was Dennis Fisher, Planning Commission Liaison.

Call to Order

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

Approval of Minutes

Approval of the minutes of June 12, 2007 was postponed, as there was not a quorum of members who had been in attendance at that meeting.

Open Space Inventory

Ms. Sciarratta reported that all of the maps requested have arrived. The members discussed ordering an acetate print of the historic/cultural map to use as a guide in reviewing the other maps. Once this acetate map has arrived, the members will hold an informal meeting to begin the work of evaluating conditions on existing open space. After preliminary work with the maps has been complete, the members will begin on-site evaluations, beginning with publicly owned properties. After completion of the public open space, the members agreed to evaluate parcels over 10 acres, which would include the open space belonging to subdivisions’ homeowners associations.

Dr. Kaner suggested recruiting student and club/scout volunteers in the early fall to help with this project. He said that he had planned to contact scout groups, 4H Clubs, and schools about the Ecostar award. He would seek volunteer help with the evaluation project at the same time. Any list of potential volunteers would also be kept for the Carl Sedia Park/Creek project.

Dr. McEachron said that the members should aim to begin the project in early August, first training themselves in evaluation procedures. In the fall, any volunteers could then be trained. It would also be important to alert property owners of plans to assess the privately owned open space.

Wildlife Management

Mr. McGuigan provided members with copies of the recently completed Lower Makefield “Natural Resources Consultants, Inc. – Deer Management Plan”. He said that the plan supports sharpshooters. It should be noted that sharpshooters are also advocated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, all of whose members are required to hold hunting licenses. He said that it appears that this issue is very controversial when discussed at public meetings, as has been seen in both Upper and Lower Makefield, and in Solebury. He called the Council’s attention two issues he noted when he carefully read the report:

  1. There is no specific information of damage caused by deer
  2. There is no cost/benefit analysis

The members agreed that, if Newtown Township is to also begin to investigate deer/wildlife management, the work done in neighboring communities would be useful, but that they would like to supplement this work with more detailed information on the two points Mr. McGuigan noted. Mr. McGuigan said that the Lower Makefield report seems to indicate that thermal surveys are not reliable.

Dr. McEachron said that the Open Space Evaluation could provide some specific data on the environmental impact of the deer population. It would be important to research how much deer eat, what plants they prefer, how much pollution they produce, and whether certain invasive plant species are deer resistant.

Dr. Kaner said that more detailed information on whether there is an increase in Lyme disease would be important in documenting the deer population’s environmental impact. He said that he has only found statistics on the county, but not on individual municipalities. He noted that Chester County has begun such documentation. He would continue to research this question.

Mr. McGuigan said that the Lower Makefield report discusses contraceptives as ineffectual. No contraceptive has been FDA approved, and it could be a year before testing is complete. There is some concern about the contraceptive being passed to humans through consumption of deer meat by hunters.

The members agreed to review the Lower Makefield report in advance of the August meeting. They also discussed updating the accident reports compiled by Mr. McGuigan last year. Mr. McGuigan suggested that some of that information should be published as part of a public education campaign. He said that, as the rutting season approaches, residents should be aware of some of the areas of high concentration of accidents. Members discussed putting an article in the Township newsletter and posting it on the Township Web site.

Ecostar Award

Dr. Kaner had nothing new to report, but suggested that he might directly contact Walter Leck about the new recycling program. He would be a good candidate for the award program.

Liaison Reports

Planning Commission

Mr. Fisher reported that the Planning Commission had seen a presentation of the engineering plans for the active recreation park at the Woll tract. The plans include the use of wetlands as part of the stormwater management plans.

Parks and Recreation

The recording secretary reported that the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Roberts Ridge Park of Possibilities would be Saturday, July 28, 2007 at 11:00AM. There is also a planned skate park demonstration scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

Newtown Creek Coalition

Ms. Sciarratta reported that the Coalition is working with the Historic Association on a program of markers for historic information about the creek. They are asking participants to make donations of $25 toward funding the marker program.

Dr. McEachron reported that the Coalition heard a report about the quality of the water in the creek by a professor of biology at Bucks County Community College. The results showed the creek to be very clean with excellent water quality. He said that he has suggested to the Coalition that, in light of these results, the Coalition’s goal should be preservation. The Coalition is asking Newtown Township’s EAC to help with distribution of letters to property owners along the creek alerting them of an upcoming walk. Each group is to be assigned a “zone” of the creek to evaluate. The Coalition meets on the third Saturday of the month at LaSalle University.

Public Comment

Resident Nancy Crescenzo said that she had attended the Planning Commission meeting, and thought that the EAC should see the Woll Tract plans for a “bio-basin” for stormwater management. She shared her copy of a PowerPoint presentation given to the Planning Commission by Gilmore & Associates, engineers on the Woll project. She is concerned about increased traffic with the opening of the Woll tract, and about crossing from the Woll tract to Clark Nature Center. She said she has some concerns about light pollution from field lighting at the Woll tract. She asked about the use of fertilizers on playing fields, both existing and planned new fields, and the impact this would have on the environment.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that the AARK Foundation will have to leave its current location, and there is some consideration of moving it to the Clark Nature Center. She asked the EAC to become involved in this project, as well as in evaluating the current conditions at the nature center, including creek erosion.

Mrs. Crescenzo said that the Township has been planting new trees above the ground and surrounding the root ball with mulch. There are also plans to plant trees in berms. The EAC should be involved in this. She said that at one time the Board of Supervisors had discussed asking the EAC to evaluate whether the tract of land opposite Newtown Elementary School should be mown or reforested.

Dr. Kaner moved to adjourn at 10:00 PM. Ms. Sciarratta seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary