New Britain Borough
August 13, 2013
The monthly meeting of the New Britain Borough Council was called to order by President Robert Belchic at 7:30 PM. All council members were present. Also present were Mr. Mark Hintenlang, Ms Robin Trymbiski, Mr. J. Thomas Yatsky, Ms. Marie Coia and Mayor David Holewinski. Mr. Jeffrey Gilmore motioned to approve the minutes of the July 9, 2013 meeting as written; seconded by Mr. Craig Sturza and approved.
President Belchic addressed the audience, asking that comments on agenda items be made as the topic is brought up before council and leave general comments until the end of the meeting.
Correspondence: for the month was reviewed.
June & July Treasurer’s Reports: for the month were reviewed.
June Tax Collector’s Report: for the month was reviewed.
Building, Zoning, Road & phone/visitors Reports: for the month were reviewed.
President’s Report: President Robert Belchic gave an overview of what has been happening with the Community & Business Committee. They (residents, business owners, professionals, council members) have been investigating and being proactive on the development of the Borough. They do not want to loose what the Borough has and also come up with things that will benefit the Borough in the future. When the committee has completed its vision they will present to Council.
Administration: Mr. Dan Kinter updated Council on the development of the new Borough website. Mr. Kinter explained some of the new features (“what’s going on”, Things to Do”, “Emergency Information” etc). He invited everyone to view the website and welcomes comments and questions.
Chris Stanford from Michael Baker Inc. has been working for the borough on engineering services including bicycle-pedestrian and trail related issues. As requested he has provided the hourly billing rates and general terms and conditions for the calendar year 2013. Mr. Joseph Cangelosi motioned to accept the terms of the Michael Baker Inc. proposal that each assignment will be discussed in detail with the Borough prior to the start of work and efforts will be invoiced on a time and materials basis as needed, also including the attached addendum to the section “client contract general terms and conditions” which was provided by Borough Solicitor Michael Goodwin; seconded by Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski and approved.
The Borough has received a price from PECO to purchase the street lights in the Borough in the amount of $18,183.74. The staff is now working on getting proposals to replace the lights with LED light bulbs. There is a sample LED light on the pole lighting up the Admin Building parking lot. The LED lights Mr. Joseph Cangelosi has observed did not broadcast well. Everyone was encouraged to take note of the light on site. In the near future recommendations will be made for Council’s review. It was stated by President Belchic that some rebates on the lights may be expiring in the near future so decisions should be made accordingly.
Finance: The second quarter investment reports for the Borough Police and Non-Uniform Pension Plans are in the Borough Office for review.
A Resolution is required to change the Tax Collection Committee delegate from Lloyd Vansant to Marie Coia. Mr. Craig Sturza motioned to approve Resolution 2013-9 naming Ms. Marie Coia as the Tax Collection Committee delegate; seconded by Ms. Margaret Remmey and approved.
Nature Preserve/Meadow: Mr. Peter LaMontagne reported on the Nature Preserves proposal for New Britain Borough to become a “Bird Town”. The Borough meets all the criteria. The Borough would need to pass a resolution and pay the $450 annual fee. Mr. Peter La Montagne motioned to approve Resolution 2013-11; seconded by Ms. Margaret Remmey. Solicitor Michael Goodwin, after his review of the provided resolution, would like to see changes to the last paragraph “authorizing the Nature Preserve Committee to serve as New Britain Borough’s agent to the Audubon Bird Town and Bird Day processes” to naming the Nature Preserve Committee as the agent in the above processes without the authority in any manner binding the Borough. Mr. Joseph Cangelosi motioned to approve Resolution 2013-11 with the above referenced changes; seconded by Mr. Craig Sturza and approved.
Mr. Peter LaMontagne and Mayor David Holewinski came up with recommendations for a park committee at the request of Council. After a brief discussion, President Belchic asked Council to review the recommendations. The establishing of a park committee will be put to a vote next month.
Mr. LaMontagne mentioned a Nature Preserve Open House, which will be the Saturday after Labor Day from 1:00-3:00 PM.
Groner Property: Mr. LaMontagne informed Council that the tenant in the Groner House has requested the Borough pave the driveway on the property. This in the tenant’s opinion would save the Borough the annual expense of having the stone replenished and redistributed after a winter of plowing. He also requested that he be able to erect a basketball hoop over the paved driveway so his sons can play basketball. Mr. LaMontagne reported that it would cost approximately $3,000. A discussion was held with input from council and the audience. Many felt that a paved driveway would not be in keeping with Dr. Groner’s wishes. One resident asked if there were alternatives to a paved driveway other than stone. Mr. Peter LaMontagne motioned to pave the driveway at the Groner House. No second was made so the motion was dropped.
Mayor’s Report: Mayor David Holewinski reported that the police contract negotiations are moving forward. There is no reason these negotiations should hold up the merger date of 1/1/2014.
Mayor Holewinski also reported that the community garden has gotten many positive comments. There is one plot still available. Besides the crops going to those involved in the garden, some of the harvest will benefit the New Britain Baptist Church Food Larder.
Committee Reports: Ms. Marie Coia reported that the Community and Business Committee is working on a comprehensive vision to revitalize the borough that builds on its assets, historic buildings, great neighborhoods, unique local businesses, Delaware Valley College, parks and open space with input from our residents and business community. Our vision will include land uses, building designs, trees and landscaping, town meeting places, traffic, pedestrian walkways and general enhancement of Butler Avenue. We are working with guidance from professionals from DVC and the Bucks County Planning Commission.
Expenditures: Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski motioned to pay the monthly expenditures; seconded by Mr. Joseph Cangelosi and the motion was approved.
Old Business: Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski reported that the Bike & Hike Committee is waiting on one permit to complete the section between the water treatment facility and the Parkway. The committee is looking at the fall for completion.
Mr. Mark Hintenlang reported on the North Tamenend Avenue/Francis Meyers intersection. Mr. Peter LaMontagne had recommended to the Borough a “Hill Blocks View” sign he had observed in Doylestown Township as a remedy to the situation at the above referenced intersection. It was agreed that Mr. Hintenlang should purchase two signs for north and south traffic on North Tamenend Avenue to aid in correcting a potentially dangerous intersection.
Mr. Jeff L’Amoreaux, traffic engineer, came before Council to review his traffic study findings pertaining to the temporary Mathews Avenue closure. In order to finalize the closure an ordinance and traffic study are necessary. The traffic volume and speed have declined on Mathews Avenue since the temporary closure. There are small increases of time to travel from South Tamenend Avenue down Sand Road vs. traveling through Mathews Avenue to Sand Road. Residents remarked that there are several variables in that equation including the train and when you reach the two traffic lights. Mr. L’Amoreaux stated that the light at Sand and Butler Avenue is being studied and that the turning arrows for left turns from Butler Avenue will be removed. In Mr. L’Amoreaux’s study he states “our office believes that the Borough can continue with the closure. We recommend that the closing be constructed with careful consideration to continue to allow emergency vehicles and other emergency motorists to traverse the closing point. Also parking along Mathews Avenue should not be permitted near the closing point, as that may complicate the traversable nature of the proposed closing.” Mr. L’Amoreaux recommended EMS members, council members and anyone council feels could benefit the discussion, get together to discuss the physical properties of the closure. He also recommended there be a street light at the site. A lengthy discussion followed involving neighbors for and against the closure. Mr. William Marsh and his wife of 626 Mathews Avenue are concerned with the fact that they were not notified in the beginning of the process, are now closed off from their street and are in an industrial rather than residential setting. They understand that there are passionate views for and against the closure and asked if an alternative that would be fair and not have a significant negative impact on people was considered. He went on to say that every visitor, delivery person etc. gets lost coming to their house since they are no longer part of the street. That council has acted strictly to a special interest group which is the essence of bad government. Mrs. Marsh added that she no longer feels part of the neighborhood. President Belchic confirmed that anything built can be traversed by foot and emergency vehicles. Mr. Jay Stollak of 87 Mathews Avenue stated that he was not notified when this process started. He asked if a traffic study had been done before the temporary closure. A preliminary study had not been done. He went on to inform council on how the closure has impacted himself and his family (extended travel time, dangerous exit onto South Tamenend Avenue, dealing with train etc.). Mr. Stollak does not feel there were any hazardous circumstances or risks shown to suggest the road be closed. He is concerned about emergency vehicles, the egress of an industrial park and pulling out onto South Tamenend Avenue. He wanted Council to know that he is putting the Borough on notice that a hazardous condition exists where the closure is unsafe to the industrial park leaving them one form of egress which crosses a railroad. Ms. Linda Strong of 92 Unami Trail presented Council with a petition signed by 51 residents opposing the closure. Mr. Al Marciante of 99 Mathews Avenue, his wife Dawn and several others spoke in favor of the closure. Stating that the street is quieter, less traffic, they can walk in the neighborhood, check their mail without being concerned about their safety and back out of their driveways. Ms. Joe Schuyler of Aarons Avenue said the closure was not establishing a village feel, but quite the opposite. Her biggest concern is the way the process began (no traffic study which would have offered additional options, lack of notification to some Aarons Ave. and Mathews Ave. residents). She feels the emotional impact is what is ruling at this time. Mr. Marsh asked if alternatives would be considered, like moving the barricade. President Belchic said they would take a look at moving the barricade. Mr. Karl Dieterichs of 40 Sand Road asked how many of the people in the audience have lived in New Britain prior to 1965. Only one person raised their hand. The reason for Mr. Dieterichs’ question was that at that time zoning became mandatory in Pennsylvania. He said, if you check the Borough zoning maps from 1966 you will see that it was zoned light industrial. Mr. Dieterichs feels that most people only check the school district, look of the house etc. when buying and not the zoning in the surrounding area. He quoted the saying “let the buyer beware”. He feels there are better more equitable solutions. He added that traffic has increased in front of his home since the closure. Mr. Patrick DiGangi said he did check the zoning, but things have changed in the traffic flow since the light on Butler Avenue was moved from the north entrance to the shopping center on Butler Avenue to the southern entrance to the shopping center on Butler Avenue at Sand Road. Ms. Robyne Kelemen of 87 Mathews Avenue does not feel there was a problem on Mathews Avenue. She believes the traffic studies of Mathews Avenue are flawed and do not provide meaningful data. She is concerned with setting a precedent and wonders what will be the answer to other neighborhoods if they ask for a street closure. She had also requested at the July meeting to have the site distance when exiting Mathews Avenue onto South Tamenend Avenue be included in the traffic study. Mr. L’Amoreaux apologized for the omission and will look into her concerns. Councilman Joseph Cangelosi does not feel the borough is setting a precedent and that the Borough has a responsive council which does not act in a “bad government” way. President Belchic said he understands that people have different opinions and that many points were raised. That council has been aware of these points and has researched them. He also stated that Council does not come to decisions by bad government. Mayor David Holewinski also directed his statement to Jay Stollak, stating that a single entrance and exit to an industrial site is typical. Mr. Sollak took issue with this remark and again stated that the Borough be on notice that a hazardous situation exists. President Belchic added that joining Spring Lake Drive and New Britain Drive would solve that problem. Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski motioned to advertise the ordinance of New Britain Borough providing for the erection of a barricade across Mathews Avenue. Closing the roadway to through traffic in the area of the Wilma Quinlan Nature Preserve permanently, pursuant to the police powers of the Borough to promote the safety and general welfare of residents on Mathews Avenue and to preserve the village character and quality of the neighborhood; seconded by Mr. Joseph Cangelosi. The voting went as follows:
Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski – yea
Ms. Margaret Remmey – yea
Mr. Jeffrey Gilmore – yea
Mr. Peter LaMontagne – nay
Mr. Robert Belchic – yea
Mr. Joseph Cangelosi – yea
Mr. Craig Sturza – yea
The ordinance will be advertised and considered at the September meeting.
New Business – Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski motioned to approve Resolution 2013-10 for the purpose of designation depository for New Britain Borough funds, replacing Lloyd Vansant with Marie Esher Coia; seconded by Mr. Craig Sturza and approved.
Mr. Walter Bair asked to address Council. He thanked Mr. Jeffrey Gilmore and Mr. Peter LaMontagne for reaching out to him in response to his letter to council concerning the Mathews Avenue closure. He also told President Belchic that he tends to yell over people and has gotten nasty during council meetings. Mr. Belchic accepted his criticism and apologized to Mr. Bair.
Mayor Holewinski announced that the Borough will make all neighboring emergency services aware of the closure and that it is traversable by emergency vehicles. He added that if there is a real emergency other vehicles can also traverse the closure.
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Fay of South Tamenend Avenue came to council to discuss their PCE water issues. The Fays are trying to sell their house. They have done some research, but feel they are in over their heads with the DEP. President Belchic offered to meet with them.
Karl Dieterichs asked if the Borough employs a janitor. He addressed the condition of the window sills (filled with dirt and debris). The office will see to having them cleaned.
Mr. Ted Malecki of 46 Barrie Circle handed Council a petition opposing the construction of apartments on the John Knoell property. Mr. Malecki was assured that the residents would be included on any decisions made by Council concerning that property and that at this time there were no proposals before the Borough.
Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski motioned to adjourn; seconded by Mr. Joseph Cangelosi and the meeting ended at 9:27 PM.