News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents
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2020 Newtown Township Budget Approved: New Police Office, More Roads Repaired, No Tax Increase, Savvy Citizen Notification App Discussed

2020 Newtown Township Budget Approved: New Police Office, More Roads Repaired, No Tax Increase, Savvy Citizen Notification App Discussed | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

[Chart shows the expense categories as per the final 2020 budget.]

 

The $13.1 million budget, which allocates about $80,000 in salary and benefits for the new officer and also money for three new police vehicles, was unanimously approved by the township supervisors at a recent meeting.

 

Most of the discussion before the budget was approved was around a suggestion by supervisor John Mack that the township spend some additional money in 2020 for a Savvy Citizen alert system.

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

Mack said he had talked company officials into lowering the annual cost of the system from $3,600 to $2,841 and into allowing the township to seek sponsors who would pay for it rather than having it come out of township funds.

“It would be very useful for pushing out notifications not only in our township but neighboring municipalities,” Mack said.

The other supervisors agreed to give Mack more time to find sponsors and said they would reconsider approving the system early next year.

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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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Council Rock Posts $256M Budget - School Tax Increase Could Be Higher Than Usual Next School Year!

Council Rock Posts $256M Budget - School Tax Increase Could Be Higher Than Usual Next School Year! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The Council Rock School District will apply for exceptions that, if granted by the state, will allow the school board to hike property taxes more than the district’s state Act 1 Index of 2.6% for next school year.

 

However, district Business Administration Director Bill Stone emphasized the move doesn’t necessarily mean any tax increase will be more than the index, but it gives the school board that option if a majority feel it’s necessary.

 

For this school year, the district applied for and received exceptions to go above the Act 1 Index of 2.3% but ended up raising taxes only 2.18%, Stone said. Exceptions are allowed for pension and special education expenses.

 

To give residents an early glimpse at how school taxes might affect their household budgets, state law requires districts by sometime in January to either post preliminary budgets or pass resolutions pledging to not hike taxes more than their Act 1 Indexes.

 

Council Rock chose the preliminary budget, which is posted on the district website, crsd.org.

 

It lists estimated total revenue for 2020-21 at $246.7 million and total estimated expenses at $256.3 million. However, Stone said truly accurate and reliable figures in those categories and other budget details for next school year won’t emerge for several more weeks and be refined until the board is scheduled to vote on a final budget in May.

 

Total property tax millage in Council Rock is 126.301, or $5,052 in annual taxes for a landowner with a property assessed at the school district average of $40,000. Many residents also pay a 1% earned income tax that is split with the district’s five municipalities of Newtown Borough, Newtown Township, Northampton, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Related Stories:

  • “Council Rock School District Residents Likely to See Property Tax Hike for the 2019-2020 School Year”; http://sco.lt/5lidmr
  • “School Property Taxes in Aren't going Anywhere But Up”; http://sco.lt/5JhQ7F
  • “Council Rock Raising Taxes Again! Average Homeowner Will Pay $112 per Year MORE for Total of $4,796”; http://sco.lt/8e8W6z
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Hard Seltzer Now Available at Iron Hill Breweries, Including One Coming to Newtown Township

Hard Seltzer Now Available at Iron Hill Breweries, Including One Coming to Newtown Township | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant chain, including one in Huntington Valley, Montgomery County and one coming to Newtown Township in the spring, has included Rivet Hard Seltzer among its drink offerings.

The drink, which is low calorie and 5% alcohol by volume, is available in passion fruit orange guava, blueberry acai and black cherry. It’s $5 for a 16-ounce pour.

“We’re very excited to bind together our extensive brewing industry knowledge with one of the most popular trends to come from the beverage industry in some time,” Iron Hill Brewery Operations Director Mark Edelson said.

According to an article in daily.sevenfifty.com, an online publication for the beverage industry, sales of all hard seltzer brands exceeded $585 million in the year from April 2018 to April 2019, a 185% increase from the year before.

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Zoning Hearing Board Proposal for Lower Southampton Super Wawa Reconvenes on January 14

Zoning Hearing Board Proposal for Lower Southampton Super Wawa Reconvenes on January 14 | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

VOICES NEEDED attendance encouraged to STOP Lower South Wawa Now n 24% increased traffic next to Sunoco @Bristol/Brownsville for THE HEALTH SAFETY and WELFARE of yOUR COMMUNITY and yOUR children whose school buses are heavily travelled on these roads from Neshaminy Bensalem and as far as Council Rock. Petitions can be found at our community supported local AWESOME small businesses: Trevose pizza/ Erwin's Country kitchen/ Johnny Gs Famous Pizza/ Pepe's/ Do or Dye Hair Salon/ 7-11/ Nina's Pizza/ Village Pantry/ Pat's Polish Deli/ Kopper Kettle takeout/ Wiggleworms. It is NOT over. Thank you.

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Are Tiny Houses Allowed in the Newtown Area?

Are Tiny Houses Allowed in the Newtown Area? | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A Newtown resident contacted me because she was interested in knowing if there were any restrictions on the types of property in Newtown that a tiny house can be placed or built on. She also wanted to know if it was allowable to place a tiny house on another person’s private property with that person’s permission.

It just so happened that I was planning to attend the monthly meeting of the Joint Zoning Council (JZC) that night, so I decided to email members and experts associated with the Council to see if they had the answers. 

After some back and forth via email, the topic of tiny houses was added to the January 9, 2020, JZC agenda. The following recording is an excerpt from the discussion. Participating in the discussion were Chester Pogonwski (Wrightstown Supervisor), Chair, Tom Cino (Upper Makefiled Supervisor), Vice Chair, Phil Calabro (Newtown Supervisor), Lisa M. Wolff, Bucks County Planning Commission, myself and others.

 

Listen to the discussion here.

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My Year (2019) as Newtown Supervisor

My Year (2019) as Newtown Supervisor | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

In 2019 I spent, on average, 39.4 hours per month on official Supervisor business. I spent a total of 56 hours attending required meetings and 63 hours in optional meetings for a total of 119 hours for the year.

 

More details here...

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Planning Commission Review of 41-Unit Toll Brothers Development Pushed To Feb. 4; BOS Hearing Will Resume on Feb. 12

Planning Commission Review of 41-Unit Toll Brothers Development Pushed To Feb. 4; BOS Hearing Will Resume on Feb. 12 | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Toll Brothers' proposal for a 41-unit residential development at Rt. 413 and Twining Bridge Road will not be in front of the Newtown Township Planning Commission Tuesday as previously scheduled.

Toll Brothers has requested its application for a residential development on a 152-acre parcel be removed from the agenda. The application will likely be heard at the Feb. 4 Planning Commission meeting, Township Manager Micah Lewis said.

The application will also be in front of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors for a conditional use hearing. That hearing, which has been opened and continued by the supervisors, is currently scheduled to resume on Feb. 12.

The application seeks permission to construct a 41-unit residential development at the Archdiocese property. Conditional use approval is required because Toll is proposing to use a cluster option when configuring the development.

The application includes an onsite wastewater treatment facility.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Sit down with John Mack, Newtown Supervisor, have a coffee, and discuss what's on your mind on January 20, 2020 at the Corner Bakery in Newtown, 2-3 PM to discuss this hearing and other issues. More... 

 

Related Story:

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Newtown Township Board of Supervisors 2019 Accomplishments

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors 2019 Accomplishments | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

 

The following are some notable accomplishments of the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) in 2019. I am proud to have been involved in these decisions along with my fellow BOS members. I look forward to a prosperous and safe New Year!

 

  • Enhanced the Health & Safety of Residents & Employees
  • Protected & Improved Our Environment
  • Supported Sensible Development
  • Practiced Fiscal Responsibility
  • Advanced the Well-Being of Citizens

 

More details here...

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Here's Where the Wawa on the Newtown Bypass Proposal Now Stands

Here's Where the Wawa on the Newtown Bypass Proposal Now Stands | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

[This is a summary of a Newtown Patch article. My comments appear in the green "insight'" section at the end.]

 

A new Wawa is still possible in Newtown, but for the time being, additional gas station-convenience store applications can not be submitted to the township (read "Municipal Cure" Cannot Prevent Developer From Putting a Wawa on the Bypass in Newtown Township; http://sco.lt/837RkO).

 

That's due to an amendment approved by the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors earlier this month. The municipal curative amendment will ensure no further applications for gas station-convenience stores come through until the zoning ordinance can be updated to include a use for such a business.

 

Currently, the jointure that governs Newtown Township's zoning doesn't have a gas station-convenience store use, which has caused a challenge to the current application filed by Wawa for its proposal off the Newtown Bypass.

 

During a supervisors meeting on Dec. 11, Newtown Township solicitor David Sander explained that state law mandates municipalities must have zoning for the combined use in its ordinance*. The jointure, which includes Wrightstown and Upper Makefield as well as Newtown Township, does not currently have such a use. [View video clip from Board of Supervisors discussion and decision regarding this action: https://youtu.be/XXojbIoyb9Q]

 

Participating municipalities are working to amend the ordinance to include the use, Sander explained. The process will protect the township, Sander said, noting permitted locations can be established across the jointure — not only in Newtown Township.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

When I questioned the process, Mr. Sander explained the procedure and the relevance, if any, to the Wawa application and the substantive legal challenge to the joint municipal zoning ordinance filed by Provco Pineville Acquisition LLC, the Wawa developer. View his response here: https://johnmacknewtown.info/municure.html

 

*Clarification

Regarding “state law mandates municipalities must have zoning for the combined use in its ordinance”… this question is still being actively litigated in PA and at least one township is fighting a similar zoning challenge.

 

"For example, Plumstead Township BOS appealed a similar type of zoning ruling to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. (Case # 455 CD 2019)," noted resident Mike Horbal in a comment to the article. "That case is currently awaiting a decision as it was just presented to judges on 12/12/2019."

 

"The outcome of the Plumstead case may carry substantial weight as to whether this new zoning use is truly a required zone that is not provided for in the current joint municipal zoning ordinance (JMZO)," according to Horbal.

 

"The law firm is the same for both the Plumstead and Newtown developers, and is also the same law firm for the developers of the Arcadia development project in Newtown," said Horbal.

 

 

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"Municipal Cure" May Not Prevent Developer From Putting a Wawa on the Bypass in Newtown Township

"Municipal Cure" May Not Prevent Developer From Putting a Wawa on the Bypass in Newtown Township | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A developer seeking to build a Wawa with gas pumps just off the Newtown Bypass in Newtown Township (read “Developer and Attorney Present Their Case for a WaWa Superstore on the Newtown Bypass”; https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/blog/?viewDetailed=201805151057) has filed a challenge to the joint municipal zoning ordinance that governs it and two neighboring townships, claiming it is exclusionary by not providing for a convenience store/gas pumps use.

 

In a separate but somewhat related action, township supervisors recently approved a curative amendment that seeks to find a zoning area for the use within the jointure area of Newtown Township, Wrightstown and Upper Makefield (view the video here; https://johnmacknewtown.info/municure.html). The jointure is a collaborative body that sets zoning law for the three municipalities.

 

The curative amendment prevents any other developers from filing a plan for a convenience store with gas pumps in the jointure area for nine months, Newtown Township’s attorney said.

 

However, it doesn’t “protect” against the Wawa sketch plan/application because that predated the curative amendment and will have to play out along its own track, the attorney explained.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Although Supervisor Calabro suggested that this is "protecting" Newtown, Township Solicitor Dave Sander said it does not apply to Wawa's substantive legal challenge to the joint municipal zoning ordinance previously filed by Wawa. Only if that challenge does not succeed will Wawa be subject to the Municipal Cure.

 

And it appears that Wawa may be interested in building in the other townships that make up the "Jointure". The lawyer representing the developer cryptically stated “If a convenience store/gas station use is ultimately provided for in the jointure, it only needs to be allowed in any one of the three townships to be legally provided for. However, that doesn’t mean that the use will be restricted to a single township."

 

View video clip from Board of Supervisors discussion and decision regarding this action: https://youtu.be/XXojbIoyb9Q 

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Once Again, Newtown Township Holds The Line on Real Estate Tax. Bucks County? Not So Much!

Once Again, Newtown Township Holds The Line on Real Estate Tax. Bucks County? Not So Much! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

At its most recent board meeting Dec. 11, township supervisors unanimously approved a budget that adds no new taxes in 2020.

Newtown’s real estate millage rate is among the lowest in Bucks County. “There continues to be no proposed tax increase to support the general fund or any of the other supporting funds,” said Township Manager Micah Lewis at a November meeting of the supervisors.

At a work session hosted in October by the board, Lewis had voiced his concerns over what he saw as decreasing revenues in earned income taxes. 

 

[View video: “Thoughts on Newtown Township's Deficit Spending”; https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/deficitspend.html]


Shortly after the preliminary budget’s unveiling, Board Secretary John Mack proposed the addition of a subscription to Savvy Citizen, a mobile app that alerts users of township announcements.

“I like the presentation from Savvy Citizen; I think it’s a good product,” said board Vice Chair Linda Bobrin. “However, I don’t think it’s something we should consider at the moment. We have a lot expenditures coming up including for more police.”

When called for a vote at the mid-November board session, the supervisors voted 3-2 against adding a line in the budget for the mobile app.

Mack says he’s trying to get sponsors to absorb the cost of the app and that he will ask the board to reconsider Savvy Citizen in discussions set to take place early next year. Supervisors have until Feb. 15 to amend next year’s expenses.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Bucks Commissioners OK 2020 Budget with a 1 Mill Tax Increase (http://sco.lt/5XCVf). Meanwhile, Newtown Township Supervisors held the line with NO real estate tax increase for 2020. One has to wonder which provides residents with more services - the county or the township?

 

Further Reading:

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Bucks Commissioners OK 2020 Budget with a 1 Mill Tax Increase

Bucks Commissioners OK 2020 Budget with a 1 Mill Tax Increase | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Bucks County residents will have to dig a little deeper into their pockets next year come tax time.

County commissioners approved a $452.6 million budget for 2020 on Wednesday that includes a 1-mill tax increase that equates to a $36.50 hike for residents paying the average tax bill of about $880 a year to support county government operations.

The millage increase will bring in about $8 million in revenue to the county.

Along with the tax increase, the county will use nearly $7.6 million of its $33.18 million fund balance from this year to fill a near $16 million deficit.

 

Since this was an election year for commissioners, the budget can be reopened and voted on again by the new board early next year, officials said. For the first time in decades, the Democrats will control county government. They have a transition team in place looking at all aspects of operations and finances now.

 

The final budget must be adopted by Feb. 15 to allow time for tax bills to go out to county property owners by March 1.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Meanwhile, Newtown Township Supervisors held the line with NO real estate tax increase for 2020 (http://sco.lt/5ihIZM). For the average Newtown Twp homeowner a 1 Mill tax increase amounts to about $48 per year. In 2020, Bucks County taxes for Newtown Twp residents will be 5.7 times the taxes paid to the Township. One has to wonder which provides residents with more services - the county or the township?

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Open Records Requests Processed by Newtown Township in 2019

Open Records Requests Processed by Newtown Township in 2019 | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The Pennsylvania Right to Know (RTK) Law Definition, also known as the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law, is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of governmental bodies in Pennsylvania.

Thanks to Open Records Officer Micah Lewis, aka, Township Manager, I was able to analyze the open records requests processed by Newtown Township in 2019.


In 2019, Newtown Township processed 83 Open Records Requests in compliance with the State’s Sunshine Law. That compares to 92 requests in 2018.

A total of 32 requests (39%) were from businesses/unions/Nonprofits.

The nonprofit organization Open The Books, which describes itself as a transparency group devoted to posting online all the disclosed spending of every level of government across the United States, made two requests for employee salary records, which were provided by the Township.

There were 44 requests from individuals (53% of the total). There was 1 request for records from the media (i.e., Bucks County Courier Times) for "Review files for Provco Wawa (ZHB/Sketch Plan)" and 6 requests from law firms (7% of the total). 

 

****NOTE: These data do NOT include open record requests submitted to the Newtown Police Department.****

 

More here...

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Road Repairs Major Reason for 3.6 Mill Northampton Tax Increase in 2020 Budget

Road Repairs Major Reason for 3.6 Mill Northampton Tax Increase in 2020 Budget | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Northampton will use a 3.6 mill property tax increase to help ramp up road improvements, enhance its parks and fund other upgrades in 2020.

 

Supervisors recently approved the $45.2 million final budget for next year and included an additional $390,000 for the micro-surfacing road program. About 10 miles of road are scheduled to be micro-surfaced next year.

 

The township plans to use an $890,000 grant to hire five additional career firefighters, increasing the total paid firefighter staff to nine. Like many municipalities throughout the state and country, Northampton struggles with the problem of not enough people signing up to be volunteer firefighters.

 

Planned equipment purchases for 2020 totaling $1 million include four new police vehicles, computer systems and software, ballistic vests, portable radios, tasers, two trucks, mowing equipment, salt spreaders and plows.

 

“It is always a very difficult decision to raise taxes, but our roads are not where they should be, and properly funding police, emergency services and other areas are essential workings of the township,” supervisor Kimberly Rose said at the meeting where the final budget was approved.

 

“We have cut the fat, and are a lean, mean running machine.”

 

Board member Adam Selisker added that the rate of road improvements the township had been doing in previous years was inadequate.

 

“The way we were doing it, we would never catch up,” he said.

 

The 3.6 mill property tax increase amounts to $127 more in annual taxes for the owner of a property assessed at the township average of $35,480.

 

The increase pushes total millage to 18.51, or $657 in annual real estate taxes for the owner of the average assessed property. Many township residents also pay a 1% earned income tax that is split with the Council Rock School District.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

In reading this, you could almost substitute Newtown Twp for Northampton because both townships are facing similar problems in that cuts have been made to the bone and the rate of road repairs cannot make up for years of neglect. Newtown Twp has to borrow money every 3 years to stay current with road repairs going into the future. But at the current rate of repair many roads in need of repair - such as Wexley Drive in my neighborhood (Country Bend) - will not make the list for years!

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2020 Newtown Township Budget Approved: New Police Office, More Roads Repaired, No Tax Increase, Savvy Citizen Notification App Discussed

2020 Newtown Township Budget Approved: New Police Office, More Roads Repaired, No Tax Increase, Savvy Citizen Notification App Discussed | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

[Chart shows the expense categories as per the final 2020 budget.]

 

The $13.1 million budget, which allocates about $80,000 in salary and benefits for the new officer and also money for three new police vehicles, was unanimously approved by the township supervisors at a recent meeting.

 

Most of the discussion before the budget was approved was around a suggestion by supervisor John Mack that the township spend some additional money in 2020 for a Savvy Citizen alert system.

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

Mack said he had talked company officials into lowering the annual cost of the system from $3,600 to $2,841 and into allowing the township to seek sponsors who would pay for it rather than having it come out of township funds.

“It would be very useful for pushing out notifications not only in our township but neighboring municipalities,” Mack said.

The other supervisors agreed to give Mack more time to find sponsors and said they would reconsider approving the system early next year.

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Newtown Residents Dissatisfied With Toll Brothers

Newtown Residents Dissatisfied With Toll Brothers | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

 

 At the December 11, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, several residents commented that they were not adequately notified by Toll Brothers of the conditional use hearing for a proposal to construct a cluster of 41 single-family homes on a 152-acre parcel at Rt. 413 and Twining Bridge Road (read "Toll Brothers Submits New Proposal For Rt. 413 Property" https://patch.com/pennsylvania/newtown-pa/toll-brothers-submits-new-proposal-rt-413-property See the plan here). They also did not realize that the hearing would be continued at a later date in January, 2020.

 

Resident Joseph Mcatee voiced concern about the possibility that the continuance would not be advertised. "The problem with that is it almost looks like the applicant decided that instead of having the community know about the meeting, they could continue it [and] not have it advertised," said Mcatee. "It just doesn't sound like a good community service," he noted.

 

"There's a little bit of bad faith here," said Eric Pomerantz. "They [Toll Bros] never came back to us …to work out the issues" as promised regarding the first proposal.

 

See a video clip of the "hearing" with comments from residents here.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

As reported in the December 4, 2019, Newtown Twp Plan Expiration Report, the Toll Bros Twining Bridge/Durham Road application (http://sco.lt/9Jw5Q0) is "tentatively" to be discussed at the Newtown Planning Commission meeting on December 17, 2019. NOTE: The official agenda on the Twp website, however, does not include that discussion. In any case, the meeting begins at 7:30 PM and will be held in the Newtown Township Public Meeting Room, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA. Also, read "Newtown Residents Dissatisfied With Toll Brothers" (http://bit.ly/2sqcHfi).

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Newtown Township Manager Micah Lewis Gets a One-Time $5,000 Stipend In Lieu of Salary Increase

Newtown Township Manager Micah Lewis Gets a One-Time $5,000 Stipend In Lieu of Salary Increase | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Township Manager Micah Lewis will get a $5,000, one-time stipend funded from this year’s budget in lieu of a salary increase in 2020.

The township supervisors unanimously voted to approve the move at Wednesday night’s meeting. It will leave Lewis’ base annual salary at $115,000.

Board Chairman Phillip Calabro said Lewis has done a good job since taking over as manager in July 2018 and deserves the stipend after voluntarily giving up a pay raise for 2020 so that other employees could have one.

Lewis stepped up to the top administrative post after Kurt Ferguson left to be the manager in Lower Makefield. Lewis had been Newtown Township’s assistant manager since 2015.

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Savvy Citizen Mobile Notification Survey Summary 

Savvy Citizen Mobile Notification Survey Summary  | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Savvy Citizen pushes out notifications about (1) emergency/public safety/utility outage notices, (2) roadwork and traffic alerts, (3) public meetings and special event notices, and (4) municipal news (ordinances, resolutions, committee vacancies, etc.).

 

87% of all respondents say they would opt-in to a mobile notification service such as Savvy Citizen. Only 7% said "No" and 6% were not sure.

 

More, including comments from respondents, here: http://bit.ly/SavvyResults 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

At the November 13, 2019 Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting, I inquired about adding Savvy Citizen to the budget as I believe it is a useful tool that would not require much maintenance. 

According to the minutes: "Mr. Lewis said there is no staff to maintain it. Mr. Mack believes there is not much maintenance required. A discussion ensued on the Savvy Citizen app including the cost, upkeep, staffing and benefits to the community.

"Mr. Mack moved for the Board to consider revising the budget to purchase the Savvy Citizen App. Mr. Fisher seconded. The motion failed 2‐3 with Mr. Calabro, Ms. Bobrin and Mr. Davis voting nay.

[Mack's Notes prepared prior to meeting: I request that the 2020 budget include $3,600 to implement the Savvy Citizen mobile-based notification system that was reviewed by the BOS at the September 16, 2019, Work Session. That would cover the monthly payments of $249 for 12 months plus the one-time marketing and setup fee of $600."

 

NOTE: Since then, Savvy Citizen has sweetened its offer to Newtown: The estimated cost is $2,241 annually, including a one-time marketing, setup fee of $600 for a total of $2,841 (offer good until December 31, 20190. To cover the cost, Savvy Citizen offers a sponsorship program. If there is a local business that is interested in paying for Newtown’s Savvy Citizen subscription, then that business, in return, would receive a small clickable ad on notifications sent to residents. It is anticipated that a sponsor will be found. If a sponsor cannot be found within 2-3 months, the service can be terminated and the township will be charged only for the initial setup and months that the system was in use.

 

As a Supervisor, I will continue to  advocate for more effective digital and mobile media communications that will inform and engage residents and businesses regarding issues before the Board of Supervisors.

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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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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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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.

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  • “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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If Wawa Comes to Newtown, Will It Be Able to Sell Beer & Wine Like the One in Middletown?

If Wawa Comes to Newtown, Will It Be Able to Sell Beer & Wine Like the One in Middletown? | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

On the first day of Christmas, my Wawa gave to me, its own coffee beer from a local brewery.

 

A firkin was tapped, doors were politely held, and holiday cheer, fueled by free beer samples, was all around at the Wawa in Chadds Ford on Friday, during the Brew Tour kickoff and release party for Wawa’s second boozy collaboration with 2SP Brewing.

 

Hundreds of people lined up around the building to be the first to buy fourpacks of 2SP’s Winter Reserve Stout, an oatmeal stout steeped with Wawa’s Winter Reserve coffee, and bottles of the new Reserve Reserve, a bourbon barrel-finished version of the original beer.

 

The Delco-proud brewery also partnered with breweries in two of Wawa’s other markets — Florida and Virginia — to create Wawa coffee beers unique to those states. In Florida, 2SP collaborated with Coppertail Brewing in Tampa to make Snowbird Reserve Vanilla Porter, and in Virginia, it partnered with Hardywood Park Craft Brewery of Richmond to create Coffee Cake Reserve. Philadelphia-area fans who want to get their hands on Snowbird and Coffee Cake Reserve will have to take a road trip; each beer is exclusive to its market.

 

While customers in those states can easily buy their Wawa beer at Wawa, currently the only Wawa store in Pennsylvania licensed to sell beer is the one in Chadds Ford.

 

But that’s soon to change. A new Wawa slated to open Thursday at 1073 Baltimore Pike, Middletown Township, will be the second in Pennsylvania to sell wine and beer, including 2SP’s Winter Reserve (read “Middletown Loves Wawa! Approves Wawa with Gas Pumps on Lincoln Highway Less Than a Mile From Wawa on Trenton Road & Just 2 Miles from Wawa on Oxford Valley Road!”; http://sco.lt/6l7Uwa). Wawa has also obtained liquor licenses for a store in Philadelphia and one in Clifton Heights, though the location of those stores and when they’ll start selling alcohol remain unknown.

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On the agenda for the December 11, 2019, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting: Consideration of Declaration of Municipal Curative Amendment: Municipal Cure to address needs for Gasoline & Retail Sales combination.

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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.

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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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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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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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