John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

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Keep the Democratic Majority Going in Newtown!

Two years ago, propelled by unprecedented turnout by township Democrats, the Democratic party achieved a majority on the Board of Supervisors for the first time in township history. This has made it possible for the Board to make significant progress toward a number of measures to improve the health and wellbeing of residents, including

  • More miles of paved roads
  • Increased support for EMS and Fire services
  • More transparency to keep residents informed about important issues
  • Long-range budgetary planning to be sure our future revenue and expenses are in balance
  • Standing up for sensible gun control, protection of human rights, and protection of our local environment

It’s only by the return to the Board of Supervisors of Dennis Fisher and John Mack that we can continue that progress. That is why the Friends of Fisher & Mack are asking for your financial support.

Your contribution can also help "Build a Wall Around Trump." Democratic victories this fall are essential to growing the foundation for putting a Democrat in the White House in 2020 and sending a Democrat to represent the First Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Strengthening the Blue Wave at the local and county levels is the only way to make that happen.

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Posted on 17 May 2019, 01:21 - Category: Voting



Summary of April 24, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the April 24, 2019, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and member and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander.

Committee Reports

Planning Commission: Chairman Allen Fidler reported at the April 16, 2019, meeting, the Commission reviewed two conditional use applications. The first for La Maison LLC – 250 & 254 N. Sycamore Street, Goodnoe’s Corner. The Commission recommended not to oppose this application.

The second was for Madison Family Dental LLC, 258 N. Sycamore Street, in Goodnoe’s Corner. The applicant will occupy 800 sq.ft. for specialized dental care services. The Commission recommended not to oppose this application.

Environment

Pollutant Reduction Plan (PRP) - Public Review Period: [For background, read "Newtown Township's Pollution Reduction Plan"]. There was no public comment on the PRP.

[The plan's impact on the Roberts Ridge Park was a hot topic for public comment in the Roberts Ridge section of Nextdoor. Access the discussion here.]

Mr. Mack asked if the proposed meadow area in Roberts Ridge park is where soccer is currently played. Mr. Lewis said there is a drainage swale there, but no soccer fields. The discussion continued on soccer field locations, and the proper process of creating meadows Mr. Mack also questioned how grassy areas in parks would be converted to meadows and he mentioned that according to his understanding chemicals like Roundup have to be used to first kill the grass. Mr. Mack asked if there were environmentally friendly ways other than using Roundup to do this. Mr. Lewis noted that there are other products approved by the DEP and EPA for use in wetland areas.

Drinking Water Contamination: Resident Mark Boada expressed his concern over a letter received from Newtown Artesian Water indicating small levels of contamination in groundwater. Mr. Mack addressed this by acknowledging the Board is aware of this situation and the Board is being kept informed of ongoing testing results by Mr. Angove from Newtown Artesian Water. [Followup: "Update on PFAS in Newtown's Water Supply".]

Fiscal Responsibility

DCED Grant: Mr. Calabro reported the township has been approved for a $40K grant which will be put toward economic development (read "Newtown Township Seeks Grant to Assess Finances"). Mr. Calabro credited the Finance Committee and Mr. Fisher who made the proposal to the Board and Mr. Lewis for completing the grant application. Mr. Calabro said this grant will afford the township the ability to establish a 5-10 year plan which will permit the township to continue to be a healthy and thriving community.

Public Safety

South Eagle Road Potholes: Mr. Mack raised a question about the party responsible for pothole repair on South Eagle Road between the farmers market and Wendy’s since this is not a township owned road. Mr. Lewis said the landlord is responsible as they own the roads and Mr. Sander confirmed. [This was discussed on the Roberts Ridge section of Nextdoor here.]

A discussion ensued around enforcement of ordinances, suggestions on how to manage these types of situations and the ramifications of township involvement. Ms. Bobrin noted that conditions were placed on landowners for other projects and suggested that the Township consider that maintenance of roads up to Township standards should also be a condition that could be imposed by the Township. Mr. Sander said he would look into the Ordinances and see what can be done.

Potholes on South Eagle Road as Seen on April 17, 2019.

[When a resident called the Township to complain, he was given contact information for the owner of the road. When the resident called the owner, he got no satisfaction. At the request of the resident, Supervisor Mack took photos of the potholes (see above) and on April 17, 2019, sent an email to the representative of the owner:

"Attn: {name redacted}:

"A Newtown Township resident notified me of several potholes on South Eagle Road between the Farmers Market and Wendy's. I've seen these myself on the way to do some shopping in the area - see photos attached. As this is private property that your company managers - and not Newtown Twp - I thought you would like to see this.

"I note that this road is used by Newtown Ambulance Service as well as residents and for that reason repairing these should be a priority. Thank you for your attention to this matter."

As a result, the potholes were repaired on or about April 21, 2019.]

Posted on 12 May 2019, 11:13 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



Update on PFAS in Newtown's Water Supply

As late as August 2018, Dan Angove, General Manager of the Artesian Water Company (NAWC), reported that PFAS - perfluorinated compounds Definition - in the town's drinking water were at "undetectable" levels (see below).

After NAWC sent a letter to residents in February 2019, that PFAS were detected in Newtown's water, Supervisor Mack requested that Mr. Angove return to report on the situation. Mr. Angove complied and presented the latest Q1 2019 test results at the May 8, 2019, Board of Supervisors public meeting.

At the meeting, Supervisor Mack asked Mr. Angove to explain the results in comparison to the Q4 results focusing on (1) how sampling is done, (2) when was sampling done, (3) were multiple samples collected & combined for the test? (4) what company did the testing, (5) how accurate is the test? What's the margin of error? Residents also asked if the NAWC had set aside money to lower the levels of PFAS if necessary to comply with the Maximum Contamination Levels (MCLs) set by the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

Regarding the letter that NAWC sent to Newtown Township residents:

Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager, Newtown Artesian Water Company, gave a report on Newtown's drinking water at the August 8, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting. Mr. Angove answered questions from Supervisor John Mack about Maximum Compliance Levels of PFAS - perfluorinated compounds - in the town's drinking water and assured the Township that PFAS were at "undetectable" levels (below 5 ppt) in the Township's water supply.

As shown in the chart below, there are several conflicting standards for what is considered the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for these compounds in drinking water and communities are demanding that contaminated wells be shut down even if the water is well below the MCL suggested by the EPA (see Upper Dublin video below the chart).

Posted on 12 May 2019, 01:32 - Category: Environment



April 2019 Police Report: Eagle Road Speeding Citations, Swastika Graffiti, More...

Police Chief John Hearn presented the Calls Report for April 2019 at the May 8, 2019, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting. In April, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,686 total calls, 300 (18%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). See a summary of the report below. Note: Not all calls are listed.

Swastika Incidents

At the meeting, Supervisor Mack noted that the Tyler State Park swastika graffiti incident made it to ABC News (read Investigators Seek Person Who Painted Swastikas Along Tyler State Park Trail in Newtown) and that "anti-Semitic behavior is on the rise across Pennsylvania." He asked if the Newtown Police Department thinks it is prudent to have some kind of presence at synagogues and other places of worship.

The Chief first noted that the swastika was written in chalk on a section of walkway in the Northampton section of Tyler Park and that the State Police were responsible for investigating the incident. He also informed the public that there have been no reported hate crimes in Newtown Township in the last three years.

As for the thirteen religious institutions in the Township, the Chief assured the public that the police have been present during Passover and Easter and at different times on weekends when services are held. There will continue to be periodic checks and if there are any concerns or questions, religious leaders can reach out to the department.

Meanwhile, according to the Police Log for the week of April 5 through April 11, 2019, on April 5, 2019, a “Newtown Township resident responded to headquarters to file a report regarding criminal mischief to a construction site in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center. According to the complainant, the night prior she saw the word ‘Hitler’ and a swastika on an orange plastic barrier that had white paint sprayed over it but was still visible. The complainant stated that her friend went and spoke with the foreman at the site, and the foreman turned the barrier around so it was not facing the public.”

Crack Down on Aggressive Driving Continued in April

The Newtown Police Department along with 63 other municipal police departments in surrounding counties participated in a campaign to crack down on aggressive driving from March 18 through April 28, 2019. As a result of that campaign, there were a total of 305 traffic citations issued by the Newtown Police Department in March and 254 in April.  See the chart below.

Traffic Citations in Newtown and Wrightstown Issued by the N
ewtown Police Department for the period January through April, 2019.
Eagle Road Gets Most Speeding Citations

During the crack down on aggressive driving in March and April, 2019, Newtown Township Police issued substantially more speeding citations on Swamp Road than during previous months. But in April the focus seemed to shift to Eagle Road, which surpassed Swamp Road in the number of speeding citations issued. See the chart below.

Speeding Citations Along Swamp and Eagle Roads Issued by the
Newtown Police Department for the period January through April, 2019.
Lower Speed Limit on Section of Swamp Road Coming

Recently, PennDOT notified Newtown Township that the speed limit on Swamp Road between the Twining Bridge intersection and the intersection of Pennswood Dr. (entrance to Knob Hill) will be reduced to 40 MPH from 45 MPH. That was a direct result of a September 12, 2018, BOS public meeting where representatives of PennDOT answered questions and concerns about speeding on Swamp Road from Newtown residents and Supervisors (view the video: “PennDOT Addresses Swamp Road Issues”). 

Posted on 09 May 2019, 11:20 - Category: Crime



PennDOT to Lower Speed Limit on Section of Swamp Road

In a May 2, 2019, letter, Ashwin Patel, Senior Manager of PennDOT's Traffic Engineering and Safety Division, notified Newtown Township that PennDOT will be lowering the speed limit on Swamp Road between the Twining Bridge intersection and the intersection of Pennswood Dr. (entrance to Knob Hill) to 40 MPH from 45 MPH (see map below).

Recall that at the September 12, 2018, BOS public meeting representatives of PennDOT District 6 answered questions and concerns about Swamp Road from Newtown residents and Supervisors. At that meeting PennDOT Mr. Patel answered questions about lowering the speed limit on sections of Swamp Road (see video below).

85% of vehicles approaching the intersection were already traveling at 39 MPH.

PennDOT, however, determined that an all-way stop is not warranted at the intersection, noting that several improvements were made to signage, curvature of the road, and the overall visibility of the intersection last year at the request of the Township.

To implement an all-way stop control, appropriate engineering parameters are evaluated which included an analysis of "reportable" crash reports (specifically angle crashes) occurring at the intersection , an on-site review where roadway alignments and sight distances are observed, and traffic volumes. Based on all engineering parameters reviewed , the Department cannot justify the installation of STOP signs on Swamp Road.

Posted on 06 May 2019, 01:15 - Category: Traffic



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