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:
Members of the Board absent 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.
District Attorney Matt Weintraub – “Push Out The Pusher”
Chairman Moore introduced and provided a background on District Attorney Matt Weintraub. Mr. Weintraub explained the idea of the “Push Out The Pusher” campaign. He stated the District Attorney’s office in a joint effort with the Bucks County Crime Stoppers is encouraging the public to get involved. If you call the drug tip hotline at 215-345-3784 with information on a drug dealer and that information leads to the arrest and conviction of a drug dealer, that tip will lead to an award up to $5,000.00. A non-profit community based organization that combines the cooperative efforts of the community and law enforcement in the fight against crime. The
Our Goal is to have as Many Households and Businesses in our County displaying these ”Push Out The Pusher" Yard signs and letting these dealers know they are on notice, we are watching you and we are taking back our community!
Mr. Weintraub took questions from the Board. Discussion ensued with comments on the increasing opioid epidemic and its effects on local communities and the drug take back program.
Sarah Fetzer – Reference Librarian – Free Library of Northampton
Mr. O’Donnell called forward Ms. Sarah Fetzer, Reference Librarian for the Free Library of Northampton. Mr. O’Donnell explained the Pennsylvania Library Association recognizes members from our Commonwealth who have contributed significantly to the cause of libraries. Nominations are submitted from around the state and the Association Awards Committee chooses recipients for the awards. These awards then are presented during the Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference. This statewide award is awarded to only one recipient. Ms. Fetzer was the recipient of this year’s award. This award honors a librarian who has been in the profession for less than six years. This award recognizes the originality and inventive ability of a new librarian who devises new and improved methods in library service on a statewide or local level.
Ms. Fetzer also announced 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.
PUBLIC COMMENT – (Agenda Items Only)
None was heard.
The Board meeting minutes of October 25, 2017 were approved by unanimous consent.
The accounts payable for November 8, 2017, in the amount of $572,210.16 and November 15, 2017 in the amount of $265,973.50. The accounts payable for November 8, and November 15, 2017 were approved by unanimous consent.
Consider Zoning Ordinance Amendment to Permit LED Signs for Gas Station Prices
Chairman Moore opened the hearing at 8:20 pm.
Mr. Weinstein outlined ordinance amendment to permit LED signs for gas station prices subject to numerous criteria, including conditions related to the following:
- Size of LED sign area related to the total sign square footage;
- Restrictions on the sign from flashing, scrolling, or imitating movement;
- Restrictions on time intervals;
- Restrictions on sign lighting and glare intensity; and,
- Setbacks from residential districts.
Mr. Weinstein noted the Planning Commission unanimously approved this ordinance.
A motion was made and seconded (Weinstein-Silver) to approve ordinance #593 amending the Northampton Township Zoning Ordinance, specifically Chapter 27, for the purpose of amending sections related to sign requirements for commercial districts to permit LED signs for gas station price changes.
Chairman Moore called for Board comment.
Chairman Moore asked if any other gas stations have asked for the LED signage at this time. Mr. Weinstein stated WAWA is the only one asking for LED signage for gas prices at this time.
Motion Passed 4-0.
Chairman Moore closed the hearing at 8:25 pm
Consider Ordinance Regulating Duty Towing Companies
Chairman Moore opened the hearing at 8:25 pm.
Mr. Weinstein outlined the 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 Board Resolution would establish the fees charged. There are also provisions for revoking a towing license if the licensee fails to meet the criteria and standards established by the ordinance.
A motion was made and seconded (Weinstein-O’Donnell) to adopt ordinance #594 to regulate towing companies hired by the Township Police Department to remove abandoned, disabled, wrecked, or impounded vehicles from Township roads.
Chairman Moore called for Board comment.
Mrs. Silver stated the location of the applicant’s place of towing business should be within the borders of the Township and /or within four (4) miles of Police headquarters, in order to provide immediate response time to a call for service from the Township and/or the Police Department.
Chairman Moore called for public comment.
Joe Johnson, 41 Grant Drive, questioned if the cars will be allowed to be towed to the vehicle owners’ home. Mr. Weinstein stated it not enumerated in the ordinance. Mr. Pellegrino stated this would be at the discretion of the Police Department and the Officer.
David Patterson, 19 Amsterdam, reiterated the same question as Mr. Johnson.
Chairman Moore stated the goal is to have disabled vehicles off the road as soon as possible. Chairman Moore also noted this ordinance is only formalizing the process, as this practice is already in place.
Motion Passed 4-0.
Chairman Moore closed the hearing at 8:35 pm.
Consider Authorization to Sell Surplus Property
Mrs. Silver stated Gary Crossland, Public Works Director has indicated the following lists are surplus items and are expected to be valued at more than $2,000. As a result can only be sold when authorized by the Board of Supervisors.
Year Make Model Mileage
2000 GMC Safari Van 62,685
2003 GMC 2500 Van 147,702
1989 Ford F-350 Utility Van 30,252
- ESECO HK Porter Generator
- O’Keefe Merritt Generator
- ESECO HK Porter Generator
- - Skid Steer Tracks
2000 Marathon Tar Buggy
- - Electric Utility Cart
- John Deere Plow & Salt Spreader for John Deere Gator
- - Flat Bed Truck Body
- - (10) Pallets of High Pressure Sodium Cobra Head Street Lights
2001 International 10 Wheel Dump Truck
A motion was made and seconded (Silver-Weinstein) to authorize the Township Administration to sell surplus equipment at public auction as recommended by the department of Public Works in a memorandum dated November 8, 2017.
Chairman Moore called for public comment. None was heard.
Motion Passed 4-0.
Presentation of 2018 Preliminary Budget
Chairman Moore announced Mr. Pellegrino, Township Manager, and Mr. Armelin, Finance Director who will be presenting an overview of the proposed 2018 Budget.
Mr. Pellegrino explained that the Board must approve a preliminary budget and make it available for public review for twenty days prior to final adoption. The final budget is scheduled for adoption on December 20, 2017.
Mr. Pellegrino presented a thorough review of the proposed 2018 budget and explained the variables that affect revenues and expenditures. He noted changes from 2017 to 2018 and stated this budget does require a tax increase.
The 2018 budget includes an increase in the real estate tax levy to fund on-going and proposed infrastructure improvements, debt obligations, and general operating expenses. Mr. Pellegrino recommends allocating the increase as follows:
General Fund .6019 mills
Capital Fund .6630 mills (Part of the General Fund)
Recreation Capital Fund .1284 mills (Part of the Recreation Fund)
Road Equipment Fund .2053 mills
Library Fund .1284 mills
Debt Service Fund .2567 mills
Mr. Pellegrino stated this proposed tax increase will target a variety of government services, and numerous capital infrastructure projects planned for the next three to five years. Mr. Pellegrino also noted this is the first proposed tax increase in four (4) years and according to long range projections, will minimize or eliminate the need for additional tax revenue through 2021.
Mr. Pellegrino explained for a property assessed at the median value of $36,000, the increase amounts to approximately $71 per year or less than $6 per month. The total tax levy will increase from 12.9275 mills to 14.9111 mills and a property assessed at the median value will pay $536 per year in real estate taxes or $45 per month to support Township services.
Chairman Moore called for Board comment.
Each Board member took turns questioning Mr. Pellegrino on various parts of the budget and questioned revenues vs. expenditures and made suggestions and comments on where they would like to see improvements made. Suggestions were made to have a small tax increase each year rather than a large one every few years, look into other revenue streams. Mr. Pizzo and Mr. Pellegrino explained the Second Class Township Code states that a line item (Department total) may not be changed by more than 25% and the total budget may not be changed by more than 10%.
Chairman Moore called for public comment.
Bruce Stamm, Jericho Road, suggested raises are eliminated for non-union personnel, reopen contract negotiations. Remember Mr. Komelasky’s adage of needs not wants.
Gina Santoro, 6 Whitman Court, questioned the graph that was presented during the power point, Mr. Pellegrino explained. Ms. Santorro stated its costing the existing residents for new residents and the Township should stop building new developments.
Joe Johnson, 41 Grant Drive, stated the Buck Road Intersection is not needed and should be removed and agreed with Mr. Moore about reducing the energy footprint, by utilizing solar panels.
Michael Kutsaya, 7 Whitman Court, suggested the Board borrow money now to lock in a cheaper rate. Mr. Pellegrino explained we are paying a very low rate now and Mr. Armelin is constantly watching interest rates to make sure we are getting the best price.
Further discussion ensued among the Board, including holding off to advertise this budget. Timelines for budget approval were discussed.
A motion was made and seconded (Moore-Silver) to adopt the preliminary 2018 budget and advertise its availability for public inspection for a period of not less than twenty days as required by the Second Class Township Code and the Board has the right to adjust the budget by 25% as stipulated under the guidelines of the Second Class Township Code.
Motion Passed 3-1 (Weinstein voting nay).
Dr. Rose was absent.
Mr. O’Donnell passed on his liaison report due to the lateness of the hour.
Mr. Weinstein made the following announcements:
The Planning Commission
- Met on November 14 and heard a presentation by the Bucks County Planning Commission. An overview of the Township Comprehensive Plan Update of which the Richboro Master Plan and Holland Master Plan are major components was discussed. The Comprehensive Plan Update will be presented before the Board of Supervisors within the next couple of months for review and comment. The Plan will then go back to the Planning Commission for review and to implement any changes. The plan will then come back in front of the Board for final approval. They also give a recommendation on the LED gas station sign ordinance, which was heard during the public hearing portion of tonight’s meeting. The next meeting will be on December 12, 2017.
The Zoning Hearing Board
- The Zoning Hearing Board met on November 13 and considered a front yard fence on Daisy Lane, a setback for a garage addition on Hickory Drive, setbacks and impervious surface for a pool and garage on Beverly Road. The next meeting will be January 8. There is no meeting scheduled for December.
Council Rock School District
- Will be meeting on November 16 to discuss redistricting and potential grandfathering of certain grades to potentially avoid being impacted by the redistricting. At this time, it appears grades 9, 10 and 11 will not be affected. Grandfathering is being considered for 7th and 8th grade as well.
- At 6:00 pm on November 16, the Council Rock School District will be sending out Robocalls as a test to make sure the school is able to notify individuals of weather alerts, school closings, and other emergency events. If you do not receive a call, you should log onto the Home Access Center and update your information.
- The Council Rock School Board will hold a ceremony on December 7, at 8:00 pm this is their annual re-organization meeting. New Board members will be sworn in.
- The next Policy Committee meeting will take place on November 30, at 7 PM. Academics Standards, December 7, at 7 PM, Finance Committee, December 14 at 6:30 PM followed by the Facilities meeting.
- Council Rock is in year one of a three year program to supply 300 chrome books to 10 Elementary Schools. These will be used for word processing, web based instruction, enrichment programs, accessing school assignments, and for completing research assignments.
- Council Rock will be unveiling a new website in January 2018.
- Congratulations to Council Rock South student Blankenmeir. He will be performing a title called the Best of the Best, it’s a program sponsored by the Music education 2017 All National Honor Ensemble to take place at the end of November in Orlando, Florida.
- Extending deepest sympathies to the Brown family. A previous Public Works Employee Ray Brown Jr. passed away. Ray’s father was a constable in Northampton for a long period and we wish the best for the family during this time.
- Northampton Indians Football team the Mighty Mites. They have made it to the Nationals tournament to take place in Disney World. On their facebook page they have a go fund me account set up, go check it out and help these kids get to Florida by contributing. Congratulations to the Pee-Wee team they have also had a great season.
- Northampton Township recently received a $500,000 sidewalk grant from the Multi-Modal fund provided by the State. Thank you to the Administration, Board Members, State Representative Petri, and Senator Tommy Tomlinson for their help in getting this $500,000 to make Richboro more walkable.
Mrs. Silver made the following announcements:
- The annual Halloween Happening was another huge success, and thank you to all who attended and supported this great event.
- The Parks and Recreation brochure will be delivered the week of November 20. Check it out; there are numerous bus trips, discount tickets to attractions, ski tickets, movie tickets, and so much more. Sign up for a program or class there are so many to choose from.
- The registration for the 2018 summer camps and pre-school programs are also listed in the brochure. Register early to claim your spot.
- A big thank you to the Parks and Recreation Maintenance Department for all their hard work on repairing various buildings, fixing plumbing issues, maintaining the Parks, and the Recreation Center.
- The Veterans Day Ceremony was held on Saturday, November 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm, the Committee combined the recognition of Veterans Day with the unveiling of the Walkway of Honor. Veterans Advisory Commission member Michael Bodkin was Master of Ceremonies, and soldiers from each ERA were recognized: Fred Caldwell, World War II, Harry Nieman, Korea, Tony Albano, Vietnam, and Tom Bodkin, Iraq-Afghanistan. USN Retired Sherri Jones was the keynote speaker. A big thank you to Paul Dukes and Brett Prazych of the Public Works Department, and to Bernadette Heenan for helping with refreshments and taking care of Fred Caldwell. Also, thank you to all of the residents who bought bricks and attended the ceremony. If anyone would like to purchase a brick, stop by the Administration Building or go online to the Township website for a form.
- Welcome and congratulations to Hannah Nails on opening their store in the Addisville Commons. On behalf of the Board, we wish all the new business’s coming in the best of luck.
- On behalf of Dr. Rose, the Senior Center is having their annual Holiday Market Place on December 1, 2017 from 5 pm until 9 pm. Many vendors are scheduled to give you plenty of shopping choices.
Chairman Moore made the following announcements:
Spring Mill Country Club is proposing a residential development in the golf course location; because of this, several people are in attendance tonight to let their views be heard. Judd Builder is the Developer for this proposed project and they will be holding a meeting on November 28 at 7 pm at the Fuge in Warminster, on Jacksonville Road. Members of this Board will be attending to listen to what is being proposed. It is assured no decisions have been made regarding this project and the Board is looking for feedback from the residents. The Board is aware that any new housing developments mean more taxes, but it also means more services. Chairman Moore asked Mr. Pizzo to explain the different uses and definitions of each. Mr. Pizzo explained Recreation zoning, R-1, conditional use, permitted use, by-right use, and special exception. Chairman Moore noted the site is approximately 180 acres with approximately 138 homes being proposed. This will be an agenda item on the December 20, 2017 Board of Supervisors meeting and will be discussed in more detail at that time. All interested persons are invited to attend both of these meetings.
Mr. Pizzo reminded the Board to not comment or prejudge before, during, or after the meeting, as this is a direct violation of the Sunshine Act. Your comments should be stated at a public advertised meeting where this decision is part of an agenda item.
Mr. Pizzo announced that an executive session was held 30 minutes prior to the start of the Board of Supervisors meeting. Four members of the Board: Mr. Moore, Mrs. Silver, Mr. O’Donnell, and Mr. Weinstein, the Township Manager, Assistant Manager, Finance Director and the Solicitor were in attendance. Two matters of potential purchase and sale of Real Estate matters were discussed. No official action was taken on either matter and no official action was required as a result of the executive session.
Carolyn Bachinsky, 132 Golfview Drive, thanked the Board for their guidance and support. Many affected residents showed up tonight hoping to be heard since receiving the letter from Judd Builders on the proposed project. Looking forward to the meetings on November 28 and December 20 and she is hopeful that some compromising can be made.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:5 p.m.
Frank O’Donnell, Secretary