John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Discussions of E-30 Zoning Amendment

The Newtown Planning Commission and the Joint Zoning Council have discussed the proposed curative amendment to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO) that would allow a new Use E-30 for a combined Motor Vehicle Fueling Station and Convenience Store within the Jointure Definition. All three members of the Jointure - Newtown, Wrightstown, and Upper Makefield - must approve the final amendmnet before it can be incorporated into the JMZO. The process involves input from the Planning Commissions of the townships during and after edits are made at JZC meetings.

To date (24-April-2020), the Newtown Planning Commission has discussed this proposed amendment at three separate meetings:

  1. April 21, 2020
  2. February 4, 2020
  3. January 7, 2020

Newtown Planning Commission vs. Jointure re: "Fuel Pumps"

In a first-ever virtual Zoom meeting of the Newtown Township Planning Commission on April 21, 2020, the members discussed the latest version of the E-30 Ordinance - Convenience Store/Fueling Station - submitted by the Joint Zoning Council. In this 9-minute audio snippet, the members specifically discuss their consensus as to the maximum number of allowable fueling "pumps" and "stations".

Mack's Newtown Voice · E30 Amendment Discussion: Maximum Number of Allowable Fueling Stations
Jointure's Views on "Fuel Pumps" for Proposed E30 Amendment

At the February 6, 2020, meeting of the Joint Zoning Council, representatives of Newtown, Wrightstown, and Upper Makefield township – the “Jointure” - discussed the E-30 amendment to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance that was drafted by Newtown Township.

The following is an edited excerpt of that discussion focused specifically on the number of fueling pumps that would be allowed. This issue was raised by the Newtown Planning Commission, which suggested among other things that the maximum number of gas pumps should be eight with allowances for an additional four electric charging stations.

Meanwhile, Wawa's View on Maximum Allowable "Fuel Pumps"

E-30 Use Discussed at Planning Commission: Part 1

The proposed amendment to the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO, Definition) that would allow a new "E-30" [previously designated "E-25"] use for a combined Motor Vehicle Fueling Station and Convenience Store was discussed at the January 7, 2020, Newtown Township Planning Commission meeting. This audio snippet gives an introduction to the process and includes comments from residents. According to Allen Fidler's subsequent report to the Board of Supervisors "There are some items in question including eat in dining, 24-hour operation and the size of the building. The members will continue to review the amended ordinance and bring additional concerns to be discussed at the next meeting."

Recommendation Made to the Board of Supervisors

After two meetings and much discussion the Planning Commission recommends the BOS forward the draft of the Ordinance to our partners in the Jointure along with the Bucks County Planning Commission with the following suggested changes:

  • Eliminate eat-in dining (section 13-3)
  • Limit fuel pumps to 8 and permit up to 4 charging stations
  • Specify hours of operation and limit to 18
  • Make sidewalks a requirement (section 13-19, remove "if')
  • Additionally, the Planner will be looking at specifics around the facades of the fuel pump area and fencing to ensure they are keeping within the character and architecture of the building.

E-30 Use Discussed at Planning Commission: Part 2

The proposed ordinance to amend the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO, Definition) to allow a new Use E-30 for a combined Motor Vehicle Fueling Station and Convenience Store was discussed at the February 4, 2020, meeting of the Newtown Township Planning Commission.

Mary Stover from CKS engineering attended the meeting to provide updates and answer questions about the JMZO. She reported that Wrightstown and Upper Makefield received the ordinance however they have not officially reviewed it. Their solicitors made some preliminary comments as follows: 

  • Change conditional use to special exception 
  • Consider prohibiting diesel pumps to discourage large trucks 
  • Prohibit the sale of alcohol and propane refill tanks 
  • Visual screen the entire area, beyond just parking and other areas suggested 
  • Limit the hours of operation if within 750’ of residential use or district 
  • Construct 8’ masonry wall if within 750’ feet of residential use or district 
  • Require indoor and outdoor security cameras that can be accessed by the township PD. 
  • Fossil fuel filters and shut off valves able to be to shut off from the site. 
  • Spill containment and prevention systems which meet or exceed all state and federal requirements 

The Commission discussed each of these suggestions at length and agreed to wait until the other Planning Commissions in the Jointure reviewed the amendment before making any additional comments or recommendations to the BOS. The idea of having a joint meeting was also discussed. The following podcast includes edited audio clips from the discussion.

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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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