John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Summary of the August 11, 2021 BOS Meeting

Arcadia Land Development, Planning Commission Report, Fire Services Resolution, Taylor Farm House, CR School Board Report, Township Website Survey, Parks & Recreation Board Report, Engineer's Report: Lower Dolington Trail, Traffic Committee Discussion, Police Report, More...

Below is my personal summary of the meeting of Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS). See the detailed notes embedded at the end of this post. Some of the issues that were discussed and/or voted on include:

  • Reports: Planning Commission, Technology & Communications Committee, Council Rock School Board, Parks & Recreation Board
  • Arcadia Land Development
  • Lower Dolington Road Multi-Use Trail Bid Recommendation
  • Fire Services Fee Schedule Amendment – Resolution
  • Intergovernmental Fire Service Agreement with Newtown Borough
  • Discussion and vote on forming a Traffic Committee)
  • Approval of payment of bills totaling $277,817.38 and $176,342.54

This was a marathon 4.5 hour meeting in which the Arcadia Land Development discussion/decision dominated! In the end, that decision was tabled. The BOS has until August 31, 2021, to make a final decision, which will probably happen at the August 25, 2021, BOS meeting. Meanwhile, the hope is that we can get more input from our traffic experts especially regarding the direct access option to the Bypass, which will apparently be denied by PennDOT (see PennDOT Access Alternatives Response Letter). View the meeting video below for the excruciating details.

The room was filled to over-capacity due to the fact that only about 25 seats were available because of COVID-related social distancing restrictions (see photo below).

This is a view of the room just before the start of the meeting.
Many more people entered shortly afterward. They had to stand
at the side or at the back of the room. One resident who is vision-impaired 
had to stand with his guide dog for a lack of a seat! 

Public Comments

Many attendees made comments on agenda subjects as well as on issues that were not on the agenda. Below are three comments regarding non-agenda issues that I think are worth hearing and acting on by the Supervisors.

You can hear ALL comments by viewing the meeting video.

Use of COVID Relief Funds to Support Senior Citizens

Newtown Friends Home & Village Board Chairman Terry Christiansen asked if there is a process in place whereby non-profit groups such as his can apply for a share of the $1,024,920.93 American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds that the township has received.

Accordiing to information provided at a PSATS Webinar, one example of a permitted use of ARP funds is "Loans/grants/tech assistance to small businesses/non-profits (only 501c(3))."

To answer Mr. Christiansen's question, to date (August 13, 2021), there is no such procedure yet in place for non-profits, small businesses, etc. to request a share of ARP funds that Newtown Township has in the bank.

Note: Mr. Christiansen later informed me that he had to leave early as he needed to arrange an Uber while there were still available drivers on the road. "Also," said Mr. Christiansen, "as others noted during the evening, it was difficult to hear many of the Supervisors in the middle of the room."

Many residents like Mr. Christiansen have difficulty or are unable to attend BOS meetings in person due to a variety of reasons. Please sign my petition in support of any and all efforts to allow remote/online participation of residents in Newtown Township Board of Supervisors' meetings via Zoom or some other appropriate technology.
Proposed Use of Taylor Farm House

Newtown Township resident Dan Romanelli commented on the proposed use of the Taylor Farm House as a shelter for abused women. Mr. Romanelli was uncertain where the jurisdiction of Newtown Township ends and where the County, which owns the property, begins. "According to my research," said Mr. Romanelli in an email message to me, "a farmhouse on a Historic Preserved Farm should only have a FAMILY OF 5 not a business operation of residents, doctors, staff and security. This is a grey area that the County and YWCA are teetering."

Mr. Romanelli had several questions he asked Supervisors after the meeting, including

  1. Is the Taylor farm zoned for a business/ charity for battered women under Farm Act 319?
  2. What is the maximum number of people allowed on  premise on a daily basis to include staff, residents, doctors and security ?
  3. Is the township aware there will be 24-7 security on the premises and I am uncertain if that is to keep residents in or visitors out?
  4. Is the security armed or unarmed?
  5. Are the Newtown Police aware and training the security ?
  6. Does the well / septic on the property have the capacity to cover the home/ business endeavor?
  7. Was a building permit issued to bring the neglected farmhouse to code with professional, licensed  contractors with certificates of insurance? They seem to be using volunteers at this time.
  8. The barn looks ready to collapse- is that part of the makeover before children arrive on the property ?
  9. Will there be inspections and CO issued from the Township to ensure all BOCA codes are met?

"The ultimate goal," said Mr. Romanelli, "is to have a safe environment for my family, children and neighbors with complete transparency in communication to keep Newtown thriving. Unfortunately the project hasn't started that way with taxpayers money and that concerns me."

NOTE: In an email to the Bucks County Courier Times, Bucks Commissioner Chairwoman Diane Ellis Marseglia commented that “We are grateful that Newtown Township has partnered with us, like so many other communities, on projects like this. Of course, all of this was done at public board meetings and with complete transparency.” Read "Newtown Township Residents, Who Say They Were Kept in the Dark, Want Answers From Bucks County on Use of Historic Farm House as a Safe House."

Budget Process, Police Diversity, and Hybrid Meetings

Newtown resident Frank McCarron stood before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) at the August 11, 2021, public meeting and asked some very important questions.

Mr. McCarron wanted to know if the township looked at the 5-year plan provided by consultants at substantial cost to see if the predictions were borne out and what the impact would be on the 2022 budget.

Mr. McCarron noted that the 2021 budget called for the hiring of new NTPD officers and a total of 5 new officers may join the force in 2021. He asked if any of these would be officers of color in order to make the NTPD more diverse.

Finally, Mr. McCarron called upon the township to implement hybrid meetings that would allow remote/online participation of residents in Newtown Township Board of Supervisors' meetings via Zoom or some other appropriate technology.

Many residents like Mr. McCarron have difficulty or are unable to attend BOS meetings in person due to a variety of reasons. Please sign my petition in support of any and all efforts to allow remote/online participation of residents in Newtown Township Board of Supervisors' meetings via Zoom or some other appropriate technology.

July 2021 Police Report

Mack's Meeting Notes

The complete notes are embedded below or you can download the PDF file here. Not all items on the agenda may be covered in these notes.

Meeting Video

This site is paid for and approved by John Mack: john@johnmacknewtown.info
The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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