9/20/2022 Planning Commission Meeting Summary
This is my personal summary of the September 20, 2022, meeting of the Newtown Township Planning Commission (NTPC). This is not a complete nor an official summary.
Jeremy Stoff and Lisa Wolf of the Bucks County Planning Commission (BCPC) presented their concept of an LI/OLI district overlay plan to the members of the NTPC at this public meeting.
Also attending were members of the Newtown Economic Development Committee, which originally proposed that an Overlay be implemented to allow more uses for the Business Commons area of the township. View the video below.
A Walkable Community?
The Corridor Overlay District is intended to permit and encourage a mix of land uses on previously developed lands and for new construction in the LI and O-LI districts. Through appropriate regulations (see “Purposes” below), provisions in the Corridor Overlay District encourage mixed-use development to promote a vibrant community where dwellings, shops, service-oriented businesses, and workplaces are all within walking distance of each other.
There was some discussion of including a drive-through eating place in the Overlay. But one of the purposes of the Overlay as specified by the BCPC (see Purpose #7 below) is “Plan for a walkable community with pedestrian-oriented buildings, connections to nearby destinations, and open spaces, such as parks and plazas, that provide outdoor areas for those living and working in the area to enjoy.”
Also, the township received a $873,000 grant to construct sidewalk connections in the Business Commons area (read “Newtown Wins $873,000 Multimodal Transportation Grant”).
Therefore, in my opinion, having a drive-through eating place would be totally at odds with Purpose #7 and the intent of the Board when it approved additional sidewalks.
The purposes of this Corridor Overlay District are outlined in the proposed ordinace as follows:
- Encourage and promote flexible development and redevelopment in the underlying LI Light Industrial and the O-LI Office-Light Industrial districts.
- Foster economic viability by addressing current community needs and planning for future housing and employment trends.
- Facilitate the redevelopment of underutilized commercial properties and the efficient use of land.
- Provide additional housing opportunities in an appropriate location and scale.
- Provide for a mix of complementary uses such as office, commercial, higher-density residential, institutional, and light industrial at an appropriate scale and balance.
- Improve opportunities for the use of various modes of transportation to safely accommodate automobile, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic.
- Plan for a walkable community with pedestrian-oriented buildings, connections to nearby destinations, and open spaces, such as parks and plazas, that provide outdoor areas for those living and working in the area to enjoy.
- Promote mixed-use development where most logical to take advantage of existing public transit routes.
- Improve the architectural appearance, streetscape design, and overall aesthetics within the defined Corridor Overlay District through design standards that reflect the community vision for the Newtown Commons area.
- Recognize Newtown-Yardley Road and Penns Trail as primary gateways into the township from Route 332 and points south and east and provide uniform standards to strengthen and enhance these gateway corridors.
Download the "Overlay District Regulations for the LI Light Industrial District and the O-LI Office-Light Industrial District" for more details of the proposed ordinance.
Prior to its September 20, 2022, public meeting, the Newtown Planning Commission (NTPC) reviewed a video presentation by BCPC consultants, Lisa Wolfe and Jeremy Stoff. This video provided a high level review of the plan to the NTPC, which had some questions for the BCPC consultants at the meeting.
The plan contains nine “Guiding Principles” that will be used to guide actions and decisions of the townships within the Jointure.
As the NTPC reviews the Plan in light of its Guiding Principles, it will share its comments with the Board of Supervisors (BOS) and then back to the JZC.
The plan attempts to address the challenges faced by the Jointure communities (Newtown, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown) and begins by investigating how to...
- manage future growth and development?
- continue to preserve our important farmlands, natural areas, and open spaces
- control traffic and ensure safe travel?
- protect and sustain safe neighborhoods, convenient shopping, and good community facilities?
- promote resiliency related to the impact stemming from climate change?
- live sustainably in a period of energy uncertainty? and finally
- protect the special history of our area?”
This plan contains nine principles that will be used to guide actions and decisions of the townships within the Jointure. The principles were developed by reviewing the results of the resident questionnaire, examining current conditions and trends on the ground, learning from the experiences of other communities, and setting objectives for what our community should be in the future.
The NTPC members have agreed to review each principle and its subsequent strategies at its future meetings. The reviews will be an agenda item until the NTPC has completed all nine principles. After each review, the Planning Commission will report to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) on its thoughts and recommendations. If the BOS has input, we will include that in its reports to the JZC.
More about the Guiding Principles here...