John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Summary of April 16, 2018 BOS Work Session

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

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