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Buckingham Township

Township Office
4613 Hughesian Drive
P.O. Box 413
Buckingham, PA 18912

Phone : (215) 794-8834
Fax : (215) 794-8837

Hours: Mon-Fri, 7:30 AM-4:00 PM

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Board of Supervisors Work Session
1/24/2018 6:00 PM



The work session of the Buckingham Township Board of Supervisors was held January 24, 2018 in the Township Building, 4613 Hughesian Drive, Buckingham, Pennsylvania.


Present:        Maggie Rash                           Chairman

                        Paul Calderaio                        Vice-Chairman

                         Jon Forest                               Member

                        Dana S. Cozza                         Township Manager

                        Craig A. Smith, Esquire        Township Solicitor


Not Present:    Daniel Gray                             Township Engineer

                           John Ives                                 Bucks County Planning Commission

                           Tom Kelso                               Township Water/Wastewater Consultant


The work session commenced at 6:00 p.m.


Neighborhood Discussion regarding the Police Training Facility Concept


Mrs. Rash opened the discussion by reading a statement regarding the Police Training Facility Concept as proposed on the old quarry that is now the township road maintenance yard property located at 4991 Upper Mountain Road, TMP 6-21-13.  The statement summarized the township’s research into the possibility of providing our police department with a local training facility on a township owned property. It also stated that during this research phase, a neighbor brought to the Board’s attention that there was an agreement many years ago that included restrictions on the property, one of which was there shall be no discharge of firearms. A search was made for the agreement, which was never recorded at the Bucks County courthouse and which the neighbor could not locate a copy of. The Township undertook an exhaustive search of its files and found a copy of the agreement in a 1991 file. A copy was shared with the neighbor’s lawyer. The township affirmed to the neighbor its agreement that if the neighbor desires for the agreement to remain as is, the township will not consider the property for use by the police department.


Buckingham Township’s police Chief, Mike Gallagher, explained that he was hired by Buckingham Township in January, 2017 as the new Chief, and was asked by the Board to evaluate the police department. Chief Gallagher said one of the first things he encountered, was that one of the two shooting ranges that had been previously used by the police department for training and mandatory qualification, was no longer available for their use. Therefore, the Chief needed to explore how the officers could continue to remain qualified and proficient in the use of their firearms in their ongoing mission to protect residents and keep the township safe. Chief Gallagher said a neighbor advised there was a restriction on the property, however in the township’s initial research, no agreement was found and the neighbor did not have it, so research continued by the police on the potential use of the site for quarterly training exercises by the township’s 21 officers.

Mrs. Rash said at the Board’s direction, the township staff kept searching for the agreement, and finally did locate a copy in a file from over 25 years ago. She reiterated that the 1991 agreement between the neighbor and Buckingham Township had been provided to the neighbor’s attorney, with the affirmation that the township would honor the restriction, and if the neighbor did not want a training facility, there would not be one.


Mrs. Rash expressed regret that the residents who heard rumors of the training facility never came forward to talk directly with any Board member or township staff to get facts and avoid an unnecessary uproar. Rather, she said, they posted a factually deficient on-line petition and distributed flyers to the neighbors. Mrs. Rash said if residents ever have questions or concerns, they are always welcome to attend the Board’s work sessions and meetings, or even to call her personally.


Mrs. Rash opened the floor to comments, as several residents were present.


Mr. John Baker, Upper Mountain Road, said he was happy to put his name on the petition, as none of the neighbors had been notified of this use. Mr. Baker said he saw in the July Board of Supervisor’s minutes the Chief had presented the concept. Mrs. Rash agreed, that as reflected in the minutes on the Township web site the concept was discussed during the July meeting, with direction to further explore the idea.


Mr. Joe Hendricks, Upper Mountain Road, said that 5-6 trees have been cut down on the proposed site, with stone and dirt hauled in. Mr. Hendricks thought the township should have provided public notice to the immediate neighbors of the property. Chief Gallagher said there had been a garbage heap and that was cleared out. Mrs. Cozza explained the property is the township road maintenance depot. It is where the Township keeps all its heavy equipment for road maintenance and snow plowing. Materials are regularly moved, space cleared and the site regularly cleaned up.


Ms. Tammy Cunningham, Mountain Top Road, agreed there should have been notice provided.


Ms. Diane Smith, Lower Mountain Road, said her property backs up to the township property across the railroad tracks, and she was not notified. Ms. Smith said she wants the police to be qualified, and suggested the Board explore using one of the many existing ranges in Bucks County. Chief Gallagher responded he is researching use of other ranges, with the criteria of them allowing police training while staying within a cost-effective budget.


Ms. Cunningham said she found 9 ranges within 10 miles of the maintenance garage property, and found 3 that offer law enforcement discounts. Mrs. Cozza clarified the township is aware of the ranges but that there is a difference between a shooting range that offers discounts to police for their individual use and membership, versus arranging to use the range for police force qualifications four times a year.


Mr. Kevin Fox, Mountain Top Road West, said he is a new resident, and stated he sees here a lot of miscommunication and lost trust because of this. Mr. Fox noted he too does not want the range in this location, however he suggested a Question and Answer may help to provide communication about the details of the proposed range, including why the police need it specifically for use rather than a regular gun range.


Ms. Leticia Torrado, White Tail Court, said if the existing site is no longer on the table, but the township is going to continue investigating other locations/ranges within the township, could the board make the information public so that everyone is aware. Mr. Forest said there are no other properties being considered but reiterated that the minutes of all supervisors’ meetings are posted online for all to see and that all supervisor meetings are open to the public.


Mr. Calderaio stated in addition to his personal interest in keeping his family safe, his #1 job as an elected official is to keep the township residents safe both physically and financially. He said the Chief had brought the matter to the Board’s attention, and due diligence was being pursued by the township staff at the Board’s direction. Mr. Calderaio agreed with Mr. Fox’s suggestion of a meeting where everyone could ask questions, and apologized if the residents thought the township was waiting until the end to bring this up. He said had the investigation proved the site viable, the residents would certainly have been checked with before a final decision was made.


Ms. Susan Giffen, Mountain Top Road East, requested clarification that if the “agreement” was with the neighbor, and the neighbor sold his property, would they be back in this situation. Mr. Smith explained since the agreement was never recorded that it is not an of record restriction on the use of the land. So the situation is possible, however unlikely provided the Township continues to own the property as the Township is on notice of the restriction.


Ms. Mary Baker, 4943 Upper Mountain Road, asked what would have happened if the township staff had not found the agreement. Mr. Smith said the township staff would have continued to search for it and he was sure the neighbor and his lawyer would have done likewise. Also, if no agreement were found to exist, then investigation into the viability of the site would have continued and part of that investigation would have involved a meeting on the subject with the neighbors gathering their input before any decision was made.


Ms. Arline Soffian, Lower Mountain Road, stated she has a township document that shows the maintenance garage property as being deed restricted. Following review of the said document, Mr. Smith explained the property Ms. Soffian was referring to was not the property being discussed.


Ms. Randi Platt, Holicong Road, said she is a psychologist, and when she heard the word “gun” she cancelled other plans in order to be present tonight. She said this obviously is a topic that scared enough people to attend this meeting, and this subject needs to be very carefully handled. Ms. Platt suggested that when something is going to be discussed in a different way, that the township should let people know things you don’t usually do so they don’t feel left out and more frightened. She said a notice could be placed on the property, in townhall, on the website, or where people look. 


Mr. Scott Lesher, Holicong Road, suggested that the township could send notices by mail within a certain radius of the affected property for sensitive matters. Mr. Lesher asked since the agreement is not recorded, is it enforceable, or could the neighbor sell his property without the restriction? Mr. Smith explained that parties to an agreement can always change it, however he added that since the township has notice of the agreement, even though it is not recorded, the township knows of it and will honor it.


Mr. John Roach, Quarry Road, confirmed the township has removed this site from consideration for use as a training facility, and if there is any change the township will make a public notice moving forward. The board confirmed that to be true.


Mr. Darren Hill, Mountain Top Road East, recognized the police need to have the opportunity to train well and protect the residents, and felt these needs must be shared by neighboring townships. Mr. Hill suggested that Buckingham reach out to some other townships and work together at a county or state level. He felt the state police must have to train as much or more than the township does. Chief Gallagher said the department lost one of the two ranges for use last February, and at that time he secured another facility by conferring with other municipalities. However, Chief Gallagher said it is not as easy for a facility to open themselves up to another municipality’s police force use as it is their own police force.


Mr. Mark Eckhoff, Upper Mountain Road, said there is a risk that our police face when they go to work, and we want them to be crack shots, however there must be another place to do this training other than the idyllic Buckingham Valley which has an elementary school nearby.


Mr. Art Gosin, Durham Road, asked where the officer’s used to train. Chief Gallagher replied they trained at Classic Pistol in Southampton and at the Bucks County range in Bedminster.  Mr. Gosin asked if those facilities provided training for real life situations such as shootings in schools and in low light locations. He said a little facility around the corner won’t do it, and suggested the department get together with the county and come up with something. Mr. Forest said the county team trains regularly for the contingency of an active shooter in schools.


Ms. Torrado thought the Doylestown police department uses Bucks County Fish and Game site, and asked if Buckingham had contacted them. Chief Gallagher said he had not, however his previous agency had used that facility and there were many possibilities to explore.


Ms. Carolyn Martini, Mountain Top Road, suggested multiple counties could build a mega center for all municipalities to use, adding that other municipalities must be facing the same situation and could put their resources together. Chief Gallagher agreed regionalization is a possibility, as Chester County has done with a county-wide facility that cost approximately 10 million dollars.


Ms. Martini noted Congressman Fitzpatrick notifies people via robocalls about matters for people to be aware of. Mrs. Rash said do you mean for a subject such as this where a decision has already been made not to go forward? And Ms. Martini said “yes”.


Ms. Marlene Katz, Kingfisher Lane, said she is the person who posted on social media notifying and reminding people about this meeting and that she manages the site on which Mr. Forest was commenting. Mr. Forest said someone kept removing his posts, and Ms. Katz said that was her as she felt they were inappropriate remarks. She asked to speak with Mr. Forest about his postings and Mr. Forest said he would be happy to do so and his number was published if she or any other resident wanted to discuss it or any other matter.


Mr. Hendricks said he has lived in the same location 41 years, and if the Board members lived within 200 yards of this location they would feel the same as him. Mr. Hendricks said he had spoken with Chief Gallagher who offered to have a meeting with the residents, and Mr. Hendricks decided it would be better handled at a public meeting.


Ms. Halli Eckhoff, Upper Mountain Road, said she has been a resident for more than 25 years and is a realtor serving her third term on the township’s Historic Architectural Review Board. She said she had stopped by the township office yesterday due to her impression she needed to register to speak during this meeting. Ms. Eckhoff said that Chief Gallagher came to the counter and offered to discuss the matter, however she wanted her comments on public record so she declined to speak with the Chief. Ms. Eckhoff explained that distributing a flyer was the only way the neighbors could contact one another to share the information. Ms. Eckhoff said the onus is on government to come to them and put forth information not for the public to keep informed of what the government is doing; and not just a concept, but studies, impact studies on the environment, safety, etc. She said the neighbors felt a sense of outrage and wanted to come together and speak and be dealt with respect. Mrs. Rash thanked Mrs. Eckhoff for her service to the township on the Historic Architectural Review Board. Mrs. Rash said Mrs. Eckhoff, from previously working on township issues with Mrs. Rash, has Mrs. Rash’s phone number and should feel free to call her seeking information any time.


Ms. Cunningham expressed her appreciation to the board and thanked them for their time this evening.


EAC Position regarding Delaware River Basin Commission Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations


Mr. Christoph Stannik, Chairman of the Buckingham Township Environmental Advisory Commission, said the EAC had reviewed the proposed Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) regulations on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and wanted to present their position on the issue. He said the vast majority of the EAC members supported a fracking ban.


Mr. Stannik asked the Board to consider adding their voice to those calling on the Delaware River Basin Commission to enact a complete and permanent ban on fracking for natural gas extraction, and to not allow the export of basin water or treatment of fracking wastewater inside the Delaware River basin.


Ms. Diane Smith, Holicong Road, said the cutoff for comments to the DRBC has been extended to March 30, 2018.


Mrs. Cozza said she understood the EAC supported banning of exportation of water, however she asked what was the understanding of the DRBC’s regulations regarding the withdrawal of or export of basin water or treatment of fracking wastewater. Mr. Stannik said he had not researched that regulation, but was told that anyone who withdrew a significant amount must go before the DRBC. Mr. Stannik felt the water resource must be preserved for use within the basin and should not be shared or exported outside.


Ms. Barbara Sheinmel, Grouse Circle, stated 17 million people receive drinking water from the Delaware River. She said last year when there was a mini-drought in New Jersey, many municipalities were concerned about saltwater incursion into their wells.


Ms. Smith said when they withdraw water for fracking, it is permanently withdrawn. She explained for industrial use the water gets treated and returns, but once it is injected into a well it is taken out of the water cycle and lost forever down in the rock.


Ms. Rash confirmed the EAC was asking the Board to consider the data as presented and adopt a resolution? Mr. Stannik said “yes”, similar to how the Board opposed the Penn East pipeline project. Mrs. Cozza said the township had a sample resolution from Solebury Township to use as a model, if the Board chose to do so. Ms. Rash thanked the EAC for bringing the matter to the Board’s attention.


7:30 p.m. The Work Session was adjourned.


Approved by the Board of Supervisors on the 28th day of February, 2018.

                                                                                                                       Buckingham Township Board of Supervisors



                                                                                                                       Maggie Rash, Chairman



                                                                                                                        Paul Calderaio, Vice-Chairman



                                                                                                                        Jon Forest, Member





Dana S. Cozza, Secretary


Minutes respectfully submitted by Lori Wicen.


View Meeting Minutes prior to June 23, 2009