Meeting held on April 25, 2011

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, April 25, 2011 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Co-Chairmen Jay McGuigan(late) and Autumn Thomas, Sanford Bender, Shannon Escalante, Perry Katz and Pam Fitzpatrick (late), members and Dennis Fisher, Planning Commission Liaison.

Call to Order

Ms. Thomas called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.

Approval of Minutes

Ms. Thomas moved to approve the minutes of March 28, 2011. Ms. Escalante seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Mr. Katz abstaining.

(Mr. McGuigan arrived at this point).

New Business

Film Screening: The members reviewed procedures for showing the film, A Chemical Reaction, on April 29, 2011. Mr. Fisher said that after reviewing the license agreement with the Township Solicitor, he has signed it and purchased the DVD’s on line. They have arrived and he would submit his bill for $100 to the Township for re-imbursement.

Ms. Thomas shared a copy of pesticide guidelines she had developed some years ago in connection with a Township land development project. She agreed to update the guidelines for distribution during the film. She would obtain a key to the meeting room and arrive early to set up the projector and screen.

Mr. Bender agreed to plan an agenda, introducing the EAC members, briefly discussing some work the EAC is doing, including Bird Town, and introducing the film. The members agreed to moderate some discussion after the screening if attendees are interested.

(Ms. Fitzpatrick arrived at this point.)

Liaison Reports

Newtown Creek Coalition: Ms. Fitzpatrick reported that the April 9, 2011 visioning meeting for the Creek Coalition was very well attended. The presentation, by Jeffrey Marshall of the Heritage Conservancy, will also be on the next Board of Supervisors agenda.

The Coalition will be sponsoring a clean-up day on May 7, 2011.

Planning Commission : Mr. Fisher reported that the Planning Commission had agreed to recommend the Supervisors that the Township allow non-engineered site plans for projects under 5000 square feet and self-regulation of volume controls on projects under 1000 square feet to meet the new stormwater requirements of the DEP Act 167 Stormwater Ordinance, which must be adopted by the end of May.

Park and Recreation: The recording secretary reported that the Park and Recreation Board has begun a discussion of a possible third option when considering accepting open space or fee in lieu as part of land development review. The third option would be trading of development rights from one parcel to another, an option offered in other municipalities.

Discussion of Projects

Wildlife Management: Mr. McGuigan reported that he had spoken to Erik Shade of Eccologix to review the success of the archery hunt. Eccologix hunted three Township parcels culling about 30 deer between late October and February. The Township did not authorize the sharpshooting hunt due to budget constraints. While hunting on the Clark property the hunters reported some unauthorized hunting as well of some deliberate destruction of trees by bikers.

Mr. McGuigan said that he had spoken to Jean Tanner of the Police Department, who confirmed a dramatic reduction in deer/vehicle collisions, which could be due to the reduction of the herd and residents’ awareness of deer activity as a result of the EAC’s educational efforts. Mr. McGuigan said that he will plot the accident information for comparison shortly.

Ms. Escalante asked whether the wildlife research had included any consideration of geese.

Mr. McGuigan said that the EAC had discussed some of the problems with geese including the health hazards and inconvenience but had not pursued this. He asked whether any members would like to investigate this further, noting that the geese were a nuisance near the shopping district and in Silver Lake Park.

Mr. Katz said that perhaps as a start, the EAC could invite geese management firms to make presentations to the EAC. He agreed to follow up with this.

Stormwater Pamphlet: Ms. Thomas said that she had drafted an outline but would continue work after the new ordinance has been adopted.

Energy Conservation: The recording secretary reported that the wind turbine is expected to be installed later in the spring.

Mr. McGuigan said that he has tried to learn about the costs/benefits of solar panels being used on street lights in New Jersey, but has not had responses to his inquiries. He has noticed similar solar panels being used in Virginia and would try contacting that state as well.

Green Corner: Ms. Escalante said that she is working on some articles for the summer issue. She would forward her drafts to the Park and Recreation Director shortly.

Mr. McGuigan suggested that the fall newsletter include updated deer information.

Bird Town: Ms. Thomas said she had received information from the Audubon Society about a new pricing structure for joining Bird Town. She reminded the members that Walt Leck had expressed interest in making a donation. She suggested that she could pursue other corporate sponsorships from some local businesses with interest in the environment.

Ms. Thomas moved to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that Newtown Township become a member of “Bird Town.” The EAC would seek corporate sponsorships for the enrollment costs. Mr. Katz seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Katz said that he would help prepare a synopsis of the program to be included in the Board packets.

Ms. Thomas agreed to present the concept to the Board of Supervisors at the May 11, 2011 meeting.

Member Comments

Ms. Thomas reported that Tree Tenders, working with Boy Scout Troop 74, had planted nine trees at Clark Nature Center. She noted that if the summer is dry, some volunteer help will be needed to water the new trees.

Mr. Katz said that his scout troop would like to visit Clark Nature Center again for some clean-up and planting projects. He asked Ms. Thomas to arrange a date with Tree Tenders for a joint day of volunteering.

Mr. Katz reminded the members that resident Jay Sensibaugh had discussed possible grant money available for trees.

Mr. McGuigan said that he had recently discussed this with Mr. Sensibaugh, who indicated there could also be grant opportunities to plant trees in the open space owned by the various homeowners associations. He and Mr. Katz agreed to follow up with Mr. Sensibaugh.

Mr. Katz asked if the Township had any plans to do additional work at Clark Nature Center to make it more like Churchville Nature Center.

Ms. Thomas said that the Park and Recreation Board would like to implement the recommendations of the Heritage Conservancy Stewardship Plan, but funds have not been made available. The Park and Rec Board is also considering forming a “Friends of Clark Nature Center” group to do both volunteer work and fundraising for the park. She believed that the Township had gotten grant money to pave the floor of the Clark barn to make it usable for scout troops and other nature groups, but the work has not yet been done.

Mr. McGuigan moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Ms. Thomas seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted by:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary