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Newtown Twp Chick-fil-A plan withdrawn, for now

Corner of Upper Silver Lake Road & Newtown Yardley Road
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Chick-fil-A developer Newtown Equities LLC has requested an indefinite extension of its zoning hearing application, meaning the controversial application has been withdrawn and will not be scheduled for review unless the developers decide to proceed.

Concerned residents, who blasted the plan to build the fast food eatery at the former TD Bank site on the Newtown Bypass, see it as good news but not a clear win.

“While this is a positive step, it is a conditional and temporary halt, not a definitive victory,” said Donna Serdula, the township resident who has spearheaded opposition to the plan. “The application could be resubmitted in the future, possibly in a different form or location. We must stay vigilant and prepared to mobilize again if necessary.”

The tabling of the proposal last week followed an uproar among residents who opposed the plan to build a 6,000-square-foot restaurant at that spot.

The proposal called for it to be situated directly across and diagonal from a proposed Wawa with gas pumps that the township approved last year via settlement agreement, and within 500 feet of residential homes and community spaces, including Silver Lake and the Newtown Trail.

Newtown Township is already home to one Chick-fil-A, that being on West Road in the Newtown Shopping Center. The new store would sit at the corner of the Newtown Bypass, Upper Silver Lake Road and Newtown-Yardley Road.

The developer’s zoning application shows the restaurant facing Newtown-Yardley Road and Upper Silver Lake Road, with waiver requests submitted that ask the township to allow Chick-fil-A to place signage for its store on the Newtown Bypass.

The necessary zoning relief included permission to have a drive-thru, dimensional variances for setbacks, drive aisle width, and to allow the use within 300 feet of Newtown-Yardley Road and the Newtown Bypass.

Serdula, a Wiltshire Walk resident, said the variances would disrupt the peaceful neighborhood and environment.

“If the supervisors approve the zoning changes and variances, it will be a turning point for Newtown’s future,” she said. “We face a choice: Do we want the Newtown Bypass to remain a bypass, or do we want it to turn into a congested and commercialized business route like Route 1?”

Serdula went on to detail several concerns she and the community have with the proposed development, including increased traffic and safety risks, environmental impacts and emergency access issues.

A petition Serdula started entitled “Stop Zoning Changes Allowing Chick-fil-A Construction in Newtown” garnered more than 700 signatures as of May 12.

“As residents living within 500 feet of the proposed construction site at Newtown-Yardley Road and Upper Silver Lake Road, we are deeply concerned about the potential negative impacts to our community. This development requires several variances that would disrupt our peaceful neighborhood and environment,” said the petition.

“We fear this development will bring noise, smell pollution, traffic congestion, and block emergency access to several houses due to increased traffic. Moreover, it poses an environmental threat as it is situated right by Silver Lake.”

“Furthermore, this project threatens to cut through the beloved Newtown Trail, a 3.7-mile trail connecting Tyler State Park with Silver Lake Park, where significant investment has been made over time for its maintenance and improvement.”

The petition asked residents and supporters of the campaign to contact representatives on the board of supervisors to express their concerns with the project and let their disapproval of it be known.

Serdula grew up in nearby Yardley and says she’s always enjoyed the charm of Newtown, but that charm is at risk of disappearing due to projects like the proposed Chick-fil-A.

“I have been living in Wiltshire Walk since 2020,” she said. “It’s a quiet, sleepy little neighborhood, and we love it here. I grew up in Yardley and have fond memories of Newtown from the days when we’d head over to Goodnoe’s for ice cream and sit on the logs watching hot air balloons descend onto the open farm.”

“After living in New Jersey for eight years, surrounded by retail stores and fast food restaurants that populate Route 130 in Delran, my family decided to move back to Bucks County. We sought the peace and quiet away from commercial hustle, aiming to return to a quieter area reminiscent of my childhood. I am not against Chick-fil-A as a business.”

“But I firmly believe that a fast food restaurant known for creating insane traffic backups does not belong in our small residential neighborhood, disrupting the tranquil life we chose to return to. The site, previously a quiet TD Bank, is simply unsuitable for such a high-traffic business.

Please protect our community from unnecessary disruption and potential harm caused by this project.”

Serdula said the 2025 local elections will be crucial in the fight against overdevelopment.

“The candidates we choose will significantly influence our community’s future,” said Serdula. “Please remain engaged and ready to act. Your continued support is crucial as we strive to preserve the charm and safety of Newtown.”

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