John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Development Issues

For too long, developers and commercial entities with deep pockets have received favorable treatment regardless of merit, or any real benefit to our town.

Our leaders should focus on "smart" economic development that will create jobs and opportunities for everyone.

The following excerpts from minutes of meetings of the Board of Supervisors offer a glimpse into past discussions and decisions of the Board related to development issues. You be the judge if the decisions were smart for Newtown!

Excerpts from Board of Supervisors Meeting Minutes

Details of important Development related Newtown Board of Supervisors' decisions and discussions in last few years (organized by issue in reverse chronological order). This is NOT a complete list of items. You can find complete minutes of BOS meetings here.

Arcadia Green

25-Oct-2017: Report from the Planning Commission meeting of October 24th. The proposed High Street access and under the Township's position, required a willing modification of the adjacent PRD. Modification of the PRD is effectively controlled by the HOA. If the HOA wants to modify their plan to accommodate the relocation or the creation of a street into their development, they feel that is their prerogative and the Township supports that position. The applicant disagrees; they own a residential unit on High Street and believe they can use it for an access point. Mr. Davis asked if the Arcadia representatives gave a reason why they didn't address all of the issues on the Township's review letters. Mr. Fidler stated the responses were "we disagree" without going into detail, or "we disagree with the Township position" and will respond later. With the sensitivity of the time line, the longer it takes Arcadia to answer in a timely fashion, the harder it is for our job to be done in a timely fashion.

11-Oct-2017Report from Planning Commission: Paul Cohen, Secretary, gave a synopsis of the meeting held on October 3, 2017. The only item on the agenda was the Arcadia Green Tentative PRD. At the time of the meeting, Arcadia's responses to our Township professionals' review letters had not been received and the Commission didn't feel prepared to discuss the technicalities of the development plan. Some of the issues discussed at the Planning meeting were concerns about the open space apportionments, use of the common area, and the big issue was access to Newtown Crossing on High Street, and the access to the Bypass. The applicant agreed to an extension allowing the Commission an opportunity to review the plan and applicant's responses to the engineers' review letters.

11-Oct-2017Arcadia Green PRD Hearing: Arcadia Newtown Holdings LP submitted an application for tentative approval of a plan of residential development, a/k/a PRO, the site is located at the intersection and northwest corner of Buck Road and Newtown Bypass, the application seeks to develop a mixed use development on a site of approximately 25 acres. The application proposes 85 residential units comprised of 26 village houses and 29 townhouses. The application also includes open space, recreation areas and a common facility. The application also includes property owned by the Newtown Reformed Church.

Drive-thru Starbucks

25-Apr-2018: The Newtown Planning Commission recommended the Supervisors not oppose the conditional use application for Starbucks, 2896 South Eagle Road, Village At Newtown West. This application pertained to the function of the drive-thru for an E5 and E6 eating place. This is one of the new buildings approved as part of the comprehensive Village At Newtown redevelopment plan. The Commission is limited with suggesting changes to what had been approved during the subdivision and land development application. Based on demand, the operating hours would be from 4:30AM to 11:00PM, and deliveries would be made after 9:30PM. The restaurant proposes 41 interior and 26 exterior seating which would be accessible from the parking lot.

Concerns were discussed regarding the proposed drive-thru, 10-car stacking lanes, parking, time of operation, and safety of the outside seating area. It was suggested to the applicant that decorative concrete bollards be installed at the perimeter of the outdoor eating area to increase safety from vehicular traffic. The Commission was also concerned about pedestrian traffic cut-thru to Starbucks and suggested signage to promote safety stating “cross at the crossing” and to add decorative fencing to hinder pedestrian traffic cutting through the shopping center parking lot. [Despite a recommendation for approval of a “conditional use” application for a drive-thru Starbucks cafe by the Newtown Planning Commission, the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted 5-0 against the application at the May 9, 2018, public meeting. Read "Newtown Board of Supervisors Shoots Down Drive-thru Starbucks".]

KVK Tech

27-Sep-2017: KVK Tech was granted conditional use approval on July 28, 2004 to use 33,000 sq. ft. of building on the subject property (110 Terry Drive) for a G-2 research use, G-1 manufacturing use, B-1 office use, and G-3 warehouse use which 4,000 sq. ft. was devoted to a laboratory. The approval also provided for a maximum of 37 employees and provided 41 parking spaces. KVK's conditional use amendment application requests approval to amend the conditional use approved on July 28,2004 to increase the manufacturing area space by 4,791 sq. ft., propose to increase the number of employees on-site between 120-130 and increase of on-site parking spaces to 181. Mr. Calabro commented on why KVK couldn't put this expansion and construction into the former Lockheed-Martin property they recently purchased. Mr. Murphy replied that the Lockheed-Martin building is presently being renovated and will be focused on new products upon FDA and other governmental approval proposed near the end of the year. The motion carried 3-2 with Mr. Calabro and Mrs. Dix voting "nay".

28-Jun-2017: The Planning Commission raised certain questions about the application that were not able to be answered by applicant's attorney because a representative other than the attorney was not present to answer the business operational questions. It was suggested to KVK Tech's representative that some of the concerns and questions that we asked be provided by management of KVK Tech prior to going to the Zoning Hearing Board. The Lockheed-Martin site has security required and it was questioned why KVK Tech was seeking variances at the Terry Drive location. KVK's representative eluded that the vault was a federal requirement there would be substantial additional expense to relocate and obtain permission from the federal government to put another vault in a different location. The Commission suggested that a representative of KVK Tech to answer questions of the Commission and the Board.

Pickering Manor

23-May-2018: Joe Blackburn, Esq., represented Pickering Manor with respect to its pending land development located on 226 North Lincoln Avenue. Based upon their non-profit status, Mr. Blackburn made a request that the Board consider a reduction in the Parks & Recreation fee-in-lieu amount. It was agreed that the fee-in-lieu amount would be half the amount of $46,570.87. An actual amount would be determined at a later time. Applicant will also pay a traffic impact fee in the amount of $7,020.00. Mr. Calabro put the motion to a vote and the motion carried 3-1 (Mrs. Dix voted "nay").

28-Feb-2018: Proposed is an 18,000+ sq. ft. addition to the main property, expanding parking area, and underground water seepage bed. The applicant will comply with the Township engineer review letter issues, however, waivers were reviewed at the Planning Commission meeting. Concerns of the residents were storm water runoff, truck deliveries, and overall operating noise and traffic. It was recommended that the times for food supply deliveries be made in a smaller truck and be moved to a more appropriate time. The executive director of Pickering Manor urged neighbors to contact her to discuss any issues they may have.

14-Feb-2018: A plan was submitted proposing an approximate 18,200 sq. ft. two-story building addition to the main building and additions to three of the five existing cottage buildings. Expanded parking and driveway facilities and an underground seepage bed for storm water management is also proposed.

Villas of Newtown

23-May-2018: Certificate of Completion #1- CKS Engineers recommends that the Certificate be approved by the Board in the amount of $51,950.00. The amount of the remaining escrow is $78,119.00. the motion carried 3-1 (Mrs. Dix voted "nay").

28-Feb-2018: Authorization is sought to sign the Release of Claims regarding the unauthorized removal of a birch tree by the developer of The Villas at Newtown. Mrs. Dix made a motion to approve. Ms. Bobrin seconded, and the motion passed 5-0. [Read "McGrath, Developer of Villa at Newtown, To Pay Newtown Twp $25K For Surreptitiously and Illegally Cutting Down Valuable Beech Tree".]

13-Sep-2017: Farmhouse. The Township's condition for approval was to have the facade completed, which it is. The interior is still being renovated. If there is a dispute over losing any-leverage by issuing the CO's to the remaining units, there could be other incentives mandated for the completion of the farmhouse. Mr. Calabro motioned to issue CO's for the new units, excluding the farmhouse, upon completion and proper inspection by the Township. Mr. Couch seconded, and the motion passed 5-0.

14-Sep-2016Farmhouse. Mr. Calabro asked for an update on the Villas Farmhouse. Mr. Ferguson said that the Township issued a cease and desist order on work because some materials being removed were to have been preserved by the facade easement. He explained that the agreement with the developer will also include preservation of certain features inside the house, including the staircase and wood trims and doors. Mr. Ferguson said that when the Township and the developer began planning the preservation of the farmhouse, certain interior features were deemed to be of historic significance and the developer agreed to preserve them. The interior will be modernized but these features will be preserved and worked into the new open design. Jeffrey Marshall of the Heritage Conservancy has been working with the Township and Developer to see that the interior features are preserved as part of the settlement with the developer.

9-Jan-2013: Mr. M. Gallagher moved to release escrow in the amount of $17,464 to the developers of Villas at Newtown. Dr. Ciervo seconded. Discussion of motion: Dr. Ciervo said that the Board has a number of concerns and he would like Mr. McGrath to attend a Supervisors meeting to discuss these before any additional escrow is released. He would like some assurances as to a timetable for completion of a clubhouse, as was promised purchasers in this development. He understands that the Township was not required to hold escrow for the clubhouse and the remaining escrow is for public improvements. Mr. M. Gallagher agreed that Mr. McGrath should appear before the Board before any additional escrow is released. The motion passed 4-0.


9-May-2018: This conditional use application is for the conditional use for an E5 and E6 eating place adjacent to the relocated Bank of America. The motion to approve the application failed 5-0. [Read: Newtown Board of Supervisors Shoots Down Drive-thru Starbucks]

Wawa on Bypass

23-May-2018: Public comment: Michael Horbal, Newtown, wanted the Board to consider voting against a change on that parcel that would accommodate whatever retail use is proposed. Based on the 2009 Comprehensive Plan, he suggested the Township should look at all potential parcels that could be developed for retail on parcels similar to the proposed Wawa location. He's concerned that a subsequent land owner may request a change to the zoning of their parcel so that it could be developed for a fast food franchise. [Read: The BrouHaha Over Proposed Wawa, Super Wawa Survey Comments, Residents Present Their Case For and Against a Super WaWa on the Bypass, and Developer and Attorney Present Their Case for a WaWa Superstore on the Newtown Bypass]

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