2016 Year in Review: Falls Welcomes New Businesses,
Moves Forward on Major Projects
Falls Township residents will have the opportunity to patronize dozens of new businesses, enjoy more recreational activities, travel safer and see major projects advance, thanks to a productive 2016.
BUSINESS IS BOOMING!
In all, more than three dozen new businesses opened in Falls Township this year. In May alone, the township welcomed eight new businesses, while other months as many as five new businesses opened their doors. The Lenox Factory Outlet and Gabe’s department store are among some of the newest businesses.
The Board of Supervisors helped the business community expand – literally – by approving an upgraded and larger Burger King; and Peruzzi Mazda dealership. The Board also paved the way for a yet-to-be-named state-of-the-art carwash facility.
In an effort to support Falls businesses – and encourage residents to shop local – the township profiled more than a dozen Falls businesses through our Live Here, Spend Here campaign. Residents can learn more about the various businesses by reading articles that are posted on our Website.
The community can also pinpoint the businesses or service providers best-suited to their needs by perusing Falls Township’s business directory, which launched earlier this year.
GRANTS FUND MORE GARDENS, FISHING PIER
Our popular community garden will have approximately 30 percent more plots this spring and a 70-foot-long T-shaped fishing pier will be coming to Falls Township Community Park.
The Falls Township Board of Supervisors were diligent in seeking out money-saving grants. Both projects, as well as the replacement of the single-span Vermillion Hills pedestrian bridge, were covered in large part through grants from Bucks County, as well as PECO.
Grants will save the Township an estimated $234,000 in funds that had been budgeted. In all, the three projects are expected to cost approximately $312,000, with Bucks County chipping in 75 percent, PECO contributing $10,000 - $5,000 for this project and another $5,000 for a future project at the community garden - and Falls Township funding the approximate $73,000 remaining balance.
A PennDOT grant awarded this year will help Falls Township save 50 percent on roadway improvements for the Mill Creek and Levittown parkways.
Plans include traffic signal improvements on the westbound lanes of the Mill Creek Parkway, from the intersection with Falls-Tullytown Road to the intersection with Levittown Parkway. The matching grant provides state funds for the operation and maintenance of traffic signals on critical and designated corridors on state-owned highways.
Once upgraded, one of the major features of the intersection will be the addition of preemptive devices to allow quicker travel for emergency personnel. Other planned upgrades include improvements to signalization and ADA compliance regarding curb ramps and walkways.
SUPERVISORS ADVANCE MAJOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
2016 was a pivotal year for the township’s planned municipal complex. The Supervisors granted final land development approval this fall, following reviews from the planning commission and zoning hearing board and a series of public tours and open houses. The new 55,174-square-foot building will be constructed adjacent to where the existing building stands and will be approximately 30 percent larger than the current building.
The project is expected to cost approximately $18 million, which would be funded through Falls Township’s long-term restricted savings account. The project would not financially impact Falls Township residents at all.
A contract award and subsequent construction is expected by spring 2017. From there, construction, which will be carried out in several phases, will commence over an estimated 18-month period.
The new municipal complex would be situated in the field across from the current township building on Lincoln Highway. The first phase includes the administration, police building and Public Works department. Once those buildings are constructed, the current municipal building would be demolished.
Infrastructure, including parking lots and an improved stormwater management system, would be built at the demolition site. In all, the Supervisors support a plan to increase the green space – thereby decreasing impervious surface – by one-half acre.
The Falls Supervisors granted final land development approval for St. Josephs Court, a 55-and-over community planned for the former St. Joseph the Worker property on New Falls Road. The development will consist of a 3,000-square-foot clubhouse, as well as 62 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot townhouses; 14 1,100- to 1,200-square-foot flats; and two two-story buildings consisting of 24 apartments per building. Developer John McGrath said the flats and townhouses will range in price from $270,000 to approximately $325,000.
The developer is planning to construct two sample homes in early 2017.
SUPERVISORS STAY PROACTIVE IN PUBLIC SAFETY EFFORTS
In 2016, the Falls Supervisors enacted ordinances aimed at maintaining the township’s high quality of life while keeping residents and the community at large safe.
In the beginning of the year, the board adopted regulations pertaining to group homes or recovery houses. Specifically, recovery houses or halfway houses could be situated in the township’s highway commercial district, as well as its low density residential district.
Under the federal Americans with Disabilities act, municipalities must permit group homes and sober living environments. Failure to permit uses would result in federal and state lawsuits that the township would lose, costing taxpayers significant amounts of money needlessly. In response, the board opted to permit the uses in zoning districts where they seem most appropriate and, in doing so, enforcing a minimum 20-foot buffer from all neighboring properties.
Later in the year, the board, after careful review, adopted an ordinance which set guidelines for medical marijuana growers and dispensaries. With an eye toward public safety, the board adopted the regulation, which forbids medical marijuana operations within 1,000 feet of a school, park, daycare center, community center or worship site. Medical marijuana operations would be permitted in the township’s highway commercial; materials processing and manufacturing; and farming and mining districts only.
Under the ordinance, the medical marijuana grower and dispensary are required to “operate entirely within an indoor, enclosed, and secure facility.” As a condition of operation, the grower and dispensary would need to provide a security plan specifying the type of 24-hour security, as well as tracking, recordkeeping, record retention and surveillance system.
Hours of operation for both growers and dispensers would be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Exterior sales and sidewalk displays would be forbidden. Drive-through services would not be permitted and the use could not be advertised on radio or TV. Minors would not be permitted inside either a growing or dispensing facility unless accompanied by a caregiver.
The Falls Township Board of Supervisors looks forward to an even more productive 2017. Happy New Year!