14 June 2023 BOS Meeting Summary
Capital Grille Restaurant CU Approval & Liquor License Transfer, ARLE Funding Program Resolution, Pedestrian Safety, Wawa Settlement, more…
This is my personal summary of the June 14, 2023, meeting of the #NewtownPA Township Board of Supervisors (BOS). This is not a complete nor an official summary.
Access the 2023 BOS Chronicle for detailed summaries of all 2023 BOS meetings plus the BOS voting record (UNOFFICIAL) for 2023.
- Planning Committee Report
- Engineer’s Report
- ARLE Funding Program: Pedestrian Safety - Sycamore St versus Newtown-Yardley Rd
- Solicitor’s Report
- Newtown Zoning Armageddon™
- Detailed Meeting Notes
- Official Video
- Video Transcript
Representatives of Capital Grille came before the BOS in a public hearing seeking to get a Conditional Use approval to open an upscale steakhouse and restaurant in the Village at Newtown shopping center at the former Pier 1 site (read “Capital Grille Proposing To Open Restaurant In #NewtownPA Township”).
In addition, it sought approval of a resolution to allow the transfer of a liquor license from Warrington.
In a 3-2 vote, the board approved both requests. "Capital Grille is a feather in our cap," said Supervisor Elen Snyder (read “#NewtownPA Supervisors Approve Capital Grille To Open in Congested Brixmor Shopping Center”). John Mack – who, along with Kyle Davis, voted “Nay” – noted that Newtown currently has 15 restaurant liquor licenses. This is more than two times the quota of 7 such licenses (1 license per 3,000 municipal residents) allowed by law (“Liquor Code”) without approval by the supervisors.
The impact on parking – the “thorn” – was a major concern. Read my meeting notes for more details and listen below to the audio podcast featuring comments made by residents at the 24 May 2023 Meet Mack Monday Zoom meeting:
The Grey Stone restaurant’s owners want to increase parking on the side of Washington Crossing Road where the restaurant is located from less than 20 spaces to about 200 spaces (read “Grey Stone Restaurant in #NewtownPA Seeks Multiple Zoning Variances to Expand Eating Space & Parking”). Currently, other Grey Stone parking consists of about 70 spaces on the other side of the road, forcing many patrons or workers with the restaurant’s valet parking service to walk back and forth across Washington Crossing Road.
In addition, the restaurant’s owners are proposing two building additions totaling 3,335 square feet.
In total eight variances are being requested. The only dissenter on the Planning Commission’s 7-1 vote to recommend the supervisors take no position on the variances was member Terry Christensen, who said he felt the amount of relief being requested was excessive and the supervisors should oppose it.
“It is a lot of relief you’re asking for,” PC Chair Peggy Driscoll added before the vote. “It’s a long-time business in our township. I don’t want to oppose, but it would be nice to reduce (the amount of zoning relief) a little here or there.”
Supervisors considered approving a resolution to apply for an Automated Red Light Enforcement (ARLE) grant for the construction of pedestrian-activated overhead Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at the Newtown-Yardley Rd/Tara Blvd crosswalk and N Sycamore St/Silo Dr intersection.
During the discussion, Newtown Walk residents, including Charles Feuer and Valerie Mihalek, were disappointed that this grant money, if awarded, would not be available until 2024 while accidents and near accidents continue to occur at the Tara Blvd crosswalk.
Supervisor John Mack suggested that some of the $250,000 allocated in the 2023 budget for the Sycamore St project could be used to at least start the Tara Blvd crosswalk project immediately.
Although the Sycamore project has been on the docket for over a year vs 6 months or so for Tara Blvd project, Mr. Mack noted that "It doesn't matter to me who came first before the board to ask for this improvement." Mr. Mack, argued that it would be more responsive to put money to work where the current need is greatest; i.e., Tara Blvd.
Eventually, the supervisors agreed to see how much of the $250,000 is still available and then make a decision what do with it; e,g., start work on the Tara Blvd RRFB. In the meantime, the BOS approved the resolution to apply for the ARLE grant.
UPDATE (1/30/24): “#NewtownPA Township To Get More Than $300,000 For Pedestrian Safety.”
Wawa is coming to #NewtownPA Twp. after three supervisors cave in and approve a settlement agreement.
This agreement (download it here), which settles all court cases filed against the township by Provco/Wawa (see "Newtown vs Wawa Timeline"), includes a Wawa "Monument Sign" at the intersection of the Newtown Bypass and Lower Silver Lake Road facing the Bypass (see above). Also included to win over the vote of at least one BOS member is a solar power panel array above the fuel pumps. In my opinion, solar panels and a sign in exchange for a Wawa open 24/7 on the Bypass is a cheap sellout and disgraceful! The first salvo of “Newtown Zoning Armageddon!”
Lawyer Blasts "Secret Deal" With Wawa
Resident Tom Crawford, Esq. chastised the Board for refusing to disclose the terms of the “secret” settlement deal with WAWA before voting. "I just think that that is grossly unfair and entirely contradictory to your obligations."
He asked the BOS to defer the vote until the public had a chance to see the details of the settlement. The BOS ultimately refused to do so and voted 3-2 to accept the "secret" deal.
- On May 15, 2023, Wisler Pearlstine, LLP, attorneys representing Kushner Real Estate (aka KRE Upper Macungie Associates, LP), submitted a “Substantive Validity Challenge with Curative Amendment” to #NewtownPA Township. The developer seeks to amend the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance to allow a 245-unit multi-story apartment complex to be built on Lower Silver Lake Road, a few hundred feet south of the proposed Wawa. This type of development is not currently permitted in the OR (Office/Research) zone, where it is proposed. Read “Developer Challenges #NewtownPA Zoning to Allow 245 Unit Apartment Building in OR District, But Sh*t May Happen”.
- On June 9, 2023, Wisler Pearlstine, LLP, attorneys representing The Corners at Newtown Place shopping center located at the intersection of Buck Road (Route 532) and Newtown-Richboro Road (Route 332) submitted a request for a text amendment to the JMZO to allow for a 3 story, 120 unit multi-family apartment building with related amenities.
- On July 17, 2018, at a Newtown Planning Commission meeting, attorney John VanLuvanee, representing Provco Pinegood Acquisitions, presented updated plans for a Super Wawa (convenience store plus gas station) on Newtown Bypass and Lower Silver Lake Road. During his presentation, Mr. VanLuvanee mentioned that he and his clients met with members of the Crossing Community Church (including the Pastor and Business Manager) located directly across the road from the proposed Wawa site. The meeting was closed with a prayer wishing VanLuvanee et al good luck in their endeavor. The church, he said, is very sympathetic to this use,” he said. [View the Video.] And well they may be. The church owns a 3.92 acre piece of land (Parcel Number: 29-010-042-003) right on the Bypass across Lower Silver Lake Rd from the proposed Wawa site. I am sure they would love to sell a piece of that to a developer (McDonald’s?).
- Also, did you hear that the Newtown Sewer Authority has hopes of locating a sewage treatment plant on Lower Silver Lake Rd where KRE plans to build an apartment building? The Authority can acquire the land via Eminent Domain and now that they know a majority of supervisors would not have the spine to fight them in court - Bob’s Your Uncle!
- On and on and on! Until developers have completely rewritten our zoning ordinances
I prepare detailed notes from all BOS meeting. These notes include links to background information and other details related to the items on the agenda. See the meeting notes for this meeting embedded below or download the PDF file here.
Download the unedited time-stamped transcript of this meeting prepared by Youtube from the video: download PDF file.