John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

Summary of April 11, 2018 BOS Meeting

You May not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from the biweekly meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS), or the approved minutes may not yet be available on the Township website (here), so I created this summary from the April 11, 2018, meeting. I also included some links to related information including video clips from meetings. I'll do the same for future meetings. This is not a complete list of items discussed.

Public Health

Medical Marijuana: The Planning Commission also began preliminary discussions of three ordinances, of which was Medical Marijuana Uses in the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance. A map overlay showing existing school locations was made available but there has been no determined definition or type of schools to be identified. The statute presented does not define a school. There was discussion on whether it is necessary for each municipality in the Jointure to maintain an inventory of accurate locations of existing schools so if there is an applicant (dispensary), they would have to comply with being located 1,000 ft. from the property line of a school. Presently, the JMZO only indicates it being available in one zoning classification which would be in Upper Makefield.

[Allen Fidler, Chair of Newtown Township's Planning Commission, summarized the Commission's preliminary questions regarding the proposed amendment to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO) for new Medical Marijuana uses. Specifically, the Commission wanted to know what is defined as a "school" in the law. Fidler noted that Jerry Schenkman of the Law Offices of Sean Kilkenny, advised the Commission that the state law does not define "school." Listen to his comments in this video clip:




Push Out the Pusher: [Police] Chief Pasqualini mentioned the Bucks County Crime Stoppers program "Push Out The Pusher" signs. District Attorney Matt Weintraub and Chief endorse this program that encourages the public to get involved with this campaign. If you call the drug tip hotline at 215-345-3784 with information on a drug dealer and that information leads to the arrest and conviction of a drug dealer, that tip will lead to an award of up to $5,000.00. Text the word BUCKSDRUGTIPS and your tip to TIP411 (847411), or email drugtips@co.bucks.pa.us. Yards signs are available at www.buckscrimestoppers.org/take-action. Mr. Mack commented that the County raised taxes primarily to fund this program and he asked how many signs were distributed in Newtown. Signs were just starting to be distributed; signs would be available in the future, or can be ordered on the Bucks Crime Stoppers website.

Traffic

Mill Pond Road: Regarding a resident's complaint of parking along Mill Pond Road and requesting the road become a non-parking street, Mr. Ferguson suggested the Board to discuss the matter at the April 16, 2018 Work Session. Staff and the Police Department could develop a list of criteria as a guide for Township-wide thresholds to determine if limiting or eliminating parking is appropriate. Mr. Ferguson also stated, for example, that a Ford F150 pickup truck with landscaping company information on the side of the truck is not a commercial vehicle; it is a vehicle for commercial use.

Posted on 28 Apr 2018, 01:09 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of March 28, 2018 BOS Meeting

You May not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from the biweekly meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS), or the approved minutes may not yet be available on the Township website (here), so I created this summary from the March 28, 2018, meeting. I also included some links to related information including video clips from meetings. I'll do the same for future meetings. This is not a complete list of items discussed.

Committees

Finance Committee: Resolution 2018-R-12 passed 5-0: The Finance Committee is created to serve as an advisory committee to the Supervisors with a dual emphasis on budget analysis and revenue generating opportunities or any tasks or responsibilities as assigned by the Board of Supervisors, and to advise on economic development. Members of the Finance Committee with terms ending December 31, 2018 are: Mark Boada, Stuart Caplan, Richard Weaver, Hank Schrandt, Margaret Dissinger, Jack Brod and George Skladany

Technology Committee: Mr. Mack, Technology Committee Liaison. The Committee met last night and re-appointed the chairperson and co-chairperson. There was discussion about how to better communicate with the Board and vice versa. Mr. Mack informed the Committee that the Board would like to hear suggestions and suggested that the chairperson make a report to the Board at a work session or Supervisors meeting. Mr. Calabro suggested the Committee report at a televised meeting as is done with other committees. Mr. Mack made a motion to approve Resolution 2018-R-11 establishing the Newtown Township Technology Committee and setting forth its mission, structure and composition. The motion passed 5-0.

Finance Committee: Resolution 2018-R-13: passed 5-0: Committee members will have a one year term ending 2018. Mr. Ferguson stated he would be able to approve funding to a certain amount but if the Committee would create an action plan and specific projects/events, that it could be a line item in the 2019 budget Members of the Veterans Committee with terms ending December 31, 2018 are: Jay Schnitzer, Ed Valenti, Rhett Baxter, Jim Casey, Charles Resch, Jim Gieseke and John D'Aprile.

Environment

Gas & Oil Drilling/Fracking: The Township received a sample resolution [from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network] opposing fracking detailing facts and figures from scientific studies regarding the adverse impact of fracking. Mr. Mack commented that during the March 19th Work Session, the issue of the massive amount of trucks was mentioned that would be coming through if there was fracking done north of Newtown. It would be detrimental to the road infrastructure and the well-being of the community. Mr. Calabro called the vote. The motion passed 4-1, Mr. Davis voting nay. [Read "Newtown Township Supports a Complete & Permanent Ban on Fracking and Related Activities"]

Comments made at the meeting by Sharon Furlong, Lower Southampton Township resident, is a spokesperson for the Bucks Environmental Action Group and Bucks County Sierra Club.

Good Government

Minutes of BOS meetings: Mr. Mack made a note that minutes are accessible to the public once they are approved. However, there is a delay on posting them on the website until Board member signatures are acquired or corrections need to be made. Mr. Ferguson said if there are no changes, the minutes can be signed and posted the following day. If corrections need to be made, the Township administrative assistant will post a temporary copy of the minutes which would then be replaced with the corrected copy.

Social Media Guidelines: Mr. Sander spoke on a proposed social media policy for the Township. He recommended that the Board authorize his office to draft a policy to bind all non-union employees and elected officials. The policy would be used as a negotiation point in 2018 union negotiations with CWA non-uniform and CWA fire, and police. Motion Discussion: Mr. Mack asked for an estimate of the cost and that it wouldn't infringe on a person's 1st Amendment rights. Mr. Sander replied that the policy would include reference to the 1st Amendment, and that the policy would take approximately 3 hours to draft. The motion passed 5-0. [See John Mack's Social Media and Online Ethics Resource Kit.]

Parks and Recreation

Trails: In regards to a DCNR grant, the Bucks County Planning Commission has asked the municipalities for their support in a recreational trail connecting Newtown Borough to Washington Crossing and Yardley Borough. The feasibility study assists the BCPC to seek grants. The motion passed 5-0.

Public Health

Opioid Crisis: Mr. Mack attended an Addiction and Opioid Awareness education event hosted by the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission at St. Andrews School. Attendees were trained on and were given Narcan and received two doses of Narcan as a handout. There was also a "medicine locker" for prescription drugs that can be used to keep children away from the drugs. There is a National Drug Takeback Day on April 28, 2018 from 10AM to 2PM at the Newtown Municipal Building and at the Newtown Athletic Club (NAC) which will also hold an informative drug symposium from Noon to 4PM. [Read "Report from the Together We Can Convention"]

Public Works

Roadway Improvement: W. Jeffrey Nagorny, Township Engineer, stated that the road program was re-bid last week. There will be a pre-bid meeting on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 and the opening of bids will be done on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 10AM. [Read "Faulty Bids Cause Delay in 2018 Road Improvement Program"]

Traffic

Frost Lane: The traffic results have been about 10 MPH over the limit in the school zone. Speed enforcement will be done within the school zone and other areas soon. A blinking speed limit sign will be installed. This has been successful in having drivers reduce their speed. The speed signs around the school seem to be sufficient and some will be replaced this summer. Mr. Mack commented that Mr. Ferguson's report was very well done and that residents of Frost Lane appreciated the information that was shared. [Read "Frost Lane Traffic Study"]

Posted on 12 Apr 2018, 11:55 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of March 14, 2018 BOS Meeting

You May not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from the biweekly meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS), or the approved minutes may not yet be available on the Township website (here), so I created this summary from the March 14, 2018, meeting. I also included some links to related information including video clips from meetings. I'll do the same for future meetings. This is not a complete list of items discussed.

Crime

Crime Statistics: Chief Pasqualini reviewed the police report for February 2018: There were 1,187 calls - 204 of which were handled in Wrightstown. Included in the report there were 72 traffic citations, 1 sex offense, 9 DUIs, 3 domestic relations, 6 narcotics - 1 using Narcan, 104 medical emergencies, 25 property damage and 32 accidents. Chief asked the community to call 215-598-7121 with nonemergency situations and added that the anonymous tip line is 215-504-2201. Mr. Mack questioned the February use of Narcan and mentioned that he has read that Narcan is being blamed for overdosing and deaths. Chief stated that Narcan is a tool that saves lives and that he isn’t aware of any incidents where users feel confident that if they overdose Narcan will quickly be available, but it could happen. View this video: "Newtown Police Chief Pasqualini Supports Narcan Use".

Environment

Underground Storage Tanks: Mr. Ferguson added that authorization to advertise for bids for the removal of two underground storage tanks, the pump island, all piping, and contamination testing per the Pa-DEP. The cost is included in the 2018 budget. Mrs. Dix made a motion to approve the underground storage tanks removal project. Ms. Bobrin seconded.
Motion Discussion: Mrs. Dix noted that this was one of the items cut from the budget that Mr. Couch noted earlier. Having this project completed under the request of the DEP and will save the Township from attaining penalties and fines from deferring the project any longer. Mr. Davis stated that it was believed that the project could have waited until the Township had the money rather than raise taxes, but it was overruled this year and was included in the 2018 budget. The motion passed 5-0.

Good Government

National Sunshine Week: Mr. Mack stated that it was National Sunshine Week regarding the Sunshine Act and the right to know about public document access. He held an online quiz regarding this topic and with 55 people responding, the average score was 50% (see more results here). An example question asked if you could record a public meeting with your cell phone. The answer was that you have the right to record the meeting with your cell. Some public meetings that are not televised can also be recorded (i.e. a zoning board hearing). The Right-To-Know Law allows a person to receive a transcript or recording of a meeting within five days of the request. Requests can be made using a form available on the Township website and submitted to Mr. Lewis, Open Records Officer.

Public Health

Oil & Gas Drilling/Fracking: Mrs. Dix commented that the Jointure [Newtown, Wrightstown, Upper Makefield] had a meeting on March 1 regarding the gas and drilling ordinance options which was attended by Mr. Mack, Ms. Bobrin and herself. Special counsel Jordan Yeager, Esq., reviewed options and Mrs. Davis asked that the topic be included on the next Board of Supervisor’s Work Session on March 19, 2018 (listen to this podcast: "Newtown Supervisors Discuss Possible Ant-Fracking Ordinance")

Public Works

Roadway Improvement: The bids for the road program were received and analyzed by the Township Engineer. Due to deficiencies with the bids, and it was recommended to reject all bids and re-bid the 2018 Road Program. Mrs. Dix made the motion to advertise the ordinance. Ms. Bobrin seconded.
Motion Discussion: Mr. Mack asked about delays in paving. Mr. Ferguson stated that it would move paving from the spring to the fall. (See this blog post and video: "Faulty Bids Cause Delay in 2018 Road Improvement Program"). The motion passed 5-0.

Traffic

Frost Lane: Mr. Ferguson stated there have been residents reporting cut-through traffic and speeding. The “Stealth Stat” will be used to counts cars, and determine average and highest speed, etc. It concludes that traffic speed needs to be enforced. For example: Linton Hill Road the Stealth Stat was done and the speed averaged 10 MPH higher than the posted speed. A blinking speed estimator sign was put out and about 6-8 months after the blinking speed sign was removed, the Stealth Stat stated that the average speed was a couple MPH under the posted speed limit. This exercise will be completed on Frost Lane in the future (read "Frost Lane Traffic Study")

Posted on 29 Mar 2018, 13:43 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of February 28, 2018 BOS Meeting

You May not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from the biweekly meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS), or the approved minutes may not yet be available on the Township website (here), so I created this summary from the February 28, 2018, meeting. I also included some links to related information including video clips from meetings. I'll do the same for future meetings.

Development

At the previous Board of Supervisor meeting, the Board approved the conditional use application of Nina’s Waffles and Ice Cream, 2905 S. Eagle Road, with conditions. The Board is requested to approve the conditions. Mrs. Dix moved to approve the conditions. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion was passed 5-0.

Pickering Manor: Proposed is an 18,000+ sq. ft. addition to the main property, expanding parking area, and underground water seepage bed. The applicant will comply with the Township engineer review letter issues, however, waivers were reviewed at the Planning Commission meeting. Concerns of the residents were storm water runoff, truck deliveries, and overall operating noise and traffic. It was recommended that the times for food supply deliveries be made in a smaller truck and be moved to a more appropriate time. The executive director of Pickering Manor urged neighbors to contact her to discuss any issues they may have.

Villas of Newtown: Authorization is sought to sign the Release of Claims regarding the unauthorized removal of a birch tree by the developer of The Villas at Newtown. Mrs. Dix made a motion to approve. Ms. Bobrin seconded, and the motion passed 5-0. Read "McGrath, Developer of Villa at Newtown, To Pay Newtown Twp $25K For Surreptitiously and Illegally Cutting Down Valuable Beech Tree".

Public Safety

Police Dept Reorganization: Authorization is sought to advertise an Ordinance amending the Newtown Administrative Code of 2000, as amended, to provide for two Lieutenants within the Newtown Police Department. No new personnel are proposed. Mrs. Dix made a motion to approve. Ms. Bobrin seconded, and the motion passed 5-0.

Active Shooter Plan: Mr. Ferguson reported on the Township’s emergency operation plan for facilities. The first training of staff was directed by Sgt. Lupinetti and a second training session is being planned. Mr. Ferguson stated that plans are being developed for off-hours when training classes and Township meetings are being held.

Parks and Recreation: Mr. Calabro requested the Solicitor to review the ordinance regarding people to carry weapons in the Township parks; it was mandated by the State legislature. He believes the Townships can reverse this. Mr. Calabro went on to state that the Township has seven schools and a few colleges. It is the intent of the Township to keep everyone safe, and not intending to impinge of the Second Amendment, but to ban anyone carrying a concealed weapon in the parks. Ms. Geiser will research if it can be done.

Permits

Irish Festival: Cherie Peters of Newtown Borough asked if the Board had made a decision regarding the length of the Irish Festival. Mr. Calabro stated that a 2-day permit would be issued for the outdoor festivities with the setup of tents on Thursday and take down on Sunday. There will be a 5K run on Saturday morning; participants will park at Veterans Park and a shuttle will provide transportation to the event. View video: "Green Parrot Irish Festival 2018 Pro and Con Debate"

Parks and Recreation

Trails: Mr. Lewis reported on the DCNR application. Two more grants became available and it will be decided what is the best way for the Township to go. These grants will be for the Lower Dolington Trail. The two new grants are from the Department of Economic Development.

Posted on 19 Mar 2018, 01:47 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of February 14, 2018 BOS Meeting

You May not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from the biweekly meetings of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS), so I created this summary from the February 14, 2018, meeting. I also included some links to related information including video clips from meetings. I'll do the same for future meetings.

Crime

Crime Statistics: There were 1,330 calls during January, 222 of which were in Wrightstown. Some of the highlights are 3 burglaries, 5 DUIs, 1 death, 4 domestic, 3 drug investigations 5 frauds, 9 thefts, 19 property damages, 5 hit/run, 59 suspicious activity and 145 medical emergencies. More...

Development

Nina's Waffles & Ice Cream: This building is the Toll House and is a part of the conditionally approved Brixmor development. Items outlined in the Planning Engineer’s response letter were discussed, such as, hours of operation, ADA compliance, landscape buffer fronting Durham Road, maximum employees during a shift, and deliveries. Proposed improvements to the exterior of the building is proposed seating areas. The Commission approved the conditional use. Motion for approval passed 4-0. Read "Nina's Waffles Coming to Newtown", view the video.

Pickering Manor: A plan was submitted proposing an approximate 18,200 sq. ft. two-story building addition to the main building and additions to three of the five existing cottage buildings. Expanded parking and driveway facilities and an underground seepage bed for storm water management is also proposed.

Fiscal Responsibility

2018 Budget: Mr. Calabro commented on what he read by a former Board of Supervisor member regarding the misrepresentation the former supervisor made to the budget which was passed on February 7, 2018. The person stated that taxes were raised one million dollars, increasing taxes by $168 per year. 1 mil is not one million dollars. 1 mil equates to approximately $340,000 which is roughly a $40.00 per year increase. It made it appear that taxes were being raised exorbitantly.

Permits

Irish Festival: Newtown Borough Resident Cherie Peters spoke on behalf of her neighbors on Edge, State, Sycamore, Congress, Frost, etc., some local business people, some Borough council members, church, etc., located near the Green Parrot regarding the upcoming Irish Festival. Bob Lutz, co-partner of the Green Parrot, said he was surprised that the days of the Festival were reduced from four days to two days when they have operated the Festival for eight years this way without incident. Other comments made by residents. Read "The Green Parrot Irish Festival Spurs Debate", view the video.

Public Health

Water Quality: Mr. Mack referred to a news item that cyanide had been poured down a storm drain. He spoke to Dan Angrove, Assistant General Manager of Newtown Artesian Water Company, and was assured there was never a threat to the water supply. Other municipalities also performed testing and no toxicity was found. If there is an emergency, the water company would put a reverse 911 system into effect to notify people or would have door hangers placed. More...

Posted on 01 Mar 2018, 15:35 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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