John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
8 November 2021 Environmental Advisory Council Meeting

The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) met on Monday, November 8, 2021.

In attendance and voting were Chairperson Amie Easterly, Vice Chairperson Elen Snyder, Elaine McCarron, Jan Filios, Carol Walsh, Peter Gilles and Michael Gray. Supervisor John Mack and Joel Raab from the Planning Commission were present.

The following summary is based on the official minutes.

Discussions
Single-Use Plastics

Ms. McCarron updated the EAC on visiting small businesses and restaurants to discuss present plastic usage, green products already in use, their distributors of plastic and eco-friendly alternatives, financial concerns and to promote education of replacing single-use plastic bags, straws, cutlery, polystyrene containers with eco-friendly products.

A discussion followed among EAC members of a phased-in reduction ordinance vs a Ban was along with the possibility of fees for bag distribution collected by establishments to offset their costs. Ms. McCarron stated that Ms. McCarron and Ms. Walsh met with Katherine Borish from the Newtown Borough EAC, who expressed further interest in coordinating an ordinance with both the Township and the Borough.

Michael Gray stated that he will contact the Newtown Business Association to get their support. Ms. Walsh and Mr. Gray will contact corporate offices of multilocation businesses to understand their corporate policies within states and municipalities that already passed ordinances.

NOTE: The Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved Comprehensive Plan recommendations made by the EAC to include promoting reduction in the use of plastic and styrofoam. Specifically, to “Adopt a new item in Strategies and Actions: Support voluntary programs to drastically reduce the use of non-recyclable and single-use plastics, including carry bags, styrofoam, beverage containers, plastic straws and stirrers, and other disposable items with the eventual goal of total elimination.”

At the August 25, 2021, Newtown BOS meeting, Ms. Snyder commented on the impact of single-use plastics on the environment. Ms. Snyder urged Newtown to follow other townships - such as the Borough of Narberth, PA - in passing regulations that encourage or require businesses to reduce the usage of plastic materials, eliminate the use of Styrofoam, promote the use of reusable bags, and replace plastics with sustainable materials. View her presentation below:

For more information, downlaod the Single-Use Plastics Fact Sheet.

Green Infrastructure

Ms. Filios and Mr. Gilles made a presentation to the Board of Supervisors concerning the advantages of LED Lighting and the cost benefits vs traditional Lighting. Mr. Mack said the first step is to sign a Letter of Intent to the DVRPC for Phase 1. There are no initial costs for the feasibility study.

UPDATE: The BOS unanimously approved the signing of the Letter of Intent at the November 10, 2021 BOS Meeting (see my notes).

Follow Up: On November 22, 2021, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale met with Michael Fuller of Keystone Lighting Solutions (KLS) regarding the Township’s Letter of Intent for the Phase 3 of the DVRPC Regional Streetlight Program.

Here's what she communicated to the BOS:

Michael summarized the program, what information they need from us, as well as what is needed for the Township to move forward.

The Feasibility Study is Phase 1, which includes KLS reviewing different Township provided data and producing a report that details future construction costs and returns on investment. The Township has already provided KLS with the PECO information necessary for the feasibility study. Michael discussed the costs associated with Phase 2 – Design/Engineering, and approximated KLS design fees to be $31,000.00. The Township would be responsible for that cost if it is decided to move beyond the Feasibility Study Phase. With it being the end of the year, the Township is well within its budget process for 2022 and this line item is not included. This also does not include any future construction costs.

That said, Michael indicated DVRPC is still debating as to whether a Fourth Round of this program will be occurring in 2022-2023. He will discuss with DVRPC if the Township could have an extended Phase 3, or be included in a possible future Phase 4. This would allow the Township to budget for the future costs for design and construction and possibly have construction planned for 2023 as opposed to Summer 2022 under the current phase. Michael is going to get back to us with that information as well as if DVRPC will still pay for the Township’s feasibility study if the Township decides to enter a different phase of funding.

We will wait on that information from KLS, which we will hopefully receive this week. This will give the Township the necessary information as to whether to move forward in this phase or in future phases.

Regarding construction costs, I’ve summarized costs below (see attached) for some other municipalities who have a similar number of fixtures that participated in prior phases of this program. Newtown is most similar to Warrington Township in terms our preliminary estimates of the number of fixtures.

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Micah Lewis added: "In short, the meeting quickly took a turn toward budgeting, and what the Township had allocated toward Phases II (design) and Phase III (construction) next year (2022). There is nothing budgeted for either phase in the 2022 budget, and inserting significant costs ($31k for design, and potentially $1,000,000 for construction) would require the budget to be readvertised. Keystone is going to discuss with DVRPC how best they can work with the Township moving forward, with the analysis, and investigate the possibility of a DVRPC phase 3 "extension" or phase 4 program in the coming years, so that the Township can determine how to fund the program in future budgets. They will advise us once they have more information."

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Networking with other EACs / Municipalities

Ms. Filios attended the Doylestown Township EAC meeting. An agent from the US Dept. of Forestry was present and gave an update concerning deer management and culling to reduce degradation and defoliation of plants in their township. This township and other EACs are not expected to participate, but should acknowledge the problems.

Ms. McCarron was in contact with Heidi Shiver from the Doylestown EAC to discuss their proposed reduction ordinance vs a Ban, which will be further discussed with their EAC and BOS. A follow up meeting was scheduled with Katherine Borish from Newtown Borough EAC to coordinate efforts on Single-Use Plastics.

Mr. Gilles contacted the Upper Makefield EAC to discuss their focus on projects and to share ideas. It was suggested that the Chair of their EAC, Bud Baldwin, be contacted. Ms. Easterly suggested a Bi-Annual meeting with other EAC’s.

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