Delancey Court Residents Oppose Toll's Proposed Settlement Plan
UPDATE (10 November 2021): At the November 10, 2021, BOS meeting, the Township Solicitor in response to a question from a Delancey Court resident, revealed that the BOS reviewed a new plan submitted to the township at an Executive Session prior to the public meeting. He indicated that this new plan specifies access ONLY via North Drive and does NOT include any access via Municipal Drive.
All neighboring residents of Delancey Court, Society Place, Whispering Woods, Twining Bridge Road in the vicinity of the proposed project will receive a letter from Toll regarding this plan in the near future,
The supervisors have not yet approved the settlement with this new plan.
UPDATE (3 February 2022): On January 20, 2022, Toll Bros sent a new letter outlining revised plans for the development that specifies access ONLY via North Drive. That letter (find it here) was sent to over 1,800 residents in the area.
The Newtown BOS is scheduled to vote on a new settlement of the Toll Appeal, including the proposed North Drive Plan (as shown above), at the Board's February 23, 2022 meeting which will commence at 7:00 p.m. at the Township Building, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, Pennsylvania.
The letter includes a link to online versions of the plan.
At the September 22, 2021, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, several residents of Delancey Court - including HOA Officials - commented on the Toll Bros All Saints Cemetery proposed settlement plan.
The purpose of the plan is to settle Toll's appeal of the denial of the September 9, 2020 decision of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) 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). See the plan here and below.
On August 27, 2021, Toll sent a letter to over 280 residents - including 33 Rittenhouse Court residents in Delancey Court - who live within 500 feet or so of the property. Find the letter here.
Residents complained that they were not given adequate notice and that Toll is "controlling the narrative." To that point, in its letter to residents, Toll says "After filing the appeal, Toll and the Board discussed a possible settlement that greatly improves the proposed development site layout and furthers the purposes of the Conservation Management District."
The Board of Supervisors have NOT discussed this settlement with Toll. The BOS DID discuss the proposed settlement in two Executive Sessions (in January and March 2021). No representatives from Toll Bros participated in these meetings, although I am sure our "input" regarding the settlement was forwarded to Toll.
Specific complaints from residents included: (1) the planned access to Durham Road via Municipal Drive was unsafe, (2) a 2008 Durham Road Traffic Study concluded that the preferred access to Durham Road from any development in the area is North Drive, and (3) the Township should not be giving up public land to allow access to Municipal Drive.
The following is a sampling of written comments by residents who requested they be included in the public record; i.e., attached to the official meeting minutes.
Joe Hillock, 37 Rittenhouse Circle, Delancey Court. Currently the President of the Delancey Court Homeowner’s Association. Some points made/questions asked:
- Why did Toll not consider North Drive in their development plan? [See Figure 7b from the 2008 Durham Road Traffic Study below.]
- A traffic light at Municipal Drive/Durham Road must be installed before construction begins.
- Would welcome any township supervisors at a Delancey Board meeting to further clarify and discuss this situation.
Bill Schreiber, 105 Rittenhouse Circle, Delancey Court. Some points made/questions asked:
- The solution being proposed takes almost 40%, or 2.8 of the 7+ acres owned by the township. Why would the town concede valuable property and forego the possibility of expanding township services to a $7 Billion dollar company?
- How are township and its citizens being compensated for giving up this important town asset?
Frank McCarron, 42 Rittenhouse Circle, Delancey Court. Some points made/questions asked:
- Asked the Board of Supervisors to authorize an independent investigation to determine why the recommendation in the 2008 Durham Road Traffic study was not followed.
- The Board of Supervisors owes the residents of Delancey Court an explanation as to why we were kept in the dark about this proposed settlement for what appears to be nearly a full year.
- Residents of Delancey Court should be allowed to advocate their position with PennDot as part of this process.
- By Supervisor Phil Calabro voicing his objections during the August 26, 2020 meeting about North Drive, given he lives near that intersection and his prior representation of residents of Newtown Grant, I believe that Mr. Calabro has demonstrated a conflict of interest in this matter. Mr. Calabro, said Mr. McCarron, should recuse himself from this matter or, at a minimum, if this proposed settlement is brought to the Board of Supervisors for a vote, that the Chairman abstain from voting.
- Finally, Mr. MaCarron called on the Township to undergo an independent review as to whether the ICMA Code of Ethics has been followed in this matter.
Maureen Schreiber, 105 Rittenhouse Cir, Delancey Court. Some points made/questions asked:
- The thought of mixing residential traffic with Emergency and service vehicles’ only egress is "irresponsible and could delay response time when minutes or even seconds matter."
- Has the Chief or Police or Fire Marshall been informed of the proposed plan to use Municipal Dr for residential access? More importantly, has anyone sought input from folks with ‘boots on the ground” such police officers or firefighters or snowplow drivers?
- "I spoke with a township representative responsible for land development who was unaware that the proposed settlement used township owned land to connect to Municipal Dr. Who else has been left out of the loop?"
I've heard that “It’s going to happen and if they [Toll] wanted to do Twining Bridge Road they can. They don’t need [BOS] permission.” FIRST, however, they have to win the court case. The township has to stand up to developers and defend it's decisions in court when sued rather than accept a "compromise" settlement that satisfies no one except the developer.
When I voted against the original plan, I cited three reasons:
- 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.
I have to ask - What has changed with Toll's new plan?
Unfortunately, residents may not know until they see the plan. Although it was mentioned at the September 22, 2021, BOS meeting that the township planned to meet with residents to discuss the settlement, that meeting has not yet been scheduled*. My suggestion is that we have another executive session but this time invite representatives from Delancey Court and Twining Bridge Road, Toll Bros, and PennDOT to attend.
*UPDATE (November 5, 2021): The meeting was postponed until PennDOT responded to "Signal Warrant" application for a traffic signal at Municipal Drive and Swamp Road. On October 26, 2021, PennDOT responded:
From: Al-Asha, Tameem
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2021 6:48 PM
To: Wichner, John
Cc: Mike Downs
Subject: RE: [External] Signal Warrant Analysis Letter - Durham Road (S.R. 413) & Municipal Drive - Newtown Township
The development left of township building does not meet warrants for new signal. PennDOT highly recommends development has access to existing signal at North Lane File #3401.
We recommend installation of Ped facilities at existing North Dr Signal for easy access for residents to cross into each other neighborhoods and the placing ped signing at the Municipal Dr.
Tameem Al-Asha | Traffic Signals Engineer
Traffic Signals Section
PA Department of Transportation | Engineering District 6-0
7000 Geerdes Boulevard | King of Prussia, PA 19406
My efforts to get this meeting on the BOS agenda for its November 10, 2021, meeting has to date been stymied by BOS Chair Phil Calabro who said: "If you are a requesting an executive session about the Toll Bro development - it should be among the BOS. The new plan would be for an entrance at North Drive - which was approved by Penn Dot. This would negate a meeting with Delancey Court. They are not getting an intersection or light at Municipal drive. But I am ok with a 6pm executive session among the BOS…."
Here's my reply:
"This meeting would include residents, supervisors, township officials, Toll Bros representatives, and possibly PennDOT representative(s). NOT ANOTHER EXEC SESSION JUST FOR BOS MEMBERS!
"This was more or less promised to residents and mentioned several times at multiple BOS meetings. At the last BOS meeting, Joseph Hillock, President of the Delancey Court Homeowners Association, asked when the township would host a promised meeting with Toll Brothers, Supervisors, residents, and PennDOT. At a previous BOS meeting Mr. Hillock and other residents made the same request and several BOS members expressed their opinion that this would be a good idea.
"I don't believe anything you "promised" regarding the alteration of the agreement has any bearing as I do not believe you have the authority to make such promises without BOS approval. Also, Delancey Court is not "out of the equation". Their residents still would be impacted by the Municipal Drive access and as suggested by Mr. McCarron ALL residents impacted by this development (e.g., the residents to whom letters from Toll were sent) should be able to send representatives to the meeting - including Society Place residents. Having this meeting will provide the BOS with all sides of the issue as was done in the Arcadia precedent."
Additional Comments & Background 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 (sent via email to all supervisors)
- Delancey Court HOA Comments to Newtown Supervisors (sent via email to all 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 (sent via email to all supervisors)
- Maureen and Bill Schreiber Email to Delancey Court Residents - also forwarded to Newtown Supervisors.