John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

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.


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

Summary of April 16, 2018 BOS Work Session

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 16, 2018,  Work Session 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.

Good Government

Anti-Gerrymandering Resolution: Public Comment by Jan Filios: Reviewed Congressional district maps are drawn every 10 years according to the change in census population data. Currently the maps are drawn with the 2010 census. The PA Constitution allows political party leaders to reconfigure the maps. This is a conflict in interest. The worse contortions have been in Southeastern PA and Pittsburgh.

Fair Districts PA and the League of Women Voters is supporting two bills in the General Assembly to amend the State Constitution to form an independent citizens' commission to take over the task of redistricting in time for the next census results in 2020. Some Bucks County municipalities that have passed this resolution representing 39% of the population are Lower Makefield, Buckingham, Doylestown Township, Bristol, and Middletown. Mr. Calabro recommended that State Representative Perry Warren should visit the Board of Supervisors and he thanked Ms. Filios for her information. He would like to have both Mr. Warren and a representative from Fair Districts attend a Board of Supervisor meeting.


Signs: Most of businesses ask for variances for signs due to Newtown's tight restrictions. Mr. Martin Vogt, Zoning Officer, made a collection of frequent types of variance requests including changes and problems he noticed and created a spreadsheet showing this information. Highlighted items on the report were those not discussed at an earlier meeting.

After the Board decides what they want as changes to ordinances, the solicitor may:

  1. Amend ordinance via the JMZO;
  2. Spin the sign regulations out of the JMZO for Newtown; or
  3. Create the Newtown's own standalone ordinance.

The legal question is if there is a request for sign regulations the Board created, where do they go? Is it the Zoning Hearing Board or go directly to the Board of Supervisors. Two attorneys were asked, and there were two different answers. When the review is complete, it will need to be discussed with Township counsel to amend the JMZO or spin it off from the JMZO to make it Newtown only. The Planning Commission could be given authority to continue to review and give recommendations to the Supervisors. They would have to be given some type of authority to make a decision to accept or reject.

Solicitation: Regarding the topic of solicitation in developments, i.e. window replacements, an HOA as a board cannot take a vote to restrict solicitation unless every member signs off that they don’t want solicitation. Anyone going door‐to‐door is required to go to the Township/Police Department where a background check is completed and a permit is given to them. A resident should ask for their solicitation permit. If they do not have one, they have not gone through the process, and report them to the police. Signs in the development stating “no solicitation” cannot be enforced. What doesn’t need a permit is for political campaigning or non‐profit solicitations.


Mill Pond Road: This discussion focused around a request made at the Board of Supervisors' March 28, 2018 meeting by James Downey, President of the Board of Directors of the Newtown Crossing Community Association on behalf of Newtown Crossing and Eagle Ridge, to prohibit parking on Millpond Road. Looking at Millpond Road, for example, it would require an outright parking ban entirely - it couldn't just be a vehicle ban as it wouldn’t affect the typical complaints. Residents are basing the no parking ban on aesthetics and that a tow truck is not attractive to look at and is not necessarily a safety issue. Mr. Ferguson suggested that the Board create a set of criteria to use as a benchmark for safety measures that could be used throughout the Township. The Board decided to receive more information from the Newtown Crossing HOA requesting minutes of their meetings to reinforce the request for no parking on Millpond Road. This information can be in an electronic format provided by the HOA. Mr. Ferguson will follow‐up.

Posted on 10 May 2018, 01:56 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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 Yards signs are available at 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.


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.


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.


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"]


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 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".


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.


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

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