John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

Summary of September 26, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the September 26, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here.

Committee Reports

Newtown Township Finance Committee: Jack Brod, Chairperson of the Finance Committee, made a presentation [of a] preliminary study [that] reflects the Committee’s views. [Read a summary of that presentation here and view a video of the presentation here.]

Mr. Calabro asked that the Committee create a 5‐year plan with issues regarding EIT Definition, real estate transfer tax Definition, and business development to promote the economy. The Board was favorable about the Committee willing to educate residents on real estate tax, school tax, EIT and other budgetary information during this budget period.

Planning Commission - Sit‐Stay: [Chairman Allen Fidler reported that the] Applicant is seeking relief to continue operating Sit‐Stay, an unpermitted daycare/kennel for approximately 50 dogs on a daily basis. The property is in the CM district and is over 18 acres where 25 acres are necessary to run a kennel. Applicant is willing to mitigate the situation by moving play yards, install sound proofing barriers and fencing, and plant evergreen landscaping to diffuse the noise. [There was much public comment pro and con regarding whether a dog kennel could be an accessory agricultural property under 25 acres, mitigating the noise level, and the background of this application.]

Planning Commission - Penns Trail Investment: Joe Blackburn, Esq., represented applicant seeking relief in connection to the construction of a 2‐story, 12,000 sq.ft. medical office use building with 129 parking spaces on a 3.89 acre property, with an existing 7,300 sq. ft. 2‐story medical office building with 98 parking spaces. The proposed construction does not comply with the dimensional regulations, parking requirements in according with the NT [Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance] JMZO Definition. The Commission had no general consensus on points of relief being requested. One primary point was made by several members asking applicant to show hardship. Applicant stated that they had tenants for the existing building and to enhance the medical use of the property, they needed the additional square footage to create a medical campus. The question the Commission discussed was on one hand the Joint Zoning Ordinance protection and the greater good of the community and Township at large.

Fiscal Responsibility

Audit Report: Ed Furman of Mallie presented the 2017 Financial Statement. The information went through an electronic audit of the general ledger and can depict each expense account with monthly activity. He indicated that the report gave the Supervisors an idea of the financial strength of the Township as of the end of 2017. Real estate transfer tax and EIT revenues were discussed briefly. [Read a summary of that presentation here and view a video of the presentation here.]

Ordinances

Anti‐Discrimination Ordinance Discussion: David Bria discussed Yardley Borough’s Ordinance Definition that was adopted earlier this year. He noted that the existing anti‐discrimination law PA Human Relations Act enables municipalities to create their own Human Relations Commission. The public opinion has been popular and businesses have been implementing this policy, most recognized is Amazon which wants to be located in a state that has complete anti‐discrimination law. Any anti‐discrimination complaints are heard by the Human Relations Commission, and there are no specific requirements but that members of the Commission may not hold office with any political party. Other discussion was related to training, advisory councils/resources, filing complaints, handling abusers to the complaint process, etc.

Ms. Bobrin motioned to have the Township Solicitor draft and advertise an anti‐discrimination ordinance for Newtown Township. Mr. Mack seconded. Motion Discussion: With various communities taking part in this, there should be standards in creating the ordinance rather being different. There was discussion regarding how to handle claims, including frivolous claims, and awards. The motion was amended to authorize the drafting of an anti‐discrimination ordinance submission to the Board for review. Ms. Bobrin made a motion to approve. Mr. Mack seconded, and the motion passed 5‐0.

Consideration to Approve Amendment to Noise Ordinance: [Mr. Sander - Township Solicitor - reported that on the advice of former Police Chief Pasqualini and Code Enforcement Officer Martin Vogt, he is recommending that the Board advertise amendments to the noise ordinance (see Summary of September 12, 2018, BOS Meeting).] Mr. Mack stated it was discerning to remove an ordinanceo because it was difficult to enforce. Discussion was about removing certain portions and having some complaints being subjective. The motion passed 4‐1, Mr. Mack voted “nay”. [For more information about this, read "Board of Supervisors Decimate Noise Ordinance"]

Consideration to authorize the Solicitor to draft and advertise an ordinance prohibiting the discharge of firearms on Township property: Mr. Sander stated that the PA Uniform Firearms Act pre‐empts local municipalities to enact or pass laws that deal with possession, sale or transportation of firearms as defined by the Act. The Township can prohibit the discharge, or use, of the firearm on Township owned and public property with exception of law enforcement and self‐defense. Hunting is excluded in the ordinance. Carrying a firearm is considered possession and the Act pre‐empts the Township from adding it to the ordinance. The motion passed 5‐0.

Posted on 12 Oct 2018, 12:24 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of September 12, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the September 12, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here.

Committee Reports

Joint Historic Commission - Toll House Commemorative Plaque: Mr. Mack reported that he had attended a meeting of the Joint Historic Commission (JHC) at which a Toll House commemorative plaque at Nina's Waffles was discussed. He asked whether the Township or Brixmor would be contributing to the sign. Mr. Lewis said that he believed Brixmor would be amenable to making a contribution. Followup: The JHC's plan has been to sponsor a historic marker at the toll house with its own funding. The sign, which is part of the Newtown Heritage Walk program, credits Brixmor for repairing and maintaining the toll house since purchasing the shopping center site from the previous developer and their recent renovation to reoccupy the structure as a commercial establishment. Brixmor will be installing the sign at no charge.

NOTE: Warren Woldorf, Chairman of the Joint Historic Commission, requested BOS approval for it to use JHC funds ($2,000 estimated) for an historic marker. The BOS voted to approve this expenditure at no cost to the Township at the 27 September 2018, public meeting.

Planning Commission - Arcadia Green: Chairman Allen Fidler reported that the Commission has discussed the plans for Arcadia Green, but as the applicant's engineer and traffic engineer were not available to answer questions, the Commission offered a few suggestions regarding the plans but did not make a formal recommendation.

Ordinances

Consideration of PRD Elimination Zoning Ordinance Amendment: Mr. Sander - Township Solicitor - explained that at the recommendation of the Bucks County Planning Commission, an ordinance is being circulated among the Jointure partners to remove the PRD use from the JMZO. Passage of an ordinance eliminating this use from the JMZO would not impact current applications. Mr. Davis moved to amend the JMZO to remove the PRD use from its permitted uses. Ms. Bobrin seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

For more details, read: "Newtown Township, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown to Consider Deleting Planned Residential Development from the Newtown Area JMZO".

Noise Ordinance Amendment: Mr. Sander - Township Solicitor - reported that on the advice of former Police Chief Pasqualini and Code Enforcement Officer Martin Vogt, he is recommending that the Board advertise amendments to the noise ordinance. The current ordinance is subjective and difficult to prove or enforce. The proposed changes would delete subjective criteria. Ms. Bobrin moved to authorize advertisement of a noise ordinance amendment. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

NOTE: In a 4 to 1 vote at the Sept 26, 2018, public meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved this ordinance amendment. For more information about that, read "Board of Supervisors Decimate Noise Ordinance".

Parks and Recreation

Veterans Park Flagpole: Township Manager, Mr. Lewis explained that the Board had included the purchase of the 50 foot flagpole and large flag in the 2018 budget. The new flag will be placed in the grassy area between the snack bar and Noah’s Playground. Mr. Calabro moved to authorize purchase of a 50 foot flagpole from Kotate Flags at a cost of $6500 for Veterans Park. Mr. Calabro and Mr. Mack questioned the location of the flagpole. Both would have favored the main entrance area on Durham Road. Mrs. Pawlenko said that the scout who built the entrance sign wall has been nationally recognized for his project. The new flag will be visible from this entrance. The motion passed 5-0.

Public Safety

Newtown Fire Association Extension through 2019: Mr. Lewis asked the Board to approve a one year extension of the Township’s agreement with the Newtown Fire Association for coverage from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM Monday through Friday and on weekends, with a 3% increase. Mr. Mack moved to approve the proposed extension of the Newtown Fire Association Agreement through 2019. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Police Report: Acting Police Chief Jason Harris reported that the department had responded to 1500 calls for service in the past month (August 2018), including 35 disturbances and a few vandalism complaints. The Department, along with fire and EMS, is participating in County wide training for responding to certain mass casualty emergencies. The training will insure that when multiple municipalities respond to the same emergency, the same protocols and procedures are in place so that the departments can easily coordinate and work together.

For more details, read "August 2018 Police Report".

Traffic

PennDOT Swamp Road Update: Gene Blaum, Ashwin Patel, Chuck Davies and Bob Graham of PennDOT were in attendance to review work already completed and some plans for Swamp Road. District Traffic Engineer Patel reported that PennDOT reviewed the crash history and found two clusters, at the intersection with Durham Road and at Twining Bridge Road, where accidents had been occurring. Restriping the center line to straighten curves and adding reflectors has been completed and new signage will be installed shortly. Mr. Sander spoke about the speed limits on roads where no limit has been set; the speed on Swamp Road, with the absence of a study, would be required to be 35 MPH. He asked to see the history of studies setting the current 45 MPH limit. Mr. Patel said that he would research this and would also take into consideration a new study, as requested by the Township or any data provided from a study commissioned using the Township’s own traffic engineers.
 

 

Posted on 05 Oct 2018, 01:07 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of August 22, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the August 22, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here.

Committee Reports

Planning Commission - Newtown Athletic Club: Applicant is seeking a variance to add an outdoor garden and fountain, which will exceed the minimum front yard setback requirement (variance is being sought to maintain a 0.57ft. front yard setback where current relief is 33ft. 75ft. is required per Ordinance). Access to the area would be through the men’s locker room. There were concerns regarding the basis for relief as the application did not show a hardship. The property is being used now without the garden and fountain. A suggestion was made that adding enhancements to an existing 7 ft. wall would provide a pleasing streetscape.

The Planning Commission made an informal recommendation that the Supervisors oppose this application.

Planning Commission - Newtown Brewery: Applicant is seeking to occupy 4,550 sq. ft. in an existing 10,000 sq. ft. 1-story warehouse/ manufacturing facility to operate a brewery and tavern. The tavern will be open to the public with seating for 70 patrons. There will be space for small parties and would be a “Bring Your Own Food” operation. Applicant will maintain 34 parking spaces with overflow parking use by agreement with a neighboring tenant for the required 46 parking spaces.

Members of the Planning Commission felt it was a favorable use in the Business Commons, and made an informal recommendation that the Supervisors not oppose this application.

Development

Arcadia Green - Tentative PRD Hearing, Part 2: Jason Duckworth, President of Arcadia Land Company, and Attorney John VanLuvanee, presented the plan and testified (see Summary of August 8, 2018, BOS Public Meeting for Part 1). Mr. Duckworth, still under oath, testified that under this current plan, there would be no access to High Street and the church property is not included in this current plan. Also, emergency access was not considered in the plan. Testimony included mention of Arcadia meeting with PennDOT to discuss the proposed plans for a U-turn at the intersection Buck and Mill Pond Roads. [Arcadia Green’s traffic engineer will be available at the September 13, 2018 BOS meeting.]

NOTE: There was a question as to why there was a hearing at tonight’s meeting when Arcadia Green will be meeting with the Planning Commission on September 4, 2018. The review letters had not been received in time for the Planning Commission’s review; Mr. Duckworth had volunteered to come before the Planning Commission. Arcadia Green stated that it will not modify the current plan. The Board of Supervisors will consider the recommendations from the Planning Commission and will continue the hearing at this meeting.

Public Safety

Keystone Community Grant: Interim Police Chief Jason Harris requested that the BOS approve RESOLUTION 2018-R-20 to request a Keystone Community grant of $94,000 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be used for the purchase of two (2) police Harley Davidson motorcycles and a Ford F-250 Pickup Truck to support community policing efforts and truck enforcement. The current enforcement truck is nearly 18 years old and in “dire need of replacement,” according to Chief Harris. The total estimated cost of the truck and 2 motorcycles is $95,747. As the grant is for $94,000 the Township would pay the difference of $1,747. State Representative Perry Warren was instrumental in securing this grant.

Ms. Bobrin made the motion to approve. Mr. Davis seconded, and the motion passed 5-0.

Posted on 12 Sep 2018, 20:45 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of Aug 13, 2018, BOS Work Session

The following is a summary of discussions at the August 13, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) Work Session based upon my notes. This is not a complete synopsis of the discussions. Please refer to the official minutes (here) for more details. Work Sessions are intended to informally discuss issues. No official decisions are made at these sessions.

Toll Brothers Fumbles Presentation

Representatives from Toll Brothers were at the meeting to present a sketch plan for a 173-home development along Durham Road and Twining Road on land owned by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the presentation was cut short due to the lack of preparation by the presenters, who did have the necessary visual aids to provide to the audience, which consisted of about 30 residents from surrounding communities. “Let’s just reschedule this for next month,” said Chair Phil Calabro as he cut short the presentation.

Meanwhile, it was agreed to post the plans for the development on the Township website (here) so that residents can download them in preparation for the next go round. The plan below is plan 3, which is the proposal Toll Brothers intends to present to the town.

Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Revisited

Under “Old Business,” Supervisor Mack asked that the anti-discrimination ordinance he proposed at the July 11, 2018, BOS meeting be put on the agenda of a future meeting. Township solicitor, Dave Sander, previously provided the Board a copy of the Lansdale Borough “Human Relations Ordinance” as a starting point.

Mr. Mack suggested that Dave Bria, Yardley Borough Council Member, be asked to speak to the Board about the ordinance passed by Yardley (read “Yardley Borough Passes Local Anti-Discrimination Ordinance”) and the progress they have made in putting together a Human Relations Commission, which would be charged with handling complaints and convening a “fact-finding” non-public conference concerning the dispute.

Mack informed the Board that Governor Wolf recently signed an executive order creating the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, the only one in the nation (see here).

Tree Removal in Village at Newtown Shopping Center
Durham Road Trees circa Oct 2014

The Board discussed the recent removal of many trees in the Village at Newtown shopping center along Durham road as part of the Brixmor renovation project. Mr. Mack reminded the Board that many residents, having seen the trees suddenly disappear, expressed concern via social media (see here) and Township Manager, Micah Lewis, said some residents have come in to view the plans for the replacement of the trees.

Mr. Lewis noted that many trees that were removed were deformed by PECO pruning and/or diseased or in a poor state due to age (see photo on left, which shows some trees along Durham Road as they looked circa October 2014). Some were also removed to make way for sidewalks.

Although the shopping center is private property and the owners have the freedom to landscape as they see fit, Mr. Mack reminded the Board that a condition of the settlement with Starbucks was that Starbucks would provide “an enhanced landscaping” buffer around the building, to the “satisfaction of the Township Planner.” It was hoped the same applies to landscaping in other areas of the shopping center.

Mr. Lewis – who is a Landscape Architect – agreed to meet with Supervisors one-on-one and with members of the Environmental Advisory Council to go over the plans for landscaping and the details of tree replacement.

FOLLOWUP: Read "Tree Replacement Plan for the Village of Newtown Shopping Center Along Durham Road"

Mr. Mack suggested that Newtown become a “Tree City” recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation. Newtown Borough – but NOT Newtown Township – is one of the 111 Pennsylvania municipalities that are recognized as a Tree USA community!

PennDOT to “Upgrade” Swamp Road at Twining Bridge Intersection

Mr. Lewis informed the Board that on July 27, 2018, PennDOT met with Newtown Township officials and agreed to provide the following upgrades to Swamp Road at the intersection of Twining Bridge Road:

  1. Shifting double yellow along the center line 2 feet to the east to provide wider inside shoulder through the curve in the southbound direction.
  2. Install “SLOW Curve Marking” legends in both directions to provide additional warning to the motorists. 
  3. Install “Raised Pavement Markers” to enhance the visibly of roadway alignment at night and/or during inclement weather.
  4. Stabilize the shoulder with 2A aggregate to address pavement edge drop off from ST project. 
  5. Replace existing warning signs with larger doubled up advance warning signs for additional conspicuity.
  6. Replace damaged roadside delineators to define the edge of road.
  7. Bucks County Maintenance will evaluate the area to address drainage concerns

 

 

Posted on 14 Aug 2018, 13:14 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of August 8, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the August 8, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting based upon the official minutes and online video of that meeting, which you can find here.

Committees

Planning Commission: Allen Fidler, Chairman, gave a synopsis of the August 7, 2018 meeting regarding the Arcadia Green tentative PRD #3.  There were no formal recommendations made. Some of the concerns of the Commission and from public comment were traffic and pedestrian safety issues, proposed double left u‐turns at Mill Pond and Buck, development infill affecting quality of life, and roadway safety accessing and leaving their developments via Buck Road and the Bypass. Suggestions from the Commission included a pedestrian bridge, a second access to the development for use by EMS services only, and for partial open space to remain as undisturbed habitat for native plants and wildlife.

Development

Arcadia Green - Tentative PRD Hearing, Part 1: Jason Duckworth, President of Arcadia Land Company, and Attorney John VanLuvanee, presented the plan and testified. Resident Jay McGuigan, 271 High Street, Newtown Crossing, was given party status. Resident and vice president of Eagle Ridge Association Dennis Schoener, 21 Ardsley Court, Eagle Ridge, was denied party status; however, if an attorney is hired by Eagle Ridge, they may have the opportunity to be included. Mr. VanLuvanee presented the Supervisors with a binder of exhibits and addressed the history of the property and previous plans. Mr. VanLuvanee explained an offer of a mediation option for the Board to consider. Mr. Calabro asked for a motion to submit the application to mediation. The motion failed.

[In response to VanLuvanee’s request that several Supervisors be recused due to bias, Township Solicitor, Dave Sander, cited section 603 of the PA Second Class Township Code, which states: “A member of the board shall not be disqualified from voting on any issue before the board solely because the member had previously expressed an opinion on the issue in either an official or unofficial capacity.”] A motion to recuse the Board members was denied.

Transcript of the Hearing.

Part 2 of the hearing will be held at the August 22, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting.

Public Health

Water Quality: Dan Angove, Assistant General Manager, Newtown Artesian Water Company, gave an update on Newtown's drinking water. He answered questions from Supervisor John Mack about Maximum Compliance Levels of PFAS - perfluorinated compounds - in the town's drinking water. See video below and more information about Maximum Contamination Levels of PFAS here.

Public Safety

July 2018 Police Report: Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for July 2018 [Find a summary of the report here.]

Special Actions

Swearing in of New Supervisor: Mr. Dennis Fisher was sworn in as a Supervisor by District Judge Mick Petrucci.

Appointment of Township Auditor: Mr. Mark Joseph appointed Township Auditor by a vote of 4-1 (Mr. Davis voting "nay").

Posted on 11 Aug 2018, 01:03 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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