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Newtown Supervisors Oppose Plan To Build 27 Townhouses at 413 Durham Road

Newtown Supervisors Oppose Plan To Build 27 Townhouses at 413 Durham Road | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

“This is a classic example of overdevelopment,” said one resident.

 

At the November 13, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Durham Partners Group, LLC, submitted a Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) application for twenty seven townhouses and associated dimensional variances on a 5-acre parcel of land located at 413 Durham Road in the PS-2 (Professional Service) Zoning District.

 

Township Solicitor Dave Sander laid out the options for the BOS to consider:

 

  • Take no action and wish the applicant “good luck;”
  • Authorize the solicitor to write a letter to the ZHB expressing the Board’s concerns with the proposed relief that is requested and perhaps include conditions on the approval of the application if the ZHB was of a mind to approve the application;
  • Authorize the solicitor to attend the ZHB and oppose the application.

 

Supervisor Mack made a motion to go with option #3 and to send the Township Solicitor to the December 5, 2019, ZHB meeting to oppose the application. The motion passed 4-1. Voting in favor of opposing were Supervisors Mack, Fisher, Bobrin, and Calabro. Kyle Davis cast the sole “nay” vote.

 

More details…

johnmacknewtown's insight:

View a 15-minute video summary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxy2TeIvMo0

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News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents
These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. Please click on the "From" link to access the full original article. 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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The Marseglia-Harvie Transition Committee Names Newtown Resident Steve Wray of ESI as Economic Development Chair

The Marseglia-Harvie Transition Committee Names Newtown Resident Steve Wray of ESI as Economic Development Chair | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The Marseglia-Harvie Transition Committee has announced the appointment of Steve Wray as chair of the Economic Development review subcommittee.

In his volunteer role, Wray, who has more than two decades of experience in regional economic competitiveness, civic strategy and public policy, will lead the committee in its analysis of Bucks County’s economic development programs and opportunities.

Wray, of Newtown Township, and his subcommittee will review these issues over several months, with formal recommendations expected by late spring 2020.

“Our mission will be to ensure that Bucks County is one of the nation’s premier locations to live, work, and grow a business, and that our residents and employees are able to succeed in a rapidly changing economy,” Wray said.

Wray is Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI). He supports the work of the firm’s principals and senior staff in developing new partnerships, expanding and building on existing practice areas, and integrating the firm’s strengths in economic analysis and thought leadership. He joined ESI in 2017 as a Director and was promoted to Vice President, Strategic Initiatives in 2019.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Newtown Township is considering hiring ESI to do a complete Financial Analysis and develop a 5-year budget plan that hopefully will mitigate the need for future real estate tax increases to remain competitive for new business investment. 

 

Representatives from ESI will attend the BOS Work Session on December 16, 2019, to review the proposal for the Newtown Township 5-year financial plan and to answer questions from supervisors and the public.

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Take A Sneak Peek At Solstice Restaurant, Coming Soon To Newtown

Take A Sneak Peek At Solstice Restaurant, Coming Soon To Newtown | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Solstice, a new restaurant coming to the Village at Newtown Shopping Center, has released an opening timeline and menu in advance of its local debut.

The restaurant will be opening to the public in early 2020, according to representatives. It will be a 9,245 square-foot indoor and outdoor dining spot located in the new building under construction on Durham Road.

According to representatives, it will offer "thoughtfully prepared, seasonally curated dishes" in a "dynamic social environment."

Solstice will offer a "city-like dining experience" with "modern, whimsical plating," according to Solstice representative Lisa Schwartz. The indoor dining room and bar will have 165 seats. A 2,500 -square-foot outdoor patio space will seat 92.

On sunny days, the indoor and outdoor dining rooms will merge "to create a dynamic, multi-sensory environment," according to Schwartz.

The patio will feature elements like a fire pit and an outdoor garden with seasonal herbs and vegetables to be used in the dishes.

 

Related (shows location):

johnmacknewtown's insight:

When this application came before the Newtown Board of Supervisors at the June 12, 2019, public meeting, Attorney Joseph Blackburn representing the applicant made no mention of a "fire pit and an outdoor garden" in the patio area, nor were these elements mentioned in the documentation submitted to the Board! Also, it was described as "affiliated with Shula’s Steak House" (it turns out the the principals are executives with Shula’s Restaurants, which is the only connection with steak!), and not billed as a "seasonal" restaurant (read "Solstice, a seasonal restaurant, is coming to Bucks County"), which would compete with Harvest Seasonal Grille located elsewhere in the shopping center. 

 

UPDATE: (12/6/2019) I spoke to Joe Blackburn who represents Brixmor and he confirmed that Shula-style steaks WILL be on the menu along with the seasonal entries. Something for everyone, I guess.

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Newtown Supervisors Agree to Investigate Feasibility of Getting State Funding for Bridge Over Newtown Creek

Newtown Supervisors Agree to Investigate Feasibility of Getting State Funding for Bridge Over Newtown Creek | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Plans to build a pedestrian footbridge over Newtown Creek are one step closer to reality.

At the Nov. 26 meeting, the board of supervisors voted 4-0 to start the ball rolling for the non-profit Newtown Creek Coalition to look into getting state money to build a new structure using six existing stone piers of an old trolley line that was discontinued in 1923.

The trolley ran along Penn Street, State and crossed the creek at Frost Lane before continuing to Doylestown.

Voting to set up a three-party study group between the township, the coalition and Newtown Borough were: Chairman Phil Calabro, along with Supervisors Linda Bobrin, Dennis Fisher and John Mack. Supervisor Kyle Davis did not attend the meeting.

“The footbridge would create a safe recreational pedestrian connection between the township and the borough,” said Mike Sellers, president of the Newtown Creek Coalition.

According to Sellers, the state has a number of grants available to fund transportation alternatives, trail expansions, as well as storm water management. And he said that this project falls into all these areas where funding is available.

With their vote to look into the feasibility of the footbridge, the supervisors agreed to set up a working group to formally study the proposal and for which grants to apply.

The next step is for Newtown Borough Council to also approve a resolution to look into the project.

 

Even though state grants could help fund the project, they usually require municipalities to also contribute money, something that has several supervisors concerned, including Supervisor Mack who stated that “grants don’t cover 100-percent.”

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WSJ Reports That Federal Prosecutors Open Criminal Probe of Opioid Makers and Distributors

WSJ Reports That Federal Prosecutors Open Criminal Probe of Opioid Makers and Distributors | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have opened a criminal probe of the role drug manufacturers and distributors played in fueling the opioid crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Companies including Teva, McKesson, Mallinckrodt, AmerisourceBergen, Johnson & Johnson and Amneal Pharmaceuticals have received subpoenas, the Journal reported. Mallinckrodt declined to comment, while none of the other companies were immediately available for comment.

The investigation marks a significant broadening of the federal government’s focus into pinpointing which parties contributed to the opioid crisis.

The Justice Department had already launched criminal probes into Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, for its part in the epidemic. That investigation examined whether the company failed to report doctors who were illegally prescribing opioids and the company’s order-monitoring systems, the Journal previously reported. Purdue has been in talks to resolve the probe, according to the Journal.

From 1999 to 2017, nearly 218,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More subpoenas for the probe, which is still in its early stages, are expected to come. If the investigation turns into criminal charges, it could be the largest prosecution of drug companies said to have been part of the opioid crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, buckling under the weight of thousands of lawsuits from states and individuals seeking damages stemming from the epidemic.

Shares of Teva, Johnson & Johnson and Merck all fell on the news.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related Story:

  • “What Lies Ahead After OK Opioid Judgement That J&J Intentionally Played Down the Dangers of Opioids?”; http://sco.lt/5Mlw1o
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2020 Estimated Real Estate Tax Revenue & Expenditures

2020 Estimated Real Estate Tax Revenue & Expenditures | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Township's Real Estate tax millage Definition is composed several components dedicated to specific funds or projects. These are (1) 2.625 mills for debt services purposes (to pay off loans for road improvements, and other projects), (2) 0.875 mills for fire protection (Fire Chief’s salary, health insurance, etc.), (3) 0.55 mills for fire hydrant maintenance, and (4) 0.45 mills for the Newtown Ambulance Squad. 0.0 mills are collected for "general" purposes. Thus, residents know exactly what they get for their real estate taxes.

 

See the numbers according to the 2020 Preliminary Budget here.

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Bucks County Faces $16.3M Deficit - Will It Raise Our Taxes Again To Fill the Gap?

Bucks County Faces $16.3M Deficit - Will It Raise Our Taxes Again To Fill the Gap? | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Bucks County’s preliminary budget for 2020 shows a $16.35 million deficit, and county officials haven’t ruled out a tax increase to fill the gap, though that would be their “least preferable” option.

 

County Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler gave that assessment in announcing the $450.88 million budget Wednesday. He said the county isn’t bringing in the revenue it did back in the early 2000s when the fees for recording housing transactions and from other county services filled the county’s coffers.

 

The county commissioners will have three ways to plug the deficit — raise taxes, use some of the $33.18 million fund balance from this year or reduce expenditures further.

 

The current tax rate, which hasn’t been raised since 2018, is 24.45 mills, or $24.45 for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

 

David P. Boscola, the county’s director of finance and administration, said that almost all of the budget increase is related to “workforce” expenses, the wages and benefits for the county’s almost 2,400 employees.

 

The cost of new voting machines that provide a paper trail, that the county must have for next year’s elections, have not been finalized since the contract has not yet been awarded. Hessenthaler said that he knows the number of hours it will take to train staff and have county staff members train the public in their use will impact the budget.

 

“It will take out a massive amount of time,” he said.

 

The current board of commissioners will hold a night-time public hearing on the budget sometime before approving it at its Dec.18 meeting. The date is yet to be announced.

 

But because this has been an election year for the commissioners and new members will take office in January, the budget can be reopened and voted on again by the new board early next year, Boscola said.

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It's Strike Two for 27 Townhomes on Durham Road!

It's Strike Two for 27 Townhomes on Durham Road! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

At the November 13, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Durham Partners Group, LLC, submitted a Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) application for twenty seven townhomes and associated dimensional variances on the property located at 413 Durham Road in the PS-2 (Professional Service) Zoning District. The BOS heard from the applicant’s professionals that the proposed townhouse use is much lower impact from a traffic and development standpoint than a permitted medical office building.

 

Strike One!

After extensive questioning by Supervisors, the BOS voted 4-1 to send the Township Solicitor to the December 5, 2019, ZHB meeting to oppose the developer’s request for 7 variances.

 

See video here.

 

Strike Two!

Heath Dumack, the engineer hired by the developer, appeared before the Newtown Planning Commission at its November 19, 2019, public meeting “as a courtesy.” PC member Paul Cohen said “I don’t want to be too impolite about it, but this is crazy! This is just a blatant effort to squeeze as much as possible out of this. To come in and propose - where there’s supposed to be one home - twenty-seven is... incredibly bold.”

 

Listen to the Q&A here.

 

Strike Three?

The next step for Durham Partners Group is to appear before the Zoning Hearing Board. Will the third time be the charm or will it be strike three and "yer out!"? With the Township Solicitor there to oppose awarding variances for this plan (see below), it is my hope that the ZHB denies the application.

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Newtown Township's 2020 Preliminary Budget Holds Line on Taxes, But Is Weak on Improving Communications with Citizens

Newtown Township's 2020 Preliminary Budget Holds Line on Taxes, But Is Weak on Improving Communications with Citizens | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Township officials plan to hire another police officer, purchase three new police vehicles and pave 5.52 miles of road next year while not raising property taxes, according to a preliminary 2020 budget recently approved by the supervisors.

The $13.1 million budget can be viewed on the township website (here), newtownpa.gov, or at the township building, 100 Municipal Drive. The supervisors are scheduled to vote on making it final at their Dec. 11 meeting.

If there are no changes, property tax millage would remain at 4.5, or $169 in annual taxes for the owner of a property assessed at the township average of $37,459. Many residents also pay a 1% earned income tax that is split with the Council Rock School District.

Most of the discussion before the supervisors voted unanimously to advertise the preliminary budget was on a suggestion by board member John Mack that the township spend an additional $3,600 in 2020 for a Saavy Citizen alert system.

It would alert residents via social media to upcoming meetings, road work, road closures and many other items.

"The bottom line is we want people to have access to the information that is important to them," supervisor Dennis Fisher said.

While Mack and Fisher supported the idea, especially if the township could obtain a grant to fund it, fellow supervisors Phillip Calabro, Kyle Davis and Linda Bobrin didn't think it was a necessary expense for next year.

Calabro added there are other means for residents to get alerts on useful information, though Mack responded they aren't as reliable or timely as Saavy Citizen would be.

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Newtown Supervisors Oppose Plan To Build 27 Townhouses at 413 Durham Road

Newtown Supervisors Oppose Plan To Build 27 Townhouses at 413 Durham Road | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

“This is a classic example of overdevelopment,” said one resident.

 

At the November 13, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Durham Partners Group, LLC, submitted a Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) application for twenty seven townhouses and associated dimensional variances on a 5-acre parcel of land located at 413 Durham Road in the PS-2 (Professional Service) Zoning District.

 

Township Solicitor Dave Sander laid out the options for the BOS to consider:

 

  • Take no action and wish the applicant “good luck;”
  • Authorize the solicitor to write a letter to the ZHB expressing the Board’s concerns with the proposed relief that is requested and perhaps include conditions on the approval of the application if the ZHB was of a mind to approve the application;
  • Authorize the solicitor to attend the ZHB and oppose the application.

 

Supervisor Mack made a motion to go with option #3 and to send the Township Solicitor to the December 5, 2019, ZHB meeting to oppose the application. The motion passed 4-1. Voting in favor of opposing were Supervisors Mack, Fisher, Bobrin, and Calabro. Kyle Davis cast the sole “nay” vote.

 

More details…

johnmacknewtown's insight:

View a 15-minute video summary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxy2TeIvMo0

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Newtown Township Gets Grants to Build Lower Dolington Road Multi-Use Trail, But...

Newtown Township Gets Grants to Build Lower Dolington Road Multi-Use Trail, But... | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Projects in Dublin, Newtown Township and other area towns are getting $1.8 million in state grants for transportation-related projects, state officials announced this week.

A news release from Sen. Steve Santarsiero's office states grant funding is from Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Financing Authority and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources programs.

"As these projects begin to take shape, residents, businesses, and commuters alike will experience the improvements to our thriving community," Santarsiero, D-10, of Lower Makefield, said in the release.

Newtown Township is getting two grants, a $125,000 grant for a multi-use trail at Lower Dolington Road and a $250,000 conservation grant for storm sewer, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and related work.

 

Related:

 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Actually, Newtown Township was awarded $125,000 from DCED ($0 match requirement), and $250,000 from DCNR (50% match required) for a total of $375,000. The award amounts do not equal the requested amounts, however the Twp may be able to supplement the amount with additional grants - or alter the scope of work to stay consistent with the awards.

 

This approximately 1-mile of multi-use trail will provide a pedestrian connection between existing residential neighborhoods and Roberts Ridge Park, Goodnoe Elementary School, the Township's Business Commons and the existing trails in and around Roberts Ridge Park.

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Guest Opinion by Judi Reiss: Thank Veterans and Tell Them You Support Them 

Guest Opinion by Judi Reiss: Thank Veterans and Tell Them You Support Them  | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

[Judi Reiss is prothonotary for Bucks County.]

 

In Bucks and Montgomery counties, there are approximately 50,000 veterans, and we should all find a way to honor them this Veterans Day.

 

But let’s take a moment to discuss how we can better serve those who have served our country. The National Council for Behavioral Health claims that 30% of active duty and reserve military personnel — approximately 730,000 men and women — have a mental health condition requiring treatment. Many experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and major depression.

 

The sad reality is that less than 50% of returning veterans in need receive any mental health treatment. This should especially be striking to all of us, considering the Veterans Administration reports that 22 veterans die by suicide every day.

 

This is unacceptable. We have a duty to repay the sacrifice of those who have served our country by ensuring they have access to mental health care. We also need to educate them and their loved ones on the early signs of mental health issues and on the resources available.

 

With an ongoing opioid and addiction crisis, it is key to note that 19.3% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance abuse disorder within the last year. We need money for rehabilitation and treatment programs, yes, but if we want to be proactive and stop substance abuse before it starts, we need more funds for expanded access to affordable mental health care.

 

There’s no reason why we can’t end the stigma, get help to those who need it and stop failing our veterans. It starts by spreading awareness. Talk to your friends, family and neighbors about mental illness. Demand your elected officials talk about it. I won’t stop talking about it, either during this campaign or as your representative in Congress.

 

This Veterans Day, thank a veteran, and let them know you are there to help if they need it and that you are willing to fight for them as they have for you.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

"We need money for rehabilitation and treatment programs" is key. That's why when Newtown joined a lawsuit against major opioid manufacturers and distributors, I said: "If the Township were to get some money out of this, small as it might be, it is my hope that the funds are used to support opioid anti-addiction programs and implement educational programs for the general public and students." https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/blog/?viewDetailed=201812141053

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Solebury Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Open Space Referendum

Solebury Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Open Space Referendum | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Voters in Solebury Township overwhelmingly approved an open space bond referendum on Tuesday's ballot.

Nearly 75 percent of Solebury voters voted in favor of the measure to borrow additional funds for open space. With all four districts reporting, 2,139 people voted in favor of the referendum, and 716 were opposed. The results are not yet certified by the county.


The measure allows the township to borrow up to $12 million to finance the acquisition of interests in or improvements to property for open space purposes.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Purchasing open space is one way for townships to prevent overdevelopment from increasing traffic and to preserve the semi-rural nature of our towns.

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Mack & Fisher Beat Butler & Boyle by Going Positive!

Mack & Fisher Beat Butler & Boyle by Going Positive! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Democratic incumbent Newtown Township Supervisors John Mack and Dennis Fisher walloped their Republican opponents T.J. Butler and Dan Boyle in a record-setting municipal election that was marred by a vicious personal attack mailer orchestrated by the opposition (read about it in the Newtown Patch: "Vicious Politics Comes to Newtown Township!").

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ELECTION 2019: The Candidates for Newtown Township Supervisor ... In Their Own Words

ELECTION 2019: The Candidates for Newtown Township Supervisor ... In Their Own Words | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

[Shown in Image: Dennis Fisher and John Mack]

 

The Advance of Bucks County asked each of the candidates to respond to a question - in their own words - about why they are running and the biggest challenge facing the township. Here are their responses:

 

John Mack (D)

 

…there is a possibility of Newtown losing its semi-rural charm and becoming a modern-day “Pottersville” through over development. It is imperative that Supervisors have the necessary EXPERIENCE and TIME to devote to develop a 5-year financial plan and a new 10-year Comprehensive Plan to deal with these problems and make the right decisions that benefit all residents. As a Supervisor, retired businessman, and member of my homeowners’ association executive board, I have the experience and time necessary to devote to the job.

 

Dennis Fisher (D)

 

I am running to serve. Twelve years of serving on the Planning Commission and the Environmental Advisory Council have prepared me for this time. My understanding of Land Use issues and my ability to build consensus with other points of view will be critical as we develop the 10-year Comprehensive Plan to guide Newtown’s future.

 

Daniel Boyle (R)

 

I am a concerned Newtown resident who expects to raise my family here for years to come and hopes my family will raise their families here and I believe that real change only occurs when we are willing to put ourselves at the point of friction in a position to effect that change.

 

TJ Butler (R)

 

As a 25-year resident of Newtown, I want to preserve the values that have shaped Newtown into one of the best places to live, work and shop in Bucks County. As our community continues to grow, we need to support our local business owners, use common sense when approving development.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Mack & Fisher Respond to Questions About Development

 

Newtown Township residents deserve amenities that make Newtown an attractive and vibrant place to live, work and do business.

 

Newtown Supervisors John Mack and Dennis Fisher have received many questions, concerns, and complaints about commercial and residential in Newtown Township, especially with regard to the renovation going on at the Village of Newtown Shopping Center, the potential for commercial development along Newtown Bypass, and the further development of high density housing. Fisher & Mack have selected the most-often asked questions to answer in this Newtown Patch article.

 

https://patch.com/pennsylvania/newtown-pa/mack-fisher-respond-questions-development

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Newtown Artesian Water Publishes Q3 2019 PFAS Test Results

Newtown Artesian Water Publishes Q3 2019 PFAS Test Results | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

After the Newtown Artesian Water Company (NAWC) sent a letter to residents in February 2019, that PFAS (Definition) - perfluorinated compounds - were detected in Newtown Township's water, supervisor Mack requested that Mr. Dan Angove, NAWC General Manager, return to report on the situation. Mr. Angove complied and presented the Q1 2019 test results at the May 8, 2019, Board of Supervisors public meeting (read "Update on PFAS in Newtown's Water Supply").

At that meeting, Mr. Angove promised that NAWC would test Newtown's water sources for PFAS every quarter and publish the results on its website. The 2019 third quarter (Q3) results are now available. John mack created  charts to show the levels of PFAS in relation to different Minimum Contamination Levels (MCLs) and the trends.

 

More here (included trends chart)...

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Mack & Fisher Respond to Questions About Development

Mack & Fisher Respond to Questions About Development | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Township residents deserve amenities that make Newtown an attractive and vibrant place to live, work and do business.

 

Newtown Supervisors John Mack and Dennis Fisher have received many questions, concerns, and complaints about commercial and residential in Newtown Township, especially with regard to the renovation going on at the Village of Newtown Shopping Center, the potential for commercial development along Newtown Bypass, and the further development of high density housing. Fisher & Mack have selected the most-often asked questions to answer in this Newtown Patch article.

 

Read the article here...

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(UNOFFICIAL) 2019 Voting Record of Newtown Township Supervisors

(UNOFFICIAL) 2019 Voting Record of Newtown Township Supervisors | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

I've been keeping track of how Newtown Township supervisors voted on motions before the Board. The following is the voting record to date based on the approved minutes of meetings.

NOTE: This is NOT an official record of votes. Some very minor motions, such as to approve minutes, bills lists, etc., are not included. Please refer to the BOS meeting minutes for the official voting record of each meeting.

I will update this list after every Board of Supervisors public meeting minutes are approved for publication. Download a PDF version here.

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Decreased Tax Revenue Continues to Impact Newtown Township's Financial Health

Decreased Tax Revenue Continues to Impact Newtown Township's Financial Health | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Like many municipalities in Bucks County, Newtown Township is struggling to maintain its current finances. In 2018, the general fund balance decreased by more than $665,000.

Being blamed for part of downward trend is the loss of Earned Income Taxes as surrounding towns such as Bensalem and Middletown have enacted EITs of their own.

Real estate transfer taxes have also decreased in 2019. Factors affecting the volatile housing market include diminishing supply, rising costs, interest rates and demand. The township has reduced the budgeted figure for transfer taxes for the second consecutive year, this time from $800,000 to $750,000.

Where Newtown really runs into a budget shortfall is debt service. A 2020 municipal bond that was refinanced at TD Bank has allowed township officials to make payments to debt service without contemplating a tax increase.

In his presentation of the 2020 budget to the supervisors on Oct. 14, Township Manager Micah Lewis announced that the township’s current millage rate doesn’t cover the cost of future payments it has to make to its debt. The current fund balance will carry debt service payments through 2020. After that, Lewis said, the fund will fall short by more than $100,000.

Lewis reported that the township has significantly scaled back expenditures in its 2020 budget in order to offset projected shortfalls. He is recommending that future budgets contain revenue increases to support the diminishing general fund and offset the volatility of the current funding structure.

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Family-owned Newtown Brewing Company Opens Its Doors with Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting, Huge Turnout

Family-owned Newtown Brewing Company Opens Its Doors with Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting, Huge Turnout | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Located in the heart of the Newtown Business Commons on 103 Penns Trail, the community’s first brewpub is being welcomed with open arms and plenty of excitement

 

Speaking to BucksLocalNews.com just moments before opening their doors, owners Gregg and Sara Bonstein of Upper Makefield said they are eager to bring their top quality home brews to their community.

 

“Our goal is to create a warm and welcoming environment where everyone can enjoy top quality craft beer brewed right here in Newtown,” said Gregg.

 

Operating under the slogan, “Quality craft. Quality beer,” the taproom will feature a rotating selection of 10 beers and one cider. In addition, they will be selling a selection of wines from Crossing Vineyards in Washington Crossing.

 

“We will have 30 or 40 different styles that we will rotate throughout the year, including some seasonal selections. We’ll be keeping it fresh,” said Gregg. “We’ll also have new releases every couple of weeks.”

 

Beer styles include light lagers, dark lagers, Belgian/wheat beers, American/Session IPAs, New England juicy hazy IPAs, stouts, and experimental and seasonal selections.

 

Half of the 5,000 square foot space is a public taproom with a bar, big screen TVs and tables and chairs. The other half is dedicated to manufacturing and warehousing with giant silver vats lining the walls.

 

“We have all of our brewing tanks here. We do all the brewing on site,” said Gregg. “Behind the taps, we have a walk-in cooler that has more tanks. So we’re actually serving the beer right out of the tanks so you get the beer fresh right from the tanks.

 

The taproom, with its high exposed ceiling and softer lighting, is designed specifically to accommodate large numbers of people and special events.

 

“We’re trying to make it a fun, local community taproom so we’ll have events, live music, trivia nights, open mic, movie nights - stuff for the kids and for the adults,” he said.

 

According to Gregg, the taproom has no kitchen, so patrons will need to bring their own food.

 

“We will be selling some snacks, but people can do take out or delivery. If you want to bring a pizza, you can do that,” he said. “We will also have food trucks that will park out back. And we will be rotating them from time to time.”

 

Following a ceremonial ribbon cutting organized by the Newtown Business Association (NBA), the couple officially opened the doors to their new business on Friday, Oct. 18.

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“It’s a lot bigger than I thought from the outside,” added Newtown Township Supervisor John Mack. “I think it’s going to be really good for the people who work in the Commons area. And maybe it will be the start of a new trend to bring more food into the area for the many people who work here. I think they will do very well.”

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To Survive in the Age of Amazon, New Restaurants and Apartments are Coming to Oxford Valley Mall

To Survive in the Age of Amazon, New Restaurants and Apartments are Coming to Oxford Valley Mall | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

It's a well-worn story in the internet age of Amazon that many of the nation's traditional shopping malls have found themselves struggling to keep up with the times. Oxford Valley Mall — in the Langhorne section of Middletown Township — is no different.

But in the area surrounding the mall, and on the property of the mall itself, that tide may be turning.

In recent months, a flurry of activity has seen new businesses flocking to the corridor along Lincoln Highway in the vicinity of Oxford Valley Mall. Most recently, and perhaps most pertinent to the future of the mall itself, plans have been moving forward that would put two upscale apartment buildings, with a total of about 600 units, on the same property as the mall itself.

That development, proposed in August by Pennsylvania-based Cornerstone Tracy Development, is hardly the only project in the works in the area, though.

Currently, four new restaurants, a Hilton hotel, a car wash, a new Wawa and a new bank are in the works within, almost literally, a stone's throw of Oxford Valley Mall. That's on top of the new Aldi grocery store and an urgent care center that already have opened their doors in the area.

Political leaders in Middletown Towship say the relative boom of activity is no accident.

Tom Tosti, chairman of the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors, said revitalizing Oxford Valley Mall and the surrounding area was one of his top priorities when elected. Doing so, he said, helps keep taxes low by expanding the township's tax base.

"We have been working with (mall owners) Simon since we were elected to revitalize the mall," Tosti said. "They have been very receptive to our ideas and we have been able to help secure some new businesses and food establishments because of our discussion."

 

Also Read:

  • “Live, Work, Play? Developers Are Eyeing Mixed-use Centers for Bucks County”; http://sco.lt/4jVaVs
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The Village at Newtown Shopping Center is undergoing major revitalization for the same reason - survival! And the results will have the same benefits to Newtown - increased earned income taxes generated by the new shopping center will help keep resident taxes among the lowest in Bucks County.

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Live, Work, Play? Developers Are Eyeing Mixed-use Centers for Bucks County...But Are They Attractive to Residents?

Live, Work, Play? Developers Are Eyeing Mixed-use Centers for Bucks County...But Are They Attractive to Residents? | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

What’s old is new again. Or at least that’s the case when building in Bucks County.

 

Developers eyeing projects in Bucks aren’t limiting their options. Municipalities throughout the county are seeing numerous proposals from builders to construct mixed-use developments that include anything from apartments and townhouses, to retail stores and recreational space all occupying the same tract.

 

These developments come in all shapes and sizes, from the three-building plan of 220 residential units and 10,760 square feet of retail on 7 acres at the former site of The Intelligencer building in Doylestown Borough to a proposal for 600 luxury apartments on 20 acres at the Oxford Valley Mall in Middletown. The developer of the mall proposal said the apartments will also draw retailers.

 

[Developer and civic designer Joe W. McGrath, of Joe W. McGrath Org LLC] said it is important to carve out spaces for smaller businesses like mom-and-pop shops since they tend to be more sustainable than big box stores in downtowns.

 

“You know what lasts? Pizza shops, barber shops — this is stuff we’ll be able to put in a walkable downtown,” he said. “We want all the amenities.”

 

In Lower Makefield, developers were successful in receiving approval from the township planning commission in September for a new overlay district on Stony Hill Road that could pave the way for a 100,000-square-foot Wegmans grocery store, 55,000 square feet of retail space, 200 apartments and other amenities.

 

 

Both proposals have been heavily criticized by residents who claim the plans will bring even more vehicles to the heavily trafficked road near Shady Brook Farm and the Newtown Bypass. [Read “Guest Opinion Re Prickett Run: ‘Do not bend over to accommodate zoning changes, overlay districts and special exceptions to allow developers to destroy the character of our community.’

 

One of Prickett Preserve’s developers, Vince DeLuca of DeLuca Homes, said similar developments have gained popularity in recent years because they help reduce suburban sprawl by cutting down on vehicle use. “These developments benefit local communities by generating more tax revenue due to higher land value and greater local income taxes.”

 

While they have their benefits, the most important part of building one of these developments is to make sure it’s attractive to residents, McGrath said.

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Bikes, sewing machines to be collected during Newtown donation drive

Bikes, sewing machines to be collected during Newtown donation drive | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Rotary Club and Council Rock High School North Interact Club are teaming up to host a used bicycle and sewing machine collection benefiting Pedals for Progress and Sewing Peace.

Anyone with an adult or child’s bicycle in repairable condition is urged to donate his or her bike to this worthy cause. Disassembled or unusable bikes will not be accepted.

Also accepted will be working portable sewing machines and sewing notions. No fabric, please.

Bikes and sewing machines can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the parking lot across from the Olde Church of St. Andrew, 135 S. Sycamore St., Newtown.

Pedals for Progress/Sewing Peace collects 3,000 to 5,000 items annually. To date, more than 157,000 bicycles and 4,700 sewing machines have been shipped to developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe. In these countries the bikes are reconditioned by partner agencies and distributed at low cost to poor working adults.

Bikes provide reliable transportation for commuting to work, transporting product to market, and greater mobility accessing health care and other services. Sewing machine shipments help initiate educational programs and generate income opportunities that may otherwise remain out of reach for many people.

It costs $45 to collect, process, ship, rebuild and distribute each bicycle. Donations toward shipping costs are also accepted; suggested donations are $10 per item.

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Chicken Restaurant Eyes Sycamore Street Location

Chicken Restaurant Eyes Sycamore Street Location | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Lovebird, a chicken restaurant with a location in Doylestown, is planning a Sycamore Street store, township records indicate.

 

The restaurant will appear on the agenda for Wednesday's Newtown Township Board of Supervisors meeting. Lovebird is seeking approval for a sign and ductwork for a location at 247 N. Sycamore Street.

 

The restaurant, created by the founder of Jules Thin Crust, currently has two locations. In addition to the Doylestown store, Lovebird operates a restaurant in Bryn Mawr.

 

The menu at its existing locations includes fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, salads and bowls. There are also sides, including hand-cut fries, mac and cheese, slaw and more.

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Guest Opinion Re Prickett Run: "Do not bend over to accommodate zoning changes, overlay districts and special exceptions to allow developers to destroy the character of our community."

In Lower Makefield, despite hundreds of residents taking the time to come to meetings to express opposition to big box and apartment development plans — so many they had to move it to a larger venue — some keep pushing the “Prickett Run” project forward. Why? Consider these ... points:

 

  • The planning commission made a recommendation to approve the zoning change without any economic impact studies, traffic studies, review of sewer impacts or input from the schools on class size and budget consequences...More

 

  • The planning commission recently said they could not make a recommendation on a warehouse proposal because they did not have a traffic study, but they did recommend a new overlay district rezoning a host of properties — without any traffic study. What makes this different?

 

  • What will prevent all of the properties along Stony Hill from getting this new zoning creating another Route 1 with Walmart, Target, Costco, traffic and new apartments as far as the eye can see? More

 

  • The supervisors have ignored impacts on local businesses but it’s a real factor. More

 

  • Could they support it for tax revenue? Where is the economic study that quantifies costs and impacts on our families? More

 

There is no doubt that this land will be redeveloped but we do not have to bend over backwards to accommodate zoning changes, overlay districts and special exceptions to allow developers to destroy the character of our community.

 

 

- Dobby Dobson, a resident of Lower Makefield.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Further Reading:

  • “Lower Makefield Supervisors to Hear Proposal for Mixed Use Retail/Residential Village Anchored by Wegmans on Stony Hill Road Across from Shady Brook Farm”; http://sco.lt/76Y2PQ
  • “LMT Planners To Review Wegmans Proposal”; http://sco.lt/4gvAH2
  • “Lower Makefield Residents Jam Hearing to Protest Proposed Ordinance Amendment to Allow Wegmans & Apartments on Stony Hill Road Near Shady Brook Farms”; http://sco.lt/7p3iBE
  • “Date Set for Another Hearing on Wegmans in Lower Makefield. Will the 2nd Time Be the Charm?”; http://sco.lt/85dr2u
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Bucks County Courier Times Publishes 2019 Voters Guide: Compare Views of Candidates 

Bucks County Courier Times Publishes 2019 Voters Guide: Compare Views of Candidates  | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

[The image above is from the BCCT Voters Guide where you can learn about local candidates including Newtown Twp Supervisor. Unfortunately, not all candidates think it is worthwhile to answer questions posed by the BCCT in its voters guide. Currently, the guide includes only information about Fisher & Mack and their views on the issues.]

 

Is a Wawa coming to town? Is a new housing development slated to rise in your backyard? Just how much money does your school district set aside for guidance counselors, school security and football coach salaries?

 

Such decisions are left up to locally elected officials, such as township supervisors who make and enforce laws governing your neighborhoods and school boards that oversee your school district and make spending decisions that directly influence your property taxes.

 

Next month, some new leaders will be elected to make such choices, but by whom?

 

While greater numbers of voters gravitate to the polls in presidential elections every four years, local elections, such as the one approaching Nov. 5, typically draw a fraction of those crowds.

 

Last spring’s municipal primary election attracted just under 15% of registered voters to the polls, as opposed to the 44% turnout for the 2016 presidential primary. Twenty-seven percent of voters turned out for the last time the county commissioners topped the ballot in November 2015, compared to 2016′s presidential election, which drew 76% of voters to the polls.

 

“Because we are so fixated on national politics, we are missing out on decisions affecting our everyday lives,” said University of Pennsylvania political scientist Daniel Hopkins, author of “The Increasingly United States.” “Forty-nine cents of every tax dollar is spent by states and localities, but we are nationally focused and that is so worrisome. The number of people turning out to vote when local offices are on the ballot have by and large been declining.

 

“Voters aren’t paying attention to the level of government where concrete decisions about their lives are actually made — the drawing of school district boundaries, negotiations of teacher contracts, decisions on sanitation or energy use or where intersections go and zoning issues,” Hopkins said. “Those are decisions made locally.”

 

On the ballot Nov. 5 are judges, school directors, township supervisors, row offices like clerk of courts, register of deeds and the county’s coroner, and all three seats on the Bucks and Montgomery County boards of commissioners, the governing entities that run the counties, making choices on everything from how money is spent on county bridges, mental health programs, addiction support, emergency services and more.

 

“One advantage of having people voting in local elections is that they are more likely to know people on the ballots,” said Hopkins. But close proximity to candidates doesn’t lead to a greater understanding. For many who show up to vote, he said, “people are not just voting for candidates they don’t know but they are also voting for positions they don’t understand. From a democratic standpoint that is not a good thing.”

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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.
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