Newtown News Update

Hello ,

Welcome to the February 22, 2020, 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.

Newtown Township Board of Supervisors Meeting

February 26, 2020 7:00 PM * 100 Municipal Drive

Agenda (Partial)

Public Hearing

  1. Bomba Taco's & Rum - Conditional Use
  2. Toll PA XVIII, L.P. – Conditional Use (more details here also listen to presentation before the Planning Commission - see below)

Land Development

  1. Toll PA XVIII, L.P. - Minor Subdivision

Solicitor's Report

  1. Highway Loan - Resolution awarding the Highway Loan to TD Bank, N.A.
  2. Highway Loan - Consideration of an Ordinance authorizing the Township to borrow 1-million dollars for roadway improvements


  1. Consideration to purchase a Ford Expedition from Chapman Auto Group, and upfitting through Havis, Inc., through CoStars, in the combined amount of $51,583.82
  2. SAFER Grant Discussion

Old Business

  1. Love is Love Resolution (access here)

Toll Bros Discusses Application at Planning Commission

On February 18, 2020, representatives of Toll Bros presented their revised condition-use application to build 41 high-end luxury homes on 152 acres off of Route 413 and Twinning Bridge Road. Click here to listen to an audio recording of that presentation.

Lower Dolington Trail Update: Only Enough Money for a Truncated Trail Now

The Newtown Township Comprehensive Trail Plan was approved by the Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) in August, 2016. The plan was developed after the Township coordinated an interactive community engagement process consisting of a series of public meetings, an online resident survey, and public comment periods prior to adoption of the plan. The public provided insights and feedback regarding the proposed routes.

The final plan specifies eight “Multi-Use” segments, which provide safe, off-road opportunities for bikes and strollers as well as pedestrians. The first segment (M-1) of the Plan is along Lower Dolington Road from Frost Lane to Upper Silver Lake Road (see Figure 1). This approximately 1-mile of multi-use trail will provide a connection between existing residential neighborhoods and Roberts Ridge Park, Goodnoe Elementary School, the Township's Business Commons and the existing trails in and around Roberts Ridge Park.

Figure 1: Location and Overview of the Lower Dolingtion Trail (LDT).

Granted, A Slow Start

Initial attempts at securing grants to begin construction of the LDT failed (read “Newtown Township Trail Plan Struggles to Get Off the Ground”). In November, 2019, however, the Township was awarded $375,000 in grant money: $125,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and $250,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Township had requested a total of $1 million in order to build the entire segment, which is estimated to cost $922,00.

An additional $250,000 will come from the Township's Recreation Capital Fund, which has a balance of $590,870 as of February 2020 according to Township Manager Micah Lewis. The total of $625,000 ($375,000 + $250,000) is enough to fund a "truncated" section of the trail from Frost Lane to the PECO Easement, according to Township Engineer Leanna Colubriale who gave an update regarding the next steps for constructing the trail at the February 12, 2020 BOS meeting (watch the video here). 

Why Not Reduce “Amenities” & Build a Longer Trail?

On February 16, 2020, Victoria Peterson – a resident of Newtown – posted a message to the Roberts Ridge neighborhood on the Nextdoor online bulletin board. She noted that the reduced length of the trail “will cut off safe access to the trail for Woods of Saxony, New Haven and Hill Haven” neighborhoods.

Ms. Peterson also sent an email to all the Supervisors in which she said: “As residents of the New Haven development, we are extremely disappointed to hear this. The omission of the very short stretch of trail from the power lines to Upper Silver Lake Road will cut off safe access to the trail for Woods of Saxony, New Haven and Hill Haven.”

Ms. Peterson noted residents in these neighborhoods will not be able to safely

  • walk their children/grandchildren to Roberts Ridge Park,
  • let their children ride their bikes to neighboring developments/Roberts Ridge Park,
  • walk their dogs,
  • walk their children to Goodnoe Elementary school,
  • run, jog or bike ride, or
  • walk to all the shops Newtown has to offer.

She suggested that instead of reducing the length of the trail, that the township consider reducing the width and/or amenities (ex: benches/trashcans, landscaping), “as these things can always be added later on.”

Table 1: Some Major Cost Estimates

Some residents may consider rain gardens and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible seating areas and ramps “amenities,” but these are important features. Rain gardens help prevent storm water runoff from entering the township's sewer system and pollutants from reaching streams. And in order to qualify for grants, trails must be ADA compliant. 

The Township Manager Responds

“The Township has received state grant funding for the construction of the initial portion of the trail (trail from Frost Ln. To the PECO lines),” said Township Manager Micah Lewis in his response to resident emails. “The remainder of the trail will be bid as an 'alternate' bid so that the Township has an accurate representation of the cost to construct the entire segment” (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Map Showing Sections of the Lower Dolington Trail Covered by “Base” and “Alternative” Bids

Once the plans are designed and engineered, "the Township will evaluate ways to creatively bid the project to maximize the investment," said Lewis. "Depending upon the bids received from contractors, the township will evaluate the options for the construction of the remainder of the trail. The ultimate goal is to construct the entire segment from U. Silver Lake Rd. To Frost Lane.” In other words, if the township receives favorable pricing from bidders it may be able to extend the construction of the trail further towards Upper Silver Lake Rd.

Mr. Lewis noted that additional funding could come from other grants, it could come as contributions by developers, or it could come from the Township as part of a future capital plan.

“Treacherous” Lack of Safe Access

Sue Rozploch expressed her concern about the “treacherous” northern half of Lower Dolington Road. “Anyone who has traveled as a pedestrian, jogger, or biker on Lower Dolington Road is well aware of the dangerous situation that exists there and the possibility of a real tragedy,” she said.

Craig and Kathryn Kausch noted that “there is NO shoulder on either side of the road at that point, and regardless of the 35 mile per hour speed limit and the police positioning themselves in various locations off Lower Dolington Road, cars tend to fly down that roadway… Imagine how you will feel if someone is struck by a vehicle on that short stretch of roadway!”

“There would be hundreds of families who will be cut off from the trail, that is, unfortunately, only a mere few hundred yards away from the Lower Dolington/Yorkshire Drive entrance to Woods of Saxony (which could be used to enable safer access for Woods of Saxony, New Haven, and Hill Haven residents),” said Ms. Rozploch.

It should be noted that the trail switches sides at different points (see Figure above). Between Frost Lane and Everett Drive it is on the East Side (on the side opposite from Country Bend). Then it switches to the West side up to Yorkshire Drive ("A" in figure), then switches again to the East side to the end at Upper Silver Lake Road (not shown in Figure). This is due to several factors including the fact that the Township will be able to use the right of way owned by the town on those sections rather than purchase private land.

The Next Steps

The Township is moving forward doing all the preliminary work such as surveying and obtaining permits so that when the request for bids go out in the near future, the project will be “shovel ready” meaning that work can begin as soon as possible after accepting the winning bid.

This project is likely to come up for discussion again at a future BOS meeting when it comes time to authorize the advertising of request for bids. At that time, residents can submit further comments. Perhaps with some creative thinking from residents, the Township can revise the plan to offer the most inclusiveness for all the families located on Lower Dolington Road.

What's On Your Mind? Join Me for Coffee & a Chat

Are you concerned overdevelopment in Newtown or about traffic in the shopping center or about the quality of our drinking water or about preserving the open space in our parks or about any issue that has or will come before the Board of Supervisors and other township boards and commissions?

MEET MACK on MONDAY to Vent & Learn!

Feel free to attend one of my "Meet Mack Monday" events that I host each month, usually the Monday before the first Board of Supervisors meeting of every month. I will inform you of items coming up for discussion at public meetings you may not be able to attend and that are not televised. I will listen to your concerns and together with other residents and business owners I will try to come up with solutions to problems that make sense for Newtown as a whole.

Find the Next Session Date on

John Mack