NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> The borough council at its May meeting gave final plan approval for the establishment of a mikvah at 222 North State Street.
Lubavitch Bucks County plans to transform the residential house into a mikvah, a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism to achieve ritual purity. Lubavitch Bucks County is part of a larger international organization involved with Jewish education and outreach programs.
As part of the approval, Lubavitch has agreed to narrow its proposed driveway and will be required to install a sidewalk along its North State Street frontage.
Lubavitch had asked for a waiver that would have indicated a sidewalk on the plan, but would have deferred installation to sometime in the future.
“We have been working with HARB on its concerns about blending the mikvah with the neighborhood,” explained the project’s architect. “Throwing a sidewalk out there in front when there are none on either side I think points this out as something different, something new.”
He also noted, “at this point in time the sidewalk at the mikvah would serve no practical purpose, it would be odd in appearance and aesthetics. It makes sense in this situation not to require it right away, but to defer that requirement to a later date.”
The majority of the Councilors in attendance, however, said they’d rather see the sidewalk installed right away. In denying the waiver request, they cited consistency in enforcing its sidewalk ordinance, which requires installation or improvements to sidewalks when properties are developed.
“I would have the same decision regarding that sidewalk if they were building a house there,” said Councilor Julia Woldorf. “And that’s what we’ve been doing. Whenever someone is putting in a house we can require them to install, repair, replace or bring their sidewalk up to code.”
Council President Kevin McDermott broke with the majority and voted in favor of the waiver. “I think their request for deferral is reasonable and practical,” he said.
In other news around the borough, Chief Sabath delivered a brief police report highlighting some of the incidents that had occurred in the borough over the previous three weeks.
Sabath said police responded to a disturbance outside of a bar/restaurant on April 14. The call resulted in a 55-year-old man being arrested for disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
Police and rescue responded to an overdose on April 16. A 27-year-old woman became combative. She was charged with kicking one of the squad members who was trying to help.
On April 27 at 5:10 a.m., the chief said a resident on Penn Street was awoken by someone trying to break in. She immediately called police and an officer was there within minutes. The subject had fled, but between the officer and officers from Newtown Township they found the guy hiding in a shed next door. He was charged with attempted break-in and was sent to Bucks County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Also on April 27, Sabath said three men entered a store on North State Street and walked out with a $3,000 electric-powered bicycle.
He also reported that on May 2 police responded to a two car crash at State and Washington. The accident led to the arrest of a 43-year-old man from Titusville, N.J.
And on May 7, Sabath said during a traffic stop an officer discovered that a passenger inside the vehicle was a fugitive from justice out of New Jersey and wanted for burglary. The passenger was taken into custody and was sent to Bucks County Prison.
Eagle Scout project
In other news, council approved a proposed Eagle Scout project to beautify a traffic control box outside of Starbucks at South State Street and Centre Avenue with a scene of the Schofield Ford Covered Bridge at nearby Tyler Park.
The approval is contingent upon the Eagle Scout candidate securing any approvals or permits necessary for the project.
Movies in the Park
Council also approved dates for Movies in the Park. Presented by the borough’s recreation board, the movies will be held at Linton Park from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on June 13, 20, 27 and July 11 and 18.
Rocco’s at the Brick
In other action, council approved a certificate of appropriateness for an outside bar on an existing patio at Rocco’s at the Brick. The bar would be made of smooth Azek and the back end would have to be blocked by a partition and swinging door.