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Supervisors Continue to Oppose Swim Club Development Plans

The township solicitor will go in front of the Zoning Hearing Board to oppose plans for 52 townhouses at the Newtown Swim Club property. The swim club is closing after the summer of 2013.

A proposal to put 52 townhomes on the property that is presently the Newtown Swim Club will face opposition from the township solicitor when it comes before the Zoning Hearing Board for a variance.

David Platt, owner of the Newtown Swim Club, is working with County Builders to create a residential development on the property once the swim club closes after the summer of 2013. 

His first proposal featured 64 townhomes – a plan that the township supervisors opposed in July. The swim club property, located on Newtown-Yardley Road, is zoned for single family housing and requires a variance to construct higher density townhomes.

On Wednesday, Platt returned before the board of supervisors to present his revised plans to build 52 townhomes on the 16.6-acre site. But the supervisors were not swayed. By a 3-2 vote, the board directed the township solicitor to attend the hearings to oppose the plans. 

“If we don’t continue to oppose this, we should pretty much take our ordinance and throw it in the trash,” said board member Rob Ciervo, noting the higher density housing would contribute to congestion and would set a precedent for future developments.

“We should uphold our zoning. This is a main issue to our residents, the continued development of Newtown,” Ciervo said.

Mike Meister, president of County Builders, blasted the board for their lack of support for Platt. “I think it’s a travesty what you’re doing to Dave Platt,” he said. Meister told the board that if they didn’t accommodate the current proposal, he would put forth an alternate proposition for the site – a 64-plot trailer park.

“I don’t make empty threats,” Meister said.

The supervisors were not rattled by Meister’s comments. In the end, Matt Benchener and Philip Calabro joined Ciervo in voting to send the solicitor to the Zoning Hearing Board in opposition to the application for a variance.

Ryan Gallagher and Mike Gallagher voted not to send the solicitor. Ryan Gallagher said he lives nearby the proposed development and does not believe there are traffic or congestion issues.

“Why would we waste money on a solicitor?” Ryan Gallagher asked.

But Calabro said sending a solicitor to defend the township’s zoning ordinance wouldn’t be a waste of money, but rather an investment. “This is something that is a major concern to the township. I would consider it an investment to send our solicitor,” Calabro said.

Benchener recognized the Newtown Swim Club as a valuable local business and thanked the Platts for their efforts to operate it over the years. But he noted the board has to look out for the wellbeing of the township into the future. “The key thing here is that this development is going to be here for decades,” Benchener said.

Platt said high-density townhomes abut both sides of his property. “To try to build single family homes just doesn’t make sense,” he said, adding his battle with cancer has made it impossible for him to continue to operate the swim club.

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RHON November 29, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Uh HEY Voice..not quite!! Im NOT the builder or friend/relative. Ya think their bluffing? Enjoy your new neighbors.
R U guessing ? November 29, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Stop it Jay.
Karen November 29, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Funny...I have lived in this town all my life over 35 years just like Becky. To bad we did not have the same effect on supervisors back when we were a sleepy little town, like the current residents do. We did not stand a chance when they wanted to build huge houses on our farm land, but those same residents who moved on our farm lands don't want more housing any where near them....
Becky November 29, 2012 at 09:33 PM
LOL, Rhon, are you new here? They tried for the mobile home park over ten years ago and it was vetoed right off the planet. Why must we cram as many houses onto an acre of land as is possible? Are the builder and owners REALLY that greedy? Come on folks, let's try to preserve at least a smidgeon of the beauty of this area.
The Illuminati November 29, 2012 at 09:56 PM
@Becky...there is nothing negative or sarcastic about my comments. I am throwing out a simple question. Why do we allow local government to tell what we can and cannot build on our own properties? Its a simple question. Do we own our properties or do we rent them from the municipality we live in. We accept zoning ordinances as law, but why? What if the municipality passed an ordinance that said that people who lived in Tyler Walk could only own red cars? Sounds ridiculous, but is it any different than telling a property owner what they can or cannot build on their own land? Again, please tell me how I am being sarcastic or negative. I am simply asking why I need permission from the government to develop my land the way I see fit.
R U guessing ? November 29, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Karen and Becky stop your whinning, the Supervisors kept housing out as long as they could. Newtown happens to be in a very GOOD location.
R U guessing ? November 29, 2012 at 10:02 PM
A little Common sense might help you.
Jen Ross Dix November 29, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Illuminati...zoning laws are part of sensible planning. It's how you get a community with balanced attractive development that meets the needs of residents. Heck, if your philosophy is correct we should abandon all laws. Forget stop signs and speed limits, right? I mean who should tell you how to drive?
gayle roseman November 30, 2012 at 02:19 AM
it's ashame. I feel bad that Mr. Platt is sick. Bravo for him wanting to take care of his family. My daughter goes to newtown swim club for camp and it's the first camp we found that she loves. I wish someone would just buy it and keep it a swim club! The last thing we need in Newtown is townhomes!
Becky November 30, 2012 at 10:41 AM
2013, let me guess - you're hardcore Republican, you moved to the area within the last 15 years, AND you're a "thousandaire". Voicing my dismay at how my hometown has been exploited due to "being in a good location" is not whining. It's stating my view. Don't read it if you don't like it.
mork November 30, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Why don't politicans and Zoning Board members stop trying to line their pockets? Use the Bucks County available open spaces fund that it seems Townships don't want to take advantage of because they have to put up 25% to Buy the Swim Club.WE DON'T NEED MORE HOUSING we need to Down Size Government and School Districts.
Man Landers November 30, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Ill- uminati. I feel your pain. I really wanted to open up that 24 hour strip club/massage parlor in my basement but the darn government with their stupid zoning laws and pesky NIMBY neighbors to my 1/4 acre lot just wouldn't have it. Geez, you could barely see my custom flashing neon sign. I thought this was America?
Karen November 30, 2012 at 02:08 PM
2013 I agree with Becky. We are not whinning... Newtown is a great location! I as with Becky am just stating my view. It is just a funny fact that the people who want to stick with zoning and don't want particular shops, restaurants, or new homes built are the same people who fought to have their homes built only a few years ago. They did not care what farm or open space was taken, they wanted that huge house in Newtown...but they sure do have an opinion now of what can and can not come to this location.
Newtown Resident November 30, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Who does Mike Meister think he is fooling??? He wants more homes in the plan than zoning allows so he can make more profit from building...While mobile homes are allowed according to zoning, Meister is not going to go through with mobile home park because he would miss out on the profits from building homes. Newtown supervisors called your bluff...good for them.
Newtown Resident November 30, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Contact the developer directly and let them know how you feel. Contact County Builders, Inc. Contact County Builders, Inc. New Britain Developers Residential • Industrial • Commercial 76 Griffith Miles Circle P.O. Box 2579 Warminster, PA 18974 Phone: 215-675-3141 • Fax: 215-675-3880 Email: info@countybuildersinc.com
Newtown Resident November 30, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Mike Meister - Southampton Development, old article http://articles.philly.com/1993-12-26/news/25942278_1_new-plan-approval-single-family-homes
Stewart November 30, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I don't know if 52 townhouses are too many for the swim club property, but I do know that I don't want 64 trailer homes there. Will these homes be for low income people ? Will we have a permanent underclass in Newtown ? How will it affect the schools ? Property values ?
Newtown Resident November 30, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Mike Meister - Ashley Property Management & Maple Property Management http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/business/sonic-closes-in-lower-southampton/article_aa292b16-99b5-5acd-a1a7-5ddca149d9bf.html
Karen November 30, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Newtown is not an exception to low income housing...or as you refer to underclass! There is more low income housing in this area then you may think! Did you know we have a food bank in Newtown? Right in the borough? OMG there are people in Newtown borough and Township that need help feeding their families, not everyone can afford to have million dollar homes. Does that mean they are underclass?? They are building Modular homes all over the county. You should watch who you call underclass.
brook November 30, 2012 at 03:53 PM
The last thing we need in Newtown in another kid who gets everything they want!
Smartplanning November 30, 2012 at 04:28 PM
We need retail high end shopping to attract a smarter and wealthier demographic.
Smartplanning November 30, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Furthermore in this economy we have people standing in line to give us money as long as we develop the right way. Driving into Newtown from I 95 is embarrasing, shanty houses and houses piled under power lines. People WANT to live here and give to our tax base. Lets let them do it. For those whom love the "sleepy town" I walk through the town frequently and see closed store fronts since there is no demand as we do not have a town square or center as a anchor. Lets develop and also call out those whom have vested interests in other competitive businesses and sit on the local zoning boards. It is nice in this economic toilet we live in that people are standing in line to give us money. Other school systems are closing and shutting down and we are turning away investment. Lets not stop them.
Charles Farley November 30, 2012 at 09:40 PM
RHON, I'm afraid, is likely correct. Mr. Platt & Meister will build Mobile Homes there if Newtown won't work with them. Many folks, like Jen Dix, will point out that the math does not add up. But what they fail to realize is that this is really just a pay-me-now or pay-me-later scenario. Yes, there will be no profit upfront, but there will be lease profits on 64 Mobile Homes forever. Remember, Mr. Platt is not looking to get rich, he is looking to take care of his family for the rest of their life in the event that he passes. What better way to do that then with a check every single month. This is liking winning the lottery...you can take the lump sum or the annuity. It's a shame Supervisors Ciervo, Benchener, & Calabro couldn't see the forest through the trees. I feel bad for the adjacent property owners whose property values are going to sink.
R U guessing ? December 01, 2012 at 01:18 AM
@Karen; You keep on mentioning FARMS, Who but the builders had the Money to buy the Farms ? The farmers were getting old, thier families did not to keep farming. There was not much money to keep up the farms, too much Hard work. they sold because the money was right at the right time ! @ becky, I have been here more than the 15 years you mentioned, and You allways cry about the way it used to be ! Well time marches on, things never stay the same !
R U guessing ? December 01, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Meister BLUFFS ! Has anyone seen the "Trailer Park" in Buckingham on 413 ?
the VOICE December 01, 2012 at 01:35 AM
YES ! BIG BLUFF !
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the VOICE December 01, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Kara, why are We subjected to these advertisments on Patch - COMMENTS ?
18940 December 06, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Right and a trailer park will really improve Newtown? Moron.
NS January 05, 2013 at 04:35 PM
BIG BLUFF

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