NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Meeting held on February 23, 2009
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, February 23, 2009 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were members Dennis Annarelli, Aliya Aslam, Michael Kaner, Walt Leck ,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. .
Because the members all have demanding home and work commitments, they agreed that Ms. Aslam and Mr. McGuigan would serve as co-chairs, sharing all responsibilities.
Mr. McGuigan moved to nominate himself and Ms. Aslam to serve as co-chairmen. Dr. Annarelli seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. McGuigan moved to accept the minutes of January 26, 2009. Ms. Thomas seconded and the motion passed 4-0-2, with Ms. Aslam and Mr. Leck abstaining.
Mr. McGuigan asked that each member champion a particular project in the coming year. It was agreed that the members would ask Ms. Fitzpatrick if she would be interested in acting as liaison to the Newtown Creek Coalition.
Discussion of Projects
Wildlife Management: Mr. McGuigan provided members with copies of the summary of the Clark Nature Center Resource Management report prepared by the Heritage Conservancy. He said that the Clark property can serve as an indication of conditions throughout the Township. He has highlighted portions of the report dealing particularly with deer damage and invasive species of plants. The report indicates that there re between 146-166 deer on the 50 acre Clark property, an area that should support only about 5 to 20 deer. As a result there is considerable damage to the undergrowth from over browsing.
Mr. McGuigan said that he has spoken to Upper Makefield’s EAC Chairman. Upper Makefield does not have any data to show whether controlled hunts have impacted ecosystem regeneration. Upper Makefield’s EAC felt that the most important component in organizing a hunt is public education. A well informed populace would be more supportive of a decision to have a hunt.
Mr. Leck said that he believes that if a hunt were organized in cooperation with Tyler Park and with private property owners, it might be possible to invite skilled hunters to participate. These hunters would probably not charge to participate and might possibly even pay for a permit to participate.
Ms. Aslam said that this might be worth researching further, as she understood that the professional bow hunt in Upper Makefield might have cost as much as $80,000. There was not much public resistance to the hunt. She suggested that the EAC continue its research into this with an aim of writing a white paper to be presented to the Board of Supervisors.
The members agreed that going forward, if the EAC’s conclusion is that a hunt would be the best way to control overpopulation of deer, any attempt to organize the hunt should be coordinated with neighboring municipalities.
Environmental Education: Ms. Aslam suggested that information on the deer management issue, as well as other issues of concern to the EAC should be placed on the Township Web site. The members discussed using the Township’s quarterly newsletter as a tool for dispensing information on environmental topics as well. Among topics to be researched for inclusion in the newsletter might be information on hazardous waste disposal and electronics recycling. Ms. Thomas agreed to take on a “green corner” column to be placed in the newsletter on a regular basis. Township Assistant Manager John Boyle will be contacted to confirm when and whether space will be reserved for the column.
Ecostar Award: The recording secretary reported that the Township Web site’s information on the Ecostar Award has been updated to reflect this year’s deadlines.
The members asked Mr. Leck to contact Recyclebank as a possible recipient.
Cool Cities: Ms. Aslam presented information on “Cool Cities”, which are cities that have made a commitment to stopping global warming by signing the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. Begun in 2005, the “Cool Cities” campaign empowers residents and local leaders to implement smart energy solutions to save money and build a cleaner, safer future. Newtown Borough, Lower Makefield and Bucks County have already joined Cool Cities. By signing the Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement the Township would agree to strive to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol targets through actions ranging from anti-sprawl land-use policies to urban forest restoration projects to public information campaigns; urge state and federal government to enact policies and programs to meet or beat the greenhouse gas emission reduction target suggested for the United States in the Kyoto Protocol -- 7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012; and urge Congress to pass the bipartisan greenhouse gas reduction legislation, which would establish a national emission trading system. Because the County has already joined, BCPC will be providing us with our current carbon footprint. She said that she would like to contact the Board and ask the members to sign the agreement.
Mr. McGuigan suggested that Ms. Aslam include all of the pertinent information in a letter to be addressed to the Board. That letter could first be circulated among EAC members for comment.
The recording secretary reviewed deadlines for information to be forwarded to the Supervisors in their regular Friday afternoon packets.
Planning Commission: Mr. Fisher said that the Planning Commission recently recommended that the Board approve subdivision of the Rockbridge property into three lots, two for single family homes with the remaining 6 acres to be preserved by the Township as open space. The developer has agreed to include EAC recommendations for herbicides and pesticides as well as snow melt products which will be environmentally friendly, to be incorporated into the easement agreements for the homeowners. This property is environmentally sensitive, and water run-off goes into the Newtown Creek at a point where the water is still very pristine. He asked the EAC to provide its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. McGuigan said that he believed that former member Bill Heil had researched this. He agreed to contact Mr. Heil for an update.
Ms. Thomas said that if Mr. Heil was no longer available she would do some research on safe products.
Mr. Fisher said that he has asked Township Engineer Michele Fountain to research when and whether environmental impact studies are required for land development.
Open Space: Mr. McGuigan reported that the Township has submitted its draft comprehensive plan for open space to the Bucks County Planning Commission. A response is expected shortly.
Mr. Leck discussed his concerns about the geese in the pond/detention basin on South Eagle Road in Village at Newtown Shopping Center. These geese are walking out onto the road and are a hazard.
Dr. Annarelli agreed to contact the Township about possibly installing a snow fence to prevent the geese from walking on the road.
Ms. Aslam asked members to consider attending the 12th Annual Southeast PA EAC Conference, March 14, 2009. She agreed to forward additional information to the members.
Ms. Aslam asked about updating the Township Web site with new member information and information regarding electric energy utility choices and PECO wind energy.
Mr. McGuigan moved to adjourn at 9:30 PM. Mr. Leck seconded and the motion passed 6-0.
Respectfully submitted by:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary