Minutes of the meeting held on May 8, 2012

The Newtown Township Historical Architectural Review Board met on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at 9:30 A.M. in the main meeting room of the Newtown Township Administration Building, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA.

Members present were Bill Mahler, Joseph McKernan, Jr., Kurt Jensen, Peggy Driscoll, Doug Terry, Harriet Beckert and Mike Crane. Also present were Patty Powers, Codes Department, and Kurt Ferguson, Township Manager.

Call to Order:

Mr. McKernan called the meeting to order at 9:39 A.M.

Minutes of April 10, 2013:

The members reviewed the minutes of April 10, 2013. Mrs. Beckert advised that she had one change to the minutes. She requested the removal of the first complete sentence on page 3, under Other Business.

Mrs. Beckert made a motion to approve the minutes of April 10, 2013 as revised. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Driscoll and passed unanimously with one member abstaining (6-0-1).

Old Business

Discuss Scaling Down the Design Guidelines to a Tri-Fold Brochure

The members discussed the Design Guidelines. Mr. Ferguson reported that it is his hope to simplify the application process and help make the process more business friendly. He noted that he will approve the expenditure of funds to help make this happen. He suggested developing a color brochure containing information with regards to acceptable and unacceptable colors and lighting fixtures that would help give businesses insight/guidelines. Mrs. Beckert noted that the Township’s Historic District is made up of various building styles and felt that may be too much information to include in a brochure. Mr. Terry reported on his experiences with the application process since becoming a member of this board. He referenced a book that was developed some time ago that detailed acceptable sign styles and fonts. The members discussed recommending applicants get a historic color chart when it comes to determining appropriate colors. Mr. Mahler provided the members with information regarding historic palettes. Mr. Ferguson advised that he wants the process involved with applications to become a professional process for Township staff; he overall goal is to streamline the process. Mrs. Beckert suggested that a folder containing historical color charts be created and to be kept at the Township for applicants to review. She also suggested that the Historic District be mapped out and each building type be coded. The members discussed the folder containing color palettes for the various eras in the District. The members discussed including information for unapproved colors such as neon and gold; black should also be deterred. Mr. Ferguson suggested that this matter be discussed in further detail at future meetings with the goal of having a final product for the beginning of 2014. Mrs. Beckert advised that she could update the Design Guideline document that she has created to include information regarding suggested historic palettes. Mr. Terry noted that HARB’s biggest problem seems to be with corporate logos. Mr. McKernan suggested that with regards to signs; a photograph/drawling scaled to proportion should be included with the application. Mr. Jensen and Mrs. Powers advised that signs are first approved through the Zoning Department; and noted that Zoning doesn’t approve colors. Mrs. Powers stated that whatever information is on the application will be enforced. It was agreed that sign applications need to include a photograph/drawling showing the placement of the sign on the building. Mr. Ferguson suggested drafting sign placement guidelines to be provided to the applicant. Mr. Mahler agreed that the final product should include information with regards to sign placement. Mr. Ferguson suggested including photographs as examples in the folder. The members discussed the enforcement of violations. Mrs. Beckert noted that the folder will also need to include information with regards to landscaping plantings. Mr. Mahler questioned who would be responsible to gather the information for the folder. The members agreed that they would start gather the information. Mrs. Beckert stated that she uncomfortable with giving out information regarding paint colors and suggested having the applicant look through the folder at the Township building. Mrs. Powers advised that she was in agreement with Mrs. Beckert. Mr. Ferguson advised that he would still like to have a brochure for the applicant to take with them. The members discussed the book that Mr. Terry referenced earlier. The Recording Secretary requested Mrs. Beckert to help her look for the book once the meeting adjourned.

New Business

Discuss Certificate of Appropriateness Application and Policies for Dealing with Applications

The members discussed the application and policies for dealing with applications. Mrs. Beckert noted that when an application is received by the Township it should be complete including manufacturer numbers, samples, sign measurements and a photograph showing where the sign will be placed on the building. Mr. Mahler noted that before an application goes to HARB it is reviewed by Zoning with regards to the size of the sign. Mr. Ferguson suggested having a check list noting the information needed when completing the application and a note on the application stating that if all requirements are not complete the application will be rejected. Mrs. Powers advised that she would draft the checklist. The members suggested that if an applicant has questions the Zoning Department can advise them that they can either contact the HARB Chairman or attend a meeting to ask questions, noting that they would not be attending the meeting for application approval. The members discussed the various changes to the Certificate of Appropriateness application. Mrs. Powers stated that she would provide HARB with a copy of the JHC’s application. Mrs. Beckert advised that if an applicant gives the person accepting the application a hard time, they should be directed to contact the HARB Chairman. The Recording Secretary will update the application and forward the revised copy to members for final review.

Other Business

Mrs. Powers advised the members that she has been contacted by Ed Murphy regarding St. Andrew’s Church with a request to put up a plaque on the fence that was previously approved. She will forward the email to Mr. Mahler. Mr. Mahler advised that he would forward the email to the members for discussion; once a decision was made he would email the applicant and Township staff.

Mr. McKernan advised the members that he has been approached by St. Andrew’s Church’s Business Manager with regards to installing a handicap ramp on the left hand side of the old church and questioned what type of materials HARB would like to see. The members discussed possible materials. Mrs. Beckert advised that she favors using stone that would mimic what is already on the church. Mr. McKernan advised that he would relay the information.

Mrs. Beckert commented on HARB’s review process for businesses located in Goodnoe’s Corner and the development agreement. She stated that applications for all business should be reviewed by HARB. HARB should be reviewing requests for the front and rear of the site. She suggested that Mrs. Powers review the development agreement again. Mr. Jensen advised that he would pass on the request. The members discussed the wording of the agreement being very vague, but felt that the agreement was for the entire site.

Privilege of the Floor

Mr. McKernan congratulated Mr. Mahler on becoming the HARB Chairman.

The Board thanked Mr. Ferguson for attending today’s meeting.


There being no further business to come before the Board, Mr. Terry made a motion to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. Jensen and passed unanimously (7-0).

The meeting was duly adjourned at 11:22 A.M.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 9:30 A.M.


Respectfully Submitted,


Christy Holley-Flaherty, Recording Secretary