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Developer Presents Third Plan for Arcadia Green Development in Newtown Township

Developer Presents Third Plan for Arcadia Green Development in Newtown Township | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Arcadia at Newtown Holdings wants to build 23 single-family detached homes and 53 townhomes near the intersection of Buck Road and Newtown Bypass. Township supervisors denied two previous versions of the developer’s plan, following multiple hearings packed with concerned residents.

 

Supervisors listened to feedback from representatives of Arcadia at Newtown Holdings on Wednesday evening regarding plans for 76 residences — 23 single-family detached homes and 53 townhomes — on 22.5 acres near the intersection of Buck Road and Newtown Bypass, as part of a walkable community with built-in open space.

 

Board members rejected two previous versions of the plan for Arcadia Green, first with 34 residences and then with 85, dating back to 2015, citing multiple concerns largely under the umbrella of traffic issues.

 

As with the previous plans, Arcadia submitted its proposal as a tentative planned residential development — a measure that bypasses the township’s regular project approval process but requires supervisors to hold at least one public hearing, where they can hear testimony from members of the development team and review plan components, before reaching a decision.

 

Arcadia attorney John VanLuvanee told supervisors they would be denying the developer due process if they proceeded with a third round of hearings, rather than hashing out project details in private through mediation.

 

VanLuvanee accused the board of effectively condemning the property where Arcadia Green has been proposed by denying the previous plans, and unsuccessfully requested multiple supervisors recuse themselves from voting on the new plan on account of previous “no” votes or external criticisms of the development.

 

He added Arcadia is prepared to appeal a third denial of the project to county court, as it has with the previous two plans, in cases that both are still pending (read “Arcadia Green Sues Newtown Township”).

 

Of township residents, VanLuvanee said, “It seems as if the public has decided that this property really is their property to do with as they please, not the owner’s property to do with as it pleases, subject to compliance with township zoning regulations.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

 

View the video of the August 8, 2018, hearing here.

 

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News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents
These curated news items were selected by John Mack. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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Council Rock Committee Releases Revised Redistricting Plan for Elementary Schools

Council Rock Committee Releases Revised Redistricting Plan for Elementary Schools | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A Council Rock School District redistricting committee has released a revised plan that would move more than 860 elementary school students to new buildings.

 

The proposed plan brings each school close to average capacity for the elementary, middle and high school levels; balances enrollment at the secondary level by shifting students from the south to the north and eliminates elementary islands, the release said. The plan proposes to shift about 16.5 percent of elementary school students — or 861 students, according to the district.

 

Officials will present the plan during a public forum 7 p.m. Monday at Council Rock High School South in Northampton.

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Toll Brothers Twining Bridge Road Proposal Presented to Newtown Board of Supervisors

Toll Brothers Twining Bridge Road Proposal Presented to Newtown Board of Supervisors | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A presentation of a "sketch plan" was made before the Newtown Board of Supervisors on September 17, 2018. The plan was presented by by Toll Brothers representative Greg Adelman.

 

Click here to see the presentation slides along with audio comments and questions, comments, and concerns of residents who were at the meeting.

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Bucks Towns Get $3.45M in State Sewer, Greenway, Trails and Other Projects

Bucks Towns Get $3.45M in State Sewer, Greenway, Trails and Other Projects | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A dozen Bucks County towns and municipal authorities received more than $3.45 million in state grants for sewer, greenway and other projects this week.

 

The grant are awarded through the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Marcellus Legacy Fund, a revenue source from gas well fees through local governments and state agencies, according to a news release from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.

 

“These projects will ensure that vital services are being provided to communities all across the commonwealth,” Wolf said in the release.

 

The fund, created through Pennsylvania’s Act 13 of 2012, is used for various sewage, flood mitigation and other similar projects through the Department of Community and Economic Development.

 

[Act 13 of 2012 establishes the Marcellus Legacy Fund and allocates funds to the Commonwealth Financing Authority (the “Authority”) for planning, acquisition, development, rehabilitation and repair of greenways, recreational trails, open space, parks and beautification projects using the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program (GTRP).]

 

More than $2.46 million of the grants will go toward water and sewer projects in Bristol Borough, Dublin, Lower Makefield, Penndel, Morrisville, Plumstead, Sellersville, Upper Southampton, Warrington and Warwick.

 

Act 13 grants in Bucks County:

 

  1. Bristol Borough: $167,450 for Adams Hollow Creek flood mitigation
  2. Bensalem: $94,127 for Central Park trail improvements
  3. Northampton: $237,567 for New Road trailhead and neighborhood link
  4. Morrisville: $85,000 for Patriots Park at Historic Summerset master plan
  5. Redevelopment Authority of the County of Bucks: $140,904 for Bensalem drum dump site assessment
  6. Morrisville Borough: $187,992 for Melvin Avenue basin improvements
  7. Plumstead: $76,500 for Summer Meadow streambank restoration project
  8. Bristol Borough Water and Sewer Authority: $361,845 for Pond Street pump station upgrade
  9. Warrington: $100,000 for Warrington Oaks sewage pumping station rehabilitation
  10. Dublin: $95,893 for Kern Drive sewer rehabilitation
  11. Sellersville: $293,277 for Green street sewer line replacement
  12. Penndel: $213,155 for resolution of capacity constraint
  13. Plumstead: $339,746 for Summer Hill filtration system
  14. Warwick Township Water and Sewer Authority: $65,965 for water main extension
  15. Lower Makefield: $408,481 for Stackhouse Drive pump station replacement
  16. Upper Southampton Municipal Authority: $408,000 for water main improvements
  17. Morrisville Municipal Authority: $180,625 for water main improvement project
johnmacknewtown's insight:

Unfortunately, Newtown Township is not one of the grantees. The Twp applied for a DCED grant for the Lower Dolington Multi Use Trail (Segment M-1).

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Newtown Township to Consider Amending Noise Ordinance

Newtown Township to Consider Amending Noise Ordinance | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

At the September 26, 2018, public meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) will consider and vote on an ordinance to remove from the Code of Ordinances of Newtown Township “certain provisions related to excessive and unnecessary noise and other nuisances.”

 

Learn which specific changes are being considered and why here.

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Doylestown Council Approves Resolution Against Separating Immigrant Children from Their Parents

Doylestown Council Approves Resolution Against Separating Immigrant Children from Their Parents | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Council members received applause Monday evening after they unanimously approved a resolution opposing the “zero tolerance” approach to immigration, under which an identified 2,654 migrant children were taken from their parents following illegal U.S.-Mexico border crossings.

 

In their resolution, Doylestown Borough officials accused the Trump administration of pursuing the “zero tolerance” policy “to deter families from entering the United States and as a bargaining chip to force a broader immigration agenda that limits legal immigration.”

 

The borough resolution also includes provisions sympathetic to migrant families, saying “criminalizing all immigrants who have fled the violence and poverty in their homelands undermines due process” and “misrepresents the motives and aspirations of the vast majority of immigrants who take seriously the inscription on the Statue of Liberty — Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’”

 

Comprehensive immigration reform is imperative, borough officials noted, but should not be achieved at the expense of children’s welfare. They called in their resolution for Congress and federal officials to commit to “good faith negotiations” so that reform can ”(honor) due process, (preserve) the value of family reunification, (adhere) to international human rights principles and (acknowledge) the root causes compelling immigration.”

 

The borough also called on Gov. Tom Wolf and other Pennsylvania officials to ensure no state resources are used “in any way to support or facilitate” family separations.

 

Wolf was among a handful of state governors to agree, saying in late June he would not deploy National Guard troops to further the “zero tolerance” policy.

 

Borough Manager John Davis said  said he was not aware of any other municipalities that had approved and mailed similar resolutions concerning the immigration policy.

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Coffee with a Cop: October 3 and October 6, 2018 | Newtown Township Police Department

Coffee with a Cop: October 3 and October 6, 2018 | Newtown Township Police Department | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

It's that time again. We continue to receive positive feedback regarding our previous Coffee with a Cop events so this time we are scheduling two events, one in Newtown Township and one in Wrighstown Township. Please mark your calendars for: October 3, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Corner Bakery Cafe (Newtown Township) and October 6, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Wrighstown Farmers Market (Wrighstown Township).

 

Coffee with a Cop provides a unique opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department’s work in both Newtown and Wrightstown Townships neighborhoods.

The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies, or emotional situations.  Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building with the community and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street.  Coffee with a Cop breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.

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Court to Decide Toll Brothers Appeal of Westtown Township's Unanimous Decision to Deny Its Plans for Crebilly Farm Development

Court to Decide Toll Brothers Appeal of Westtown Township's Unanimous Decision to Deny Its Plans for Crebilly Farm Development | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Traffic and road improvements were the main topics of discussion during a hearing concerning an appeal by Toll Brothers in the bid to build 319 homes at Crebilly Farm in Westtown.

 

Common Pleas Judge Mark L. Tunnell made no immediate decision on whether to overturn the unanimous December 2017 township Board of Supervisor’s decision to deny a conditional use application.

 

Toll Brothers plans to preserve 193 acres at the 322-acre Robinson Family site, the largest slice of open space along Route 202 and between King of Prussia and Wilmington. The farm is located at the corner of routes 926 and 202.

 

Greg Adelman, of law firm Kaplin Stewart Meloff Reiter and Stein, in Blue Bell, represented Toll and said it was not the Horsham-based builder’s job to construct a collector road that might relieve congestion on Route 202.

 

Pat McKenna, of Gawthrop Greenwood Law Firm, said building the connector road was required by the township.

 

“It would take traffic off access roads and through residential property,” McKenna said. “It seems like a simple matter of profit for Toll.

 

“This was a profit decision.”

 

Mark Thompson is a lawyer with Lamb McErlane and represented grassroots organization, Neighbors for Crebilly. He was applauded by much of the audience after addressing the mostly packed Courtroom One.

 

He spoke against the subdivision’s possible environmental degradation, stormwater management plans and hopes to preserve what many say was a 1777 Battle of Brandywine site.

 

"The 19th century had its robber barons like Carnegie and Rockefeller who built their fortunes on the backs of people and society,” Hemphill said. “The 21st century has traded oil and steel millionaires for heartless corporations like Toll Brothers which don't care one iota what impact their developments have on people, the environment, or our history, as long as the profits continue to roll in.

 

“It's long past time for courts and elected officials to take care of people, our land, and our history instead of the Toll Brothers of the world."

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Coincidentally, Greg Adelman, representing Toll Brothers, presented a Twining Bridge Road development "sketch plan" to the Newtown Twp Board of Supervisors at a September 17, 2018, work session. That plan has similarities to the Crebilly development plan discussed in this article, including the preservation of open space. The Crebilly plan would preserve about 59% of the land for open space and the Twining Bridge plan would preserve nearly the same percentage - 51%. Residents in both townships were concerned about traffic, environmental degradation, and stormwater management. Some Westtown residents created the Neighbors for Crebilly, a community advocacy group effort "aspiring to redirect the outcome of the pending development of Crebilly Farm is Westtown Township, Pennsylvania." Find them on Facebook here.

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Council Rock to Hold Dedication Ceremonies for $50 Million Middle School Projects

A dedication ceremony for the new Newtown Middle School has been scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the school, 116 Richboro Road in Newtown Township.

 

Dedication for a major renovation-addition at Holland Middle School is 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at the school, 400 East Holland Road in Northampton.

 

Both events will include student music, guest speakers, self-guided building tours and light refreshments.

 

Each building features bright, state-of-the-art classrooms, performance spaces, large new gymnasiums and indoor/outdoor common areas for learning and socialization, district officials said.

 

Both projects cost about $50 million and were completed in time for students to report to both schools on Sept. 4 for the state of the academic year.

 

The new Newtown Middle School was constructed on the same property as the now-vacant former school, which soon will be demolished. The new structure is 185,000 square feet, 65,000 square feet larger than the old building.

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U.S. Census Reports 5% Income Rise in Bucks County Since 2015, But Not in Newtown Township

U.S. Census Reports 5% Income Rise in Bucks County Since 2015, But Not in Newtown Township | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The U.S. Census reports three straight years of rising income. But those financial gains come as prices rise and the value of the U.S. dollar drops.

 

“Income is a measure of all cash or money resources coming into a household. It includes wages and earnings from work as well as social security benefits, retirement income, interest, dividends and public assistance,” explained Trudi J. Renwick, U.S. Census assistant division chief for economic characteristics.

 

“Ten percent of the households had income below $14,200,” Renwick added. “Ten percent of households had income above $179,100, and 5 percent had income above $237,000.”

 

In Bucks County, median household income was up from $80,575 to $84,749, a 5 percent increase, since 2015. That would make Bucks 69th among 825 U.S. counties for median household income.

 

But a closer look shows gender and race remain major factors in how much we earn.

 

For example, in Burlington County, white households earned $90,984 while black households averaged $76,004, or 16 percent less, according the census figures released Thursday.

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Newtown Township Votes to Delete PRD from JMZO, Which Allowed for a Process to "Expedite" Development

Newtown Township Votes to Delete PRD from JMZO, Which Allowed for a Process to "Expedite" Development | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

At the Sept. 12 meeting, the board of supervisors voted unanimously to eliminate a process which allows developers to bypass local advisory boards and take their plans directly to the supervisors.

If the zoning change is also approved by neighboring Upper Makefield and Wrightstown townships in the coming weeks, then the oftentimes controversial option known as a Planned Residential Development (PRD) will no longer be available to developers in the three municipalities.

Voting for the measure were: Chairman Phil Calabro, along with fellow-Supervisors Linda Bobrin, John Mack, Dennis Fisher and Kyle Davis.

PRDs are currently permitted under state law, if a municipality wants to adopt them.

The hearing, which lasted less than six minutes, evoked hardly any discussion from the board, nor was there any comment from the public.

Filing a PRD application gives developers the opportunity to bypass a township’s normal planning and zoning channels, which can be time consuming, leaving the decision solely up to the supervisors to approve a medium or high-density ‘mixed-use’ housing plan in an expedited manner, while at the same time allowing developers to fast-track their projects.

‘Mixed use’ is usually single family homes and townhouses, along with substantial open space.

Under the PRD process, at least one public hearing must be held to allow supervisors to collect details about a project and decide whether to grant tentative approval.

Because Newtown Township is part of a joint zoning agreement (JMZO), known as the “jointure,” with neighboring Upper Makefield and Wrightstown Township, all three municipalities must agree whether to eliminate PRDs.

Wrightstown has scheduled a similar hearing on the matter for Monday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. with Upper Makefield having its public hearing at the same time the following evening, Tuesday, Sept. 18.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

If the PRD option is eventually eliminated, an existing option, known as the “performance subdivision” would be modified to take its place. See video of the decision here:

Newtown Votes to Delete Planned Residential Development (PRD) from JMZO

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August 2018 Police Report

August 2018 Police Report | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Interim Police Chief Jason Harris presented the Calls Report for August 2018 at the September 12, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting. In August, the Newtown Police Department responded to 1,519 calls, 327 (22%) of which were in Wrightstown Township (Newtown Police provides services to both Newtown Township and Wrightstown). See a summary of the report above. Note: Not all calls are listed.

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Lawmaker Honors Eileen Steele Slezak of Newtown at Year of the Pennsylvania Woman Ceremony

Lawmaker Honors Eileen Steele Slezak of Newtown at Year of the Pennsylvania Woman Ceremony | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

State Rep. Perry Warren on Sept. 12 honored Eileen Steele Slezak of Newtown during a Capitol ceremony marking 2018 as the Year of the Pennsylvania Woman.

A Newtown native, Slezak is the business manager and co-owner of Rick Steele’s Gulf Services in Newtown, a three-generation family business opened by her father in 1970.

Slezak graduated from Council Rock High School and Goldey-Beacom College with a degree in small business management.

According to the National Women’s Business Council, women-owned businesses across the nation generated $1.4 trillion in receipts and represent some 38 percent of all U.S. businesses. In Fortune 500 companies, firms that had at least three women board directors for at least five years, outperformed those with no women board directors on return on sales, return on invested capital, and return on equity.

“Pennsylvania needs women business owners more than ever because they bring a fresh and unique perspective to entrepreneurship while setting an example to girls and women looking to excel in what’s typically been a male-dominated industry,” said Warren, D-Bucks. “Eileen started as a teenager learning the ropes of her family’s business and mastered the skills necessary to keep a successful business not only running, but flourishing.

“Eileen was an easy choice for being honored today because she stands out not only in succeeding in an industry dominated by males, but also as a compassionate member of the community and champion of her friends and all neighbors.”

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New Brewery Proposed In Newtown

New Brewery Proposed In Newtown | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Brewing Company is proposing to open a brewery and tavern at 103 Penns Trail, in the Newtown Business Commons. The business, owned by John North Busby, is seeking zoning relief because that is currently not a permitted use in the light industrial district.

 

At a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, Planning Commission Chairman Allen Fidler explained the application, saying Newtown Brewing Company is seeking to occupy 4,550 square feet of an existing 10,000 square-foot building.

 

The brewery would not have a kitchen. It would be a "bring your own food" operation. However, they would be permitted to have packaged snacks available, according to Fidler. (view video here).

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Phil Calabro thought food could be available via Food Trucks parked nearby. Sounds like a good idea to me! 

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The PRD Expedited Development Approval Process May Soon Be a Thing of the Past in Newtown Area Towns

The PRD Expedited Development Approval Process May Soon Be a Thing of the Past in Newtown Area Towns | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

If Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown all approve, officials might eliminate the planned residential development option from their joint municipal zoning ordinance. The option lets developers skip past meetings with township advisory boards in exchange for participating in at least one public hearing, where township supervisors can collect testimony about proposed projects.

 

Developers in three Newtown area municipalities soon might lose an option for presenting project plans directly to the boards of supervisors, without appearing before local advisory boards.

 

Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown are holding hearings on a proposal to eliminate all mentions of planned residential developments (PRDs) from the joint municipal zoning ordinance they share.

 

Under the PRD process, developers don’t have to submit plans to a township’s planning commission or zoning hearing board to review. Instead, supervisors alone get to decide whether to grant tentative approval for the plans after holding at least one public hearing, where they can ask members of the development team to testify.

 

Newtown Township will be the first to hold a hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Sept 12, 2018), while Wrightstown and Upper Makefield will follow, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17 and Tuesday, Sept. 18, respectively. Each town must then approve the proposal within 30 days of the final hearing for it to pass.

 

Newtown Township Supervisor John Mack said he believes PRDs served more of a purpose in the past, when development plans were sure to have necessary components and studies, such as those pertaining to traffic, and did not need review from advisory boards.

 

Mack also said the members of the township planning commission and zoning heard board are experts, “much better equipped” to analyze development plans and make recommendations than most supervisors.

 

“After that process, it’s much easier for the board of supervisors to make a decision, which usually follows the recommendations of the experts,” he said.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Passed by 5-0 vote by Newtown Board of Supervisors on September 12, 2018: JMZO No. 2017 -- 04: AN ORDINANCE OF NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP, UPPER MAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP, AND WRIGHTSTOWN TOWNSHIP AMENDING THE NEWTOWN AREA JOINT MUNICIPAL ZONING ORDINANCE OF 1983, AS AMENDED, TO DELETE PLANNED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT. It's now up to Wrightstown and Upper Makefield to vote on it.

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Starbucks and Wawa May Signal a Rise in Home Prices in Newtown as Well as Attract More Younger and Whiter Residents, Says Study

Starbucks and Wawa May Signal a Rise in Home Prices in Newtown as Well as Attract More Younger and Whiter Residents, Says Study | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Starbucks comes by its reputation as the bellwether of gentrification honestly: Its entry into an area really does predict a measurable change in demographics.

 

When the coffee giant colonizes a neighborhood, home prices tend to jump. The population tends to get more educated. And younger. And whiter.

 

New research shows that one new Starbucks predicted an extra 0.54 percent rise in local home prices. But the study also found that’s true of all cafes.

 

Harvard economist Edward Glaeser and his Harvard Business School colleagues Hyunjin Kim (a doctoral candidate) and Michael Luca find it improbable that a coffee chain has direct power over the housing market. Instead, they write, it’s plausible “Starbucks locations are chosen by individuals with very good judgment about where prices are going to increase.”

 

There’s no chicken-or-egg dilemma here. A new Starbucks strongly predicted a jump in home prices, but rising home prices didn't strongly predict where Starbucks is going to open a new location, according to their analysis, released in a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Starbucks doesn’t follow the gentrifiers, it paves the way for them.

 

An increase in bars, restaurants and cafes was associated with a more-educated population in all cities. Young people had a particularly strong association with florists, bars and barbers, while a higher concentration of white folks tended to bring a rise in restaurants, wine bars and grocery stores.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

If my math is correct, in Newtown Township, where the average home price is estimated to be $400,000, a 0.54% increase equates to an increase of $2,160 in value. However, the fact that Wawa – a convenience store – wants to open in Newtown may signal a 0.92% ($3,680) increase in home prices, which would generate an extra $0.37 in yearly real estate tax income per household for the township.

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Super-sized Wawas Not Always Welcome in Philadelphia Suburbs

Super-sized Wawas Not Always Welcome in Philadelphia Suburbs | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

…as much as Philadelphians love [Wawa], they don't always love the idea of the store moving into their neighborhood. Especially if the store is what some have coined a "Super Wawa." Often open 24 hours, these stores come with upscale facades, gas pumps with canopies, and expanded parking lots. They have been popping up across the region over the last two decades.

 

Over the last few years, there have been fierce fights over Wawa plans in Voorhees, Doylestown, Hatboro, Abington, Upper Gwynedd, and Brick, N.J. On Fayette Street in Conshohocken, a battle over a Super Wawa has been going on since 2010.

 

"In general, it is always [Wawa's] goal to work with local officials, neighbors, and community members to ensure we're meeting their needs and address any concerns of the community, including meeting with residents," said [Lori] Bruce, the Wawa spokeswoman. "Improvements we make when building a new store include landscaping and adding trees to create natural barriers that reduce light and absorb noise."

 

"As we've grown and added new stores over the years, customer feedback has shown us the need to open stores even closer [as close as 0.6 mile!] to each other in order to provide the level of convenience and experience our customers want," Bruce said.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Read “Developer and Attorney Present Their Case for a Wawa Superstore on the Newtown Bypass” and “Proposed Newtown Wawa Requires Zoning Change or at Least 10 Zoning Variances".

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Another Corrupt Former Lower Southampton Public Official Pleads Guilty to Extortion, Conspiracy

Another Corrupt Former Lower Southampton Public Official Pleads Guilty to Extortion, Conspiracy | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Lower Southampton’s former director of public safety has admitted to attempting to launder money, accepting a bribe and extorting business owners while he was a public official in what has become an ongoing federal corruption probe that has ensnared a former district judge, state deputy constable and township solicitor, among others.

 

Doylestown attorney Robert P. Hoopes, 71, pleaded guilty in Philadelphia’s U.S. District Court on Wednesday to conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of Hobbs Act extortion. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 17. He faces a potential maximum sentence of up to 100 years in federal prison, according to federal officials.

 

The trio of former public officials (Hoopes, former Lower Southampton District Judge John Waltman, 60, of Lower Southampton and former state deputy constable Bernard Rafferty, 63, also of Lower Southampton) were accused of laundering $400,000 that they believed to be the proceeds of drug trafficking and health care fraud that were given to them by undercover federal agents in 2015 through 2016, while they were working as public servants. In two superseding indictments, Hoopes and Waltman were accused of accepting bribes from business owners in an alleged pay-to-play scheme and conspiring to fix a traffic ticket for an undercover agent that was before Waltman’s court.

 

Rafferty is awaiting sentencing later this year after admitting in March that he helped Waltman and Hoopes launder cash using a consulting business he had and helping with the ticket-fixing scheme. Also awaiting sentencing after entering guilty pleas for charges related to the probe are former credit union manager Kevin Biederman, of Philadelphia, former digital sign salesman Robert DeGoria, of New Jersey, and former Lower Southampton solicitor Michael Savona, of Newtown Township.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

The Newtown Connection:

 

Savona was appointed to the Newtown Joint Municipal Sewer Authority on 3 January 2017 by a 3-2 vote (Calabro and Dix voted nay). Savona resigned from his law firm and from the Sewer Authority Board in December, 2017. Read “Ex-solicitor charged with lying to FBI in Lower Southampton corruption probe" and “Catalyst Outdoor Advertising Paid Kickback to Lower Southhampton Solicitor. The Same Company Made Two Pitches to the Newtown BOS in 2016”. 

 

At the June 8, 2016, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, at least one supervisor thought a billboard on Newtown Bypass "deserved further attention." See DeGoria's pitch made to Newtown Board of Supervisors on October 17, 2016. Nothing came of it. See his presentation here

 

Meanwhile, former Newtown Supervisor Jen Dix alleged that there has been decades of “self-serving leadership” and “corruption” in Newtown. She made her comments at the June 27, 2018, meeting of the Board of Supervisors, which approved her resignation effective June 30, 2018. Listen to her accusation here.

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Plumstead Residents Wary of “Closed Door” Deal to Settle Wawa Case and Urge Supervisors to Continue the Fight

Plumstead Residents Wary of “Closed Door” Deal to Settle Wawa Case and Urge Supervisors to Continue the Fight | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Despite assurances by Plumstead supervisors that they are still opposed to a proposed Wawa gas station, residents are still reminding officials to keep fighting the developer’s appeal.

 

The developer, a Verrichia Co. partnership, was denied its application for a 4,700-square-foot convenience store with 10 gas pumps at the intersection of state Route 313 (Swamp Road) and Ferry Road almost a year ago.

 

Doylestown II-Rt 313 TVC-ARC LP challenged Plumstead’s zoning ordinance as a “de facto” ban on modern retail stores with gas stations in early 2017, and the developer filed an appeal of the zoning board’s denial to the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas in November.

 

[A June 29, 2018, township brief] counters the developer’s claim that township zoning rules prohibiting gasoline sales in that zoning district are outdated and create an illegal ban on contemporary gas stations — a model where gas sales are secondary to sales from the products inside the stores.

 

Despite past opposition, however, the residents at recent meetings and those contacting this news organization are skeptical of the supervisors’ official position.

 

Residents fear a possible settlement between the township and the developer and behind-closed door meetings between the two.

 

The settlement rumor could be due to a supervisors meeting item in January.

 

Meeting minutes from Jan. 23 state that Reiss was contacted by the developer’s attorney, Julie Von Sprekelsen, of Eastburn & Gray, P.C., stating “her client was told the (supervisors were) open to settling the land use appeal.”

 

Further Reading:

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Meanwhile, the Provco Group has taken a different path in Newtown Twp in its bid to open a Wawa convenience store and gas station on the Newtown Bypass. The developer has decided to bypass the township’s Zoning Hearing Board and appeal directly to Newtown Supervisors to change the zoning ordinance in order to allow a Wawa Superstore in the OR district. For more on that, read “Developer and Attorney Present Their Case for a Wawa Superstore on the Newtown Bypass” and “Proposed Newtown Wawa Requires Zoning Change or at Least 10 Zoning Variances".

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Newtown Businesses & Restaurants Will Be Highlighted at Expo

Newtown Businesses & Restaurants Will Be Highlighted at Expo | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Some of the area’s newest businesses and restaurants will be taking part in the 12th Annual Newtown Business Expo and Culinary Fair scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 12 from 3 to 7 p.m.

 

Salus Integrative Health (coming soon to State Street), Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar and Nothing Bundt Cakes in the Village at Newtown, Triple Sun Spirits on South State Street and Klatzkin & Company in the Newtown Business Commons will be joining the more than 70 businesses and a dozen local restaurants from the Greater Newtown area taking part in the expo held inside the Brown Gym at the Newtown Athletic Club, 120 Pheasant Run.

 

“It’s always great when we have a chance to introduce the public to our new members,” said Beverly Dimler, the president of the NBA, adding that just this year alone the NBA has welcomed 60 new member businesses.

 

“Newtown is booming with new retail and business establishments,” said Dimler, “and our expo is a great way to meet many of them. It’s all about the 18940,” she said. “We have a lot of new businesses coming in and we’re delighted.”

 

In addition to spotlighting new businesses, the expo also provides an opportunity for returning businesses and service institutions to spotlight their goods and services.

 

“We have a great assortment of NBA businesses and merchants taking part from banks and payroll companies to healthcare providers, realtors, home maintenance and renovation businesses, attorneys, accountants and so many others,” said Dimler.

 

Complementing the business booths will be a culinary fair offering a taste of the rapidly growing and expanding Newtown restaurant scene.

 

“We have some top notch restaurants joining us this year,” said Dimler. “And as always, we have a wide assortment of awesome food.”

 

Participating in this year’s culinary fair are Joseph’s Premier Catering (Joe Garvey), Piccolo Trattoria, Guru’s Indian Cuisine, Passanante Home Food Services, Applebee’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes, McCaffrey’s, Issac Newton’s, Harvest Seasonal Grill, the Newtown Athletic Club, Thyme Bar & Grill and others.

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Middletown Reminds Residents About Safety Rules for Fireworks, May Consider Resolution

Middletown Reminds Residents About Safety Rules for Fireworks, May Consider Resolution | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Just because Pennsylvania residents can now buy fireworks doesn’t mean they can launch them anywhere.

 

That’s the message Middletown officials want to get across through a public information campaign on fireworks they’re testing this Labor Day weekend.

 

The township is aiming to educate residents on ways the state law has changed, following lawmakers’ move last October allowing Pennsylvanians to buy consumer fireworks like firecrackers and bottle rockets.

 

Under the state law, it is illegal to discharge fireworks from almost all residential properties in Middletown on account of a provision forbidding the explosives from being set off within 150 feet of an occupied structure, whether anyone is inside.

 

In terms of new ordinances, township Manager Stephanie Teoli Kuhls said she believes existing provisions already effectively cover fireworks.

 

The township already forbids fireworks from being launched in its parks without a local permit, which state law also requires before anyone can launch the more bombastic display fireworks. For display fireworks, which only professionals may use, staff from the fire marshal’s office also inspect their setup and launch.

 

Even so, officials said, further action — including a potential resolution to state lawmakers about modifying the fireworks law — could be revisited, depending on how the Labor Day weekend goes.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Newtown's Park & Recreation Code states: "No person shall fire, discharge or have in his or her possession any rocket, firecracker, or other fireworks and substances of an explosive nature within the park system, without first obtaining a permit from the Board of Supervisors."

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Guru’s Indian Cuisine Moving to the Former Saloon Location on Sycamore Street

Guru’s Indian Cuisine Moving to the Former Saloon Location on Sycamore Street | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Big news for Sycamore Street and our friends over at Guru’s Indian Cuisine.

Later this year Chef Guru and the crew will be pulling up roots on Cambridge Lane and moving down the street to the former Saloon at Jefferson Street.

Come early December, you will be able to sip unique cocktails and savor Guru’s authentic Indian cooking a 1/2 mile down the road at its bigger and better location at 203 North Sycamore Street.

“Walk in the front door and you’ll be able to order a drink at the bar while tasting a wide variety of tapas, including healthy, gluten-free and vegan options,” said our friends at Guru. “The restaurant side will still serve the traditional Indian cuisine that you know and love.”

Guru’s will be transforming the upstairs into banquet rooms with the option of a more intimate gathering space for up to 20 people, equipped with a projector that would be the perfect option for your next corporate meeting, or a large banquet room for up to 100 people - ideal for birthday parties, weddings, showers and more.

Since its opening, Guru’s has built a reputation for its Indian food and its generosity in the community.

Inside the kitchen, Chef Ashni Kumar Guru recreates and reinterprets the dishes of India from the diverse Indian states to unique fusions of classic recipes with Indo-Chinese and Mexican culinary influences.

Stayed tuned for future updates regarding their big grand reopening.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

A carriage sitting on the front porch is a relic from when the building was home to FB Wentworth’s General Merchandise. It's an historic landmark in need of repair.

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Bucks County Initiates Smart911 with RapidSOS to Quickly Serve Callers

Bucks County Initiates Smart911 with RapidSOS to Quickly Serve Callers | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it
The Bucks County Commissioners and the Bucks County Emergency Communications Department have partnered with Smart911 to begin a new program that will allow for quicker assistance when a 9-1-1 call is placed. Individuals can now sign up for free online and give pertinent information on themselves and their family which will allow 9-1-1 operators to dispatch law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services quicker and with more relevant data.

Residents can now create an account at https://www.smart911.com/smart911/ref/login.action?pa=buckscounty with basic contact information. Once the account has been activated, the profile can be customized and residents can share as little or as much as they would like emergency response to have in the event of emergency. The information is only viewable by dispatchers and other emergency personnel when a 9-1-1 call is placed, otherwise it remains safe and secure in the safety profile.

“If your elderly father with Alzheimer’s and a history of wandering lives with you, adding his photo to Smart911 allows dispatchers to distribute that photo to emergency personnel as soon as you call 9-1-1,” said Audrey Kenny, Director of Bucks County Emergency Communications. “If your daughter has a severe peanut allergy, adding that medical information to Smart911 could give precious moments to the Emergency Medical personnel who won’t have to ask as many questions before beginning treatment.”

Another major benefit to Smart911 is their partnership with RapidSOS. Each year, roughly 180 million mobile calls are placed to 9-1-1, and over 10,000 lives are lost when those mobile customers cannot be located, according to the FCC. Adding a home address, work address, possibly a church or community center where free time is spent, allows the caller to simply use their cell phone to say “I am home” or even “I am three blocks from work coming from home” and the dispatcher who has the address information can relay it to emergency personnel. RapidSOS takes it one step further. This new system works with the Emergency Communications software to further narrow down the caller’s location on a mobile phone. RapidSOS uses a nationwide Location Information Server (LIS) to deliver more precise coordinates and faster service. In some situations, RapidSOS can get emergency personnel to callers up to five minutes faster, which could dramatically alter the outcomes of crises.
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Wawa Land Developer Takes Plumstead to Court to Appeal Decision by Zoning Hearing Board to Refuse Variances. 

Wawa Land Developer Takes Plumstead to Court to Appeal Decision by Zoning Hearing Board to Refuse Variances.  | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

[As reported in the Bucks County Herald] Frustrated residents filled the Plumstead supervisors’ meeting room to inquire about the board’s position on the Wawa development proposed at the northwest corner of Swamp and Ferry Roads.

 

Verrichia Land Development proposes a 4,500-square-foot Wawa convenience store, gas station and office building on the 3-acre site.

 

The plan was reviewed for eight months by the township’s zoning hearing board. The development required zoning variances since the property is zoned commercial-1, which does not allow for the proposed uses.

 

Variances were not granted and the plan was rejected. Verrichia has appealed the zoning hearing board’s decision and awaits a court date in Bucks County Court of Common Pleas according to township solicitor Jonathan Reiss.

 

Plumstead resident, Joseph Reinheimer who has lived on Ferry Road near the site for 23 years said, “It has come to light that that the supervisors are considering a possible settlement with Verrichia, and residents would like back-door dealings to stop.”

 

He asked the supervisors to support the zoning hearing board decision and residents’ input and expressed dismay at the possibility of a settlement, when previously the board opposed the development.

 

Supervisor Brian Trymbisky said, “The board’s position has not changed.”

 

Jim Morano of New Britain Township told the supervisors, “If the temptation to settle with the developer and allow the project is because of the cost of litigation, give Plumstead and neighboring townships the opportunity to raise money to cover the cost of defense. “

 

Supervisor Brian Trymbiski reiterated, “The board’s position has not changed.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Will Plumstead supervisors settle and approve the project to avoid litigation costs?

 

Meanwhile, the Provco Group has taken a different path in Newtown Twp in its bid to open a Wawa convenience store and gas station on the Newtown Bypass. The developer has decided to bypass the township’s Zoning Hearing Board and appeal directly to Newtown Supervisors to change the zoning ordinance in order to allow a Wawa Superstore in the OR district. For more on that, read “Developer and Attorney Present Their Case for a Wawa Superstore on the Newtown Bypass” and “Proposed Newtown Wawa Requires Zoning Change or at Least 10 Zoning Variances".

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Newtown Township, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown to Consider Deleting Planned Residential Development from the Newtown Area JMZO

Newtown Township, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown to Consider Deleting Planned Residential Development from the Newtown Area JMZO | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Township, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown will hold public hearings on September 12, 2018, to consider an ordinance to amend the Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO) by deleting Planned Residential Development (PRD) as a permitted use. After the hearings, the Supervisors of each township will consider the enactment of the ordinance.

According to the PA Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), PRDs are designed to encourage innovation and variety in development, provide better opportunities for housing, recreation, and open space, and better relate development design to the particular site.

According to a November 2, 2017, email from the Bucks County Planning Commission to the Newtown, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown Joint Zoning Council (JZC):

"The JZC believes that Use B-15 Planned Residential Development is redundant because Use B-14 Performance Subdivision permits a mixed residential development with the same range of dwelling unit types at compatible densities. Additionally, a Performance Subdivision proposal goes through the standard Preliminary Plan process instead of the PRD Tentative Plan procedure that is proscribed in the MPC."

 

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Is a DAS Antenna Coming to a Pole Near You?

Is a DAS Antenna Coming to a Pole Near You? | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

At the August 2, 2018, Newtown, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown Zoning Council (JZC) meeting, solicitor Vicki Kushto reviewed the current court rulings regarding small wireless cells [aka Distributed Antennae Systems or DAS].

 

At the present time, DAS providers are considered Public Utilities and not subject to local zoning requirements. This means that DAS services could be installed in any public right of way (ROW) for which the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission (PUC) provides approval.

 

There is new legislation (HB2564) being introduced by Rep. Frank Farry that would severely limit local municipalities ability to regulate this use or to seek reimbursement for the use of its public ROWs.

 

The JZC opposes this legislation because, among other things, it is concerned that HB2564 legislation could result in DAS poles/structures being installed in developments, which are now served by underground utilities.

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Curated by johnmacknewtown
I am a retired small businessman who has lived in Newtown Township PA since 1995. The opinions expressed here are solely mine and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.