During the Falls Township board of supervisors meeting on Monday, Nov. 15, topics discussed were NorthPoint Development’s revamp of the former U.S. Steel site; pawn shops; the establishment of a co-responder program; and the budget.
The board unanimously greenlighted the second phase of NorthPoint Development’s massive redevelopment of the former U.S. Steel site. Approved was a minor subdivision to create a 63.5-acre parcel at 300 River Road, which is part of the newly-named Keystone Trade Center.
According to a NorthPoint representative, the developer had purchased the former Gamesa property, which amounts to 90 acres, at the center of the property. In order to sell a portion of the property, NorthPoint needed to subdivide it.
The developer is slated to appear this week in front of the Falls Township Planning Commission for review of its subsequent three buildings.
“This is to transition us to phase two of our development,” said NorthPoint attorney Michael Meginniss. “This is an important component.”
NorthPoint, the owner of the 1,800-acre site, plans to construct up to 15 million square feet of warehousing, creating 5,000 to 10,000 new jobs. The redevelopment project is slated to be carried out over multiple phases, with construction of over 20 state-of-the-art industrial warehouse buildings for various Fortune 500 companies.
Crack down on pawn shops
The supervisors adopted a newly-revised ordinance that will make it more difficult for scrap yards and pawn shops to fence stolen goods, including catalytic converters, a vehicle part that Falls Police continue to see an uptick in the theft of. The update requires Falls businesses, including scrap yards, to have the same requirements as pawn shops for reporting items that customers bring in for reselling purposes. By notifying the police when goods come in, the goal is to give potential victims of theft time to recover their stolen property.
“This is already in place for pawn shops,” said supervisors chairman Jeff Dence. “They have to notify police and wait a certain number of days before they list it for sale to cut down on thievery.”
Beginning in December, a new collaborative effort between police departments in Falls and Middletown townships, in conjunction with the county, will bring a specially-trained social worker to police calls involving mental health issues and domestic disputes. The two-year program is fully funded through a grant from Bucks County. It launched as a pilot in Bensalem Township last year.
“We’ll have our officers available to respond with them when it’s appropriate,” said Falls Police Chief Nelson Whitney. “I read a shift summary at the end of every shift that we have. Almost every day we have one, if not multiple, contacts involving mental health. It really has spiked since COVID. This is an issue nationwide that needs resources.”
According to Falls Police records, the department received 239 mental health calls for service in 2019; 245 in 2020; and 249 so far in 2021. Domestic dispute calls rose from 627 in 2019 to 683 in 2020. So far this year, Falls police have responded to 577 domestic violence calls.
Introduction of budget
The board voted unanimously to introduce its 2022 spending plan. If adopted on Dec. 20 as proposed, it would continue to hold the line on municipal taxes, which last increased in 1992. A total of $38.5 million is projected to be spent in 2022.
Property owners would continue paying $216.60 for an average assessment of $30,000 under the township’s 2022 budget. Falls maintains its services without instituting an Earned Income Tax. Of the local taxes collected from Falls property owners, the township receives 3.5 percent. Pennsbury School District collects 84.2 percent and Bucks County receives 12.3 percent.
The supervisors have several projects planned for 2022, including $2 million earmarked for the continuation of the annual road program. Intersection improvements are planned for North Olds Boulevard and Trenton Road, with $61,000 budgeted for the project. PennDOT will fund 80 percent of the project cost through a grant.
Falls will finish construction of adaptive traffic signal upgrades at Lincoln Highway, Tyburn Road and West Trenton Road, with an anticipated cost of $160,000. Federal funding will cover 80 percent of the total project expense. The spending plan also earmarks $50,000 for tree trimming and removal of trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer and Spotted Lanternfly.
The budget allocates $1.1 million for five new police vehicles, firearms, training and supplies, plus four new dump trucks for the public works department. Additionally, the 20-year-old playground at Elderberry Park, for kids ages 2-12, will be replaced with one featuring wheelchair access and various amenities for children on the autism spectrum.
Residents can review the proposed spending plan at the Falls Township municipal building, 188 Lincoln Highway, through Dec. 20.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org