John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

Summary of October 24, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the October 24, 2018, 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

Finance Committee: Jack Brod, Chair of the Newtown Finance Committee (NTFC) read a prepared statement urging the BOS to apply for a Department of Community and Economic Development grant to develop a 3-5 year financial plan. The plan can include expense reduction and/or revenue enhancement and/or economic development strategies to grow the tax base. This grant requires a 50% match on funding.

[The September 20, 2018, NTFC report is based on a preliminary and limited analysis of Township budgets and financial documents by committee members. It represents the Committee's first attempt to identify potential fiscal issues and concerns, needed benchmarking of township services, staffing, income and expenditures against other municipal governments and accepted standards; (3) possible implications of the fiscal issues we have estimated, and initial recommendations for future consideration and actions.  Find the complete report here.]

Planning Commission: Allen Fidler, Chair of the Newtown Planning Commission read a synopsis of the latest meeting regarding a revised amendment to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO Definition) to amend provisions of the OR-Office Research District to add new use (E-25, Motor Vehicle Fueling Center). This proposal is a text amendment to the OR-Office Research District that if adopted, the ordinance would permit a new use: the E-25 motor vehicle fueling center by conditional use in the OR district which is only within Newtown Township. 

[Read “The Newtown Township Planning Commission Stymies Path Forward for Wawa - For Now”]

Ordinances

OR Text Amendment (Public Comments): Alan Hathaway stated he is against the Text Amendment Definition request to add a new use to a zoning Ordinance Definition of the Jointure Definition for the property at Lower Silver Lake Road and the Bypass that would benefit Wawa. He’s concerned about traffic, hours of operation, pedestrian safety, environmental damage, and opening the opportunities to fast food restaurants.

Michael Horbal had requested a copy of the text amendment via the Right-to-Know (RTK) Law Definition and was declined based that it is a draft notice. Mr. Horbal noted companies with site planning criteria that would fit on the same size parcel that the proposed text amendment states.

[Supervisor Mack asked asked Dave Sander, the Township Solicitor Definition, to outline the next steps for the Text Amendment. The short answer was "it's complicated." The following video clip from the BOS meeting provides the definitive and a more detailed answer.]

Anti-Discrimination Ordinance: There is a need to advertise the anti-discrimination ordinance for enactment. The vote for this ordinance is scheduled to take place at the November 28, 2018 Board of Supervisor’s meeting. Mr. Mack made a motion to authorize advertisement. Mr. Fisher seconded. The motion passed 5-0.

Prepared Statement by Supervisor Mack

"I would like to thank the Board of Supervisors for proposing this Ordinance, the adoption of which was a goal of mine going back to December, 2017, when I interviewed Dave Bria – at that time a newly elected Yardley Borough Council member – about his intent to introduce an anti-discrimination ordinance to protect the LGBTQ - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning - community in Yardley from employment and housing discrimination (listen to that interview here). His efforts were an inspiration for Newtown’s Anti-discrimination ordinance, which goes further.

"This ordinance is even more important now that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.

"The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with, according to a draft reviewed by the New York Times.

"The ordinance we are proposing safeguards rights to employment and housing 'without regard to actual or perceived race, color, gender, religion, ancestry, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, etc.'"

Posted on 16 Nov 2018, 11:06 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of October 10, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the October 10, 2018, 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).

Crime

Police Report: Interim Police Chief Harris reported on the police activity for September: Calls for service: 1,423; 121 citations, 64 traffic accidents, 3 DUI arrests, 2 narcotics arrests, and a series of minor property crimes (for details, read "September 2018 Newtown Police Calls Report"). There were a few details on Swamp Road specific to commercial vehicles which yielded three inspections and two violations. In addition to resident requests, there was also a multi‐jurisdictional detail on Swamp and the Bypass and Durham and the Bypass. There were 34 commercial vehicles inspected which yielded multiple citations including one arrest for impaired driving and a few vehicles put out of service.

[I noticed that there were 9 speeding citations handed out on Swamp Road between September 20 and September 26, 2018. This compares with just one such citation made in the previous 8 months of 2018! I assume that this increased police activity on Swamp Rd was in response to residents’ complaints made at the September 12 meeting when PennDOT was here to answer questions about the safety issues of Swamp Rd. See video below.]

Ordinances

Conservation Overlay – Wrightstown Township: Establishing a Overlay Zoning Definition district for properties at least 50 acres and are now or will be subject to a Conservation Easement Definition in favor of conserving the property and limiting the use. Ag uses, accessory uses to a winery, would allow micro‐breweries, micro‐distilleries, art studios, etc. Motion for authorization for Jointure Definition to advertise for a public hearing before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors passed 5-0.

Fireworks: Establishing consumer fireworks can be sold in PA, with restrictions to aerial displays. New use is “consumer fireworks facility” allowing for a permanent fireworks retail store as defined within a QAA (quarry) zoning district, in Wrightstown, and temporary seasonal structures for the sale of fireworks prior to holidays. Motion for authorization for Jointure to advertise for a public hearing before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors passed 5-0.

Medical Marijuana: State legislature has required that all municipalities must provide for medical marijuana dispensaries and medical marijuana grower/processors. Dispensaries are to be treated as other commercials uses are treated; the grower/processors shall be treated as manufacturing uses. Dispensaries will only be located in the VC‐1 village commercial district in Upper Makefield, and provides for the medical marijuana grower/processors in the LI district in Newtown Township. Motion for authorization for Jointure to advertise for a public hearing before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors passed 5-0.

Posted on 25 Oct 2018, 01:56 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of September 26, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the September 26, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here.

Committee Reports

Newtown Township Finance Committee: Jack Brod, Chairperson of the Finance Committee, made a presentation [of a] preliminary study [that] reflects the Committee’s views. [Read a summary of that presentation here and view a video of the presentation here.]

Mr. Calabro asked that the Committee create a 5‐year plan with issues regarding EIT Definition, real estate transfer tax Definition, and business development to promote the economy. The Board was favorable about the Committee willing to educate residents on real estate tax, school tax, EIT and other budgetary information during this budget period.

Planning Commission - Sit‐Stay: [Chairman Allen Fidler reported that the] Applicant is seeking relief to continue operating Sit‐Stay, an unpermitted daycare/kennel for approximately 50 dogs on a daily basis. The property is in the CM district and is over 18 acres where 25 acres are necessary to run a kennel. Applicant is willing to mitigate the situation by moving play yards, install sound proofing barriers and fencing, and plant evergreen landscaping to diffuse the noise. [There was much public comment pro and con regarding whether a dog kennel could be an accessory agricultural property under 25 acres, mitigating the noise level, and the background of this application.]

Planning Commission - Penns Trail Investment: Joe Blackburn, Esq., represented applicant seeking relief in connection to the construction of a 2‐story, 12,000 sq.ft. medical office use building with 129 parking spaces on a 3.89 acre property, with an existing 7,300 sq. ft. 2‐story medical office building with 98 parking spaces. The proposed construction does not comply with the dimensional regulations, parking requirements in according with the NT [Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance] JMZO Definition. The Commission had no general consensus on points of relief being requested. One primary point was made by several members asking applicant to show hardship. Applicant stated that they had tenants for the existing building and to enhance the medical use of the property, they needed the additional square footage to create a medical campus. The question the Commission discussed was on one hand the Joint Zoning Ordinance protection and the greater good of the community and Township at large.

Fiscal Responsibility

Audit Report: Ed Furman of Mallie presented the 2017 Financial Statement. The information went through an electronic audit of the general ledger and can depict each expense account with monthly activity. He indicated that the report gave the Supervisors an idea of the financial strength of the Township as of the end of 2017. Real estate transfer tax and EIT revenues were discussed briefly. [Read a summary of that presentation here and view a video of the presentation here.]

Ordinances

Anti‐Discrimination Ordinance Discussion: David Bria discussed Yardley Borough’s Ordinance Definition that was adopted earlier this year. He noted that the existing anti‐discrimination law PA Human Relations Act enables municipalities to create their own Human Relations Commission. The public opinion has been popular and businesses have been implementing this policy, most recognized is Amazon which wants to be located in a state that has complete anti‐discrimination law. Any anti‐discrimination complaints are heard by the Human Relations Commission, and there are no specific requirements but that members of the Commission may not hold office with any political party. Other discussion was related to training, advisory councils/resources, filing complaints, handling abusers to the complaint process, etc.

Ms. Bobrin motioned to have the Township Solicitor draft and advertise an anti‐discrimination ordinance for Newtown Township. Mr. Mack seconded. Motion Discussion: With various communities taking part in this, there should be standards in creating the ordinance rather being different. There was discussion regarding how to handle claims, including frivolous claims, and awards. The motion was amended to authorize the drafting of an anti‐discrimination ordinance submission to the Board for review. Ms. Bobrin made a motion to approve. Mr. Mack seconded, and the motion passed 5‐0.

Consideration to Approve Amendment to Noise Ordinance: [Mr. Sander - Township Solicitor - reported that on the advice of former Police Chief Pasqualini and Code Enforcement Officer Martin Vogt, he is recommending that the Board advertise amendments to the noise ordinance (see Summary of September 12, 2018, BOS Meeting).] Mr. Mack stated it was discerning to remove an ordinanceo because it was difficult to enforce. Discussion was about removing certain portions and having some complaints being subjective. The motion passed 4‐1, Mr. Mack voted “nay”. [For more information about this, read "Board of Supervisors Decimate Noise Ordinance"]

Consideration to authorize the Solicitor to draft and advertise an ordinance prohibiting the discharge of firearms on Township property: Mr. Sander stated that the PA Uniform Firearms Act pre‐empts local municipalities to enact or pass laws that deal with possession, sale or transportation of firearms as defined by the Act. The Township can prohibit the discharge, or use, of the firearm on Township owned and public property with exception of law enforcement and self‐defense. Hunting is excluded in the ordinance. Carrying a firearm is considered possession and the Act pre‐empts the Township from adding it to the ordinance. The motion passed 5‐0.

Posted on 12 Oct 2018, 12:24 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of September 12, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the September 12, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here.

Committee Reports

Joint Historic Commission - Toll House Commemorative Plaque: Mr. Mack reported that he had attended a meeting of the Joint Historic Commission (JHC) at which a Toll House commemorative plaque at Nina's Waffles was discussed. He asked whether the Township or Brixmor would be contributing to the sign. Mr. Lewis said that he believed Brixmor would be amenable to making a contribution. Followup: The JHC's plan has been to sponsor a historic marker at the toll house with its own funding. The sign, which is part of the Newtown Heritage Walk program, credits Brixmor for repairing and maintaining the toll house since purchasing the shopping center site from the previous developer and their recent renovation to reoccupy the structure as a commercial establishment. Brixmor will be installing the sign at no charge.

NOTE: Warren Woldorf, Chairman of the Joint Historic Commission, requested BOS approval for it to use JHC funds ($2,000 estimated) for an historic marker. The BOS voted to approve this expenditure at no cost to the Township at the 27 September 2018, public meeting.

Planning Commission - Arcadia Green: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that the Commission has discussed the plans for Arcadia Green, but as the applicant's engineer and traffic engineer were not available to answer questions, the Commission offered a few suggestions regarding the plans but did not make a formal recommendation.

Ordinances

Consideration of PRD Elimination Zoning Ordinance Amendment: Mr. Sander - Township Solicitor - explained that at the recommendation of the Bucks County Planning Commission, an ordinance is being circulated among the Jointure partners to remove the PRD use from the JMZO. Passage of an ordinance eliminating this use from the JMZO would not impact current applications. Mr. Davis moved to amend the JMZO to remove the PRD use from its permitted uses. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

For more details, read: "Newtown Township, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown to Consider Deleting Planned Residential Development from the Newtown Area JMZO".

Noise Ordinance Amendment: Mr. Sander - Township Solicitor - reported that on the advice of former Police Chief Pasqualini and Code Enforcement Officer Martin Vogt, he is recommending that the Board advertise amendments to the noise ordinance. The current ordinance is subjective and difficult to prove or enforce. The proposed changes would delete subjective criteria. Ms. Bobrin moved to authorize advertisement of a noise ordinance amendment. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

NOTE: In a 4 to 1 vote at the Sept 26, 2018, public meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved this ordinance amendment. For more information about that, read "Board of Supervisors Decimate Noise Ordinance".

Parks and Recreation

Veterans Park Flagpole: Township Manager, Mr. Lewis explained that the Board had included the purchase of the 50 foot flagpole and large flag in the 2018 budget. The new flag will be placed in the grassy area between the snack bar and Noah’s Playground. Mr. Calabro moved to authorize purchase of a 50 foot flagpole from Kotate Flags at a cost of $6500 for Veterans Park. Mr. Calabro and Mr. Mack questioned the location of the flagpole. Both would have favored the main entrance area on Durham Road. Mrs. Pawlenko said that the scout who built the entrance sign wall has been nationally recognized for his project. The new flag will be visible from this entrance. The motion passed 5-0.

Public Safety

Newtown Fire Association Extension through 2019: Mr. Lewis asked the Board to approve a one year extension of the Township’s agreement with the Newtown Fire Association for coverage from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM Monday through Friday and on weekends, with a 3% increase. Mr. Mack moved to approve the proposed extension of the Newtown Fire Association Agreement through 2019. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Police Report: Acting Police Chief Jason Harris reported that the department had responded to 1500 calls for service in the past month (August 2018), including 35 disturbances and a few vandalism complaints. The Department, along with fire and EMS, is participating in County wide training for responding to certain mass casualty emergencies. The training will insure that when multiple municipalities respond to the same emergency, the same protocols and procedures are in place so that the departments can easily coordinate and work together.

For more details, read "August 2018 Police Report".

Traffic

PennDOT Swamp Road Update: Gene Blaum, Ashwin Patel, Chuck Davies and Bob Graham of PennDOT were in attendance to review work already completed and some plans for Swamp Road. District Traffic Engineer Patel reported that PennDOT reviewed the crash history and found two clusters, at the intersection with Durham Road and at Twining Bridge Road, where accidents had been occurring. Restriping the center line to straighten curves and adding reflectors has been completed and new signage will be installed shortly. Mr. Sander spoke about the speed limits on roads where no limit has been set; the speed on Swamp Road, with the absence of a study, would be required to be 35 MPH. He asked to see the history of studies setting the current 45 MPH limit. Mr. Patel said that he would research this and would also take into consideration a new study, as requested by the Township or any data provided from a study commissioned using the Township’s own traffic engineers.
 

 

Posted on 05 Oct 2018, 01:07 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of August 22, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the August 22, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here.

Committee Reports

Planning Commission - Newtown Athletic Club: Applicant is seeking a variance to add an outdoor garden and fountain, which will exceed the minimum front yard setback requirement (variance is being sought to maintain a 0.57ft. front yard setback where current relief is 33ft. 75ft. is required per Ordinance). Access to the area would be through the men’s locker room. There were concerns regarding the basis for relief as the application did not show a hardship. The property is being used now without the garden and fountain. A suggestion was made that adding enhancements to an existing 7 ft. wall would provide a pleasing streetscape.

The Planning Commission made an informal recommendation that the Supervisors oppose this application.

Planning Commission - Newtown Brewery: Applicant is seeking to occupy 4,550 sq. ft. in an existing 10,000 sq. ft. 1-story warehouse/ manufacturing facility to operate a brewery and tavern. The tavern will be open to the public with seating for 70 patrons. There will be space for small parties and would be a “Bring Your Own Food” operation. Applicant will maintain 34 parking spaces with overflow parking use by agreement with a neighboring tenant for the required 46 parking spaces.

Members of the Planning Commission felt it was a favorable use in the Business Commons, and made an informal recommendation that the Supervisors not oppose this application.

Development

Arcadia Green - Tentative PRD Hearing, Part 2: Jason Duckworth, President of Arcadia Land Company, and Attorney John VanLuvanee, presented the plan and testified (see Summary of August 8, 2018, BOS Public Meeting for Part 1). Mr. Duckworth, still under oath, testified that under this current plan, there would be no access to High Street and the church property is not included in this current plan. Also, emergency access was not considered in the plan. Testimony included mention of Arcadia meeting with PennDOT to discuss the proposed plans for a U-turn at the intersection Buck and Mill Pond Roads. [Arcadia Green’s traffic engineer will be available at the September 13, 2018 BOS meeting.]

NOTE: There was a question as to why there was a hearing at tonight’s meeting when Arcadia Green will be meeting with the Planning Commission on September 4, 2018. The review letters had not been received in time for the Planning Commission’s review; Mr. Duckworth had volunteered to come before the Planning Commission. Arcadia Green stated that it will not modify the current plan. The Board of Supervisors will consider the recommendations from the Planning Commission and will continue the hearing at this meeting.

Public Safety

Keystone Community Grant: Interim Police Chief Jason Harris requested that the BOS approve RESOLUTION 2018-R-20 to request a Keystone Community grant of $94,000 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be used for the purchase of two (2) police Harley Davidson motorcycles and a Ford F-250 Pickup Truck to support community policing efforts and truck enforcement. The current enforcement truck is nearly 18 years old and in “dire need of replacement,” according to Chief Harris. The total estimated cost of the truck and 2 motorcycles is $95,747. As the grant is for $94,000 the Township would pay the difference of $1,747. State Representative Perry Warren was instrumental in securing this grant.

Ms. Bobrin made the motion to approve. Mr. Davis seconded, and the motion passed 5-0.

Posted on 12 Sep 2018, 20:45 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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