John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Summary of September 23, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting

Summary of September 23, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting

E-30 Use Approved, ESI Financial Report Accepted, More...

The following is a brief summary of the September 23, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) Zoom meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Public Comments

Formation of a Newtown Township Board of Health: Resident Terry Halper requested the formation of a Newtown Township Board of Health (BOH) as described in the “Pennsylvania Township Supervisors Handbook.” He also requested for open access to Township Supervisors meetings as required in the “Citizen’s Guide to Local Pennsylvania Government”.

Public Safety

Emergency Services Department (ESD): Chief Forsyth reported there were 114 calls for service in July including three building fires, one dwelling fire, one vehicle fire and 57 EMS calls.

The Chief also said the Township and Borough received a letter from the Newtown Fire Association (NFA) stating for various reasons they are unable to provide adequate protection. He said the NFA is struggling however they are still responding to calls. The NFA is extremely low on volunteers and the Chief asks anyone who is interested in becoming a member to reach out to the NFA. [For more about this, read "The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point".]

ESI Presentation

Steve Wray of Econsult Solutions ... said the BOS was provided with a 144-page detailed report dated September 18, 2020, and he presented a slide summary of that report which explained the purpose of the Strategic Management Planning Program (STMP); he reviewed the services Econsult performed along with key findings and recommendations, projections, financial history, a revised financial forecast and a recommended approach.

Mr. Oxley asked Mr. Wray to share any additional economic development ideas that would make sense for Newtown. Mr. Wray replied that an incubator type approach could make sense for the Township and he said from an industry perspective, biotechnology healthcare is an area of opportunity to explore with the County as the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center in Doylestown is at capacity. He also suggested meeting with businesses yearly to discuss growth and challenges and lastly mentioned a recovery program to help hurting businesses to ensure they are aware of county growth programs and bring them together to discuss rebuilding. Mr. Oxley then inquired about a marketability initiative to reach out to NJ businesses and Mr. Wray said first the Township should make residents aware of the intent as many residents work for the pharma companies; second he suggested outreach with the County economic development organizations and County commissioners as well as regionally with the greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Mack said on page 33 it shows total revenue collected is projected to be 8% lower than budgeted and asked how ESI arrived at this. Alix Sullivan of ESI replied this came about from the Covid induced cash projection where 2020 actuals were compared to 2019 as well as general data sources received from the US Census Bureau and Department of Labor. Mr. Mack shared information from Keystone who show the Township’s EIT up 4.8% through August 31, 2020 compared to the same time last year. In response to Mr. Mack’s additional questions, Mr. Wray said the resident EIT cannot be increased to 1.5% as the Second-class Township code limits it to 1%.

Mr. Mack asked if ESI would come back for a special live meeting where the public can attend. A brief discussion ensued, and Mr. Wray agreed to return in the future for a two-hour public meeting. [That meeting will be held on Saturday, October 31, 2020, 9:30 AM. Pre-registration to attend the event is REQUIRED, and the registration deadline is Wednesday, October 28th at 5 p.m. (Please send your email request to attend to Olivia Kivenko at oliviak@newtownpa.gov).

E-30 Use Public Hearing

Consideration of JMZO Amendment to provide for a Motor Vehicle Fueling and Convenience Store Use (E-30): [Mr. Mack moved to table the motion until residents can be in attendance. There was no second, the motion to table was defeated.] Mr. Calabro asked Mr. Sander to review the legal constraints and Mr. Sander detailed the Substantive Validity Challenge filed by Provco and the Municipal Curative Amendment declared by the Jointure and the ramifications of each. Mr. Calabro stated certain specifics have been included within the ordinance and asked if it does not pass if the Township is left open for anyone to come in and build where they want. Mr. Sander said yes, they can try but they would have to file a challenge like Provco; however, if enacted they will not be able to challenge and he referenced other local cases.

Mr. Davis understands the need for corrective action on zoning but feels we are giving this kind of developer exactly what they are looking for and he thinks we are giving them too much; too many pumps and acreage and he said we should consider LI or OLI .Mr. Davis does not like this change; Mr. Mack agrees with Mr. Davis.

Public Comment from Mr. Mike Horbal read out loud:

I urge you to reject this proposed E-30 ordinance as it is currently written as it does not put a limit on the number of potential fuel dispensers, leaving Newtown exposed to the possibility of a gas station with up to 11 fuel dispensers resulting in 22 fueling stations. Here's why:
The proposed E-30 requires a minimum lot area of 4 acres, with the following footnote: "(4) Four acres is required for 1-6 fuel dispensers. For every additional dispenser, an additional one acre is required." The property that is being considered for this E-30 is identified as Tax Parcel # 29-010-042 As of 9/22/2020, the Bucks County Board of Assessment lists IHM Newtown LLC as the property owner.
The developer has proposed a project on a 5.09-acre site, but the total size of this property is actually 9.7730 acres according to land records. The land has not been subdivided yet, which leaves Newtown exposed to the potential of 22 fueling stations according to the proposed rules.
Right now, the proposed 5.09 acre site would allow 7 fuel dispensers (14 fueling stations). The developer could acquire up to 4.68 acres from the owner and increase the number of fuel dispensers and fueling stations. For Example:
6 acre site = 8 fuel dispensers (16 fueling stations)
7 acre site = 9 fuel dispensers (18 fueling stations)
8 acre site = 10 fuel dispensers (20 fueling stations)
9 acre site = 11 fuel dispensers (22 fueling stations)

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission: Final Draft of the E-30 Ordinance. The PC feels they demonstrated a significant effort to comply with most of what Provco was trying to create in an E-30 use and is hopeful the BOS will consider their recommendation and be judicial in their decision. There was a roll call vote which recommended supporting the E-30 use however, it was not unanimous.

Board Member Reports

Environmental Advisory Council (EAC): Mr. Mack reported he attended the EAC meeting where they requested a line item in the budget for $250 for minor supplies for signage, public meetings, etc. He said they plan to work with other EAC’s on projects and invite experts to attend their meetings.

Executive Session

Township Solicitor: Mr. Sander said there will be an executive session needed between now and October 14 to discuss the Arcadia matter. [Note: On October 14, 2020, the Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to APPEAL (i.e., fight) the decision. Read "Highlights from the October 14, 2020, BOS Meeting".]

Votes on Motions

Download the UNOFFICIAL 2020 BOS Voting Record to date.

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. I may not have asked all the questions in the notes at the meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 22 Oct 2020, 12:21 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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