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Board Member Now Supports Townhomes in Light of Trailer Park Plan

But there is no evidence that County Builders plans to withdraw a proposal for a trailer park on the Newtown Swim Club property.

At least one member of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors said he would support a proposal for townhomes at the Newtown Swim Club if it meant a trailer park is off the table.

Supervisor Matt Benchener said when he cast the deciding vote on Nov. 28 to oppose a variance for 52 townhomes at the swim club, he believed it was a decision between single-family homes and townhomes.

The property is currently zoned for single-family housing. Higher density townhomes require zoning relief from the township.

However, he told Patch he has since reconsidered his position now that it’s evident the decision is between townhomes or a mobile home park. Since the original vote to oppose the plan was 3-2, Benchener’s reconsideration could be instrumental in changing the outcome of what will be developed on the property.

Swim Club owner David Platt is working with County Builders to create a residential development on the 16-acre property on Newtown-Yardley Road once the club closes after this summer.

After the supervisors voted to oppose the application for townhomes in front of the Zoning Hearing Board, County Builders decided to move forward with an alternative plan for the site – a 56-pad trailer park.

And surrounding residents are less than enthused about the prospect.

Residents of Headley and Wiltshire Walk, which directly abut the Swim Club property, along with homeowners in nearby Newtown Walk, held a strategy meeting on Saturday, Headley Community Homeowners Association board member David Wagner said.

Given Benchener’s change of heart, “the hope is that County Builders will withdraw the mobile home plans and resubmit the townhome plan," Wagner said.

But the likelihood of that happening is unknown. County Builders didn’t immediately return a request for comment from Patch. And Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Gallagher said Monday morning that he has not had discussions with them directly.

“As far as I know, they're still in progress with the trailer park.” Gallagher said.

Wagner said he is asking Headley homeowners to attend two upcoming meetings: a Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 23 and a Planning Commissioning meeting on Feb. 5.

Wagner predicted “a huge crowd” would attend the Feb. 5 meeting.

Both meetings will be held at the township Administration Building and start at 7:30 p.m.

For instant updates, follow Newtown Patch on Facebook and Twitter.

Related links:

  • Plans for Newtown Trailer Park 'Full Steam Ahead'
  • Residents Plan Strategy Meeting to Stop Proposed Trailer Park
  • Trailer Park Plans Likely to be Reviewed by Township at Feb. 5 Meeting
  • Neighbors Mobilizing Against Mobile Home Park
Nicole January 14, 2013 at 08:47 PM
I for one would rather see a 55+ town home/carriage home community go in. I believe this area of Newtown would be in Goodnoe Elementary's zone am if I'm not mistaken, it's crowded enough. There are already 5 and six oversized classes in each grade, and Goodnoe's renovation plans don't seem to be in the near future. I also live in a development that backs up to the site, and wouldn't appreciate the property values lowering with single wide modular homes. I wouldn't be opposed to a nice 55+ double wide community like Buckingham Springs on 413 if it came down to it. But I guess twenty some of those homes wouldn't be financially worthwhile to County Builders. This all comes down to the mighty dollar, it always does, for everyone.
The Illuminati January 14, 2013 at 09:37 PM
I hope the property owner sticks to the trailer park idea. The township already had their chance, now they can choke on it. Just another poor choice in a long list of poor choices by this BOS.
anonymous January 14, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Yeah, cause ... you know...God forbid there's a trailer park anywhere near Newtown. All the snobs and yuppies around here will have a fit!
mitch January 15, 2013 at 03:24 AM
Bring on the double wides...
Michele Sheehan January 15, 2013 at 01:10 PM
Thank you, Matt.
Former Employee of NSC January 15, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Whats with all of the hate? Why do all of you even read the NEWTOWN patch if you aren't from Newtown? I for one don't live in Newtown anymore but just because you people can't afford to live in Newtown doesn't mean it isn't a nice place to live and there aren't nice people there. How would you like it is a bunch of gypsies built a bunch of shacks next to your doublewide and the value dropped by a 3rd? Your home would be worth only $20K instead of $30K. That is an unfair loss. If it affects those around the site to the point where they now have to sell there home for much less it is unfair. Build a trailer park in another part of town. Newtown township is big enough for it. Dave Platt played his game and won. Now he should back off. Otherwise people will probably run him right out of Holland.
R U guessing ? January 15, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Matt, don't punk out now ! It's thier bluff and they swayed your vote ! Another builder bullies his way to sway votes !
Debbie Iverson January 15, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Well, this is fantastic news for any developer--or individual--who feels the need to blackmail our board in the future! Great job Mr. Benchener.
Jen Ross Dix January 15, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Shame on Mr. Platt and Mr. Meister for trying to use the threat of a mobile home park as leverage for building higher density. I hope the public can rally around the supervisors to ensure the fewest number of homes as possible go in there. This is in the best interest of not just Newtown, but the surrounding areas of Wrightstown and Upper Makefield who are part of our zoning jointure. After all, if your two year old throws a temper tantrum for a piece of candy, do you just give it to him? Of course not. So I hope at least three of our supervisors show some backbone when dealing with such an arrogant developer who thinks he can hold the community hostage to get his way. Keep the number of homes as low as possible!!
elle January 15, 2013 at 07:22 PM
Blackmail??? its called business ! Newtown stops anyone who tries to make it nicer! Maybe the 3 stooges on the board should be voted by the people pulling their weight with the head tax and high taxes !
John Larkin January 15, 2013 at 08:12 PM
@elle: Yes, I say it's blackmail, too. What was wrong with the 30 single family homes the land is zoned for? Nothing. But the developer wanted 52 townhomes to make more money and asked for a variance that would increase density 75-100% of what's allowed. When the board denied it he threw fits and threatened to put the trailers there, in essence, trying to blackmail the board into giving him what he wanted. The board had the correct response by not giving in to him, but now Benchener has caved. The takeaway from this is that it sets a precedent for all other developers. Threats and tantrums will work and get you what you want in Newtown. These zoning laws are there for a reason and the board has a right to deny or grant any variances. Threats and blackmail should not make a supervisor give in.
LA January 17, 2013 at 02:30 PM
I've asked this question before ~ how can this property be zoned for single homes and a trailer park at the same time? If a variance is needed for the townhouses, how can the developer build even more pre-fab homes in the same place??
Jen Ross Dix January 17, 2013 at 03:26 PM
The short answer is you need 25 acres to do town homes without variances and only 15 acres for mobile homes. The swim club property is 16.6 acres. Zoning is somewhat complicated. You can read more about what is allowed in the R2 (high density residential which is what that property is zoned) at page 51 of the link below: http://www.keystatepub.com/keystate-pdf/PA/Bucks/Newtown%20Area%20Joint%20Municipal%20Zoning%20Ordinance/Article%20IV%20Residential%20Districts.pdf
JM January 19, 2013 at 03:47 PM
How is this blackmail? They asked for a variance; the town said no; so they are building what they can as-of-right. Just because you dont like the idea, its blackmail? Think it through before you make stupid comments.
Wilbur January 19, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Flip Flop Matt already punked out. How can the BOS ever trust one of his votes again; especially on zoning. Maybe he was gotten to by the checkbook.... there are so many - Mouster, Platt, Carlin & Mandia or Mikey G's $10K hero Senator McIllhenny...You keep all the percentages in your head Matty - what is the percentage that you will fold over another major vote....Very High. Maybe just abstain from all votes for lack of guts and conviction.
LA January 19, 2013 at 04:57 PM
@Jen Ross Dix ~ Thank you. Now I can read up on this and know what I'm talking about!
StelAir January 20, 2013 at 03:37 PM
I'm not sure about the details, but gauging from my common sense, I'd say the trailer homes would be the least profitable of all the options for the builders, right? How much could you sell one of those for?
Enlightened January 22, 2013 at 10:41 AM
I am entertained by the BOS, they are such ArseClowns, that I must laugh. I wonder who the heck ever voted these turds into office. Maybe they need a few drinks before the meeting to get stuff straight.
the VOICE January 22, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Elle; it is blackmail by the builders every stinkin time ! Who are the stooges, the taxes in the township have not been raised in Years. The School Board is the BAD guy with High taxes and you morons keep on voting in the same people !
18940 January 22, 2013 at 05:07 PM
Why shouldn't we? Isn't that why we move to Newtown? We pay more for our homes to move away from this. Little does anyone know WHY the builder and The Platts want to build trailers?? Because they will lease the space from each mobile home. This allows income for years to come. These people will not OWN their trailers, they will simply lease the space. Do your homework, Ever see what happens when someone rents or leases a home or trailer and has no ownership? It will turn to crap in less than a year. Call me a snob but, I do not want that backing up to my home that I own and pay taxes.
18940 January 22, 2013 at 05:09 PM
No because he can lease the space for the trailers. Rent for years to come.
R U guessing ? January 22, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Jm your comments are the stupid ones. The builder is just showing muscle because he didn't get his way and now is "blackmailing" the Twp. to get what he wants !
R U guessing ? January 22, 2013 at 06:08 PM
versus. money straight up from selling larger homes ?
R U guessing ? January 22, 2013 at 06:09 PM
@ENl.... U R a DEMO-RAT, have another one and go back to sleep !
Enlightened January 23, 2013 at 09:44 AM
2013: Yes, that's me a demo -rat. I just find it entertaining, that people have their panties in a bunch about a mobile home park and want to tell a builder what to do with their land. When the previous ideas they had were shot down, they went with the allowable, but, now that's not allowed. If you think our BOS aren't ArseClowns, you must be drinking the BushJuice with the Gallagher boys. They have crapped our credit rating down, there is a huge municipal building with NO ONE working there b/c they can't afford salaries, they allow builders to build this and that, but we don't hire any Public Works, Police, Fire, to sustain the growing community. And then they say Newtownians can't afford a $50 a year tax increase, give me a break, that's most people's Starbucks bill in a month!

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