New Britain Borough
January 14, 2014
The monthly meeting of the New Britain Borough Council was called to order by President Jeffrey Gilmore at 7:30 PM. All council members were present. Also present were Mr. Mark Hintenlang, Ms. Robin Trymbiski, Mr. J. Thomas Yatsky, Solicitor Michael Goodwin and Mayor David Holewinski. Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski motioned to approve the minutes of the December 13, 2013 meeting as written; seconded by Ms. Margaret Remmey and approved. Mr. Joseph Cangelosi motioned to approve the minutes of the January 6, 2014 reorganization meeting as written; seconded by Ms. Robyne Kelemen and approved.
President Gilmore reminded the audience that they may comment on agenda items as they are discussed and any other items will be addressed at the end of the meeting under resident’s remarks. Ms. Jacobs, of Butler Avenue, commented that the draft minutes are not on the website. It was explained to Ms. Jacobs that Solicitor Michael Goodwin has advised Council that they should not put minutes on the internet until they are approved. Ms. Kelemen added that any errors can be corrected after approval. Ms. Jacobs wanted to be able to read the minutes before the next meeting. It was stated that anyone wanting to read the draft minutes can stop in at the administration office and see a copy. President Gilmore said he will look into Ms. Jacobs’ concern.
A borough resident thanked Council for hiring T. Schiefer as the Borough snow removal company, because they have done an excellent job.
Correspondence: for the month was reviewed.
Guest: The first guest of the evening was Stephen Barth, hired by the Borough as an Economic Development Consultant. The reason for his hire is to help the community grow to be more prosperous in the future. Mr. Barth gave a presentation, touching upon the Borough assets (Delaware Valley College, train station), and making the intersection of Butler Avenue and Shady Retreat Road a village center with walkability to the college. With the college becoming a university, the research aspect will bring in incubator businesses and jobs. Ms. Lynn Bush, of the Bucks County Planning Commission, added that through town meetings and the Community and Business Committee three points of concentration have come to light. 1. Better relationship between the college and the Borough, 2. Improving the street scape of Butler Avenue, sidewalks, street trees, etc. and making the Borough walkable, 3. Support the businesses with compatible development and resources and buying local. Ms. Jacobs, who lives on Butler Avenue, said she is not against sidewalks, but is concerned about the costs to the residents and the large street trees she has on her property. Mr. Barth said the Borough will need to be flexible, keeping the aesthetics. The changes being considered will bring a raise in property values and a higher quality of life. He will be working toward the greatest benefit for the greatest amount of people in the community. Mr. Barth will be working on zoning in the Borough and helping Planning to devise a zoning blue print of what they would like the Borough to become. Resident June Bair asked if Mr. Barth would be having public meetings to let the community know what is going on. Mr. Barth answered that he will be submitting a monthly report to Council. Planning will begin working on the vision for zoning in the Borough at their January meeting. President Gilmore inquired as to why someone Mr. Barth brought to W.C. Weiss (who is under agreement for the purchase of the Knoell Property) has not gotten back to Mr. Weiss to talk. The person in question does not want to take over the whole building and would need to find other tenants. Ms. Bair asked if you can change the zoning while someone is in the midst of buying a property. Mr. Goodwin answered that as long as plans have not been submitted changes can be made. Ms. Bush described the process for changing the zoning (advertisements, public hearing etc.) adding that the Borough Solicitor Mr. Goodwin would handle the process when and if it becomes necessary.
Treasurer’s Report: for the month was reviewed. Mr. William Marsh asked about the financial condition of the Borough. President Gilmore said that was one of the items he would be addressing in his report and asked Mr. Marsh to wait until that time.
Building, Zoning, Road & Phone/Visitor Reports: for the month were reviewed.
President’s Report: President Gilmore thanked Mr. Belchic and Mr. Sturza for their service to the Borough. They were both present at the meeting. He also welcomed new council members Lori Kesilman and Robyne Kelemen. He remarked that more than half of council are relatively new to council and will be depending on those more experienced (Mary Pat Holewinski, Peter LaMontagne, Margaret Remmey). He informed the audience that everyone on council serves on many boards and committees and don’t just show up once a month for council meetings. Jim Chant, resident, wanted to thank council for all their volunteering. President Gilmore went on to talk about what the focus of the Borough should be. With all the talk of the college, Knoell property etc. he asked the question, where are we going in 20 years. He feels a good starting place is the comprehensive plan (dated 2007) and has asked Planning to begin updating and revising the plan since some of the goals of the Borough have changed or have been reached. President Gilmore would also like the Community and Business Committee to review and comment on the plan when Planning is finished. Because the Borough has been working at a deficit, President Gilmore would also like a plan to generate revenue, cut costs, and regenerate the borough’s reserve funds.
Administration: There have been complaints about the vultures returning. If the problem continues, The Town Center owners, the Town Center Condo Association and the Borough will be meeting with the USDA Wildlife Services of PA to discuss the problem. It has been proposed that the cost of a solution be split three ways. Hanging of an effigy would cost approximately $900. Mr. Joseph Cangelosi motioned to approve the spending of $300 if it becomes necessary to alleviate the situation; seconded by Ms. Margaret Remmey and approved.
The Borough Office has received a proposal from FocusMX to redesign the Borough’s website. Ms. Trymbiski and Ms. Kinyon received excellent recommendations and were impressed when they met with FocusMX. Mr. Goodwin has reviewed the contract. The cost of the proposal is $6,000. Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski motioned to sign the contract with FocusMX to redesign the Borough website; seconded by Ms. Margaret Remmey and approved.
At the reorganization meeting Mayor Holewinski brought up the possibility of appointing a Jr. Council person. After a brief discussion about the process involved in choosing someone (resume, interview), length of term (1yr.) etc. Mayor Holewinski said he would talk to John Davis of Doylestown Borough and other municipalities who have Jr. Council persons and find out how they went about instituting this program and choosing a candidate. Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski motioned to pursue the program; seconded by Ms. Lori Kesilman and approved.
The Borough received the defibrillator. Robyne Kelemen will set up the training. Council members and the audience were asked to tell Ms. Kelemen if they are interested in being trained.
Police: Chief Donnelly informed Council that everything was going well with the Central Bucks Regional Police Department. The cars with “Central Bucks” are on the road. Three detectives are housed in the bottom of Burkart Hall. Resident Al Marciante, who needed to call the new department, was happy with their response time.
Roads: Roadmaster Mark Hintenlang prepared a five year roadway work projection which was distributed to all of Council.
Zoning: Delaware Valley College received a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board for the lighting for the stadium. They will be required to install a buffer and have it recorded on the deed and plan.
Mayor’s Report: Mayor Holewinski welcomed everyone to “Burkart Hall”. He reported that on December 23, 2013 twenty four members of the Central Bucks Regional Police Department were sworn in.
Committee Reports: Ms. Lori Kesilman reported that the Borough, having asked for $250,000, has received $150,000 with a $50,000 match to build a walkway from Tamenend Avenue and Butler Avenue to the “Safe Routes to School” walkway at Pine Run Elementary School. The matching funds will come from the Borough’s recreation fund.
Expenditures: Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski motioned to pay the monthly expenditures; seconded by Ms. Robyne Kelemen and approved.
Old Business: Bike and Hike: The County of Bucks is preparing a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a trail along the Upper Neshaminy Creek extending from Twin Streams Park in Chalfont south to the Forks of the Neshaminy in Rushland. On Tuesday, January 28, 2014 the County will present an overview of the proposed trail route based on interviews with key stakeholders and field survey work conducted. All are invited. The public meeting is Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 7 PM to 8:30 PM at the Doylestown Library, 150 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA 18901.
Mathews Avenue: Mr. Peter LaMontagne made a motion for the advertisement of an ordinance to repeal ordinance 352 establishing the barricade, and with the expectation that council and staff will go back to the starting line, and together with the wider community, examine measures that can be taken, short of road closure, to slow/reduce traffic and limit trucks on Mathews Avenue, seconded by Ms. Lori Kesilman. A lengthy discussion followed. Ms. Robyne Kelemen spoke about her concerns. She stated that part of the Borough’s Comprehensive Plan, goal #5, is to “minimize conflicts between industrial areas and surrounding residential areas”. Ms. Kelemen went on to say that the idea of a separation between the industrial area and the residential area on Mathews is a valid idea in support of this goal, but is problematic in its implementation. She is concerned that there have been continuing unresolved concerns about emergency vehicle access, lack of space to implement turn around space, the natural feature of the large hill on Sand Road which causes concerns during inclement weather conditions and the train track location. Mayor Holewinski spoke, stating that driving over the “city posts” during snow or ice is not a problem and that emergency vehicles can also drive over the “city posts”. Mayor Holewinski continued that “you are never going to please everyone”. He added that the business community could solve the problem by having a road built to join Spring Lake Drive and Britain Drive, but the business owners involved are not interested. Ms. Lori Kesilman spoke next. She stated that being new to council she felt she should research everything that had taken place up until this time. She stated that she has no personal stake in the closure. She continued, that council should not be afraid to revisit and revise decisions if they feel the original intention/thoughts are not working. “As a result of what I have read, it is my opinion that we open the road back up and spend some time evaluating the situation.” Ms. Kesilman added that she would be in favor of the following: meeting with businesses to see if they can decrease truck traffic, a full polling of all borough residents, survey of what cars travel the road (cut through, residents, business related) and an evaluation of resident complaints regarding traffic. Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski spoke, stating that the residents of Mathews Avenue have had these traffic concerns for at least the twenty years she has served on Council and they had been dismissed in the past. She admired Ms. Kesilman for all the work she had done in creating her time line, but whenever you have a major issue it is those who are against it that come to the meetings or write letters. She also stated that many times there has been no one in the audience, but now (as a good thing) we have people continuing to attend. She ended by saying that the decision to build the traffic diversion on Mathews Avenue was not taken lightly. Mr. Joseph Cangelosi spoke, stating that the most logical thing would be to connect Spring Lake and Britain Drive. He said that if the Borough was a different kind of Borough they would just take the necessary land. He feels Council either does the closure or ignores the residents again and that if there had been an easier solution Council would not be here discussing it. Mr. LaMontagne talked about how everyone sees this issue from a different perspective. He talked about Mr. Barth having just said we should be encouraging businesses (they pay taxes and provide jobs), yet the government has interfered with these job creators. He stated that the Borough has taken about 500 cars per day and dumped them onto Tamenend and Butler Avenues. Ms. Kelemen added that there is also the cost factor. That it has cost the Borough over $15,000 without including legal fees and the installation of the permanent barricade. Resident of Mathews, Ms. June Bair, spoke about living on Mathews Avenue for 33 years and that the barricade has improved the quality of life for the resident of the street and that it will be insane if they open it again. Ms. Jacobs, resident of Butler Avenue, asked if Council had researched other municipalities on how they deal with areas that mix light industrial and residential. Mr. Robert Belchic, past council member, said that other situations were investigated. Mr. Willliam Marsh, resident of Mathews Avenue, shared his experiences with the barricade, a few days before. He was taking his wife to the airport at the time of the accident on the railroad at Bristol Rd. The arms for all the railroad crossings in the Borough came down for an extended amount of time. Mr. Marsh was trapped with no way out, so he had to remove and replace the barricade in order to leave the area. The following day he was unable to navigate up Sand Road, because of the snowy conditions and had to go through the barricade again. He asked Council if they would like to have their wife, daughter or mother have to get out of their car at night or anytime to remove and replace the barricade. When he was told you can drive over the “city posts” Mr. Marsh asked if Council is willing to certify that the Borough will pay for the repair of any damage to a car caused by the city posts to which Mayor Holewinski and President Gilmore answered yes. Mr. Marsh concluded by saying that he understands the concerns about the amount of traffic on Mathews Avenue, but hopes Council will give everyone, businesses and residents, enough time to discuss this and find a solution that will help everyone. Mr. Cassidy, resident of Mathews Avenue, said the closure has brought the neighborhood together and if the ordinance is repealed they will be back to square one. Mayor Holewinski added that in response to Mr. Marsh all of his concerns go away with “city posts” and yes, the Borough will pay for all damages. Mr. Craig Sturza, past council member, directed his comments to Ms. Kelemen, asking her “what is the solution”, if the barricade is taken down. He stated that he had seen her walking and her children riding bikes on the street. Ms. Kelemen answered that she hopes a discussion will have a calming effect and will help in finding a better solution. She admitted to enjoying the quiet street but has concerns about the barricades implementation. Mr. Robert Belchic, past council member, spoke, saying the real issue is safety and that Mr. Marsh is only interested in his property value. He said the cost of the barricade is 1% of the budget. He continued, with repeated finger pointing at council people he feels were involved in a flyer distributed during the elections which promoted voting for new council people, because of the Mathews Avenue ordinance and 2nd Amendment resolution and accused them of being all about their own “special interest”. Mr. Belchic stated statistics about drunk drivers and the danger on Mathews. Mr. David Kirk, owner of the LI property on Mathews stated “that is a concern on all streets”. When Mr. Belchic stated that the Chalfont Fire Company and Chal-Brit EMS are okay with the barricade, Mr. Walter Bair, president of the Chalfont Fire Company, said that was not true. Mr. Belchic left the meeting muttering “someone’s going to die”. Mr. Robert Binkley, resident of Landis Mill Road spoke. He had looked at the tax map, done some quick calculations and stated that he found most of the people in the borough live on non-through streets and that this is an opportunity to supply that to another 75 homes. He continued that he doesn’t know any other way to separate the LI district from residential. He said he really can’t describe the total calming effect the barricade has had on everyone and acknowledges the sacrifices everyone has had to make. Resident of Mathews Avenue, Al Marciante directed his comment to Mr. Marsh saying that he had been invited to the neighborhood party. Mr. Marciante added that he would personally move and replace the barricade in inclement weather if the Borough wanted him to. Ms. Winnie Binkley asked that the closure remain in place until a decision is made to alleviate any confusion. President Gilmore called for a vote on Mr. LaMontagne’s motion to advertise an ordinance repealing ordinance 352 (see above) and the vote went as follows:
Mary Pat Holewinski – nay
Lori Kesilman – yea
Margaret Remmey – yea
Peter LaMontagne – yea
Jeffrey Gilmore – nay
Robyne Kelemen – yea
Joseph Cangelosi – nay
Mr. Goodwin will take care of the advertising of the ordinance and the barricade will remain until a vote is taken at the February meeting. Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski addressed the residents of Mathews Avenue saying she will do everything in her power to keep their quality of life no matter if the costs escalate.
New Business: Mr. Peter LaMontagne motioned to adopt Resolution 2014-2 amending the Appointment Advisory Committee to include as a member the chairperson of the Parks and Recreation Committee; seconded Mr. Joseph Cangelosi and approved.
Residents Remarks: Mr. Joseph McAteer, resident of Sioux Road, thanked Chief Donnelly for doing a traffic study on Sioux Road. Mr. McAteer said he must be one of the “special interest” people Mr. Belchic was talking about, but wondered if anything could be done, short of closing, to his street to help with the volume and speed. Mr. Hintenlang will take a look at the study. He also asked that the flag in front of Burkart Hall be illuminated at night.
Mr. William Macklem, resident of Lenape Drive, said he has been tossing a garbage can around the backyard for a few days and the vultures have left his area.
Mr. Marsh said he understands the people of Mathews Avenue’s concerns and hopes that Council will act as quickly as possible in getting everyone (residents and businesses) together to find a solution.
Mr. James Chant, business owner on Industrial Drive and resident of the Borough, wanted it known that 1,000 cars are not going to and from the industrial area and that it is not fair to blame them for all the traffic on Mathews Avenue.
Ms. June Bair asked that when Mr. Barth is talking with developers for the Knoell Property that he be sure and take into consideration the impact traffic will have on the residents of that area of the Borough.
Mr. Joseph Cangelosi motioned to adjourn; seconded by Ms. Robyne Kelemen and the meeting ended at 9:50 PM.