John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

A monthly collection of summaries of articles curated from various news, township meetings, and other sources, focused on topics of interest to local residents. The insights expressed here are those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person. Subscribe here, if you are not yet a subscriber.

Pedestrian Activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) Proposed for Two Newtown Intersections

 Pedestrian Activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons

The image above illustrates the RRFB Permit Plan for the crosswalk at Tara Blvd and Newtown-Yardley Rd. The view is west towards the Borough. The plan calls for a 40’ mast arm on the south side of Newtown-Yardley Road (Assembly #1) with a post mounted signal on the NE corner of the intersection (Assembly #2). Once reviewed by local residents and approved by the Board of Supervisors, the plan will be submitted to PennDOT for approval. On September 7, 2023, a similar RRFB permit application for Silo Dr and N Sycamore St was submitted to PennDOT for approval.

From - Sept 21, 2023

Recall that K(ushner)RE Upper Macungie Associates, LP (KRE) filed a preliminary motion to disqualify Supervisor John Mack from hearing and judging its zoning challenge (see adjoining article) arguing that Mack’s blogs and Facebook postings have shown bias against the filing (for more on that, read “Developer Moves To Disqualify #NewtownPA Supervisor John Mack From Zoning Challenge Hearing”).

My attorney, Bryce H. McGuigan, Esquire, introduced a Memorandum of Law In Opposition to The Motion by KRE to force my recusal (i.e., keep me from hearing the case). The memorandum, which you can read here, cites several legal standards in defense of Mack’s rights noting that “Pennsylvania law establishes a high burden for forcing the disqualification of a supervisor from performing his or her official duties.” 

The Memorandum further states:

“The current Motion seeks to punish Supervisor Mack based on his notifying local residents of potential development and expressing an opinion regarding certain items within the public domain.

“Supervisor Mack goes the extra mile to alert his constituents to new and developing issues and utilizes his position as an elected official to obtain input from local residents as to these significant issues facing their community. Such practices of our elected officials should be encouraged, rather than used as the basis from preventing them from performing their official duties.”

Mack's Insights:

For the record, I did NOT provide the content for this memorandum! My attorney obviously feels as I do, however, about "going the extra mile" as a Supervisor.

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Driscoll Reports to BOS
From - September 16, 2023

At the September 13, 2023, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Peggy Driscoll, Chair of the Planning Commission, presented her synopsis of the Commission's concerns regarding the Corners at Newtown Redevelopment plan (for background, read “Another ‘Upscale’ Apartment Building Complex Proposed In #NewtownPA Township”).

The plan includes a large apartment building with 120 apartments and ameni􀆟es surrounding a parking garage for residents at Richboro Road, Sycamore Street and Cambridge Lane. The building would be 45 feet in height and over 200 feet in length.

The Commission had some concerns about the proposed density in such close proximity to the Borough’s apartment complex called Steeple View and the impact on traffic and stormwater management.

"These developers [are] coming in and what they're proposing is just ridiculous," said Ms. Driscoll at the end of her presentation.

View the 6-minute video...

Neon Sign in Window of Borscht Belt Deli
From - Sep 15, 2023

Mike Dalewitz, Co-Founder of the Borscht Belt Delicatessen, is appealing the action of the Newtown Township Zoning Officer who has issued a Violation Notice regarding the neon window sign at the newly-opened store located at 2124 South Eagle Road (see photo).

Neon signs are prohibited by Zoning Ordinance, Section 1104(B)(2), which states that “any sign which is illuminated by inert gas or any form of exposed tubes is prohibited.”

The Borscht Belt Violation Notice was sent via certified mail to Newtown Center Associates – owners of the shopping center – dated 6/13/23 after the zoning office received an anonymous complaint via phone call.

Mr. Dalewitz believes that the notice he received via the shopping center owners was in error because – as he says in the appeal notice – “there are 17 electric window signs existing in the Village at Newtown South Shopping Center, with more in the neighboring center, and even more in stores” throughout Newtown. 



This issue was discussed at the September 19, 2023, Newtown Planning Commission. Representatives of the Borscht Belt, however, did not attend the meeting and no opinion about the application was made by the Commission.

This issue will ultimately be decided by the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB). 

Mack Questions KRE's Expert Witness
From - July 13, 2023

KRE Upper Macungie Associates LP (KRE) is challenging the substantive validity of the township's ordinance in order to build a 245-unit, multi-story apartment building in the OR district. Currently, the JMZO does not allow that specific “B-11” use anywhere in the Jointure.

Mr. Mack challenged the KRE withness’s claim that experts such as the Bucks County Planning Commission believe that the township requires such a use to satisfy the needs of a forecast of a substantial increase in population.

Listen to the 12-minute audio clip...
Mack's Insights:

As I noted in my cross-examination, the predicted population growth for Newtown Township for 2020 to 2030 period is pretty low – the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) projects an increase of only 224 people (see table below).

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From September 11, 2023

At the 11 Sept 2023 Meet Mack Monday Zoom meeting, Newtown Supervisor Mack listened to the concerns of residents. Among the topics discussed were the following:

  • Lower Dolington Road Trail problems identified by residents and by the township engineering firm, and
  • The proposed plan to amend the zoning to allow the development of a 120-unit "Garage Core" apartment complex off of South Sycamore Street, behind the 711.

Listen to the edited recording of that discussion...

From - September 21, 2023

On September 20, 2023, FEMA announced that Newtown Township will receive a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant of $1,556,953 to cover most of the expense of hiring and paying the salaries and benefits of four new full-time firefighters for 3 years. This additional staff will enable weekend coverage by paid fighters instead of by volunteers, which have had problems covering the weekends.

The FOURTH Time’s The Charm!

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the fourth SAFER Grant application at its February 22, 2023, meeting. It was noted that this time could be the charm since changes have been made by the township that further demonstrates the township's long term commitment to building a career fire service. These changes include the hiring of a deputy assistant fire chief and implementing agreement with Newtown Borough to help pay for emergency services.

In addition, the supervisors in December approved a 2023 budget that dedicated a mill of new taxes - about $325,000 - toward fire protection in the township. "With the additional millage and the additional money from the borough ($156,000) that's almost a half a million dollar increase," said Fire Chief Glenn Forsyth.

Chief Forsyth will attend a Board of Supervisors budget meeting in October to summarize the further financial needs of Newtown’s Emergency Services (Fire) Department.

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