ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Meeting held on Apirl 28, 2014
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, April 28, 2014 in the Newtown Township Building. In attendance and voting were: Chairman Steven Jenks, Steven Bacher, Amie Easterly and Pam Fitzpatrick. Also in attendance was Planning Commission Liaison Dennis Fisher(departed after giving his report.)
Call to Order: Mr. Jenks called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes: Ms. Easterly moved to approve the minutes of March 24, 2014. Mrs. Fitzpatrick seconded and the motion passed 4-0.
Planning Commission: Mr. Fisher reported that the Planning Commission had reviewed a few Zoning Hearing Board applications and recommended approval of the Newtown Townhomes (Swim Club) final plan.
Newtown Creek Coalition: Mrs. Fitzpatrick reported that the Coalition is planning a creek clean-up on Saturday, May 17. The Coalition is also looking into grant opportunities.
Ms. Escalante said that she had an e-mail from Supervisor Jen Dix saying that she was aware of some grant opportunities which the EAC might be interested in.
Mr. Bacher said that this was a miscommunication. He had spoken of possible DCNR grants with the Park and Recreation Director but learned that these grants require matching funds, which the Supervisors have not approved in recent years.
Mr. Jenks said that he will continue to review the Lower Makefield ordinance dealing with porous paving. He confirmed that the procedure to address this would be to first present his summary to the EAC. If the EAC agreed that Newtown Township’s ordinance should make a change, he should bring it to the Supervisors, who would either recommend that our Planning Commission review it or would bring it directly to the Joint Zoning Council for consideration.
Mr. Bacher and Mr. Jenks briefly discussed the feasibility of solar energy for the Township Municipal Complex. Mr. Bacher said he would speak to the Township Manager about this, perhaps beginning with an evaluation of the Township’s current electricity costs and comparison with solar power. There are certain tax benefits to the initial purchase of solar panels as well as energy cost savings and environmental benefits.
Earth Day: Ms. Easterly reported that the Earth Day event had been a tremendous success. All of the birdhouses had been assembled, painted and given to children. Ms. Thomas had been able to collect the needed 75 contacts for the Audubon Bird Town site. She thanked Mr. Fisher, Ms. Thomas and Mrs. Fitzpatrick. She also noted that her daughter and two friends were on hand to help children with the project.
Ms. Easterly said that she would like to use photographs taken by the Park and Rec department and prepare a press release about the event. She asked if the event could be featured in the Township newsletter.
Clark Nature Center: Mr. Jenks said that he would like to plan a fall event or class at Clark demonstrating how to build a rain garden and explain the benefits of rain gardens. He would work up a plan in time for the Township’s fall brochure and work with Park and Rec on promoting the class.
Environmental Forum: Mr. Jenks reported that about 25 people attended the April 12 forum on alternative and renewable energy. Ms. Thomas had taken some photos which he will use in a press release, either as a summary of the event or to promote a future event.
Mr. Bacher said that he has prepared a lecture/slide show on climate change that he has given a few time and would present it as the fall forum sometime in October. It has been very well received in the past and he thought that people would like it.
Mr. Jenks asked the recording secretary to ascertain room availability for October.
Green Corner: Ms. Escalante suggested that since the next Newsletter is published in September, she might try to update some of the deer/vehicle accident stuff. People were very interested in the locations of the accidents, as some are surprising. She will also look for some back to school ideas.
Mr. Bacher said that he noticed that the Township Web site is still showing an EAC forum that took place last year. He asked about procedures for listing and removing items from the site.
The recording secretary said that she gives information on EAC events to the technology director to post. Right now this person works alone and has many responsibilities other than web maintenance, so unless the recording secretary remembers to ask, things do not always get removed. She will follow up tomorrow to remove all old EAC listings. Only the technology director can list things on the Township Web site. Some time ago, the Board of Supervisors adopted a policy of only posting “official” Township programs, announcements and events. The Supervisors were reluctant to endorse outside events, fearing not treating all outside groups, organizations and charities with equal access. For this reason, only Newtown Township EAC sponsored events are posted.
Mr. Bacher said that the Township’s site is out of date and not effective. He would like the Township to update its site and allow access for postings to others, such as department heads, organization chairmen, etc. He strongly believes that it is very important for the Township to keep pace with technology and provide easy and fast access to information.
The members briefly discussed the use of Facebook by various Township entities, including the Park and Recreation Department and Police Department. Ms. Thomas has created a Newtown EAC Facebook page, on which she posts timely information.
Respectfully submitted by:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary