John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

Summary of March 27, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the March 27, 2019, 2019, Newtown 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 members Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander.

Development

Chipotle Mexican Grill, 2930 South Eagle Road: Mr. Sander noted one scenario has changed since conditional use was granted at last meeting (read "Summary of March 13, 2019, BOS Public Meeting"). The original unit number was Unit 40 at the end of Building 8; this was an error on their part which they have corrected to reflect Unit 37, located in the middle of building 8. It is similarly situated and there is no substantive adverse impact on granting conditional use and approval is recommended. The motion passed 5-0.

Fiscal Issues

Finance Committee/DCED EIP Grant: The application for match grant was submitted on March 15, to the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED Definition). [Read "Newtown Township Seeks Grant to Assess Finances".]

Mr. Jack Brod, chair of the Newtown Finance Committee, reported the committee met with senior representatives from two agencies, Bucks County Redevelopment Authority and the Bucks County Industrial Development Authority. Both agencies are interested in helping Newtown Township attract employers/jobs and pursue economic development.

Mr. Brod inquired if the RFI would be the next step to get to the stage to issue RFP's. Mr. Calabro raised concerns about issuing the RFI without knowing the scope of work and issuing RFP's without advertising them.

Mr. Mack stressed that he would like to be more involved with the process including formulating questions for consultants and the grants in general. He wants to be sure that he and the supervisors have an opportunity to look over and edit all documents that carry their signatures. Mr. Brod said this is why the committee is not issuing anything directly.

Public Works

Bid Recommendation for the 2019 Liquid Fuels Road Program: The Board discussed a motion to award to Harris Blacktopping, Inc., The Base Bid, Alternate Bid No. 2 and Alternate No. 3 in the amount of $706,596.20 for 2.73 miles of roadway. Mr. Mack asked about alternate roads included and Ms. Colubriale said the two alternates awarded were Terry Drive and Blacksmith Road.

Mr. Mack also read we were awarded $611K in Liquid Fuels Program Definition funding when we expected $640K [read "Newtown Township Will Receive $611K In State Liquid Fuels Payments"]. Mr. Lewis clarified that $640K was budgeted under the liquid fuels fund and the township received $611K from the state and anticipated $595K. The motion passed 5-0.]

Prepared Statements by Supervisor Mack

Newtown Fire Association General Meeting: Dennis Fisher and I attended the Newtown Fire Association (NFA) General Meeting last night. Matt Gerhard, Chief of the NFA, communicated to me that he would like to attend the April 10th Board of Supervisors meeting, if possible, to answer any questions about the NFA’s formal response to Dr. Carter’s recommendations and the progress we have made so far. He plans on providing a copy of said responses to the BOS the week prior for review. If it is appropriate, he is available to meet beforehand with the NFA BOS liaison, Mr. Lewis and Chief Forsyth to briefly go through their response.

After the meeting, Dennis and I met Lieutenant Liz Ellis who gave us a personal tour of the NFA museum. She explained to us how firefighters find the location of alarms and especially how hydrants are located and the technology available to ensure that there is adequate water pressure at fire locations.

Technology Committee: Four members of the Technology Committee met last night. On the agenda was re-organization and a Webex demonstration of SAVVY CITIZEN, which is a calendar and mass notification system that enables local governments to relay important information to their citizens. The Committee did not elect a Chair at this meeting, but preferred to wait until additional members could be present. At this time there is one vacancy to be filled on the Committee – if interested, please contact the Township – and one member who seems to be inactive and unreachable.

The Savvy Citizen app, which anyone can download to his or her phone for free, is competitive with NIXLE, which was discussed at a previous BOS meeting, but the subscription fee is considerably less – about $2500 per year vs. $6000 for NIXLE. The Committee expressed interest in this app and may wish to make a presentation at a further BOS meeting.

Posted on 11 Apr 2019, 14:06 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of March 13, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the March 13, 2019, 2019, Newtown 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 members Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander.

Development

Chipotle Mexican Grill, 2930 South Eagle Road: Mr. Blackburn presented the application for uses E-5, eating place and E-6, drive through eating place, at the northwest corner of building 8 at Village at Newtown Shopping Center. The space is 2500 square feet and the E-6 is for the carry out component of the business; there will not be a drive through window. The applicant has agreed to all of the comments in the CKS review letter. This application brings the percentage of restaurants to 15%. In the shopping center’s approval there is shared parking of 4.7 spaces per 1000 square feet and a limit of 45% restaurant uses. With this application 128 (58%) of the allotted 220 EDUs Definition are taken. The motion passed 5-0.

Fiscal Issues

2018 Pension Performance Report: Grant Kalson of Dahab Associates was in attendance at the March 13, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting to review the performance of the Township’s 3 pension plans (Police, non-uniformed employees, Firefighters). He noted that the fourth quarter of 2018 was not good (pension assets were down about 9%) but by March 11, 2019, the numbers were back up. He reviewed the investment policy, which currently has 75% equities and 25% bonds. Experts feel that the current rapid growth will not be sustained long term and Newtown’s pensions have the highest percentage of equities among the 58 public pension funds that Mr. Kalson reviewed. Kalson said he was "scared to death right now." For these reasons he is recommending that the Board consider adjusting the equity balance to 68% as a hedge against market corrections. In response to Mr. Mack’s questions, Mr. Kalson explained that the pensions are currently underfunded in the range of the mid to low 80% range. Ms. Bobrin moved to authorize the Township Pension Advisor to reduce the pension portfolio to 68% equities and to rebalance as needed. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.


Public Health

Newtown Artesian Water Company: Mr. Mack reported that in response to recent letters to residents from Newtown Artesian Water Company advising of the presence of some PFAs Definition in the water, he and Ms. Bobrin met with General Manager Daniel Angove, who reviewed testing procedures, which are now run quarterly. Upon Mr. Mack’s request, the Board instructed the Township Manager to invite Mr. Angove to make a presentation to the Board after the next tests, which are scheduled for March, 2019. [For more details, read PFAS Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply.]

Public Safety

Police Report: Chief Hearn reported that the Department responded to 1386 calls including 66 auto accidents and 7 DUIs in February, 2019. On April 27 the Department will have a drug take back event for disposal of prescription medications at the Township building from 10AM until 2 PM. There is a drop box in the police building lobby during the day. In response to Mr. Mack’s question, he confirmed that an officer will respond to any calls from the red phone at the building entrance for off hour disposal of drugs. [For more details, read February 2019 Police Report.]

Trails

DCNR Grant Resolution 2019-R-8 for Lower Dolington Road Multi-use Trail: The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR Definition) provides grants for trails with priority consideration of those projects "that close priority trail gaps as well as projects that rehabilitate or upgrade existing trails."

[Some background: The proposed Lower Dolington Road Multi-use Trail would provide a link to many residential properties to Roberts Ridge Park and would potentially connect to Lower Makefield trails to the Garden of Reflection. The Township's 2018 DCNR grant request for this project was denied by the DCNR. Although DCNR considered the project a "High Value Project," it either did not have the funds "immediately available to support this effort and/or there are issues that need to be resolved prior to potentially awarding a grant."]

Mr. Mack moved to adopt Resolution 2019-R-8. Ms. Bobrin seconded. Discussion of motion: Mr. Mack noted that the sketch plan only includes two crossings and he believed a pedestrian crossing is needed from Lower Dolington Road to Roberts Ridge Park. Mr. Lewis said that there are two new crossings. This is an existing crossing, which will be enhanced when the plan is fully engineered. The crossing will be included in any RFP’s for the project. The motion passed 5-0.

Prepared Statements by Supervisor Mack

National Sunshine Week: March 10 through 16 marks “National Sunshine Week.” It was created in 2005 by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Its goal is to educate the public about the importance of open government and promote a dialogue about the importance of freedom of information and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy.

As part of Sunshine Week 2019, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR) is hosting a series of webinars. On Monday, I attended the “Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) Requester Training” webinar presented by Erik Arneson, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. This webinar focused on how to write a good Right-to-Know Law request, accessing information in databases, significant deadlines in the RTKL, how to appeal a RTKL denial, and more.

Thanks to our Open Records Officer Micah Lewis, aka, Township Manager, I was able to analyze the open records requests processed by Newtown Township in 2018. In 2018, Newtown processed 92 Open Records Requests in compliance with the State’s Sunshine Law. A total of 42 (46%) were from businesses, many of which sought building permit records. Almost half were from individuals. Only 4 requests were from the media, which asked about employee salaries and website statistics.

About 20% of the requests were denied mostly because there were no records that complied with the request. That underscores the need for requester training. To that end, I urge all citizens to learn more about the PA Right-to-Know law and how to request public records by accessing the Open Records Office at www.openrecordspennsylvania.com. [For more details, read Open Records Requests Processed by Newtown Township in 2018.]

EPA Elcon Q&A Public Meeting: On May 11, 2016, Newtown Township adopted Resolution 2016-R-10, opposing the Elcon Toxic Waste incinerator. This is a commercial hazardous waste treatment facility that will treat liquid waste from the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

According to a recent article in The Intelligencer, “for the fourth time in as many years, Elcon Recycling Services is resubmitting application materials in an attempt to build a controversial waste treatment facility in Falls” about 13 miles from Newtown.

Groups such as Bucks POWA [Protect Our Water & Air] and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network say they’re specifically concerned about toxic materials being released to the air and potential drinking water contamination if this incinerator is approved.

Last week (Tuesday, March 5, 20190, I attended a public meeting hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to answer questions from the public (see video below). The meeting was jammed packed. DEP officials reviewed the status of waste management, air quality, and stormwater management permit applications for this facility. There was a lot of chemistry discussed and even though I have advanced degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, it was difficult to follow all the technical details. However, I was surprised to learn the amount of toxic pollutants the proposed permit would allow to be released into the air: 

Proposed “emission limits” in the application: nitrogen oxides – 23.4 tons per year; carbon monoxide – 36.6 tons per year; sulfur oxides – 24.2 tons per year; volatile organic compounds – 10.1 tons per year; particulate matter – 10.5 tons per year; for hydrochloric acid – 6.3 tons per year! NOTE that the 2016 Newtown Resolution opposing this project estimated that “the incinerator treatment process will produce over 39 tons of air emissions” whereas the recent data I just cited adds up to more than 111 tons – or nearly three times as much! DEP has yet to do an analysis of where these pollutants would be carried by air currents. Hopefully, not toward Newtown!

Posted on 31 Mar 2019, 10:31 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of February 27, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the February 27, 2019, 2019, Newtown 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 members Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher.

Committee Reports

Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Peggy Driscoll reported that at its February 19, 2019 meeting the members two Zoning Hearing Board applications. The Martin family, at 6 Morton Drive, is seeking setback relief for a patio and deck and Playpad LLC is seeking a use variance for Use E-9 in the LI, Light Industrial Zoning District (see the Newtown Area Industrial Zoning Districts Code) for a children's play space. The Commission recommended that the Supervisors not oppose these applications.

The Commission also reviewed a conditional use application for Chipotle, for Uses E5 and E-6, eating place and eating place with take-out/drive through (see the Newtown Area Commercial Zoning Districts Code) and recommended that the Board approve the application. It should be noted that there is no drive-through window planned. In response to Mr. Mack’s question, Ms. Driscoll explained that the Chipotle restaurant will be located in Village at Newtown in the northwest corner of the new buildings planned for where the Bank of America is currently located. The amphitheater will be a paved seating area between the two winds of the proposed buildings.

Public Safety

Swearing in of Police Chief John L. Hearn: District Judge Michael Petrucci administered the oath of office to Police Chief John L. Hearn. Chief Hearn thanked the Board and Township Manager for their help through the interview process and for their support and confidence in him in selecting him as the new chief. He thanked interim chief Jason Harris for his support and said that he is very proud to lead this excellent department. [Read "Meet Newtown Township's New Police Chief".]

The audience at John Hearn swearing in ceremony. The entire Newtown Police force was also in attendance but are not in this photo. They were standing behind the podium.

Resolutions

John Mack: Mr. Mack Mr. Mack reported that he had participated in the BCATO Definition meeting at which three resolutions were considered for forwarding to PSATS Definition for discussion and consideration for future legislation.

  1. Resolution to restore municipalities’ ability to adopt and collect a mercantile or business privilege tax in Townships that specifically elect to adopt such tax. Although Newtown Supervisors did not agree to support this resolution, BCATO voted to forward it to PSATS.
  2. Resolution to require licensed real estate agents to disclose municipal zoning and what is allowed within 1000 feet to a prospective purchaser. Newtown Supervisors supported this resolution and BCATO voted to forward it to PSATS.
  3. Resolution to support legislation that continues to promote continuing education for elected tax collectors and actively opposes any legislation that would seek to eliminate the position of a legally elected tax collector. Newtown Supervisors supported this resolution and BCATO voted to forward it to PSATS.

Posted on 13 Mar 2019, 01:20 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of February 13, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the February 13, 2019, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here.

Committee Reports

Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Peggy Driscoll reported that at its February 5, 2019 meeting the members reviewed a preliminary as final plan for a minor subdivision of the D'Archangelo property, an 11.3 acre parcel, into two lots, taking access from Linton Hill Road. The plan includes a shared driveway. The Commission recommended that the Board approve the subdivision and recommended granting of a number of waivers. Mrs. Driscoll confirmed that the recommendation was unanimous.

Development

Fred Beans: Ms. Bobrin moved to authorize execution of development, financial security and stormwater agreements for Fred Beans, Newtown [see here for details of renovation plans]. Mr. Mack seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Fairy Gene Inc.: Mr. Fisher moved to approve the conditional use decision for Fairy Gene, Inc., 121 Friends Lane, Suite 202 for use G-1, manufacturing in the LI, Light Industrial Zoning District. Applicants are planning to use 5,000 sq. ft. for cosmetic product manufacturing by combining non-hazardous ingredients with water to make a cream-like product. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Public Safety

Police Report: Interim Police Chief Jason Harris reported that for the month of January the department responded to over 1500 calls, including 3 overdoses, two requiring the use of Narcan and 5 DUI’s. The department participated in over 300 hours of training. [For details, read "January 2019 Police Report: Crash on Swamp Road".]

DCED Keystone Communities Grant: Mr. Lewis asked the Board to authorize him to execute a DCED commitment letter for a Keystone grant in the amount of $94,000 for reimbursement for two police motorcycles and a truck. Mr. Fisher moved to authorize the Township Manager and Secretary to execute a commitment Letter and Contract for DCED Definition Keystone Communities Grant. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Public Works

2019 Roadway Improvement Program: Ms. Colubriale asked the Board to authorize advertising for the 2019 Roadway Improvement program, which will include 2.34 miles of roads throughout the Township, with a number of alternate roads. Mr. Mack moved to authorize advertisement of the 2019 roadway improvement program. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 4-0. [For more details, read "The 2019 Road Improvement Program".]

Purchase of Mowers: Mr. Lewis asked the Board to approve the purchase of two Exmark Mowers from Star Lawn Mowers, Inc., through Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing in the amount of $23,820. The mowers are to be used for park maintenance and are included in the 2019 budget. Mr. Mack moved to authorize purchase of two lawnmowers in the amount of $23,820 through Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

 

Posted on 11 Mar 2019, 12:40 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of January 23, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the January 23, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. See how Supervisors voted on motions (click here).

Committee Reports

Newtown Township Human Relations Commission: Mr. Mack provided an update on the Human Relations Commission (HRC) Definition and that a contact was recently provided for Mr. Summerson of the PA Human Rights Commission whom he had met. Mr. Mack noted that Mr. Summerson will be doing the Training for the HRC, and noted that the commission needed to appoint a chairman and must be advertised in accordance with the Sunshine Law. A date will be determined for the organization. Mr. Mack made a motion to authorize the Township Manager to work with the HRC and come up with a date for advertisement. Mr. Fisher seconded, motion passed 5-0. Mr. Lewis stated that he will contact the entire committee.

Planning Commission: Commission vice Chair, Ms. Peggy Driscoll provided the Planning Commission report which included a Conditional Use Definition application for FairyGene Inc. of 121 Friends Lane, Suite 202, in the Friends Lane Commons development. The property was formerly occupied by Centrak. Applicants are planning to use 5,000 sq. ft. for cosmetic product manufacturing by combining non-hazardous ingredients with water to make a cream-like product. There will be no retail or export sales and signage will not be necessary. No testing or experiments on animals would be done.

Mr. Sander framed a motion for the Applicant’s Conditional Use application to permit the Applicant to operate a Use G-1 - Manufacturing Use at the Property, which approval is subject to the Applicant’s compliance with several conditions. The motion passed 5-0.

Fiscal Responsibility

DCED Early Intervention Program Grant: Resolution making a supplemental appropriation of funds in the 2019 Budget to allow $40,000 to be allocated for the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Definition Early Intervention Program (EIP) Definition.

Motion was made by Ms. Bobrin to approve the Resolution making a supplemental appropriation of funds in the 2019 Budget to allow $40,000 to be allocated for the DCED EIP. The motion was seconded by Mr. Fisher. The motion passed 4-1 with Mr. Davis dissenting.

Andrew Sheaf Answers Questions About DCED's Early Intervention Program:

Land Development

Bucks County Community College Waiver of Stormwater Management: The Applicant is requesting a waiver of Township Storm Water Management Definition requirements related to a campus core revitalization project. Dr. Shanblatt explained that the intent and purpose of the project was to improve the campus core to make it more walkable, and to include landscaping, and porous and non-porous paving surfaces.

Mr. Fisher made a motion to grant the Waiver of Stormwater Management subject to the review and approval of maintenance procedures for porous paving areas. Ms. Bobrin seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.

Lower Dolington Trail: Mr. Lewis noted that the grant period for the 2019 DCNR Definition Grant is now open. Mr. Lewis recommended that the township apply for the 2019 DCNR Grant for the Lower Dolington Trail. Mr. Lewis provided a brief overview of the project, and noted that the Township was declined for the 2018 grant. It was a consensus of the Board to apply for the grant funding again in 2019.

Public Safety

Dr. Harry Carter gave a brief overview of the 2018 Fire and Emergency Services Study: Mr. Mack questioned how the location of the [recommended] fire house was determined. Dr. Carter outlined response times given to him by the Department. Mr. Davis questioned the rationale for moving the fire department just outside of the Borough. Dr. Carter explained that the recommendation was made to reduce response time.Mr. Mack questioned the recommendation as the National Fire Protection Association standards are less than the standard. Dr. Carter confirmed that finding, however the recommendation is based on the community. Mr. Mack commented that new taxes would be required to develop a new fire house location.

Mr. Mack also questioned the necessity of the recommendation for new apparatus. Dr. Carter elaborated on the recommendation to purchase a 75-foot Quintuple and defined what a quick response vehicle is. Dr. Carter also explained what a combination fire department includes, and involves.

Mr. Calabro asked why we have not needed 7-day coverage until now. Dr. Carter said the recommendation came from interviews with paid and volunteer staff. Mr. Calabro asked if the mutual aid agreements provide the Township with enough coverage during the evening and weekend hours.

Mr. Mack Reported on the Opioid Forum in Newtown Borough: He noted that the PA Attorney General [Josh Shapiro] was in attendance, and is considering litigation against opioid manufactures. The most moving presentation was by former addicts. Mr. Mack also stated that Feb. 16 the BCATO will have a discussion panel to discuss the opioid crisis

Speaking at a local the Opioid Community Forum on January 17, 2019, PA State Attorney Josh Shapiro said prescription drugs are providing the “jet fuel driving this crisis” and that is why PA is one of 4 states leading a 41 state investigation of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors that “I hold responsible for a huge part of this crisis.”

Purchase of Police Vehicles: Motion to purchase 3 police vehicles through Fred Beans Inc. through COSTARS in the amount of $92,269.00. Motion was made by Ms. Bobrin, seconded by Mr. Fisher. The motion passed 5-0.

Motion to advertise for the purchase of two police motorcycles, lighting and equipment through PennBID. Mr. Lewis noted that these purchases would be reimbursed through the Keystone Communities Grant. Motion was made by Ms. Bobrin, seconded by Mr. Fisher. The motion passed 5-0.

Posted on 15 Feb 2019, 01:05 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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