John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Development Category

Newtown Board of Supervisors Shoots Down Drive-thru Starbucks

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. The cafe is proposed to be located in the Village at Newtown West at 2896 South Eagle Road - in the entrance to the McCaffrey Supermarket parking lot.

Here's the proposed plan that was presented before the Board. The Starbucks building is shown as "Cafe" and the drive through lane is between the "Cafe" and South Eagle.

I've indicated the path that traffic to and from South Eagle Road would have to take to get in line for a Triple Mocha Frappuccino® or just a plain old Cold Foam Cascara Cold Brew. No wonder Starbucks is "slower than its major competitors in the drive-thru lane" - it takes on average 4.4 minutes to get your order.

Bloomberg says: "Starbucks is still pokey in the drive-thru, and will have to speed things up if it wants to compete with the likes of Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. Getting it right could make or break the strategy that the Seattle-based company is counting on to jump start sales after revenue disappointed analysts in eight of the past nine quarters."

Chairman Calabro commented on the potential traffic problem and Supervisor Kyle Davis said the developer is trying to stuff too many stores into the space. Note that there is also a drive-thru bank located in the same area. I can imagine cars lined up to get access to the drive-thru lanes of the bank and Starbucks. I commented upon the dearth of allotted parking spaces.

Newtown resident Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo commented on Facebook: "Agreed that the location for that Starbucks would have been a traffic nightmare, and the number of parking spaces sounded altogether inadequate... especially for a Starbucks, where some people will come and stay for hours. But you do not know they joy that the words "drive . thru . Starbucks" briefly brought into my heart last night... I hope that there is some place in town where such a drive-thru could be opened without the same type of traffic difficulties."

Kierstyn balanced that against the fact that at the same meeting the BOS passed a resolution sponsored by Fair Districts in support of a Citizens' Commission for Legislative and Congressional Redistricting. 

UPDATE (June 22, 2018): Starbucks goes to court to contest the Board's decision; says the Board committed an "abuse of discretion"; i.e. Failed to take into proper consideration the facts and law relating to the application. Newtown Township says: "The Board of Supervisors neither abused its discretion nor committed an error of law by denying the application."

Posted on 10 May 2018, 13:47 - Category: Development

Newtown Township Traffic Impact Fee Advisory Committee

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors is currently accepting resumes for consideration for the Newtown Township Traffic Impact Fee Advisory Committee (TIFAC). Resumes will be accepted until 12:00 noon on Monday, April 12, 2018.

The TIFAC assists with developing studies required for the adoption of the Ordinance regulating traffic impact fees, and provides recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for approval or disapproval of reports at various stages of the process, in accordance with Pennsylvania Act 209 and the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. All applications will be considered, however,  professionals with backgrounds in Real Estate, Development, and the building industry that reside or conduct business in Newtown Township are strongly urged to apply. The TIFAC will coordinate with professional traffic engineers and will be primary focused on assessing existing traffic conditions throughout the Township, developing recommendations for potential traffic improvements – such as location of additional traffic signals, and developing impact fees for future development based on potential traffic improvements.

Please submit a letter of interest and resume to Olivia Kivenko, Newtown Township, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown PA 18940, by email to oliviak@newtownpa.gov or by fax at (215)968-5368.

Posted on 28 Feb 2018, 15:20 - Category: Development

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Approves Nina's Waffles

See story below. Alexis Zanias describes how Nina's Waffles is unique in comments to the Newtown Board of Supervisors on 14 February 2018.

Posted on 23 Feb 2018, 13:52 - Category: Development

Arcadia Green Development Hearings, Part 1

On November 8, 2017, the first session of hearings before the Newtown Board of Supervisors regarding the proposed Arcadia Green development project took place. On October 11, 2017, there was public comment and the selection of "witnesses" who would testify at the hearings (for more on that, read "Newtown Crossing vs Arcadia: Residents Speak Out").

I had to leave by 9:30 pm after more than an hour of testimony by Arcadia’s president Jason Duckworth who desribed the project in much detail. I was able to capture an image of the proposed project (see below) from the multi-page document that Arcadia introduced into evidence.

Proposed Arcadia Green Developemnt

The main issue for many residents of Newtown Crossing is the impact of traffic. The plan calls for an egress road through High Street. Residents at the meeting were dismayed that Arcadia has yet to supply the Township with a traffic impact study, which is needed before an iinformed decision by the Board can be made.

I will continue to follow this issue. Meanwhile, see the piece below for some history regarding this proposed development.

Posted on 09 Nov 2017, 01:29 - Category: Development

Newtown Crossing vs. Arcadia: Residents Speak Out

Residents of Newtown Crossing and neighboring Eagle Ridge crammed into the Public Meeting Room at the Newtown Township Municipal Center last night (October 11, 2017) to voice their opposition to Arcadia Green’s latest proposal to build 85 single-family homes adjacent to these developments. This proposal would destroy a home on High Street (#295) to make way for an egress road. Traffic would then pass through other roads in the Newtown Crossing development to access Newtown Bypass – a limited access road. Such an egress road was necessary because a previous plan was rejected because of problems exiting the development onto Bucks Road to gain access to the Bypass.

The meeting was the beginning of a quasi-judicial hearing before the Board of Supervisors (BOS). At least a dozen residents, including Bucks County Controller and former Newtown BOS member, Mike Gallagher, who lives on High Street, stood up and obtained “party status” in the hearing, which means they can give testimony for the record and be cross-examined by council to Arcadia. 

However, they will have to wait until AFTER the elections to testify – the hearing was “tabled” until November 8, 2017.

Mike Gallagher reminded the audience that “it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” and urged people to attend future meetings, including a Planning Commission meeting later in the month (perhaps Oct 24) where Arcadia will be available to answer other questions.

Nevertheless, many other residents made comments before the board about their personal issues regarding this proposed development. At one point, council for Arcadia tried to shut down the comments but her request was denied. The audience broke into cheers and applause when the commenter said “we want to speak truth to power!”

One resident requested a map be made available to better understand what’s being discussed. I was able to take a photo of the PRD plan (see it here).

Several people complained about the traffic through their development via the egress road, which would endanger children and pets who are used to play and roam on quiet streets such as High Street. School buses would also be affected, noted another resident.

One person said she moved to Newtown because it was because she was “reaching to part of America that almost doesn’t exist anymore. Newtown,” she said, is “so ‘Norman-Rockwellesque’.” She lamented the possible loss of open space next to her development where her children go and play. Another resident defended the open space as a haven for wild animals including, she said, coyotes and bald eagles!

The most heart-wrenching comments came from a elder retired police sergeant whose wife died last year. He told a story of living in motels for years after he had to abandon his home do to a fuel spill many years ago. When he found a new home in Newtown Crossing he and his wife were happy at last. Now, however, he faces the loss of that happiness on top of the sorrow of missing his wife.

Posted on 14 Oct 2017, 01:48 - Category: Development

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