Newtown News Update


Welcome to the March 25, 2019, issue of Newtown News Update. Back issues and subscribing information can be found here.  If you do not wish to receive further updates, please use the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of this email. The opinions expressed here are solely the those of John Mack and do not reflect the opinions of any other person or entity.

Meet the Human Relations Commission

The Newtown Township Human Relations Commission (HRC), which was established by the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors on November 28, 2018, met for the first time at a public meeting on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. The purpose of this meeting was to elect a chair, vice chair, secretary, and appoint non-voting members (see below) as well as to get input from the public, and prepare for the next steps, which includes training by the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission (PHRC).

See "Next Step" below.

Download the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

The Ordinance defines discrimination as "any discriminatory act(s) taken by any person, employer, employment agency, labor organization or public accommodation on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, gender, religion, ancestry, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids." The ordinance specifically prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity - something that the PA state anti-discrimination law does NOT do.

The Newtown HRC will handle discrimination complaints in housing and employment in Newtown Township through a fact-finding conference with the parties of the dispute in order to reach a resolution without the need to hire lawyers or go to court.

See "Filing a Complaint" below.

Standing, left to right, is Aamir Nayeem, Samantha Gross Dorf (non-voting member), Mercy Ingraham, and Amber Ray. Sitting, left to right: Joe O’Neill and Angelic Acevedo.

Voting Members

Angelic Acevedo: A physician by training and originally from Puerto Rico, Angelic is a member of the Newtown Elementary Diversity Committee. She also leads the Princeton Pike chapter of the Organization for Latino Achievement, an employee resource group that her employer, BMS, sponsors. The group champions events that help reinforce an environment of inclusion. Angelic was elected Secretary.

Mercy Ingraham: “Fair treatment under the law is a life-long interest of mine. I have worked with the poor and the disadvantaged all of my professional career.” Mercy's volunteer activities have included being a team leader in an inter-faith coalition to assist local refugee resettlement since 2016. Mercy was elected Vice Chair.

Aamir Nayeem: “Being the son of Muslim immigrant parents, I'm unfortunately aware of the discrimination that ethnic and religious groups face regularly,” said Aamir in his application. While a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Aamir was a member of the Muslim Students Association's executive board, which hosted events and discussions helping educate others about Islam and helping students deal with the rise of Islamophobia.

Joe O'Neill: Over the course of his career, Joe has served in many volunteer capacities and has experience with diversity and inclusion policies within companies both for-profit and non-profit.

Amber Ray: Amber recently moved to Newtown from Bristol Borough, where she was on that municipality's Human Relations Commission for two years. Amber thus has critical experience in the activities of such Commissions. Amber was elected Chair.

Non-Voting Members

Non-voting members of the Commission are ex officio members whose background and expertise broaden the diversity that serves on the Commission.

Samantha Gross Dorf: Currently working as the Associate Dean for Academic Initiatives in the Office of the Provost. Samantha is co-chair of the Race, Ethnicity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Group to the President and helps to lead the student food insecurity group. These two additional roles at the college allow Samantha to serve the college in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion.

John R. Gyllenhammer: John is Deputy General Counsel and Chief Counsel for Health Sciences at Drexel University in Philadelphia. During his 25 years in legal positions at Drexel University and George Mason University, John has had extensive involvement with anti-discrimination laws and regulations applicable to employees, students, patients and members of the general public.

Read More About the HRC in Newtown Patch

Next Step

The next step is for the Commission to acquaint themselves with the functioning of the Commission under this Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, as well as the terms, conditions and provisions of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the operation of the PHRC. This will be done through training and education sessions performed in conjunction with the PHRC.

Filing a Complaint

The Ordinance specifies that complaints may be filed in person at the Newtown Township Building or by mailing such complaints to the Newtown Township Building (100 Municipal Dr, Newtown, PA 18940). All complaints must be received by the Township Manager within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination to be considered timely.

The complaint should include the following information:

  1. The name and address of the aggrieved person(s);
  2. The name and address of the person(s) alleged to have committed the prohibited practice;
  3. A concise statement of the facts, including pertinent dates, constituting the alleged discriminatory practice;
  4. If applicable, the address and a description of the dwelling unit which is involved.

Wawa Submits a Traffic Impact Study

An rendering presented by the developer at a BOS Work Session showing a somewhat idealized view of traffic volume at the proposed Wawa site.

Details of the application for a Wawa at the southwestern corner of Newtown Bypass and Lower Silver Lake Road were presented at a Work Session meeting of the Newtown Board of Supervisors on Monday, May 14, 2018. For more on that, read "Developer and Attorney Present Their Case for a WaWa Superstore on the Newtown Bypass".

At that session, attorney John VanLuvanne, representing the Wawa developer claimed “This site is never going to be a corporate headquarters or office building.” He proposed to amend the JMZO OR District Definition ordinance to allow as a special condition the use of the site for a Super WaWa type convenience store with fuel pumps and explained the process of amending the ordinance. He also promised to submit a traffic study in the "interim" (listen to his remarks here).

That traffic study - "WAWA - NEWTOWN BYPASS (SR 0332) & LOWER SILVER LAKE ROAD TRANSPORTATION IMPACT STUDY" - was paid for and submitted by the developer to the Township in August, 2018.

Executive Summary

Based on this evaluation, the following conclusions were reached:

  • The project site is located on the southwestern corner of the intersection of Newtown Bypass (S.R. 0332) and Newtown-Yardley Road/ Lower Silver Lake Road. The Proposed Site will consist of a 5,585 s.f. WAWA Convenience Market with 16 fueling positions.
  • The site will be served by two (2) driveway locations as follows:
    1. One (1) Full -Access Driveway to Lower Silver Lake Road, opposite the existing Crossing Community Church Driveway (Southern);
    2. One (1 ) Right-In Only Driveway from Lower Silver Lake Road, just south of Newtown Bypass.
  • With the removal of on-site embankments, the measured sight distances at the Proposed Full -Access Site Driveway will exceed PennDOT Safe Stopping Sight Distance (SSSD) Criteria, and in most cases will exceed PennDOT Desirable Sight Distance Standards.
  • The proposed Site will generate 121 new trips during the weekday A.M. peak hour, 93 new trips during the weekday P.M. peak hour, and 129 new trips during each of the Saturday Midday and Sunday Church peak hours.
  • Under all projected (build) conditions with the development of the proposed site and with site-related recommendations outlined in Table 17, all study area intersections will satisfy PennDOT ILOS Standards, with the exception of the ILOS at the intersection of Newtown Bypass (S.R. 0332) and Lower Silver Lake Road/Newtown-Yardley Road, which will degrade from ILOS C to ILOS Dduring the weekday A.M. peak hour. It is TPD's (the engineering firm that was paid by the developer to do the study) opinion that ILOS D is acceptable in urban areas and further improvements would be infeasible at the intersection.

Intersection Level of Service (ILOS)

Traffic engineers grade the operation of an intersection - the Intersection Level of Service (ILOS) - as A, B, C, D, E, or F based on the amount of time each vehicle has to wait to go through the intersection during a particular hour.

Access the FULL Study - Not Including Appendices - Here

Re-Elect John Mack!

On March 11, 2019, I submitted my petitions to the Bucks County Board of Elections to be on the Primary ballot running for a 6-year term as Newtown Supervisor! With the help of friends, I collected about 90 signatures of Democrats. Primary Election day is May 21, 2019.

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John Mack