Newtown's “Explosive Growth”: What Are the Pros and Cons? Is There a Plan? Where's the Input From Residents? | Newtown News of Interest |

While a $35 million expansion of the Village at Newtown Shopping Center that will include a new Solstice Restaurant, Iron Hill Brewery and several other establishments is rapidly taking shape, a new 12,500 square-foot Old Navy and 400 square-foot Chick-fil-A expansion is being proposed at the adjacent Newtown Shopping Center.


In the meantime, township officials are considering a proposed Wawa with gas pumps just off the Newtown Bypass near its intersection with Lower Silver Lake Road. Company officials have filed a challenge to the joint municipal zoning ordinance that covers Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown because it doesn’t designate areas for a combined convenience store/gas pumps use.


[Also read: “Mack & Fisher Respond to Questions About Development”]


A zoning hearing board meeting to consider variances for the proposed Wawa and the Newtown Shopping Center work is set for Thursday.


[Meet Mack Monday & discuss this: February 3, 2020]


As for the overall bright business outlook in the township, growth is good so long as it’s well thought out and managed, said Jim Worthington, owner of the largest business in Newtown Township, the Newtown Athletic Club.


But it’s not all positive, stressed Newtown Township Supervisor John Mack. In particular, he cited the proposed Old Navy as the wrong kind of business growth for the township.


Mack said he’s gotten 75 comments so far from Newtown-area residents in opposition, including comments that the store is not up-scale enough and many residents would prefer Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Wegman’s.


[What do you think? Take Mack's "Old Navy/Chick-fil-A Proposal Survey"]


The supervisor cites the Old Navy as the kind of commercial development that “brings only few low-paying jobs which does little to add to our revenue.”


On the other hand, Mack had a generally favorable view of businesses that will move in as the result of the Village at Newtown expansion “although parking is sometimes a problem. I understand that malls have to rethink their business plans to compete with Amazon.”


Township officials have to take a very hard look at the types of projects being allowed, said Mack, who added he is suggesting a voluntary moratorium on all new commercial development in the township while officials and residents “meet with commercial developers to ensure that their plans jibe with our new 10-year comprehensive plan, which currently is in the works.”


[Read "It’s Time to Update Newtown's Comprehensive Plan!"]