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 January 26, 2009

 

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, January 26, 2009 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were members Dennis Annarelli, Pam Fitzpatrick, Michael Kaner, Jay McGuigan and Autumn Thomas. Also present was Planning Commission Liaison Dennis Fisher.

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM. The members introduced themselves and welcomed Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who was newly appointed.

Reorganization

The members in attendance agreed to table election of a chairman until the February meeting.

Dr. Annarelli moved to nominate Jay McGuigan to serve as Vice-Chairman. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. McGuigan moved to accept the minutes of November 24, 2008. Dr. Kaner seconded and the motion passed 3-0-2, with Ms. Thomas and Mrs. Fitzpatrick abstaining.

Discussion of Projects

Wildlife Management: Mr. McGuigan reviewed the latest information he has collected on deer/vehicle accidents, noting that most of the accidents are occurring between 7 and 8 AM and from 5 to 10 PM in the evenings. While Public Works Director Gary Crossland has provided detailed information on the deer sign placements, it seems that there has been an increase in deer accidents overall this year, and Mr. McGuigan has not been able to gauge whether there would have been even more accidents without the signs.

The members discussed efforts to bring a hunt to Lower Makefield. Mrs. Fitzpatrick and Mr. McGuigan have been following the work done by Jim Bray in Lower Makefield. The discussed collecting data on the success, or lack thereof, of the hunt in Lower Makefield if it takes place. The members agreed that, if Newtown were to pursue a hunt as a method of deer population control, they would support the use of sharpshooters as a more humane approach than bow hunters. It was agreed that, if the EAC were to endorse a controlled hunt, it would probably take about six months from their agreement until a hunt could take place, as it would first need Board of Supervisors approval and a public education effort before arrangements could be made. One possible method to be investigated would be working with the Park and Recreation Board to sponsor a hunt at Clark Nature Center in cooperation with the annual hunt in Tyler Park. This would only be recommended after examination of effectiveness of other hunts taking place in the surrounding communities.

Ms. Thomas said that in addition to collecting deer/vehicle accident data and damage to native species, some information should also be gathered on the spreading of invasive species by deer.

Open Space Inventory: Mr. McGuigan reported that the preliminary inventory has been completed. It has been reviewed by the recording secretary and the Codes Department to remove any parcels that have been developed subsequent to the creation of maps used for the inventory. The recording secretary has also begun to note certain uses of the open space, such as playing fields on school and church owned properties. The inventory has been submitted to the Bucks County Planning Commission as part of the Township Open Space Comprehensive Plan. The EAC will use a weighted evaluation sheet to further document the conditions on the various open parcels to compare the accuracy of the maps.

Mr. McGuigan suggested using Eagle Scouts to complete the on-site evaluations.

Dr. Annarelli expressed some concern about supervision and the level of skill needed to properly evaluate the parcels.

The members discussed using a “green team” from the school district to help with the evaluations. Of concern is training and supervision when using scouts and students. Mr. Fisher and Ms. Thomas expressed interest in helping with the evaluations. Ms. Thomas and Mrs. Fitzpatrick discussed the best time for conducting evaluations, noting that in the spring it becomes more difficult to see through undergrowth and leaves. It might be better to conduct the evaluations before spring begins or in early winter before it gets too cold.

Ecostar: Dr. Kaner reviewed the Ecostar award given to local businesses and organizations for their efforts to be “green”. Past winners included the Law School Admissions Council, Signature Medicine and Council Rock Art Department. Dr. Kaner suggested that the EAC begin actively seeking possible applicants. A press release should appear in the local papers, the Web site should be updated and this year, members should directly recommend to businesses who might qualify. The members discussed including Recyclebank and agreed to ask Walt Leck to speak to them about filling an application. The award was last given in June of 2008. A deadline of May 1, 2009 should be placed on any applicants.

Member Comments

Mr. Fisher reported that Henry DeSilva has been working to sponsor programs on environmental education throughout the area.

Dr. Annarelli said that he has some concerns about the possibility of toxicity at the Acme site and questioned whether this would be addressed as part of land development. Of particular concern would be asbestos removal.

Mr. Fisher said that the Acme plans would be discussed at an upcoming Planning Commission meeting. He would speak to the Township Engineer about asbestos and other toxins on the site and their removal. He would also speak to her about whether any Environmental Impact Studies are required as part of land development on this or any parcels.

Mr. McGuigan said that he would like to thank Dr. Donald McEachron for his work as EAC chairman since its inception. He deserves a great deal of credit for the success of the Council. It was Dr. McEachron who introduced the idea of each member championing a particular project or issue. He hopes that this practice will continue.

Mr. McGuigan moved to adjourn at 9: 10 PM. Dr. Annarelli seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

 

Respectfully submitted by:

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary