Summary of 25 October 2023 BOS Meeting
This is my personal summary of my notes regarding the October 25, 2023, meeting of the #NewtownPA Township Board of Supervisors (BOS). This is not a complete nor an official summary.
Access the 2023 BOS Chronicle for detailed summaries of all 2023 BOS meetings plus the BOS voting record (UNOFFICIAL) for 2023.
- Planning Commission Report
- Engineer’s Report/Topics
- Budget Discussion (see my Detailed Notes)
- SAFER Grant and Future New Taxes
- Tara Blvd RRFB Project
- Other Items of Interest
Capital Grille is asking for variances to allow 5 signs totaling 452.28 sqft, which is 392.28 sqft more than is allowed!
In addition, it is seeking to add a huge, BILLBOARD SIZED 13-4" by 6' 80 sqft sign at the back of the building facing Silo Drive.
Edward Murphy, Esq., Wisler Pearlstine, representing Capital Grille, said the dimensions of the sign should be measured based on the size of the lettering and that the black background should not figure into the calculation to determine if it is up to code.
The township solicitor cited the township ordinance governing signs: “the area of a sign shall be construed to include all lettering wording and accompanying designs and symbols together with the background whether open or enclosed on which it is it is displayed but not to include any supporting framework bracing or decorative trim which is incidental to the copy content of the display itself.” So that's how you calculate the area of a sign in Newtown!
Listen to the discussion:
The BOS voted unanimously to send its solicitor to the December 7, 2023, Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) meeting to oppose this request.
As reported in NewtownPAnow, "A company named Durham Investments has proposed a plan to construct a 10,000-square-foot daycare facility, 10,000-square-foot medical office, and convert a house on the site at 413 Durham Road into an office building. The site sits next to the municipal complex (see image below)."
The developer is asking for a variance in zoning to allow a 27% increase in impervious surface.
“I don’t buy their argument that other townships have a lot higher impervious surface limit,” I said at the meeting. “Newtown is Newtown and they should obey our laws. I’m really sick and tired of developers coming before the board most of the time asking for an increase in impervious surface. There’s a reason why we have this and I’m against this (request).”
The BOS voted 3-2 (Davis and Fisher voting nay) to send its solicitor to the December 7, 2023, ZHB meeting to oppose this request.
According to the Planning Commission report regarding the Business Commons Overlay Plan (aka O-LI/LI JMZO amendment): “The new draft lists the two proposed residential uses, mixed use development and Town Center Apartments as by-right uses. The Commission feels that as this is a completely new use we would like the Township to have the extra layer of control that “conditional use” would add.
“We also discussed the prohibition of “drive through” for financial establishments. We feel that our ordinance already adequately addresses the traffic impacts of drive-through windows and this could be considered if lot size permitted.”
Before this comes to a vote by the supervisors, I expressed a need to have more discussion of the plan's details. I believe the consensus of the PC was in agreement.
I specifically have major concerns about "mixed-use" development, which is a major aspect of the Overlay Plan. LISTEN TO MY COMMENTS:
As per the 6 October 2023 Engineer’s Report, “RVE has a meeting scheduled with the contractor on 10/12/2023 to review final punchlist items and schedule for completion.” From Engineer’s October 10, 2023, email to Township Manager Micah Lewis:
“Just wanted to give a quick update on the trail project. We had a meeting with the contractor this morning to go over their remaining punchlist items (Read: “Lower Dolington Road Trail “Punch Lists”) and their schedule for completion. They hope to be out there next week and the week after on the remaining punchlist items. I’ll keep you posted if something changes.”
The Mysterious Case of the Sawed Off Stop Sign
It was a recent bright sunny afternoon when I received a horrifying cell phone text image form a local resident. The stop sign at Yorkshire Drive on the west side of Lower Dolington Road (LDR) was sawed off! A gruesome piece of the pole was still sticking up from the ground and the rest of the pole lay within the Woods of Saxony shrubbery nearby (see photo). The sign itself was nowhere to be found! View the video below where I ask who was respobsible:
“BE IT RESOLVED, that Newtown Township of the County of Bucks hereby requests a Statewide Local Share Assessment grant of $999,979.20 from the Commonwealth Financing Authority to be used for the Pedestrian Bridge Project over the Newtown Creek.”
From the grant application:
“The project includes construction of a 120' long and 8' wide pedestrian bridge to connect the nearby neighborhoods to stores and shops close by. Additionally the project will include installation of fencing and landscaping to separate the access paths from neighboring properties.”
When this proposal was first presented to the BOS in 2019, Mike Sellers, a member of the Newtown Creek Coalition, pointed out that the major portion of the real estate involved is in Newtown Township and consequently, Newtown would be responsible for the majority of costs involved. But he did not give the Supervisors any estimate for those costs (read “Newtown Creek Coalition Proposes a NEW Pedestrian Bridge to Supervisors”).
Can a grant be awarded that is LESS than requested in the application? If so, what happens if we receive a grant that is significantly less; say only half? Do we apply for a different grant to cover the cost not covered by LSA? Do we proceed with the project using funds from the General Fund or other Twp funds? If so, how much will NT Twp have to contribute? View the video below:
Other costs involve the fees that the Township must pay to its "professionals" (e.g. Township Engineer) to "explore the requirements" for the project. To date, it is unknown how much has Newtown Township paid to cover these fees.
The BOS unanimously approved the grant application.
However, if there are any costs not covered by this and/or other grants, I would not be in favor of moving forward with the project unless we can find other sources of funding such as donations from local township businesses that would benefit from the increased foot traffic.
Another Proposed Newtown Creek Bridge
I prepare detailed notes before attending BOS meetings. These notes include links to background information and other details related to the items on the agenda. See the meeting notes for this meeting embedded below or download the PDF file here.
See the official for this meeting embedded below or download the PDF file here.
Download the unedited time-stamped transcript of this meeting prepared by Youtube from the video: download PDF file.