The Joint Comprehensive Zoning Plan is up for its 10-year review and modification and it’s going to cost Newtown taxpayers more.
At least $25,000 of the $50,000 expected cost must be paid by Newtown as the most populated of the three townships within the Municipal Jointure that also includes Wrightstown and Upper Makefield.
According to Newtown Township Manager Micah Lewis, there is no money in the town’s 2019 budget to pay for the formulation of the new plan. Grant moneys are available, however, he says, but those requests for money will be handled at the county level and each township has to sign off on applications.
Before making any changes, Planning Commission Chairman Allen Fidler advised the township’s board of supervisors at its July 10 meeting to get input from the public.
“Land use, traffic – all of those issues – are readdressed every 10 years by the revisiting of the comprehensive plan,” said Fidler.
For public input, Board Chair Phil Calabro wants to reach out to homeowners’ associations.
“They’re the ones who have their fingers on the pulse of their communities,” said Calabro. “I always found that to be local government at its finest because they’re taking care of homeowners.”
According to Fidler, the Bucks County Planning Commission has agreed to do the legwork and provide some background information. But public input has to come from the townships, he added.
“The input of citizen groups within the jointure partnerships makes it a much better process in the end product and an even greater one than we already have,” he commented.
At a recent meeting of the Joint Zoning Council, Fidler says there was discussion about surveying residents within the three townships, asking them what they see as a vision for improving the quality of life within the jointure.
“There are certain things that some people might identify that others wouldn’t even think about,” he said. “What are some of the uses that are currently not available within the Jointure; do they need to be included? Are there others that should be removed?”
Secretary-Treasurer John Mack asked if the county planning commission was going to draft the survey or would each township conduct its own.
“I would think if they take the rudimentary step of drafting a proposed survey, the planning commissions of all three jointure partners as well as the boards would look at it to see if it’s inclusive or exclusive of things that are important to our jointure partners,” answered Fidler.
According to Fidler, the county planning commission assumes that drafting and ratifying a new Comprehensive Plan will be a year-long process.
Fidler says a timeline is in place and it looks aggressive, he says. That process can’t get started however, until the boards in all three townships give the county commission permission to proceed.
In other news, Newtown has a new police officer on board. Before the start of business at the supervisors’ July meeting, former Philadelphia policeman Brent Helvig was sworn in by District Justice Michael “Mick” Petrucci.
In January, the township persuaded former Philadelphia Police Captain John Hearn to head a police department here that now commands 32 officers, commanders and civilian staff members.
While Hearn came to Newtown from the 14th District, Helvig is transferring from the 22nd, headquartered near Temple University.
In addition to working for two years as a police officer, Helvig served for three years as an emergency medical technician with the Philadelphia Fire Department. He has also volunteered as a firefighter with the Bensalem Fire Department.
In other police matters, Hearn says his department has made significant progress into its investigation of an attempted robbery that took place in the early morning hours of June 10 at KVK Tech, a pharmaceutical facility located on Campus Drive.
Police are also seeking information on a burglary that occurred recently along the 200 block of Silver Lake Road. And once again, Newtown is joining 215 police departments across the state in an effort to crack down on aggressive driving. The campaign will run from now until late August.