Meet Mack Monday: 20 September 2021
The following are my notes from the September 20, 2021, Meet Mack Monday Zoom Meeting.
Items to be Discussed Include:
- Toll Bros All Saints Cemetery Proposed Settlement. On September 24, 2020, Toll PA XVIII, L.P. (“Toll”) appealed the September 9, 2020 decision of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors denying Toll’s conditional use application seeking to develop 45 single family homes on approximately 158 acres of the All Saints Cemetery property located along Twining Bridge Road near its intersection with Durham Road (S.R. 413).
Three reasons why I voted to deny this application/plan:
- In general, I do not believe that the applicant demonstrated that the proposed development is consistent with the spirit, purposes and intent of the Conservation Management zoning district.
- On the developer's efforts to preserve agricultural soils at the site, I do not believe that the applicant demonstrated that every effort has been made to provide a maximum amount of farmland preserved for agriculture.
- I do not believe that the applicant demonstrated that the proposed development is not a detriment to the property in the immediate vicinity (see 2008 Durham Road Traffic Study below).
On Friday, August 27, 2021, attorneys representing Toll sent out a letter via first-class mail to Newtown Twp residents in the area outlining a proposed settlement that Toll says "greatly improves the proposed development site layout" (see below). I would say that although cluster housing is a permitted use in Conservation Management Districts, it goes against my feeling that 3-acre lots should be the PREFERRED use for such zones. Preservation of open space is high on my agenda especially since the Arcadia fiasco.
More Background and Information:
- A History of How We Got to This Point
- Toll August 27, 2021, Letter to Residents
- Landscape Buffer Along Twining Bridge Road - What the proposed development will look like to Twining Bridge Road residents and traffic
- Steve Pfanstiel's Detailed Comments on the Settlement Plan
- Delancey Court HOA Comments to Newtown Supervisors - Note that the proposed traffic exit onto Durham Road via Municipal Drive is directly across from Delancey Court's access to Durham Road.
- Steve Wolfe's (Atty) Comments to Newtown Supervisors
- Maureen and Bill Schreiber Email to Delancey Court Residents - also forwarded to Newtown Supervisors.
- 2008 Durham Road Traffic Study: A study prepared by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. "In the study," noted Frank McCarron, a resident of Delancey Court, "the Commission specifically recommends that if the Twining Bridge Road parcel is developed, the entrance should be aligned with the traffic light at North Drive. See Figure 7b on page 24 (reproduced below).
- Arcadia Land Development. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has turned down Arcadia’s request for direct access to the Newtown Bypass as part of its plans to build a new housing development at Buck Road and the Bypass (read the PennDOT rejection letter). The agency also rejected a secondary suggestion that would have allowed left turns from the development onto northbound Buck Road. What it has agreed to, said Township Solicitor Dave Sander, is allowing a U-Turn at Mill Pond Road and Diamond Drive at the entrances to the Eagle Ridge and Crown Pointe developments that would allow traffic from the new development to double back for access to the Bypass and destinations north of the Bypass.
On September 9, 2021, Francis Hanney, Senior Manager - Traffic Services Division/ADA Coordinator at PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT) - hosted an online meeting with residents to discuss the Highway Occupancy Permit (HOP) application and associated access, egress and roadway improvements for the proposed Arcadia Green development.
Listen to the 21-minute audio snippet (below)from that meeting, Mr. Hanney explains why he is opposed to all the options other than the U-turn option at Mill Pond Road. He also discusses criteria that must be met before the limited access restrictions on the Bypass may be lifted.
You can also listen to my complete recording of the first 80 minutes or so of the meeting here.
More Background and Information:
- "PennDOT Defends Arcadia U-Turn Option" - Newtown Patch article. Includes other alternative options proposed by residents.
- PennDOT Access Alternatives Reponse Letter - Mr. Hanney offered a more detailed summary of PennDOT's rationale for the above position in a September 16, 2021, letter sent to the Township and participants. The letter responds to the community's concerns and clarifies why certain alternatives are not acceptable and provides additional information about each alternative and reasons for why it is or is not acceptable.
- Resident Emails to Supervisors Opposing the Plan
- Hybrid Public Meetings: Newtown Township should implement "hybrid" in-person/online township public BOS meetings where officials meet in person as before COVID-19 but the public has the option to participate remotely via Zoom (or other technology) or in person. Over 130 Newtown Twp residents have signed my "Say YES To Hybrid Meetings Petition."
In a comment to the BOS on September 8, 2021, Newtown Grant resident John D’Aprile was of the opinion that the township should not spend money on hybrid meetings so that “lazy” residents can attend. “Why should we cater to someone who is lazy and does not want to come to meetings?,” quipped Mr. D’Aprile.
Meanwhile, at the August 25, 2021, BOS meeting, resident Terry Christensen, Chairman of the Board of Friends Village, said that he supports the hybrid option, as many of the Friends Village residents are not able to attend meetings in person anymore, but are still very eager to participate in local government matters.
In response to my questions, Mr. Christensen said that he is visually impaired and unable to drive and has taken Ubers to recent meetings. He cannot stay late as it becomes difficult to arrange for a ride later in the evening; he has also been refused a ride because he has a guide dog.
BTW, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a guide dog should be able to go anywhere that a blind person can go.
- Update on 2021 Road Repair Program. I will report on the roads to be repaired this year and go over the schedule.
- Privilege of the Floor. Other issues, concerns of attendees.
DISCLAIMER: This is not an official Newtown Township meeting. It is hosted by Newtown Supervisor John Mack to learn more about issues of concern to Newtown Township residents. The opinions expressed at Meet Mack Monday events are solely those of John Mack and the attendees of the meeting and do not represent the opinions of any other entity. Admittance is by invitation only.