John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

Summary of January 22, 2020, Newtown Township BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the January 22, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Dennis Fisher, Secretary John Mack, and member Kyle Davis. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Solicitor David Sander, and Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale.

Development

Toll Bros. Conditional Use: Mr. Sander received correspondence from Toll Brothers requesting continuance of the hearing to 2/12/2020 citing a revised plan being submitted to the Township involving the elimination of the on-lot sewage disposal and incorporation of public sewer to the development and the plan is not quite ready. [See UPDATE below]

UPDATE

2016 Act 537 Plan: Township Planner Michele Fountain is seeking approval for revisions to the Newtown Township Act 537 update. The BOS approved the Act 537 update in 2015 and at that time approved the Comprehensive Plan for existing, present and future sewage needs for the Township saying the public sewer system said would stay where it was.

This took almost four years and the agreement was finally executed in September 2019. The agreement required an Infiltration and Inflow (I&I) abatement program to reduce I&I entering the water system. The I&I program was completed by the Newtown Authority in December 2019. Mrs. Fountain showed the present and future sewer service areas on the plan (fig 11) stating the future is the same as the existing one with one exception. The future area includes the proposed development at Twining Bridge and Durham Roads.

Resident Jack Brod said 5-6 years ago there was a proposal to develop a sewer treatment plant in Newtown Township to address the shortage of EDUs where the local authority suggested we get off the authority and do treatment ourselves. He asked if this plan was explicitly excluded before we approve the 537 Plan. Mrs. Fountain said it is not included as a viable option in the plan.

Provco Pineville Acquisitions, LLC: Mr. Sander explained the ZHB application filed by Provco, owner of the property on Lower Silver Lake Road, filed an application challenging the substantive validity of the joint municipal zoning ordinance alleging it is unconstitutional as it does not provide for a combined gas station/convenience store use. He said there have been several continuances and it is now scheduled for March 5, 2020. The Board can decide if they want to send the Solicitor to the ZHB to take a position. After some discussion, Mr. Mack said he would be in favor of sending the solicitor to oppose this application and Mr. Davis agreed.

Finances

Consideration to award the Five-Year Financial Plan Proposal to Econsult Solutions, Inc.: Dan Connelly, Director with Econsult Solutions presented a strategic management plan and provided the Board with a power point presentation booklet describing the proposal. He introduced his team stating they have strong experience with Pennsylvania municipalities and governments in general as they have worked with all sizes of municipalities not only on long term planning but on any issues where public finance intersects with government. Mr. Mack asked how much this will cost the Township. Mr. Connelly said the proposal is $69K which is covered 50% by DCED match. Mr. Mack, referring to the Pottstown study, inquired how enthusiastic they were to follow the plan proposed by Econsult. Mr. Connelly said it was a mixed review and described some recommendations that were made.

UPDATE:

Public Safety

ESD Report: Chief Forsyth reported there were 118 calls for service during the month of November. There were two building fires, seven dwelling fires, two brush fires and 64 EMS calls. The fire association completed 49 safety inspections in the Township and 26 in the Borough. Emergency service staff completed refresher training for traffic incident management and also participated in a mutual aid drill with Middletown Township EMS to handle large vehicle extrications. The department assisted two Newtown Grant residents with safety inspections.

During December the Chief reported 105 calls for service including one building fire, five dwellings, 1 brush fire and 56 EMS calls. There were 81 safety inspections in the Township and 29 in the Borough. The ESD completed their annual refresher on emergency vehicle operation and assisted Northampton Township on a working fire.

Roadwork

Authorization to advertise the 2020 Road Bid: Ms. Colubriale requested authorization to advertise for the 2020 Liquid Fuels Road program bid reporting the base bid is approximately 4.13 miles of Township road. Mr. Calabro inquired about the time frame for the bids. Ms. Colubriale anticipates taking bids in mid-February with possible award in March; weather permitting the project can proceed in late April or early May. Mr. Mack questioned if there was a second round since the number was previously 5.2 miles. Ms. Colubriale said a few roads were modified as a result of the sewer authority work being done, however they will be added back in.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission: Newtown/Bucks Associates, Newtown Shopping Center - The applicant is seeking variances for a proposed 12,500 square foot retail building to house an Old Navy with 80 parking spaces and a 400 square foot addition to Chick-fil-A along with roadway improvements to eliminate traffic congestion in the surrounding area. The Commission supports the application for relief.

JMZO Amendment - after two meetings and much discussion the Planning Commission recommends the BOS forward the draft of the Ordinance to our partners in the Jointure along with the Bucks County Planning Commission with the following suggested changes:

  • Eliminate eat in dining (section 13-3)
  • Limit fuel pumps to 8 and permit up to 4 charging stations
  • Specify hours of operation and limit to 18
  • Make sidewalks a requirement (section 13-19, remove “if”)

Additionally, the Planner will be looking at specifics around the facades of the fuel pump area and fencing to ensure they are keeping within the character and architecture of the building.

Resident Norm Seeger questioned reducing the number of pumps stating Wawa has stated they won’t make any changes. Mr. Calabro said this is a gas station/convenience store use which applies to anyone seeking this use. Mr. Seeger said he was glad the Township was looking at other sites as Wawa stated 2,400 cars/day would be using this station; he expressed his concern about the traffic and additional policing requirements.

Zoning

Consideration to send the E-30 Ordinance to the Jointure: Mr. Sander asked the BOS to consider sending the combined gas station/convenience store ordinance to the Jointure as previously discussed this evening. Mr. Davis asked if that includes the recommended changes by the Planning Commission. Mr. Sander suggested sending as is with an attachment of the comments made by the Planning Commission.

Votes on Motions

Not all motions are included.

Posted on 14 Feb 2020, 14:01 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of January 8, 2020, Newtown Township BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the January 8, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Dennis Fisher, and member Kyle Davis. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis and Township Solicitor David Sander. Assistant Secretary and Treasurer John Mack was absent.

Public Safety

Police Report: Chief Hearn reported the department responded to 1,398 calls for service during December which is a 13% increase over 2018. He said 76 citations were issued which is up by 20% from last year however traffic accidents have decreased by 10%. Read details of the report here.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission: Toll Brothers - Mr. Fidler shared that there was a discussion on the Toll Brothers site and the proposed sewage treatment plant at this meeting. Among concerns is the Newtown Joint Municipal Authority which someday may have to revert the package treatment plant through the Township system without the Authority’s involvement in the design, approval and maintenance of the plan. He said the Commission agreed it would be wise for the PC and the BOS to have someone from the sewer authority present to discuss related issues when Toll Brothers is scheduled on the agenda.

JMZO Amendment - Mr. Fidler explained the Amendment and its history and said the Commission reviewed the preliminary draft of the proposed E-25 Motor Vehicle Fueling Station and Convenience Store Use. He said there are some items in question including eat in dining, 24-hour operation and the size of the building, which will be revisited at the next meeting and the members will continue to review the amended ordinance and bring additional concerns to be discussed at the next meeting. He also suggested involving the other municipalities in the Jointure as the process must be completed in nine months with a consensus of the Jointure.

Zoning

Resolution for Municipal Curative Amendment: Mr. Sander explained the Municipal Curative Amendment and said the specific issue of concern is the zoning ordinance does not contain or provide for a single use that combines both a convenience store and a gas station and several court decisions currently on appeal determined this must be allowed for the zoning ordinance to be constitutional.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Calabro asked if the time depends on the other two Jointure members. Mr. Sander said the time runs from the declaration and since Newtown was last to declare on December 11, 2019, there is nine months from that date to enact if appropriate. Mr. Calabro asked if either township can hold this process up and Mr. Sander said they could and added if the three do not agree and enact, there will be no cure and it will stay as is. Mr. Calabro inquired which township would this harm the most and Mr. Sander replied since Newtown has the majority of residential development and traffic in the Jointure, it would likely be Newtown Township. He said Newtown has already been subject to the filing of a substantive validity challenge proposing a convenience store/gas station in the Township; therefore, the answer to the question is Newtown. Mr. Calabro stated we need the other two Townships to pass this resolution. Mr. Sander agreed and added all must adopt this resolution and all three must agree on accepting the ordinance to amend the current zoning ordinance. Mr. Fisher asked if the other Townships were subject to the 30 days and Mr. Sander said yes.

The motion passed 3-0.

Votes on Motions

Not all motions are included.

Posted on 27 Jan 2020, 01:34 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of December 11, 2019, Newtown Township BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the December 11, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack, and member Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis and Township Solicitor David Sander. Member Kyle Davis was absent.

Development

Conditional Use Hearing - Toll Pa. XVIII: Mr. Sander explained when the conditional use application was received it was advertised for public hearing this evening. Subsequently a letter was received from the applicant's attorney to extend the time which the BOS must hear matter until 1/31/20.

Ms. Bobrin moved to continue the Hearing for Toll Pa, XVIII until January 22, 2020 at 7:00 PM in the Township meeting room.

Mr. Calabro asked what will happen on January 22. Mr. Sander said we will have a conditional use hearing. He said there will be no further advertisements in newspapers or other notices mailed which is why we are opening the hearing formally and continuing...Mr. Lewis will investigate what notices were or were not sent out and ensures the residents will be notified either by Toll or the Township.

The motion passed 5-0.

Finances

Consideration to Adopt the 2020 Final Budget: Mr. Lewis reported all YTD numbers have been updated in the budget; the projected total estimated revenue is $14,413,898.00, projected total expenditures are $13,081,611.00 and the estimated net fund balance is $1,332,287.00, which equates to 10.18% of total expenditures.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Mack had previously requested to get a line item in the budget for the Savvy Citizen app and he reported they have come back with a lower cost and are offering to have sponsors cover some of the cost. He said the new estimate is $2,841 for the year including set up and marketing fee down from the original $3,600. Mr. Mack explained the benefits of Savvy Citizen and asked the Board to consider adding this as a line item to the Budget. Mr. Calabro said we already have moved to approve budget as outlined. A discussion ensued on budget amendments and the time frame. Mr. Mack said he will distribute materials and review with local businesses to determine interest in sponsorships. He will also speak with Mr. Lewis about personnel requirements prior to moving forward.

The motion passed 5-0.

Zoning

Consideration of Declaration of Municipal Curative Amendment: Mr. Sander explained according to Pennsylvania law the use of property as a convenience store and gas station as a combined use is to be provided for by law and the use contained in a zoning ordinance. He said the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance doesn't have such a use and are in the process of drafting an ordinance; in the meantime there is a procedure that allows municipalities to examine their zoning ordinances and if an invalidity is found, they have an opportunity to declare that invalidity and announce they will cure the invalidity.

Mr. Calabro asked Mr. Sander to explain how this protects the Township against the gas station/convenience store property use. Mr. Sander said from the date of declaration for period of nine months, nobody can file an application for land development that deals with gas station/convenience store use, nor can they file a challenge. When questioned by Supervisor Mack, Mr. Sander stated that this action does not apply to the substantive legal challenge to the joint municipal zoning ordinance previously filed by Provco.

The Motion passed 5-0.

UPDATE
On January 8, 2020, the BOS voted 3-0 (Mack was absent) to pass Resolution No. 2020-R-5 with the following Specific Findings Setting Forth the Declared Invalidity of the JMZO Ordinance:
  1. The Ordinance contains provisions providing for and governing both a convenience store use (Section 803.E‐1) and a gas station use (Section 803.E‐10) but does not contain provisions providing for and governing a single use consisting of a combination of a convenience store use and a gas station use.

  2. Recent decisions issued by the Courts of Common Pleas of Bucks County and Montgomery County have determined that municipal zoning ordinances that do not provide for a combination convenience store/gas station use may be unconstitutional.

  3. The Municipal Curative Amendment declared by Newtown Township on December 11, 2019 is specifically declared to determine whether the Ordinance is unconstitutional, and if so, to enact an ordinance to cure the invalidity by providing for a combination convenience store/gas station use in the Newtown Area Jointure, with provisions defining and providing for such use in the Jointure, and regulations governing such use.

 

Public Safety

Police Report: Chief Hearn reported the department responded to 1,771 calls for service during November including 6 arrests, 89 traffic accidents, 41 of which were deer related and 220 citations. The Chief thanked the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades who donated painting of police building and garage at no cost to township. He reminded all to have neighbors help retrieve packages when delivered and not to leave them on front steps or driveways. Mr. Mack asked about catalytic converter theft. The Chief said we have not yet had incident of this in Newtown. Read details of the report here.

Supervisor Reports

Comprehensive Plan: Mr. Calabro reported he attended the Jointure (JZC) Definition meeting which reviewed how to proceed on the Comprehensive Plan  Definition. They discussed contacting other committees such as Park and Rec, Finance, etc. and have a representative from each committee meet with those who are forming the Comprehensive Plan.

Bobrin Announces Plan to Leave Board: Ms. Bobrin shared that this will be her last public meeting as she is leaving the Board of Supervisors to become the Register of Wills for Bucks County.

Votes on Motions

Not all motions are included.

Posted on 12 Jan 2020, 12:04 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Excerpts from 2019 BOS Meeting Minutes

This document is a collection of selected excerpts of approved minutes from the official 2019 public meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS). Not included are minutes from the last meeting of the year (December 11, 2019). For the complete official minutes of meetings, please go to the Newtown Township website.

The excerpts are arranged by category in chronological order. Access the PDF version here.

For definitions of technical terms, please visit the “Newtown Area Municipal Glossary”.

 

Also access excerpts of minutes going back to 2014 according to specific issues under the following headings:

Development

Environment

Fiscal Responsibility

Good Government

Public Health

Public Safety

Posted on 18 Dec 2019, 01:10 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of November 26, 2019, Newtown Township BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the November 26, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack, and member Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis and Township Solicitor David Sander. Member Kyle Davis was absent.

Development

Durham Partners Group LLC, 413 Durham Road: The applicant is seeking zoning relief in connection with the proposed development of a five-acre lot with one existing single-family home into a 27 -lot town home community. The application was previously presented to the BOS who opposed the project. The Commission has concerns with the density issues and wetness of the area. There was discussion of other options for the area including a 24,000 square foot medical office building. The Commission opposed this application.

Mr. Mack stated he attended the PC meeting and heard some comments from PC that reflected the BOS feelings about the Durham Road application. He suggested, since all oppose this application, to motion withdrawing the ZHB application. Mr. Calabro said it was a good suggestion, however it is up to the applicant to withdraw. Mr. Calabro added he is still in favor of sending the solicitor to the meeting to oppose the application.

Finances

Five-Year Financial Plan: Jack Brod reported on behalf of the Finance Committee that Newtown Township was awarded a matching grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to hire a consultant to perform financial analysis and develop a five-year plan to help improve the Township's fiscal position. An RFP was developed, advertised and sent directly to a list of recommended consultants. The response was less than anticipated due to timing factors and other RFP's in progress, however one proposal was received from Econsult Solutions, a firm in Philadelphia with experience in developing five-year plans for municipalities. Mr. Brod shared additional information about the company and said their proposal was in line with the requirements and within the allocated budget. He said the recommendation of the Finance Committee is to select a date between now and year end to interview consultants from Econsult Solutions.

Mr. Calabro asked Mr. Brod for his input on the budget. Mr. Brod offered his observation that the current budget reflects why the Finance Committee and the BOS are moving forward to look for a long-term plan, as the budget continues to be challenging. He said revenue continues to be less than expenses resulting in the need to tap into the dwindling general fund.

[Also view this 3-minute video: "Thoughts on Newtown Township's Deficit Spending".]

Litigation

Ratification of Opt-Out of Opioid Litigation Class Settlement: Mr. Sander explained the ratification of the Township opting out of a class action litigation settlement based on the opioid epidemic. The Federal Class was certified out of the northern district of Ohio and every municipality in the country was sent a notice to become a member of the class. The recommendation from the Township's outside counsel is to opt out of the federal class so the Township may pursue their own suit.

Mr. Mack asked if this means we gave up on pursing companies in court ourselves and Mr. Sander said quite the contrary, this decision enables the Township to pursue the companies on our own. Mr. Mack cited a Wall Street Journal article and generated some discussion on this topic and Mr. Sander confirmed that this was not related to the Township's case.

[From Mack's Notes prepared prior to meeting:  WSJ Reports That Federal Prosecutors Open Criminal Probe of Opioid Makers and Distributors, many of whom are part of this lawsuit. What impact does this have on our case if we ratify this opt-out of the federal class action case? “Companies including Teva, McKesson, Mallinckrodt, AmerisourceBergen, Johnson & Johnson and Amneal Pharmaceuticals have received subpoenas, the Journal reported. More subpoenas for the probe, which is still in its early stages, are expected to come. If the investigation turns into criminal charges, it could be the largest prosecution of drug companies said to have been part of the opioid crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported.”]

Parks and Recreation

Newtown Pedestrian Bridge and Resolution: Mike Sellers, member of the Newtown Creek Coalition (NCC) gave a slide presentation proposing the concept of building a footbridge over Newtown Creek at the location of the historic trolley bridge between Frost Lane and Durham Road. This would require a partnership between the NCC, Newtown Township and Newtown Borough.

In response to Mr. Mack's questions, Mr. Sellers said the NCC envisions the bridge for the use of all, including bicycles and strollers, and will be ADA compliant. Further Reading: "Newtown Creek Bridge Proposal ‐ Discussion at the October 23, 2019, BOS meeting" and "Newtown Creek Bridge Proposal Questionnaire Summary," a copy of which was submitted to all supervisors.

[From Mack's Notes prepared prior to meeting:  At the Work Session last week it was suggested that grants could be sought to cover some of the costs and the Township could seek “in-kind” services from professionals such as engineers, etc. Of course, most grants will not cover the total costs involved and as we know there is a lot of competition for grants money. With regard to “in-kind” services from professionals, I believe that would be very problematic as it could be viewed as a conflict of interest or even a form of “Pay-to-Play.” Costs associated with authorization for “staff and professionals of Newtown Township to participate in the exploration of the requirements for such a project, including available funding sources” are not specified. In addition, the structure of this “participation” is not specified. I assume this will be an “exploratory committee?” I would like the resolution to specify the composition of such a committee to include representatives from the Township BOS, Borough Council, Newtown Creek Coalition, plus staff and professionals from both the Township and the Borough.]

Public Safety

ESD Report: Chief Forsyth reported the department responded to 137 calls for service during October including six building fires, five dwelling fires, one vehicle fire and 76 EMS calls.

Mr. Mack asked for feedback from the meeting with Representative Fitzpatrick regarding the dire need for volunteer firefighters. Chief Forsyth reported that several chiefs attended a meeting with Representative Fitzpatrick and other state reps to try to come up with a plan to recruit volunteers. The Chief said we are in crisis mode for volunteers and he emphasized the seriousness of the situation.

Supervisor Reports

Heritage Festival: Mr. Mack reported he attended a school heritage festival at Newtown Elementary school hosted by the Newtown Elementary Equity and Inclusion Committee. He said the Newtown Human Relations Commission was present and provided cards on discrimination.

Newtown Fire Association: [From Mack's Notes prepared prior to meeting:2020 FUND DRIVE: was launched on November 5, 2019. Residents should have received the letter. I urge you to make a donation, which will help pay for necessary equipment and training, which reduces insurance premiums. I can tell you that the NFA is doing all it can to raise money from various sources, including applying for multiple grants. The NFA is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, so your donation of $35, $45, $55, or other amount is 100% tax-deductible.]

Posted on 14 Dec 2019, 12:04 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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