John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

Old Navy Survey

At the 21 January 2020, Newtown Township Planning Commission (PC) meeting, Newtown/Bucks Associates, LP, West Road (Newtown Shopping Center), presented their case for supporting zoning variances needed for a new 12,500-square-foot Old Navy and a 400-square-foot addition to the kitchen of Chick-fil-A and adding a new right-turn only lane to West Road that would improve traffic flow by allowing traffic around cars waiting to turn into Chick-fil-A. Listen to snippets from the presentation:

At the subsequent January 22, 2020, Board of Supervisors meeting, the PC indicated it supports the application for relief, which will be decided by the Newtown Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB). Due to changes in the proposed plan and COVID-19 restrictions, however, the zoning hearing application and additional PC review has been continued at the request of the applicant.

Survey Results

To gauge the opinion of Newtown Area residents, I created a survey that asks residents' opinion of the application. As of June 16, 2020, 357 responses were collected. The following charts summarize the results. 

Place of Residence of Survey Respondents
In Favor vs Opposed

Selected Comments

Comments in Favor

There were a total 17 comments from Newtown area residents in favor of the proposal as described above. The following is a selected list of representative comments:

“Great Store, good prices and merchandise.”

“I think it just saddens me that a lot of people against Old Navy aren't thinking nor caring what’s best for the town itself. A lot of them are thinking with a sense of entitlement and it’s ridiculous. We have many different demographics in this town it isn’t just super wealthy… I also think it will bring better middle of the road jobs that … some people living in this town might need more of. ”

“I would require a right turn only exit near the Staples exiting onto 413 to drastically reduce the bottleneck at the current exit. Plus the road capacity is already there so dumping right turning autos out of chik and others there is IMO a no brainer.”

“I’m in favor of having an Old Navy in Newtown. I enjoy staying in my own neighborhood to shop at stores I like.”

“I hope modifications to Chick-Fil-A include mitigation of the long lines of cars which block the access road adjacent to the restaurant.”

“I am in favor of the chick fila proposal and not sure on the old navy part. Since that parcel is designated to have a retail store there I don't know what other option there is.”

Comments Opposed

There were a total 127 comments from Newtown area residents opposed to the proposal as described above. The following is a selected list of representative comments:

“I am in FAVOR of doing something about the Chick-fil-A traffic situation. I've had difficulty several times safely entering the shopping center when the traffic was back up to the Durham Rd intersection. I'm NOT IN FAVOR of the Old Navy development. There's a large store just 15 minutes down the road. The addition of that large store would create such traffic problems in that shopping center. I already actively avoid the Acme during peak times for this reason and I fear that further development would make it unbearable.”

[NOTE: At least 25% of commenters in the “opposed” group expressed being in favor of alleviating the Chick-fil-A traffic situation but were opposed to adding Old Navy to the Shopping Center.]

“ANOTHER OLD NAVY...you have one in Oxford valley . Can’t you put in a Trader Joe’s/ Whole Foods or a Wegman’s . Old navy is cheep trashy clothes.”

[Several people expressed an interest in Trader Joe’s instead of Old Navy or similar “box store.”]

“…not ANOTHER new building to an already congested area. We do a good job not becoming RTE 1 on bypass but instead JAM everything into these existing shopping centers... ENOUGH already!!!”

“We don’t need another store of that caliber in this area, we need to have upscale stores!.”
“Building an Old Navy will further drive already problematic traffic issues. We need to stop developing that area, as the additional development already underway will drive significantly increased traffic and likely accidents.”

“What happens when a recession hits? All of these buildings will be empty, vacant, and depress our real estate values.”

“I’m disgusted and upset that we’ve developed this much. What’s wrong with the Newtown Supervisors? As soon as our kids are done with HS, we’re out of here. Sad. Everyone I know thinks Newtown has become overbuilt and crowded. Doylestown has been, and continues to be, the best Bucks County suburb.”

“I think expanding Chick Fila makes sense but expanding their children's play area in addition to the kitchen as proposed as well as seating area would be ideal. I don't feel like an Old Navy serves purpose in Newtown. I just don't feel many would necessarily shop ...”

“Newtown as a whole needs to do more to support local businesses.”

“As a parent of high school children who attend CR North, I do not like the idea of adding another store to the already busy shopping area, especially one that will be in such close proximity to North. Many students park near the skate park and walk through that area to the high school. North has limited parking so many students are forced to park and walk.”

“The traffic is already a nightmare in and around the shopping center and this would only add to it. We need a comprehensive traffic plan for the entire Eagle/Newtown shopping area first before any new construction.”

“Keep Old Navy where it belongs in Oxford Valley, a short distance from Newtown. Old Navy is a low quality clothing, big box store that doesn’t fit with the quality retailers in Newtown. Everyone of my neighbors agree! Also, too much development without a traffic or parking system to support the massive # of businesses that have opened or will open. Not to mention the increased crime, drunk driving, accidents driven by extreme traffic and road rage. Newtown was a beautiful quaint town with fresh air and clean streets. Now, when a Newtowner goes out the door in the morning, they’ll be greeted with the smell of greasy old pizza, hamburgers and fries and all of the litter that goes with it on the streets. Why weren’t the people who live here asked if they wanted all of this building which annihilating our town. Stop the continued development! Greed is not good!”

Not Sure?

There were a total 15 comments from Newtown area residents who said they were “not sure” about the proposal. Most were against Old Navy but were OK with the Chick-fil-A expansion. The following is a selected list of representative comments:

“Yes to Chick-fil-A expansion and traffic improvements. No to Old Navy”
[Several “unsure” respondents had similar comments.]

“Love old navy and the fact that it’ll be closer to home to shop for our entire family, considering the only alternate is Gap which is very small and limited, but not looking forward to the increase in traffic from surrounding areas.”

“I am not in favor of building anything on the empty lot next to Bed Bath & Beyond. I'm concerned that we are paving over Newtown to the detriment of communities downstream. Also, we have an Old Navy in Fairless Hills — so many of these big retail chains are opening up then closing tons of stores and leaving empty space and impermeable surface in their wake. A turn lane for Chick-Fil-A is probably a good idea, but will Applebee's have to sacrifice parking to make it happen? Again, I'm not in favor of more blacktop. We have more than enough already.”

“There are so many retailers closing stores. Not sure this will succeed. I will use it for returns. I shop primarily online and occasionally at Old Navy. Chick Fil A should have their take out line reconfigured for traffic purposes. Not sure if restaurant should be expanded given number of new places being built.”

“This change should be delayed until the impact of the current construction in the shopping center is realized. While studies might have been done, the actuality should be understood first.”

“With all these new stores in the Village at Newtown, I hope they are paying their full share of taxes and paying a $15.00 minimum wage to employees. If the center is properly maintained it will be an asset to the Township.”

Old Navy/Chick-fil-A Proposal Questionnaire

Take the Survey

DISCLAIMER: This is not an official Newtown Township approved survey. Its purpose was solely to inform John Mack – a Newtown Supervisor – of the public’s opinion regarding this issue.

This site is paid for and approved by John Mack: john@johnmacknewtown.info
The opinions expressed here are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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