A residential housing developer – in efforts to construct a cluster of homes at the corner of Newtown Bypass and Buck Road – has been rejected a third time by the Newtown Township Supervisors.
At a fall meeting, members voted unanimously to rebuff Arcadia Land Company’s third Planned Residential Development (PRD) application that was seeking permission to build 23 single homes and 53 townhouses on a 21.5-acre parcel known as the Wynmere-Karr tract.
“I voted to deny the Arcadia PRD because I think it will be unsafe for residents of that development – should it go forward – to exit and enter that property,” said board Secretary John Mack.
“Let’s not forget the additional traffic it would bring to Buck Road and the Bypass. The plan for a U-turn to allow access to the Bypass is totally impractical, unsafe and would cause major delays.”
Twice before this and with the same end result, Philadelphia-based Arcadia submitted PRD applications to build houses on the tract.
In late 2017, a board that looks a lot different from the group that sits in those seats now, rejected Arcadia’s plan to build 85 homes – 59 townhouses and 26 singles – on a 27.6-acre parcel of land at the same location.
Two years prior to that, the supervisors rejected a plan to build 33 single-family detached homes on a 19.2-acre piece of land at the site. After scrapping its initial proposal, Arcadia came back with a second offer in conjunction with the Newtown Reformed Church, which sold a 7.1-acre piece of land to the developer for the purpose of building the 85 homes.
Arcadia also purchased a property at 295 High St. with plans to replace the house that sits there with an exit road that spills into Newtown Crossing.
Scrapping the plan to use the High Street property as an egress point, Arcadia President Jason Duckworth came back to the township in August with his third proposal to build homes on the property only to be rejected once more.
“It’s not like I keep coming up to bat and waiting for a pitch I can hit,” said Duckworth.
“At this point, we have to seek legal remedies because it’s not at all clear that the township will approve anything.”
Arcadia filed a pair of lawsuits against the township, one of which argues that Newtown had no right to charge the builder close to $40,000 for lawyers and consultants who reviewed the developer’s plan. The plaintiff is also asking the court to order the township to pay back approximately $17,000 in submitted cash escrow that Newtown officials already spent on expert witnesses.
According to Duckworth, oral arguments regarding the review fees were heard in Bucks County Court on Jan. 18.
Under the PRD process, the township’s normal planning and zoning channels are bypassed. It gives the supervisors sole authority to approve a development plan in an expedited manner while giving developers a way to fast-track their projects.
However, the supervisors voted unanimously at their mid-September meeting to stop using PRDs as a way of approving development plans submitted by builders. The other townships – Wrightstown and Upper Makefield – within the Joint Municipal Zoning Ordinance (JMZO) have also voted to end the PRD process.
“The idea that there’s a problem with PRDs is kind of a red herring,” added Duckworth. “The issue is strictly a matter of land use – what the township will approve for a site that is designated for the highest density of residential development.”
In other news, Newtown Ambulance announced a subscription drive.
The company provides medical transportation service for Newtown Township and Borough. As of Sept. 1, it no longer does so for 3,100 residences within neighboring Northampton Township.
Chief Evan Resnikoff says the service is looking to replace 378 subscriptions held last year by Northampton residents. Those possessing subscriptions would see their co-pays and/or deductibles covered by the company. Last year, Resnikoff says, NA covered $20,000 in deductibles and co-pays owed by subscribers.
In police news, Bucks County resident Brian Resta was sworn in by Judge Mick Petrucci as the newest officer of the Newtown Township Police Department (NTPD). Resta comes to the department after a stint as a SEPTA Transit Police officer.
Acting Police Chief Jason Harris announced that Officer Frank Goodwin recently administered Narcan to a victim of an opoid overdose.