Trailer Park Plans Likely to be Reviewed by Township at Feb. 5 Meeting

The Planning Commission will be the first to review the plans for the proposed mobile home park at the Newtown Swim Club. It is not known yet if the applicant is seeking waivers or variances, Solicitor Jeffrey Garton said.

Plans for a mobile home park at the Newtown Swim Club site will likely come before the Newtown Township Planning Commission on Feb. 5, officials announced at Wednesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

The Planning Commission, an advisory board, meets at 7:30 p.m. at the township Administration Building.

Swim Club owner David Platt is working with County Builders to create a residential development on the 16.6-acre property on Newtown-Yardley Road once the club closes after this summer.

According to Newtown Township Manager Kurt Ferguson, the application to create a 56-pad mobile home park will go through the typical development process.   

That process begins with a review by the Planning Commission, which will make recommendations on the application to share with the Board of Supervisors. The Planning Commission’s review may take more than one meeting, officials noted.

Township solicitor Jeffrey Garton said it is not yet known if the applicant is seeking any waivers or variances from the township. However, he added, a mobile home park is a “right by use” on that property – meaning the applicant would not have to appear before the township’s Zoning Hearing Board.

The application for a mobile home park was submitted after the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors shot down a plan for townhomes because it exceeded the housing density permitted in that zoning district.

A handful of residents attended the Board of Supervisors meeting to weigh in on the proposal. Borough resident Paul Salvatore, who is also a Newtown Township property owner, asked if the township could do anything to stop the trailer park from coming to fruition.

“The law is if an application meets all the requirements, they are entitled to an approval,” Garton replied.

He noted township staff and the Planning Commission will carefully review the application to ensure it complies with township ordinances.

David Wagner, Headley Community Homeowners Association board member, asked the supervisors to go back to the table with Platt and County Builders and work out an arrangement that doesn’t include a trailer park.

“The situation that we’re in now is a result of the inability of the township supervisors to come to an agreement with Mr. Platt and County Builders,” Wagner said. “We are extremely concerned about the effect of putting in 56 trailer park slabs right next door to us.”

Wagner said the Headley Community Homeowners Association is “unified and unanimous with our dislike” of the proposal.

In the meantime, Wagner said his neighborhood hopes to coordinate efforts with other nearby communities who also oppose the project. 

MR January 11, 2013 at 06:06 PM
I don't think that people were opposed to the townhome proposal- the BOS were the ones who wouldn't grant the variance needed to build it. Furthermore, I don't think that everyone is okay with the water park and bar being added to the health club- if we can even call it that anymore. But I do agree that whoever has the money holds the power…
MR January 11, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Yes, thank you Kara! Although these comparisons are based on assumptions at the moment, it is nice to have a point of reference when discussing this issue. Your efforts are appreciated.
Melf55 January 11, 2013 at 06:32 PM
The builder as the buyer is who established the market value and would be considered in the eminent domain by the township. The disrespect shown by Ciervo is absolutely the issue and main reason we will have a trailer park. He has an attitude that he can push around any land owner and act like the all and powerful ROB CIERVO. @ MR- the people were ok with town homes as was Platt. Ciervo was not and he created this mess. It wasn't all the supervisors. The Gallagher boys treat people with respect and are reasonable, down to earth people.
MR January 11, 2013 at 06:42 PM
That's fine, but ultimately it was the BOS who didn't approve the variance. At the end of the day, who voted for it and who did not is irrelevant beause it was voted down.
Melf55 January 11, 2013 at 06:42 PM
@becky..Maybe a bit naive but I always like people who put money where their mouth is and you are gladly offering. I think it is a pretty big number for the purchase price paid by the builder but who knows. Should be fun to see how this plays out
Melf55 January 11, 2013 at 06:48 PM
@jay After all asking the NAC to create a community pool with condemned land is just pillow talk for the supervisors.
Melf55 January 11, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Agreed but this builder is out to get Ciervo. The whole township is going to be screwed because of his disdain for Rob and how Rob treats people.
MR January 11, 2013 at 07:23 PM
In other words, we are all going to be the victims of this builder's temper tantrum and Ciervo's bullying. This is such a mess!
Melf55 January 11, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Rob Ciervo January 11, 2013 at 08:48 PM
I always enjoy when people make ad hominem attacks behind anonymous screen names as it certainly adds something to the discussion of public policy. In summary the builder on two occasions came before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors asking for very large zoning variances than in effect would call for first a 102% increase in housing density and then a 72% increase in housing density. The builder presented no legitimate hardship as to why these variances were needed. In Pennsylvania those seeking variances from a municipal Zoning Hearing Board are supposed to document a hardship when requesting a variance from a municipal zoning ordinance. Land development at the municipal level is not as simple as some are suggesting. In fact though maximum density standards are written in for a variety of housing uses in a variety of housing districts (the district in question is the R2 residential zoning district), there are numerous other factors with regard to the conditions of the land and the natural resources on the land which will ultimately determine how many units a developer can build without any variances. Past boards in Newtown Township have been too quick, in my opinion, to grant a huge array of large variances to all of the housing builders over the years which has resulted in many more homes than necessary being built and contributes to the overall traffic congestion and overdevelopment in the area. I take our zoning seriously and work to defend it.
Rob Ciervo January 11, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Additionally the plan from the builder with regard to a possible mobile home park has only recently been submitted. There are many standards the builder will have to meet in order for a majority of the board to vote to approve. If for some reason the board votes not to approve the plan the builder can appeal the decision. I would state to any resident who may not support this plan to become involved in the process, including becoming a legal party to the proceedings. This will allow those individuals the rights to appeal the decision if it does not go the way they would like it to go. Not long ago residents along Eagle Road did just that and then took the township to court and won a fight against Orleans. Just because a builder says he can do something and threatens that he will, that does not automatically mean it will occur. But I can attest that the developer was probably seeking to illicit certain reactions from nearby residents and the above posts seem to confirm his goal on that end has been largely attained.
Melf55 January 11, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Realty, you are quite arrogant towards applicants. I have witnessed on TV your temperment. I feel that this is causing the builder to pursue this option where simple diplomacy and open conversation would have been beneficial for all. As stated above the hard feelings held by the builder/land owner is also at fault for this mess.
MR January 11, 2013 at 10:17 PM
People "hide" behind screen names on sites like this because they are interested in protecting their privacy. As an elected official, it is probably not in your best interest to be so dismissive to your public. As you can see from the comments on this thread, people in this community are displeased with the events that have occurred thus far regarding the development of this parcel of land. Many are also displeased with other's displeasure. Furthermore, the language used in the articles posted here clearly incites such a reaction by describing the builder as "enraged" and "threatening" the board with a mobile home park. Individuals in this municipality surely do not want to feel that they are the afterthought of an argument between an elected official and a builder.
MR January 11, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Obviously the builder was seeking precisely the reaction that he received from the community in order to serve his cause. The builder could have avoided all of this by proposing a project that did not ask for a variance in the first place, which is what he is doing now but under the pretext of intimidation. This is not appealing to the community. It is a shame that he is not willing to work with the zoning that is already in place and build a development that would seamlessly integrate with the existing neighborhoods. Assuredly this is an option, but he refuses to take this route because he is inflexible and unwilling to conform, and, ultimately is motivated by his own greed. I hope that the residents of Newtown who oppose the development of a mobile home park on the Swim Club site do take whatever action they can to protect the value of their homes.
Newtown Resident January 11, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Making the right decision isn't always easy. As much as I don't want to see a mobile home park in Newtown, I think it's more important that the variance request be denied. This is about the Platts and their builder trying to exploit the emotions of the residents of Newtown by offering up the mobile home park. If you want to voice your anger somewhere, direct it at the Platts...it's their decision and land. The Platt's could stop this today if they wanted to.
See4yourself January 11, 2013 at 10:24 PM
Everyone should watch the supervisors meeting where the plans were discussed Nov. 28. See link below starting at 32:35 minutes. http://newtownpa.swagit.com/play/12052012-678
Man Landers January 12, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Face it Rob, you underestimated the Platt's lawyer. Just figure out a way to kick back his 70K and be done with it. Win some, lose some. That's politics.
Rob Ciervo January 12, 2013 at 02:22 AM
I don't underestimate any builder. I also know how to fight and win to protect the township in these cases because almost always the developers overreach. In this specific case we were never approached to compromise and when a very significant variance met with some opposition it was the builder, if you watch the meeting minutes, who lost his cool and start personally insulting board members. I have spent my time on the board in these issues attempting to stay true to the zoning to limit the impact on the township. My goal is not to flatter nor condemn the individual applicant but to see the project in terms of what is in the best long term interest of the township. Far too often elected officials look to do what is best for them and/or what is best in the short term. That is the reason why our country for instance is in such a fiscal state of disarray. Again if the presently proposed development is something that residents do not want to see occur they should pool their resources and hire a good land use attorney to hold the township to enforcing all sections of the zoning and SALDO when reviewing the submitted plan. The devil is always in the details. Even McDonald's thought they could waltz into Newtown and impose their plan on the board and the township without compromising. With past boards who did not pay attention to the actual zoning ordinances it used to work that way. In 2007 residents had had enough of that and elected different folks like myself.
See4yourself January 12, 2013 at 02:49 AM
I say residents and the township come together to find creative alternatives for that land. Heck, condemn it even if Meister and Platt are going to be so difficult. I don't like Platt and Meister's tactics. I think even if they end up putting town homes or singles there it will spell trouble down the road. Look at the McGrath development and I think he smells like roses compared to Meister.
Dori McCrane January 13, 2013 at 02:24 PM
Call their bluff and let them build a mobile home park. Make them surround it with dense trees, a large setback so it's not visible from the street. My widowed Mother sold her single home and moved to one in the 70's. Back then, most 55 and over places were mobile home parks. She owned her home, but rented the ground from the owner. That way, there is control over what happens on the property. The whole park was kept beautifully. The elderly would take walks and pick up any trash or even cigarette butts on the ground. Included in the ground rental was a nice looking shed. I would certainly make the builder set the homes back, like Lakeview Estates although those homes are gorgeous, so as not visible from the road. Perhaps restrict it to over 55 so no concern of more children n the school and most elderly couples have only one car. I've lived in Bucks County for over 40 years and in Newtown for 25 of those years. I've seen the changes.
R U guessing ? January 22, 2013 at 06:19 PM
So what U neighboring residents have N I M B Y attitudes and don't care about anyone else in the Township .
R U guessing ? January 22, 2013 at 06:25 PM
The G boys Probably got big bucks from this republican supporter !
R U guessing ? January 22, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Well said Dori !
stating the facts January 23, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Wait just a minute! The Township cannot run the Township! Now you're suggesting the Township take the property by way of eminent domain or condemnation? Why not give big government more power? Why not give them bigger heads than they (BOS) already have? The town-drunk, Lil Boy, and the Professor (Union Basher) have big enough egos! The last time they got into the athletic business they sold off the topsoil to Veterans Park and [now] years later it is still NOT fully operational! Kids can't play on stones! Now, you want their hands in the swim club business? And, by taking someone's property? You're starting to sound like the Tyrant in D.C. !
R U guessing ? January 23, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Hey blue eyed U must have rose colored glasses on !
R U guessing ? January 23, 2013 at 11:38 PM
The Builder & land owner are the only ones at fault !
R U guessing ? January 23, 2013 at 11:41 PM
R U guessing ? January 23, 2013 at 11:43 PM
If U knew the facts, the top soil U are speaking about was given to the Township by Toll Bros. to save money on disposal fees !
Melf55 January 24, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Exactly-- @stating the facts... @2013-You obviously misunderstand what @stating the facts is talking about. The baseball fields on 413 are unusable because the township took the low bid. That developer sold off all the topsoil and now they need to do something maybe bring in dirt to make the fields usable. I am not sure of developer? But it is a shame that the fields are in such bad shape.. I still firmly believe we would not be in this mess with this development at Newtown swim club if the township supervisors treated the builder with a little respect and sat down and talked about the options.
R U guessing ? January 24, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Nrwtown Guy, U R wrong on both counts. The Park that never should have been built could be fixed, It is about time that the Board is treating builders like the money grubbing creeps that they are, the builder is the arrogant one just look at his past, The owner as a big polictical donor, expected special treatment and did not get it. look at the developments in the past withall their variances giiven in the builders Favor during the Goren. Harp, Goodnoe and Sanderlin regiems.


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