MINUTES - APRIL 12, 2000

A Special Meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on April 12, 2000. Chairman Hackman called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

Those present:

Board of Supervisors:

Wesley Hackman, Chairman
Frank Fazzalore, Vice Chairman
Fred Allan, Member


Terry Fedorchak, Township Manager
Jim Coyne, Public Works
Hank Hoffmeister, Sewer Administrator
Duke Doherty, Township Engineer
Jan Gouza, Township Engineer
James Badey, Pennsylvania American Water Company
Tom Zarko, CKS


Scott Fegley, Supervisor
Grace Godshalk, Supervisor

Mr. Hackman stated the purpose of the meeting is to let everyone, including the Board of Supervisors, know what they may do in the future concerning Hillside/Spring Lanes and a portion of Quarry Road with regard to street improvements, stormwater management improvements, public sewer, and public water. He added this is in the very preliminary stages at this time, but the Board wanted as many residents present as possible from the beginning of the process so that everyone is advised about what is being considered at this time. He stated improving Hillside and Spring Lanes has been discussed by the Board of Supervisors and by the Administration for approximately fifteen to twenty years. He stated at this point they feel they are at a point where something needs to be done. They have brought together the professionals who can tell exactly what is involved in improving the situation. He stated he feels the beneficiaries will be the residents who live in the area, and he feels these will be major benefits. He stated he does not expect any decisions will be made this evening other than what the next step is in the process.

Mr. Hackman introduced those present this evening. He stated this is an informal meeting, and each of the professionals will be given an opportunity to discuss their portion of the project. The Board of Supervisors will then have an opportunity to ask questions, and they will then open it up to the public for questions. He stated they hope to conclude the meeting no later than 9:30 p.m.

Mr. Zarko, sewer engineer, showed on the overhead a lay-out for the proposed sewer system. The project dates back to the 1970s under the Township’s Comprehensive Plan. He stated they can serve this area through a gravity flow through two sewer networks. The first would serve the properties located along Quarry Road via a gravity sewer main along Quarry Road to Lindenhurst Road and tie into an existing sewer system in Lindenhurst Road. They have placed the system in an existing easement. Some trees will be impacted but for the most part there is a clear run. The second network would be installed at Hillside and Spring Lanes and drain down to the low point and will extend through the easement through the Flowers’ property to Core Creek. They will need twelve on-site easements and also one off-site easement from the Flowers’ property in order to make this connection.

Mr. Zarko stated they also developed potential costs for the project. Based on the lay-out proposed, they estimate the cost for the public portion of the project to be approximately $481,000. This includes the laterals through the right-of-way line, manholes, stream crossing, restoration, and contingencies. The residents would also be required to pay a connection fee which is a charge based on each connection to address capacity within existing facilities. Plumbers’ fees would be charged to the residents for the physical connection of the house to the public sewer system. Mr. Zarko stated they have done an estimate of what it would cost to extend from the house to the right-of-way line, and this would be approximately $3500. The final cost to the residents would be fees associated with the abandonment of the existing septic system which they estimate to be $500. Mr. Zarko stated they estimated total costs for each property would be approximately $18,233.

Mr. Zarko stated the intention with the Quarry Road section was to stay out of the road in order to reduce restoration costs. Mr. Hackman questioned the easement shown at the top of the plan; and Mr. Zarko stated at this time this easement is shown as thirty feet wide, but they are not sure they will need this much. They will evaluate this and try to use less than thirty feet. He stated they will need to acquire any necessary easements at no cost or the costs will be increased. They have tried to minimize the project costs.

Mr. Fazzalore asked if this will complete public sewers in this area of the Township. Mr. Hoffmeister stated it will complete the area from these homes north to the Townshipline with the exception of Timber Lakes which is not sewered and will probably not be sewered.

Mr. Hackman noted there are five homes on Lindenhurst Road which are currently sewered so this portion of the project does not impact those people. One gentleman who indicated his home is in this area stated he does not currently have public sewers. Mr. Hoffmeister stated that home and a few others in this area were provided with laterals and are not part of the discussion this evening. They can connect now if they so desire. Mr. Hackman stated if they were to hook up now they would still have to pay the hook-up fees and the plumber’s fees.

Mr. Zarko noted there are four parcels which do not have dwellings on them and they have not evaluated how those parcels could be developed so they were not part of this analysis. If they were to be included, it would increase the number of properties involved and would therefore decrease the assessment costs for the total groups of residents.

Mr. Allan asked if they could not run the sewer in the area where there is vacant ground so that there is less disruption. Mr. Zarko stated they could consider this but the area involved is heavily wooded and there is a stream running through it. Mr. Allan asked how many trees would have to be disturbed on Quarry Road, and Mr. Zarko estimated it to be twenty. One woman asked if they could not go across the street rather than disturb their properties.

Mr. Hackman stated if they went across the street the residents would then have to run their laterals across the street, and this would increase their costs substantially. Mr. Hackman stated they could look into this.

Mr. Hackman asked about the location of the existing septic systems. A number of people indicated their system was in the rear of their property and others indicated theirs were in the front of their property. Mr. Hackman stated they must tie in from the house to the sewer line out front and depending on where they come out of the house, the costs could increase. Mr. Zarko stated the further they push the sewer main away from the houses, the deeper they will have to place the sewers in order to permit the gravity flow; and this would increase the cost. One woman stated diminishing her yard by thirty feet will take half her yard.

Ms. Jean Doretsky, attorney from Ballards Spahr, stated she is representing a number of the people present this evening. She asked what problems have been found with the septic systems which caused the Township to consider these actions. Mr. Hackman stated they are going to authorize the Township engineer to survey all the septic systems and water systems in the area so they know how many wells and septic systems are in poor shape.

Mr. Fazzalore stated the Township is prepared to spend approximately $1 million on the street repairs, but he is not willing to do so if sewer and water are not installed at the same time since he is concerned that if sewer and water would need to be installed in the future, they would then have to rip up the new road. Mr. Hackman stated they are aware that there are problems with septic systems and wells in the area and there are problems with roads and stormwater management. Mr. Hackman stated when homes are sold if the septic systems are not in good working order, the bank will not loan the buyer any money.

Ms. Doretsky asked what they mean by survey, and Mr. Hackman stated the engineer will go out and do an on-lot inspection. Mr. Zarko stated they will send out a certified inspector to inspect the systems, discuss the performance of the systems with the property owner, and do testing of the wells. They will prepare a report in accordance with guidelines established by the DEP and provide this to the Township.

Mr. Fazzalore moved, Mr. Allan seconded and it was unanimously carried to authorize the Township engineer to survey all septic systems in the area and to survey all the water systems from each house so they know how many lots are in poor shape.

Ms. Irene Koehler asked how they do the inspection, and Mr. Zarko stated it is a surface inspection. They hope to get the cooperation of the residents.

Ms. Tecla Gay, 21 Spring Lane, asked if they will be coming into her home to test the water, and Mr. Zarko stated they will ask for a sample of the water. Mr. Hackman stated they are hoping to get cooperation from the residents.

Mr. Ovrum Norfrum, Quarry Road, asked how many people in the room have problems with their septic systems and after a show of hands, he counted five people. He stated he has never had a problem with his septic system in over forty years.

Mr. Frank Gontowski, engineer from McLaren/Hart, Inc., stated his firm is representing some of the people present this evening. He asked if the Township conducts the survey and the systems are found to be fine for the most part, would the project be scrapped.

Mr. Zarko stated they will provide the information to the Board of Supervisors who will make the decisions. Mr. Hackman stated they are interested in taking care of any public health problems. They also want to correct the road and stormwater management problems in the area. He stated he will not vote to correct the roads unless the sewer lines are in the road because they do not want to have to rip the new roads up in the future.

Ms. Linda Papageorge asked if there is a legal issue in order to let people on their property. Mr. Hackman stated at this time it is only a survey. He stated if there is a public health problem, he feels it should be fixed. Ms. Papageorge asked if they will be forced to correct a problem if one is found, and Mr. Zarko stated the Bucks County Health Department is the regulating agency and will see that any health problems are addressed. Mr. Allan stated if there is a bad sewer system or well on their property, he feels the property owner would want this to be addressed.

Mr. Doug McGeorge stated he resides on the corner of Quarry and Lindenhurst Roads. He asked the impact the project will have on the trees. Mr. Zarko stated he is not sure of the depth of the line to know if it would have a significant impact, but it is possible the line could be in this area. Mr. McGeorge stated the trees he is concerned about are on the Lindenhurst Road side. Mr. Hackman stated they could look into going down the middle of the road, but this could increase costs. Mr. Coyne noted a road was recently constructed in this area, and he feels they should stay out of this area. He added once the sewers are installed, the lawns would be restored.

Ms. Sarah Hetspecker of McLaren/Hart stated it appears they are not going to impact Quarry Road with the project, and she asked why they could not install the sewers in a similar fashion on Spring Lane at some future time if needed and do the road improvements now. Mr. Zarko stated there are laterals going across both sides.

One woman stated they are discussing an $18,000 charge even for those who have no problems. She also expressed concern with being able to pay this amount of money. Mr. Hackman stated there are a number of ways of proceeding, one of which is to lien the house and when it is sold, the charge is paid at that time.

Mr. James Badey was present and stated the Water Company was asked to put together numbers for costs to provide public water in this area. He reviewed how public water is installed when a new subdivision goes in. He stated the PUC has asked them to finance a part of the expense to service homes which have bad systems. Mr. Badey stated the Water Company is required by the PUC to finance a certain portion of the cost for connections. This project is estimated to cost $64,000 to run the water mains and based on the PUC calculations, the Water Company would pay for the installation of this system if there are twelve residences which agree to connect.

Mr. Hackman asked if this analysis includes the homes on Quarry Road, and Mr. Badey stated it does not since there are already mains on Quarry Road and those homes could connect at any time provided they pay the connection fee and have a plumber make the connection.

Mr. Fazzalore asked if less than twelve residences are connected could the Township pay the difference, and Mr. Badey stated there would have to be separate agreements. Mr. Fazzalore stated the Township could get its money back when the houses are sold.

Ms. Koehler asked Mr. Badey if the Public Interest Research Group has rated their water, but Mr. Badey was not aware of this.

Mr. Bob Goodwin, 15 Hillside Lane, asked if the connection fee would be approximately $2,000 which is what the sewer engineer estimated would be the charge to connect the sewers, and Mr. Badey stated this would depend on the distance of the house from the property line. Mr. Hackman stated if the same person does both connections, it may cost less. He noted in another area of the Township a number of residents hired the same individual to make the connections at a lesser charge.

Mr. Badey stated an additional benefit to installing public water is that hydrants would be available to the area.

Mr. Gary Pajer, 17 Spring Lane, asked the monthly charges for sewer and water. Mr. Allan stated he has a family of five and they pay $34 a month for water and $56 a quarter for sewer. Mr. Badey stated the average residential water bill is $448 a year.

Ms. Dorine McGary, 7 Spring Lane, asked if they can still use their well if they hook up to public water. Mr. Badey stated they can have a connection to the well for outside water only.

Mr. Coyne stated fire insurance rates will drop if they have fire hydrants in the area. He noted this will also help property resales.

Ms. Gay asked about regrading and landscaping, and Mr. Hackman stated restoration would be part of the project. Mr. Zarko stated the lawn would be restored, but no trees can be put in the easements. Mr. Hoffmeister stated trees cannot be put in the easements because roots seek water.

Ms. Koehler asked if the Township will pay for part of this project, and Mr. Hackman stated they will consider this. Ms. Koehler noted the Township did pay a portion of the project cost in Scammel’s Corner. Mr. Hackman stated they also did this at Robinson Place. Mr. Hackman stated the difference in this instance is the cost of the roads that the Township will be installing in the area.

Mr. Michael Burke, 22 Spring Lane, stated they could also install fire hydrants without the sewer portion being included, and Mr. Badey noted this is correct.

Ms. Donna Martino, 20 Spring Lane, asked where the hydrants would be placed, and Mr. Badey stated typically they are placed at intersections. He noted some other locations where they could be installed although this has not been finally decided.

Mr. Goodwin asked if the water line would parallel the sewer line, and Mr. Badey stated it would be between the curb and the property line - not in the street.

Mr. McGary asked if the driveways would be impacted, and Mr. Badey stated if they are dug up, they would be repaired.

Ms. Tessie Tuniman, 1991 Quarry Road, noted their roads were just done and she does not feel they are being asked if they want this project. She stated it seems like they are being told this will be done and the residents are not being given any choice. Mr. Hackman stated the Board has asked the professionals to give estimates on how this project might work. The Board of Supervisors has not discussed this except in generalities and nothing has been finally decided. Mr. Hackman stated they are interested in correcting road problems, stormwater problems, and public sewer and water for the area.

Mr. Gouza stated approximately ten years ago the Township asked them to make an in-depth survey of the roads in the Township so that they could prioritize over a twenty-year period the restoration of roads and maintenance of those roads. The Board asks them each year for a listing of the priority in which these roads should be addressed. For the last six to eight years Hillside/Spring Lanes were on the top of the list. Nothing has been done because of the issues being discussed tonight. Most recently the Board authorized them to actually go out and physically survey and develop a preliminary plan as to how they would rehabilitate Spring and Hillside Lanes recognizing that the roads were built in the 1950s, they are about eighteen feet wide which is approximately $200,000.

Mr. Gouza noted the composite map which is available to be viewed this evening. He also has a condensed version available for the public for those who would like their own copy.

Mr. Hackman asked the right-of-way on Spring and Hillside Lanes. Mr. Gouza stated there is 50’ total. There is a 26’ cartway curb to curb so it is 12’ between the curb and the property line. He stated the street trees are basically on the right-of-way or slightly behind. They do not feel they will impact existing trees along the road.

Mr. Hackman asked the minimum width of streets they are building today in new developments, and Mr. Doherty stated the Ordinance requires 30’ to 36’ although there have been some instances when they went down to 26’. Mr. Gouza stated 26’ is not an arbitrary number since you take a travel lane which is typically 11’ and if there is a curb you add 2’ to that lane width. Mr. Gouza stated you could park cars but anything less than 26’ with curbs is too narrow. Mr. Doherty stated there are also problems with emergency vehicle access with less than 26’.

Mr. Hackman asked if they will repair to the new design standards, and Mr. Gouza stated they will build to the new standards which is a 6" stone subbase, a 5 1/2" bituminous base course, and 1 1/2" of wearing course. On one side of the street where the storm sewers would run the storm sewer pipe would be a combination pipe which would have holes with stone around so that they can absorb the groundwater and on the opposite side, they would have a pavement drain which is a 6" pipe that serves the same function of absorbing the groundwater. Mr. Gouza noted the curbs protect the edge of the roadway. It is their opinion that you cannot provide adequate control of the stormwater without curbing and the storm sewer system within the roadway.

Mr. Coyne stated what is in place now is approximately 6" and there are a number of springs in the area. He stated 26’ is actually a minimal width. This will eliminate disturbing trees which was a concern to some of the residents. Mr. Coyne stated he has been advised by a number of the new residents that there are problems with their septic systems.

Mr. Gontowski stated they were asked to get involved because people who had the channel in their rear yard were experiencing flooding. He asked if the improvements will positively correct the problems. Mr. Gouza stated they feel they have cut off 20% of the area that is contributing to the swale by the installation of the new roadway, curbs, and storm drainage system. This is not the majority of the water that is contributing to these problems. They are proposing a gabion-lined channel which will convey the one hundred year storm. Mr. Hackman stated it appears the houses on the north side of Hillside drain to the channel as well. Mr. Gouza agreed and stated they are going to intercept this water and it will decrease the amount of water going to the ditch. Mr. Hackman stated he feels this would be more than a 20% reduction. Mr. Gouza stated the majority of the water is coming from the Lindenhurst Basin.

Mr. Gontowski stated the homeowners have indicated gabions are not the most attractive channel liners, and he asked if they have looked at any other options. Mr. Gouza stated there are concerns with the cost, the amount of disturbed area, and some technical issues such as velocity and quantity of water. Trying to stabilize with a grass-lined channel would not work with water of this velocity. They looked at enclosing the channel, a concrete channel, and a grass channel and felt the gabion-lined channel was the most economical and the system that was least intrusive as far as area to be disturbed. Mr. Gontowski asked if they could take the Lindenhurst basin flow and put it into the storm sewer system. Mr. Gouza stated they did look at a number of options including diverting the discharge from the Lindenhurst basin south on Lindenhurst Road to Core Creek and diverting the outflow from the basin down Hillside and/or Spring Lane and going around the development and each of those options were extremely expensive. Gabions were $200,000 and enclosing the channel was $700,000. Conveying it down Lindenhurst Road to Core Creek could cost more than $1,000,000.

Mr. Gontowski asked why the basin was put in if the channel was insufficient to handle the flow, and Mr. Gouza stated the channel has been in that location forever. A number of residents disagreed. Mr. Hackman stated water runs downhill. Mr. Gouza stated part of the reconstruction of Lindenhurst Road was the building of a dam permitted by the State of Pennsylvania. They have been able to decrease the amount of flow that was going down Lindenhurst Road between 18% and 30% depending on the type of storm. He stated he recognizes there are still problems within the channel but they should also recognize the storm characteristics of such storms as Hurricane Floyd. He stated the dam performed well during Hurricane Floyd; and if it had not been in place, half the houses would probably not be there today.

Mr. Pajer stated the basin does impact the channel but so does the run off, storm sewers downstream from the dam, and the swale on the south side of the basin which goes to Newtown. He asked if they could get the storm sewers and the swales into the detention basin. Mr. Hackman stated there is a small detention basin at the corner of Quarry Road and Lindenhurst Road and it is retained there somewhat. Mr. Gouza stated they recognize one of the sources was the drainage area on the northeast corner of Lindenhurst Road and Quarry Road where the basin is located and that system comes down and does not get into the Lindenhurst Road basin but goes directly into the stream. The residents had told them the basin was not functioning properly under storm conditions and they have since gone back and corrected this and downsized the outlet pipe so if there is a major storm this should be full of water which will control that drainage area. He is not sure the swale on the south side is a big contributor. The main contributor is the upper basin where they have made substantial progress.

Mr. Pajer stated his property is inside of the curve. Currently when there is a large storm, his property fills with water and if they increase the size of the culvert he is concerned about the impact on the downstream properties. Mr. Gouza stated they are not far enough along in the process to determine what they may need to do to address downstream concerns.

Ms. Debbie McGeorge asked which property would be most negatively impacted by the sewer project, and Mr. Hackman stated he feels it could be her property. Ms. McGeorge stated her water and sewer systems were recently checked and both passed. She stated she feels they are being asked to spend $20,000 for something they do not want or need. She asked if fixing the roads at Hillside and Spring Lanes would solve the sewer problems, and Mr. Hackman stated he does not feel fixing the roads and improving stormwater management would effect the septic system.

Ms. Grace Dawkins asked what will happen to her property if this system is built. Mr. Hackman stated they are trying to channel the water so it does not create problems. Mr. Gouza noted her property is a vacant lot and the existing channel is not on her property. Ms. Dawkins stated the culvert opens up and comes down on her side. Mr. Hackman stated they will look into this. Mr. Gouza stated they will need to go through a number of permitting processes at the local, State and possibly even Federal level to acquire the necessary permits to assure that what they are proposing is going to be acceptable. They are not at this level yet in order to specifically answer Ms. Dawkins’ concerns.

Mr. Steve Taubin, 6 Hillside Lane, asked what easement will be necessary for the creek since there are a lot of trees that line the creek. Mr. Gouza stated they are considering 35 feet. Mr. Taubin stated this would be much of his back yard. Mr. Hackman stated unless the Township gets the easements from the property owners, they cannot do anything with the creek and the Township would be able to save this money by not doing any of this work.

One gentleman stated they are putting public water onto private property.

Ms. Doretsky stated Mr. Gouza’s office must have done calculations when they made the preliminary plans and she asked if these calculations are available to the public. Mr. Gouza stated this would be up to the Township, and Mr. Hackman stated these could be made available. He suggested she contact the Township Manager to obtain this information. Ms. Doretsky stated the stream appears to present a danger and if only 20% of the run off were removed, this would not be sufficient. They would need to divert more than 20% and asked how this could be done. Mr. Hackman stated while they could look into this further, they have been advised that other solutions could cost up to $1,000,000. Ms. Doretsky stated they feel they could suggest some solutions.

Mr. Gontowski asked if there will be an increase in the flow velocity through the channel, and Mr. Gouza stated there will not.

Ms. Koehler asked if this will flow to the Wright property, and Mr. Hackman stated this is where it flows now. They do not intend to consider any additional detention basins. Ms. Koehler stated there are times when they cannot drive on the road now. She stated the water from the creek actually crosses the road.

Ms. Cheri Lee, 10 Hillside Lane, asked how this huge project, that will only solve 20% of their problem, is worth the expense. Mr. Hackman stated they are trying to solve four problems - public water, public sewers, stormwater management, and road improvements. Mr. Hackman stated the 20% reduction is only the reduction to the channel water. He stated the curbs will also capture water and put it into the storm sewer.

Mr. Taubin stated he is hearing the amount of the water in the creek will not increase, but he does not feel this is what will occur since they are adding more asphalt and increasing the water into the channel. Mr. Gouza stated when you consider the entire 200 to 300 acres, the difference between an 18’ wide road and a 26’ wide road is not significant. He stated the soils are such that there is no infiltration which is one of the problems.

Mr. Coyne stated there are 100+ acres on the other side of the basin in Newtown that is coming through unrestricted. He noted the farm in this area is up for sale. He has discussed this with Newtown and they feel it will be developed and they must then follow DEP and Corps of Engineer requirements for controlling the water. He stated this will give relief in the very near future since this property will quickly be developed.

Mr. Hackman asked that everyone sign the sheet which was passed around so those attending this evening can provide their name, address, and phone number. He added this is only the first meeting and they will continue to contact the public particularly some key people who have contacted other area residents in the past.

Mr. Zarko stated the survey will take approximately one to two months. Mr. Hackman stated once the report is complete, they will most likely schedule another meeting.

Mr. Hoffmeister asked that the residents please answer the survey accurately regarding their systems. He noted they are looking to help everyone.

Mr. Hackman asked the professionals who were present representing the residents to provide their names and phone numbers to the Township Manager so that he can contact them when the next meeting is scheduled.

Mr. Gontowski asked how the Township helps with financing the residents’ portion of improvements. Mr. Hackman stated there are a number of ways including low cost loans, liening the property, etc. They recently did this with a project on Robinson Place for twenty-seven lots.

Mr. Badey stated the Water Company portion can still proceed outside of the other projects, and he agreed to make his business card available for those interested.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:35 p.m.