John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Board of Supervisors Minutes Category

Summary of August 17, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Work Session: New Fire Apparatus, Strategic Management Planning Program, Financial Status Communication Plan

The following is a brief summary of the August 17, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) Work Session Zoom meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Note: No official decisions are made at Work Session.

Newtown Fire Association

Apparatus Purchase Update:Warren Dallas of the NFA explained a committee, including Newtown Township emergency service personnel, was established a year ago to determine options for replacing the 2001 rescue pumper which served the community well for many years.

The committee reviewed and drove up to 20 trucks to get an idea of what would be best for Newtown and were alarmed when the truck design selected came in at $825K; with some design changes the price dropped to $746K and with an early pay discount of 3.8% the total cost will be under $718K. The NFA voted to proceed and is asking the Township for approval to move forward with the purchase. Mr. Dallas said the NFA will pay $518K in cash and take a 2% loan over 25 years for the remaining $200K.

Mr. Calabro confirmed there is no funding from the Township. Chief Forsyth said much thought was put into this decision and the study was considered. He added this truck will provide coverage for next several years for the Borough and Township.

Five Year Financial Plan Update

Strategic Management Planning Program Interim Report: Steve Wray from Econsult Solutions Inc. [ESI] gave a slide presentation of the Strategic Management Planning Program that ESI prepared for the Township. He explained the purpose of the program and its five project steps, saying most of the work has been completed for the first three items and part four is coming. He reviewed activities to date adding that Covid19 caused the need for some short-term adjustments. Mr. Wray covered general recommendations which included introducing real estate tax millage to the General Fund budget beginning in 2021, exploring opportunities for cost sharing, particularly as it relates to the fire services agreements as well as adjusting staff levels. Historic revenues and expenses were charted, and trends reviewed. Comparisons and benchmarking of neighboring communities were conducted, and statistics presented.

[For presentation slides and selected audio, read "Newtown Supervisors Review Interim 5-Year Financial Plan"]

Finance Committee

Communication Plan: George Skladany of the FC presented the proposed communication plan that will provide accurate financial information to Township residents. He said the plan is three phases:

  1. Provide basic financial information of the Township
  2. Review the significant findings of the ESI final report
  3. Review items the Township decides to implement

Mr. Skladany asked the BOS to make any changes so the FC can submit the document for approval at the August 26 BOS meeting. Mr. Calabro asked what happens after the BOS approval and Mr. Skladany said the week of August 24 the tax and financial facts will be posted on the website; there will also be a printed version and arrangements will be made for a press interview with a spokesman for the Township. The week of August 30 the plan is to disseminate the information via additional interviews with local media and later that week have someone from the Township write a guest editorial for publishing. The packets of information can also be emailed to local business organizations and HOA’s as the intent is spread the information widely as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Mr. Skladany asked the BOS to recommend who would represent the Township and said the FC will provide the draft for the editorial and the FC will make the arrangements with the media.

Newtown Financial Status and Narrative

The following was a PPT presentation made by Mr. Skladany. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 31 Aug 2020, 12:31 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of August 5, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting: Police Report, Economic Development Committee, E-30 Ordinance, More...

The following is a brief summary of the August 5, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) Zoom meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Police Report

Chief Hearn reported the department responded to 1,566 calls for service during July including 20 arrests, one was for theft/fraud of over $400K from Bucks County Community College; there were 11 DUI’s, 56 traffic accidents, and 148 citations issued. He said the department is continuing to utilize grant funding from the state with aggressive driving initiatives continuing through August 23.

Weekly Calls for Service in 2020 and Summary of Calls for the week
ending August 6, 2020. Refers to calls in Newtown and Wrightstown.

Chief Hearn reported there was good dialogue at the town hall meeting on July 23 despite the low turnout due to Covid19 restrictions and the School Board Meeting [read "Summary of Police Town Hall Meeting with Chief Hearn"]. He continues to offer similar type meetings to HOA’s and business associations in an effort to partner with the Township residents and businesses.

The Chief said he was asked about a National Night Out on October 26, and after looking into it, Middletown Township advised they usually hire 20-25 officers for the event and he does not think Newtown will be able to do that. [Read "#COVID-19 Delays - in Some Cases, Cancels - National Night Out Community Policing Events"]

Emergency Services Department Report

Chief Forsyth reported there were 107 calls for service during the month of June including one building fire, two dwelling fires, two cliff rescues at Tyler Park and 63 EMS calls.

Chief Forsyth reported Emergency Management is in the process of starting reimbursements and have submitted a grant to the fire commissioners office for state of PA for $27,466.72; the FEMA grant is expected to be around $20K and the list of reimbursements for the county appears to be in excess of $12K with an expected total reimbursement between $52 to $53K.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Economic Development Committee (EDC): Mr. Peters, Chairman of the EDC, reported the committee has been meeting weekly since mid-June via Zoom and have had guest speakers including Margie McKevitt, COO of Bucks County. He said the committee identified that businesses may need to consider relocating as they restructure therefore, the committee has been examining tax incentives, Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA) and looking at inventive ways to disseminate information to businesses and residents.

Mr. Oxley noted that the EDC had a restructuring and Matt Peters will be the sole chair of the committee.

Board Member Reports

Council Rock School Board Anti-Racism Resolution: Mr. Mack reported the Council Rock School Board passed an anti-racism resolution which includes hiring an external consultant to conduct a diversity focused curriculum and equity audit and to create a systemic employee training program centered on diversity, equity and inclusiveness. Mr. Mack has been in contact with Mr. Tate of the school board and he plans to attend future meetings.

Reports of Officials

Solicitor's Report: E-30 Ordinance – Authorization to Advertise Mr. Sander provided a brief history of the E-30 Ordinance - Convenience Store/Gas Station. He said it is close to final, but there is no action to enact the ordinance today; it is still open for questions, comments and potentially revisions. He said the motion today authorizes the ordinance be sent to the BCPC, be advertised twice in the newspapers and for each of the three Townships to hold public hearings to consider the ordinance. Mr. Fisher asked about the deadline and Mr. Sander said it is mid to late November, however the Townships’ want it completed in October.

Manager's Report: Public Works Report Referring to the public works report, Mr. Mack noted paving repairs were done on Tamarack Court with the milling attachment and he mentioned that Commonwealth Drive needs attention. Mr. Lewis explained the extent of work needed on Commonwealth Drive is more than the milling machine can handle and he said it is on road program for next year.

Mr. Mack also questioned the 17 resident concerns on the report and asked if the public works director could provide a more detailed report going forward.

Old Business

Human Relations Commission (HRC) Applications: Mr. Lewis said the deadline was reached and there are four applications in the packet for review. Mr. Mack said six were received as two additional were submitted after the deadline; he said he is not opposed to accepting them. Mr. Mack suggested postponing the selection until the next meeting as he has not had a chance to review the applicants. Mr. Calabro said the BOS will postpone the vote on HRC members until the next meeting.

Live Meetings: The BOS agreed to meet live on August 26 due to the public interest in that meeting. Mr. Lewis will get estimates from consultants on the cost to run the Zoom meetings with enhanced security measures and the BOS will review the estimates and determine how future meetings will be conducted.

Votes on Motions

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. I may not have asked all the questions in the notes at the meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 28 Aug 2020, 12:54 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of July 22, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting: E-30 Ordinance, ESI Interim Report, Economic Development Committee, More...

The following is a brief summary of the July 22, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) Zoom meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission (PC): Comprehensive Plan: Mr. Fidler said EAC member Mark Stout presented the recommendations for the Comprehensive Plan which included ten items along with supporting details. The items align with the exiting plan from 2009 with changes and updates to reflect the present and future. The ten items reviewed were climate emergency, smart growth, native plants, water sheds and stormwater, trees, plastics, renewable energy, open space, bike/pedestrian transportation and electric vehicles. In response to Mr. Mack’s questions on the EAC recommendations, Mr. Fidler said he would like the Jointure and BCPC to have sufficient time to digest the very thorough recommendations.

Curative Amendment: Mr. Mack stated he attended the PC meeting and there was a discussion on the curative amendment [to allow a combination gas station/convenience store - e.g., Wawa - in the OR district of Newtown and elsewhere in the Jointure] and the impact of it on the Provco case. He asked Mr. Schenkman if he was able to clarify the difference of opinions with Mr. Sander. Mr. Schenkman replied he has some further research to do and will reach out to Mr. Sander tomorrow. Mr. Mack asked if the draft has been received yet and Mr. Sander replied that the current draft has been received from Mary Eberle. He added that the draft was not sent to Provco due to the request of the BOS not to engage with Provco. Mr. Calabro’s opinion is for the BOS to review and discuss at the next meeting and all supervisors agreed with him. Mr. Sander asked Mr. Lewis to forward Mary Eberle’s current draft to the BOS for their review prior to the next meeting. [Download the draft document here.]

Board Member Reports

ESI Zoom Meeting: Mr. Fisher reported there was a public meeting with Econsult Solutions on the Five-Year Plan attended by 25 people. He said the presentation included an updated interim report where the projected fund balance was much better than projected in June. Mr. Fisher said the finance committee suggested a BOS or Finance Committee member attends the Econsult project review meeting to make sure they are on track. Mr. Mack suggested this be done at a work session where all BOS will be present.

[Read "Newtown Supervisors Review Interim 5-Year Financial Plan".]

Economic Development Committee (EDC): Mr. Oxley reported the EDC is on track and working on ways to stimulate Township business in the short and long term. He said Margie McKevitt, the COO of Bucks County, attended the last meeting and shared ideas and information on what loans and grants the county has to offer small businesses. He said the plan is to continue to have guest speakers to share thoughts on how to encourage businesses to come to Newtown Township; the intent is to publish this information on the Township website

Mr. Oxley raised for discussion an incident of unprofessionalism that occurred during an EDC meeting. Mr. Calabro said the last EDC meeting was very good and included spirited discussion among members; he then addressed the previous meeting where an unfortunate mishap occurred involving a member neglecting to turn off his microphone while tending to non-EDC related business. Mr. Calabro believes it was unintentional, but nonetheless unprofessional.

Mr. Mack said he wants to discuss it now and said it was an unfortunate mistake where the member [Eric Scott Gold] thought his microphone was turned off. Mr. Mack proceeded to say these things happen because people running the Zoom meetings are not proficient enough to run the meetings. Mr. Mack said there is no reason why he [Eric Scott Gold] should not be on this committee.

Mr. Calabro polled the remainder of the supervisors to see if there was a need to discuss further in executive session and the consensus was an executive session was not necessary and Mr. Scott Gold will remain on the EDC. Mr. Fisher suggested relinquishing the leadership role of co-chair.

Reports of Officials

Manager's Report: Toll Brothers Conditional Use Application Mr. Calabro addressed the plan expirations noting Toll Brothers has been holding off for a long time; with Covid19 projections continuing, he said the BOS might need to address the Toll Brothers conditional use via Zoom. Mr. Sander reviewed the details of the Toll Brothers conditional use and reminded the BOS the hearing was already held and closed, therefore the only item remaining is the Board’s decision. A discussion ensued on Toll’s options and how to include affected residents if decision made via Zoom.

Comments submitted by a resident after the meeting:

"I am of the view that the Board is not ready to render its decision on this matter.  I ask that the Board consider additional working sessions before its August 26th meeting.

"During the July 22nd meeting, there were a number of questions asked about the “by right” plan.  Neither the members nor counsel knew of how many homes could be built by Toll Brothers by right. Answers given were 160, 140, 65, 20 – 25 more, even more than that, and a “God yeah” additional amount of homes.  There was also a comment that the lot size in the conditional use variance already complied with the ordinance. In contrast, I had previously read in the Newtown Patch that the number was 61 but in the comments submitted by Mr. Kaiser for the April 22nd Zoom meeting, Mr. Kaiser said that it was one house for every three acres (which would be no more than 50 houses for a 152-acre tract).

"By not knowing this number, I am concerned that the Board is so wary of a “by right” plan that it may not have fully weighed the pros and cons of this alternative. The Board expressed its reservations about losing its say over the process, but I did not hear inquiry of what offsetting rights the Township would have instead. Rather, I sensed that Board members were hesitant to ask follow up questions after hearing it was obviously so undesirable.  I believe you should have a private working session where members are presented with a comprehensive analysis of the parameters, both good and bad, of the “by right” alternative."

Commonwealth Drive Repairs: In response to Mr. Mack’s questions on the management report, Mr. Lewis said the mowing of established meadows is at Silver Lake Park and the basin on the municipal building property. As for the MS4, he said it was approved but will not move forward until funding is established next year. Re Commonwealth Drive: Mr. Lewis said the milling head work will be done when work force permits.

Votes on Motions

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. I may not have asked all the questions in the notes at the meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 28 Aug 2020, 01:54 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of July 8, 2020, Supervisors Meeting: 2020 Road Repair Program, Police Report, Old Navy and Chick-fil-A, Debate About Wawa, More...

The following is a brief summary of the July 8, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) Zoom meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Reports of Officials

Engineer's Report: 2020 Liquid Fuels Road Program Re-Bid – Bid Award Ms. Colubriale reported three bids were received on June 18 and after discussion with Township staff it was decided to complete the work included under the base bid and alternate bids 7, 8, and 9. The alternate bids were selected due to the ongoing sewer authority work that is affecting the roadways of alternate bids 1, 2, 3, and 4. The total is roughly 2.8 township miles and the low bidder for the combination of Base Bid and Alternates, is James D. Morrissey, Inc.

2020 Road Repair showing "base bid" roads. Not shown are "alternate bid" roads that include all of Fountain Farm Lane, Newtown Gate Drive, and a portion of Upper Silver Lake Road. [Read “2020 Road Program Falls Victim to COVID-19”]

Mr. Mack added that Commonwealth Drive is not on the list but asked if it was a candidate to be patched with the new milling machine. Mr. Lewis said he is aware of the situation but has no available work force at this time due to having no summer hires and he will have addressed as soon as he is able. Mr. Davis also encouraged caring for this roadway as he has seen it and confirms it is bad. Mr. Lewis said it will be on the list for next year’s road program and will be patched in the interim.

When will construction begin?

Ordinaarily, road construction would have aready begun and near completion by now (August), but because of COVID-19 tax shortfalls, tax revenue earmarked for roadwork was diverted to cover general expenses and the original bids had to be rejected and the process restarted, which delayed things. A recent Engineer's report notes that a "pre-construction" meeting with the contractor was held on August 6, 2020. I assume that a schedule was decided upon at that meeting and that the Township will reveal the schedule to the public before or at the August 26, 2020, BOS public meeting.

Public Safety

Police Report: Chief Hearn reported there were 1,541 calls for service during June including 14 arrests, 8 DUI’s, 45 traffic accidents and 123 traffic citations. The Chief reported two major deployments of resources, one on June 4 to the Garden of Reflection for a vigil and on June 6 for a protest at Washington and Sycamore and both events were peaceful and held without incident. He said there will be a town hall on July 23 from 7:00 to 8:30pm in the Township building where the community will be able to ask questions of the Chief and some officers in an effort to promote dialogue between the police and the community.

[You can read a summary of the July 23, 2020, Police Town Hall meeting in the August issue of Newtown News Update.]

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission (PC): Newtown Bucks Associates for the Newtown Shopping Center on West Road Mr. Fidler reported the Planning Commission met via Zoom on July 7 and reviewed an amended application for Newtown Bucks Associates for the Newtown Shopping Center on West Road where the applicant is seeking variances to construct a 12,500 square foot building for Old Navy and proposed additions to the existing Chick-fil-A to improve efficiency and traffic circulation. [There was] a detailed conversation about the traffic flow and reduction in parking spaces to the right from 12 to 6 as a result of the amendment. The applicant stated they have communicated the specifics with Applebee’s and the Acme, and both are supportive of the changes. The consensus of the Commission is to support this application subject to incorporation of comments and discussion points made by the Commission.

Referring to the Newtown Shopping Center application, Mr. Mack questioned if it was the norm to have two applications in one. Mr. Sander replied it is not unusual when a property is owned by one entity and proposes various improvements to some but not all the property to include all relief requested in one application. Mr. Mack said he sees the need for Chick-fil-A improvements but has concern over the Old Navy in Newtown [read "Survey Says Newtown Area Residents Oppose Old Navy Box Store"].

Board Member Reports

Calabro on Save Outdoor Dining: Mr. Calabro said as businesses begin to expand their services, they must understand the safety regulations they have to adhere to. He added there are rules and regulations that go with protecting the public and said it is important to protect outside diners with barriers.

Mack Opens Up Discussion on E-30 Ordinance: Mr. Mack reported at the Joint Zoning Council meeting the E-30 amendment for the combination convenience store/gas station was finalized. He asked when the final document will be distributed to the BOS for each township and what the timeline and next steps are for the E-30.

Mr. Sander said we are ahead of schedule as the actual ordinance must be acted on in October; once in final form it must go to the Bucks County Planning Commission (BCPC) for a 30 day review. Mr. Sander said now that there is an ordinance that is generally agreeable to all in the Jointure, there should be a discussion with Provco to see if there are any other agreements needed. Mr. Mack inquired which comes first, the BCPC or the Provco review and Mr. Sander replied probably Provco as the ordinance should be as close to final as possible when submitted to the BCPC. Mr. Calabro said Provco does not run the Township and should not have a say before the BOS does. The discussion ensued.

Mr. Sander explained that Provco filed the challenge before the municipal cure and based on current law and uses in Hatboro and Plumsteadville, the court decisions are not in our favor. However, he said if the majority of the BOS is of the opinion to move forward, it is within their right and means to do so; he added there is a risk if engagement with Provco is stopped as they will likely pursue their challenge. Mr. Calabro said the BOS is trying to pass this for the betterment of the Township and added we have shown good faith in this ordinance and need to show backbone against Provco. Mr. Mack agreed with Mr. Calabro and said we are getting closer to what Provco originally proposed. Mr. Calabro’s opinion is to move on to the BCPC for review and he polled the rest of the Board to determine if there was consensus to add this item to the next agenda. There was consensus to move forward.

[Related Content: "Discussions of E-30 Zoning Amendment"]

Oxley on EDC: Mr. Oxley reported he attended the EDC (Economic Development Committee) meeting where short-term strategies for supporting local businesses were discussed along with how to design a way to keep more money in Newtown and talk to other business owners about bringing their businesses into Newtown Township. He also met with Chief Hearn and Mr. Mack to discuss the town hall meeting.

Mr. Calabro asked if anything was discussed at the EDC meeting on the guidelines or duties they should be performing. Mr. Oxley said it was not brought up as the majority of conversation was around how we can market Newtown better long term; he said he didn’t get into in detail, but all on the EDC understand the direction expected.

Fisher on Econsult Surveys: Mr. Fisher reminded all that Econsult has sent out surveys to the Business Commons and the NBA and he encourages all to take the survey; there is also citizens survey on the Township website. Mr. Mack said the surveys were sent out late and have a deadline of July 9 which doesn’t give much opportunity for a response and he asked if the deadline could be extended. He also said the survey should be for all businesses in Newtown and added most of the NBA businesses are not located in the Township and asked if there could be a wider business distribution area. Mr. Calabro asked Mr. Oxley to follow up on the business survey and Mr. Lewis said he spoke to Econsult about extending the deadline of the survey.

[Related Content:

Votes on Motions

Posted on 08 Aug 2020, 01:02 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

Summary of June 24, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting: Gaucks Lane, Invasive Plants, JMZO Amendment, HRC Applicants, More...

The following is a brief summary of the June 24, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) Zoom meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. You also can view the video archive here.

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commission

Planning Commission (PC): Martin Becker, 25 Gaucks Lane. Mr. Mack added several PC members were ok with this pending neighbor support, however several neighbors sent emails to Board members stating they opposed the application. He said the applicant said there was no opposition, however the letter states otherwise. Mr. Fidler said he did not receive that email and if they had presented an email, the PC could have read it into the record.

Mr. Sander understands the neighbors have objected as they often will and his general advice to the BOS is to reserve active opposition in sending the solicitor to the ZHB’s to those issues of much broader impact to the residents of the Township and not neighbor vs. neighbor issues. He added the Township is party to every Zoning Hearing and if the ZHB makes a decision the BOS does not like; the BOS may appeal the decision without having participated before the ZHB on the hearing level.

Mr. Calabro said he does not have a problem with it going before the ZHB. Mr. Mack said five neighbors sent an opposition email and the PC discussed the conservation management concept because it violates the CM guidelines. Mr. Mack is also concerned about residents who claimed they could not make comments at ZHB. The consensus of the BOS is to take no action and send to the ZHB.

Invasive plant species list. Mr. Mack asked Mr. Fidler about the outcome of his meeting with Jan Filios in May related to invasive species. Mr. Fidler replied he has a Zoom meeting scheduled with Jan and Katherine on the recommendations the EAC would be making and directing to the BOS.

JMZO Amendment, E-30 Convenience Store/Fueling Station use. Mr. Schenkman advised the matter is now in the hands of the BOS and the PC will have no further involvement unless directed by the BOS.

Economic Development (EDC): Members discussed ways to help businesses through the Township’s permitting procedures for such accommodations as restaurant outdoor seating, erecting tents and sidewalk sales tables for retail. Other considerations were relaxation of signage restrictions on a temporary basis to alert the public of business openings and altered business hours of operation.

The members spent considerable time discussing a possible inaugural event to promote business, an outdoor movie night at Village at Newtown’s amphitheater. This event would take place on open space near Iron Hill Brewery. Members will work with representatives of the shopping center and the Township to put together this event with the cooperation of Mr. Gold’s event company.

Mr. Calabro expressed concern with ambient music spilling over from an event at the amphitheater and suggested a remote location such as a field. He also sees a conflict with Mr. Gold’s company handling the event. Mr. Mack said the amphitheater is private property not regulated by the Township and Mr. Gold is donating his time and equipment. Mr. Calabro said there is still a concern of conflict that he will be promoting his business.

Reports of Officials

Mack on Human Relations Commission (HRC): Mr. Mack reported the HRC met on June 17 to discuss priority action items on racism in Newtown. HRC is working in conjunction with the Borough HRC on their goal of ensuring there is no place for racism in our Township or Borough.[See here for a summary of that meeting.]

Mr. Mack said there were several applications received for the HRC openings and asked if we can accept them. Mr. Calabro suggested advertising the openings on the website and TV channel to give others an opportunity to apply and then the BOS can review the applicants possibly at the second meeting in July.

Oxley on Policing: Mr. Oxley reported he met last week with Bucks County DA Matt Weintraub and discussed the current state of policing and ideas of community policing in Bucks County. Mr. Oxley met with Mr. Mack about the upcoming town hall involving the police and the community.

Votes on Motions

The following are my personal notes that I used to prepare for this meeting. I may not have asked all the questions in the notes at the meeting. You can also download the PDF version here.

Posted on 14 Jul 2020, 10:10 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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