NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> The Newtown Borough Council on September 10 voted unanimously to adopt a resolution urging the state legislature to pass a law banning polystyrene containers.
Polystyrene foam, a petroleum-based, lightweight plastic material, is used to make building and appliance insulation, surfboards, lightweight protective packaging, egg cartons, meat trays, food service packaging and more.
Councilwoman Julia Woldorf brought the resolution to the council table at the request of the borough’s Environmental Advisory Council. It is modeled after a resolution drafted by PennEnvironment, a Philadelphia-based policy and action group lobbying to build a greener, healthier world.
“It doesn’t mention specific legislation, but it does talk about the problem of polystyrene containers,” said Woldorf of the resolution. “The problem is they are very difficult, if not impossible to recycle. They are going into the environment and they take 500 years to decompose.
“And if you heat up food in them, you run the risk of having some of the toxic chemicals leach into your food. They create a hazard to wildlife because they break down into smaller pieces that wildlife ingest, it pollutes our rivers and it gives us more trash to pick up.”
The purpose of the resolution, said Woldorf, is to let State Sen. Steve Santarsiero and State Rep. Perry Warren “know that Newtown Borough is supportive of efforts to start this action.”
Copies of the resolution will be forwarded to the state lawmakers encouraging them to vote in favor of legislation that would ban the containers and remove them from the local waste streams.
According to the resolution, there is no “economically or feasible” means of recycling the disposable food containers, which make up a portion of the litter found in Newtown Borough streets, parks and public places and increases town maintenance costs for removal.
In addition, the resolution warns that polystyrene is a “common pollutant that fragments into smaller, non-biodegradable pieces that are ingested by aquatic and marine life and other wildlife, harming or killing them.”
It also warns that the foam containers can release toxic chemicals into food, especially when heated, and also into the atmosphere.
In supporting such a ban, the resolution notes “Newtown Borough’s desire to conserve resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, waste, litter and other pollutants.” It also mentions the town’s “proud history of environmental stewardship, promoting energy conservation, use of stormwater best management practices and recycling.”
The resolution concludes by urging the state to prohibit the containers throughout the Commonwealth while encouraging the use of “reliable recyclable and biodegradable products that are readily available.”
By doing so, the resolution said communities across the Commonwealth will benefit from reduced debris in streams and rivers and improved water quality locally in the Newtown Creek and the Delaware River.
The resolution follows passage of two council resolutions this past summer, encouraging both the federal and state government to pass climate change legislation.
State and Court redevelopment
In other news, Councilwoman Woldorf announced that the borough planning commission is schedule to b preliminary plans for the former Stockburger property at State and Court Streets at its October meeting.
Due to a large community interest in the project, the meeting will take place at the Chancellor Center on Monday, Oct. 7 beginning at 7 p.m.
In 2018, Court and State LLC purchased the remaining four parcels of the George and Nancy Stockburger property at the south end of State Street. The transaction included 215 South State Street (the former garage and service station), 209 and 211 Court Street housing six apartments and a rear gravel parking lot.
The proposal contemplates the demolition of the auto repair garage at 215 South State Street and the redevelopment of the site with two twin dwelling units, four detached garages and eight parking spaces.
The plan also envisions the renovation and restoration of the two single family dwelling units at 209 and 211 Court Street, now housing six rental units, and the conversion of both back to single family homes.
In addition, four twin dwellings are envisioned to be built behind the single family homes on what is now a gravel parking lot used by the neighboring Newtown Friends Meeting on Sundays and other events.u
The development has stirred a lot of concern in the neighborhood, especially over density and the loss of parking.
The preliminary plan is available for public review during regular business hours at the Newtown Borough Hall.
Road improvement projects get underway
It was also announced at the meeting that Haines Paving Inc. will begin this year’s road improvements in mid-September. The work will take approximately five weeks to complete.
As part of the project, the following roads will be milled and paved: Edgeboro Drive between Frost Lane and Linton Hill Road; Centre Avenue from State to Court Street; North Congress from Jefferson to the Township Line; South Chancellor from Washington Avenue to Sterling Street; and North Chancellor from Washington Avenue to Jefferson.
Drainage improvements are scheduled for West Greene Street (pipe installation on the south side of the street) and at the intersection of South Chancellor and Penn Streets (18 inch pipe installation).
Road work will begin on Edgeboro Dr., proceed with Centre Ave., Penn and Chancellor drainage, S. Chancellor, N. Chancellor, N. Congress, and end with W. Greene drainage.
The contractor will notify affected property owners as well as distribute flyers and post "No Parking" signs along the streets prior to the work.
Borough committee openings
Councilwoman Nicole Rodowicz also announced a handful of open positions on the borough’s committees.
Current openings include two seats on the Environmental Advisory Council, one on the Recreation board and several on the Ad Hoc Traffic and Parking Committee.
Interested Borough residents should send a letter of interest and resume to Newtown Borough, 23 North State Street, Newtown 18940.
In other news, Mayor “Corky” Swartz announced several upcoming events, including:
Newtown Beerfest, sponsored by the Newtown Fire Association, on Saturday, Sept. 21 from 12 to 5:30 p.m. at the Stocking Works, 301 South State Street. For information, visit NewtownBeerfest.com
Market Day, sponsored by the Newtown Historic Association, on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Court Street between Centre Avenue and Mercer Street, Centre Avenue between Congress and State streets and Mercer Street. There is no rain date.