John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

Summary of April 22, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting: Revised 2020 Road Program, Helping Local Businesses, More...

 

On April 22, 2020, the Newtown BOS held its first-ever meeting via Zoom! You can view the video archive here.

The following is a brief summary of the April 22, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) Zoom 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, member David Oxley, and member Kyle Davis. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Solicitor David Sander, Township EngineerLeanna Colubriale, and Township Solicitor Jerry Schenkman.

Development

Toll Twining Bridge Road Project: There was one unrelated email received from resident Ron Keiser of Twining Bridge Road stating he has heard nothing further about the Toll project on Twining Bridge Road. Mr. Sander replied that the conditional use matter will not be considered until the BOS holds their first in person meeting. He said the Township has received an extension from Toll until the BOS can hold an in person meeting; these questions can be brought up at that meeting.

Infrastructure

2020 Liquid Fuels Program: Ms. Colubriale said bids were opened on March 4, 2020 and 3 bids were received. She said as a result of funding and loans needed to support the project, it was recommended the bids be rejected and rebid with a revised and reduced scope of work.

Ratify Authorization for Township Engineer to prepare Road Program Bid Package using as much Liquid Fuels Funds over General Funds as possible. In response to Mr. Mack’s questions, Mr. Lewis said there is approximately $685K in the Liquid Fuels account and about $600K is targeted for improvements which will cover roughly 2.5-3 miles.

Supervisor Reports

Helping Businesses During COVID-19: Mr. Mack thanked residents for helping each other and suggested looking at the Newtown Business Association’s website (newtownba.org) for information on local businesses and how residents can support them. He reported The Patch has been maintaining a useful list including businesses that are open. Mr. Mack said he received a suggestion that the Township consider relaxing signage rules temporarily to help businesses promote to residents as many still must pay expenses while not bringing in any money. He mentioned speaking to owners of the shopping centers to see how they are handling the situation with their tenants.

Zoning

E30 Curative Amendment: Mr. Mack reported the Planning Commission (PC) met yesterday and discussed the Curative Amendment stating Newtown is quite ahead of the other Townships having had several meetings on the subject already. He said the PC came to a consensus on the number of fueling stations and pumps which should be consistent with all other gas stations in Newtown Township. Mr. Schenkman added that Upper Makefield and Wrightstown recommended the square footage be reduced from 6k to 4k and the minimum lot size of one acre and setback requirements are being looked at by Lisa Wolf of the Bucks County Planning Commission.

Votes on Motions

Not all motions may be included.

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. I may not have asked all the questions in the notes at the meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 25 May 2020, 10:14 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of March 11, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting: Love is Love Passes, Toll Bros Tabled, More...

The following is a brief summary of the March 11, 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, member David Oxley, and member Kyle Davis. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis and Township Solicitor David Sander.

Discrimination

Love is Love Day Resolution: [The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) passed a "Love is Love" resolution in support of LGBTQ + minority youth by a unanimous bipartisan 5-0 vote. Joining me in voting in favor of the resolution, which I authored and put forward, were Board members David Oxley, Phil Calabro, Kyle Davis, and Dennis Fisher.] [For background read: “The Day That Newtown Township Failed to Show Love for LGBTQ+ Youth”]

Public Comments

Marlene Pray, director and founder of the Planned Parenthood Rainbow Room in Doylestown provided statistics on LGBTQ youth and described the first ever county wide prom; she said the original request was to recognize love is love on 2/15/20 and the goal of the resolution was to surprise the prom committee at the prom where over 150 youth from 57 different schools attended. Ms. Pray confirmed the date was never about Valentine’s Day saying although Valentine’s Day is often difficult, the “love is love” phrase is what matters to the queer community. She quoted a speech from Lin-Manuel Miranda and asked the BOS to vote to support the love is love resolution.

Linda Bobrin, resident and former member of the BOS, asked the Board to recall all the good things they accomplished over the last few years and urged them to reconsider the adoption of the Love is Love resolution.

Tracey Sabara, resident of Warminster, shared the joy and challenges of parenting her 13-year-old transgender son. She expressed her confusion as to why there has been so much pushback to something as simple as recognizing that love is love and asked the BOS to support and put the resolution into action.



State Senator Steve Santarsiero acknowledged that Newtown was the first Township in Bucks County to pass the Civil Rights Ordinance that grants civil rights to the LGBTQ community in Newtown. He then explained the purpose of the Love is Love resolution was to recognize the LGBTQ youth, their first queer prom and how much it meant to these kids. He addressed the concerns of some who felt the resolution was exclusionary stating that could not be further from the truth and asked the Board to acknowledge this one special day for these kids and make a statement to stand with these courageous young people. Senator Santarsiero urged the BOS to bring the resolution back up and vote to show the kids the BOS stands with them.



Bob Szwajkos, resident of Newtown Borough said he is here to show his support for the youth who have come tonight and for the 150 youth from 55 different schools who attended the Love is Love Prom on February 15. He asked the BOS to show their support for a segment of the population who face tremendous challenges simply because of their sexual orientation and identity. Mr. Szwajkos explained his own challenges coming out as an adult and then briefly reviewed the history of the gay community. He said these young individuals have the opportunity to be out, but they are still fighting and all they are asking for is support. Mr. Szwajkos feels the Board has failed this group of young people by not adopting the Love is Love resolution and is urging the Board to reconsider their actions tonight.

David Bria of Yardley, speaking as an alumnus of the Rainbow Room in Doylestown, echoed how important it was that they put together the LGBTQ prom; he said discrimination happens all the time and shared two recent examples. Mr. Bria said the BOS has an opportunity to send a message this evening and asked them to adopt the Love is Love resolution.



Comments of supervisor David Oxley



Council Rock North student Marguerite Speaker is on the GSA Board at CRN and said she loves living in Newtown however many of her friends do not as they do not feel accepted with the BOS and community refusing to acknowledge the Love is Love resolution. She said the resolution is not changing any laws and noted that the BOS said they supported the notion of the resolution, therefore if they support the notion, or the idea, then they support the resolution itself. She urged the BOS to recognize the importance of uplifting the community and pass the Love is Love resolution.


Reading of the Resolution and the Vote

Development

Toll Brothers AOP - Conditional Use Decision: Mr. Sander reported the BOS held a conditional use hearing on February 26 for a use B-12 cluster development in the CM district. The hearing was closed and the Board deliberated. Mr. Sander said this action does not allow developer to begin construction, they still must go through the land development process where issues such as final layout will be reviewed. Resident Joy Ann Charlton said the property is zoned CM and the BOS does not have to approve this use. She referred to the Joint Comprehensive Management Plan and cited several sections of the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance while expressing concerns about the traffic, safety issues and ground water problems that this proposed development will bring. Ms. Charlton reminded the BOS they have a duty to make responsible decisions and she urged them not to approve this decision tonight.

Mr. Calabro asked what the recourse would be should the BOS not approve this application tonight. Mr. Sander replied there is no recourse provided a full written decision is issued within 45 days. In response to Mr. Calabro’s additional questions, Mr. Sander said if approved, Toll Brothers will proceed and if denied they can appeal or apply for a by-right plan which could have 60 plus homes spread evenly across but leaving no preserved open space and increase traffic by about 50%.

Mr. Calabro moved to table the conditional use decision for Toll Brothers AOP to the next agenda. Mr. Oxley seconded. The motion passed 5-0.

Public Safety

Police Report: Chief Hearn reported there were 1562 calls for service during February including 16 arrests, 70 traffic accidents, and 229 citations (for more details, read "February 2020 Newtown Township Police Report: Sycamore Street Burglaries, Mill Pond Road Traffic 'Blitz Initiative,' Harassment"). He said there were four commercial burglaries along Sycamore Street and the suspect was apprehended and charged. The Chief said a social media post regarding traffic issues on Mill Pond Road generated a blitz which resulted in 28 citations and 5 warnings. He asked residents to report issues to the police department and not social media, as the department may not see it. Drug take back day is April 28 and March 18 is coffee with a cop at Chick-fil-A. Chief Hearn said Bucks County is being targeted with theft from autos and the PD and ESD are aware of Covid 19.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission: Penns Trail Investments - who presented a preliminary as final plan for land development at 3 Penns Trail. They revised the original proposed 24K square foot, two story office building to a one-story building slightly less than 19K square feet. Responses were provided to the review letters an all items are will comply. The intended use for the building was presumed to be medical, however it won’t be known for sure until a tenant is secured. The Commission members who were present supported this application.

JMZO E-30 Amendment to Zoning Ordinance: [The Commission reviewed the amended ordinance for short term rental revising the definition of “family” and after a lengthy discussion found it to need further clarification. The solicitor will attend the Jointure meeting on March 5 to determine the purpose of this amendment and get additional details.] For more details, listen to discussions here: "Discussions of E-30 Zoning Amendment."

Mr. Calabro asked if the E-30 amendment was forwarded to the other PC’s yet; a discussion ensued, and it was determined the other PC’s have not seen the amendment yet. Mr. Fisher asked if there was a timeline on the short-term rental and Mr. Sander said there was not.

Supervisor Reports

Environmental Advisory Council: Mr. Mack reported the EAC has a HOA forum on April 6 and they are working on getting the information out to the HOA’s. He said the EAC also adopted a set of recommendations for environmental provisions to be included in the Comprehensive Plan which will be submitted to the PC. Additionally, an EAC representative would like to attend a future BOS meeting to discuss drafting a resolution in support of a voluntary ban of single use plastics in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center; they are participating in Earth Day at Core Creek Park and would like to write an article for the green corner of Township newsletter.

Votes on Motions

Not all motions may be included.

Posted on 23 Apr 2020, 11:28 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of February 26, 2020, BOS Meeting: Toll Bros Hearing, Bomba & parking, Love is Love Day resolution shot down, More...

The following is a brief summary of the February 26, 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, member David Oxley, and member Kyle Davis. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Solicitor David Sander, and Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale.

Community

Love is Love Day Resolution: Mr. Mack explained the Love is Love Resolution which Senator Santarsiero brought to the floor of the Senate to recognize February 15 as Love is Love day for LGBTQ youth (read "State Senator Steve Santarsiero's 'Love Is Love Day' Proposal Shot Down in PA Senate"). Mr. Mack read an email from Senator Santarsiero and added that Newtown was the first to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance (read "Newtown Becomes the FIRST Township in Bucks County to Pass an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance That Protects the Rights of the LGBTQ Community").

Mr. Davis supports the notion of supporting a group that may be marginalized; however, he is not in favor of having a specific day for a specific group. Mr. Oxley stated love is something you share with all neighbors not just one particular group; he added there are other groups that suffer as well. Mr. Fisher said he supports this resolution and feels like we need to make a statement of support. Mr. Calabro suggested amending without having a particular day with the understanding that there are people out there that need love.

Resident Joe O’Neill, who is also [a former member of] the Human Rights Commission, read about the challenges of LGBTQ youth and stated that we have a duty to improve the lives of these young people.

The discussion continued around the day, inclusiveness and compromise. Mr. Mack said this resolution is specific to LGBTQ youth as they don’t have legal protection in Pennsylvania, and he wants to keep the resolution as written. The motion failed 3-2 with Messrs. Calabro, Davis and Oxley voting nay. [View the video below to hear comments from several residents spoke up in favor of the resolution.]



[My motion: As many of you may know, State Senator Steve Santarsiero proposed to designate the day after Valentine's Day – February 15 – as "Love is Love Day" in Pennsylvania in support of local LGBTQ youth. His resolution never made it to the floor for a vote. Consequently, I am proposing that Newtown Township approve its own “LOVE is LOVE DAY” resolution inspired by the one proposed by Sen. Santarsiero and the one recently passed by Newtown Borough Council unanimously.

I would like to read Sen. Santarsiero’s personal communication to me in support of this resolution:

“As joyful and meaningful Valentine's Day can be, it can be equally painful for those without a partner or apart from their love. My heart goes out to those who struggle during this time.

“While Valentine's Day does celebrate love, Love is Love Day celebrates the love that has long been oppressed, attacked, and pushed out of view. For generations, our children, our siblings, our friends who love differently than us have been told to live and love in silence or not at all. This has of course led them to suffer in silence as well. LGBTQ members of our society have significantly higher rates of suicide rates compared to the general population. LGBTQ youth have the highest rates of suicidal activity in the nation. The attacks on who they are and the love they share has caused extreme pain and taken lives. “As acceptance of LGBTQ people and their love has grown in our culture and law, suicide rates have similarly dropped. A nationwide study by the American Medical Association from 1999-2015 showed a reduction in suicidal attempts by all high school students of 7% and 14% among LGBTQ students as states adopted same-sex marriage policies. Establishing a culture of acceptance is a universal good.”

“The celebration of any group in a multicultural society does not detract from another. It only adds to us as a whole. Our community, Commonwealth, and country is blessed with diversity, and that is cause for celebration. As long as we approach our distinctions with acceptance and appreciation, we will only grow together as a community. That is the message of Love is Love Day, and why, I believe, it deserves this recognition.”

According to the PA Second Class Township Code, Township Supervisors are “charged with the general governance of the township and the execution of legislative, executive and administrative powers in order to ensure sound fiscal management and to secure the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the township.” It is completely appropriate, therefore, that we pass this resolution, which doesn’t cost the Township a single penny.

Therefore, I make a motion that we adopt the “LOVE is LOVE DAY” resolution as proposed.]

UPDATE: A revised "Love is Love" resolution was passed by unanimous bipartisan 5-0 vote at the March 11, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting (read "Newtown Township Passes Revised Love is Love Resolution").

Development

Bomba Taco’s and Rum Public Hearing: Attorney Joe Blackburn represented the applicant seeking E-5 and E-6 eating place conditional use for an approximate 3,990 square foot tenant space at 2930 S. Eagle Road in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center in the PC planned commercial district.

Mr. Blackburn said the restaurant offers a Caribbean and South American inspired menu with an open kitchen concept. He then addressed the January 13 planner’s letter stating the total sitewide ratio of restaurants with this addition totals 30.08% falling within the 45% maximum restaurant ratio.

Mr. Mack expressed hope that parking is relieved as the center is completed and that Brixmor will come back with a traffic study; Mr. Blackburn said that they would. Resident Patricia Curran asked what happens if after the shopping center is complete and they do their study and find out there isn’t ample parking. Mr. Blackburn replied the return visit is ... more geared to traffic and the parking is in strict compliance with the relief granted. He added it is an active construction zone right now and traffic and parking will be adequate in the end.

Mr. Calabro expressed his concerns about the outdoor seating and asked if ten seats could be removed. Mr. Blackburn replied Bomba is by far the smallest sit-down restaurant and they cannot afford to lose any seating. There was a discussion about what constitutes seasonal seating, heaters and what has been approved for other establishments. Mr. Mack said he did not have a problem with outdoor seating, weather permitting and added since a timeframe was not specified for the others, we should be fair in this case.

Resident Frank McCarron suggested having more than 13 employees so as not to limit success. Mr. Calabro said the Township doesn’t limit the employees; this is the number that was requested and if the applicant would like to change this number they can do so now. Mr. Hopkins requested the number of employees be changed to 20. Mr. Sander amended to increase the total employees to twenty. Mr. Calabro asked now that employees increased does that effect parking. Mr. Blackburn stated it won’t affect the calculation of space required and verbiage is being worked into leases requiring employees park along the perimeter.

Toll PA XVIII, L.P. Public Hearing: Mr. Sander explained the conditional use application to operate a use B-12 cluster development at 435 Durham and 107 Twining Bridge Roads where the combined parcels are 158.07 acres located in the CM Conservation Management district. He added the BOS is not approving the development of this property this evening as that discussion would come during land development if approved; tonight’s proceeding is to determine whether this cluster development raises any concerns unique to this site as this use B-12 is permitted in the CM district by conditional use.

Mr. Davis asked about the old farmhouse and springhouse on the property and Mr. Barnett said it was an abandoned home and spring house near the existing driveway on Twining Bridge Road. Mr. Davis asked how old the house was and Mr. Barnett did not know, however added that a historic resource survey form was completed as part of the planning module and the response from the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission did not have any comments that it was historical in nature. Mr. Davis requested a copy of the letter.

Mr. Mack asked what would prevent homeowners from disturbing the agricultural soils on their lots by installing a shed. Mr. Adelman said this is why they offered the alternative buffer plan in order to create a physical demarcation so landowners would know which area is not to be disturbed; deed restrictions would also be put in place which would give the Township and the HOA the ability to ensure it remains undisturbed. Mr. Mack expressed his concerns about homeowner compliance with the rules. Mr. Adelman said the details will be included in the HOA declaration which also allows enforcement power to the Township; any HOA declaration is subject to Township review. Mr. Adelman added it will be noted in the deed restriction and the homeowner will be required to sign a plot plan with their agreement of sale that specifies what they can and can’t do. Mr. Lewis asked if the applicant would be amenable to putting an easement on those lots and Mr. Adelman said they would. Mr. Sander added that the HOA members will be their own police force and discussion ensued on how to enforce that the soils are not disturbed, and the buffers not encroached.


Newtown resident Eric Pomerantz told the Supervisors to abide by the "spirit of what conservation management is all about" and consider that when making a final decision. More information about that plan can be found here.

There was no motion from the Board. Mr. Calabro asked Mr. Sander what the legal ramifications were if a decision was not made tonight. Mr. Sander said the Board can deliberate in private and will then have 45 days from today if the hearing is closed to deliver a written decision to the applicant. Mr. Sander asked the BOS to decide and provide him with enough time to prepare a written response. He added that the decision would have to be made at a public meeting. Mr. Calabro announced due to lack of a motion and a second, there is no decision made tonight.

Public Safety

Emergency Services Department Report: Chief Forsyth reported there were 140 calls for service during the month of January. There were five building fires, five dwelling fires, one brush fires and 87 EMS calls. The fire association completed 22 safety inspections in the Township and two in the Borough. Emergency service staff completed annual testing of ropes on apparatus in January. The department assisted Northampton Township FD with a working fire and responded to two auto extrications; they also assisted the police department with lockdown drills in the schools.

SAFER Grant Discussion: Mr. Lewis stated the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) Grant was coming up and both he and Chief Forsyth recommend the Township move forward and apply for the grant which will provide the Township with additional funds for hiring more staff. He said the Township is looking to expand the department to 7 days/12 hours this grant would greatly help that effort.

Mr. Mack questioned needing five additional staff to cover two additional days and Mr. Lewis explained four fighters per truck is required and shifts and vacation time must be taken into consideration. Mr. Mack expressed concern that the Township would be committed to the full salaries after three years and this is something the consultants for the five-year plan should be involved in. Mr. Lewis stated the fire study will be shared with the consultants. Mr. Fisher confirmed the application fee is $900. Chief Forsyth added as a result of the fire study in 2018 and the volunteer staff being so short, he proposed this grant to plan and prepare for the future. The consensus of the Board is to move forward with the grant application.

[From my notes composed prior to the meeting: “The grant is a three (3) year grant that would cover the salary of the firefighter and the benefits. The contribution from the township would be a matching 25% the first year, 25% the second year, and the final year would be a 65% contribution by the township. The numbers that we would request will need to be calculated with the assistance of the Township Manager and the Finance Director.”

QUESTION: Where do the matching funds come from? This cost can be substantial, especially in year #3.

QUESTION: Hiring 5 new staff firefights will be easy the first year, but without being certain where the money will come from to keep them employed – especially after the first two years – this seems more like a request to hire new firefighters since it will be extremely difficult to lay them off if funds are not available (they are union members, BTW).

QUESTION: We have hired ESI Consultants to develop a 5-year budgeting plan. Shouldn’t this wait until we have that input?

What I am saying is that we are putting the cart before the horse. We first need to understand what the cost will be down the road and how we will cover that cost. This is what long-range fiscal planning is all about.]

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission: Brixmor Property Group for Ulta Beauty, 2914 S. Eagle Road - The applicant is seeking additional relief to install a wall sign for Ulta Beauty which does not comply with the height restrictions granted by the ZHB. They are requesting a 22’ 2.5” high façade sign on the front of the building facing the parking lot of building 9. The consensus of the Commission was to support this request however advised the decision is ultimately up to the ZHB.

Planning Commission: Bomba Tacos and Rum, 2930 S. Eagle Road - The Commission reviewed the application for Conditional Use for a proposed E-5, E-6 eating place which will be in the Village at Newtown Shopping Center. The Commission agreed to recommend approval for this application. [See "Development".]

Planning Commission: Newtown AOP (Toll Brothers) Durham and Twining Bridge Roads - The Commission reviewed the proposed subdivision and application requesting Conditional Use approval to allow a use B-12 single family detached cluster development on approximately 158.07 acres located in the southwestern corner of the intersection of Durham and Twining Bridge Roads within the CM Conservation Management District. The proposal is for a 45-lot residential community. There was a lengthy discussion on the details along with public comments. The Commission moved to recommend the Conditional use application subject to the conditions read by Mr. Schenkman 3-1-1.

Supervisor Reports

Newtown Fire Association (NFA): Mr. Mack reported he attended the Newtown Fire Association meeting and there is a new probationary member who is a high school student. He said they also discussed continuing work on apparatus needing repair as well as replacement and upgrades to make the trucks useful; the NFA is also preparing for brew fest in the spring.

Votes on Motions

Not all motions may be included.

Posted on 16 Mar 2020, 01:50 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of February 12, 2020, Newtown Township BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the February 12, 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, member David Oxley, and member Kyle Davis. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Solicitor David Sander, and Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale.

Public Safety

Police Report: Chief Hearn reported the department responded to 1,601 calls for service during January including 12 arrests, 94 traffic accidents, 18 deer related and one fatality. There were 213 traffic citations issued and the commercial vehicle enforcement initiatives continue. Read details of the report here.

Mr. Mack said residents on Mill Pond Road are concerned about traffic especially since the recent accident. He asked what can be done to slow drivers down on that road, suggesting speed bumps or stop signs. Chief Hearn stating he is aware of the concerns and as a result the force has been conducting an analysis of the location since Saturday. He said the speed limit is 25 mph and most offenders are residents. He warned that speed humps create noise, delay emergency services and increase plowing costs for the Township. The Chief said the police will continue to enforce the speed limit to make sure residents are safe. Mr. Mack asked what is required to add stop signs. The Chief replied a study can be done at the expense of the Township.

[Meanwhile, back in March 2018, a resident of Frost Lane complained to the Township about speeding traffic on her street. As you may know, Goodnoe School is located on Frost Lane, which the resident dubbed “Frost Freeway.” It’s a 25 mph zone and during certain school hours the speed limit is 15 mph. So any speeding on that street is a concern.

When I made an inquiry regarding this issue, Kurt Ferguson, the Township Manager at the time informed me: "Typically these traffic issues are investigated by our staff. We have the ability to measure traffic speed, total cars, as well as looking as site lines, etc. Typically this would be assigned to staff to investigate and to report results to the board." Within a few days, the Police Department performed a “stealth stat” survey of the traffic flow on Frost Lane (see the results
here).

Since this study was done by the staff, I assume that there is no extra expense to the Township.]

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission: JMZO Amendment to Allow New E30 Use (combination fueling station and convenience store) - Mary Stover from CKS engineering attended the meeting to provide updates and answer questions. She reported Wrightstown and Upper Makefield received the ordinance however they have not officially reviewed it. Their solicitors have made some preliminary comments, including:

  • Change conditional use to special exception
  • Prohibit the sale of alcohol and propane refill tanks
  • Consider prohibiting diesel pumps to discourage large trucks
  • Limit the hours of operation if within 750’ of residential use or district

Mr. Mack said he was at the meeting and there was discussion about conditional use and special exception. He asked for clarification between the two. Mr. Sander said they are basically the same thing, uses permitted in a district but something about them needs additional review. He explained the main difference is the special exception is heard by the Zoning Hearing Board and the conditional use is heard by the Board of Supervisors (BOS) and the burden is the same for both.

[At the February 6, 2020, meeting of the Joint Zoning Council, representatives of Newtown, Wrightstown, and Upper Makefield township – the “Jointure” - discussed the E-30 amendment to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance that was drafted by Newtown Township. Recall that this “curative amendment” was proposed to allow for a combination gas station-convenience store to be located within several locations within the Jointure. The following is an edited excerpt of that discussion focused specifically on the number of fueling pumps that would be allowed. This issue was raised by the Newtown Planning Commission, which suggested among other things that the maximum number of gas pumps should be eight with allowances for an additional four electric charging stations.]

Supervisor Reports

Finance Committee: Mr. Fisher reported the Finance Committee met and discussed economic development and working with the business community.

Environmental Advisory Council: Mr. Mack reported there is an EAC council member resigning and they will need a new person to sign up. He said the EAC continues working on important issues such as the comprehensive plan, and the HOA forum which is tentatively set for March 28; it will be a half day forum and there will hopefully be a readout after at the BOS meeting. EAC is also participating in park and rec activities.

Trails

Lower Dolington Road Multi-Use Trail: Ms. Colubriale reported the Township was awarded partial grant funding from DCED and DCNR totaling $625K between the two for construction. She reviewed the plans and stated based on reduced funding and reviewing with the Township staff it made the most sense to move forward with the design and revise the plan to fit within the budget; the plan is to start at Frost Lane and continue to just north of the Peco power lines easement. Ms. Colubriale said the project would be bid out in segments based on the cost of the project and she is looking for consensus of the BOS to move forward with this strategy. Mr. Calabro said there is consensus to move forward as planned. 

Votes on Motions

Not all motions are included.

Posted on 28 Feb 2020, 13:53 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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

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