Minutes of the meeting held on July 10, 2013

The Newtown Township Historical Architectural Review Board met on Wednesday, July 10, 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, Harriet Beckert and Mike Crane. Not present was member Doug Terry. Also present were Patty Powers, Codes Department; Martin Vogt, Zoning Officer; Supervisor Ryan Gallagher; Warren Waldorf, Joint Historic Commission Chairman; and Michael Lelli, Farmers Insurance.

Call to Order:

Mr. Mahler called the meeting to order at 9:37 A.M.

Minutes of June 12, 2013:

The members reviewed the minutes of June 12, 2013.

Mr. McKernan made a motion to approve the minutes of June 12, 2013 as presented. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Driscoll and passed unanimously with two members abstaining (4-0-2).

New Business

Farmers Insurance – 213 North Sycamore Street

The Board discussed the Certificate of Appropriateness application completed for 213 North Sycamore Street to install one (1) 30” X 60” freestanding identification sign.

Mr. Lelli updated the members with regards to his business and that he is here to request a new sign. He advised that the sign being requested would abut to the Hollywood Nails’ sign. The proposed colors would be Artic White for the background, with red and blue lettering.

Mrs. Beckert inquired if the sign post would be wooden; she advised that she believes that the Hollywood Nails’ sign has wooden posts and would recommend that the applicant use wood for the post.

The members discussed Mrs. Beckert’s comment and recommended that the applicant match the post material currently being used by the Hollywood Nails’ sign. The applicant agreed that he would match the material.

Mrs. Beckert made a motion to recommend approving the Certificate of Appropriateness application for 213 North Sycamore Street as presented. The sign will be 30” X 60” 3 mm Polymetal (Aluminum Faced Plastic Core). The post material will match the material used on the Hollywood Nails’ sign. The sign background will be Artic White, the lettering will be Red (PMS 186) and Blue (PMS 288). The motion was seconded by Mr. McKernan and passed unanimously (6-0).

Mr. Mahler advised the applicant that this Board only makes recommendations to the Board of Supervisors and that they give the final approval. The matter would be discussed at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on July 24, 2013. The meeting starts at 7:30 P.M. and a representative should be present.

The members thanked Mr. Lelli for his time.

The Board members present signed the Certificate of Appropriateness for 213 North Sycamore Street.

Mrs. Powers and Mr. Vogt reviewed the file for Hollywood Nails to determine the material used for the sign posts. Mr. Vogt noted that when the Hollywood Nails’ sign was installed the posts where not replaced. Mr. Mahler reported that he would look into the post material currently being used.

Mr. Mahler will present the application to the Supervisor’s at the July 24, 2013 meeting.

Discussion of Uses for Historic Toll House

Mr. Mahler updated the members with regards to why this topic is on the agenda. He advised on discussions that took place at a Joint Historic Commission meeting with Mr. Olen Clark, Brixmor Property Management with regards to possible uses for the building. Mr. Clark is the current site manager for the property and is looking for help from the community to justify the cost to upper management for repairing the building. He has requested the community to help come up with possible uses.

Mrs. Powers provided a book containing information with regards to the Toll House. She updated the members on what information she had. She allowed the members to review the book at the meeting, but noted that they could not take it will them and reported that there was another copy of the book with the HARB files. Once the meeting adjourned Mrs. Powers and the Recording Secretary found the second copy and allowed Mrs. Beckert to take it home.

Mr. Jensen questioned if the building is being used. Mr. Mahler reported that currently the building is not being used.

The members discussed the current condition of the building and the recent repairs. It was noted that the building is not insulated and there is no sewer hookup, there is running water.

The members discussed the possibility of using the building as a welcome center.

Mr. Jensen suggested using the upper level of the building as an office and contacting the Fire Association to see if there would be interest in using the building for seasonal events such as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

The members discussed using the building as a place to display exhibits and suggested contacting local museums.

Mrs. Beckert encouraged the members to work with Mr. Clark to develop uses for the building.

The members discussed the availability of grants.

Mr. Woldorf noted that the members were coming up with some good ideas. He questioned if there are any documents in the file regarding the property owner maintaining the building. Mrs. Powers advised on what information she has and noted that with regards to building maintenance there is an unwritten agreement. The building is owned by the Shopping Center.

Supervisor Gallagher commented on the lack of a written agreement and the property’s history. He questioned if the building is on the National Registry.

Mrs. Beckert advised that the building is not part of the Township’s Historic District and commented on the building be relocated several times.

Supervisor Gallagher noted that Brixmor owns the building and would be responsible for maintenance. He also discussed the building being on the National Registry with regards to maintenance.

Mrs. Beckert stated the she has seen an agreement in the past. She suggested that the agreement might be held by the JHC and to contact Lorraine Pentz. Mr. Woldorf advised that the JHC does not have the written agreement.

Mrs. Beckert suggested that before the various groups move forward a written agreement is needed.

Mrs. Powers advised on the history/meetings between the Township Supervisors, Planning Commission, Joint Historic Commission, Historic Architectural Review Board and the property owner with regards to maintaining the building. She advised that she could find no written agreement.

Mr. Vogt advised on the need to have the property owner present for discussions. He also commented on the building needing to be ADA complaint.

Mr. Woldorf recommended that the suggested uses include contact information.

The members agreed that the objective of this task is to develop uses for the building to help prevent demolition.

Mr. Vogt noted that it must be established if the building is on the National Register.

Mrs. Beckert suggested that a partnership be established between the property owner, the JHC, HARB and the Township.

Mr. McKernan commented on the possibility of adding an addition to the building to make it more useable.

Mr. Mahler requested the Recording Secretary forward him a memorandum summarizing the ideas discussed.

Mr. Mahler and Mr. Woldorf will present to the proposed uses to Mr. Clark.

The members agreed that possible uses include – office space, a welcome center, use by the Fire Association (Santa Claus/Easter Bunny), community space, sport registration, exhibits by local museums (Mercer, Michener, Please Touch, Philadelphia Art).

Mr. Mahler advised that when the building was first moved it was used by the Newtown Historic Association to display various items. Those items were removed due to the condition of the building.

Old Business

Discussion to Finalize the Certificate of Appropriateness Application

Mrs. Beckert provided the members with a revised application for their review. The members discussed Mrs. Beckert’s revisions and came up with even more changes. Mrs. Powers noted that the Township Manager would like a chance to review the final version before its approval. Mrs. Beckert advised that she would update the application to include today’s changes and forward the newest version to members via email for their review/comment. It was agreed that the members would not approve the COA application prior to the August meeting.

Discuss the Design Guidelines Folder/Brochure

Mrs. Beckert provided Mrs. Powers with a color palette to be added to the folder. The members agreed that they will keep gathering information with regards to design guidelines. The information will be kept in a binder at the Township. The members also agreed to provide information with regards to preferred lighting samples. Mrs. Beckert suggested including sign samples; she will take some photographs for discussion at an upcoming meeting.

Discuss Applications Regarding Temporary Repairs

Mr. Vogt updated the members with regards to temporary repairs and noted that the matter would be added to the COA application, as item #8 under HARB Procedures.

Other Business

Mrs. Driscoll reported that the Planning Commission is currently reviewing the Township’s sign ordinance.

Privilege of the Floor

Mrs. Beckert commented on receiving information via email and through the U.S. mail. The members discussed Mrs. Beckert’s comment and agreed that packets should be mailed and that other correspondence could be emailed.


There being no further business to come before the Board, Mrs. Beckert made a motion to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Mr. McKernan and passed unanimously (6-0).

The meeting was duly adjourned at 10:54 A.M.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 9:30 A.M.


Respectfully Submitted,


Christy Holley-Flaherty, Recording Secretary