TOWNSHIP OF LOWER MAKEFIELD

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

MINUTES – APRIL 4, 2005

 

 

The regular meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Lower Makefield was held in the Municipal Building on April 4, 2005.  Chairman Stainthorpe called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. noting that the Board had been meeting in Executive Session since 6:00 p.m. interviewing candidates for Boards and Commission and discussing legal matters.  Mr. Stainthorpe noted that while Chief Coluzzi is present to answer any questions, he will be leaving the meeting as he has been working since Saturday dealing with flood issues.  Mr. Stainthorpe also commended all the emergency services personnel for their work over the weekend dealing with the flood.  He stated while there was significant property damage, there were no injuries or serious losses.

He also thanked the neighboring communities for their help during this time.

 

Those present:

 

Board of Supervisors:               Pete Stainthorpe, Chairman

                                                Scott Fegley, Vice Chairman

                                                Grace Godshalk, Secretary/Treasurer

                                                Steve Santarsiero, Supervisor

 

Others:                                     Jeffrey Garton, Township Solicitor

                                                James Majewski, Township Engineer

                                                Kenneth Coluzzi, Chief of Police (left meeting in progress)

 

Absent:                         Frank Fazzalore, Supervisor

                                                Terry Fedorchak, Township Manager

 

 

PUBLIC  COMMENT

 

Mr. Sam Conti stated at the previous meeting he had asked if Clearview Farm had been certified as part of the Agricultural Security area.  Mr. Garton stated he will get back to the Township on this in the next few days.

 

A gentleman from 1261 Quarry Commons Drive asked for an update on Heacock Road.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated this is a State road and the Township cannot fix it themselves.  Since the Manager is not present this evening they have no further information on this.  Mr. Santarsiero stated he had requested at an earlier meeting that Mr. Fedorchak contact PennDOT about this, and he will try to get an update on this. 

 

 

 

 

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APPROVAL OF MINUTES

 

Mr. Santarsiero moved, Mr. Fegley seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the Minutes of March 21, 2005 as written.

 

 

APPROVAL OF RESOLUTION NO. 2051 AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MILITARY COMPENSATION AND AN EMPLOYEE’S BASE SALARY FOR PERSONS CALLED TO ACTIVE DUTY

 

Mr. Garton stated there was prior discussion on this matter and the Board authorized the preparation of such a Resolution.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated this was discussed in Executive Session some time ago.  As of this date there are no employees who have been called up, but there are some who may be called up for active duty in the future.  This Resolution will have the Township make up the difference between the military compensation and the employee’s salary.  Mr. Fegley stated while they are not required to do this, they felt this was the right thing to do.

 

Mrs. Godshalk moved and Mr. Santarsiero seconded to approve Resolution No. 2051.

 

Mr. Conti asked if this includes fringe benefits, and Mr. Garton stated it does not as

Mr. Fedorchak has determined that they are covered by the military’s health insurance while they are on active duty.

 

Motion carried unanimously.

 

 

DISCUSSION OF GOLF COURSE RESIDENT ID

 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated the Golf Committee did discuss this at their meeting and were to attend the Board’s meeting to discuss it further with the Board.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the Board of Supervisors discussed this at a previous meeting and voted against doing this.  No one was present from the Golf Committee to discuss this further this evening.

 

 

DISCUSSION OF CREATING A TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE TO DISCUSS INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES

 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated Mr. Santarsiero requested that this matter be considered.

Mr. Santarsiero stated when he campaigned for Supervisor his idea was to have a Committee to be made up of Township employees and Township residents to study the Township roads, identify places that were in need of upgrade or redesign, and prioritize those throughout the Township and come up with a schedule of what to do.  He felt this

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would include a significant aspect of public input since the residents would be the most familiar with the road problems that exist and would have the best input.  He stated in the past, the Township has undertaken a review of infrastructure requirements every few years, but he would like to see a formal Commission created with Township input and input from others in the Township including the public to come up with a list of what should be done and come away with a prioritized list.  He stated there are 33,000 residents in the Township and the infrastructure needs are pressing and need to be addressed.

 

Mrs. Godshalk stated there had been an unwritten rule with the Board for years that if anyone wants to bring up something at a meeting, it should first be submitted in writing.   She stated she is only hearing about this for the first time.  She stated the Township currently has a very sophisticated program with the Township engineer using a computerized road system that brings up the condition of the road which is how they base the money each year on what will be spent on road repair.  She stated if Mr. Santarsiero had put something together earlier, it would have been very helpful to the rest of the Supervisors.

 

Mr. Santarsiero stated he did ask that this be put on the Agenda at the special meeting last week on the Golf Course although Mrs. Godshalk was not present at that meeting.  He stated while he recognizes that there are professionals working on this, he feels the one component that is missing is input from the public; and he feels they should have a mechanism to get the public involved.  He stated the people who live in the various areas of the Township know best what problems exist. He noted a specific problem with the intersection at Bluestone and Stony Hill Road where people in the area pushed for a light.  He stated this would not be in lieu of what the professionals do. 

 

Mrs. Godshalk stated when there are situations of concern, the public does contact the Township and brings up these issues at a meeting.  She stated she does not feel there is a need for another Commission. 

 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated he agrees with Mrs. Godshalk.  He stated the Township roads are well maintained, recognizing that there are problems from time to time, and they have an excellent Public Works Department and engineering firm.  He stated there is a system in place and the Board of Supervisors do a Road Tour at least once a year, although not required by law, when they go out with the Manager of the Public Works Department to look at things that need to be changed.  He stated numerous times people have come to the Board of Supervisors at their public meetings and made the Board aware of problems with the roads.  He feels the system works and he is reluctant to add another Board.

Mr. Fegley agreed.

 

 

 

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Mr. Santarsiero stated he is not criticizing the Road Department, but stated the Township is large with a large population which puts a certain degree of strain on the roads.  He feels it is not a maintenance issue and may be a design issue. He noted an area on Stony Hill Road near Charlann Farm where there is a dangerous situation.  He stated he does not see any evidence of the Township focusing on studying this up until now to lessen this danger.  He stated he recognizes that this is a State road, but feels if they can identify what the problems are throughout the Township, they are in a position to act on it right away if it is a local road or prioritize it right away; or if it is a State road, to advocate with the State as to what needs to be done.  He noted a similar concern expressed by residents on River Road.  He stated he does not feel they should wait to learn about these situations after years of the dangerous situations existing, and they should be out their identifying the situations.

 

Mrs. Godshalk stated they have been doing this.  She stated they addressed Stony Hill Road at the Budget Session and have contacted the State about this.  Mr. Santarsiero stated he feels the citizens can then help the Township advocate with the State to get the situation resolved.  Mrs. Godshalk stated they have been trying to do this with the State for many years with regard to Stony Hill Road.  She stated they have done a number of road projects in cooperation with the State and piggybacking on jobs.  She stated the Supervisors title is actually Road Supervisors and they do have the professionals working with them.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated the Board of Supervisors is responsive to the residents when they comment on road conditions, and he does not feel another Commission will add anything.

 

Mr. Santarsiero stated most of the Second Class Townships in the State tend to be rural and those Boards of Supervisors may not have the same level of issues they have to deal with as they do in a Township the size of Lower Makefield.  He stated because they have not had a focus, he does not feel these things have been dealt with.  He stated there was no Road Tour last year.  He stated if there was a separate Commission whose only job was to deal with the road issues, they would not go a year without a Road Tour.

 

Mr. Tony Islan, Ascot Court, asked from where the members of the Commission would come.  He feels that it could be people who have certain problems and would bring their issues up and then leave.  He feels they are doing this now when they come before the Board of Supervisors.  Mr. Santarsiero stated he would try to be geographically diverse on Committee membership.

 

Mr. Joe Sundee, 1108 Pratt Drive, stated he feels the citizens should decide whether this Commission should exist or not.  He stated they have discussed these issues which come before the Board but these are reactive, and Mr. Santarsiero is recommending that they should be proactive.  He feels there should not be a problem with getting citizens from around the Township to serve on this Committee.

 

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Mrs. Godshalk stated the Township engineer has a computer system of every road in the Township showing when it needs repairs.  She stated the Board of Supervisors is primarily responsible for the Township roads.  She stated they cannot maintain every State road in the Township without a significant impact on Township taxes.  Mr. Sundee stated he feels there are problems which are more subtle which should be brought to the attention of the Board of Supervisors. 

 

Ms. Virginia Torbert, 1700 Yardley-Newtown Road, stated she feels such a Commission is long overdue.   She stated she has asked numerous times for traffic statistics and has not been able to get them.  She stated they do not know where most of the accidents occur.  She stated there are also many roads in the Township which are in terrible condition.   She stated they also need to consider the danger of the road.  She noted the light at Heacock Road and Edgewood Road needs a left hand turn signal to go to McCaffrey’s where people are passing on the right.  She feels the Board of Supervisors is defensive on this issue noting that this is not a criticism of the Township Board or its staff. She stated the Township has a very small Road Department and Mr. Coyne is also a fireman who spends a lot of time working on Fire Department issues.  She recognizes that the Township does not have money to do all the repairs, but they do need to prioritize.  She feels the Board of Supervisors should be more open minded and recognize the citizens may have input and can help.

 

Mr. Paul Krupp, University Drive, stated the problem is not the road, but the people who are driving on the roads.

 

Ms. Sue Herman stated she is a member of another citizens group which brings to the table wonderful brainstorming.  She feels this additional Commission would provide  additional input to the Board of Supervisors in an advisory capacity.  She stated she feels she personally would have a lot to offer as she has been working on traffic issues for years.

 

Mr. Santarsiero moved that the Board of Supervisors create a Commission of citizens to work with the Township to study our roads throughout the Town and to make recommendations and identify problems that need to be corrected whether they be State or Township roads; and in the case of State roads, obviously to advocate on behalf of the Town and that the membership of the Commission be chosen on a geographic basis with input from the Solicitor as to how to best do that so as to be sure that all interests in the Township are represented.  There was no Second, and the Motion died.

 

 

APPROVAL OF EXTENSION FOR FIELDSTONE (HARRIS FARM NO. 549)

 

Mr. Fegley moved, Mrs. Godshalk seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve an Extension of time for Fieldstone (Harris Farm No. 549) to July 21, 2005.

 

 

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SIGN CASADONTI REVISED MYLARS

 

Mylars were signed following the meeting.

 

 

ZONING HEARING BOARD MATTERS

 

It was agreed to leave to the Zoning Hearing Board the Linda Oberkofler, 587 Saxony Lane, Variance request to allow a previously constructed shed and fence to remain within an easement.

 

 

SUPERVISORS’ REPORTS

 

Mr. Santarsiero stated the Southeastern Bucks League of Municipalities met last week and discussed the adoption of the new Stormwater Management Ordinance.  The Board had some discussion this evening about possibly getting an overview on this from the Township engineer at a future meeting.   Mr. Santarsiero stated at the League of  Municipalities meeting they also discussed an issue to be considered by the Board this evening regarding regional negotiations with Verizon to try to get a franchise agreement with them as they begin to offer various services in the County.  He stated there are a number of concerns that arise from this and all the Townships want to insure that the revenue stream from franchise fees does not dry up.  He stated they are committed to try to work collectively to try to get the best deal possible for each of their Towns.

 

Mrs. Godshalk noted there may be a conflict with dates as the next meeting of the Traffic Consortium will be Thursday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Newtown.  Mr. Santarsiero stated the next meeting of the League of Municipalities will be on May 31 at 7:30 p.m. at Morrisville Borough Hall.

 

 

DISCUSSION AND MOTION ON REGIONAL NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF ESTABLISHING A FRANCHISE AGREEMENT WITH VERIZON

 

Mr. Garton stated he feels they should pursue a regional approach to this.  He stated there has been discussion among the Township Managers as well as Mr. Santarsiero’s group.

Mr. Stainthorpe stated currently the Township derives a significant amount of revenue from the Cable Franchise Fees and Verizon will soon be offering cable television type services through the fiber optic line and at this point in time they cannot get a franchise fee from them.  The Township is therefore facing a significant loss in revenue. 

 

 

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Mrs. Godshalk moved and Mr. Santarsiero seconded to authorize the Township Manager to facilitate approaching this in a regional fashion.

 

Mr. Santarsiero stated the problem is that Verizon plans to offer streaming video that would take the place of traditional cable service and there is some uncertainty as to how that would impact franchise fees.  He stated the revenue the Township currently gets is $250,000 from Comcast and the fear is all the Townships could be in a position where they no longer have that fee coming in.  To the extent they can use the leverage of all the Towns who are concerned about this to get a better deal out of Verizon, he feels they should do that.

 

Motion carried unanimously.

 

 

APPROVE HIRING DGW TO PREPARE ELECTRICAL PLANS AND SPECIFICATIONS FOR MACCLESFIELD PARK FIELDS A, E, F, G AND H

 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated this is a more sophisticated timing system at the Park and does not necessarily impact the discussions that were held at the previous meeting. 

 

Ms. Torbert asked if they have looked into the total control lighting that advertises that the lighting will not go beyond the property line.  She stated they are looking into this for the Wall Tract in Newtown.  Ms. Liney stated she feels DGW is aware of this and the Township did request this of DGW when they were looking into this and the fact that they did not want to impact the houses.  She stated she feels they will bid this as an alternate. 

 

Mrs. Godshalk stated she did go to Macclesfield Park and there are currently twenty-three of the 70’ high poles.   She stated she feels adding more lights is too large an impact. 

Mr. Stainthorpe stated that is not the issue under consideration at this time as this is only doing the specs for the control of the timers.  Mrs. Godshalk stated this does include the new lights.  Mr. Stainthorpe stated this is only to spec it out. 

 

Ms. Susan Sing, Countess Drive, stated she is aware of a child who died at the Park because there was not an automatic electric defibrillator on the site, and she asked if there is one currently.  Ms. Liney stated they do have one at the Pool, but they do not have one at the Park.  She agreed to look into this with Chief Coluzzi.

 

Mr. Santarsiero moved and Mr. Fegley seconded to authorize DGW to prepare electrical plans and specifications for Macclesfield Park Fields A, E, F, G, and H.

 

 

 

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Mr. Santarsiero stated they previously discussed the issue of buffers, and Ms. Liney had provided a memo on this recommending white pines at a cost of approximately $7,300. Mr. Santarsiero asked if they will put this on the Agenda at some point or could the Board consider it this evening.  Mr. Stainthorpe asked that they consider the Motion first.

 

Mrs. Godshalk stated the new fields are included in this.  Mr. Santarsiero stated he felt at the last meeting they decided a vote was not necessary on the lights as they had already budgeted money for it and they were not at the point where they had a design to vote on.

Mrs. Godshalk stated further information had been requested.  Mr. Santarsiero stated they did this and there was no reference indicating that the fields would not be lit.  Ms. Liney stated there was a lot of discussion about the expanded area in 1994 and the residents had ongoing discussions with the Township.  She stated she could not find anything on the original section or anything that said there would never be additional lights.  The only statement she could find was a statement indicating that the current Board did not plan to do lighting in the expanded area. 

 

Motion carried unanimously; however, Mrs. Godshalk asked that the Minutes reflect that she is in favor of hiring them for the existing lighting system but nothing additional for any additional fields. 

 

Mr. Santarsiero asked that they consider proceeding with the buffers.  He noted

Ms. Liney’s memo dated 3/31/05 which indicates that they could install twenty white pines, ten to twelve feet in height, at a cost of $7,300.  Mr. Fegley noted problems with white pines when they lose their bottom branches.  He does not feel this is the kind of tree which will provide an effective buffer in the future.  Mrs. Godshalk stated she does not feel a 12’ tree can provide a buffer for lights 70’ high.  Mr. Santarsiero stated from what the residents indicated, their properties slope up so the problems with white pines may not be a problem in this instance.  He asked why they considered white pines, and Ms. Liney stated they had to do a quote on something and they had mentioned this kind of tree to the residents at a meeting and there were in favor of this.  She stated they could consider another kind of tree if the Board desired.  It was noted that this does not have to be considered this evening.  Ms. Liney stated they will be meeting with the residents again at a future Park Board meeting.  Mr. Majewski stated their landscape architect did look at this area and did recommend white pines for this location noting that they grow quickly and provide a lot of buffer.

 

This matter will be researched further and they will request input from the residents. 

Mr. Santarsiero asked that this matter be put on the Agenda for the Board of Supervisors’ meeting in May.

 

 

 

 

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APPROVAL OF 2005-2006 BUCKS COUNTY CONSORTIUM ROAD SIGN MATERIALS AND POSTS BID

 

Mr. Fegley moved, Mr. Santarsiero seconded and it was unanimously carried to approve the 2005-2006 Bucks County Consortium Road Sign Materials and Posts Bid.

 

 

APPOINTMENTS

 

Mr. Santarsiero reiterated his request that the interview process take place in public. 

He noted the Board met in Executive Session and spent a considerable amount of time interviewing candidates for a vacancy on the Emergency Management Committee.

He stated he feels there is utility in having this process occur in public and asked that this be done in the future. 

 

Mr. Santarsiero moved and Mrs. Godshalk seconded to appoint Jeffrey Gusst to the Emergency Management Committee.  Mr. Santarsiero reviewed Mr. Gusst’s background.

Motion carried with Mr. Fegley abstaining.

 

 

There being no further business, Mr. Santarsiero moved, Mrs. Godshalk seconded and it was unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting at 8:20 p.m.

 

                                                                        Respectfully Submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                        Grace Godshalk, Secretary