John Mack - Newtown Supervisor
Summary of March 13, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

Summary of March 13, 2019, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the March 13, 2019, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting based upon the official minutes of that meeting, which you can find here. In attendance and voting were Supervisors: Chairman Phillip Calabro, Vice Chairman Linda Bobrin, Secretary John Mack and members Kyle Davis and Dennis Fisher. Also in attendance were: Township Manager Micah Lewis, Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale and Township Solicitor David Sander.

Development

Chipotle Mexican Grill, 2930 South Eagle Road: Mr. Blackburn presented the application for uses E-5, eating place and E-6, drive through eating place, at the northwest corner of building 8 at Village at Newtown Shopping Center. The space is 2500 square feet and the E-6 is for the carry out component of the business; there will not be a drive through window. The applicant has agreed to all of the comments in the CKS review letter. This application brings the percentage of restaurants to 15%. In the shopping center’s approval there is shared parking of 4.7 spaces per 1000 square feet and a limit of 45% restaurant uses. With this application 128 (58%) of the allotted 220 EDUs Definition are taken. The motion passed 5-0.

Fiscal Issues

2018 Pension Performance Report: Grant Kalson of Dahab Associates was in attendance at the March 13, 2019, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting to review the performance of the Township’s 3 pension plans (Police, non-uniformed employees, Firefighters). He noted that the fourth quarter of 2018 was not good (pension assets were down about 9%) but by March 11, 2019, the numbers were back up. He reviewed the investment policy, which currently has 75% equities and 25% bonds. Experts feel that the current rapid growth will not be sustained long term and Newtown’s pensions have the highest percentage of equities among the 58 public pension funds that Mr. Kalson reviewed. Kalson said he was "scared to death right now." For these reasons he is recommending that the Board consider adjusting the equity balance to 68% as a hedge against market corrections. In response to Mr. Mack’s questions, Mr. Kalson explained that the pensions are currently underfunded in the range of the mid to low 80% range. Ms. Bobrin moved to authorize the Township Pension Advisor to reduce the pension portfolio to 68% equities and to rebalance as needed. Mr. Fisher seconded and the motion passed 5-0.


Public Health

Newtown Artesian Water Company: Mr. Mack reported that in response to recent letters to residents from Newtown Artesian Water Company advising of the presence of some PFAs Definition in the water, he and Ms. Bobrin met with General Manager Daniel Angove, who reviewed testing procedures, which are now run quarterly. Upon Mr. Mack’s request, the Board instructed the Township Manager to invite Mr. Angove to make a presentation to the Board after the next tests, which are scheduled for March, 2019. [For more details, read PFAS Detected in Newtown Township's Water Supply.]

Public Safety

Police Report: Chief Hearn reported that the Department responded to 1386 calls including 66 auto accidents and 7 DUIs in February, 2019. On April 27 the Department will have a drug take back event for disposal of prescription medications at the Township building from 10AM until 2 PM. There is a drop box in the police building lobby during the day. In response to Mr. Mack’s question, he confirmed that an officer will respond to any calls from the red phone at the building entrance for off hour disposal of drugs. [For more details, read February 2019 Police Report.]

Trails

DCNR Grant Resolution 2019-R-8 for Lower Dolington Road Multi-use Trail: The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR Definition) provides grants for trails with priority consideration of those projects "that close priority trail gaps as well as projects that rehabilitate or upgrade existing trails."

[Some background: The proposed Lower Dolington Road Multi-use Trail would provide a link to many residential properties to Roberts Ridge Park and would potentially connect to Lower Makefield trails to the Garden of Reflection. The Township's 2018 DCNR grant request for this project was denied by the DCNR. Although DCNR considered the project a "High Value Project," it either did not have the funds "immediately available to support this effort and/or there are issues that need to be resolved prior to potentially awarding a grant."]

Mr. Mack moved to adopt Resolution 2019-R-8. Ms. Bobrin seconded. Discussion of motion: Mr. Mack noted that the sketch plan only includes two crossings and he believed a pedestrian crossing is needed from Lower Dolington Road to Roberts Ridge Park. Mr. Lewis said that there are two new crossings. This is an existing crossing, which will be enhanced when the plan is fully engineered. The crossing will be included in any RFP’s for the project. The motion passed 5-0.

Prepared Statements by Supervisor Mack

National Sunshine Week: March 10 through 16 marks “National Sunshine Week.” It was created in 2005 by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Its goal is to educate the public about the importance of open government and promote a dialogue about the importance of freedom of information and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy.

As part of Sunshine Week 2019, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR) is hosting a series of webinars. On Monday, I attended the “Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) Requester Training” webinar presented by Erik Arneson, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Office of Open Records. This webinar focused on how to write a good Right-to-Know Law request, accessing information in databases, significant deadlines in the RTKL, how to appeal a RTKL denial, and more.

Thanks to our Open Records Officer Micah Lewis, aka, Township Manager, I was able to analyze the open records requests processed by Newtown Township in 2018. In 2018, Newtown processed 92 Open Records Requests in compliance with the State’s Sunshine Law. A total of 42 (46%) were from businesses, many of which sought building permit records. Almost half were from individuals. Only 4 requests were from the media, which asked about employee salaries and website statistics.

About 20% of the requests were denied mostly because there were no records that complied with the request. That underscores the need for requester training. To that end, I urge all citizens to learn more about the PA Right-to-Know law and how to request public records by accessing the Open Records Office at www.openrecordspennsylvania.com. [For more details, read Open Records Requests Processed by Newtown Township in 2018.]

EPA Elcon Q&A Public Meeting: On May 11, 2016, Newtown Township adopted Resolution 2016-R-10, opposing the Elcon Toxic Waste incinerator. This is a commercial hazardous waste treatment facility that will treat liquid waste from the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

According to a recent article in The Intelligencer, “for the fourth time in as many years, Elcon Recycling Services is resubmitting application materials in an attempt to build a controversial waste treatment facility in Falls” about 13 miles from Newtown.

Groups such as Bucks POWA [Protect Our Water & Air] and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network say they’re specifically concerned about toxic materials being released to the air and potential drinking water contamination if this incinerator is approved.

Last week (Tuesday, March 5, 20190, I attended a public meeting hosted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to answer questions from the public (see video below). The meeting was jammed packed. DEP officials reviewed the status of waste management, air quality, and stormwater management permit applications for this facility. There was a lot of chemistry discussed and even though I have advanced degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, it was difficult to follow all the technical details. However, I was surprised to learn the amount of toxic pollutants the proposed permit would allow to be released into the air: 

Proposed “emission limits” in the application: nitrogen oxides – 23.4 tons per year; carbon monoxide – 36.6 tons per year; sulfur oxides – 24.2 tons per year; volatile organic compounds – 10.1 tons per year; particulate matter – 10.5 tons per year; for hydrochloric acid – 6.3 tons per year! NOTE that the 2016 Newtown Resolution opposing this project estimated that “the incinerator treatment process will produce over 39 tons of air emissions” whereas the recent data I just cited adds up to more than 111 tons – or nearly three times as much! DEP has yet to do an analysis of where these pollutants would be carried by air currents. Hopefully, not toward Newtown!

Posted on 31 Mar 2019, 10:31 - Category: Board of Supervisors Minutes

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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