John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

July 2018 Police Report

Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for July 2018 at the August 8, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting. In that month, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,475 calls, 255 (17%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). See a summary of the report below. Note: Not all calls are listed.

Posted on 10 Aug 2018, 01:11 - Category: Crime



Summary of July 27, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

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

Committees

Planning Commission: Allen Fidler, Chairman, gave a synopsis of the July 17, 2018 meeting regarding a land development conceptual sketch plan for a proposed Wawa with fuel canopy at Newtown Bypass and Lower Silver Lake Road. ["The informal consensus of the Commission [was] not in favor of this particular use at this site," reported Fiddler (see video below).]

[Note: At the August 7, 2018, Newtown Planning Commission meeting, member Paul Cohen objected to Chairman Fidler's characterization that the informal "consensus" of the Commission was not in favor of a Super Wawa at the proposed location on Newtown Bypass. Mr. Cohen suggested that this characterization in the minutes did not accurately reflect the conversation of members of the Commission. Listen to his comments below.]

Public Health

Water Quality: Mr. Mack attended the EPA public meeting regarding perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) on July 25, 2018 at Hatboro‐Horsham Senior High School ["EPA Meeting in Horsham is All About Perfluorinated Chemical Contamination of Local Water Supplies"]. Federal, State and local officials provided information regarding water contamination and actions taken ["Local Officials Speak Out on PFAS/PFOA Contamination of Water" (video)]. Mr. Mack also indicated that Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian Water Company will attend the August 8, 2018 Board of Supervisors meeting to make a presentation regarding the quality of water in Newtown. [View a video clip of his report here.]

Public Safety

Gun Safety Resolution: Mr. Calabro noted that a letter was received from Governor Wolf commending the Township for Ms. Bobrin’s gun resolution. [Read "Governor Wolf Responds to Newtown Township's Gun Safety Resolution".]

Special Actions

Appointment of New Supervisor: Mr. Dennis Fisher was voted in to replace Jen Dix on the Board by a vote of 3-1, Mr. Davis voting “nay”.

Posted on 09 Aug 2018, 01:02 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



Newtown Borough Council Proposes Addition of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Use to Zoning Ordinance

UPDATE (15 August 2018): At last night's Newtown Borough Council meeting, the proposed ordinance was passed without any changes. It was noted at the meeting that this ordinance would NOT apply to Restore Integrative Wellness Center and Chroniceuticals, LLC, which has already applied to open a medical marijuana dispensary on South Street under zoning rules for a retail pharmacy (see story here).

Newtown Borough recently published a notice of a public hearing on August 14, 2018, the purpose of which is the “receive comment and public testimony regarding the proposed amendments to the Newtown Borough Zoning Ordinance adding the Medical Marijuana Grower/Processor, Medical Marijuana Dispensary uses.”

Some provisions of the draft amendment regarding Medical Marijuana Dispensaries include:

  • A Medical Marijuana Dispensary shall not be operated or maintained on a parcel within 1,000 feet, measured by a straight line in all directions, without regard to intervening structures or objects, from the nearest point on the property line of a parcel containing a public, private or parochial school, daycare center. Nor shall a Medical Marijuana Dispensary be located closer than 1,000 feet from another Medical Marijuana Dispensary or from a Medical Marijuana Grower/Processor.

  • A Medical Marijuana Facility shall be limited to hours of operation from8:00 A.M. until 8:00 P.M., seven days a week, by appointment only.

  • There shall be no emission of dust, fumes, vapors or odors which can be seen, smelled, or otherwise perceived from beyond the lot line for the property where the Medical Marijuana Dispensary is operating.

  • A Medical Marijuana Dispensary shall provide proof of a contract with a private security company, and shall be staffed with/monitored by security personnel twenty-four (24) hours a day and seven (7) days a week.

A similar amendment is under discussion for the Newtown Township, Wrightstown, Upper Makefield JMZO.

Newtown Township Planning Commission Chairman, Allen Fidler commented at a June 18, 2018, Work Session of the Newtown Board of Superviors that a dispensary is not something everyone sees as a bad thing [listen to this Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta: "Pot vs Pills"]. 

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. Township Solicitor, David Sandler replied that it might not be able to do that because it isn’t in State law. See video below:

Posted on 30 Jul 2018, 13:24 - Category: Ordinances



Dennis Fisher Appointed to Replace Jen Dix on Board of Supervisors

In a 3-1 vote on July 25, 2018, the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) appointed Dennis Fisher to fill the Board vacancy that resulted from the resignation of Jen Dix. Kyle Davis, the sole Republican Board member voted “nay.” Mr. Davis made 3 previous motions to appoint Gerry Couch, Jerry Festa, and Jo Vlastaris, but all failed to be seconded.

Mr. Fisher – who was elected Auditor in 2017 – has served the Township for more than a decade as a member of the Planning Commission (2006-2017) and a voting member of the Environmental Advisory Council from 2015 to 2017.

Professionally, Mr. Fisher has had a long career in the mental health field and is currently Program Director of a behavioral health training organization that provides training and orientation for mental health and substance abuse treatment staff in Philadelphia.

During his interview by the Board on July 11, 2018, I asked Dennis how he might improve communications between the BOS and residents. One idea he suggested was to have regular “meet-and-greets” with residents at local coffee shops much like “Coffee With a Cop” meetings.

Fisher also cited social media and email as ways for Supervisors to “get the word out to folks.” He said he is willing to learn how to best use social media to improve communications. To which I say, “Yes young grasshopper, I will teach you my ways but it will take much discipline.”

He will be sworn in at the August 8, 2018, Supervisors meeting and will have to hit the ground running regarding the proposed Arcadia Green development (see public notice).

Posted on 30 Jul 2018, 01:02 - Category: Governance



Summary of July 11, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the July 11, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting abstracted from the official minutes, which you can find here.

Administration

Interim Township Manager: Ms. Bobrin motioned to make an offer to Micah Lewis to serve as Interim Township Manager at a rate of $100,000.00 per year pending the execution of a mutually agreed upon contract. Mr. Mack seconded, and the motion was approved 4‐0.

Consultation Agreement: Offer of Consultation Agreement to Kurt Ferguson for advice on general municipal management, budget financing, collective bargaining, etc. It was noted that this agreement was to assist with the learning curve and 2019 budgetary process, etc. Mr. Mack made a motion to offer a consultation agreement, pending the execution of a mutually agreed upon contract, at the rate of $75.00 per hour beginning July 16, 2018, with either party requiring 30 days written notice of termination if and when desired. Ms. Bobrin seconded. The motion passing, 4‐0.

Committees

Environmental Advisory Council: Council member Brenna Luczyszyn sought the Board’s approval to hold a 2‐part event with the Audubon Society: September 12, 2018, 7PM‐9PM, at the Newtown Theatre for a movie, “The Central Park Effect”, regarding birds in correlation to Newtown’s status as an Audubon Bird Town; and September 23, 2018, 1PM‐4PM, Township Building, “Climate Action Circles” for the community to discuss projects to help birds and people. Mr. Mack motioned to approve the EAC Audubon Society events held on September 12, 2018 at the Newtown Theatre from 7PM‐9PM, and on September 23, 2018 at the Township Building from 1PM‐4PM. Ms. The motion was passed 4‐0.

Ordinances

Anti-discrimination Ordinance: Mr. Mack would like to see Newtown Township adopt an antidiscrimination ordinance similar to neighboring municipalities (e.g., Yardley; read "Yardley Borough Passes Local Anti-Discrimination Ordinance") to protect from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, etc. Mr. Sander will provide a draft of an ordinance for a future agenda item and asked if the Board would be interested in creating a Human Relations Commission to receive complaints and help with private mediation.

Public Safety

Police Report: Lt. Jason Harris, Interim Police Chief, gave the report. For June 2018, there were 1,533 total calls for service from 148 traffic citations, 7 DUIs, 17 thefts, 29 property damage, 53 accidents, 116 medical emergencies, 62 suspicious circumstances, and 33 disputes. [See "June 2018 Police Report".]

Public Works

Roadway Improvement Program: Ms. Colubriale noted that there will be a change in the paving schedule from Quaker Drive and Sentinel Avenue to Franklin Court. Letters were sent to Quaker Drive residents notifying them of this change due scheduled sewer work. This reduces the total paving contract by $7,993.40. [See "2018 Road Paving Schedule (tentative)"]

Posted on 27 Jul 2018, 10:37 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



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