Newtown News Update

Welcome to March 22, 2018, issue of "Newtown News Update." The opinions expressed here are solely the personal opinions of John Mack and do not reflect the opinions of any other person or entity. If you are not a subscriber, please subscribe here. If you are a subscriber and do not wish to receive further updates, please use the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of this email.

Supervisors Debate Amendment to JMZO That Would Allow Fracking

At the March 19, 2018, Working Session of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, the proposed "Oil & Gas Drilling" (i.e., fracking) amendment to the Joint Municipality Zoning Ordinance (JMZO) of Newtown Township, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown (the "Jointure") was discussed. This amendment would allow fracking in the RI Rural Industrial District and QA-A Quarry/Agriculture-A District of Wrightstown.

This action is being considered because it is feared that the temporary ban on facking by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) - a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the Delaware River Basin – will not be renewed in 2018.

The DRBC is actively considering draft regulations that include the possibility of “prohibitions related to the production of natural gas utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing within the Basin”, but also the allowance for “…storage, treatment, disposal and/or discharge of wastewater within the basin associated with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for the production of natural gas where permitted” and “…the inter-basin transfer of water and wastewater for purposes of natural gas development where permitted.”

Steve Bacher, a local resident and environmentalist who recently launched his campaign to enter the 8th District Congressional Primary Race in a bid to unseat Brian Fritzpatrick, talked about the this in a podcast interview: “Steve Bacher Talks About the Environment.”

At the March 19 meeting, BOS members discussed whether or not to approve the JMZO amendment as a way to restrict and control fracking, as has been done with other unpopular or undesirable uses, employing a strategy of providing a location for every use but selecting locations where land might not be available or where the use would be inappropriate.

Several Board members noted that although fracking itself may not be allowed in Newtown if the revised JMZO ordinance is passed, it could still have a BIG impact on the Town due to the "massive" number of trucks involved - trucks that would barrel up and down Swamp Road on their way from and to Route 95, not to mention the potential effects on our drinking water.

The Board discussed alternative courses of action (listen to the discussion here), which will be discussed at the March 28, 2018, Board of Supervisors meeting. The following short 2-question survey lays out the options and asks your opinion as to the best course of action. Your comments are also appreciated. No identifying information is collected via this survey unless you provide such information within your comments.

Take the Survey Now!

Faulty Bids Cause Delay in 2018 Road Improvement Program

At the March 14, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) meeting, Township Solicitor David Sander advised the Board to reject all bids due to "deficiencies" and to re-bid the 2018 road improvement project.

Township Manager Kurt Ferguson confirmed that this would result in a delay and repaving of approximately 2.8 miles of roads will not be complete until the fall.

According to the public "Notice to Bidders" published in the Bucks County Courier Times today (March 20, 2018), bids from contractors can be submitted not later than April 19, 2018, at 10:00 AM, at which time they will be opened and read aloud at the Newtown Township Administrative Building at 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940.

There will be a non-mandatory pre-bid meeting on April 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM. This would be a good opportunity for bidders to make sure they include all the necessary information when submitting bids.

Needless to say, this may be a big disappointment to residents in the neighborhoods where repaving was scheduled.

View this video clip from the BOS meeting here.

John Mack