BOS Regular Session (LIVE)
100 Municipal Drive, Newtown
Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 7 PM
SEATING IS LIMITED TO 20 PEOPLE (3 of which will be Toll Bros. representatives) – get there early if you want a seat!
Expected agenda item: Toll Bros. Twining Bridge Road Development Decision: The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors completed hearings on a conditional use application (“Application”) submitted by Toll PA XVIII, LP involving the development of land located along Route 413 (Durham Road) & Twining Bridge Road proposing the construction of 45 new single-family homes on approximately 150 acres.
In light of the recent remarks made by the president of Neshaminy School Board [Stephen Pirritano], I want the members of the Middletown and Neshaminy communities to know that as a proud Neshaminy graduate and a Middletown supervisor, I denounce and condemn his remarks.
For me, it’s simple. I recognize that systemic racism is a problem throughout this country and I’m committed to doing my part to make our community more inclusive. I affirm that black lives matter. This is not a political issue; this is a human rights issue, and human rights are non-negotiable.
As an elected official, you are elected to represent all members of the community and you are expected to treat everyone with respect and decency. There are no two sides to this issue. And our school board is entrusted with the development of children in our community. The weight of this responsibility demands one be held to a higher standard. It is our role to make our schools an environment that all feel welcomed, safe, and secure. To anyone who feels marginalized, frustrated, or angry, know that I’m here for you. I’ve got your back.
As a Middletown supervisor, Neshaminy graduate, local resident, and human being, I encourage the Neshaminy School Board to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance to ensure all students feel welcomed, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or ability.
Wrightstown Township does it, Warrington does it, even tiny Newtown Borough does it, practically every township and borough surrounding Newtown Township does it – they all host Zoom Supervisor/Council meetings that are open to anyone in the public who wishes to attend.
Since April 22, 2020, when Newtown Township first started using Zoom for its public Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, the township has been reluctant to follow suit for fear of being “zoom bombed,” which happened once when an open meeting was tried without following proper security features recommended by Zoom. Instead, the township adopted a policy whereby residents can submit comments via email and the comments will be read during the meeting.
Newtown Seeks an Outside Zoom Consultant
At the August 5, 2020, Newtown BOS meeting, the Board of Supervisors gave Mr. Lewis the authority to seek quotes from outside consultants/individuals with Zoom experience to help the township provide secure Zoom hosting services. If you are interested, please contact Micah Lewis who will describe exactly what the township is looking for. His contact information is:
Vincent Lewis, 63, was charged after Newtown Borough police said he "made contact" with a woman who was putting up flyers related to the death of George Floyd. He was fined $100 per offense, District Judge Michael Petrucci confirmed.
[Some people on Facebook see the fines as merely another “slap on the wrist”; “He would have learned more with minority related community service,” said Cathy P.]
Lewis, who officials confirmed damaged the woman's phone during the encounter, was also ordered by Judge Petrucci to pay $279 to repair the device.
Figure: 2020 Road Repair showing "base bid" roads. Not shown are "alternate bid" roads that include all of Fountain Farm Lane, Newtown Gate Drive, and a portion of Upper Silver Lake Road. [Read "2020 Road Program Falls Victim to COVID-19"]
The following is a brief summary of the July 8, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting via Zoom based upon the official minutes of that meeting.
2020 Liquid Fuels Road Program Bid Award
Twp Engineer Ms. Colubriale reported three bids were received on June 18 and after discussion with Township staff it was decided to complete the work included under the base bid and alternate bids 7, 8, and 9. The total is roughly 2.8 township miles and the low bidder for the combination of Base Bid and Alternates, is James D. Morrissey, Inc. TOTAL COST: $621,046.75
Mr. Mack added that Commonwealth Drive is not on the list but asked if it was a candidate to be patched with the new milling machine. Mr. Lewis said he is aware of the situation but has no available work force at this time due to having no summer hires and he will have addressed as soon as he is able. Mr. Davis also encouraged caring for this roadway as he has seen it and confirms it is bad. Mr. Lewis said it will be on the list for next year’s road program and will be patched in the interim.
June 2020 Police Report
Police Chief Hearn reported there were 1,541 calls for service during June including 14 arrests, 8 DUI’s, 45 traffic accidents and 123 traffic citations. The Chief reported two major deployments of resources, one on June 4 to the Garden of Reflection for a vigil and on June 6 for a protest at Washington and Sycamore and both events were peaceful and held without incident.
Newtown Shopping Center Variance Application
Planning Commission Chair Allen Fidler reported the Planning Commission reviewed an amended application for the Newtown Shopping Center on West Road where the applicant is seeking variances to construct a 12,500 square foot building for Old Navy and proposed additions to the existing Chick-fil-A to improve efficiency and traffic circulation. Mr. Mack said he sees the need for Chick-fil-A improvements but has concern over the Old Navy in Newtown.
Discussion on E-30 Ordinance
Supervisor Mack reported at the Joint Zoning Council meeting the E-30 amendment for the combination convenience store/gas station was finalized. Mr. Sander argued that the draft be first approved by Provco – the Wawa developer that is suing Newtown Township. Mr. Calabro said the BOS is trying to pass this for the betterment of the Township and added we have shown good faith in this ordinance and need to show backbone against Provco. Mr. Mack agreed with Mr. Calabro and said we are getting closer to what Provco originally proposed. The Board’s consensus was bypass the Provco reviews and to send the draft directly to the Bucks County Planning Commission for review.
The document has six action steps designed to improve the school district’s diversity and racial climate.
Establishing a district-wide diversity and inclusion team and hiring an outside consultant to conduct a diversity-focused curricular audit are two of several actions outlined in a resolution unanimously approved by the Council Rock School Board at a recent meeting.
At the same meeting, the board approved a $9,000 agreement with an organization called Living Strong to help the district implement strategies in the document, which is titled a “resolution supporting the development of an anti-racist school climate.”
Actions to be taken by the district as outlined in the resolution are:
– Establishing a CRSD diversity and inclusion team inclusive of all district schools
– Building on the effectiveness of existing school-based teams
– Holding focus groups with recent graduates on preparedness for their next phase of life
– Holding focus groups with current students, including students from under-represented groups, on their experience in Council Rock schools and the community.
“Inviting an external consultant for curricular or equity audits can be valuable,” Contractor wrote. “However, former and current students have already identified many of the curriculum’s shortcomings. I would like to see specific goals of this audit such as the integration of more literature authored by BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color), as stated in our letter to the administration.”
She continued that the resolution “fails to address the overwhelming lack of minority teachers, sensitivity trainings and BIPOC student unions. By acknowledging only ‘traces’ of systemic racism exist within the community and creating vague, amorphous action items, CRSD is able to relinquish its agency for creating an anti-racist environment.
“I hope to see CRSD release additional explicit plans to support its non-white students that go beyond buzzwords.”
Bucks police departments are making changes to their annual National Night Out events amid the coronavirus outbreak.National Night Out, which is typically held in early August, are gatherings that local police hold with their community members.Those events range from large block parties to individual, smaller gatherings throughout their respective municipalities. The goal, according to the event website, is to build relationships between police and their communities.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s National Night Out was scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4. In Pennsylvania, 335 cities were expected to hold their events, according to the event website.
The national effort organizers recommended police departments throughout the country host their National Night Out events on Oct. 6, which some Bucks departments are currently scheduling.
Middletown and Richland police departments are tentatively scheduled to hold theirs in October, according to officials in both departments. Middletown’s event is scheduled to be held at the township municipal building from 6 to 8 p.m.
While driving through town, I noticed two different restaurants with outdoor dining spaces located in parking spaces in front of their establishments. One - Playa Bowls, located in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center - was compliant with the resolution, and one - which I won't name - was not compliant with the resolution (see here).
When passing this resolution unanimously, Newtown Supervisors were mainly concerned that such outdoor seating be safe. The barriers that Playa Bowls uses ensure the safety of their patrons, whereas the non-compliant business merely uses cones and yellow tape that puts their patrons in harms way, IMHO.
While I am supportive of helping local businesses thrive during this period - I argued for relaxing Township zoning regulations to help local business beginning in early May (see here) - I believe "we are all in this together," which I take to mean that there must be a level playing field; i.e., every business should comply with the same rules.
See here for simple rules for complying with Resolution 2020-R-13.