Meeting held on January 23, 2012

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, January 23, 2012 in the Township Main Meeting Room. In attendance and voting were: Sanford Bender, Shannon Escalante and Pam Fitzpatrick. Also in attendance was Dennis Fisher, Planning Commission Liaison.

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 7:40 PM.

Organization of Council: Ms. Escalante nominated Ms. Thomas to serve as chairman. Ms. Fitzpatrick seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Ms. Fitzpatrick nominated Mr. Katz to serve as vice-chairman. Ms. Escalante seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

Approval of Minutes: Mr. Fisher noted that the minutes state that he would research collection of garden refuse. He did not recall saying that, but would follow up.

Mrs. Fitzpatrick moved to accept the minutes of November 28, 2011. Mr. Bender seconded and the motion passed 3-0.

New Business

DCNR Presentation: Bonnie Tobin, a DCNR educator from Tyler Park, was in attendance to discuss the DCNR land choices book and workshop. She shared the book with the members and said that from the book she has run activities for EAC and Planning Commission groups about land development, stormwater management and watershed protection.

Ms. Tobin gave a brief demonstration of one of the activities she uses during presentations. She had a series of aerial photographs of Newtown taken at five year intervals from 1965 to 1995 and asked the members to put them in chronological order. The exercise promotes conversations about the history and changes in the Township and some of the land use decisions that have been made, and it illustrates those decisions’ impact on the environment.

Ms. Escalante said that the EAC is planning its first quarterly environmental forum in March. She asked Ms. Tobin to participate in that event.

Ms. Tobin agreed to attend the forum and said she would discuss possible activities and presentations with Ms. Escalante via e-mail.

Other New Business: Mr. Fisher said that the maker of the film “A Chemical Reaction” would be speaking at the Philadelphia Flower Show from March 5 through 11. He would send the members further information about this.

Liaison Reports

Newtown Creek Coalition: Ms. Fitzpatrick reported that the Coalition is continuing its efforts to get a “growing greener” planning grant from DCNR. They are also working on acquiring a pedestrian bridge from PennDOT for the end of Frost Lane over the creek into Newtown Township. At one time there had been a bridge there and the pilings still exist. The Coalition learned that the Centre Avenue Bridge is in need of major repairs. When the Joint Historic Commission reviewed the bridge’s significance and history, PennDOT agreed to make structural repairs rather than replace the bridge. It is scheduled to be closed in the summer for the work. It is one of the oldest bridges in the country.

Planning Commission: Mr. Fisher reported that the PC has reviewed and recommended approval of the NAC plan for a new outdoor pool and baseball academy. The Commission also reviewed a zoning application for signage for a café at Newtown Shopping Center. The Jointure is working on an ordinance regulating standards for alternative energy. The proposed ordinance would, for example, provide setback requirements for wood fired boilers and windmills. The Commission will also be reviewing the pamphlet for stormwater management in light of recent amendments to the stormwater ordinance.

Park and Recreation Board: The recording secretary reported that the Board had reviewed a plan for expansion at Goodnoe Elementary School and recommended that the Township accept a fee in lieu of open space for this project.

Quarterly Forum

Ms. Escalante said that the theme for the forum would be environmentally friendly volunteering opportunities. She would like to include an announcement about the forum in the Township newsletter, which will be published before the March 3 date. She has spoken to representatives of Tree Tenders, Newtown Creek Coalition and Bird Town. All will have tables of information about their programs and she would like to finalize their presentation plans.

The members discussed ways to promote the event:

  • Announcement during public comment at Supervisors meeting
  • E-mail blasts through the Park and Recreation master list, EAC members lists of other environmental organization, etc
  • Press releases to Bucks County Courier Times and Newtown Advance
  • Notice on Township Web site and television station

Looking ahead, Ms. Escalante said that she would like each quarterly forum to focus on a theme, possibly seasonally appropriate, such as pesticides and lawn care, gardening, native species planting.

Bird Town: Ms. Fitzpatrick reported that Ms. Thomas will be attending the Bird Town training class. She will also be leading a Park and Recreation planting class for children to create a Mothers Day plant, with proceeds from the class going to Bird Town.

Clark Nature Center: The recording secretary reported that Special Education teacher Cemantha Morris of Council Rock has been volunteering with her class at Clark a few days each week. The class of older teens have been clearing and mulching the trails. Photos of the work can be viewed on Ms. Morris’s page of the Web site. Ms. Morris gave a presentation to the Park and Recreation Board recently.

Green Corner: Ms. Escalante said that the current Green Corner would feature information on Bird Town, the upcoming forum and environmentally friendly travel. Future issues will concentrate on water conservation and environmentally friendly household cleaning products. Ms. Escalante asked the members to make contributions to the Green Corner if they have any ideas.

Public Comment

Eric Korn, a new resident, asked whether the Township offers any financial incentives for “green” improvements to their homes or any kind of credit to developers using “green” building techniques or materials.

Mr. Fisher said that at this time there has not been any codified incentive for green building, however, when reviewing possible changes to the TC zoning district on Sycamore Street, such incentives have been considered. That ordinance is still in the draft phase, but the County has used Doylestown Borough’s downtown district as a guide, and that municipality does use “green points” to help reduce fees. The Zoning Hearing Board has also frequently placed conditions on the granting of variances which would help with stormwater management.

Ms. Escalante moved to adjourn at 9:15 PM. Mr. Bender seconded and the motion passed 3-0.



Respectfully submitted by:


Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary