April 9th, 2019 Upper Dublin Board of Commissioners Stated Meeting Notes

(I will be writing a blog post this week to address my feelings on Commissioner Scarpello’s prepared statement.  His statement is quoted in full in the body of my notes.)

Commissioner Tackel called the meeting to order.

Pledge of Allegiance

Human Relations Commission Report

  • The Commission is working on Human Relations Training for the UDPD.

Steve Colsher was recognized for 25 years of service with UD public works.

Twining Valley Presentation:  This was the same presentation that was given at the February 27th meeting.

Interesting discussion points on Twining Valley:

  • Commissioner Ferry asked about the cost of the Pavilion.  Estimated at $80-100K.
  • Twining Valley encompasses 18% of the current open space in Upper Dublin.
  • The Community Reinvestment Funds that are slated for this project (~$1M) are a loan and must be repaid to the Community Reinvestment Fund
    • This fund is from the sale of the sewer system and is a capital buffer that can be used for projects but must be repaid.
    • This fund is often used to back projects, which provides an active project for which grant monies can be requested.
  • Commissioner Feldman reminded us that this is not a done deal and that funding is a concern.
    • The sale of part of the Twining Valley space was again brought up.
    • I did speak to Commissioner Feldman after the meeting and he did state that not all the 18 acres on the south side of road was being considered, but a smaller 6 acres parcel that could bring ~$6M in revenue.
    • That money could be used to fund the multiple projects including the library and Twining Valley.
    • I did express my concern over the sale and subsequent development.  Commissioner Feldman did understand my concerns and was open to the conversation about density and traffic concerns along Twining Rd.
    • Commissioner Feldman also expressed that while this is an option, it is not the only option and is not even necessarily the best or most favored option, just one of the options.

Committee Reports

  • Nothing of any great consequence was reported.  See meeting minutes when posted.

Municipal Authority Report

  • Nothing was reported.  See meeting minutes when posted.

Standard Business

  • All motions were passed unanimously.  See meeting minutes when posted.

Zoning Hearing Board Cases

  • Nothing of any great consequence was reported.  See meeting minutes when posted.

Public Comment

  • Mr. Brown spoke about his request to have a private pistol range on his property.
    • His request went to the Acting Chief who declined the request.
    • Mr. Brown explained that the locations he has chosen for such a range were within the safety regulations provided by the State.
    • He also provided the Township Ordinance and State laws covering private ranges.
    • Commissioner Tackel requested that Mr. Brown withhold his request until the new Chief of Police is installed in the next ~2 months.
    • Mr. Brown was amendable to this course of action.
    • Commissioner Feldman had concerns that the Township Ordinance was so vague and did not place any restriction on the ability of a resident to set up a range on their property
    • Other Commissioners agreed and feel they should look at updating the Ordinance.
    • Paul Leonard reminded the Commissioners that State law heavily preempts the Township from passing firearms ordinances
  • A resident who had been in contact with the Board of Commissioners spoke about information that he had sent regarding mixed use development in the FW Business park.
    • He feels that a more walkable urban landscape will attract millennials.
  • I asked about the structural reinforcement line item in the budget for the library.
    • Per Commissioner Tackel, the amount was now $84K and was specifically for reinforcing the second floor to hold the weight of the books.
    • He is not aware of any other structural concerns.
  • I also asked if there is a point at which the cost would lead the Board to re-evaluate the project
    • Commissioner Tackel advised that the amount in the bid was the amount that the Board will hold the engineers to.
    • In his time on the Board he stated that he had never seen a significant overage occur on a Township project.
  • Jill Florin asked about the cut through to Highland
    • Commissioner Feldman stated that any new driveways to Highland would be at the discretion of the developers.
  • Jill Florin also expressed her concern about the Board’s characterization of the library project as a “Need” instead of a want.
    • She expressed her concern that clean water was a need and the library was want.
    • Members of the board agree with the importance of holding Ambler water accountable for testing and reporting on their PFAS levels.
    • Paul Leonard stated that at a recent meeting Ambler Borough elected officials expressed dismay at how the UD Board was pushing Ambler Water.
    • Ambler Borough officials felt UD was overreaching.
  • Anita Brister asked if the Board felt that our high tax rates could be a cause for businesses not coming to FW Business Park.
    • Commissioner Ferry pointed her to a document on the Township website that discusses the growth of business in the FW Business Park.
    • Commissioner Gushue pointed to the difference between Class A Commercial and Class B Commercial real estate.
    • Class A real estate is near capacity.
    • Class B real estate is stagnant.
    • The Board hopes to see Class B real estate developed into mixed use, which would attract businesses to the FW Business Park.
  • A resident got up to speak about the agreement that was signed prevent cut through traffic from the FW Business Park.
    • Per his interpretation of the agreement there is no binding responsibility on the Township, only on the developer who signed the agreement at the time.
  • Rachel Goldsmith got up to discuss improving communication with the Board.
  • Rachel Goldsmith also commented on the changing viewpoints of millennials and that while they are a more urban generation, they do tend to change that view as they get older and have families.
  • A resident got up to discuss his concerns about Zoning Board hearings

Commissioner Scarpello read a prepared statement for the record, recanting his no vote on the Library.

                “Upon reflection, my vote last month was not the vote I intended to make.  I want to apologize for the confusion my vote created.  What I wanted to accomplish was to acknowledge my constituents concerns about the cost of the new building and that I heard them and I support those concerns.  Our community has to face the inescapable fact that the library and the Township departments need more space.  At this time, the best solution for the library is using the building at 520 Virginia Dr.  While this building may not be the ideal solution, I don’t know such a building exists.  Taken as a whole, the benefit to the Township will exceed the cost.  I will work to ensure that it does.  If I had to do it over, I would have articulated my constituents concerns and voted yes.  Thank you, Mr. President.”

Action Items (See Minutes when posted)

  • Consider action on Ordinance to Amend Regulations for Public Swimming Pools – PASSED
    • I believe the change made pools inside of apartment complexes and facilities with indoor pools private, which would exempt them from the requirements of other public pools and swim clubs.
  • Consider action on Resolution Recognizing EMS week, May 19 to May 25, 2019. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution Recognizing National Library Week, April 7 to April 13, 2019. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution to support PA DCNR C2P2 grant application submission for Twining Valley property’s conversion to a park. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution for Sandy Run Middle School Preliminary and Final Land Development Plan. – PASSED
    • Commissioner Gushue asked about the need for the added expense of an enlarged pedestrian triangle at the intersection of Twining Rd and Limekiln Pk.
    • This, along with new traffic lights will help prevent congestion while also improving safety for crossing pedestrians.
    • Commissioner Gushue felt that this concern was already being addressed by the presence of a crossing guard.
    • The expectation is this will also help other pedestrians cross safely.
  • Consider action to Approve PennDOT TE-160 Resolution for Sandy Run Middle School project to install Traffic Signal Changes for Limekiln Pike and Twining Road intersection. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution to authorize award of ESCO contract for 520 Virginia Drive. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution to authorize award of D’Huy contract for 520 Virginia Drive. – PASSED
    • Not to exceed ~$360K
  • Consider action on Resolution to authorize award of GKO Architects contract for 520 Virginia Drive. – PASSED
    • Not to exceed ~$590K
    • Approximately half of this cost has already been paid
  • Consider action on Resolution to Authorize Disposition of Public Records. – PASSED
  • Consider approval of Audio/Video upgrades to include broadcast, streaming and on demand video. – PASSED
    • I spoke to Paul Leonard after the meeting and they expect work to start sometime in June
    • Expect the new system in place by fall
    • Current system is over 15 years old
  • Consider authorizing Release of Escrow Funds – PASSED
    • Mattison Castle Release No. 1 $54,866.30
    • Mattison Common Release No. 1 $235,830.00
    • There is a total of 4 separate Escrow funds.
      • Castle
      • Common
      • Senior Care
      • Residential
  • Consider motion to Allocate Code Enforcement Revenues. – PASSED
  • This allocation ends up being part of a cost savings for the township.

Next Stated Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday May 14th at 7pm.

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