John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Summary of February 13, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the February 13, 2019, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here.

Committee Reports

Planning Commission: Vice Chairman Peggy Driscoll reported that at its February 5, 2019 meeting the members reviewed a preliminary as final plan for a minor subdivision of the D'Archangelo property, an 11.3 acre parcel, into two lots, taking access from Linton Hill Road. The plan includes a shared driveway. The Commission recommended that the Board approve the subdivision and recommended granting of a number of waivers. Mrs. Driscoll confirmed that the recommendation was unanimous.

Development

Fred Beans: Ms. Bobrin moved to authorize execution of development, financial security and stormwater agreements for Fred Beans, Newtown [see here for details of renovation plans]. Mr. Mack seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Fairy Gene Inc.: Mr. Fisher moved to approve the conditional use decision for Fairy Gene, Inc., 121 Friends Lane, Suite 202 for use G-1, manufacturing in the LI, Light Industrial Zoning District. Applicants are planning to use 5,000 sq. ft. for cosmetic product manufacturing by combining non-hazardous ingredients with water to make a cream-like product. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Public Safety

Police Report: Interim Police Chief Jason Harris reported that for the month of January the department responded to over 1500 calls, including 3 overdoses, two requiring the use of Narcan and 5 DUI’s. The department participated in over 300 hours of training. [For details, read "January 2019 Police Report: Crash on Swamp Road".]

DCED Keystone Communities Grant: Mr. Lewis asked the Board to authorize him to execute a DCED commitment letter for a Keystone grant in the amount of $94,000 for reimbursement for two police motorcycles and a truck. Mr. Fisher moved to authorize the Township Manager and Secretary to execute a commitment Letter and Contract for DCED Definition Keystone Communities Grant. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

Public Works

2019 Roadway Improvement Program: Ms. Colubriale asked the Board to authorize advertising for the 2019 Roadway Improvement program, which will include 2.34 miles of roads throughout the Township, with a number of alternate roads. Mr. Mack moved to authorize advertisement of the 2019 roadway improvement program. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 4-0. [For more details, read "The 2019 Road Improvement Program".]

Purchase of Mowers: Mr. Lewis asked the Board to approve the purchase of two Exmark Mowers from Star Lawn Mowers, Inc., through Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing in the amount of $23,820. The mowers are to be used for park maintenance and are included in the 2019 budget. Mr. Mack moved to authorize purchase of two lawnmowers in the amount of $23,820 through Sourcewell Cooperative Purchasing. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 4-0.

 

Posted on 11 Mar 2019, 12:40 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



The 2019 Road Improvement Program

In 2019, Newtown Township plans to perform roadway rehabilitation along several Township roads. A portion of the funding for this project will be provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Municipal Liquid Fuels Program Definition.

At the February 13, 2019, Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, the Township was authorization to advertise the 2019 Road Program. Newtown Township will utilize the PennBid electronic bidding to receive sealed bids for this program. PennBid efficiently matches buyers and sellers of goods and services. It is hoped that by submitting the bids early, that the Township will receive competitive bids and get a good deal.

The project locations include 11 roads (2.34 miles) in the “Base Bid” and 8 “Alternate Roads,” one or more of which will be included in the project if the chosen lowest acceptable base bid comes in below the budgeted amount of $710,000 ($640,000 from the Liquid Fuels Program).

BASE BIDS will cover the following 11 roads (a total of 2.34 miles):

  1. Merion Drive: full length including intersections with E. and W. Burns Lane;
  2. E. Burns Lane: full length;
  3. W. Burns Lane: full length;
  4. Hillside Road and Clearview Drive: full length;
  5. Cliveden Drive: Cliveden Drive to Brookdale Place, including the intersection with Brookdale Place.

  1. Eldrigde Road: full length;
  2. Linton Hill Road: full length from Stoopville Road to the culvert over the tributary to Newtown Creek, including intersections with Waterford Place, Wrights Road, and Winding Lane

 

  1. Hershey Court: full length, including cul-de-sac;
  2. Hickory Court: full length, including cul-de-sac;
  3. Gettysburg Lane: full length, including cul-de-sac;
  4. Cherry Lane: full length, including cul-de-sac

ALTERNATE BIDS will also be accepted for the following 8 roads (a total of 1.08 miles):

  1. Primrose Court: full length, including cul-de-sac;
  2. Terry Drive: from Pheasant Run Road to Blacksmith Road, including the intersection with Blacksmith Road;
  3. Blacksmith Road: from Terry Drive to the cul-de-sac approximately 1,000 feet east of the intersection with Terry Drive;
  4. Sycamore Street: from the Newtown Bypass (Route 332) to Durham Road;
  5. Bedford Lane: full length, including both culs-de-sac;
  6. Hampton Circle: full length, including cul-de-sac;
  7. Brighton Place: full length, including cul-de-sac;
  8. Chatham Place: full length.

Bids will be opened in a public meeting on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, at 10:00 AM at the Newtown Township Administration Building, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940.

UPDATE (March 19, 2019): Two Base Bids were received and opened. One from Harris Blacktopping for $578, 231.95 and one from Bray Brothers for $637,294.75. Usually, the contract is awarded to the lowest bidder if there are no problems with the bid. The township engineer will review the bid details and report to the Board of Supervisors at the March 27, 2019, public meeting at which time the official decision will be made. In any case, it seems that at least a few of the Alternate roads will also be "rehabilitated."

UPDATE (March 27, 2019): The Board discussed a motion to award to Harris Blacktopping, Inc., The Base Bid, Alternate Bid No. 2 and Alternate No. 3 in the amount of $706,596.20 for 2.73 miles of roadway. Mr. Mack asked about alternate roads included and Ms. Colubriale said the two alternates awarded were Terry Drive and Blacksmith Road. Access the official list here.

Posted on 11 Mar 2019, 01:17 - Category: Roads



My Supervisor Activities for February 2019

The following is a summary of my Supervisor-related activities for February, 2019. I spent only about 26 hours this month on official Supervisor business compared to an average of 50 hours per month in 2018. I attribute this below average number of hours to (1) time off for a vacation in Florida for a few days:

A little R&R is good!

(2) the cancellation of meetings due to snow, and (3) two very short BOS Definition meetings, including the February 27 session featuring the swearing in a new Police Chief.

What This Report Does Not Include

My log of Supervisor-related activities does not include the many hours I spend posting to this blog, maintaining my personal website, writing a newsletter, creating and posting video clips from meetings, hosting podcast interviews, summarizing decisions made by the Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition), etc. Also not included is the time I spend posting to my personal Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account. These activities are NOT part of my official duties as Supervisor, but represent my personal views.

My log keeps track of the time spent on the following:

  • Attending “Required” Meetings
  • Preparation for BOS Meetings
  • Attending Optional Meetings/Activities
  • Interaction with Residents
  • Travel To & From Meetings

Meetings

In the month of February 2019, I spent about 8 hours attending meetings. The average for the 4th quarter of 2018 was 16.1 hours per month. BOS meetings are “required” in the sense that I am expected to attend them in order to satisfy my duties as a Supervisor. These include regular bi-weekly public meetings, non-public executive sessions, public work sessions, and special meetings (see the list below).

“Other Meetings” I attended were optional. For February, 2019, I attended a Joint Zoning Council Definition meeting and the Annual BCATO Definition Convention on February 16, 2019

Interaction with Residents

In my opinion, personal interaction with residents regarding their concerns is an important part of my responsibilities as Supervisor. I want to be sure that I spend enough time reaching out to and responding to residents via personal contact, official email via my johnm@newtownpa.gov account and via my personal john@johnmacknewtown.info account, and via phone and/or Facebook.

In February, 2019, I spent 3.8 hours (15% of my total logged hours) interacting with residents compared to an average of 6.7 hours per month in the fourth quarter of 2018. What did I discuss with residents? Here’s a partial list (some items are not included for confidentiality reasons):

  • Met with a resident interested in helping with activities related to the Human Relations Commission
  • Discussed with a resident ideas for enforcing speed limit on Frost Lane in the school zone. For some background on that, read "Frost Lane Traffic Study".
  • Participated in online discussions regarding Newtown Artesian Water Company's letter notifying residents that PFAS were detected in several sources of Township water.
  • Facebook discussion about ideas for bringing new business to Newtown.

Disclaimer

When speaking with residents on issues that may come before the BOS in the future for a vote, I never express an opinion as to how I will vote because I may not have all the information. Needless to say, I also do NOT discuss any confidential information that is not in the public domain. These discussions with residents are meant solely to inform me of their opinions, not for me to give them my opinion. Or it is just to listen to complaints/concerns and to forward them on to the BOS if necessary

I decided to keep track of my activities as a Supervisor on a monthly basis partly because I want to be accountable to residents, but also to make sure I am making the best use of my time. It's really an honor to serve the community! I learn something new every day and have met many fine people and volunteers who also put in a lot of time without any compensation at all. Thanks to everyone who help keep Newtown in business and safe.

Compare to: John Mack's Supervisor Report for January 2019

Posted on 01 Mar 2019, 10:38 - Category: Open Records/Transparency



Meet Newtown Township's New Police Chief

John L. Hearn

At the February 27, 2019, Board of Supervisors meeting, John L. Hearn, the Commanding Officer of Philadelphia Police Department's 14th Police District, was sworn in as Newtown Township's new Chief of Police by  District Court Judge Mick Petrucci.

The 14th District in Northwest Philadelphia covers the Chestnut Hill and Germantown sections, as well as East and West Mt. Airy.

Hearn was selected by the Supervisors after an exhaustive process that involved screening over 20 applicants. In my review I noted the following about Hearn:

  1. He has experience preparing budgets for special events
  2. He takes an analytical approach to making decisions based on facts
  3. He believes technology can minimize the cost of training
  4. In his previous position he assigned officers “areas of influence” where they are required to knock on doors and visit businesses and introduce themselves
  5. He held special “traffic safety blitzes” and emphasized education vs. tickets
  6. He implemented a “walking with a cop” program
  7. He held monthly town halls with citizens

Of particular interest to me are items #6 and #7 on this list. I hope to chat with Chief Hearns in the near future to learn more about implementing these "community policing" programs in Newtown!

SafeCity Solutions - a consulting company - was hired by Newtown to help evaluate applicants. Their final report noted that Hearn's "experience has provided him with the tools to effectively respond to a myriad of difficult and complex situations in a reasonable time frame... Not all what Hearn experienced in a large city would be applicable to Newtown, but indications are that he could make the transition and adjustment necessary to be a successful suburban police chief."

Hearn has a large number of friends in local area police departments as well as in the FBI where he attended the National Academy. This was obvious from the large number of attendees at the swearing in ceremony.

The audience at John Hearn swearing in ceremony. The entire Newtown Police force was also in attendance but are not in this photo. They were standing behind the podium.

I look forward to working with Chief Hearn and wish him great success in his new role!

Posted on 28 Feb 2019, 01:09 - Category: First Responders



Summary of January 23, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the January 23, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. See how Supervisors voted on motions (click here).

Committee Reports

Newtown Township Human Relations Commission: Mr. Mack provided an update on the Human Relations Commission (HRC) Definition and that a contact was recently provided for Mr. Summerson of the PA Human Rights Commission whom he had met. Mr. Mack noted that Mr. Summerson will be doing the Training for the HRC, and noted that the commission needed to appoint a chairman and must be advertised in accordance with the Sunshine Law. A date will be determined for the organization. Mr. Mack made a motion to authorize the Township Manager to work with the HRC and come up with a date for advertisement. Mr. Fisher seconded, motion passed 5-0. Mr. Lewis stated that he will contact the entire committee.

Planning Commission: Commission vice Chair, Ms. Peggy Driscoll provided the Planning Commission report which included a Conditional Use Definition application for FairyGene Inc. of 121 Friends Lane, Suite 202, in the Friends Lane Commons development. The property was formerly occupied by Centrak. Applicants are planning to use 5,000 sq. ft. for cosmetic product manufacturing by combining non-hazardous ingredients with water to make a cream-like product. There will be no retail or export sales and signage will not be necessary. No testing or experiments on animals would be done.

Mr. Sander framed a motion for the Applicant’s Conditional Use application to permit the Applicant to operate a Use G-1 - Manufacturing Use at the Property, which approval is subject to the Applicant’s compliance with several conditions. The motion passed 5-0.

Fiscal Responsibility

DCED Early Intervention Program Grant: Resolution making a supplemental appropriation of funds in the 2019 Budget to allow $40,000 to be allocated for the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Definition Early Intervention Program (EIP) Definition.

Motion was made by Ms. Bobrin to approve the Resolution making a supplemental appropriation of funds in the 2019 Budget to allow $40,000 to be allocated for the DCED EIP. The motion was seconded by Mr. Fisher. The motion passed 4-1 with Mr. Davis dissenting.

Andrew Sheaf Answers Questions About DCED's Early Intervention Program:

Land Development

Bucks County Community College Waiver of Stormwater Management: The Applicant is requesting a waiver of Township Storm Water Management Definition requirements related to a campus core revitalization project. Dr. Shanblatt explained that the intent and purpose of the project was to improve the campus core to make it more walkable, and to include landscaping, and porous and non-porous paving surfaces.

Mr. Fisher made a motion to grant the Waiver of Stormwater Management subject to the review and approval of maintenance procedures for porous paving areas. Ms. Bobrin seconded the motion. The motion passed 5-0.

Lower Dolington Trail: Mr. Lewis noted that the grant period for the 2019 DCNR Definition Grant is now open. Mr. Lewis recommended that the township apply for the 2019 DCNR Grant for the Lower Dolington Trail. Mr. Lewis provided a brief overview of the project, and noted that the Township was declined for the 2018 grant. It was a consensus of the Board to apply for the grant funding again in 2019.

Public Safety

Dr. Harry Carter gave a brief overview of the 2018 Fire and Emergency Services Study: Mr. Mack questioned how the location of the [recommended] fire house was determined. Dr. Carter outlined response times given to him by the Department. Mr. Davis questioned the rationale for moving the fire department just outside of the Borough. Dr. Carter explained that the recommendation was made to reduce response time.Mr. Mack questioned the recommendation as the National Fire Protection Association standards are less than the standard. Dr. Carter confirmed that finding, however the recommendation is based on the community. Mr. Mack commented that new taxes would be required to develop a new fire house location.

Mr. Mack also questioned the necessity of the recommendation for new apparatus. Dr. Carter elaborated on the recommendation to purchase a 75-foot Quintuple and defined what a quick response vehicle is. Dr. Carter also explained what a combination fire department includes, and involves.

Mr. Calabro asked why we have not needed 7-day coverage until now. Dr. Carter said the recommendation came from interviews with paid and volunteer staff. Mr. Calabro asked if the mutual aid agreements provide the Township with enough coverage during the evening and weekend hours.

Mr. Mack Reported on the Opioid Forum in Newtown Borough: He noted that the PA Attorney General [Josh Shapiro] was in attendance, and is considering litigation against opioid manufactures. The most moving presentation was by former addicts. Mr. Mack also stated that Feb. 16 the BCATO will have a discussion panel to discuss the opioid crisis

Speaking at a local the Opioid Community Forum on January 17, 2019, PA State Attorney Josh Shapiro said prescription drugs are providing the “jet fuel driving this crisis” and that is why PA is one of 4 states leading a 41 state investigation of pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors that “I hold responsible for a huge part of this crisis.”

Purchase of Police Vehicles: Motion to purchase 3 police vehicles through Fred Beans Inc. through COSTARS in the amount of $92,269.00. Motion was made by Ms. Bobrin, seconded by Mr. Fisher. The motion passed 5-0.

Motion to advertise for the purchase of two police motorcycles, lighting and equipment through PennBID. Mr. Lewis noted that these purchases would be reimbursed through the Keystone Communities Grant. Motion was made by Ms. Bobrin, seconded by Mr. Fisher. The motion passed 5-0.

Posted on 15 Feb 2019, 01:05 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes



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