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In an Unanimous Vote, Newtown Township Supervisors Denied Toll Brothers Conditional Use Application to Build 45 Homes in Conservation District. Residents Ecstatic!

In an Unanimous Vote, Newtown Township Supervisors Denied Toll Brothers Conditional Use Application to Build 45 Homes in Conservation District. Residents Ecstatic! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

At its first in-person meeting since March, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors on August 26 voted unanimously to deny a conditional use application submitted by Toll Brothers.

 

Toll had requested the conditional use to build a cluster of 45 high-end single family homes on 150 acres located at Route 413 (Durham Road) and Twining Bridge Road.

 

Because the parcel is zoned Conservation Management (CM), a cluster development is allowed by use, but not by right, so that’s why Toll needed the conditional-use approval instead of a zoning change.

 

At a meeting in early March, the supervisors were poised to vote on the developers’ application, but decided to table the motion after several neighboring residents again voiced their opposition to the project, mostly over traffic concerns.

 

The supervisors had intended to announce its decision at its March 25 board meeting, which was subsequently canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Under an extension agreement with Toll, the supervisors postponed its announcement until its first in-person meeting, which took place this week [August 26, 2020; see the video archive here].

 

With officials and members of the public seated six feet apart and everyone wearing masks, the supervisors heard one more round of public comment before casting its vote.

 

Board members made no public statements as to why they voted to deny the request, but their decision prompted applause from the less than 20 members of the public who were allowed inside the meeting room.

 

Under the law, Toll Brothers has 30 days to file an appeal in county court. [Read “What Will Happen If Newtown Supervisors Vote "No" on Toll Bros Conditional Use Application to Build 45 Homes in Conservation Management District Along Twining Bridge Road?”]

 

Residents are strongly opposed to the development taking access onto Twining Bridge Road, suggesting instead access be from Durham Road at a signalized intersection with North Drive.

 

Twining Bridge Road resident [JoyAnn Charlton] also voiced deep opposition to the development, speaking publicly against the plan over traffic and safety concerns and issues concerning flooding, drainage and acquifer recharge.

 

Charlton questioned the veracity of the Toll-funded traffic study, which she said “was dumped on the board of supervisors only minutes before the hearing depriving the board of any meaningful opportunity to adequately review, consider and question the submissions. The traffic study was not thoroughly considered or challenged. We’re expected to simply take Tolls’ word. Once these homes are sold Toll will be out of the picture leaving us to deal with the mess.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Quoted in Bucks County Courier Times:

 

Sander had advised board members that even though they were required to continue to take public comment on the issue, they had to base their decision solely on evidence presented and testimony given at the Feb. 26 hearing. All five supervisors voted to deny conditional use approval at the recent meeting without commenting just before or after they voted on their reasons.

 

"In general, I do not believe that the applicant demonstrated that the proposed development is consistent with the spirit, purposes and intent of the Conservation Management zoning district," Supervisor John Mack wrote in an email after the meeting.

 

On the developer's efforts to preserve agricultural soils at the site, he added "I do not believe that the applicant demonstrated that every effort has been made to provide a maximum amount of farmland preserved for agriculture.

 

"I do not believe that the applicant demonstrated that the proposed development is not a detriment to the property in the immediate vicinity."

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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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Proposed Newtown Township Tax Increase is a "Little Troubling" But No Need to Worry...Yet!

Proposed Newtown Township Tax Increase is a "Little Troubling" But No Need to Worry...Yet! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Newtown Township Manager Micah Lewis presented his “recommended” 2021 budget to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) at a public meeting on October 19, 2020.

 

Board members had surprisingly few questions to ask or comments to make. Supervisor Kyle Davis said the tax increase was “a little troubling, a little stressful. Nobody wants to see that. One the flip side there are a lot of good things in the budget that I think are necessary.” He expressed the need for more time to look it over before asking any questions.

 

"It's not a budget approval. It's not even an official budget,” said Chairman Calabro. “If anyone has seen this, they need not be worried right at this time."

 

If not now, when should you worry?

 

Residents must wait for the official “preliminary budget” to be adopted on November 10, 2020, and advertised to see the details. That version of the budget may or may not be the same as the “recommended” version presented on October 19. The “final” budget is scheduled to be adopted on December 9, 2020.

 

The proposed 2021 budget incorporates a 7.5 mill increase in municipal real estate tax revenue that will be deposited into the township’s General Fund (GF), which pays for personnel and other operating costs. In addition, the 1.0 mill RE tax previously dedicated to paying down loans for repaving 5 miles of roads also will be redirected to the GF. Thus, a total of 8.5 mills will be deposited into the GF. Note that 1.0 mill of property tax equates to about $350,000 in revenue.

 

More...

johnmacknewtowns insight:

You can listen to my 26-minute audio recording of Mr. Lewis’s presentation here: https://bit.ly/2021RecBudgetPreso 

 

Find the synopsis here: https://bit.ly/3oalgUf 

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Newtown Township Considers "Nearly Doubling" Municipal Real Estate Taxes in 2021

Newtown Township Considers "Nearly Doubling" Municipal Real Estate Taxes in 2021 | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

[Chart shows the property tax millage of local municipalities compared to Newtown were it to adopt the tax increase proposed by Township Manager Micah Lewis. Note that Wrightstown and Upper Makefield - members of the Jointure with Newtown - have significantly lower millage rates.]

 

An early 2021 budget recommended by township Manager Micah Lewis and presented to supervisors and residents at a recent meeting has a 7.5-mill [actually 7.99-mill] property tax increase, a hike that if eventually approved would almost double municipal real estate taxes in the township.

 

A 7.5-mill increase would be $281 more in annual taxes for a resident with a property assessed at the township average of $37,459. Total township real estate millage is currently 4.99 [actually 4.5], or $187 [CORRECTION: $168] for the average property owner.

 

Lewis said the tax increase is in line with recommendations made by Econsult Solutions Inc. in a five-year financial plan for the township, which stated it needs to dramatically increase revenue to keep providing good services to residents and avoid totally depleting its savings account which now stands at about $2.1 million.

 

In addition to the property tax increase, the recommended budget proposes to add an assistant township manager, three new police officers and a full-time zoning and code enforcement director, probably in the summer of 2021 when sufficient property taxes have been collected.

 

Supervisor John Mack said a 7.5-mill increase would mean $272 more in taxes on his "modest 35-year-old three-bedroom house."

 

"I think any tax increase will be a bit more palatable for residents if more of it were spent on road paving and repaving, a No. 1 concern of respondents to a citizens survey," he added. "I would also like to see the hiring of three new police officers spread out over two years as recommended by our consultant. In addition, there should be some discount (on property taxes) for senior citizens on fixed incomes."

 

The supervisors aided by Lewis and other administrators will continue working on the budget over the next few weeks. The board is scheduled to vote on a preliminary budget at its Nov. 10 meeting, and a final spending plan at the Dec. 9 meeting.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

The actual total increase in millage is 7.99 bring new total to 12.49. The current millage rate is 4.5 (not 4.99). 7.5 + 1.0 (part of the 4.5 previously dedicated to debt fund for road paving) will go to the General Fund. The other 0.49 increase goes to pay for a salary increase for the Fire Chief (while funds for the Newtown Fire Assn would drop to $160,000 from the current $175,000), fire hydrate fees, & other stuff.

 

When it comes to the revenue enhancement, raising taxes is only one way. The proposed budget, however, offers no other sources of revenue in 2021, but includes significantly increased expenditures without significantly improving services like increase road repairs and repaving. You can listen to a 26-minute audio recording of the Manager's budget synopsis here: https://bit.ly/2021RecBudgetPreso 

 

Chairman Phil Calabro said at the start of the recent meeting. "It's not a budget approval. It's not even an official budget. If anyone has seen this, they need not be worried right at this time."

 

If not now, when?

 

Join me and other concerned citizens at my next Meet Mack Monday Zoom "town hall" meeting at 7:30 PM on October 26, 2020, with concerned residents: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NGPLVLN 

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, October 22, 6:45 AM

When it comes to the revenue enhancement, raising taxes is only one way. The proposed budget, however, offers no other sources of revenue in 2021, but includes significantly increased expenditures without significantly improving services like increase road repairs and repaving. You can listen to a 26-minute audio recording of the Manager's budget synopsis here: https://bit.ly/2021RecBudgetPreso 

 

Chairman Phil Calabro said at the start of the recent meeting. "It's not a budget approval. It's not even an official budget. If anyone has seen this, they need not be worried right at this time."

 

If not now, when?

 

Join me and other concerned citizens at my next Meet Mack Monday Zoom "town hall" meeting at 7:30 PM on October 26, 2020, with concerned residents: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NGPLVLN 

 

 

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11 Newtown Businesses Receive #COVID19 Relief Funding

11 Newtown Businesses Receive #COVID19 Relief Funding | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

11 small businesses in Newtown have received federal grant funding to help weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Salons, restaurants and gyms are some of the businesses to receive the latest round of grant funding through the federal CARES Act.

 

Qualified businesses included those with 25 or fewer employees in February 2020 and an annual revenue of less than $1 million prior to COVID-19's impact, among other requirements. The grants offered through the COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance Program ranged from $5,000 to $50,000.

 

The following businesses in Newtown received funding:

 

  • Acupuncture Center for Human Performance, $20,000
  • Cafe con Leche, $25,000
  • Caren A. Stein, LLC, $5,000
  • Harlequin Beauty Co., $5,000
  • Hollywood Nails of Newtown, $20,000
  • Pat's Colonial Kitchen, $25,000
  • Philly Square, Inc., $20,000
  • Salon Privé, $35,000
  • Serenity Nails and Spa, $35,000
  • Transcend Fitness, $35,000
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New Zoning Law Clears the Way for Wawa on the Newtown Bypass - What Message Does It Send Other Developers?

New Zoning Law Clears the Way for Wawa on the Newtown Bypass - What Message Does It Send Other Developers? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Convenience stores with gas pumps dot the landscape in the far lower end of Bucks County and might now become a more common sight a little farther north in the Newtown area.
Supervisors in Newtown Township, Upper Makefield and Wrightstown recently approved an amendment to their joint municipal zoning ordinance that permits the use within certain zoning areas in all three municipalities.

The move is good news for Villanova-based developer The Provco Group, which wants to build a Wawa with 16 gas pumps just off the Newtown Bypass near Lower Silver Lake Road in Newtown Township. The amendment allows the use on land zoned Office Research in the township, and the Provco proposal is for a parcel zoned OR.

The company filed its application several months ago for the Wawa, and also a substantive challenge to the ordinance because it didn't allow for the use anywhere in the three townships. Doylestown attorney John VanLuvanee, who is representing Provco, said he hopes the zoning amendment takes care of the challenge and clears the way for construction of the Wawa.

Provco must go through the township's land development process and get approval from the supervisors for the Wawa to be built.

The ordinance amendment has dozens of requirements for convenience stores with gas pumps in the three townships, and allows them on land zoned OR in Newtown Township and parcels zoned Village Commercial or Village Commercial 2 in Upper Makefield and Wrightstown.

Supervisors in Newtown Township were the last among the three municipalities to green light the amendment when they voted 3-2 to approve it at a recent meeting. Board Chairman Phil Calabro and members Dennis Fisher and David Oxley voted yes, and John Mack and Kyle Davis voted no.

"We're giving them the best, sweetest part of the township for a gas station," Davis said.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

While this may or may not set a precedent for turning the Bypass into another Route 1, IMHO it does send the wrong message to other developers like Arcadia and Toll Bros who are also suing Newtown. The message is: "Newtown lacks the hutzpah to challenge developers in court."

 

Related Content:

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Bucks County Planners Want Your Input on New Trails Linking Newtown with the Delaware River

Bucks County Planners Want Your Input on New Trails Linking Newtown with the Delaware River | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

[Image from BCPC presentation shows Newtown-Yardley trail corridor]

 

Bucks County planners are seeking the public's help to study the viability of new outdoor trails connecting the Newtown area to the Delaware & Lehigh trail system.

 

The trails will provide a connection between the Newtown area — where the future Neshaminy Greenway Trail, Greenway Trail, Newtown Rail Trail and Newtown area trails converge — and the Delaware River, including Yardley Borough, Washington Crossing and Delaware Canal State Park.

 

The new trails would essentially bind the communities of Newtown, Washington Crossing and Yardley and may eventually serve as part of the Sept. 11 National Memorial Trail, Bucks County planner Christian Regosch said in a virtual presentation. http://bit.ly/BCPCtrailpreso

 

Planners are taking community input through Oct. 30. Click here to take the survey. http://bit.ly/BCPCtrailSvy

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Meanwhile, the Lower Dolington Road Multi-Use Trail in Newtown Twp is delayed due to #COVID19 restrictions & work will not start on it until next year.

 

Related Content:

  • “Newtown Township Gets Grants to Build Lower Dolington Road Multi-Use Trail, But...”; http://sco.lt/7pd4IS
  • “The 13.4 Mile Neshaminy Trail Feasibility Study Includes New Bridge Over Newtown Creek”; http://sco.lt/5hr5wO
  • “Guest Opinion: Newtown Rail Trail is a Win-Win for Newtown and Other Area Bike Riders”; http://sco.lt/7j5Y5Q
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The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point

The Volunteer Newtown Fire Association is at a Turning Point | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

[NFA Station 45 on Liberty Street in Newtown Borough]

 

The future of the all-volunteer Newtown Fire Association (NFA) may be determined in the next few months. This is based on plans to address continued staffing and leadership challenges. NFA president Warren Dallas read a letter outlining these challenges to members at the September 28, 2020, regular meeting of the Association.

“Due to a variety of reasons,” noted Dallas, “the Newtown Fire Association is at times unable to provide the proper minimum staffing” to respond to fire calls in Newtown Borough and Newtown Township. As is the case in PA and the rest of the country, the NFA is struggling to recruit, train and retain volunteer firefighters. These problems have worsened this year due to COVID-19.

 

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Moving Toward Progressive Community Policing

Moving Toward Progressive Community Policing | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Bucks County Local Officials and NAACP Discuss the Options

 

On September 23, 2020, the Progressive Local Officials of Bucks County, which is supported by the Bucks County Democratic Committee, hosted a Zoom webinar entitled "Policing in Our Community." The moderator was Doylestown Township Supervisor Jen Herring. Panelists included:

 

Panelists:

  • Brian Munroe - Bucks County Clerk of Courts
  • Mayor Ron Strouse - Doylestown Borough - Member of Central Bucks Regional Police Commission and Chair of the Central Bucks Regional Police Foundation (CRPF).
  • Kayma Sherman-Knuckles - Bucks County NAACP Criminal Justice and Education Committee - Reimagine Public Safety Co-Chair

 

The panel addressed the following questions among other issues:

  • What policing policies and practices should we as elected officials review for proper oversight?
  • What data should we be looking at to evaluate our departments?
  • What are some best practices we can consider adopting to help our police be more sensitive to community needs?

 

Some very interesting statistics and ideas for how local officials can improve the accountability of local police forces. More...

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, October 2, 9:15 AM

Related Content:                            

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(UNOFFICIAL) 2020 Voting Record to Date of Newtown Supervisors

(UNOFFICIAL) 2020 Voting Record to Date of Newtown Supervisors | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

I've been keeping track of how Newtown Township supervisors voted on motions before the Board. The following is the voting record for 2020 as of September 14, 2020, based on the approved minutes of meetings. I will update this page when I have more data.

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

Access the record here.

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As the U.S. Grows More Diverse, Most Police Departments Haven’t Kept Up

As the U.S. Grows More Diverse, Most Police Departments Haven’t Kept Up | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Of 467 local police departments with at least 100 officers that reported data for both 2007 and 2016, more than two-thirds became whiter relative to their communities between those years, according to a New York Times analysis of the data.

 

Nationwide, the share of white officers exceeds the share of the white population, and the gap has grown larger over time. Black and Hispanic groups remain underrepresented in the police force.

 

Researchers say it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about Black officers from the federal data. On the one hand, the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that the proportion of Black officers at local police departments across the country fell by half a percentage point, to 11.4 percent, between 2013 and 2016. But given the limitations of the data — all large departments were included but agencies with fewer than 100 officers were only sampled — researchers can’t say for sure how the numbers of Black officers have changed.

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, September 23, 6:19 AM

Regarding hiring diversity, Newtown Township Police Chief John Hearn assured the audience  at a Town Hall meeting that the Newtown Police Department is an “equal opportunity” employer. Thirty-eight (38) Police Departments throughout Bucks County use the consortium test to find qualified candidates to fill vacancies. 

 

Newtown Supervisor David Oxley asked if there was a way to get a more diverse group of applicants. Understanding that the Chief worked with many black officers while he was a Philadelphia cop, Mr. Oxley suggested that perhaps there is an opportunity for those officers to work in Newtown.

 

“Philadelphia is a whole different animal,” said the Chief. He was referring to the fact that they have a recruiting agency, which seems to be the norm for big city police forces. Unfortunately, Newtown does not have the staff and money to do the kind of recruiting that big cities do. The Chief mentioned that Newtown police jobs are listed on various social media sites and if there is no interest, he does not see a need to go out and try to pull in people who are not interested.

 

Census bureau data show Newtown is 87% white, whereas the Newtown police force is 100% white. 

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A Zoning Change Would Allow for Drive-thru Wawa on Lincoln Highway in Falls

A Zoning Change Would Allow for Drive-thru Wawa on Lincoln Highway in Falls | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Falls is considering a zoning change to help revive a stagnant shopping center with a new addition — a Wawa with gas pumps.

 

Supervisors voted Monday to advertise rezoning a portion of the Fairless Hills Shopping Center at 500 Lincoln Highway from shopping center to highway commercial.

 

The move could allow for the construction of a 5,500-square-foot Wawa with gas pumps on a 2-acre site currently occupied by an existing restaurant — Arosso, A Touch of Sicily. If approved, the restaurant that sits in the shopping center's parking lot would be demolished and move into a storefront in the center.

 

Falls attorney Lauren Gallagher said during a meeting Monday that gas pumps could be permitted under a conditional use. 

 

Even if the zoning is changed, supervisors would not be obligated to approve the Wawa, Gallagher said.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

On Sept 23, 2020, the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted in favor of a "curative" zoning amendment that would allow a Wawa to be built on the Newtown Bypass. The vote was 3-2 in favor. Kyle Davis and I voted no.

 

The amendment passed by Newtown, however, specifically does not allow a drive-thru Wawa. However, the amendment specifies approval of any application to build by "special exception," which means approval is up the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) - NOT the Supervisors as in the case of Falls. The ZHB is notorious for granting "variances," which Wawa may ask for to (1) add additional fuel pumps than the 12 allowed, (2) add a Drive-thru window, (3) sell alcoholic beverages (e.g.,beer) on site, etc. - all of which are not allowed in the special amendment passed by the NT BOS.

 

A little history - "A Wawa in the Park": Silver Lake Park at the intersection of the Bypass and Lindenhurst Rd achieved fame in May 2017 when a certain Supervisor suggested it as a potential site for Wawa (read "Idea To Bring Wawa To Newtown" https://patch.com/pennsylvania/newtown-pa/idea-bring-wawa-newtown-be-discussed-wednesday). Two supervisors attempted to pursue this at the time after talking to an owner of an athletic club who was also approached by Wawa to build on property he had a stake in another property on the Bypass. All this happened before I was elected a supervisor in November 2017.

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Persistent Resident Complaints Lead to Newtown Township Installing Portable Restrooms in its Parks

Persistent Resident Complaints Lead to Newtown Township Installing Portable Restrooms in its Parks | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

[Photo shows sign taped to door of every portable restroom in Newtown parks.]

 

Persistent complaints from a resident prompted Newtown Township officials to recently install portable restrooms at township parks.

 

The parks had been without restroom facilities of any kind for several months because of fears their use might help spread the coronavirus, township officials said.

 

But resident Terry Halper said not providing any facilities could lead to unsanitary conditions. The portable restrooms were installed after Halper lodged frequent complaints with township Manager Micah Lewis and township supervisors, and contacted the Bucks County Health Department.

 

"Portable restrooms have been provided in parks where regular restrooms exist for the use of the public at their discretion," Lewis said. "The regular restrooms are not open due to the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions and mandates,"

 

Township supervisor John Mack added "I think providing portable restrooms in our parks was a positive step to service the need of residents who use the parks during these difficult times. Obviously, it's always a good thing when the township responds to residents' concerns in a timely fashion, which was the case here."

 

But Halper said he was far from thrilled by the township's response despite the eventual installation of the portable restrooms.

 

"I shouldn't have to fight this hard to get sanitary facilities in parks," he said. "I think they need help in understanding public health issues."

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, September 19, 12:51 PM

Mr Halper wrote:

 

"The Following Complaint has been filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Health due to the LACK OF TIMELY action by Newtown Township ... to PROTECT the health and Welfare of the 20,000 Newtown Township Residents...

 

"Newtown Township, Bucks County, PA has their 3 public Parks, (Veterans, Robert's Ridge, and Helen Randall), OPEN, Utilized by 50% of the 20,000 Township population: Have had the public Restrooms CLOSED all of 2020. NO HAND Sanitizer. No sanitary facility, No porta Potty...

 

"Every other Local, County, or State Park in the area that is OPEN has AT least 1 porta potty in their parks IF they have chosen to lock the built restrooms..."

 

 

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A Steep Property Tax Hike Among Consultant's Recommendations for Newtown Township

A Steep Property Tax Hike Among Consultant's Recommendations for Newtown Township | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Newtown Township property owners could be facing much bigger tax bills if recommendations from a consultant are adopted by the township supervisors.

 

A final report from Econsult Solutions Inc. that lays out a five-year financial plan for the township recommends a property tax hike of between 5.75 and 9 mills, depending on what other measures are taken to increase revenue and create more financial efficiency.

 

That's an increase of between $215 and $310 in annual taxes for a real estate owner with a property assessed at the township average of $37,459. The increase would be applied to the township's general fund now funded strictly [mostly] with an earned income tax. Newtown Township's current total real estate tax millage of 4.5 is among the lowest in Bucks County.

 

Citing the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, some residents urged against any tax increase in emailed comments read during the meeting where the supervisors voted to accept the consultant's final report.

 

"Given our job losses, the last thing we need is a tax increase," one resident wrote.

 

"Raising our real estate taxes is totally unacceptable," another stated.

 

Econsult's other recommendations include hiring 10 more employees over the next five years, including an assistant township manager, full-time code enforcement manager, three new police officers and five new paid firefighters.

 

The supervisors will consider the recommendations as part of their work on the 2021 budget that will start soon, but are not obligated to implement any of them.

 

Newtown Township's savings account will be gone by the end of 2021 if there is no significant hike in property taxes, the report projected. This year's $13.1 million township budget has projected revenue of $12 million and uses $1.05 million of the $2.37 million fund balance, or savings account, to balance revenue and expenses. That will leave a projected $1.3 million in the savings account at the end of the year.

 

Among other advantages, the property tax increase will bolster revenue in the general fund and help make sure the township maintains a fund balance of at least 10% of annual expenses, Econsult official Steve Wray said during the recent supervisors' meeting where the final report was accepted.

 

Reached after the meeting, supervisor John Mack said he would be wary of hiring five more paid firefighters without knowing yet whether the township will get a grant that would pay the salary and benefits for three of them.

 

[CORRECTION: The SAFER grant application asked for enough money to pay 100% of salaries and benefits for ALL 5 new hires for THREE years. After that, the township will have to pay for those expenses. Keep in mind that career firefighters are part of a bargaining unit with well-defined employment rights.]

 

"However, I do see the need to raise taxes in order to end the deficit spending that has been the norm over the last few years even without hiring new personnel," Mack said.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Actually, the Supervisors will be voting on the budget as presented to us by the Township Manager, not one of the three scenarios in in the ESI report. We have not yet seen that budget. The budget may or may not include all the recommendations made in the ESI report. But I am concerned about all the new hires that were recommended in Scenario 3. This may not be the right time to hire 5 more firefighters, for example, given the fact that ESI assumed the Township would get a SAFER grant to cover the first 3 years of that expense. As far as I know, Newtown is not on the list of townships that received a grant this year. However, I do see the need to raise taxes in order to end the deficit spending that has been the norm over the last few years even without hiring new personnel.

 

The Econsult recommendations and 2021 budget will be on the agenda for discussion at the October 12, 2020, Meet Mack Monday Zoom meeting. REGISTER TO ATTEND and give me your opinions and insights. 

 

  • Related Content:
  • “OPINION: Newtown Township at Fiscal Crossroads Says Supervisor Fisher”; http://sco.lt/8i6Sv2
  • “Consultant Briefs Newtown Township Supervisors on a 5-Year Budget Plan That Includes Raising RE Taxes and Hiring 10 New Personnel in 2021/2022”; http://sco.lt/7RkMwC
  • “Newtown Residents Cite Need for Infrastructure Improvements”; http://sco.lt/5dwjXU 
  • “Consultants Propose Three Scenarios to End Newtown Township's Deficit Spending – All Involve Significant Tax Increases”; http://sco.lt/6fWOm0

 

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OPINION: Newtown Township at Fiscal Crossroads Says Supervisor Fisher

OPINION: Newtown Township at Fiscal Crossroads Says Supervisor Fisher | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The following is the opinion of Newtown Supervisor Dennis Fisher.

 

Newtown Township — one of the state’s and Bucks County’s most prosperous communities — is facing a difficult fiscal challenge, made worse by a loss of revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In short, preliminary findings of a long-range study of township finances funded in part by a state grant show that the township will soon face a choice of sharply cutting back services or increasing revenues.

 

According to ESI [consultants hired by the township], however, because of the pandemic, the township is facing a loss of almost $900,000 in expected revenues from all sources, including a potential 8% decline in our EIT collections [see insights] and cancelling Summer Camp. The board of supervisors has already taken steps to compensate for that loss through measures like postponing some planned capital expenditures…[Read “2020 Road Program Falls Victim to COVID-19”; https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/covidvroads.html]

 

There are a number of alternative ways to remedy this problem: cost containment …; adopting best management practices to achieve operational efficiencies in the township; seeking revenue enhancement; implementing long-term economic development; and pursuing inter-governmental cost-sharing strategies.

 

When it comes to the revenue enhancement, raising taxes is only one way. Others include bringing in new business that would result in greater Earned Income Tax (EIT) collections, increasing fees to do business in the township and seeking regional service agreements with our neighboring municipalities. To this end the BOS has reestablished an Economic Development Committee.

 

But township residents will need to answer the same question staring the board of supervisors in the face: what price are we willing to pay to keep Newtown Township a great and safe place to live, work and raise a family? The board will be spending the rest of this year trying to answer that question, in public meetings where we hope to hear from our friends, neighbors and the business community. You are invited to be active participants. The BOS, Finance Committee and Economic Development Committees are open to the public. Check the township website for dates, times and agendas.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

A Recommended Fix

Keep in mind that consultants hired by the township to solve this fiscal crisis, recommended a scenario that includes a 7.25 Millage increase in real estate taxes in 2021, which works out to be about $260 in additional taxes for the average homeowner – a 161% increase. That increase, BTW, is necessary – in part – to cover the added expense of hiring 10 NEW personnel as per the recommended scenario: an assistant township manager, code enforcement officer, 5 career firefighters, and one police officer plus an additional two police officers in 2022. Do we need to hire all these new personnel immediately? Are they the right resources we need now to “keep Newtown Township a great and safe place to live, work and raise a family?”

 

Read more in the September 2020 issue of Newtown News Update 

 

Not included in the recommended consultant scenario is the hiring of any new staff for the Public Works Department, which was “critiqued” for the condition of Township roads and highways in the Citizen Survey (read “Newtown Residents Cite Need for Infrastructure Improvements”).

 

UPDATE on EIT

In April, 2020, the Board of Supervisors “re-allocated” the 1.0 mill real estate tax slated to be used to borrow money to repave more than 5 miles of roads in 2020 to cover General Fund expenses - a drastic move in anticipation of an Earned Income Tax (EIT) revenue shortfall of 8-11% due to the COVID-19 shutdown of local businesses. That shortfall, however, never materialized. According to Keystone Collections, which collects EIT, comparing earned income collections for 1/1/20 – 8/31/20 vs 1/1/19 – 8/31/19, Newtown Township specifically is up about $258,000.00 or 4.8%

 

Related Content:

  • “First Draft of Yardley Borough Budget: “Sorry, But We Have to Raise Taxes!”; http://sco.lt/6fzLEm
  • “Consultant Briefs Newtown Township Supervisors on a 5-Year Budget Plan That Includes Raising RE Taxes and Hiring 10 New Personnel in 2021/2022”; http://sco.lt/7RkMwC
  • “Newtown Residents Cite Need for Infrastructure Improvements”; http://sco.lt/5dwjXU
  • “Consultants Propose Three Scenarios to End Newtown Township's Deficit Spending – All Involve Significant Tax Increases”; http://sco.lt/6fWOm0
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First Draft of Yardley Borough Budget: “Sorry, But We Have to Raise Taxes!”

First Draft of Yardley Borough Budget: “Sorry, But We Have to Raise Taxes!” | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The first draft of the borough’s 2021 budget is calling for a four mill tax increase, part of which is needed to shore up a deficit mostly created by the pandemic. Borough manager Paula Johnson delivered the budget update during council’s Sept. 15th Zoom meeting.

 

Johnson said revenue is down across the board from real estate transfer taxes, fines and violations, special police services, building permit fees and contributions from private sectors.

 

To make up the deficit and to build up the borough’s capital reserve fund, Johnson is recommending four additional mills for 2021, with two mills going to the general fund, which supports day-to-day operations, including the purchase of a new police car, repairs to the roof of the annex building, and general borough hall maintenance, and two mills allocated to its capital reserve fund for future projects, including sidewalks and other major projects.

 

That would mean a resident with a property assessed at the borough’s average of $26,800 would see their taxes increase by $107, from $662.76 to $769.96.

 

Council President David Bria thanked Johnson and the administration for the work they put into the document. “It is certainly not fun to be the one who has to come to council and say we need more money.” Councilman Uri Feiner said “Nobody wants to pay more taxes,” Feiner added. “We don’t want to be up here suggesting it. But we have to be reasonable people,” he said.

 

Councilman John McCann said he’d rather borrow money than raise taxes in the midst of a global pandemic when some households are struggling.

 

“For me, personally, I would rather draw from the line of credit for these items,” said McCann referring to a $500,000 line of credit pre-approved for the borough through the First National Bank of Newtown.

 

“Money is cheap. Interest rates are really low. This is the time that you draw money and not raise taxes,” he said. “I would lean more toward using that line of credit for these capital projects. And then look to a tax increase after the pandemic is over and we’re on surer footing.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Newtown Township is also considering raising real estate taxes AND hiring more personnel. 

 

At the September 23, 2020, Zoom “public” meeting, the Newtown Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to accept the report titled “Strategic Management Planning Program (STMP) Five-Year Financial Plan” submitted by Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI). Accepting the report does not mean, however, that the BOS will implement the proposed plan as presented.

 

The report focuses on five measures to take to improve the township’s financial position:

  1. Cost containment
  2. Adoption of best management practices to achieve operating efficiencies
  3. Revenue enhancement - including a 7.25 Mill increase in property tax
  4. Implementation of a long-term economic development strategy
  5. Pursuit of intergovernmental cost-sharing strategies

 

PLUS new hires:

 

2021:

  • One full-time Assistant Township Manager
  • One full-time Code Enforcement Manager
  • Five full-time firefighters
  • One police patrol officer

 

2022:

  • Two police patrol officers

 

Not included are any new hires for the Public Works Department, which was “critiqued” for the condition of Township roads and highways in the Citizen Survey (read “Newtown Residents Cite Need for Infrastructure Improvements”; https://bit.ly/InfraSvyPatch)

 

More details here: https://preview.mailerlite.com/x1c1h7 

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Council Rock School Board Goes With CDC, Science-based Guidelines & Rejects Bucks County’s “Modified Quarantine” Scheme

Council Rock School Board Goes With CDC, Science-based Guidelines & Rejects Bucks County’s “Modified Quarantine” Scheme | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The Council Rock School Board, during a nearly five-hour meeting on Sept 10, 2020, finalized the rules students exposed to the coronavirus must follow for quarantining once school restarts for in-person learning later this month.

 

At issue was if the district will opt for the Bucks County-endorsed "modified quarantine" plan, or the rules put forth by the Centers for Disease Control when a student is exposed to an infected person.

 

The Bucks County Health Department has recommended a "modified quarantine" process for local students who were exposed to the virus but are asymptomatic. Under a modified quarantine, the exposed person must wear a mask at all times and social distance as appropriate, but can attend necessary obligations such as school or work.

 

Ultimately, the board determined it will proceed immediately with the CDC guidelines, with an intention to revisit the issue on Oct. 22.

 

"The bulk of our staff absolutely wants to see the CDC version," Superintendent Robert Fraser said at the meeting. "They don't want to modified quarantine version. I think they are very scared of having a student who has been directly exposed right there in class."

johnmacknewtowns insight:

From a FB post by residents before the meeting:

 

CRSD friends, our school board is voting tomorrow to decide whether to follow CDC quarantine guidelines, or the "modified quarantine" proposed by Dr. Damsker, which could euphemistically be described as an interesting application of available science.

 

In sum, you have all professed a desire to return to normal school as soon as practical. Every parent and child wants that too. Risking that, by supporting a scheme that has nothing more than speculative and anecdotal support, would be massive malpractice.

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In an Unanimous Vote, Newtown Township Supervisors Denied Toll Brothers Conditional Use Application to Build 45 Homes in Conservation District. Residents Ecstatic!

In an Unanimous Vote, Newtown Township Supervisors Denied Toll Brothers Conditional Use Application to Build 45 Homes in Conservation District. Residents Ecstatic! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

At its first in-person meeting since March, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors on August 26 voted unanimously to deny a conditional use application submitted by Toll Brothers.

 

Toll had requested the conditional use to build a cluster of 45 high-end single family homes on 150 acres located at Route 413 (Durham Road) and Twining Bridge Road.

 

Because the parcel is zoned Conservation Management (CM), a cluster development is allowed by use, but not by right, so that’s why Toll needed the conditional-use approval instead of a zoning change.

 

At a meeting in early March, the supervisors were poised to vote on the developers’ application, but decided to table the motion after several neighboring residents again voiced their opposition to the project, mostly over traffic concerns.

 

The supervisors had intended to announce its decision at its March 25 board meeting, which was subsequently canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Under an extension agreement with Toll, the supervisors postponed its announcement until its first in-person meeting, which took place this week [August 26, 2020; see the video archive here].

 

With officials and members of the public seated six feet apart and everyone wearing masks, the supervisors heard one more round of public comment before casting its vote.

 

Board members made no public statements as to why they voted to deny the request, but their decision prompted applause from the less than 20 members of the public who were allowed inside the meeting room.

 

Under the law, Toll Brothers has 30 days to file an appeal in county court. [Read “What Will Happen If Newtown Supervisors Vote "No" on Toll Bros Conditional Use Application to Build 45 Homes in Conservation Management District Along Twining Bridge Road?”]

 

Residents are strongly opposed to the development taking access onto Twining Bridge Road, suggesting instead access be from Durham Road at a signalized intersection with North Drive.

 

Twining Bridge Road resident [JoyAnn Charlton] also voiced deep opposition to the development, speaking publicly against the plan over traffic and safety concerns and issues concerning flooding, drainage and acquifer recharge.

 

Charlton questioned the veracity of the Toll-funded traffic study, which she said “was dumped on the board of supervisors only minutes before the hearing depriving the board of any meaningful opportunity to adequately review, consider and question the submissions. The traffic study was not thoroughly considered or challenged. We’re expected to simply take Tolls’ word. Once these homes are sold Toll will be out of the picture leaving us to deal with the mess.”

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Quoted in Bucks County Courier Times:

 

Sander had advised board members that even though they were required to continue to take public comment on the issue, they had to base their decision solely on evidence presented and testimony given at the Feb. 26 hearing. All five supervisors voted to deny conditional use approval at the recent meeting without commenting just before or after they voted on their reasons.

 

"In general, I do not believe that the applicant demonstrated that the proposed development is consistent with the spirit, purposes and intent of the Conservation Management zoning district," Supervisor John Mack wrote in an email after the meeting.

 

On the developer's efforts to preserve agricultural soils at the site, he added "I do not believe that the applicant demonstrated that every effort has been made to provide a maximum amount of farmland preserved for agriculture.

 

"I do not believe that the applicant demonstrated that the proposed development is not a detriment to the property in the immediate vicinity."

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BCCT Editorial: How To Do Public Meetings in a Time of COVID-19

BCCT Editorial: How To Do Public Meetings in a Time of COVID-19 | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

One of open government’s tallest pillars is the residents’ ability to be in the room when those they’ve elected to represent them decide how to spend their money or alter their town.

 

That pillar strained like never before this spring under the weight of the coronavirus and the stay-at-home orders, business closures and community and governmental cancellations that followed the outbreak.

 

And while COVID-19 is a continuing reality in most towns in Bucks and Montgomery counties, local governments are gradually resuming meetings that, by law, must be accessible to the public.

 

Towns have tried to strike that balance through the use of live-streaming technology with call-in, email or text-in forms of public participation. Some have even used web conferencing platforms like Zoom to gather remotely and allow the public to join in.

 

In townships with no controversial issues on the upcoming summer agendas, the change should be minimal. Attendees will generally be required to wear masks, socially distance in the audience (not difficult if only a few residents turn out for meetings) and agree to have their temperatures taken when they arrive.

 

But towns with hot-button topics and packed meetings will need to be thoughtful about how they’re giving the public its access when a COVID-era capacity crowd, in some towns, doesn’t exceed single digits.

 

Here are a few ideas we like. We support the use of overflow rooms where residents can gather in a second room and watch the proceedings.

 

Some developers arrive at municipal meetings accompanied by attorneys, engineers, landscape architects and other consultants. It makes sense to us that their teams should be required to wait outside until it’s their turn to present.

 

Municipalities should be quick to seek out other venues when meetings are expected to bring substantial crowds. Before the coronavirus, it wasn’t unusual to see important meetings moved to a local public school auditorium. We understand that school districts might be less willing to allow outside groups to use their facilities with COVID-19 still spreading. But we urge districts to do what they can to accommodate such requests in the name of good government.

 

Busier towns with a reliable contingent of meeting attendees should also consider using sign-up sheets and establishing a rotation of audience members.

 

Township staff, elected officials and residents all have a role to play in making these meetings work. If all parties approach the matter with understanding, flexibility and a willingness to adapt, they can turn their attention to the business of running the town.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

The more Zoom "public" meetings hosted by Newtown Township (e.g., Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings,, etc.), the less actual public input we get.

 

Despite my best efforts, I cannot convince the BOS to allow the general public to directly participate in its "public" Zoom meetings.

 

I'm told that there would be too many people trying to speak at the same time and that would disrupt the meeting. Yes, one Zoom BOS meeting was “zoom bombed, but Zoom has increased security such as requiring the implementation of the “waiting room” feature. The meeting moderator can admit only recognized participants to join the meeting.

 

Currently, the only way for residents to participate in BOS Zoom meetings is to submit questions/comments via email to comments@newtownpa.gov before and during the meeting. All comments will be read, but so far many meetings do not include any resident comments at all! Luckily, important matters are being delayed until live meetings can be scheduled – probably in September.

 

Update (9/10/20): Newtown Twp is still using Zoom for "public" BOS meetings and at the Sept 9 meeting there were further limits placed on public comments submitted via email. 

 

Some comments submitted by email to be read during BOS meetings are very lengthy and although the public notice of BOS meetings promises that ALL comments will be read out loud at the meeting, it was decided - as a compromise - that if comments are very long then - with the permission of the commenter - only a summary will be read and the entire comment will be included in the meeting minutes. At least that is  my understanding of the procedure we may be following in the future (I am not sure if it is a step forward or backward).

 

Related Content:

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, July 12, 8:52 AM

The more Zoom "public" meetings hosted by Newtown Township (e.g., Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings,, etc.), the less actual public input we get.

 

Despite my best efforts, I cannot convince the BOS to allow the general public to directly participate in its "public" Zoom meetings.

 

I'm told that there would be too many people trying to speak at the same time and that would disrupt the meeting. Yes, one Zoom BOS meeting was “zoom bombed, but Zoom has increased security such as requiring the implementation of the “waiting room” feature. The meeting moderator can admit only recognized participants to join the meeting.

 

Currently, the only way for residents to participate in BOS Zoom meetings is to submit questions/comments via email to comments@newtownpa.gov before and during the meeting. All comments will be read, but so far many meetings do not include any resident comments at all! Luckily, important matters are being delayed until live meetings can be scheduled – probably in September.

 

Related Content:

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Consultant Briefs Newtown Township Supervisors on a 5-Year Budget Plan That Includes Raising RE Taxes and Hiring 10 New Personnel in 2021/2022

Consultant Briefs Newtown Township Supervisors on a 5-Year Budget Plan That Includes Raising RE Taxes and Hiring 10 New Personnel in 2021/2022 | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

A Five Year Financial Plan commissioned by the township is recommending a tax increase in 2021 to make up for a loss of revenue and to begin exploring cost sharing opportunities with neighboring Newtown Borough.

 

Steve Wray, from Econsult Solutions, briefed the board of supervisors on the report’s preliminary findings and recommendations during an August 17 work session.

 

In its report, Econsult outlines major recommendations to improve the township’s financial condition over the next five years, beginning with the addition of real estate tax millage [+4.7 to +7.0 mills were proposed] to the general fund budget beginning in 2021 “to help diversify and broaden the base of revenues and also to make up revenues lost in the earned income tax.”

 

UPDATE: On September 23, 2020, the consultants presented an updated final version of its recommendation that RE taxes be increased by 7.25 Mills in 2021 and the hiring of 8 new personnel - including 5 career firefighters - in 2021 and an additional 2 police officers in 2022. More...

 

In addition, it recommends adjusting staffing levels to meet the current management needs of the township, including hiring an assistant manager and code enforcement officer; bringing the police force up to full complement with three new officers while reducing or eliminating overtime and comp time; and hiring five new career firefighters through a federal grant.

 

The township was carrying a high fund balance of 30 percent in 2015-16. By the end of this year it is projected to be eight percent. “What we’re seeing is a weakening fund balance position. And we would see that going forward if no changes are taken,” he said.

 

Generally, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends a municipality maintain a fund balance of no less than two months or 17 percent of general fund operating expenses. “You guys just have just adopted a measure to keep it at 10 percent. We think that’s a good idea and a very positive move,” said Wray.

 

Comparing the township to its neighbors, Wray said Newtown Township has the second lowest real estate millage rate. And the township’s millage increases have been consistent with the average increases across the municipalities.

 

Projecting ahead over the next five years, Wray said if nothing changes the township will continue to see “a growing spread” between revenue and expenditures with the fund balance projected to fall below 10 percent by the beginning of 2021 and continuing to decline through 2025 as it’s used to fund the widening gap.

 

The report also recommends the hiring of five career firefighters through a federal SAFER grant that would initially pay salaries and benefits over the first three years. As the grant expires in years four and five, Wray said regional cost sharing opportunities could make up the difference. 

johnmacknewtowns insight:

One of the reasons given to raise taxes is to maintain a healthy General Fund Reserve, which was predicted to take a hit due in part to lost Earned Income Tax (EIT) collection caused by the COVID-19 closure of businesses and subsequent unemployment increase. However, the anticipated decrease in EIT never happened - in fact EIT collection increased 4.8% in 2020 vs 2019 (a "banner year").

 

UPDATE from KEYSTONE, which collects EIT:

At the close of August 2020, Bucks Tax Collection District (TCD) ended up with an increase of about $1.6 million from 2019. As it stands now, the TCD as a whole is up a little over $55,000.00 in 5th quarter money! Comparing earned income collections for 1/1/20 – 8/31/20 vs 1/1/19 – 8/31/19, Newtown Township specifically is up about $258,000.00 or 4.8%.

 

Related Content:

 

 

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Middletown Follows Newtown to Become Second Bucks County Township to Create a Human Relations Commission!

Middletown Follows Newtown to Become Second Bucks County Township to Create a Human Relations Commission! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Middletown Township joins just a handful of other Bucks County communities in creating a Human Relations Commission.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the ordinance that would establish a Human Relations Commission under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

The commission will have seven members and can conduct public trainings, educational sessions, informational seminars and community activities. The commission would have the ability to address some complaints related to discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, and conversion therapy.

“I think this [Human Relations Commission] is going to give the members of our community who maybe have been disenfranchised or discriminated against a voice and a seat at the table,” said Supervisor Anna Payne.

In Lower Bucks County, Bristol Borough, Newtown Borough, Newtown Township, and Yardley Borough have ordinances establishing Human Relations Commissions.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

I first floated the idea for the Newtown Anti-discrimination ordinance in July, 2018, and in September, the Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from Yardley Councilman David Bria, who led the charge on Yardley’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

 

Related Content:

 

  • “Following Newtown Township's Lead, Middletown Twp May Become Second Bucks County Township to Pass an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance”; http://sco.lt/8aw7wu 
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Bensalem Police & NAACP Bucks County Team Up To Increase Training, Recruit Residents of Color, & Increase Transparency

Bensalem Police & NAACP Bucks County Team Up To Increase Training, Recruit Residents of Color, & Increase Transparency | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The two Bucks County agencies are teaming up to increase public safety and public trust by supporting additional training, transparency and communication. On Wednesday, they will join together at the Bensalem Police Department to formalize their new partnership.

 

This the first partnership of its kind in Bucks County, said Karen Downer, president of NAACP Bucks County.

 

"As our communities are re-imagining public safety, we think these kind of relationships throughout the county will connect us with the police a lot better," Downer said.

 

Both agencies plan to meet shared goals, including:

 

  • A commitment to regular meetings and open dialogue between the NAACP Bucks County and Bensalem Township Police Department leadership

 

  • Both parties will work together to ensure that Bensalem police officers receive regular training that enhances their ability to have effective, respectful, and peaceful interactions with all citizens, including people of color

 

  • Both parties agree to work together to encourage and assist Bensalem residents, especially residents of color, to consider serving the Bensalem Township community by becoming a police officer with the Bensalem Township Police Department

 

  • A broader process for intake of any complaints of police misconduct, including the ability of residents to report such complaints to the NAACP Bucks County or to county religious leaders

 

  • Increased transparency regarding the results of police misconduct investigations, including reporting outcomes to the NAACP.

 

Downer hopes to forge similar partnerships with other police departments across Bucks County. Such agreements, she said, "will go a long way to build partnerships where we are comfortable making direct contact with police and having straight forward honest conversations."

johnmacknewtowns insight:

Related Content:

 

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, September 9, 6:25 AM

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Newtown Residents Cite Need for Infrastructure Improvements

Newtown Residents Cite Need for Infrastructure Improvements | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

The recently completed Newtown Citizens Survey reveals that many residents are concerned about the condition of roads, streetlights, etc.

 

Question 8 of the survey asked respondents to rate several services as Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor. Responses weighted using scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being “poor” and 4 being “excellent.”

 

Snow removal, street cleaning, street lighting, and street maintenance received were among the services receiving the worst ratings.

 

One of the goals of the Newtown Township 5-year financial plan is to attract new business to Newtown and help all businesses thrive. When asked to identify the two TOP priorities that the township should focus on for attracting new business, Public Infrastructure was the top choice with 45.6 % of respondents.

 

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Newtown Borough Extends Outdoor Dining Permits for Another 45 Days. Newtown Township Also Extends Its Outdoor Dining/Sales Resolution

Newtown Borough Extends Outdoor Dining Permits for Another 45 Days. Newtown Township Also Extends Its Outdoor Dining/Sales Resolution | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

[See insights for news about Newtown Twp's new resolution.]

 

The Newtown Borough Council on Sept. 2 voted unanimously to extend a resolution allowing borough restaurants that have applied for a special permit to offer outdoor dining for another 45 days.

In June, with restaurants limited in the use of indoor space due to Covid-19, council adopted a resolution setting up a Temporary Permit Application process that allows restaurants to offer outdoor dining and retailers to sell merchandise outdoors on their private property for a 90-day period.

With the 90 days about to expire and COVID-19 restrictions still in place limiting restaurants to 25 percent indoor use, council agreed to extend the resolution for another 45 days, taking it up to mid- to late-October.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

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.”

 

The resolution automatically expires within 90 days of its passage (on or about September 24, 2020), but the term can be extended beyond that by a vote of the Board of Supervisors.

 

UPDATE (9/9/20): Newtown Township Supervisors passed a revised outdoor dining/sales resolution extending the expiration until the "current Newtown Township Emergency Declaration issued due to COVID-19 is repealed or otherwise withdrawn.

 

Related Content:

 

  • “Newtown Borough Council Gives Isaac Newton's Restaurant Permission to Have an Outdoor Dining Tent”; http://sco.lt/5rvMAa 
  • 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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So what's the status of the proposed Old Navy at the Newtown Shopping Center?

So what's the status of the proposed Old Navy at the Newtown Shopping Center? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

Last month, the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) heard an application for the new clothing store, which is proposed to be located in between Acme and Bed Bath & Beyond.

The shopping center sought impervious surface relief, parking relief, and loading berth location relief in its quest to build the 12,500-square-foot store.


The ZHB denied the variance for the impervious surface relief. The other variances for parking and the loading berth were approved.

The impervious surface variance that was denied sought to allow for 61.70 percent impervious surface, where 50 percent is required and 59.65 is currently existing.

Township Manager Micah Lewis said that leaves the applicant with a few options: Resubmit a new application, file an appeal of the denial, or simply do nothing. Lewis said the township has not yet received correspondence from the applicant indicating how they plan to proceed.

johnmacknewtowns insight:

The application voted on by the Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) plans included a 385-square-foot addition to the existing Chick-fil-A restaurant plus a right-turn only lanes leading up to the Chick-fil-A to ease traffic jams.

 

At the July 8, 2020, Board of Supervisors meeting prior to the ZHB meeting, I questioned if it was the norm to have two applications in one (Old Navy + Chick-fil-A). Township Solicitor Dave Sander replied it is not unusual when a property is owned by one entity and proposes various improvements to some but not all the property to include all relief requested in one application. I saw the need for Chick-fil-A improvements but had concerns over the Old Navy portion of the plan.

 

Related Content:

  • “Survey Says Newtown Area Residents Oppose Old Navy Box Store”; http://bit.ly/ONChicSurvey
  • “Newtown Township Supervisors Vote Not to Oppose Zoning Relief for Chick-Fil-A & New Old Navy Store in Newtown Shopping Center, But...”; http://sco.lt/7C16n2
  • “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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How Much Do Newtown Residents Like Township Parks & Recreation?

How Much Do Newtown Residents Like Township Parks & Recreation? | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

A recently completed Citizens Survey reveals which parks are most popular with residents and whether recreation programs need improving.

 

Quality of Parks, Recreation programs, and Recreation centers/facilities were at the top of the list following Fire and Police Services! A majority of survey respondents (58.1%) say they have used township recreational programming, which was rated Good by 42% of respondents and Excellent by 48% of respondents.

 

More...

johnmacknewtowns insight:

One item that certain residents believe need improving in Newtown's parks are the toilet facilities, which remained closed up until recently when a resident complained and threatened legal action:

 

I am a Public Health Professional and longtime resident of Newtown Township. I, like many of the Township residents,utilize the Newtown Township Parks. The Township has spent Millions Of Dollars, (literally Many Millions), on obtaining and creating the 3 township parks, Veterans, Roberts Ridge, and Helen Randle.
 
Township Manager Micah Lewis, and the Board of Supervisors has refused to rectify the situation of no public sanitary facilities available in all of 2020 while the parks do remain open and sometimes heavily utilized.
 
There are no public facilities available for hand washing, defecating, or urinating.
 
There have been NO Open facilities available in these 3 parks in 2020. They were NEVER opened.
 
An EASY solution that overcomes Micah's Public Works Employee's safety issue is  to RENT Porta Potties. They each cost $126 per month.
 
So for $378 a Month, Newtown's 3 lovely and expensive parks can actually be sanitarily utilized by the public .
 
There IS a public Health Crisis if you have not noticed. The MAIN tools to fight the germ crisis is HAND washing and certainly NOT spreading germs by using the grounds at large to take care of "business". 
 
As the NewtownTownship Board of Supervisors and the Township Manager have offered no remediation to the situation, I am proceeding to contact our state legislators, Perry Warren and Steve Santarsiero, and our U.S. Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick in this matter.
 
A Public Petition on the issue will be circulated and presented to all parties in local, state, and Federal government, and the FULLY documented story WITH Pictures Will be submitted to the Bucks County Courier Times for the quickly approaching HOLIDAY Weekend.
 
In response, the Township Manager said, "After further discussion with our insurance provider, and legal council, we have decided that we will be placing a portable restroom in Veterans Park. The facility will be posted with signage that states "This Facility is not Maintained by Newtown Township - Please Use at Your Descretion." If the facility becomes damaged, unsanitary, or unuseable in any way, our staff will lock it, and the vendor will be contacted to rectify the situation."
 
I later confirmed that portable toilet facilities were delivered to Roberts Ridge, Veterans, Chandler, and Helen Randle Parks.
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Rescooped by johnmacknewtown from Newtown Government Business
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My August 2020 Supervisor Activities: A Very Busy Month! Meetings, Meetings, Meetings!

My August 2020 Supervisor Activities: A Very Busy Month! Meetings, Meetings, Meetings! | Newtown Area News | Scoop.it

BOS = Board of Supervisors, EDC = Economic Development Committee, JZC = Joint Zoning Council, EAC = Environmental Advisory Council, HRC = Human Relations Commission, NFA = Newtown Fire Association, TCC = Bucks County Tax Collection Committee

 

In August 2020, as Bucks County continued in the COVID-19 "Green Phase", I spent 56.3 hours on official supervisor business, which is high for the month of August, which usually sees less scheduled meetings. With meetings being held via Zoom, however, even if people are at the beach, they can attend.

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