John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Summary of January 13, 2021, BOS Meeting

Summary of January 13, 2021, BOS Meeting

Chick-fil-A, Arcadia III, Police Report, Police Dept Diversity

The following is a brief summary of the January 13, 2021, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) public meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Development

Newtown Bucks Associates Settlement Agreement Re Chick-fil-A: [Township Solicitor Dave Sander] explained that Newtown Bucks Associates had applied for and received variance relief for parking calculations and from a requirement to utilize a loading area for Chick –Fil-A but was denied relief for impervious surface of 61.70% where 50% is required and 59.65% is currently existing in order to construct a 12,500 square foot pad site [originally for Old Navy; read "So what's the status of the proposed Old Navy at the Newtown Shopping Center?"], which had been part of the original approved plan.

Mr. Mack asked whether the Zoning Hearing Board has agreed to the stipulation agreement. Mr. McGuinness [representing Newtown Bucks Associates] said that a condition of approval is the approval of the Board of Supervisors; the Zoning Hearing Board must vote on the agreement at a public meeting. Mr. Sander confirmed that the Zoning Hearing Board would vote on the agreement if the Supervisors have already agreed to it. Mr. Oxley expressed concern that the plan might not relieve the traffic conditions at Chick-Fil-A or at the intersection at the entrance to the shopping center.

Discussion of motion: Resident Frank McCarron objected to the agreement as it does not adequately address conflicts between Chick-Fil-A traffic and cars attempting to go to Staples. The motion failed 2-3, with Messrs. Davis, Oxley and Mack voting nay.

John Mack's Insights:
 
The applicant, IMHO, could have avoided this by submitting 2 separate applications. The ZHB would have approved the Chick-fil-A application and denied the "retail pad" application and this settlement would never have come before the BOS to vote on - always an unknown factor. Related Content:    

Public Comments re: Arcadia III : Resident Eric Scott Gold said that the residents of Eagle Ridge, Newtown Crossing, Liberty Square and Crowne Point recently met to discuss their ongoing litigation with Arcadia for the property at Buck Road and Newtown Bypass. Eagle Ridge’s attorney [Steve Harris] indicated that Eagle Ridge had the best chance of success in the appeals process so he asked that the Township share in the legal expenses of these residents. Resident Mike Gallagher said that he has also attended these meetings for the appeal and the Eagle Ridge case is stronger and has a better chance of success. He urged the Board to consider working with Eagle Ridge

Mr. Sander noted that the Township is appealing the deemed approval of Arcadia plan #3. Eagle Ridge has joined this appeal as parties; they are incurring their own expenses and the Township is not in a position to pay legal fees for the other parties in this appeal.

Mr. Calabro moved to table this discussion until the Board has more information on the matter. Mr. Fisher seconded. The motion passed 3-2, with Messrs. Davis and Mack voting nay.

John Mack's Insights:
 
I searched for comments made at the Arcadia III BOS Exec session on Jan 22 by Eagle Ridge Community Association (ERCA) attorney Steve Harris. Upon re-listening to my recording of these comments, I do not hear much confidence that Mr. Harris believes the Eagle Ridge appeal is winnable. He was much more reserved in his optimism during the BOS meeting than during the meeting with the ERCA residents. At one point he called it a "crap shoot." He also mentioned that ERCA has decided to accept the settlement despite some residents "being a thorn in its side." Related Content:    

Public Safety

Police Report: Police Chief John Hearn reported that the department had responded to 1012 calls in the last month, a decrease of 25% over last year. There have been 10 arrests, 12 new detective cases, 3 frauds and 16 deer-vehicle collisions. A new officer, Justin Price, has been sworn in. This year’s “Shop with a Cop” hosted 110 children. In response to Mr. Oxley’s question, Chief Hearn recounted a recent carjacking incident which involved a chase on the Bypass to I95, where the carjacker was apprehended at the Street Road exit. The chase involved Newtown and State Police.

Mr. Oxley asked about Mr. McCarron’s questions about diversity hiring. Chief Hearn said that he has reached out to the City of Philadelphia for a more diverse pool of qualified applicants for a possible summer hire.

Mr. Mack asked about the number of false alarms the department has been responding to. Chief Hearn said that there is a fine of about $75 involved if the department has to respond three or more times to the same location.

John Mack's Insights:
 
The following is an audio clip from that meting, which includes Mr. McCarron's comments and Chief John Hearn's response when asked by Supervisor David Oxley to respond.

Mr. McCarron suggested that the racial profile of the NTPD should match that of the township population, which is mostly white.

However, another argument could be made that the NTPD racial profile match that of the targets of the majority of NTPD's actions: Traffic violations. The NTPD make many traffic stops on major roads - Newtown Bypass, Swamp Rd, and Stoopville Rd - that have a lot of non-resident traffic. We don't know the racial profile of that group because that information is not collected by NTPD.  For comparison, the Pa. State Police are resuming the collection of racial, ethnic data during traffic stops. Read more about that here.

This survey asks your opinion of increasing diversity in the NTPD. No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you opt-in to provide such information for purposes of follow-up by subscribing to John Mack's email newsletter. After completing the survey, you will be able to see a de-identified summary of the results to date.

My Personal Notes

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 12 Feb 2021, 12:35 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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