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Newtown Township Supervisors Approved a Settlement Agreement with Arcadia That Ends a 6-Year Battle That the Town Was Warned It Would Lose

Newtown Township Supervisors Approved a Settlement Agreement with Arcadia That Ends a 6-Year Battle That the Town Was Warned It Would Lose | Newtown News of Interest | Scoop.it

[Listen to this audio clip from the meeting where a resident lashes out at Supervisor Mack for voting in favor of the settlement: http://bit.ly/GoldvMack].

 

With legal fees mounting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors on Feb. 24 voted 4 to 1 to approve a revised settlement agreement with the Arcadia Land Company.

 

The vote will allow the Philadelphia-based land developer to build 60 single family detached homes in the $700,000 price range behind the Newtown Reformed Church at Route 532 and the Newtown Bypass. That’s 16 homes fewer than Arcadia had originally sought to build.

 

The settlement ends all court litigation, including a suit filed by the Eagle Ridge community over a writ of mandamus filed by the developer claiming a clerical error by the township’s solicitor resulted in a deemed approval of the plan. The writ was subsequently deemed approved by a Bucks County Judge [read “Newtown Township Supervisors Say "No Means No" When It Comes to Arcadia Green III Planned Residential Development”; http://sco.lt/5qmEfw].

 

The agreement also attempts to resolve traffic concerns related to the entrance to the development on Buck Road and its location within yards of the Newtown Bypass. The plan shows traffic from the new development utilizing an existing service road that parallels the bypass and is currently posted as a right turn in and right turn out only at Buck Road.

 

Under the settlement agreement Arcadia has agreed to ask PennDOT to allow right-turn access into and out of the site directly from the Newtown Bypass.

 

Chairman Phil Calabro joined Supervisors John Mack, Dennis Fisher and David Oxley in voting for the settlement.

 

“Even though many may not be happy with the result, it has been long, tedious and has involved a lot of residents, which is the right way to do things. Not everyone is going to be on the same boat,” said Mack. “We’ll have to see how this works out. As far as the traffic is concern[ed], I know PennDOT doesn’t have a problem with the u-turn. I hope the improvements to Buck Road will make that feasible.

 

“The township has spent a lot of money on this,” Mack continued. “I was surprised at our last meeting when (Eagle Ridge Attorney) Stephen Harris told us that he didn’t believe any of these fights against this will be successful in court. But we have to face the reality.”

 

Republican Supervisor Kyle Davis broke with the four Democrats on the board, casting the lone vote against the deal. He urged the board to continue the fight.

 

“I’m not in favor of this settlement agreement,” he said. “There are a lot of promises in here. A lot of what if’s. The only real tangible item would be the reduction of homes. It’s going to be a nightmare for traffic for not just those living in the area, but those going through on 532. It’s worth the fight to try to stop this from going in there.”

 

Pete Ancona, the president of the Newtown Crossing HOA, said while the HOA has worked hard to find an acceptable solution, a good percentage of residents are not happy with the agreement.

 

“For Newtown Crossing, besides wanting to see the lots preserved as open space forever, our concerns have always been traffic and safety ...,” said Ancona. “Obviously we would all like to see the ground stay open forever, but short of someone buying the property and donating it to the township as a park, it’s not going to happen.”

 

During the Zoom meeting, 13 residents from Newtown Crossing, Crown Point and Eagle Ridge spoke publicly urging the supervisors to vote against the settlement, many of them praising Davis for taking a stand against the settlement, but blasting the solicitor over the clerical error.

 

[Listen to this audio clip from the meeting where a resident lashes out at Supervisor Mack for voting in favor of the settlement: http://bit.ly/GoldvMack]

 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

My statement posted to the Newtown Crossing Neighborhood FB Group before the BOS meeting:

 

KT asked: “Sir, why are we putting so much focus on [Steve] Harris [legal counsel to Eagle Ridge HOA]?

 

My response: “I was very impressed with Mr. Harris in another case before the BOS. He represents Eagle Ridge. If the BOS is going to spend money helping the Eagle Ridge case that money would go to Harris. Therefore, I have to listen to his assessment very carefully if I am to spend taxpayer money on a case he is working on. And he essentially advised us that the best option was to settle.

 

“I was very eager to fight this case, but after hearing (1) the assessment from 2 different lawyers [Mr. Sander – Newtown Solicitor, and Harris], and (2) comments from residents who are in favor of settling, it is not a slam dunk decision. This has not been DOA - it's been a long process. What disturbed me about the process up till this point was how uninformed the residents were despite my best efforts to keep them informed.”

 

I might add my impression is that many residents who opposed this settlement would not be swayed and were willing to go down fighting. I was not willing to do that, especially using other taxpayers’ money.

johnmacknewtown's curator insight, February 28, 8:25 AM

My statement posted to the Newtown Crossing Neighborhood FB Group before the BOS meeting:

 

KT asked: “Sir, why are we putting so much focus on [Steve] Harris [legal counsel to Eagle Ridge HOA]?

 

My response: “I was very impressed with Mr. Harris in another case before the BOS. He represents Eagle Ridge. If the BOS is going to spend money helping the Eagle Ridge case that money would go to Harris. Therefore, I have to listen to his assessment very carefully if I am to spend taxpayer money on a case he is working on. And he essentially advised us that the best option was to settle.

 

“I was very eager to fight this case, but after hearing (1) the assessment from 2 different lawyers [Mr. Sander – Newtown Solicitor, and Harris], and (2) comments from residents who are in favor of settling, it is not a slam dunk decision. This has not been DOA - it's been a long process. What disturbed me about the process up till this point was how uninformed the residents were and despite my best efforts to keep them informed.”

 

I might add my impression is that many residents who opposed this settlement would not be swayed and were willing to go down fighting. I was not willing to do that, especially using other taxpayers’ money.

Newtown News of Interest
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