In the 1970s, under court orders, Upper Makefield had to create a mobile-home-park zoning district and was looking for an out-of-the-way place for it, according to Michael Frank, a retired Bucks County planner and a former consultant for the municipalities.
The proposed site was on the boundary with Newtown Township, where officials objected to the potential for an increase in traffic in their town.
Newtown, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown Townships, pioneers in a trend that has been slow to gain traction in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, are working up a common set of regulations to add to their joint zoning ordinance.
The concept of consolidation has been debated for over a decade in New Jersey, which some legislators and others say has way too many towns. The Garden State’s 565 municipalities have a median population of 22,000; Pennsylvania has 2,561 with a median population of 1,900, according to Census figures.
The Newtown area joint ordinance built on the strengths of the individual towns, land uses already in place, and the desires of the partners.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of the joint zoning ordinance and the council’s practice of constantly studying and updating it at the end of 2003.The boards of supervisors of the municipalities make up the joint zoning council, which meets monthly.