Minutes for the meeting held on August 27, 2007


The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, August 27, 2007 in the 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 Dennis Fisher, Planning Commission Liaison.

Call to Order

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

Approval of Minutes

Ms. Sciarratta noted that in the minutes of June 12, 2007, page 1, paragraph 6 should read, “Dr. McEachron noted….”

Mr. Heil moved to accept the minutes of June 12, 2007 as corrected. Ms. Sciarratta seconded and the motion passed 3-0-2, with Dr. Kaner and Mr. McGuigan abstaining.

Ms. Sciarratta moved to accept the minutes of July 23, 2007. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed 4-0-1, with Mr. Heil abstaining.

New Business

Dr. McEachron reported that the EAC has been invited to participate in Market Day on September 15. A table will be assigned, shared with the Newtown Borough EAC and the Newtown Creek Coalition, in front of Starbucks. Volunteers are being sought to work at the table from noon to 4:00PM.

The members agreed that participation in this event would allow the EAC to publicize its projects. Each member agreed to work at the table for one hour and to prepare literature for the table as follows:

  • Dr. Kaner would update the EcoStar application and covering instructions
  • Ms. Sciarratta would prepare information on the open space inventory
  • Dr. McEachron would prepare information on the EAC’s work in general
  • Mr. McGuigan would revise maps and information on deer/car accidents

A poster board will be made highlighting all of the various projects, using the large open space maps. Dr. McEachron suggested using the poster and general literature as an opportunity to attract additional members to the EAC. The Board of Supervisors had amended the enacting ordinance to allow 5 to 7 members. The Council briefly discussed requesting the two additional members now, to help with the open space work that is to begin in the fall.

Mr. McGuigan moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that two additional members be sought to serve on the EAC, using Market Day as a recruiting opportunity. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Resident Roger Taylor said that the EAC table would be shared with “Friends of the Farmstead”, an organization founded in 1987 to help with the preservation of the Peter Taylor farm on Wrights Road.

Gigliotti – Avignon: Rockbridge Way

Attorney Don Marshall and Wayne Johnson of Pickering Corts and Summerson were in attendance to discuss this final plan for a major subdivision of 10.84 acres off Washington Crossing Road in the R-1 Medium Density Residential Zoning District. Preliminary plan approval had been granted on June 9, 2004 for this property. Since that time the plan has been reduced from four lots to three, and the roadway is now a private drive. The property contains some areas of wetlands along the Newtown Creek. The plan has been remanded from the Court of Common Pleas back to the Board of Supervisors for approval, with some issues regarding floodplains to be clarified.

Mr. Johnson reviewed the existing features on the property and the current plan, pointing out that the applicant has been granted a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board to cross a floodplain at a narrow point on the private driveway. He reviewed existing and proposed stormwater management for the property, entrance and emergency access, and floodplain delineations. An infiltration trench is proposed to run along the driveway, which will direct water run-off back toward the wetlands. Wetlands will not be disturbed, and the plan has been designed for the minimum disturbance of the area.

In response to questions from the Council, Mr. Marshall said that there would be disturbance of 48% of tree areas. He explained that calculations are made excluding rights-of-way from the total area. Waivers have been granted so that certain trees are not to be removed.

Mr. Johnson pointed out the property lines for each lot, noting that the entire property would be divided into three lots. He pointed out the building envelopes and conservation easements. Houses will be two stories with between 3000 and 5500 square feet of living space. The access road is planned to run along an existing sewer easement, eliminating further disturbance of the property, as this area has already been cleared by the sewer authority. In response to questions from the Council, he explained that the second entrance is for emergency use only, as required by the Fire Marshal. The development was designed with one entrance and shared driveway because sight distances are too limited to allow for three driveways onto Washington Crossing Road.

Council members discussed the environmental impact of construction on the existing habitat and vegetation. They expressed some concern about possible impact of the use of fertilizers and pesticides on lawns and gardens, and of salt products on driveways.

Ron Gigliotti, developer of the property, said that if the EAC had recommendations on certain products to be used or prohibited, restrictions could be included in a homeowners association agreement. A homeowners association will be formed for maintenance of the shared private driveway. Other restrictions could be added.

Ms. Sciarratta questioned opportunities for infiltration of stormwater between the houses and the detention basin. Mr. Johnson indicated that the soils do not have sufficient permeability. In response to further questions, he said that the area is relatively flat along the roadway. Trees along the stream bank are to remain.

Mr. Taylor questioned the use of certain documentation delineating wetlands and floodplains provided by the Army Corps of Engineers, who had sent a biologist to walk the property in February of 2004. He felt that an accurate assessment could not be performed in winter. He noted that the sewer easement had been 50 feet wide, but only 30 feet of that width is a permanent easement. Mr. Taylor questioned whether the Zoning Hearing Board’s variance had expired, and questioned the waivers granted in 2004 at preliminary plan approval.

Resident Jody Spector agreed with Mr. Taylor, and discussed certain marshy areas that drain into the creek. She asked the EAC to visit the site and make recommendations to protect the environment at this location. She expressed concern about the loss of open space and of trees.

Dr. McEachron explained that the EAC is an advisory body, and can only make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors; it cannot impose any restrictions on the development. He noted that it is possible to evaluate floodplains and wetlands in winter by the vegetation and soil. Ms. Sciarratta agreed with this.

The Council discussed the issues of concern to the residents in attendance:

  • Environmental concerns
  • Encroachment on wetlands
  • Damage to trees
  • Pre- and post-construction flow of water and stormwater management.

The members agreed to seek permission from the developer, through his attorney, to visit the site, if possible, and to try to conduct some wildlife inventory. Dr. McEachron said that he would contact the Township Codes Department to review the file and look more closely as the plans.

Ms. Sciarratta said that she would review pre- and post-construction stormwater calculations. She had some concerns about how the calculations were done.

Mr. Heil said that he would research the impact that the use of pesticides and road salt might have on the existing wetlands.

The members agreed to hold a short meeting at some time before the September 5, 2007 Board of Supervisors meeting, to discuss whether to make any recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. The recording secretary would arrange for use of the meeting room and post a special agenda once the members had chosen a date and time to meet.

Chairman’s Report

Dr. McEachron reported that he had attended the August 25, 2007 meeting of the Newtown Creek Coalition. The Coalition had discussed an area of open space along the Creek between Chandler Hall and the Newtown Bypass.

Dr. McEachron moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. McGuigan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.


Respectfully submitted by:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary