NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL

100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940

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

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Meeting held on October 27, 2008

 

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, October 27, 2008 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Donald McEachron, Chairman; Jay McGuigan, Vice Chairman; Dennis Annarelli, Aliya Aslam, Walt Leck and Autumn Thomas, members. Also in attendance were Planning Commission liaison Dennis Fisher and Newtown Borough Liaisons Henry DeSilva and Candido Rodriguez.

Call To Order

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

Approval of Minutes

Mr. McGuigan moved to accept the minutes of September 22, 2008. Ms. Aslam seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

Public Comment

Dr. DeSilva briefly discussed the recently held “Sustainable Lawrence” event. He said that the speaker, Ralph Copleman, spoke about a philosophy of environmental consciousness. To become a sustainable community requires the full commitment of the community.

Dr. DeSilva talked about the “Cool Cities” program, referring to neighboring communities that have committed. Bucks has signed as a “ Cool County”. Through the program, each Township will be provided with an inventory of carbon emissions.

The members discussed review of the inventory when it is made available. They briefly discussed working with Lynn Bush of Bucks County Planning Commission on the “Cool Cities” program.

Dr. McEachron noted that the EAC has had one member champion each project. He suggested that a member pursue “Cool Cities” and provide information on what Newtown would need to do. Once the EAC has had an opportunity to review the program in depth, a meeting with Lynn Bush could be contemplated, followed by a presentation and proposal on the program to the Board of Supervisors.

New Business

Mr. Leck reported that he has learned that trash haulers may begin to be charged for disposal of recycled paper products. While state law requires that haulers recycle paper products, there could be a financial impact on the haulers, who in turn might have to pass costs to residents and business customers. He talked about the change being a global change as the economy is suffering there is less production, meaning less need for recycled packaging materials.

The members briefly discussed the impact additional charges might have on residents and business owners, who may no longer participate, or participate fully, in recycling if there is additional cost attached.

Mr. Leck said that he would continue to update the EAC on recycling news.

Wildlife Management

Mr. McGuigan reported that he had presented data collected on deer accidents to the Board of Supervisors. The information presented has also been updated on the Township Web site and published in the Bucks County Courier Times and the Newtown Advance. The Board of Supervisors has directed the EAC to work on solutions to the problem of deer accidents and deer damage to plants, etc. He will begin collecting data from neighboring communities which have begun to institute programs for wildlife management. He said that he will also be reviewing information of recent advances in birth control for deer.

Dr. McEachron said that the EAC is in receipt of a letter from Greenbelt Archery Club of Bucks County, which is seeking to work with the EAC if a decision is made to cull the herds in the future.

Mr. McGuigan said that as he continues to research methods of wildlife management, there should also be an educational component in advance of any action.

Mr. Leck said that he has heard many positive comments on the deer sign. He has also begun to notice flashing lights on existing deer signs.

Mr. McGuigan said that he will continue to monitor deer/vehicle accidents to compare with/without the sign to better determine if the sign has been effective.

Dr. McEachron reported to the Board that he has received a letter from a resident complaining that her neighbor feeds the geese, which then congregate in her yard and driveway leaving droppings where her children play. Dr. McEachron said that he would investigate whether the Board of Health has any guidance as to health hazards and would contact the Police Department and Township Manager about whether this is in any way prohibited.

Mr. Leck said that he has recently ordered a fox silhouette that the manufacturer claims will frighten geese. He will report back on its effectiveness.

Open Space Inventory

Dr. McEachron said that the Codes Department is currently confirming the inventory’s accuracy. Certain parcels have been recently subdivided, some have approved plans for development and some have been developed since the maps were created. These parcels will be removed from the inventory.

Mr. McGuigan shared an updated evaluation form. The members discussed ways to weight the various qualities and characteristics of each parcel to help to better ascertain, by looking at the list, a parcel’s condition. This will be especially helpful in creating the Open Space Comprehensive Plan and in helping to determine methods of preservation for the parcels.

Mr. McGuigan said that the form shows each of the components of the Open Space Committee’s goals for preservation:

  • Wooded areas
  • Biological Diversity
  • Greenway Corridors and linkages
  • Hydrologic and Geologic Features
  • Recreational Open Space
  • Agricultural significance
The members discussed various point values to be assigned to each section of the evaluation form and agreed that each section should be given equal total weight. Ms. Aslam agreed to work with Mr. McGuigan on creating a weighting system. It was agreed that the point values assigned would be used not to indicate a parcel’s merits for preservation but as a quick reference as to its characteristics, such that reading its rating on woodland would tell a user of the inventory whether there are woodlands on a parcel.

Liaison Reports

Planning Commission: Mr. Fisher reported that the Planning Commission will be working on a review of the Jointure’s draft comprehensive plan.

In response to Mr. Annarelli’s question, Mr. Fisher said that there have not been plans submitted to the Planning Commission for the old Acme site. He is not aware of any problems with groundwater contamination.

Member Comments: Ms. Aslam asked the members to review the Lower Makefield Township ordinance which requires an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) as part of land development. She said that a similar requirement appears in parts of the JMZO, but it is not consistently referred to.

Mr. Fisher said that he is aware of discussion and review of environmental considerations by the Township Engineer as part of land development, particularly concerning stormwater management, but he is not aware of any plans for which an environmental impact study was performed.

Ms. Aslam agreed with Mr. Fisher, that an EIS would be conducted by environmental professionals, not by the EAC.

Mr. McGuigan moved to adjourn at 9:15. Ms. Thomas seconded and the motion passed 6-0.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary