Meeting held on March 23, 2009


The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, March 23, 2009 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were co-chairmen Aliya Aslam and Jay McGuigan and Members Dennis Annarelli, Pam Fitzpatrick and Autumn Thomas. Also present were Planning Commission Liaison Dennis Fisher and Township Supervisor Mike Gallagher.

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.


Tom Schneider, Council Rock School District’s Supervisor of Operational Services gave a PowerPoint presentation on the District’s sustainable energy initiatives. Mr. Schneider explained that efforts began in 2005 to reduce use of energy and increase the District’s energy star rating through small efforts and big initiatives combined. He explained that each building had been given a rating and through an educational process developed ways to lower that rating. Over the next few years the District was able to reduce its energy usage and costs by as much as 42%. He said that everyone in the district needed to be supportive of the effort, from the Superintendent through faculty, staff, contractors and students. Lights not in use have been turned off; heat/air conditioning have been adjusted for building downtime; personal appliances such as coffee makers and microwaves have been removed from classrooms and work stations. These efforts have earned the District the Energy Star Partner of the Year. The District has also installed Abitibi boxes at every location to collect recyclable paper. These boxes can be used by the public.

After his presentation, Mr. Schneider answered questions and discussed ways that Council Rock’s experiences could be adapted for the Township complex.

Approval of Minutes

Mr. McGuigan said that page 1, paragraph 7 should read, “ Upper Makefield does not have any data to show whether controlled hunts have impacted ecosystem regeneration.”

Mr. McGuigan moved to accept the minutes of February 23 , 2009 as amended. . Ms. Aslam seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Public Comment

Henry DeSilva, Newtown Borough EAC Liaison said that Bucks County Community college will be hosting a forum on water conservation in May. He will provide more information as it becomes available.

Discussion of Projects

Wildlife Management: Mr. McGuigan presented a draft of the Wildlife Management paper he is currently researching. He has purchased a study of the “compensatory rebound effect” which seems to refer to regeneration of populations of deer after culling of herds. He asked the other members of the committee to review the data provided in the study, as he has some concerns about the accuracy of the research. He has also attempted to get information from a group called “deerfriends” who have spoken at the Lower Makefield Board of Supervisors meetings in opposition to a controlled hunt. He said that, with a goal of reducing the number of deer/vehicle accidents and damage to the ecosystem by overpopulation, he will continue to research methods to control the deer population. At Ms. Aslam’s suggestion he will contact the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission to discuss various aspects of a possible hunt. Going forward he would like input from a variety of sources on both lethal and non-lethal methods, with a goal of presenting a recommendation to the Supervisors. Should the recommendation be a controlled hunt, Mr. McGuigan would like to present information of costs associated with the hunt, and to time a hunt to coordinate with the Tyler Park hunt.

Open Space Inventory: Mr. McGuigan said that the Open Space Committee is still awaiting a response from the Bucks County Planning Commission on the information submitted for an Open Space Comprehensive Plan. The inventory compiled by Drexel students and updated by the Codes Department and Recording Secretary and the evaluation sheet were submitted to the County as part of the Plan. Once it is ascertained that the evaluation form is adequate, some site visits to confirm the inventory can begin.

Mr. Gallagher noted that the Board of Supervisors would not want the EAC to rate the open space parcels with any system the values certain parcels over others. The inventory should contain information on all open space, including parcels already preserved and parcels that could become subjects of development plans. The evaluation should only be confirming that mapped information is accurate, for example, that open space parcels are in fact open. It will be the Supervisors’ decision to place any value on the preservation of any given parcel, based on the goals outlined in the Open Space Comprehensive Plan.

Ms. Aslam said that the EAC had intended to conduct on site visits themselves or using volunteers from the community. The parcels would be photographed. She said that some kind of permission from the property owners would be necessary.

Mr. Gallagher said that for the most part he expected the inspections, if deemed necessary, could be conducted from the roadside. He discouraged use of photography.

EcoStar: The Ecostar deadline for applications will be in April. Ms. Fitzpatrick agreed to contact someone at Recyclebank to invite them to fill an application.

Green Corner: Ms Aslam discussed creating a “green corner” on the Township Web site, or at least increasing and improving the EAC portion of the site. She said that he had asked the technology committee chairman to help with this, but he is working first on the Park and Recreation Department, after which the committee will be investigating ways to make better use of the site by all of the Township committees boards and commissions.

Mr. Gallagher said that the Township is trying to strike a balance in reaching out to the community. He said that the Township might be able to support quarterly updated information on the Web site, but would probably not be able to make changes more frequently.

Ms. Aslam said that Lower Makefield’s EAC produces an electronic newsletter. She suggested trying to do something similar.

Mr. Gallagher said that he would investigate this and discuss it with the Board.

Action Items/Year Agenda: Prior to the meeting, Ms. Aslam had circulated an agenda with goals for the year as well as action items for the coming month. The Committee reviewed and reported first on the action items:

  • Mr. McGuigan reported that he and Mr. Fisher had been unable to get information from former EAC member Bill Heil on environmentally friendly lawn care and road maintenance products to be included in the homeowners agreement for Rockbridge Estates. Ms. Thomas agreed to research this for the next meeting.
  • Mr. McGuigan will continue researching wildlife management, compiling a white paper with recommendations first to the EAC then to the Board of Supervisors.
  • Ms. Aslam will continue to gather information on hazardous waste disposal for possible inclusion on the Web site or in the “green corner” of the Township Newsletter.
  • Ms. Thomas will work on other updates to be included in the “green corner.”
  • The recording secretary reported that Township Assistant Manager John Boyle has asked the Township Engineer to investigate tall plants to discourage geese at the detention basin at Village at Newtown Shopping Center.
  • Because of scheduling conflicts, no EAC member could commit to serving as permanent liaison to the Newtown Creek Coalition. Ms. Fitzpatrick agreed to contact their recording secretary for updates.

Liaison Reports

Planning Commission: Mr. Fisher reported that he had spoken to the Township Engineer on Environmental Impact Studies (EIS). Our JMZO only requires these for land development in the quarry district. The Engineer did point out that most of the information required by an EIS is addressed elsewhere in the Ordinance’s performance standards.

Member Comments: Ms. Fitzpatrick provided members with a sheet of information and contacts on green building compiled by the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. McGuigan moved to adjourn at 11:00 PM. Dr. Annarelli seconded and the motion passed 5-0.


Respectfully submitted by:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary