Newtown News Update


Welcome to the November, 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.

Supervisors Vote to Oppose Variances for Durham Road Townhouses

For the first time in a long time - maybe the first time ever! - the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted to send the Township Solicitor to a Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB Definition) meeting to oppose the awarding of variances to a developer.

In question is a application by Durham Partners Group, LLC, for 7 variances in order to build twenty seven townhouses on a 5-acre parcel of land located at 413 Durham Road in the PS-2 (Professional Service) Zoning District. Such a use is not allowed in the PS-2 District, either as a Use By Right Definition, by Conditional Use Definition and/or by a Special Exception Definition.

The Plan

Strike One!

BOS Chair Phil Calbrao categorized the proposed development as "super dense" and said "If you were to only build single-family homes with a front yard, back yard, and two side yards, I believe you could get only one-and-a-half homes on that particular property." Calabro was citing what would be allowed as a "use by right" in the PS-2 district.

In comments before the BOS, resident Mike Horbal agreed and said "to propose twenty seven townhomes on a 5-acre property makes very little sense except for the developer." Mr. Horbal said that if the town is really against overdevelopment this would be a "perfect example" to oppose. "Don't come to town," said Mr. Horbal, "if you can't propose a project that meets the requirements of the zoning regulations."

Resident Joyann Charlton echoed Mr. Horbal's comments and implored the BOS to take a position against the development. Ms. Charlton mentioned the strain on already overcrowded schools and busing.

View the Video of the Q&A and Comments from Supervisors

Strike Two!

Heath Dumack, the engineer hired by the developer, appeared before the Newtown Planning Commission Definition at its November 19, 2019, public meeting "as a courtesy."

Mr. Dumack responded to questions by the members of the Commission and commented that "You're being much nicer than the reception I received last Wednesday" (he was referring to the reception by the Board of Supervisors).

But the "niceties" did not last long. PC member Paul Cohen said "I don't want to be too impolite about it, but this is crazy! This is just a blatant effort to squeeze as much as possible out of this. To come in and propose - where there's supposed to be one home - twenty-seven is... incredibly bold."

Listen to the Q&A and Comments from the Planning Commission

Strike Three?

The next step for Durham Partners Group is to appear before the Zoning Hearing Board. Will the third time be the charm or will it be strike three and "yer out!"? With the Township Solicitor there to oppose awarding variances for this plan, it is my hope that the ZHB denies the application.

Would it have been possible to save the township some money and just send a letter to the ZHB?

I don't think so. It is my experience that developers will never give up and they are willing to spend the money on lawyers. You can't fight that with a letter!

I find discussions with residents very helpful. Therefore, I'd like to make it a regular thing to meet with residents to discuss issues that are on the agenda of upcoming Board of Supervisors meetings. 

Why the second Monday of the month? The 1st Board of Supervisors meeting is usually the second Wednesday of the month. I get to see the agenda and have access to documents for that meeting after 5 PM on the previous Friday. This gives me an opportunity to discuss the agenda with residents before the meeting and get their input. Not all residents can attend the Wednesday night meetings. Some may not be able to meet me Monday afternoon either, but perhaps the two groups do not coincide. We'll see how this works out.

If you can't meet me, respond to my survey: Issues of Importance to Newtown Township Residents, which asks respondents to rate the importance of several issues impacting the quality of life in Newtown Township, including:

  • Bringing New Business to the Township
  • Communications Between Residents/HOAs & Board of Supervisors
  • Condition of Roads
  • Keeping Taxes Among Lowest in Bucks County
  • Prescription & Illegal Drug Abuse
  • Preservation of Open Space/Curb Overdevelopment
  • Quality of Drinking Water
  • School Safety
  • Snow Removal/Plowing
  • Speeding and/or ignoring Stop Signs in Residential Areas
  • Support for Youth Activities & Programs
  • Other issue


Take the Survey Now!

John Mack