John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

Summary of June 18, 2018, Board of Supervisors Work Session

On June 18, 2018, the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) held a “work session” to discuss proposed changes to police ordinances and the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO):

Police Ordinances
  • Ordinance #74-O-62 Towing
  • Ordinance #88-O-202 Peddling & Soliciting
  • Ordinance #2004-O-2 Excessive and Unnecessary Noise
Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO)
  • Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
  • Water and Sewer deletions: a proposal to remove/edit public water and sewer requirements to separate density and lot size from public water and sewer consideration
  • Delete use B-15, Planned Residential Development, from the JMZO

Supervisors don't make decisions or vote on anything at work sessions. BOS work sessions are public meetings during which Supervisors discuss things like road projects, ordinances, and other issues to prepare for voting on these issues at future official board meetings.

The following is a brief summary of this work session abstracted from the official minutes, which you can find here.

Towing

Chief Pasqualini recommended updating. The Wrightstown Township current ordinance (Resolution 529) was used as a model to draft the updated Newtown Township’s ordinance. Chief confirmed with Mr. Sandler that he indicated his changes to the Wrightstown ordinance to help draft Newtown’s new ordinance.

Peddling & Soliciting

Mr. Sander mentioned soliciting mail he received for another township which stated curfews before 9 PM are unconstitutional. Newtown has no time restriction; Mr. Sander noted a reasonable soliciting time period would be 10 AM to 9 PM. The Township could provide for “No Soliciting” signs posted on your door, i.e. to have a quiet night, and solicitors must honor this or it is in violation of the soliciting ordinance. The “No Soliciting” signs all over Newtown Grant doesn’t mean anything. Mr. Ferguson noted that a township maintains a list of residents requesting no solicitation. When solicitors apply for their permit, they are given the list. Soliciting for non‐profits have changed from what they were allowed to do. It was asked if a non‐profit could be charged a fee under certain circumstances, i.e. to recoup staff time expenses.

Excessive and Unnecessary Noise

Section 10‐501(B) is difficult to enforce. Enforcing a decibel level needs a noise meter and someone registered and trained has to be there at the time of the occurrence of the noise. There are so many variable decibel levels that many other townships have dropped this from their ordinance. When there is an annoyance of animals (dog barking, bird chirping) it is difficult to catch them in the act. A barking dog would be a private nuisance since it affects a few people. A public nuisance would be something, for example, constructing something over a major intersection that would affect a larger amount of people. 

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Township Planner Michele Fountain reviewed the proposed JMZO Ordinance. State law says that a medical dispensary use cannot be within 1,000 feet of a public, parochial, preschool or a daycare facility. In our ordinance, there is a C2 school use and a C3 commercial school use. She recommended to use the C2 and C3 language rather than identifying preschool or daycare facilities which are in the Jointure. Mr. Sander stated that terms may be defined in the Act but public, parochial, preschool and daycare facilities do not include commercial uses i.e. karate, dance, and music schools. It isn’t what the Act had in mind. Those schools go into commercial areas and that is where he believes the medical marijuana dispensaries are supposed to be located. If a dispensary receives a conditional use and permitted to set up in a shopping center and then a school applies to go into the stopping center, the school cannot go there. The Newtown Township Dispensaries are allowed in a VC‐1 district. There are two locations applicable and they are not located in Newtown. However, large parcels in the Township could be rezoned as VC‐1.

Planning Commission Chairman, Allen Fidler commented that a dispensary is not something everyone sees as a bad thing [listen to this Special Report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta: "Pot vs Pills"]. There are people who have difficulty having a prescription filled because of the distance. Having an ordinance gives the Township control of addressing where dispensaries would be located. Along with a 1,000 ft. separation from schools, the Township may want to consider a separation distance from a Township‐owned park. Mr. Sandler replied that it might not be able to do that because it isn’t in State law. 

Planned Residential Development (PRD)

Discussion to delete use B‐15 in JMZO: Remove all PRD requirements from the ordinance but includes a performance subdivision B14 ordinance requirements in its place. Ms. Fountain stated that Newtown Township currently has 21 PRDs that are already approved. Discussion continued regarding the pros and cons of a PRD.Tthe Board is limited on what would be required for a PRD development. The disadvantage is that the Board is on the hook to give tentative approval to give certain rights when you don’t have any detailed information. 

Operation of All Terrain Vehicles

re Section 10‐Part 7 of JMZO: Mr. Sander suggested to remove the entire ordinance. A high amount of resources are invested, and the drivers are too hard to apprehend.

Posted on 19 Jul 2018, 01:12 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of June 13, 2018, Meeting of the Newtown Board of Supervisors

You may not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from 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 June 13, 2018, public meeting. I also included some links to related information and embedded video clips from meetings. This is not a complete list of items discussed.

Technology Committee

Josephine Vlastaris, Chair of the Technology Committee, presented a summary of accomplishments of the Committee. The following is a partial list of the Committee’s current agenda items:

  • Emergency notification system (researched/proposed Nixle)
    • Proactive Township notification of urgent events
  • Analytics
    • Committee recommended setting up Google Analytics account to monitor traffic and bounce rate for the township website, and make changes to pages as needed.
  • Parks and Rec
    • Committee recommended using geolocation technology to assist residents with park navigation.
    • Committee proposed use of drones capturing footage of parks and trails to post on website to familiarize residents with recreational options.

View the Powerpoint presentation submitted to the Board:

Newtown Technology Committee Presentation prepared by Josephine Vlastaris

Swamp Road

Jennifer Brennan and other residents of the Knob Hill community made comments regarding trucks on Swamp Road. You can listen to her remarks in the video below.

Ms. Brennan mentioned an online petition calling for re-routing of quarry trucks off of Swamp Road. The "Re-Route Trucks Off Swamp Road in Newtown, PA" petition states in part: “We are a group of residents who would like to express safety concerns as a result of quarry truck traffic which starts very early morning and continues until evening on Swamp Road. The quarry trucks drive much faster than the speed limit and are extremely aggressive toward passenger vehicles. Swamp Road is a winding, hilly, two-lane road with limited visibility in both directions. This road just does not seem like the right route for these quarry trucks, for the safety of other motorists. Although this has been an ongoing concern for many years, there have been several quarry truck accidents just this year… These trucks need to be re-routed to a state regulated road.”

As of June 19, 2018, over 300 people have signed the petition.

However, Swamp Road is a state-regulated road and outside the purview of the Newtown Board of Supervisors. However, as mentioned by Township Manager Kurt Ferguson, the town is planning to speak with PennDot about having a fundamental evaluation of the long-term needs of Swamp Road (see update below):

First National Bank

The board voted 4-1 (John Mack voting “nay”) to approve a motion for the extension of time to file plans (see article below).

Gun Safety Resolution

The board voted 4-1 (Kyle Davis voting “nay”) to pass a non-binding “gun safety” resolution. This is the same resolution passed by other municipalities, including Yardley Borough (more here...).

The resolution (here) states that as many as 116,225 people are shot each year in America, and that 35,141 people die from gun violence in “murders, assaults, suicides, suicide attempts, unintentional shootings or by police interventions.”

The resolution was passed after testimony from several Council Rock students (see video below).

May 2018 Police Report

Chief Pasqualini presented the Calls Report for May 2018 at the June 13, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting. In that month, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,414 calls, 231 (16%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). See a summary of Chief Pasqualini's report here.

Posted on 20 Jun 2018, 01:46 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of May 23, 2018 BOS Public Meeting

You may not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from 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 May 23, 2018,  public 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.

Development

First National Bank & Trust Co: Planning Commission Chairman Allen Fidler reported that applicant requesting to extend the time for filing land development plans. First National had internal issues and didn't file the plan in time. The question is when the six month period starts. The Board has the power to extend the time, according to Mr. Fidler.

Pickering Manor: Joe Blackburn, Esq., represented Pickering Manor with respect to its pending land development located on 226 North Lincoln Avenue. Based upon their non-profit status, Mr. Blackburn made a request that the Board consider a reduction in the Parks & Recreation fee-in-lieu amount. It was agreed that the fee-in-lieu amount would be half the amount of $46,570.87. An actual amount would be determined at a later time. Applicant will also pay a traffic impact fee in the amount of $7,020.00. Mr. Calabro put the motion to a vote and the motion carried 3-1 (Mrs. Dix voted "nay").

Villas of Newtown: Certificate of Completion #1- CKS Engineers recommends that the Certificate be approved by the Board in the amount of $51,950.00. The amount of the remaining escrow is $78,119.00. the motion carried 3-1 (Mrs. Dix voted "nay").

Wawa on Bypass: Public comment: Michael Horbal, Newtown, wanted the Board to consider voting against a change on that parcel that would accommodate whatever retail use is proposed. Based on the 2009 Comprehensive Plan, he suggested the Township should look at all potential parcels that could be developed for retail on parcels similar to the proposed Wawa location. He's concerned that a subsequent land owner may request a change to the zoning of their parcel so that it could be developed for a fast food franchise.

[Read "The BrouHaha Over Proposed Wawa".]

More excerpts from minutes regarding development issues...

Environment

Underground Storage Tanks: There was a bid opening for the underground storage tank project on May 1, 2018. There were no discrepancies in the lowest bid submitted by Brightsfield Inc. The base bid was $47,422.75. Mr. Calabro put the motion to a vote and the motion carried 4-0.

More excerpts from minutes regarding environmental issues...

Public Safety

Gun Safety Resolution: Ms. Bobrin received a gun resolution that has been enacted by Solebury Township and is being considered by Yardley Borough. Using the resolution as a guide, she drafted one for Newtown Township to consider. Approving the resolution would support legislators in Harrisburg and Washington D.C. who are working for gun reform.

Police Chief Search: Mrs. Dix made a motion to hire Safe City Solutions to conduct a police chief search at a cost not to exceed $14,150.00. Ms. Bobrin seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

Posted on 16 Jun 2018, 01:34 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of May 9, 2018 BOS Public Meeting

You may not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from 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 May 9, 2018,  public 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.

Development

Drive-thru Starbucks: This conditional use application is for the conditional use for an E5 and E6 eating place adjacent to the relocated Bank of America. The motion to approve the application failed 5-0. [Read "Newtown Board of Supervisors Shoots Down Drive-thru Starbucks"]

More excerpts from minutes regarding development issues...

Parks and Recreation

Veterans Park Bleachers: Mrs. Dix motioned to authorize the purchase and installation of eight sets of bleachers for Veterans Park from General Recreation, Inc., through the PA COSTARS program, in the amount of $36,084.00. Ms. Bobrin seconded, and the motion passed 5-0.

Public Safety

Crime Statistics: Police Chief Pasqualini reviewed the calls for service for April 2018: 1,493 total calls, 101 traffic citations, 7 DUIs, 1 underage drinking, 1 aggravated assault, 3 overdoses, 1 Narcan use, 17 fraud/wire frauds/ credit card/ATM fraud, 10 harassments, 12 thefts, 51 accidents, 122 medical emergencies, 32 suspicious circumstances, and 27 disputes/disturbances/civil disputes. There were 260 total calls for service to Wrightstown.

Posted on 16 Jun 2018, 01:11 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of April 25, 2018 BOS Public Meeting

You may not have the time to download and read the entire minutes from 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 25, 2018,  public 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.

Development

Drive-thru Starbucks: The Commission also recommended the Supervisors not oppose the conditional use application for Starbucks, 2896 South Eagle Road, Village At Newtown West. This application pertained to the function of the drive-thru for an E5 and E6 eating place. This is one of the new buildings approved as part of the comprehensive Village At Newtown redevelopment plan. The Commission is limited with suggesting changes to what had been approved during the subdivision and land development application. Based on demand, the operating hours would be from 4:30AM to 11:00PM, and deliveries would be made after 9:30PM. The restaurant proposes 41 interior and 26 exterior seating which would be accessible from the parking lot.

Concerns were discussed regarding the proposed drive-thru, 10-car stacking lanes, parking, time of operation, and safety of the outside seating area. It was suggested to the applicant that decorative concrete bollards be installed at the perimeter of the outdoor eating area to increase safety from vehicular traffic. The Commission was also concerned about pedestrian traffic cut-thru to Starbucks and suggested signage to promote safety stating “cross at the crossing” and to add decorative fencing to hinder pedestrian traffic cutting through the shopping center parking lot.

[Despite a recommendation for approval of a “conditional use” application for a drive-thru Starbucks cafe by the Newtown Planning Commission, the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted 5-0 against the application at the May 9, 2018, public meeting. Read "Newtown Board of Supervisors Shoots Down Drive-thru Starbucks"]

Good Government

Fair Districting Resolution: Mary Kremser, Doylestown Borough. Jan Filios invited her to speak to the Board about gerrymandering and fair districting. She asked the Board to approve a resolution in support of an independent, non-partisan, citizens’ commission to draw the lines for the legislative districts for US Congress and for the PA General Assembly. In 2016, 80% of the primary incumbents ran unchallenged by anyone in their own party. In the November 2016 elections, 50% of incumbents had no challengers from the opposite party. She believes the reason is that politicians have drawn the districts to make their jobs safe, and resulted in the gridlock in Washington and Harrisburg. Mr. Calabro requested that a draft resolution be added to the May 9, 2018 agenda. [At the May 9, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) public meeting, an anti-gerrymandering, PA Congressional Redistricting Resolution proposed by Fair Districts PA was passed by a 4 to 1 vote. Read "Supervisors Pass PA Congressional Redistricting Resolution"]

Public Works

Roadway Improvement: W. Jeffrey Nagorny, Township Engineer. The bid opening for the liquid fuel road program was held on April 13, 2018. A total of 4 bids were received, and it was determined that the lowest responsive bid was received from Harris Blacktopping and it was therefore recommended the base bid and alternate bids #5, #6, #7, #8, #9 and #10 in the total amount of $913,019.75 be awarded. [This project includes 2.8 miles of roads, the parking lot in Helen Randle Park and a mile of line painting.] This project had to be re-bid due to incomplete documentation from some of the original bidders. Mr. Mack made a motion to award the re-bid of the liquid fuel road program to Harris Blacktop in the amount of $913,019.75. Mrs. Dix seconded, and the motion passed 4-0.

Posted on 11 May 2018, 13:16 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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