At Newtown Township’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting, the agenda stated:
“PRESENTATION; Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan of 2012:
- Newtown Township Act 537 Official Plan Update, 2012 by James Mac Combie, P.E., H.E. MacCombie and Associates, Inc.”
But apparently, no presentation of the Official Plan Update actually took place. After another year of work and more taxpayers’ dollars, the plan is not available for public comment. It seems that the plan is not done.
Instead, Mr. MacCombie made a presentation of the current status of his work on the township’s 537 plan. He also made specific recommendations for sewage facilities for two areas of the township. It is curious. The 537 plan is to be a plan for sewage facilities for the entire township. Why did the presentation not include information about all neighborhoods currently not served by public sewage facilities? Why did Mr. MacCombie provide recommendations for the Florida Park neighborhood, but had no recommendations for the Hunters Run neighborhood? Why did Mr. MacCombie offer information about some of the Echo Valley neighborhood but not include information about some of the residences long considered part of the Echo Valley neighborhood?
No information, including costs, were provided as to the plan for the residents in Springhouse, WhiteHorse and Hunt Valley Circle to name just a few of the other neighborhoods currently without public sewage facilities.
I understand that Mr. MacCombie said that a survey was sent to all other areas that had not been surveyed previously. However, he did not say who received the survey. Mr. MacCombie also indicated that the “opt-out” ordinance which was enacted in 2009 to allow those in the township with working septic systems to remain utilizing those systems rather than being forced to connect to public sewage facilities was to be eliminated.
As a result of the presentation as well as Mr. MacCombie’s stating in the presentation that comments and communication were welcome, I sent the following questions to Mike Trio, Joe Catania and Rich Sokorai:
1. As you asked for public comment as a result of the presentation, who is to receive the comments? Additionally, when will the plan be available for public comment? Will you make it available on-line?
2. Which neighborhoods have been surveyed and may I have a copy of the survey emailed to me?
3. Please provide a copy of the flow allocations that you plan to provide to the DEP.
I was surprised to find that the only response I received came from Joe Catania, Chairman of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors.
“Patti, with all due respect, I have some questions that I would like answered. First of all, why should any information be provided to you before it is made available to the rest of the public. Two, I would like to know the details of the recent settlements between you and Ashford regarding the appeals of their sewer applications and permits. As you know, I am only one supervisor, and do not speak for the rest of the board in this regard, but I personally want to hear your response before, in my opinion, any courtesies are extended beyond what is required.
My continued requests for answers as well as Joe’s responses are included in an attached file. I’ve still not received answers to these questions from Joe or anyone else.
Since attending a meeting in December 2008, I have been encouraging township officials to engage the community in comprehensive sewage facilities planning.
Their first plan was rescinded in November 2010 and the Judge stated: “By overturning the department’s approval of the 2009 update, we ensure that an invalid and inaccurate plan will not act as a collateral bar to any future challenges. We also prevent an invalid plan from remaining in place during the time it takes to finalize a new update.”
Now, the township has hired a new engineer and has spent another year with little communication to residents. Almost four years later and what appears to be at least a million dollars spent and no plan. Will the citizens of Newtown ever get a comprehensive sewage facilities plan?