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Newtown Township planners say a developer has work to do before it can proceed with plans to build a Wawa with gas pumps off Newtown Bypass.
The township planning commission recommended at its meeting Tuesday evening that attorneys for the township and the Provco Group revisit a draft zoning amendment, which the developer had authored to permit the Wawa where the bypass intersects with Lower Silver Lake Road.
[For more background, read: “Updated Wawa Plan Presented to Newtown Planning Commission” and “Residents Present Their Case For and Against a Super WaWa on the Bypass”]  
The amendment would create a new “motor vehicle fueling station” use under the Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance, with specifications such stations must meet to be permitted within the ordinance’s office research district. Standalone convenience stores and gas stations currently are not allowed in that district, where the 5,585-square foot Wawa with 16 fueling stations is proposed.
The Newtown Area Zoning Jointure also includes Upper Makefield and Wrightstown. Planning commission Chairman Allen Fidler said, because neither township has an office research district, both likely will approve Provco’s proposed amendment if Newtown Township does so first.
Before any vote on the amendment, planners said Provco needs to return to the commission after revising aspects of the draft. The specifics of the amendment are of key importance, in that they could have long-term ramifications for future development along Newtown Bypass, commission members agreed.
For example, the township could be seen as creating an uneven playing field if it were to give Wawa leeway to install LED signage after turning down similar requests from previous developers, planners said.
In addition, an allowance for the chain to remain open 24 hours could create potential for crime after hours, commission members said.
A majority of the approximately 15 residents in attendance spoke out in opposition to the Wawa.
At its October 16, 2018, public meeting, Newtown Planning Commission members ripped apart the proposed ordinance amendment (a so-called “text amendment”) to the Newtown Area Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO) that is designed to allow a “modern, motor vehicle fueling center consisting of a convenience store with accessory motor vehicle fuel sales” on the Bypass. The ordinance was drafted by developers and their legal counsel and modified by Newtown Township officials specifically for a Wawa Super store, a sketch plan for which was first presented to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) in May, 2018 (read “Developer and Attorney Present Their Case for a WaWa Superstore on the Newtown Bypass”).
The following is a summary of the questions and comments made by Planning Commission members regarding this proposed Ordinance, which would amend the OR District zoning regulations to allow for this conditional use, which otherwise does not allow such use. The Planning Commission review is the first step before the draft ordinance is presented to the Jointure for approval by all three members (Newtown, Wrightstown, and Upper Makefield). Newtown is the only municipality in the Jointure that encompasses an OR District.
Find the comments by the Commission as well as audio of comments by residents here.
The ghouls, goblins and skeletons were all there last night at the 2019 Budget Presentation. These guys greeted me at the door!
Interim Township Manager Micah Lewis and former Manager, Kurt Ferguson - now a consultant working for Newtown - presented some pretty scary numbers to the Board of Supervisors (BOS) throughout the night. Those numbers have to do with:
  unpredictable Earned Income Tax (EIT Definition) decreasing Real Estate Transfer Tax Definition alarmingly low predicted year-end General Fund Definition balance the looming shortfall in the debt service fund  
I will post more information about these scary items in the next couple of weeks leading up to Halloween. The budget itself should become available for public access soon after it is approved for advertising, which I expect will happen at the next BOS meeting on October 24, 2018.
For now, I will focus on some good news: the budget includes a road paving program.More about that here.
2018 © John Mack
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