John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Summary of June 27, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the June 27, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting abstracted from the official minutes, which you can find here.

Committees

Technology Committee: Mr. Mack, BOS liaison, requested using conference calling and how it affects a quorum. Mr. Sander responded that a member can participate by conference call, but there must be a majority of a quorum physically present at the meeting. The quorum members cannot be all on the phone.

Development

Drive-thru Starbucks: Consideration of Settlement Stipulation for Starbucks Conditional Use Appeal. Ms. Bobrin made a motion to authorize execution of the settlement stipulation. Mr. Calabro seconded. A discussion took place surrounding the conditions of the Stipulation Agreement. The motion passed 4‐1, Mr. Davis voting “nay” [Read "Drive-thru Starbucks is Back on Track!"]

Penn Community Bank: Penn Community Bank, 295 N. Sycamore Street – Applicant is seeking to replace and add identification and directional signage for the bank. Applicant stated they would make revisions and would return before the Commission.

Premier A‐2 Self Storage: Approval of the agreements, documents, and plans associated with Premier A2 Self‐Storage, Penns Trail. The Final Plan approval was granted by the Board and documentation was prepared for the project. Mrs. Dix made a motion to authorize the execution of development documents for Premier A‐2 Self‐Storage. Ms. Bobrin seconded, and the motion passed 5‐0.

More excerpts from minutes regarding development issues...

Good Government

Communications: Mr. Mack followed up with the Board about a proposed for a roundtable discussion with HOA officers to improve communications and discuss MS4 projects. A date will be determined in the future.

More excerpts from minutes regarding good government issues...

Ordinances

Peddling and Soliciting: John D’Aprile, Newtown Grant, made a comment regarding the minutes of the BOS Work Session on June 18, 2018 regarding the peddling and soliciting ordinance (see here). A discussion followed regarding updating the ordinance.

Public Works

Roadway Improvement: Mr. Ferguson discussed changes to the 2018 Road Paving Project. Remington Vernick will look into a change order to pave Franklin Court and eliminate paving of Quaker Drive due to anticipated sewer construction.

Posted on 20 Jul 2018, 14:04 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



Governor Wolf Responds to Newtown Township's Gun Safety Resolution

On June 13, 2018, the Newtown Board of Supervisors passed a non-binding “gun safety” resolution. The resolution (here) states that as many as 116,225 people are shot each year in America, and that 35,141 people die from gun violence in “murders, assaults, suicides, suicide attempts, unintentional shootings or by police interventions.”

The resolution called for gun safety laws that would – among other things - “[Ensure] that background checks are required on all gun sales, including online and at gun shows. In Pennsylvania, preserve the provisions of the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), which provides instant access to background records.”

In a July 17, 2018, letter to former Township Manager Kurt Ferguson, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf acknowledged receipt of the resolution and said:

"Thank you for your letter and resolution regarding gun control legislation. While improving background check laws to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms is needed, gun violence is not a singular issue. I have travelled throughout the commonwealth, listening and learning from Pennsylvanians about what they are going through and what we can do to address the safety needs of our communities. This Spring, I created the School Safety Task Force in order to address safety concerns in our educational institutions across the commonwealth that were highlighted by the tragedy in Parkland, Florida. I have also called on our leaders in the United States Congress to take steps towards banning military-style weapons and dangerous accessories like bump stocks. These are common sense laws and regulations that need to be put in place in order to ensure the safety of our children, schools, and families. All of us must take steps - community leaders, elected officials, public safety professionals - to continue to work to reduce violence. Please be assured that I will keep your suggestions in mind when reviewing legislation on this matter."

"I am always impressed and humbled by the dedication shown by local leaders like you. Your input will greatly help as I work to improve education, create jobs, and make government work better. Together, I believe we can build a stronger Pennsylvania."

Also, thank you local Council Rock students for you comments in support of the resolution (see video below).

Posted on 20 Jul 2018, 13:12 - Category: Resolutions



Summary of June 18, 2018, Board of Supervisors Work Session

On June 18, 2018, the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) held a “work session” to discuss proposed changes to police ordinances and the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO):

Police Ordinances
  • Ordinance #74-O-62 Towing
  • Ordinance #88-O-202 Peddling & Soliciting
  • Ordinance #2004-O-2 Excessive and Unnecessary Noise
Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO)
  • Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
  • Water and Sewer deletions: a proposal to remove/edit public water and sewer requirements to separate density and lot size from public water and sewer consideration
  • Delete use B-15, Planned Residential Development, from the JMZO

Supervisors don't make decisions or vote on anything at work sessions. BOS work sessions are public meetings during which Supervisors discuss things like road projects, ordinances, and other issues to prepare for voting on these issues at future official board meetings.

The following is a brief summary of this work session abstracted from the official minutes, which you can find here.

Towing

Chief Pasqualini recommended updating. The Wrightstown Township current ordinance (Resolution 529) was used as a model to draft the updated Newtown Township’s ordinance. Chief confirmed with Mr. Sandler that he indicated his changes to the Wrightstown ordinance to help draft Newtown’s new ordinance.

Peddling & Soliciting

Mr. Sander mentioned soliciting mail he received for another township which stated curfews before 9 PM are unconstitutional. Newtown has no time restriction; Mr. Sander noted a reasonable soliciting time period would be 10 AM to 9 PM. The Township could provide for “No Soliciting” signs posted on your door, i.e. to have a quiet night, and solicitors must honor this or it is in violation of the soliciting ordinance. The “No Soliciting” signs all over Newtown Grant doesn’t mean anything. Mr. Ferguson noted that a township maintains a list of residents requesting no solicitation. When solicitors apply for their permit, they are given the list. Soliciting for non‐profits have changed from what they were allowed to do. It was asked if a non‐profit could be charged a fee under certain circumstances, i.e. to recoup staff time expenses.

Excessive and Unnecessary Noise

Section 10‐501(B) is difficult to enforce. Enforcing a decibel level needs a noise meter and someone registered and trained has to be there at the time of the occurrence of the noise. There are so many variable decibel levels that many other townships have dropped this from their ordinance. When there is an annoyance of animals (dog barking, bird chirping) it is difficult to catch them in the act. A barking dog would be a private nuisance since it affects a few people. A public nuisance would be something, for example, constructing something over a major intersection that would affect a larger amount of people. 

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Township Planner Michele Fountain reviewed the proposed JMZO Ordinance. State law says that a medical dispensary use cannot be within 1,000 feet of a public, parochial, preschool or a daycare facility. In our ordinance, there is a C2 school use and a C3 commercial school use. She recommended to use the C2 and C3 language rather than identifying preschool or daycare facilities which are in the Jointure. Mr. Sander stated that terms may be defined in the Act but public, parochial, preschool and daycare facilities do not include commercial uses i.e. karate, dance, and music schools. It isn’t what the Act had in mind. Those schools go into commercial areas and that is where he believes the medical marijuana dispensaries are supposed to be located. If a dispensary receives a conditional use and permitted to set up in a shopping center and then a school applies to go into the stopping center, the school cannot go there. The Newtown Township Dispensaries are allowed in a VC‐1 district. There are two locations applicable and they are not located in Newtown. However, large parcels in the Township could be rezoned as VC‐1.

Planning Commission Chairman, Allen Fidler commented that a dispensary is not something everyone sees as a bad thing [listen to this Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta: "Pot vs Pills"]. There are people who have difficulty having a prescription filled because of the distance. Having an ordinance gives the Township control of addressing where dispensaries would be located. Along with a 1,000 ft. separation from schools, the Township may want to consider a separation distance from a Township‐owned park. Mr. Sandler replied that it might not be able to do that because it isn’t in State law. 

Planned Residential Development (PRD)

Discussion to delete use B‐15 in JMZO: Remove all PRD requirements from the ordinance but includes a performance subdivision B14 ordinance requirements in its place. Ms. Fountain stated that Newtown Township currently has 21 PRDs that are already approved. Discussion continued regarding the pros and cons of a PRD.Tthe Board is limited on what would be required for a PRD development. The disadvantage is that the Board is on the hook to give tentative approval to give certain rights when you don’t have any detailed information. 

Operation of All Terrain Vehicles

re Section 10‐Part 7 of JMZO: Mr. Sander suggested to remove the entire ordinance. A high amount of resources are invested, and the drivers are too hard to apprehend.

Posted on 19 Jul 2018, 01:12 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



Updated Wawa Plan Presented to Newtown Planning Commission

Concepts show street view (top) and store/pumps (bottom).

At the request of township officials, attorney John VanLuvanee, representing Provco Pinegood Acquisitions, presented an updated plan for a Super Wawa at the southwestern corner of Newtown Bypass and Lower Silver Lake Road to the Newtown Township Planning Commission on July 17, 2018. Provco owns the land, which it hopes to lease to Wawa in order to build a combination convenience store and gas station. Mr. VanLuvanee had previously presented a sketch plan to the Board of Supervisors on May 14, 2018 (read “Developer and Attorney Present Their Case for a WaWa Superstore on the Newtown Bypass”).

One major stumbling block is the fact that the site is within the Office Research (OR) zoning district, which does not allow retail stores or the selling of gasoline. Mr. VanLuvanee proposed that the zoning be modified to allow such use.

[Views videos of the presentation and comments at the end of this post.]

The photos above shows how the Wawa would look, incorporating a Newtown Township sign and brick façade, two modifications to the original sketch plan suggested by the Board of Supervisors at the May 14, 2018, work session.

Whatever the final plan may be, the process of getting it approved – if it is approved at all – may take more than a year according to knowledgeable sources. This is especially true if a change in zoning is sought from the Newtown Area Joint Zoning Council. Mr. VanLuvanee summarizes the steps in the process in the Part 1 video below.

Part 1: The Plan

Part 2: The Comments

Posted on 18 Jul 2018, 01:07 - Category: Development



2018 Road Paving Schedule

The Newtown Public Works Department released the 2018 road paving schedule:

This schedule, of course, depends upon the weather.

There are a couple of changes from the original list published earlier this year (see here). Quaker Drive in Devonshire Estates and part on Sentinal Avenue at the intersection of Quaker Drive are not on the list due to Sewer Authority work. The Township decided that it wouldn't make sense to repave the roads and then patch them up after the sewer work. Consequently, this road work will be rescheduled for 2020.

Meanwhile, Franklin Court has been added to the list.

 

Posted on 16 Jul 2018, 01:42 - Category: Roads



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