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Mack's Newtown Voice
49 minutes | Oct 20, 2021
Meet Mack Monday 10/18/21: 2022 Budget & Toll Settlement
This session was devoted mainly to two topics: (1) the draft Newtown Township 2022 budget, which was presented to the Board of Supervisors later that same night (more about that here: https://bit.ly/NT2022BudgetPreso), and (2) the Toll Brothers proposed Settlement Agreement (more about that here: http://bit.ly/2sqcHfi).
7 minutes | Oct 10, 2021
2020 Census Redistricting Data for Newtown Area Jointure Townships
At the October 7, 2021, Newtown Area Joint Zoning Council (JZC) meeting, Lisa Wolff, Senior Planner, Bucks County Planning Commission, presented recently released 2020 U.S. Census Redistricting Data Summary Files, as related to the Jointure townships (Newtown, Wrightstown, and Upper Makefield). Her analysis, which will be incorporated into the updated Newtown Area Comprehensive Plan, covers population trends from 1950 through 2020, population change from 2000 to 2020, population by race, and housing data. Download the BCPC report here: https://bit.ly/BCPC2020CensusData
15 minutes | Oct 9, 2021
Newtown Planning Commission Discusses LI/OLI Overlay Process
At the October 5, 2021, Newtown Planning Commission (NTPC) meeting, members discussed the Bucks County Planning Commission's (BCPC)September 10, 2021, revised proposal for services related to the creation of an Overlay District in the LI/OLI zones. The purpose of the overlay is to allow new permitted uses that will benefit local businesses.
4 minutes | Sep 23, 2021
Karen Downer on Police Co-Responders
Karen Downer, Bucks County NAACP President, explains how the Bucks County Mental Health Co-Responder Program helps police give residents support and services beyond police response during mental health and drug abuse emergencies. Her remarks were made at the Bucks County Community College sponsored September 17, 2021, Constitution Day Forum: "Community Policing 2021: Preserving Public Safety and Civil Liberties" Also speaking was Fred Harran, Bensalem Township Director of Public Safety. Bensalem is one of only three Bucks County police departments that work with co-responders. For more on the program, read "Falls and Middletown Police Departments Join the Bucks County Mental Health Co-Responder Program": https://sco.lt/8wQMF6
19 minutes | Sep 13, 2021
PennDOT & Residents Discuss Arcadia Traffic Access/Egress Options
On September 9, 2021, Francis Hanney, Senior Manager - Traffic Services Division/ADA Coordinator at PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT) - hosted an online meeting with residents to discuss road improvements to facilitate access and egress to the proposed Arcadia Green development at the intersection of Newtown Bypass and Buck Road. At least 4 options with variations have been proposed by the developer and by residents in the neighboring communities. For an explanation of the options, read "Controversy Regarding Proposed Arcadia Newtown U-Turn Option": https://bit.ly/3CaZju2 In this 21-minute audio snippet from that meeting, Mr. Hanney explains why he is opposed to all the options other than the U-turn option at Mill Pond Road. He also discusses criteria that must be met before the limited access restrictions on the Bypass may be lifted. Mr. Hanney offered a more detailed summary of PennDOT's rationale for the above position in a September 16, 2021, letter - https://bit.ly/PennDOTresponseLtr - sent to the Township and participants. The letter responds to the community's concerns and clarifies why certain alternatives are not acceptable and provides additional information about each alternative and reasons for why it is or is not acceptable. Mr. Hanney hopes this response is understandable by lay-people so that they might better understand and accept PennDOT's position. He also implored the community associations to work with Mr. Duckworth to reach a solution to the access issues, including re-looking at the Millpond connection (which would cut through Eagle Ridge property and which is strictly prohibited by the settlement agreement) and what could be done by Arcadia to mitigate the communities' "various concerns."
15 minutes | Aug 20, 2021
Newtown's Expert Testifies at ZHB Wawa Hearing
David C. Babbitt, AICP NJPP, President of David C. Babbitt & Associates, LLC, Land Planning Consultants, was hired by Newtown Township to provide expert testimony at Zoning Hearing Board hearings opposing variances to zoning requested by Wawa. In this 15-minute snippet, Mr. Babbitt presents his opinions of Wawa's request for 8 fueling stations where only 6 are allowed. He also weighed in on the signage issue. For the details, please read Mr. Babbitt's July 8, 2021, Report: https://bit.ly/BabbitReport
14 minutes | Aug 16, 2021
NFA Member Andy Rich Talks About the 12th Annual Newtown Beerfest
Newtown Fire Association member and local businessman Andy Rich talks about the celebrated Newtown Beerfest, which will take place on September 18, 2021, at the Stocking Works, 301 S State St, Newtown, PA. Andy emphasizes the major role that the beerfest has played in raising funds for the new $800,000 fire engine. All made possible by contributions from local businesses and residents! Even so, Andy says more is needed to build up the understaffed volunteer and paid fire departments in Newtown.
10 minutes | Jul 11, 2021
Tantala v.s. “Electronic Message Center”
The last Provco/Wawa witness at the July 8, 2021, Newtown Zoning Hearing Board meeting was Michael W. Tantala who argued that the proposed electronic pricing sign was not an “Electronic Message Center” (EMS) as defined in the Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO). Mr. Tantala claimed that the proposed price signs are not an “Electronic Message Centers” for two reasons: (1) they are not animated, and (2) the alteration is not by electronic means. Mr. Tantala, however, neglected to mention that the numbers are changed remotely via electronic means and NOT by an employee “mechanically” spooling the numbers by hand. Mr. Sander clarified that point in his cross-examination. More details: https://johnmacknewtown.info/zhbwawarnd2.html
7 minutes | Jul 10, 2021
Wawa Traffic Expert Testimony: "Cone of Vision"
Michael Hammond, a licensed civil engineer in traffic and transportation, and EVP of Traffic Planning and Design, testified at the July 8, 2021, Newtown Zoning Hearing Board public meeting. In his testimony, Mr. Hammond talked about the “Cone of Vision” of drivers on the Bypass & Lower Silver Lake Road in determining the size and placement of signs. Based on his traffic analysis he suggested the optimal height of the freestanding monument sign on the Newtown Bypass should be 50 feet! More details: https://johnmacknewtown.info/zhbwawarnd2.html
7 minutes | Jul 10, 2021
Redel Cross-Examination at Newtown ZHB on 8 July 2021
At the July 8, 2021, Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) public hearing, Newtown Township attorney David Sander cross-examined Mr. Mike Redel, a Real Estate Project Engineer employed by Wawa, regarding signage. Mr. Redel presented his testimony at the June 3, 2021, ZHB session: https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/zhbwawarnd1.html More details: More details: https://johnmacknewtown.info/zhbwawarnd2.html
6 minutes | Jul 2, 2021
Tech Committee Discusses Hybrid Public Meetings
Newtown supervisor John Mack presents a case for switching from strictly in-person official public meetings to hybrid meetings that allow the public the option of attending in person or via an online technology such as Zoom. Mr. Mack made his comments at the June 28, 2021, meeting of the NT Technology & Communications Committee. Two members of the Committee participated successfully via Zoom while others met in person at the township public meeting room. Get more details about the Hybrid Meeting survey mentioned by Mr. Mack, including sample comments from survey respondents, in the June 2021 Newtown News Update newsletter: https://bit.ly/ntnuJun2021
5 minutes | Jul 1, 2021
Newtown Township Website Review: Need for Analytics
Brian Miller, Founder & CEO of Unique Design Studios and member of the Newtown Township Technology & Communications Committee (T&CC) gave a short preliminary review of the township's website at the June 28, 2021, T&CC public meeting. In this snippet, Mr. Miller focuses on the importance of performing regular analytics to determine how the website is performing and what needs to be improved.
17 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
Newtown Finance Committee Discusses Starting Budget Process Earlier
At its June 22, 2021, live public meeting, the Newtown Township Finance Committee (FC) continued its discussion of how it can advise the township on budget priorities. A major issue discussed was the fact that the FC cannot see the preliminary budget before September at which time it is too late to change priorities. A case was also made to have department heads discuss THEIR priorities in a public forum with input from the FC very early in the process before the preliminary budget is presented to the Board of Supervisors. This is just a shortened snippet from the rather contentious hour-long discussion.
9 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
Newtown Finance Committees Discusses Uses of PEG Grant Money
At its June 22, 2021, live public meeting, the Newtown Township Finance Committee (FC) continued its discussion of possible uses for PEG (Public, Educational, and Governmental) grants from cable companies. Under federal law, PEG Fees may only be used for capital costs associated with PEG access facilities and equipment. One possible use is to upgrade the "antiquated" equipment used by the township. Also discussed was the possibility of competitive bidding to find a new contractor to provide cable AND streaming video of important public meetings.
17 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
NT Finance Committee Discusses COVID-19 Relief Fund
At its June 22, 2021, live public meeting, the Newtown Township Finance Committee (FC) continued its discussion of possible uses for the $2.005 million in American Rescue Plan's COVID-19 Relief Funds the township expects to receive over the next two years. Various suggestions were put forward. In the end, the consensus was that no decision on spending this month should be made in 2021 so that there is time to do adequate research and so as not to complicate the 2022 budget process, which was also discussed at this meeting.
37 minutes | Jun 17, 2021
Westcorp Makes Case for Signage Variances at PC Meeting
Wescorp, located at 1 Pheasant Run in Newtown, PA, is planning on a reconstruction project and would like to "upgrade" two signs - one facing Pheasant Run and one facing Penn Street above the entrance (see sketch). In this 30-minute audio clip from the June 15, 2021, Newtown Township Planning Commission (NTPC)meeting, representatives of Wescorp make their case for the requested variances, which raise several interesting issues: Jerry Schenkman - a Newtown solicitor - revealed that a multi-story apartment building has been proposed to be located next to Wescorp on Penn Street. How will a lighted sign impact local residents, including those in this building if is built? There are specific limitations on signage within 1,000 feet of the Newtown Bypass and some Zoning Hearing Board members may be very strict on adhering to those limitations. The size of the signage may also be an issue. Other than those concerns, the consensus of the NTPC was that the Board of Supervisors (BOS) not oppose this application, which will go before the Newtown Zoning Hearing Board after the BOS makes its decision.
16 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
Middletown Township Hosts Successful "Hybrid" Public Meetings
In this 17-minute audio clip, Nick Valla, Assistant Middletown Township, PA, Manager, presents an overview of how his township learned to run "hybrid" public meetings that allow the public to participate in person or remotely via Zoom. Mr. Valla presented his comments at a Zoom Webinar presented by Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) Office of Communication on June 9, 2021. The Webinar was titled "Ensuring Equitable and Engaging Meetings" and asked "Are Hybrid Public Meetings the New Norm?"
22 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Newtown ZHB Wawa Hearing Part 2: Signage Cross Examination
In this excerpt from the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) June 3, 2021, Wawa hearing, attorney David Sander representing Newtown Township cross examines Provco/Wawa's expert witness Jason Korczak regarding signage. This audio clip also includes testimony on the signage issue by Mr. Mike Redel, a Real Estate Project Engineer employed by Wawa. Provco/Wawa is asking the ZHB to permit two electronic message center signs (aka, monument signs) for the purpose of displaying fuel prices with the changeable copy being limited to fuel prices. This is a variance from Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance sections 1103.0.3 "General Sign Regulations; Illumination of Signs"; 1104.B.16 "Applicability; Prohibited Signs"; and 1106.N.1 "Permanent Sign Requirements; Electronic Message Center".
10 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Newtown ZHB Wawa Hearing Part 1: Signage Expert Testimony
In this excerpt from the Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) June 3, 2021, Wawa hearing, Provco/Wawa attorney John VanLuvanee solicits testimony regarding signage by the Provco/Wawa expert witness Jason Korczak, P.E., Bohler Engineering regarding signage. Provco/Wawa. Provco/Wawa is asking the ZHB to permit two electronic message center signs (aka, monument signs) for the purpose of displaying fuel prices with the changeable copy being limited to fuel prices. This is a variance from Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance sections 1103.0.3 "General Sign Regulations; Illumination of Signs"; 1104.B.16 "Applicability; Prohibited Signs"; and 1106.N.1 "Permanent Sign Requirements; Electronic Message Center".
10 minutes | May 27, 2021
American Rescue Plan: More Details on Permitted Uses
In this 10-minute audio snippet, Holly Fishel, Policy & Research Director at PSATS (Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors), continues the review American Rescue Plan permitted uses. Her comments were made at a May 14, 2021, PSATS "Town Hall" webinar. Ms. Fishel covered more details on “Permitted Uses” including pay for essential workers, lost revenue replacement, infrastructure investments (e.g., roads), etc.
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