The regular business meeting of the Northampton Township Board of Supervisors was called to order at 7:30 p.m.
Members of the Board present were:
Dr. Kimberly Rose
Others present were:
Robert Pellegrino, Township Manager
Kurt Schroeder, Township Engineer
Joseph Pizzo, Township Solicitor
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Chairman Moore led the Pledge of Allegiance and held a moment of silence in support of military and emergency services personnel.
Chairman Moore called forward Pete Palestina to outline the flag program. Mr. Palestina called forward Sr. Airman Timothy Rihl and his parents, Betty and Chris. Sr. Airman Timothy Rihl has just arrived home from serving in the Emirates. Chairman Moore escorted Sr. Airman Rihl and his parents Betty and Chris to the flag display to replace his Air Force flag with an American Flag to symbolize his safe return home.
In addition, on hand to recognize Sr. Airman Rihl’s service was Jim Pomeroy the Congressman’s Veterans Advocate for U. S. Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, who, presented his parents with a flag flown in his honor over the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C. In addition, recognitions were offered from State Representative Petri, presented by Supervisor Weinstein, and Senator Tommy Tomlinson, presented by Supervisor O’Donnell.
Certificate of Appreciation – Chris Munz, Munz Construction
Mr. O’Donnell presented a certificate of appreciation to Chris Munz for volunteering the services of his company to expand the existing Flag display volunteered the services of his company to expand the Northampton Township’s flag display that honors members of the Northampton Township community serving in the Armed Services.
St. Vincent de Paul 50th Anniversary Jubilee
Dr. Rose called forward Father McLaughlin and presented him with a proclamation in recognition of St. Vincent De Paul Parish as it celebrates its 50 years of service to the community.
Citation - Designating October as Dysautonomia Awareness Month
Mr. Weinstein on behalf of State Representative Scott Petri presented a citation recognizing October as “Dysautonomia Awareness Month” to Maureen Schoenfeld an advocate to promote awareness of this disease.
PUBLIC COMMENT – (Agenda Items Only)
Anita Fleming introduced herself and stated she is a Yellow Ribbon Specialist at the Naval Air station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove in Horsham, Pennsylvania. Ms. Fleming explained the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (YRRP) was established under The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 to assist National Guard and Reserve members as they transition between their military and civilian roles. If anyone knows any military members that could benefit from this program, please let them know about this valuable resource.
The Board meeting minutes of September 27, 2017 were approved by unanimous consent.
The accounts payable for October 11, 2017, in the amount of $1,464,815.37, and October 25, 2017 in the amount of $736,222.93. The accounts payable for October 11, and October 25, 2017 were approved by unanimous consent.
Consider Authorization to Advertise an Ordinance Regulating Duty Towing Companies
Mr. Weinstein outlined the proposed ordinance regulate towing companies hired by the Township Police Department to remove abandoned, disabled, wrecked, or impounded vehicles from Township roads.
Mr. Weinstein noted, this ordinance is recommended by Chief Clark to formalize the existing practice of rotating towing calls among four different towing companies. These companies, and any others that may want to work for the Township, would be required to obtain a license from the Police Department, and meet specific criteria for response times, type, and number of towing vehicles, and storage facilities. They must also provide acceptable insurance indemnifications.
Mr. Weinstein explained licenses would be renewed annually, and the fees charged would be established by Board Resolution. There are also provisions for revoking a towing license if the licensee fails to meet the criteria and standards established by the ordinance.
Mr. Weinstein stated the regulation of towing companies for emergency response needs is a common practice among local governments and Chief Clark is to be commended for his efforts in formalizing the process. The Administration is recommending the Board authorize advertising the ordinance for a public hearing at the November 15 meeting.
A motion was made and seconded (Weinstein-Rose) to authorize the Administration to advertise an ordinance to regulate towing companies hired by the Township Police Department to remove abandoned, disabled, wrecked, or impounded vehicles from Township roads and to schedule a public hearing on November 15, 2017 to consider the ordinance for adoption.
Chairman Moore called for Board comment.
Dr. Rose stated she is pleased with the excellent job Chief Clark has done in preparing this ordinance and it is a fair process on how this will be handled in the future.
Mrs. Silver stated with the addition of this new ordinance, she would like to see the fee schedule published in the Township Newsletter.
Motion Passed 5-0
Consider Authorization to Advertise an Ordinance to Prohibit the Use of Engine Brake Retarders on SR 232 (Second Street Pike) from Bristol Road to Kings Lane and on SR 2065 (Bustleton Pike) d 5-0.
Mrs. Silver explained based on resident complaints, the proposed ordinance was prepared to prohibit the use of Engine brake retarders on portions of Second Street Pike and on Bustleton Pike.
Mrs. Silver further noted that Pennsylvania law states that the use of engine brake retarders may not be prohibited by a local authority unless prior written approval is obtained from the Department of Transportation. PennDOT recently performed the required study and determined that it would be permissible for the Township to prohibit the use of engine brake retarders on the two state owned roads as described.
Mrs. Silver stated the Administration recommends the Board authorize advertising the proposed ordinance for a public hearing at the November 15 meeting.
A motion was made and seconded (Silver-Rose) to authorize the Township Administration to advertise an ordinance to prohibit the use of engine brake retarders on Second Street Pike from Kings Lane to Bristol Road, and for the entire length of Bustleton Pike in Northampton Township, and to schedule a public hearing on the proposed ordinance on November 15, 2017.
Chairman Moore called for Board comment.
All of the Board members were in agreement with this proposed ordinance and the need to prohibit the engine brake retarders in certain areas of the Township. Specifically the ones that back up to busy roads where truck traffic is more prevalent.
Motion Passed 5-0.
Dr. Rose made the following announcements:
- Mr. Tom Baust passed away on October 3, 2017 after a battle with Leukemia. Tom lived in a Historic 1806 farmhouse that he restored himself. For eleven years, he hosted an open house during which he would put on free concerts, and give free tours of the house and gardens.
- Mrs. Nancy Kershaw has resigned from her appointment to the Historical Commission. Nancy was appointed to the Historical Commission in September of 2004. She also worked for the Township from February 1978 until September 2008, as Joanne Malba's, the Codes and Zoning Director’s assistant. Nancy was a huge asset to the Historical Commission and will be missed. There are still openings on the Historical Commission and anyone interested should submit an application to the Township Manager’s office by November 15, 2017.
The Senior Center
- The New Bags n’ Bling Bingo was held at the Senior Center on Friday, October 20 and was another huge success, with a sellout crowd. Plan to attend next year.
Mr. O’Donnell made the following announcement:
- The Pennsylvania Library Association launched their benchmark, PA Forward Star Library program. Today the program has some 170 libraries registered. The Star Library recognition offers support to libraries that participate and clearly demonstrate their incorporation of the literacies in their programming activities. Those libraries are recognized for meeting action items within the bronze, silver, and gold star levels of the program. It is under this program that the Northampton Township Free Library has achieved and is being recognized as a Gold Star Level Library. Congratulations to all the employees in this achievement.
- The Fall Gala was held at the Library on Friday, October 13, 2017 from 7-10 pm. Over 120 people attended.
- The Northampton Bucks County Municipal Authority will be refunding the payment of fees for late payments to any residents that paid them from February 1, 2017 through July 31, 2017. The Municipal Authority Board felt this was the right thing to do considering all the implemented changes that occurred at one time.
- Mr. O’Donnell appeared before the State Legislature’s finance committee where he testified on the impact of the Sterling Act on our Township. It was noted Philadelphia is the only place that does not give anything back to the home Township. Northampton is losing approximately 1.4 million a year.
- The Fall Gala raised approximately $10,000 and after expenses were left with a profit of $8,400.
Mr. Weinstein made the following announcements:
The Planning Commission
- Did not meet in October because of a lack of quorum. The next meeting will be on November 14 at 730. At that meeting, there will be a presentation by the Bucks County Planning Commission. They will present the Township Comprehensive Plan Update of which the Richboro Master Plan is a major component. They will also give a recommendation on the LED gas station sign ordinance, which is scheduled for a public hearing at the Board of Supervisors meeting on November 15, 2017.
- Wishes Evan Stone well in his new endeavor. Evan resigned from the Township Planning Commission to take a job as Executive Director of the Bucks County Planning Commission.
- The Dreher group had submitted the foundation permit to start construction of the building closest to Wawa. This building will contain an urgent care facility and E’s Irish Pub. The developer has also secured leases with the PA Liquor Control Board for an upscale Wine and Spirits Shop and Bacco Bistro, an Italian restaurant. Bacco has other locations in Doylestown and Buckingham.
The Zoning Hearing Board
- The Zoning Hearing Board met on October 9 and considered an appeal, for a variance, for impervious surface, for an inground pool on Ross Road. Scheduled to be heard at the November 13 meeting is 1) a garage addition on Hickory Drive 2) a detached accessory residential pool house structure on Sackettsford Road. 3) An attached residential garage addition, inground pool, and deck and patio on Beverly Road
Council Rock School District
- Met on October 19 at this meeting the Council Rock School Board reversed their previously stated intent to close Rolling Hills Elementary. The vote was eight to nothing. The board states they changed their mind after receiving new demographic information from the district’s two hired demographers. The information indicated that there would be an increase in elementary school students over the next five years as opposed to the decline previously predicted. Thank you to Sam Smith and the Rolling Hills Elementary school teachers for shielding our students through this rough time, and allowing them to focus on learning rather than on whether their school would be closing. Thank you to the Save Rolling Hills group. Thank you to Mike Solomon our Township Zoning Director. The district had previously asked the Township for some demographic information, I worked very hard on gathering this with Mike Solomon, and we then with Jane Magne a Wrightstown supervisor presented the information to the district. Jane and I did not think the demographers’ Numbers were correct and we are grateful that they have been proven not to be. Thank you to the members of the School Board and to the Superintendent. It takes a lot of integrity to admit there has been a mistake and to reverse that. With the decision to keep Rolling Hills open, the board decided against the addition at Hillcrest. The school board also voted to close Richboro Middle School. We had heard that they were going to do this for quite some time, but they officially voted on it at this past meeting. Richboro Middle School will be used next year to house Wrightstown Elementary school students, which the district indicates will save them about $600,000 and speed up the length of the project by one year.
- At the October 19 meeting, the board voted to continue using Sundance associates to complete an updated demographic study. Sundance did send a request over to our Township for information and Township Zoning Director Mike Solomon and I were working on this last week. I have every confidence that Mike will do the outstanding job he always does in getting the district the proper information.
- The Council Rock School Board continues to discuss redistricting as the redistricting committee meets. Redistricting still is being considered for the 2018-19 school year. If this occurs, the ninth through 11th grade students will be grandfathered and thus not impacted by redistricting. A financial study is currently underway to determine if the seventh and eighth grade students will also be grandfathered and thus avoid redistricting. It is also possible that redistricting will be put off an additional year.
- Bucks County DA Matt Weintraub spoke at the Council Rock October 19 School Board meeting. The topic of discussion was opioids and other drugs. We look forward to welcoming Matt Weintraub here at our November meeting.
- The Council Rock Facilities Committee has laid out the proposed plans for future renovations of Council Rock Schools. They look to spend between $15-$18 million on Wrightstown Elementary School next year, followed by $19.5 million at Rolling Hills Elementary in 2019, $27 million for Sol Feinstone in 2020, 24 million for Hillcrest in 2021, 25 million for Richboro Elementary in 2022 and $32.4 million for Newtown Elementary in 2023. These plans are just projections and may or may not take place.
- The next Policy Committee meeting will take place on October 26 at 7 PM. Facilities November 2 at 6:30 PM followed by finance. Academic standards are November 9 at 7 PM and then the Council Rock School Board will meet on November 16 at 7 PM.
- The Council Rock South’s yearbook won the American scholastic press association‘s contest for the fourth time in the past five years.
- Council Rock South girl’s tennis player Alyssa Skulsky who qualified for the AAA singles tournament. Skulsky and Alexia Enache won the suburban league and national conference doubles championship.
- Council Rock South’s Matt Fleming who made the PIAA District one golf tournament
- Council Rock South Bria DeSaro a volleyball player who earned her 1000th career dig
- To the girls Council Rock South field hockey team who won their first round match at the district 1 AAA tournament
- To the girls Council Rock South cross country team who won the 2017 suburban one national conference
- Council Rock has been planning to put a fence around Welch Elementary school. This was In part because of to allege luring incidents, which our police chief does not believe our meritorious. The Council Rock School District also expressed concern over a trail that this board has ordered to be constructed between New Road and the Municipal Park. The Board indicated they wanted our board to put up signs to keep people off the trail when school was in session. It seems to make sense since Council rock has granted us an easement on their property that we oblige them. It is also for the safety of our children.
- Discussion ensued with each of the Board members commenting on the request from the School District. Chairman Moore stated himself and several people met on the site. Fencing does not make sense, and the reports that were issued on child luring turned out to be false. Chairman Moore encouraged the other Board members to go to the site and see for themselves. Mr. O’Donnell stated the issue is the people using the trail coming onto School property during School hours and during events. Mr. O’Donnell believes limiting the trail use during school hours is a reasonable request. Mr. Weinstein stated the School would put up a fence if we don’t put up the signs. Mrs. Silver stated this Board has not received any information, and would like to see this request put in a formal request, so this Board may look at the best interest of children and residents. Chairman Moore asked Mr. Pellegrino to contact Dr. Fraser, and report at the November meeting. Mrs. Silver asked that Mr. Pellegrino contact Newtown to see how the limiting of the trail is working.
Mrs. Silver made the following announcements:
- The Parks and Recreation met and held a discussion on the 2018 budget; the focus was to prioritize wants over needs.
- The Senior Center, Parks and Recreation, and the Library are working with the Administration in the spirit of cooperation, to ensure programs are not overlapping, and various other activities.
- The preschool is accepting children 3yrs of age and older that are potty trained for their program.
- The second annual Restaurant Week will begin in Holland/Churchville October 15-21 and Richboro begins October 22 -29. Enjoy special promotions, prefix menus, and other special items; check out the website for further details.
- Trips are the hot item in the Parks and Recreation Department this year, so make sure to register early.
- The Annual Book and Bedtime is quickly, make sure to register early as this popular program sells out quickly.
- The Miracle League of Northampton is hosting a Halloween Bash on October 27, from
7-11 PM at the VE Club on 130 Davisville Road, Warminster. The hope behind these fundraisers is to make Municipal Park Playground a place where children of all abilities can play on the playground without limitations with their friends and families. For more information go to mlnorthampton.com.
- The 41st Annual Halloween Happening event is taking place on October 28, from 11-1pm at the Northampton Recreation Center. The Halloween Happening was the first special event to be held by the Parks and Recreation Department. Free event featuring costume contests for all ages, games, and other fun filled events.
- The Veterans Day Ceremony will be held on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm, the Walkway of Honor unveiling will take place at this time. Veterans Advisory Commission member Michael Bodkin is in charge of the event.
- Nominations are being accepted for the Wall of Honor and you can find the nomination forms on the website or by stopping in at the Administration Building.
Chairman Moore made the following announcements:
- A number of Boards and Commissions have terms expiring as of December 31, 2017 or have openings due to resignations. Submit your application before the November 15 deadline. If you are not sure which Board or Commission best suits you, all meetings are open to the public, go and sit in on a few different ones to see what appeals to you.
- Fire Prevention Week took place the week of October 9 and the event was well attended.
- November 8 is the budget workshop with the Budget presentation-taking place on November 15.
Andrew Gannon, 500 Bustleton Pike, thanked the Board for their hard work and dedication to the residents in their pursuit of keeping Rolling Hills Elementary open. Mr. Gannon questioned since the demographics were wrong. How does it change the outlook on the Richboro Middle School project?
Judy Beales, 51 West Patricia Road, stated she thought after the December 2016 Board of Supervisors meeting the Rails to Trails project was a dead issue and also due to budget restrictions the County and State are out of money. Ms. Beales went on to list the reasons why the trail is wrong for this Township, stated she would not be voting for Dr. Rose.
Michelle Druding, 5 Rotterdam East, listed her concerns with Dr. Rose’s campaign and stated her reasons why she would not be voting for Dr. Rose.
Jeffrey Gold, 57 Grant Drive, commented on the issue of Welch Elementary School brought forward by Mr. Weinstein, and agrees the trail should be closed during school hours. Mr. Gold went on to list his reasons against the Rails to Trails project and noted why this issue should not be brought up again.
Elizabeth and Paul Kauermann, 15 Amsterdam Avenue, related events that took place on the trail in Lower Saucon Township. In addition, listed reasons the Rails to Trails issue should not be opened for discussion again. Stating the evidence speaks for itself.
Janice Patterson, 19 Amsterdam Avenue, stated crime is prevalent on the trails and has been documented. The cost of the Rails to Trails issue only affects the residents who live here, not the riders from out of town who use it.
Ralph Soren, 50 Jericho Road, disappointed by the support of Dr. Rose in the feasibility study for the Rails to Trails project. Listed several reasons such as; the raising of taxes, adversely affecting families, and the waste of grant money in this project would generate.
David Patterson, 19 Amsterdam Avenue, commented on Dr. Rose’s campaign literature and listed the alleged discrepancies he found.
Joe Johnson, 41 Grant Avenue, listed the reasons why he does not support Dr. Rose and her campaign, also stated his reasons for being against the rails to trails plan. No one gives a 100% for grants, they all look for a match, and maintenance will also come out of the pockets of the taxpayers as well.
Patrick McGuigan, 38 Rotterdam East, spoke about tax money and how it is spent and made note there is no money for the proposed feasibility study. Money is being taken away from these special projects to make up for the 2.2 million dollar deficit.
Steve Bryer, 46 Florence Drive, commented on Mr. Weinstein’s report regarding the 2 acres given by the Naval Air Warfare Center over 20 years ago. Mr. Bryer stated that the severe limitations that are being proposed by the Council Rock School District and brought forward by Mr. Weinstein was never discussed. The cost to create this trailhead is over $125,000, if these stipulations on times are put in place, maybe the Board should consider other uses for these 2 acres.
Bruce Stamm, Holland, listed several reasons why he does not support Dr. Rose for Supervisor and he alleged untruths in her campaign literature.
Frank Harshaw, Wyncoop Court, stated Spring Avenue residents are thrilled with the completed paving project on their road, but also noted signs are down that state no left turns out of Spring Avenue, and would like this looked into. Thanked the Board for their hard work.
David Lauer, 49 Cornell Avenue, commented on the nasty attacks of Dr. Rose by residents of the Township. Mr. Lauer stated Dr. Rose is a person of the highest integrity and noted it was his pleasure and benefit to have worked with her during this election season. Mr. Lauer stated these attacks are unnecessary, the will of the residents will be shown on Election Day.
Bernice Sikora, 18 Meredith, listed several reasons why she does not support Dr. Rose and commented on items from her literature she felt were not true.
Dr. Rose responded to the allegations made throughout public comment regarding her voting for a tax increase. Dr. Rose clarified for the record, she voted on the Budget that had a tax increase of $42 but also a credit was received from trash for $42 making it a wash and therefore no taxes were going to be raised. At the reorganization meeting the new incoming Supervisors are allowed to reopen the budget, they did and voted for a tax increase. Dr. Rose stated she did not vote for that budget.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 p.m.
Frank O’Donnell, Secretary