New Britain Borough
September 10, 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 except Ms. Margaret Remmey. Also present were Mr. Mark Hintenlang, Ms. Robin Trymbiski, Mr. J. Thomas Yatsky, Ms. Marie Coia, Solictor Michael Goodwin and Mayor David Holewinski. Mr. Jeffrey Gilmore motioned to approve the minutes of the August 13, 2013 Council Meeting as written; seconded by Mr. Craig Sturza and approved.
President Belchic reminded those in the audience that they are welcome to speak to agenda items as they are discussed by council. All other concerns or discussions of non-agenda items at the end of the meeting.
Correspondence: for the month was reviewed.
August Treasurer’s Report: for the month was reviewed.
August Tax Collector’s Report: for the month was reviewed
Building, Zoning, Road and Phone/Visitor Reports: for the month were reviewed.
President’s Report: President Belchic addressed the audience, thanking them for coming to the meeting. He talked about the vision for the community and having a pro- active plan. Work has been done on this plan for the future mainly through the Community and Business Committee. The committee is made up of representatives from the business community, Delaware Valley College, residents, Bucks County Planning Director, Mayor, and President of Council. There are several properties in the Borough which the committee would like to align zoning and conditional use regulations according to the committee’s plan. He also stated that tonight there will be a discussion of a Park & Recreation Committee and a Building Committee (cost analysis for keeping the Borough Hall). President Belchic challenged the audience to get involved. This is an opportunity to join in and help make recommendations to Council.
Administration: The Bucks County Boroughs Association will hold a meeting September 24, 2013 at the Bella Tori Mansion in Langhorne Borough.
The Borough is applying for a Community Development Grant through the County to have an elevator constructed in the Borough Hall in order to make it handicapped accessible. The office has obtained two estimates for having the air conditioning in the meeting room repaired. With these maintenance expenses it seems appropriate to establish a building committee to discuss the future of the Borough Hall building. Mr. Craig Sturza motioned to establish a Building Committee; seconded by Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski and approved.
Ms. Trymbiski has applied for a grant from the Delaware Valley Insurance Trust to purchase a defibrillator for the Borough Hall.
Mr. Dan Kinter has reported that the new Borough Website should be up and running by the end of the week (Sept. 20th). He will present at the October council meeting to help with navigating around the new website.
The Borough has adopted the International Property Maintenance Code, an appeal board must be appointed. Solicitor Michael Goodwin explained the requirement. Mr. Jeffrey Gilmore motioned to adopt Resolution 2013-12, a resolution of the Borough Council appointing a code official and establishing a board of appeals all pursuant to the provisions of the international property maintenance code as adopted by the Borough of New Britain at Ordinance 345. Ms. Trymbiski will contact the members of the Uniform Construction Code Appeal Board asking if they would also be members of the Property Maintenance Code Appeal Board. The members of the International Property Maintenance Code Appeal Board will be appointed at the October Council Meeting.
Finance: The budget process will begin next month. Ms. Trymbiski asked to be informed of any substantial additions or concerns.
After having received a real estate tax bill for the newly acquired open space
(Apple Orchard), Ms. Trymbiski has filed an exemption request with the Bucks County Board of Assessment.
Treasurer Marie Coia explained that she has been researching interest rates for certificates of deposit, in the hopes of making more interest for the Borough with Groner Funds by moving $240,000 from 3rd Federal Bank. Ms. Coia has been in touch with numerous banking institutions and it appears that American Heritage Federal Credit Union can provide the Borough with the best rates. Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski motioned to table the movement of money until the exact nature of the move is established; seconded by Mr. Joseph Cangelosi. The motion was not put to a vote. Mr. Robert Belchic motioned to approve Resolution 2013-13 authorizing the Borough Treasurer to purchase a certicicate of deposit from AHFCU; seconded by Mr. Joseph Cangelosi and approved.
Police: The Police Contract for 2013 included some modifications to the pension plan to include the DROP program and a change in age for retirement, therefore the police pension ordinance must be amended. Mr. Joseph Cangelosi motioned to advertise the amended police pension plan; seconded by Mr. Craig Sturza and approved for advertisement.
Mr. Peter LaMontagne questioned if committees of the Borough need to take minutes and have them available to council. Mr. Goodwin will look into this question.
Nature Preserve: Mr. Peter LaMontagne reported on the Nature Preserve Open House to be held on Saturday, September 14, 2013 from 1:00 – 4:00 PM. Mr. LaMontagne also motioned to form the New Britain Borough Park and Recreation Committee; seconded by Mr. Craig Sturza and approved. Solicitor Goodwin will devise an ordinance and council will vote on its advertisement next month.
Mayor’s Report: Mayor Holewinski reported on the successful negotiation of the police contract for the Central Bucks Regional Police Department. He commented that there should not be anything to stand in the way of a January 1, 2014 merger.
Committee Reports: Ms. Marie Coia informed the meeting that the Historic Preservation Committee will be holding a 100 year old celebration for the New Britain Borough Hall. The celebration will be held on September 21, 2013 from 11:00 until 3:00. There will be exhibits at the Borough Hall meeting room and at the New Britain Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. The Unami marching band will participate in the celebration.
Expenditures: Mr. Joseph Cangelosi motioned to pay the monthly expenditures; seconded by Mr. Jeffrey Gilmore and approved.
Doylestown Bike and Hike: Ms. Trymbiski and Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski along with representatives of Doylestown Township and Mr. Chris Stanford will be walking from the Pine Run Reservoir to the Covered Bridge Park to determine the best path (a leg in the “destination Peace Valley” trail). The committee is working on securing easements. This trail will connect Pine Run Reservoir to the Park, there will be a walking bridge next to the Covered Bridge to connect to Iron Hill Road then up to Ferry Road and up to Peace Valley. Mr. Peter LaMontagne commented on the fact that little has been done for trails within the Borough making the trail circumvent the Borough. President Belchic responded that the Borough has been working on a trail from Butler Avenue and Tamenend Avenue down to the train station, a trail from Tamenend Avenue to the Town Center along Butler Avenue, along Mathews Avenue and others. Mr. LaMontagne suggested Council be ready to apply for grants and are ready to obtain easements for future trails throughout the Borough. Mr. Belchic added that connecting our green spaces has always been a goal of the Borough.
Mathews Avenue Closure: Mr. Joseph Mcateer of 23 Sioux Road began the discussion. He is happy for the residents of Mathews Avenue, but concerned about his street, Sioux Road. His question is “why are the residents of Mathews Avenue more important than those on Sioux Road or Lamp Post Road.” He added that the Borough put speed humps on Keeley Avenue in an effort to cut down on speed and the Borough had only striped Sioux Road. Mr. Hintenlang asked if the traffic has slowed down on Sioux. Mr. Mcateer answered “not really”. Mr. Mcateer is very concerned that if the development at the corner of Iron Hill and Ferry Road (in New Britain Township) goes through it is going to make the existing volume problem on Sioux Road even worse. President Belchic said he personally doesn’t think New Britain Borough should be a convenience to get from one place to another fast. He added that the Borough should do a traffic study to analyze the traffic speed and volume on Sioux Road. Mr. Joseph Cangelosi added that the speed humps on Keeley Avenue reduced the speed, but not the volume. Mr. Mcateer responded that cutting down the speed makes it inconvenient which in turn cuts down on volume. The hopes of the Bristol Road extension were raised. Council conveyed being committed to working toward that solution, but were not hopefully in any success in the near future. Attorney Neil Vangalen, representing David Kirk property owner of 215 Mathews Avenue, addressed Council. He asked if Council had a design to which he was told that there is a preliminary sketch of no gate and landscaping which will be passable by emergency vehicles. Mr. Vangalen said his client is not interested in the aesthetics, but in how the closure affects his property. Attorney Michael Carr, representing Ms. Anwara Marsh of 626 Mathews Avenue, quoted the Borough Code No. 43 Section 1731 “Opening, Acceptance and Vacation of Streets”, to inform Council that he believes the correct procedure for a road closure was not followed. If the opportunity for a hearing is not provided Mr. Carr intends to bring a suite against the Borough for his client. Mr. Goodwin, borough solicitor, said Mathews Avenue was not closed therefore the above referenced code would not apply. He added that the Borough has the right to restrict traffic from its roads and that the design of the barricade will be such that emergency vehicles can traverse the area. Mr. Richard Kohler who runs a business out of 215 Mathews Avenue complained about traffic using their driveway as a turn around. He believes the barricade has caused animosity between the businesses and the residents and that the business people have been abused verbally (language & gestures). The closure he believes has had a direct impact on local businesses. He proposed that the voting on Ordinance 352 be postponed until some of the problems are corrected. Ms. June Bair said the residents have suffered the same abuse from patrons of the local businesses. Mr. Robert Binkley asked how the Borough will handle the problem with the GPS devices still sending people down Mathews Avenue to get to Sand Road. Ms. Trymbiski will look into correcting this matter. Mr. Binkley added that he had been asked by many residents to express their gratitude to Council and to the people on the other side who have been inconvenienced and that the closure has “produced remarkable community on the eastern side, quiet and peace”. Attorney Neil Vangalen interjected that he too would like there to be a hearing. Ms. Robyn Kelleman, as a resident effected by the closure, requested a hearing. She feels the decision to place the barricade was lacking scientific evidence that the barricade was necessary, no official notification of those effected, and no options considered. Ms. Kelleman was concerned that decisions have been made that have not been brought forward to the public, like striping for a bike path on Mathews Avenue. Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski said that was a mistake and had not been talked about. Ms. Marsh added that she too feels decisions are being made that directly affect residents yet they haven’t been invited to look at or give opinions on them. President Belchic answered that the process has been “in the light of day” and that residents will get a chance. He added that the Borough is not hiding anything and that this is a representative government and every decision Council makes does not have to have everyone’s vote. Mr. Karl Dieterichs brought up the continued complaint about the timing of the Sand Road and Butler Avenue traffic light. He felt there were some issues with the traffic count which was done (that a count was not done before the barricade and that there were breaks in the counting at 45 minute intervals). He also thanked Council for having the window sills cleaned. President Belchic asked Mr. Dieterichs to stay specific to Mathews Avenue. Mr. Binkley requested Council invite the six families who cluster around the barricade to the discussions on the plan for the permanent barricade. President Belchic agreed as long as it is not illegal. Councilman LaMontagne expressed his opinion that Council should avoid a hearing and table the ordinance for now. Mr. Bob Levy of Butler Avenue said he has seen the industrial growth over the years. He wondered what happened to the discussion of putting a road from Industrial Drive to Bristol Road, which was discussed when a school bus depot was proposed. He was told it was private property. He supported the idea of a hearing and would like a postponement because he hasn’t seen the studies. President Belchic responded that Council has been looking at this for twenty years and all were tired. The problem could be solved he said if the businesses opened the area between Spring Lake and Britain Drives. He said the Borough did extensive research on other blockages throughout the state. He said that there was not time for postponement, that it is time to act. Ms. Kelleman remarked that when she looked at paperwork at the Borough she did not find anything indicating other closures were looked at. President Belchic said it was handled in normal conversation. Ms. Marsh said President Belchic was acting very cavalier, that she was sorry he was tired, but that Council’s decision will affect her for the rest of her life. President Belchic responded that he was not being cavalier and that she feels that way because she is opposed to the decisions they have made. He added that she will be informed of the nature of the closure. Mr. Joseph Cangelosi motioned to approve Ordinance 352 to provide 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. Craig Sturza. The voting went as follows:
Ms. Mary Pat Holewinski – yea
Mr. Jeffrey Gilmore – yea
Mr. Peter LaMontagne – nay
Mr. Robert Belchic – yea
Mr. Joseph Cangelosi – yea
Mr. Craig Sturza – yea
Ordinance 352 passed. Mr. LaMontagne informed Council that although he voted against the closure he will support and go along with Councils decision.
New Business: Agenda items A, B, and C were handled under “Manager’s Report”.
Resident’s Remarks: Mr. Karl Dieterichs asked if a limit has been put on the amount of departments that can join the regionalized police force. Mayor Holewinski answered that as of now the force could handle the addition of one small force.
Ms. June Bair thanked Mr. Jeffrey Gilmore for coming to help make turkey hoagies at the Chalfont Fire Company.
Mr. Robert Binkley asked Council to reconsider the paving of the driveway at the Groner house so that the tenant can put up a basketball hoop for his children. This request had already been denied. He feels Ms. Groner did not have a paved driveway because she was a cheapskate, “that’s why she had a million to give the Borough”. President Belchic said the Borough has tried to do things that have followed Ms. Groner’s intentions. Ms. Bair added that Ms. Groner would not have approved of the water running down the driveway across the road and into the creek and not in the local wells. Ms. Bair felt it is wrong, “she is probably rolling over in her grave”. Mr. Binkley asked if porous paving would be considered. President Belchic thanked Ms. Groner for inspiring the conversation and asked Ms. Bair and Mr. Binkley to continue their conversation and get back to Council.
Mr. Mcateer asked if something will be put out to the public about the Central Bucks Regional Police Department. The Chief answered that there will be a website and facebook page along with newspaper publications.
Mr. Joseph Cangelosi motioned to adjourn; seconded by Mr. Jeffrey Gilmore and the meeting ended at 9:11 PM.