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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 | Newtown Area News | 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.

johnmacknewtowns 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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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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Summary of July 8, 2020, Newtown Board of... - Newtown, PA - Topics include: 2020 Road Repair Program, Police Report, Old Navy and Chick-fil-A, Debate About Wawa

Summary of July 8, 2020, Newtown Board of... - Newtown, PA - Topics include: 2020 Road Repair Program, Police Report, Old Navy and Chick-fil-A, Debate About Wawa | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Figure: 2020 Road Repair showing "base bid" roads. Not shown are "alternate bid" roads that include all of Fountain Farm Lane, Newtown Gate Drive, and a portion of Upper Silver Lake Road. [Read "2020 Road Program Falls Victim to COVID-19"]

 

The following is a brief summary of the July 8, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting via Zoom based upon the official minutes of that meeting.

 

Reports of Officials

Engineer's Report: 2020 Liquid Fuels Road Program Re-Bid – Bid Award. Ms. Colubriale reported three bids were received on June 18 and after discussion with Township staff it was decided to complete the work included under the base bid and alternate bids 7, 8, and 9. The total is roughly 2.8 township miles and the low bidder for the combination of Base Bid and Alternates, is James D. Morrissey, Inc.

 

Base Bid

Portions of U. Silver Lake Rd., Penn St., portions of Newtown Yardley Rd., and Swamp Rd.

 

Alternate Bids

Alternate Bid No. 7 – Silver Lake Road

Alternate Bid No. 8 – Newtown Gate Drive

Alternate Bid No. 9 – Fountain Farm Lane

 

TOTAL COST: $621,046.75

 

Mr. Mack added that Commonwealth Drive is not on the list but asked if it was a candidate to be patched with the new milling machine. Mr. Lewis said he is aware of the situation but has no available work force at this time due to having no summer hires and he will have addressed as soon as he is able. Mr. Davis also encouraged caring for this roadway as he has seen it and confirms it is bad. Mr. Lewis said it will be on the list for next year’s road program and will be patched in the interim.

 

More…

 

Public Safety

Police Report: Chief Hearn reported there were 1,541 calls for service during June including 14 arrests, 8 DUI’s, 45 traffic accidents and 123 traffic citations. The Chief reported two major deployments of resources, one on June 4 to the Garden of Reflection for a vigil and on June 6 for a protest at Washington and Sycamore and both events were peaceful and held without incident.

 

More…

 

Reports of Committees, Boards and Commissions

Planning Commission (PC): Newtown Bucks Associates for the Newtown Shopping Center on West Road Mr. Fidler reported the Planning Commission met via Zoom on July 7 and reviewed an amended application for Newtown Bucks Associates for the Newtown Shopping Center on West Road where the applicant is seeking variances to construct a 12,500 square foot building for Old Navy and proposed additions to the existing Chick-fil-A to improve efficiency and traffic circulation. Mr. Mack said he sees the need for Chick-fil-A improvements but has concern over the Old Navy in Newtown.

 

More…

 

Board Member Reports

Calabro on Save Outdoor Dining: Mr. Calabro said as businesses begin to expand their services, they must understand the safety regulations they have to adhere to. He added there are rules and regulations that go with protecting the public and said it is important to protect outside diners with barriers.

 

Mack Opens Up Discussion on E-30 Ordinance: Mr. Mack reported at the Joint Zoning Council meeting the E-30 amendment for the combination convenience store/gas station was finalized. Mr. Sander argued that the draft be first approved by Provco – the Wawa developer that is suing Newtown Township. Mr. Calabro said the BOS is trying to pass this for the betterment of the Township and added we have shown good faith in this ordinance and need to show backbone against Provco. Mr. Mack agreed with Mr. Calabro and said we are getting closer to what Provco originally proposed. The Board’s consensus was bypass the Provco reviews and to send the draft directly to the Bucks County Planning Commission for review.

 

Fisher on Econsult Surveys: Mr. Fisher reminded all that Econsult has sent out surveys to the Business Commons and the NBA and he encourages all to take the survey; there is also citizens survey on the Township website.

 

More…

 

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#COVID-19 Delays - in Some Cases, Cancels - National Night Out Community Policing Events

#COVID-19 Delays - in Some Cases, Cancels - National Night Out Community Policing Events | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Bucks police departments are making changes to their annual National Night Out events amid the coronavirus outbreak.

National Night Out, which is typically held in early August, are gatherings that local police hold with their community members.

Those events range from large block parties to individual, smaller gatherings throughout their respective municipalities. The goal, according to the event website, is to build relationships between police and their communities.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s National Night Out was scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4. In Pennsylvania, 335 cities were expected to hold their events, according to the event website.

The national effort organizers recommended police departments throughout the country host their National Night Out events on Oct. 6, which some Bucks departments are currently scheduling.

Middletown and Richland police departments are tentatively scheduled to hold theirs in October, according to officials in both departments.

Middletown’s event is scheduled to be held at the township municipal building from 6 to 8 p.m.

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, July 27, 7:48 AM

Newtown Police Chief Hearn has said (here): "Any homeowner’s associations, business groups, religious institutions, or local community groups that would like for the Newtown Township Police department to send a representative to their meetings and /or events to provide safety tips, updates, or just to meet your local officers, are encouraged to reach out to us with the proposed dates, time and location of their events (*After Covid19).    Collaboration is a powerful tool in community policing!"

 

I suggest that instead of "After Covid19", that the Chief follow the lead of out municipalities such as Middletown and tentatively set Oct 6, 2020, as a date for reaching out to the community. Instead of meeting at the Town Hall, I would suggest that representatives from the department go out to several smaller meetings on that night - the Chief cannot be everywhere one may be scheduled, but can make an appearance at one or two. Whatever it takes for a more diverse audience to get to know our police officers.

 

Related Content:

  • “@Newtown_Police Chief John Hearn Thanks Residents for Attending Town Hall Meeting”; http://sco.lt/5RsWSe
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Newtown Supervisors May Open Up Zoom Meetings to Residents

Newtown Supervisors May Open Up Zoom Meetings to Residents | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

 

Wrightstown Township does it, Warrington does it, even tiny Newtown Borough does it, practically every township and borough surrounding Newtown Township does it – they all host Zoom Supervisor/Council meetings that are open to anyone in the public who wishes to attend.

 

Since April 22, 2020, when Newtown Township first started using Zoom for its public Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, the township has been reluctant to follow suit for fear of being “zoom bombed,” which happened once when an open meeting was tried without following proper security features recommended by Zoom. Instead, the township adopted a policy whereby residents can submit comments via email and the comments will be read during the meeting.

 

More...

 

Newtown Supervisors Finally Agree It’s Time to Open Up Zoom Meetings to Residents

 

Newtown Seeks an Outside Zoom Consultant

 

At the August 5, 2020, Newtown BOS meeting, the Board of Supervisors gave Mr. Lewis the authority to seek quotes from outside consultants/individuals with Zoom experience to help the township provide secure Zoom hosting services. If you are interested, please contact Micah Lewis who will describe exactly what the township is looking for. His contact information is:

 

Micah Lewis, R.L.A.

Township Manager

215-968-2800

micahl@newtownpa.gov

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related content:

 

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, August 6, 12:25 PM

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Newtown Township Supervisors Vote Not to Oppose Zoning Relief for Chick-Fil-A & New Old Navy Store in Newtown Shopping Center, But...

Newtown Township Supervisors Vote Not to Oppose Zoning Relief for Chick-Fil-A & New Old Navy Store in Newtown Shopping Center, But... | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The Newtown Township Planning Commission reached a consensus on July 7 to support an amended zoning relief application for a number of new improvements being proposed at the Newtown Shopping Center on West Road. The center is anchored by ACME …

 

In its amended application, Newtown/Bucks Associates LP is seeking variances to construct a 400 square foot addition to the kitchen of the popular Chick-Fil-A fast food eatery and for a number of roadway improvements to eliminate congestion in and around the restaurant.

 

During busy days, especially holidays, the drive-thru lanes at the eatery back up onto West Road and sometimes as far as Durham Road creating traffic congestion in and around the shopping center.

 

The shopping center owner is also seeking variances from the township’s zoning hearing board for the construction of a new 12,500 square foot retail building to house an Old Navy retail store along with 80 new parking spaces.

 

The proposed new free standing Old Navy store would be built next to the Bed, Bath & Beyond store adjacent to the Acme shopping center and backing up to the Council Rock North property.

 

The township’s zoning Hearing Board is scheduled to hear the amended application at its August 6 meeting. [For more information about that hearing and how to participate, see John Mack’s Event Calendar: https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/eventcal.html]

 

BUT...

 

At its July 8 meeting, the board of supervisors followed the planning commission’s recommendation and voted not to oppose the application, although supervisor John Mack expressed frustration that the proposed Old Navy store and Chick-Fil-A improvements are part of the same application.

 

Mack, while supportive of the traffic improvements at the fast food eatery, expressed skepticism as to whether Old Navy would be a good fit for the shopping center and for Newtown.

 

“I think the Chick-Fil-A improvements are really needed, although I’m not quite sure it will work as planned,” said Mack. “But the Old Navy, as far as I’m concerned, is probably something that may not fit in Newtown, but I guess that’s up to the landlord.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

I did not like the idea that both these uses were bundled into one for approval. So how can I vote to oppose one without also opposing the other? It's just another example, as far as I am concerned for how developers manipulate the system.

 

You might like to see why 69% of the people I surveyed do not want an Old Navy in Newtown: https://patch.com/pennsylvania/newtown-pa/survey-says-newtown-area-residents-oppose-old-navy-box-store

 

Give me your opinion. Take my survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9KWDX87 

 

Related Content:

  • “Planning Commission Supports Improvements to Access to Chick-fil-A and Addition of Old Navy to Newtown Shopping Center”; http://sco.lt/9LQJSi
  • Listen to the presentation by representatives of the shopping Center and Chick-fil-A at the January 21, 2020, Planning Commission meeting: http://bit.ly/2uxjN2B

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A 7th Bensalem Wawa Proposed for Neshaminy Mall Meets Opposition from Officials

A 7th Bensalem Wawa Proposed for Neshaminy Mall Meets Opposition from Officials | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Developers are proposing a modern Wawa with six gas pumps for the Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem. It would be a standalone building located near the Uno Pizzeria and Grill and the On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina.

 

So far, the idea isn’t getting a grand reception from Bensalem officials, according to Brian Dries, a spokesman for the Verrichia Company, the developer that would build the Wawa.

 

“Bensalem officials do not seem willing to bring the discussion to a public hearing, even with the mall supporters indicating it is a necessary component for the complex,” he wrote in an email.

 

Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo said some variances needed for the project were previously denied by the township zoning hearing board and that council members have some concerns about the additional traffic the store might bring to the area.

 

“I know the people at the mall think a Wawa would be a big asset and that’s it’s needed because the mall is in so much trouble,” he said. “I’m not so sure it would be an asset, but that’s not for me to judge. I’m not for or against.”

 

DiGirolamo that if legal issues between the two sides can be worked out between attorneys, he and other Bensalem officials are always willing to listen to new ideas on the project.

 

“I don’t know if it’s the right thing for that location,” township Councilman Joseph Pilieri added. “They’re proposing a big sign that would draw people in off Route 1 and bring more traffic, and that’s a big traffic safety hazard in my view. Bensalem has so much traffic as it is.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Meanwhile, Newtown Township is in the final steps of approving a “curative amendment” of the Jointure zoning to allow a Super Wawa to be build on the Newtown Bypass. For more on that, read “Newtown Supervisors Want to Know: Will Wawa Be Township Friendly or Fight Us in Court to Bypass the "Curative" Process?”; http://sco.lt/9BXw1Y

 

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Man Found Guilty In Attack Over George Floyd Flyers: Another “Slap on the Wrist?”

Man Found Guilty In Attack Over George Floyd Flyers: Another “Slap on the Wrist?” | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

A Newtown Twp man ​has been found guilty of harassment and criminal mischief ​in connection with an incident that occurred outside of Starbucks.

 

A Newtown man has been found guilty of harassment and criminal mischief in connection with an incident that occurred in June outside of the Starbucks on State Street. [Read “Incident In Front Of Starbucks in Newtown Borough Under Investigation”; http://sco.lt/70nnQe]v ]

 

Vincent Lewis, 63, was charged after Newtown Borough police said he "made contact" with a woman who was putting up flyers related to the death of George Floyd. He was fined $100 per offense, District Judge Michael Petrucci confirmed.

 

[Some people on Facebook see the fines as merely another “slap on the wrist”; “He would have learned more with minority related community service,” said Cathy P.]

 

Lewis, who officials confirmed damaged the woman's phone during the encounter, was also ordered by Judge Petrucci to pay $279 to repair the device.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

  • “An Update from CRSD Superintendent Fraser Regarding the Starbucks incident!”; http://sco.lt/9EAqIq
  • “Many Blacks Feel Their Safety is Ignored”; http://sco.lt/8nF40e
  • “ADL: There were eight incidents of extremism and anti-Semitism in Bucks County in 2019. Only the tip of the iceberg, IMHO!”; http://sco.lt/5UpBqq
  • “Film ‘Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. is the Answer’”: http://sco.lt/8C7RFA
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Newtown Supervisors Want to Know: Will Wawa Be Township Friendly or Fight Us in Court to Bypass the "Curative" Process? 

Newtown Supervisors Want to Know: Will Wawa Be Township Friendly or Fight Us in Court to Bypass the "Curative" Process?  | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

[The flowchart above summarizes the steps in the "Curative Amendment" process as outlined by David Sander at a October 24, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting. We are currently at step 5. View the video here.]

 

“We’re in good faith trying to pass something here which is for the betterment of the townships. Provco comes in and says no, no, no. We’re going to change it to the way we want it. In the court of public opinion, I think Provco loses,” said Supervisor Calabro.

 

After numerous meetings and several years of work, Newtown Township, Wrightstown and Upper Makefield are close to adopting a curative amendment [read "Municipal Cure" May Not Prevent Developer From Putting a Wawa on the Bypass in Newtown Township] that would add a combination gas station and convenience store as a permitted use in the jointure.

 

The three municipalities, which make up the Newtown Area Zoning Jointure, began drafting an amendment to its Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO) after the exclusion was pointed out by Provco, which is seeking to build a Super Wawa in the township.

 

[Provco's attorney John VanLuvanee] has been pressing for an amendment to the JMZO, which would allow it to build the convenience store and fueling station at Lower Silver Lake Road and the Newtown Bypass across from Crossing Community Church.

 

The draft amendment would limit the use to the office research zone in Newtown Township and would place limitations on the square footage of any proposed convenience store, limit the number of fueling stations, impose restrictions on signage and lighting and set parameters for parking, buffering, etc.

 

What the supervisors may decide not do is forward a copy of the draft ordinance to Provco for its review and comments, which the township’s solicitor Dave Sander had strongly recommended [listen to this podcast: “E30 "Curative Amendment" Timeline Discussion at 8 July 2020 BOS Meeting”; https://bit.ly/E30vProvco].

 

He said if Provco is left out of the amendment process at this point, it could decide instead to pursue its substantive validity challenge to the ordinance. And if it wins that challenge, Sander said Provco would not be required to follow the regulations set forth in the curative amendment.

 

Board Chairman Phil Calabro, however, disagreed with submitting the draft ordinance to Provco. “We are the ones approving it and they are the ones who have to abide by it. I understand the legal situation that we’re in, but they don’t run the township, we do,” said Calabro. “And I don’t know why Provco has to have a say before we have a say.”

 

Supervisor John Mack agreed. “I was told we could develop this and not have everything in there that Provco wanted. And if they desire, they can go to the zoning board and ask for a variance.”

 

For example, Mack said if the number of fueling stations is less than what a Super Wawa would have, they could seek a variance from the zoning hearing board. “There’s opportunity for Wawa to have further input at that stage so I agree with Phil.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Meanwhile, at the February 6, 2020, Newtown Area Joint Zone Council (JZC) meeting, Jointure Solicitor Mary Eberle, of Grim, Biehn & Thatcher, told JZC members that the Commonwealth Court judges "beat up pretty bad" the lawyers representing Wawa at the Plumstead Township Board of Supervisors appeal. She advised the JCZ: "You are allowed to free your mind of the 5600 square foot minimum and the traditional Wawa layout" when drafting the E30 Ordinance to allow a combination gas station and convenience store in the Jointure. Listen to her comments here.

 

Related Content:

  • “Residents Present Their Case For and Against a Super WaWa on the Bypass”; https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/blog/?viewDetailed=201805171006
  • “Fresh from a Victory in Court Case Against Plumstead, Wawa’s Attorney Convinces the Newtown Planning Commission to Support Amending Zoning Ordinance to Allow Wawa on the Bypass”; http://sco.lt/7HUGbw
  • “What's Next for Ordinance Amendment to Allow Wawa on Newtown Bypass?... It's Complicated!”; http://sco.lt/7SM6Cn
  • “Newtown Township Planning Commission Weighs in on Plans for a Wawa on the Bypass - Consensus is Opposed”; http://sco.lt/4xjmK1
  • “Developer presents sketch plans for Super Wawa in Newtown Township; plan would require amendment to zoning ordinance”; http://sco.lt/5mjDg9

 

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Newtown Supervisor David Oxley Appointed to Bucks County Community College Authority

Newtown Supervisor David Oxley Appointed to Bucks County Community College Authority | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

At the July 15, 2020, Bucks County Board of Commissioners meeting, commissioners approved the appointment of Newtown Supervisor David Oxley to the Bucks County Community College (BCCC) Authority. 

 

The BCCC Authority has as its primary purpose acquiring, holding, improving, maintaining and operating, owning, and leasing all facilities necessary for furthering post-secondary education and training at the county community college.

 

Mr. Oxley is currently an Advisor at Fulton Financial Advisors and a Business Development Officer at Caribbean Advanced Recycling, Inc. and has served as a volunteer on the Newtown Finance Committee for more. He is currently the Board of Supervisors liaison to the Newtown Economic Development Committee.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Congrats Ox!

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Compliant vs. NonCompliant Outdoor Dining

Compliant vs. NonCompliant Outdoor Dining | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Newtown Township recently passed Resolution 2020-R-13 to allow Outdoor Sales and Dining during COVID-19 state-mandated restrictions (read "Newtown Supervisors Approve #COVID19 Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution").

 

While driving through town, I noticed two different restaurants with outdoor dining spaces located in parking spaces in front of their establishments. One - Playa Bowls, located in the Village of Newtown Shopping Center - was compliant with the resolution, and one - which I won't name - was not compliant with the resolution (see here).

 

When passing this resolution unanimously, Newtown Supervisors were mainly concerned that such outdoor seating be safe. The barriers that Playa Bowls uses ensure the safety of their patrons, whereas the non-compliant business merely uses cones and yellow tape that puts their patrons in harms way, IMHO.

 

While I am supportive of helping local businesses thrive during this period - I argued for relaxing Township zoning regulations to help local business beginning in early May (see here) - I believe "we are all in this together," which I take to mean that there must be a level playing field; i.e., every business should comply with the same rules. 

 

See here for simple rules for complying with Resolution 2020-R-13.

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Who Are The 130 Newtown Employers Who Got Paycheck Protection Program Loans from the Small Business Administration?

Who Are The 130 Newtown Employers Who Got Paycheck Protection Program Loans from the Small Business Administration? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury released details of the country's massive Paycheck Protection Program that helped businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

A total of $20.7 billion in loans from the program were distributed in Pennsylvania, protecting 1.8 million jobs, the SBA said in its most recent report on the program. The loans will be forgiven if businesses keep employees on the payroll.

 

In Newtown, 130 companies and organizations received loans for more than $150,000, including two that received between $5 and $10 million — the highest amount.

 

Find a breakdown of the loans received by Newtown Area employers here.

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Are You Willing to Pay Higher Taxes?

Are You Willing to Pay Higher Taxes? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The elephant in the official Newtown Township Citizen Survey, which closed on July 9, 2020, is Question 15: "Would you be willing to pay higher Township taxes for increased services?"

 

In light of the projected COVID-19 caused loss of Earned Income Tax (EIT), which accounts for more than 60% of general funds revenue, the wording of Question 15 might better be "Would you be willing to pay higher Township taxes to prevent cutbacks in current services?"

 

It should be noted that Newtown Township has one of the lowest property taxes in the area. The Township's 4.5 mill tax amounts to $196.20 yearly town tax on a home with a market value of $400,000 and an assessed value of $43,600 (the approximate average home market/assessed value in Newtown Township in 2018). None of the tax money collected is deposited in the General Fund, which pays salaries of the Police, Public Works, EMS and other township departments as well as other expenses such as legal fees, etc.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

How to Fix Newtown's Budget Deficit: Cut Spending, Increase Productivity, Raise Taxes or All of the Above?

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) engaged Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI Solutions) to develop a comprehensive multi-year financial management plan. This effort is partially funded by a Strategic Management Planning Program grant awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (read "Newtown Applies for DCED Grant to Assess the Township's Financial Condition"). A five-year plan, including recommendations to improve operational efficiency and promote fiscal stability in Newtown Township, will be publicly released later this year.

 

You Are Invited Attend a Public Zoom Meeting    

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

6:00 PM

 

At this meeting, the Consultant Team will welcome input from the public to inform the plan and its recommendations.

Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 873 9165 6225
Password:
 670446

Dial-in information:
Phone No: 1-929-205-6099
Password: 670446

If you cannot attend, you can submit comments via email to committeecomments@newtownpa.gov 

   

Related Content 

How Satisfied Are You With Newtown Township Services?

ESI COVID-19 Financial Impact Report

How's the Newtown Township Financial Garden Doing?

Andrew Sheaf Talks About DCED's Early Intervention Program

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Newtown Police Will Host Town Hall Meeting

Newtown Police Will Host Town Hall Meeting | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Based on response, additional meetings may be scheduled in the future.

 

Submit your comments/questions via John Mack's Newtown Police Town Hall Questionnaire in case you are unable attend for personal reasons (e.g., conflict) or if you were not able to attend due to seating limits. Include any questions or comments you wish for me to submit to the Chief. You also can submit questions/comments/concerns directly to the Chief via email to: PoliceTownHall@newtownpa.gov

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Newtown Area "Jointure" Wants Your Opinion on Planning the Future: Take the Survey

Newtown Area "Jointure" Wants Your Opinion on Planning the Future: Take the Survey | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The Newtown Area Jointure (the joint municipal zoning consortium comprising Newtown Township, Upper Makefield Township, and Wrightstown Township) would like your help in determining future planning needs for your community.

The Jointure is beginning the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan, which was last updated in 2009.

The Comprehensive Plan is the Jointure's primary land use policy document that sets goals and objectives, and a vision for future development and growth. 

The Jointure would like to hear the views of as many residents as possible, and is committed to ensuring the community plays an active role in developing the policies that will help shape the development in the Jointure for the next ten years and beyond.

Questions include:

  • Why did you choose to live in your township?
  • What are the best characteristics of your community?
  • What do you consider to be the most important problems facing your community?
  • Overall how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the residential development within your community?
  • Overall how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the commercial development within your community?

 

Take the Survey.

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Economic Development Committee Discusses Revitalization of Newtown Business Commons

Economic Development Committee Discusses Revitalization of Newtown Business Commons | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

At the July 2, 2020, Zoom meeting of the Economic Development Committee (EDC), members Karen Miller, co-president of the Newtown Business Commons Association, and Joseph Blackburn, an Associate with Wisler Pearlstine, proposed ways that the township can revitalize the Newtown Business Commons, which is zoned for light industrial and office use. This is especially important after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and businesses get up and running again but find that more workers can work at home and they no longer need as much office space.

One specific suggestion was to apply under the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA Definition) to lower real estate taxes for businesses in the Commons. Other local municipalities are using this tool to revitalize their business districts (read, for example, "Northampton Extends LERTA Tax Break Program for Businesses").

 

Listen to this 11.5 minute audio snippet for the details: https://bit.ly/ntLERTA 

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E30 "Curative Amendment" Timeline Discussion at 8 July 2020 BOS Meeting

E30 "Curative Amendment" Timeline Discussion at 8 July 2020 BOS Meeting | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

At the July 8, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Township Solicitor Dave Sander attempted to answer John Mack's request to clarify the timeline and next steps for approval of the final version of the E-30 amendment to the Newtown Area Zoning Ordinance that would allow a combination gas station/convenience store use. Mr. Sander argued that the draft amendment first be shown to Provco, which represents Wawa, for their review/approval before sending the finalized document to the Bucks County Planning Commission and then to the Boards of each of the Jointure's member townships. Recall that Provco is suing Newtown because it lacked such a use in any of its zones.

Mr. Sander argued that this "curative amendment" would have no bearing on the court case, which Provco can still proceed with. 

 

Listen to his comments and opinions of Newtown Supervisors Mack and Calabro here: https://bit.ly/E30vProvco 

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Newtown Township Approves #COVID19 Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution

Newtown Township Approves #COVID19 Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

On June 24, 2020, the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved a resolution "establishing guidelines and policy for outdoor sales of merchandise and/or outdoor dining for existing businesses in Newtown Township during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

You might say this is opening a door that many businesses have already walked through. Several restaurants, for example, have already established their own guidelines (read, for example, "Solstice Restaurant Develops Health & Safety Guidelines for Dining Based, in Part, on Reopening Survey").

 

Nearby municipalities - including Newtown Borough, Doylestown Borough, and Middletown Township - have already passed similar resolutions weeks ago. Newtown's resolution was modeled after Montgomery Township’s resolution and in accordance with CDC guidelines.

 

More details…

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related content:

 

  • “Middletown Township Moves Forward Helping Businesses Get Back to Normal After the #COVID19 Shutdown. Meanwhile, Newtown Moves Forward Too, But Much More Slowly”; http://sco.lt/8lxJtQ
  • “Newtown Borough Planning Ahead For Outdoor Dining Reopening”; http://sco.lt/6rOpkG
  • “"Operation Doylestown" Makes It Easier for Borough Businesses to Reopen During Yellow #COVID19 Phase & Beyond”; http://sco.lt/8jU9eS
  • Podcast: “Getting Newtown Businesses Open Again”; https://johnmacknewtown.info/covidvbus.html
  • “PA Restaurants Can Open Outdoor Dining Rooms June 5 - But What About Restaurants Without Outdoor Seating Areas?”; http://sco.lt/58A7Xc
  • “Restaurants Reopening for Outdoor Dining: Closing Streets and Opening Sidewalks to Create al fresco Dining Rooms”; http://sco.lt/8rUPXE
  • “Solstice Restaurant Reopening Survey: We Care What You Think”; http://sco.lt/5k2XTM
  • “As Restaurants Remain Shuttered, American Cities Fear the Future - In Some Towns, 50% May Not Reopen!”; http://sco.lt/7e1xom
  • “Safe Dining During #COVID19? Hard to Imagine, but Many Restaurants Are Trying. What About Restaurants in the Newtown Area?”; http://sco.lt/5GQeVU
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Council Rock School Board approves $246M Budget With a Maximum 3.1% Tax Increase - $144.29 Additional Annual Taxes for the Average Resident!

Council Rock School Board approves $246M Budget With a Maximum 3.1% Tax Increase - $144.29 Additional Annual Taxes for the Average Resident! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The Council Rock school board unanimously approved a $246 million final budget for 2020-21 that includes a 3.1% property tax increase.

 

All nine board members said at Thursday night’s virtual meeting they were reluctant to approve a tax increase in the current economy created largely by the coronavirus, but didn’t see any choice if the district is to remain viable.

 

The approved budget reflects numerous cuts that helped trim down a deficit that once stood at about $16 million, including the elimination of $3 million in planned materials and equipment purchases and salary concessions from teachers and administrators that will save the district $2.5 million in 2020-21.

 

Despite those cuts, the budget includes three new elementary school counselors to give the district a counselor at each of its 10 elementary schools, and a one-to-one initiative that will provide every student with an electronic device.

 

The 3.1% property tax increase is the 2.6% allowed the district under the state’s Act 1 Index, and an additional 0.5% the state granted Council Rock as an exception for special education expenses.

 

The hike equates to 3.915 mills, or $144.29 in additional annual taxes for a resident with a property assessed at the district median of $37,630. It brings total millage to 130.216, or $4,900 in annual taxes for that same resident.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related content:

  • “Council Rock Posts $256M Budget - School Tax Increase Could Be Higher Than Usual Next School Year!”; http://sco.lt/5PG4H2
  • “Newtown Township’s Real Estate Tax Revenue & Expenditures”; http://sco.lt/7ZH6eG
  • “Proposed Council Rock Budget Has 2.3 Percent Tax Hike - $110 More in Taxes for Average Newtown Homeowner”; http://sco.lt/5Dr7Oy
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Letter & Petition Urge Council Rock School District to Better Empower Students to Embrace Diversity, Not Racism

A letter and petition by Council Rock School District (CRSD) graduates Farah Contractor and Danielle Randall, was distributed via Facebook by Janai Robinson, who has been active in the Newtown area #BlackLivesMatter movement,urges the CRSD to "do better and actively prepare their students to become upstanding citizens who will fight for progressive change."

 

The letter and petition will be sent to the Council Rock School Board, the Superintendent of Schools, and various school principals. I learned about the letter through the Concerned Community of Council Rock School District Facebook Group.

 

The authors claim that CRSD falls short of its very own mission statement: “Council Rock School District, in partnership with its community, empowers all students with the knowledge, habits, and attitudes to become life-long learners and to lead and serve in a diverse global society.”

 

The letter lists several "action steps" that CRSD should follow to achieve that goal, including changes in curriculum, hiring a more diverse teaching staff, etc.

 

Find the letter, the action steps, and a link to the petition here… 

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John Mack's June 2020 Supervisor Activities: Getting Back to Normal

John Mack's June 2020 Supervisor Activities: Getting Back to Normal | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

In June 2020, as Bucks County moved into the COVID-19 "Green Phase" when some businesses re-opened, I spent 56.2 hours on official supervisor business. Although that's still below the average of 63 hours per month in January and February before COVID-19, it is well above the 33 hours for June 2019. There were more committee meetings to attend, which required more preparation time.

More details here...

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“Celebrate Our Towns” Formed to Aid New Hope-Lambertville Businesses

As local businesses begin to re-open in Lambertville, N.J., and New Hope, they will be receiving a much-needed benefit for the safety of their staff and customers.
 
Over 3,000 face masks will be delivered to local retailers and restaurants – the result of a partnership between New Hope Celebrates, the City of Lambertville, New Hope Borough, Visit Bucks County and the Delaware River Towns.
 
The idea came about during round-table discussions between Lambertville and New Hope to reduce the cost and shortage of face masks faced by small-business owners.
 
Retailers and restaurants in Lambertville and New Hope will each receive up to 30 masks to be used by their staff. The masks are both washable and reusable. Some retail businesses will also be selling masks to the public.
 
In an effort to support and encourage local businesses, “Celebrate Our Towns” has been created. Businesses can register to receive their free masks at celebrateourtowns.com.
 
If businesses need to purchase more masks for their staff or for individuals wanting to purchase masks, go to newhopecelebrates.com/shop-nhc.
 
Businesses interested in selling masks to the public can email info@newhopecelebrates.com.
 
“Celebrate Our Towns” reinforces the fierce community spirit that keeps the River Towns united and makes them proud.
johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related:

 

  • “Newtown Township Approves #COVID19 Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution”; http://sco.lt/7MyWJM
  • “Operation Doylestown Launches - Relaxes Zoning Regulations to Allow Expanded Outside Dining, Sales”; http://sco.lt/4hETq4 
  • “Newtown Borough Planning Ahead For Outdoor Dining Reopening”; http://sco.lt/6rOpkG 
  • “"Operation Doylestown" Makes It Easier for Borough Businesses to Reopen During Yellow #COVID19 Phase & Beyond”; http://sco.lt/8jU9eS 
  • Podcast: “Getting Newtown Businesses Open Again”; https://johnmacknewtown.info/covidvbus.html 
  • “PA Restaurants Can Open Outdoor Dining Rooms June 5 - But What About Restaurants Without Outdoor Seating Areas?”; http://sco.lt/58A7Xc 
  • “Restaurants Reopening for Outdoor Dining: Closing Streets and Opening Sidewalks to Create al fresco Dining Rooms”; http://sco.lt/8rUPXE 
  • “Solstice Restaurant Reopening Survey: We Care What You Think”; http://sco.lt/5k2XTM 
  • “As Restaurants Remain Shuttered, American Cities Fear the Future - In Some Towns, 50% May Not Reopen!”; http://sco.lt/7e1xom 
  • “Safe Dining During #COVID19? Hard to Imagine, but Many Restaurants Are Trying. What About Restaurants in the Newtown Area?”; http://sco.lt/5GQeVU 
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Northampton Extends LERTA Tax Break Program for Businesses: Should Newtown Twp Do Something Similar?

Northampton Extends LERTA Tax Break Program for Businesses: Should Newtown Twp Do Something Similar? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Northampton has extended by another five years a tax break program for certain non-residential properties that’s designed to encourage business and jobs growth.

 

An ordinance unanimously approved by the township supervisors at a recent virtual meeting granted the extension for properties included in Northampton’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program. The properties are in various locations and zoning districts throughout the township.

 

Properties in LERTA get a five-year exemption from additional property taxes resulting from new construction or alterations. The time period begins after an occupancy permit is granted for the new part of a commercial or business property.

 

In addition to the time extension, the ordinance approved at the meeting removes the Spring Mill Manor property from the township’s LERTA program but adds the Village Shires Shopping Center on Buck Road.

 

Areas now included in the program are the shopping center, the village overlay zoning districts in the township’s Richboro and Holland sections, and the Northampton Township Business & Technology Center on Jacksonville Road.

 

Township officials said seven businesses have taken advantage of the tax break during the past five years.

 

Northampton Manager Robert Pellegrino said the program has resulted in several new jobs at the business and technology center. It also encouraged the renovation and conversion of the previously vacant old Richboro School into a business that now employs 12 to 15 people, he added.

 

“We have a relatively small commercial tax base in Northampton, only about 5% of the township,” Pellegrino said. “I think it’s important we do whatever we can to support the growth of that commercial tax base.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Should Newtown Township also implement a LERTA program for the Newtown Business Commons? Listen to this discussion at a recent Newtown Economic Development Committee meeting: https://bit.ly/ntLERTA

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Newtown Iron Hill Brewery Grand Opening Today (Wednesday June 17, 2020) at 11:15 AM

Newtown Iron Hill Brewery Grand Opening Today (Wednesday June 17, 2020) at 11:15 AM | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

[John Mack (r.) with fellow supervisor Kyle Davis (l.) enjoying a craft beer at the grand opening of the Newtown Iron Hill Brewery.]

 

The new restaurant at the Village at Newtown Shopping Center will have take out, delivery and outdoor dining.

It’s not exactly an ideal time for a new restaurant to make its debut, but officials with the Iron Hill Brewery chain are still looking forward to the opening Wednesday of their Newtown Township location for take out, delivery and outdoor dining.

Open for lunch and dinner, the scratch brewery and craft restaurant at the Village at Newtown Shopping Center at 2920 S. Eagle Road will feature a wide variety of craft beers and many other beverage and food selections.

It’s one of several new restaurants, including Solstice and Chipotle, included in an ambitious expansion of the shopping center.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

I will be at the ribbon cutting grand opening of Iron Hill Brewery this morning at 11:15 AM.

 

Related:

  • Hard Seltzer Now Available at Iron Hill Breweries, Including One Coming to Newtown Township; http://sco.lt/6GMywK 
  • Co-Founder & Brixmor Property Group “Thrilled” That Iron Hill Brewery is Opening in Newtown Township in 2020; http://sco.lt/7KdIHI 
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​How Satisfied Are You With Newtown Township Services?

​How Satisfied Are You With Newtown Township Services? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) engaged Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI Solutions) to develop a comprehensive multi-year financial management plan. This effort is partially funded by a Strategic Management Planning Program grant awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (read "Newtown Applies for DCED Grant to Assess the Township's Financial Condition"). A five-year plan, including recommendations to improve operational efficiency and promote fiscal stability in Newtown Township, will be publicly released later this year.

 

As part of this process, Newtown is asking the community to help by completing the Newtown Township Citizen Survey. Specifically, the Township would like to know how you feel about the current state of municipal services.

 

More…

 

TAKE THE SURVEY NOW

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

 

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Operation Doylestown Launches - Relaxes Zoning Regulations to Allow Expanded Outside Dining, Sales

Operation Doylestown Launches - Relaxes Zoning Regulations to Allow Expanded Outside Dining, Sales | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Doylestown Borough officials and merchants have banded together, launching Operation Doylestown, an initiative to relax zoning regulations and increase support for local businesses as they open their doors, while abiding by health department guidelines.

 

Standing in an alleyway by Villa Capri, Doylestown Borough Manager John Davis pointed to about 10 rectangular shapes marked with red tape on the pavement, where tables can now be set up to create safe boundaries for diners of the Italian eatery. In front, where cars once parked, staff wiped down barrel-style cafe tables adorned with flowers and covered with umbrellas.

 

“When life gives you lemons, make limoncello,” said Matt Mannino, owner of Villa Capri, setting up the outside cafe one recent day. “It feels very European.”

 

Davis said Villa Capri’s new setting is an example of how business owners and borough officials are banding together, tapping into creativity and flexibility, to help merchants stay afloat.

 

Together, they launched Operation Doylestown, an initiative to relax zoning regulations and increase support for local businesses as they open their doors, while abiding by health department guidelines. Alleyways, parking spaces and sidewalks throughout the borough have been converted for outside dining and retail sales.

 

While creating a socially distanced experience, new outside marketplaces are sprouting up in pockets of the borough during scheduled evenings and weekends. Street closures are also being planned to allow for social distancing and safe shopping on designated days. Parking fees and open-container laws have been relaxed temporarily.

 

“As long as a State of Emergency order is in place, we have the ability to permit some of these things to happen,” said Davis, who is working with businesses to create space that meets COVID guidelines and is safe.

 

Davis said the borough will continue to brainstorm ways to continue giving support. “It will be through our own ways and from the ground up. … we’ll go door to door and find out what people need to stay above water and get through this.”

 

“We have to be nimble and flexible; it’s a new world out there.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Meanwhile, in Newtown Township, more talk and no action

 

At the June 15, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Work Session via Zoom, a draft of an Outdoor Sales & Dining Resolution was discussed. It's goal was to establish guidelines and policy for outdoor sales of merchandise and/or outdoor dining for existing businesses in Newtown Township during the COVID-19 pandemic. This resolution as based on one passed by another PA township. A major point of the discussion concerned how far must outdoor dining table be from passersby on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, no vote was taken as the resolution needed a minor edit.

 

While some Newtown Supervisors favored using parking spaces for outside sales, that idea did not move forward. Listen to the discussion here: https://bit.ly/NToutdoorRes

 

Related:

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Developer Brings Lower Southamption to Court to Fight the Township’s Rejection of Its Plan to Build a Super Wawa

Developer Brings Lower Southamption to Court to Fight the Township’s Rejection of Its Plan to Build a Super Wawa | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

A developer is fighting a Lower Southampton zoning hearing board rejection that would have cleared the way for a controversial super Wawa off Brownsville Road near east Bristol Road.

 

The Lower Southampton supervisors confirmed the appeal filed by Provco Pineville Acquisitions LLC during their meeting Wednesday (June 10, 2020), where they voted unanimously to defend the board's decision, which was made earlier this year.

 

The board voted 5-0 to hire conflict attorney Nate Fox of the Obermayer law firm in Doylestown at a rate of $325 an hour for the appeal, which was filed in Bucks County Common Pleas Court in March. A separate petition including Neshaminy School District was filed in April.

 

The zoning hearing board unanimously turned down Provco Pineville's variance requests for the superstore in February, following five meetings on the proposal that started in October.

 

The proposed store would include 16-gas pumps on the 5-acre property.

 

Nearby residents heavily opposed the project expressing concern about increases in traffic to an already-congested intersection as well as safety concerns for children in the neighborhood and those attending the nearby Tawanka Elementary School.

 

Provco Pineville had sought approval for a series of zoning variances including a special exception to allow a motor vehicle fueling station in a C-2 commercial zone.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

At the June 15, 2020, Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, the Board reviewed the details of latest draft of the E30 "Curative Amendment" to the Newtown Area Zoning ordinance. This amendment creates a new use for a combination gas station/convenience store (i.e., Wawa) in each township of the "Jointure" of Newtown, Wrightstown and Upper Makefield. Supervisor Mack asked how this amendment differed from the original "sketch plan" submitted to the BOS by Provco Pineville Acquisitions LLC, which is the Wawa developer.

 

Listen to the discussion: https://bit.ly/NTBOSwawa

 

Here are some related stories as background:

  • “Lower Southampton - Another Township Considering Zoning Variances to Allow a Super Wawa Gas Station/Convenience Store”; http://sco.lt/5H0khE
  • “Zoning Hearing Board Proposal for Lower Southampton Super Wawa Reconvenes on January 14”; http://sco.lt/5JFBxI
  • “Here's Where the Wawa on the Newtown Bypass Proposal Now Stands”; http://sco.lt/5KC9se
  • "Municipal Cure" Cannot Prevent Developer From Putting a Wawa on the Bypass in Newtown Township; http://sco.lt/837RkO
  • “If Wawa Comes to Newtown, Will It Be Able to Sell Beer & Wine Like the One in Middletown?”; http://sco.lt/6FfX96
  • “Upper Gwynedd Township Versus Wawa: A Lesson for Newtown Township?”; http://sco.lt/7pEIYy
  • “Developer Wants Plumstead to Change Its Zoning to Allow More Gas Pumps to Fit the Business Plan of a Super Wawa - A Lesson for Newtown”; http://sco.lt/5eYsXA
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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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Anti Discrimination
This board is dedicated to promoting the value of diversity and addressing discrimination based on age, race, color, gender, religion, creed, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin and disability. These Scoops are excerpts from articles published in local newspapers and other sources. 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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