John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

Summary of 10 February 2021 BOS Meeting

2021 Road Program, Purchase of Police Vehicles, Ford F-350 Truck, and Mowers

The following is a brief summary of the February 10, 2021, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) public meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Public Works

January 2021 Report: Joseph Schiavoni, Public Works Director, reported that the Department continues to monitor the parks throughout the winter, has repaired 34 streetlights, answered 74 PA One Calls, repaired numerous potholes and cracks in the roads and have had two snow events.

Regarding the Road Program, he said that he keeps lists and working with the Township Engineer, revisits all of the roads and creates the new list of roads in need of repaving. He does not keep a database, but he can provide copies of the lists he has kept through the years. Some Homeowners Associations report roads in very bad condition, as do some individual residents, but he and the Engineer always confirm conditions in person. In response to further questions from the Board he said that has not had an opportunity to use the new pothole repair equipment because of the weather and he hopes to use the equipment more when the summer staff is available.

More details:
 

Potholes were filled on 9 different township roads. Crack Sealing was done on 5 different township roads. PWD responded to 3 requests for assistance from Newtown Township Police Department. PWD installed 13 surface mounted manhole rings on 8 township roads. PWD temporarily patched 120' lineal feet of curb on Everett Drive in the Country Bend development.

During Winter Storm Orlena (Jan 31 - Feb 2) the PWD encountered multiple minor equipment problems, these issues were mainly with broken hydraulic lines which were easily repaired. Although on Monday February 1st at 4:30 p.m. PWD had one truck that had to be taken out of service for the remainder of the snow event. The truck taken out of service was the 1997 International 6-Wheel Dump Truck, which had radiator and fuel line issues that could not be repaired during the event.

Related Content/Followup:    

Reports from Board Members

Phil Calabro: Mr. Calabro recently learned that Council Rock School District will be raising taxes again this year and he expressed dismay that although the district raises taxes every year, it does not experience the public outcry that the Township recently faced when it raised taxes for the first time in many years. He noted all that the Township provides its residents, including road repair and plowing, police and fire protection services, and suggested that the District could make its facilities available to residents when not in use by the students. Residents might enjoy use of the pool, weight rooms and other amenities.

Mr. Mack asked whether the School District charges the Park and Rec Department a fee for its use of the school facilities for programs and camps. As CRSD Liaison, he will be meeting with School Board members and can discuss this.

Related Content/Followup:    

David Oxley: Mr. Oxley said has shared with the Board a memo from the Economic Development Committee (EDC) outlining their ideas and recommendations to create a business friendly Newtown Business Commons and he asked the Board to consider the EDC’s suggestions.

Mr. Calabro noted that not all of the Board members are prepared to discuss the memo this evening and asked that it be re-sent to the Board, the Planner and Engineer so that a work session can be scheduled next week to discuss the memo in detail.

Related Content/Followup:    

Public Safety

Police Report: Police Chief John Hearn reported that the Department responded to 1536 calls, including one investigation at Newtown Middle School, 18 arrests and 18 deer/vehicle collisions. He reminded the public of the many fraud schemes conducted over the phone. The Department will be assisting in the County Covid Vaccination program. In response to Mr. Mack’s questions, Chief Hearn said that the officers have been offered Covid vaccines. He has reviewed the Township’s statistics on racial profiling and found that 92% of traffic stops have been of white drivers, which is consistent with Newtown’s demographics. He also noted that most stops are made at night when officers cannot easily see the drivers’ faces. Only recently the State Police have been requiring this information.

Summary of Votes on Motions

Download the UNOFFICIAL 2021 BOS Voting Record to date.

My Personal Notes

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 07 Mar 2021, 13:48 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of January 27, 2021, BOS Meeting

Doggy Dayz, Council Rock School Board, Rezoning for Businesses, Fire Report, Business Liaison

The following is a brief summary of the January 27, 2021, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) public meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Development

Doggy Dayz, 8 Pheasant Run: Newtown Planning Commission Chairman Allen Fidler reported that Doggy Dayz is seeking a use variance and a number of performance standard variances for a dog day care and kennel in the LI Zoning District, where such use is not permitted. The Commission has been aware of the idea of introducing new service uses into our business districts and found that this use could possibly be a good match, however the members had a number of concerns about drop off and pick up of the pets and its impact on parking and traffic circulation in the parking lot and the impact it would have on other tenants in the building. It was the Commission’s recommendation that the Board consider supporting this new use provided all traffic and circulation questions have been reviewed by the Township Planner and Engineer.

Mr. Mack said that he visited the site of the proposed dog day care and he agreed that this use could be compatible with the Commons and the Board is eager to attract new business but he agreed that the circulation might be a problem.

Solicitor Sander noted that this applicant has asked to continue the application in order to investigate the concerns brought up by the Planning Commission. They will be at the second Board meeting in February to discuss the application.

John Mack's Insights:
 

This is NOT a new use – it’s an application for multiple variances to allow this specific use, which is not likely to be sort again by another applicant. The township cannot continue to willy-nilly grant variances to enable different very specific businesses to occupy space in the Newtown Commons area. What we need is to completely redefine the LI zone – which encompasses the Business Commons – to allow “by right different” businesses than are currently allowed now – especially high-paying businesses with multiple employees. Industrial use simply is not going to cut it in this day and age. The township needs to get “the best bang for the buck” as Mr. Fidler stated at the PC meeting.

Related Content/Followup:    

Reports from Board Members

Council Rock School Board: Mr. Mack reported that he had been unable to attend the Council Rock School Board meeting but instead met with members Marcell and Tate to discuss the relationship of the Township and the School District. The Board is very pleased with School Resource Officer Renee Hearst, who is very well liked by students and staff. The schools will be returning to a five day schedule next week. He asked about any proposed increase in the school taxes but was told that the District is on a fiscal year schedule and has not begun its budget process yet.

Related Content/Followup:    

Economic Development Committee (EDC): Mr. Oxley reported that the EDC had sent a memo to the Board, which will be distributed to the members in the morning, which discusses some suggested zoning changes to attract new business to the Business Commons and Office Research District. Mr. Calabro asked Jerry Schenkman, Planning Commission Solicitor, how to proceed with such a review.

Mr. Schenkman said that each committee would be sending liaisons to each other’s meetings and the planning professionals would have input into some of the ideas being suggested. He noted that the Bucks County Planning Commission has been addressing a number of municipalities’ business/industrial districts as the zoning has become obsolete and as new uses that have never been considered before have to be added. The BCPC would be an excellent source of information.

Related Content/Followup:    

Public Safety

Emergency Services Department Report: Fire Chief Glenn Forsyth reported that in the past month the Department and Fire Association responded to 118 calls, including one building fire and conducted 64 fire safety inspections.

New Business

Township Business Relationship Liaison: Mr. Davis agreed to take this position to act as liaison to business owners to help any way the Township can to keep current businesses and offer support where needed. Mr. Sander said that he would prepare something more formal outlining a description of this position.

Summary of Votes on Motions

Download the UNOFFICIAL 2021 BOS Voting Record to date.

My Personal Notes

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 04 Mar 2021, 12:52 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of January 13, 2021, BOS Meeting

Chick-fil-A, Arcadia III, Police Report, Police Dept Diversity

The following is a brief summary of the January 13, 2021, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) public meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Development

Newtown Bucks Associates Settlement Agreement Re Chick-fil-A: [Township Solicitor Dave Sander] explained that Newtown Bucks Associates had applied for and received variance relief for parking calculations and from a requirement to utilize a loading area for Chick –Fil-A but was denied relief for impervious surface of 61.70% where 50% is required and 59.65% is currently existing in order to construct a 12,500 square foot pad site [originally for Old Navy; read "So what's the status of the proposed Old Navy at the Newtown Shopping Center?"], which had been part of the original approved plan.

Mr. Mack asked whether the Zoning Hearing Board has agreed to the stipulation agreement. Mr. McGuinness [representing Newtown Bucks Associates] said that a condition of approval is the approval of the Board of Supervisors; the Zoning Hearing Board must vote on the agreement at a public meeting. Mr. Sander confirmed that the Zoning Hearing Board would vote on the agreement if the Supervisors have already agreed to it. Mr. Oxley expressed concern that the plan might not relieve the traffic conditions at Chick-Fil-A or at the intersection at the entrance to the shopping center.

Discussion of motion: Resident Frank McCarron objected to the agreement as it does not adequately address conflicts between Chick-Fil-A traffic and cars attempting to go to Staples. The motion failed 2-3, with Messrs. Davis, Oxley and Mack voting nay.

John Mack's Insights:
 
The applicant, IMHO, could have avoided this by submitting 2 separate applications. The ZHB would have approved the Chick-fil-A application and denied the "retail pad" application and this settlement would never have come before the BOS to vote on - always an unknown factor. Related Content:    

Public Comments re: Arcadia III : Resident Eric Scott Gold said that the residents of Eagle Ridge, Newtown Crossing, Liberty Square and Crowne Point recently met to discuss their ongoing litigation with Arcadia for the property at Buck Road and Newtown Bypass. Eagle Ridge’s attorney [Steve Harris] indicated that Eagle Ridge had the best chance of success in the appeals process so he asked that the Township share in the legal expenses of these residents. Resident Mike Gallagher said that he has also attended these meetings for the appeal and the Eagle Ridge case is stronger and has a better chance of success. He urged the Board to consider working with Eagle Ridge

Mr. Sander noted that the Township is appealing the deemed approval of Arcadia plan #3. Eagle Ridge has joined this appeal as parties; they are incurring their own expenses and the Township is not in a position to pay legal fees for the other parties in this appeal.

Mr. Calabro moved to table this discussion until the Board has more information on the matter. Mr. Fisher seconded. The motion passed 3-2, with Messrs. Davis and Mack voting nay.

John Mack's Insights:
 
I searched for comments made at the Arcadia III BOS Exec session on Jan 22 by Eagle Ridge Community Association (ERCA) attorney Steve Harris. Upon re-listening to my recording of these comments, I do not hear much confidence that Mr. Harris believes the Eagle Ridge appeal is winnable. He was much more reserved in his optimism during the BOS meeting than during the meeting with the ERCA residents. At one point he called it a "crap shoot." He also mentioned that ERCA has decided to accept the settlement despite some residents "being a thorn in its side." Related Content:    

Public Safety

Police Report: Police Chief John Hearn reported that the department had responded to 1012 calls in the last month, a decrease of 25% over last year. There have been 10 arrests, 12 new detective cases, 3 frauds and 16 deer-vehicle collisions. A new officer, Justin Price, has been sworn in. This year’s “Shop with a Cop” hosted 110 children. In response to Mr. Oxley’s question, Chief Hearn recounted a recent carjacking incident which involved a chase on the Bypass to I95, where the carjacker was apprehended at the Street Road exit. The chase involved Newtown and State Police.

Mr. Oxley asked about Mr. McCarron’s questions about diversity hiring. Chief Hearn said that he has reached out to the City of Philadelphia for a more diverse pool of qualified applicants for a possible summer hire.

Mr. Mack asked about the number of false alarms the department has been responding to. Chief Hearn said that there is a fine of about $75 involved if the department has to respond three or more times to the same location.

John Mack's Insights:
 
The following is an audio clip from that meting, which includes Mr. McCarron's comments and Chief John Hearn's response when asked by Supervisor David Oxley to respond.

Mr. McCarron suggested that the racial profile of the NTPD should match that of the township population, which is mostly white.

However, another argument could be made that the NTPD racial profile match that of the targets of the majority of NTPD's actions: Traffic violations. The NTPD make many traffic stops on major roads - Newtown Bypass, Swamp Rd, and Stoopville Rd - that have a lot of non-resident traffic. We don't know the racial profile of that group because that information is not collected by NTPD.  For comparison, the Pa. State Police are resuming the collection of racial, ethnic data during traffic stops. Read more about that here.

This survey asks your opinion of increasing diversity in the NTPD. No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you opt-in to provide such information for purposes of follow-up by subscribing to John Mack's email newsletter. After completing the survey, you will be able to see a de-identified summary of the results to date.

Summary of Votes on Motions

Download the UNOFFICIAL 2021 BOS Voting Record to date.

My Personal Notes

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 12 Feb 2021, 12:35 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of November 25, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting

Winter Services Agreement with PennDOT, Authorization to Advertise 2021 Preliminary Budget, Regulating Short Term Rentals, Verizon Cable Franchise Agreement

The following is a brief summary of the November 25, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) public meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Public Works

Winter Services Agreement with PennDOT: Mr. Lewis explained that this is a five year agreement for the Township to plow Routes 413, 332 and 532 for $104,901. This is a five year agreement. Mr. Fisher moved to adopt Resolution 2020-R-19, a winter services agreement with PennDOT. Mr. Davis seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Planning Commission Report

The Members have been reviewing a proposed amendment to the JMZO which defines “families” in an attempt to give the municipalities a way to regulate use of residential properties for short term rentals, such as Air BnB. The members were uncomfortable with the ordinance as presented and asked that the following footnote be added:

Our intention in this Ordinance is to express our concern for the stability and permanency of the neighborhood, and not to pass judgment on the life style choices of those who live in the household for an extended period of time. We seek only to avoid transiency, which tends to disrupt the, "sense of community and shared commitment to the common good." Albert v. Zoning Hearing Board of N. Abington Twp., 854 A.2d 401, 410 (Pa. 2004). There is no intent to discriminate, either expressed or implied, beyond the stated meaning herein.

2021 Budget - Authorization to Advertise

Mr. Sander explained that the Township is required to advertise a budget for twenty days before it can be adopted. Once advertised, the budget can still be revised up to 10% overall in revenues or expenses or 25% in any category. If the Board makes any larger changes the budget must be re-advertised for an additional twenty day. The budget must be approved by December 31, 2020.

Discussion of motion: Mr. Mack asked whether the budget would need to be re-advertised if the changes were to reduce, rather than increase, revenues or expenses. Mr. Sander confirmed that only increases of more than 10% overall or 25% in a category would require re-advertisement.

Mr. Mack noted that the budget being advertised has been changed to now include a tax increase of 133%, not the originally proposed 178%. Mr. Calabro reviewed a chart provided to residents with sample tax bills based on homes with a variety of assessed values. He said that he did not believe the County plans a reassessment, so the assessed value should remain the same.

The motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Davis voting nay.

Board Member Reports

Environmental Advisory Council Meeting: 16 Nov 2020: Mr. Mack reported that the EAC would like to distribute pamphlets on native plants to residents and homeowners associations and asked about reimbursement.

Public Comments

Mr. Seimens: Mr. Seimens asked why an increase is needed with a projected year-end balance of over a million dollars. He also questioned why the Township had paid a consultant so much to just recommend a tax increase.

Mr. Calabro said that the Township had budgeted a portion of the money for the consultant last year and had received a grant for the remainder.

In response to Mr. Siemens’ questions about new spending, Mr. Lewis said that the budget includes new staff, including police and fire, roadway improvements and capital purchases of equipment, including public works vehicles.

Ash Kamath: Mr. Kamath suggested that, as the Township provides services to the School District, including police and fire protection, perhaps there is a way to ask for support from the District. It is not a good time to seek additional tax money from residents struggling in the pandemic. He questioned reliance of the consultant’s work which was done before the pandemic. He urged the Township to postpone the increase and suggested paying off the outstanding bonds and refinancing.

[Read more Resident Comments Regarding the Proposed 2021 Budget]

Summary of Votes on Motions

Download the UNOFFICIAL 2020 BOS Voting Record to date.

My Personal Notes

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 13 Dec 2020, 12:56 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of October 28, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting

2021 Budget Revision, Newtown Ambulance Squad Dire Report, Newtown Fire Association Reorganization, "Latino" v.s. "Hispanic," More...

The following is a brief summary of the October 28, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) public meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

2021 Budget Discussion

Mr. Mack asked whether the Township could consider incremental tax increases over time and accept a smaller general fund balance, perhaps by phasing in new hires. He also noted that he would favor hiring of public works personnel to provide more roadway improvements. Mr. Davis said that he would prefer a smaller tax increase as well. He asked a series of questions on proposed capital spending.

Mr. Davis moved to ask the manager to prepare a budget with a 40% tax increase rather than the currently proposed 178% increase. Mr. Davis said that he has no specific recommendations for reductions but asked that Mr. Lewis review the entire budget and look for ways to reduce or eliminate some spending, bringing in a 40% increase over last year, overall, not per any particular fund. It could involve a smaller year end reserve balance or elimination of some spending. Mr. Mack said that an increase of only 40% would not be enough to do anything, particularly road improvements. Mr. Davis's motion passed 3-2, with Messrs. Mack and Oxley voting nay.

Mr. Fisher suggested that next year the Township could have a different budget preparation procedure, with the Finance Committee having input into the draft budget.

[Read “Newtown Supervisors Look To Tweak A Taxing Budget Proposal”.]

Public Safety

Newtown Ambulance Squad Report: Chief Evan Resnikoff of the Newtown Ambulance Squad gave a brief overview of the Squad's past year. He noted the leadership changes in the past years as well as the increased support from municipal services. The squad has a response time of 5.55 minutes, below the county wide average. This past year, the squad has had a number of Covid operations, and has seen dramatic increases in cost for and use of PPE. After reviewing a number of cost increases and delays in insurance reimbursements, Chief Resnikoff asked that the dedicated millage be increased to 0.05 mills and suggested that a higher dedicated millage could be sought through a referendum in a future election.

Newtown Emergency Services Dept (NESD) Report: Fire Chief Glenn Forsyth reported that the department responded to 121 calls for service and conducted 57 inspections in the Township and 52 inspections in Newtown Borough. The NESD attended 151 hours of training and the Newtown Fire Association attended 115 hours of training.

Fire Services Agreement with NFA: Chief Forsyth noted that this will be a five year agreement through December 31, 2025. The Township contribution will be reviewed annually. It provides fire service when the NESD is not on duty. Next year's Township contribution will be $161,000 (sic). Mr. Mack said that he did not want to enter into an agreement to pay $160,000 until the budget has been passed. [The motion passed 4-1, with Mr. Mack voting nay.]

Committee Reports

Planning Commission: Mr. Fidler said that the members discussed recommendations in the ESI report and from the Economic Development Committee to revamp the list of permitted uses in our commercial zoning districts [e.g., LI, OLI and OR] and he and Ms. Fountain would like to discuss this further with the EDC at one of their November meetings. Mr. Fisher asked whether the EAC's recommendations had been reviewed by the Planning Commission. Mr. Fidler said that the recommendations had been forwarded to the Jointure for consideration to incorporate these suggestions in the Comp Plan and in each municipality's SALDO. [For more information, read "Bringing New Businesses to Newtown"]

Board Member Reports

Human Relations Commission: Mr. Mack reported that he had attended the Human Relations Committee meeting at which Dr. Leticia Ferri discussed the difference between Latino and Hispanic and being a Latino in the United States.

Mack's Newtown Voice · Latino vs. Hispanic: What's The Difference?

Public Comments

Frank McCarran: Resident Frank McCarran said that he has acted on behalf of his Homeowners Association to keep residents of Delancey Court informed of ongoing budget discussions. He said that he believed that the Econsult five year plan had a discrepancy in its estimate of year end general fund balances which would have an impact on all other predictions in the modeling. Regarding the Township's ESD's failure to get a fire grant this year, he suggested that as Township and Borough share fire protection services, the Borough could apply for the grant.

Mr. McCarran explained that residents of Delancey Court are unhappy with the large proposed tax increase because it was so unexpected whereas school and county increases are expected and anticipated.

Mr. Mack asked that e-mails from residents be appended to the minutes.

[Read more Resident Comments Regarding the Proposed 2021 Budget]

Summary of Votes on Motions

Download the UNOFFICIAL 2020 BOS Voting Record to date.

More Information

Download the Newtown Township Meeting Notes newsletter. Topics include: Arcadia PRD Litigation Decision, Toll Bros Delancey Court Request Denied, Resident Critiques ESI Consultants' Financial Report, 2021 Budget Coming to Town!

My Personal Notes

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 20 Nov 2020, 01:04 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Pages: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] ...

 

This site is paid for and approved by John Mack: john@johnmacknewtown.info
The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
Campaign Websites by Online Candidate