Duly advertised in The Pottstown Mercury and posted at www.schuylkilltwp.com
Board of Supervisors
Fred Parry - Chairman, Barbara Cohen – Vice Chair, Martha Majewski – Treasurer, Susan Guerette, Jim Morrisson
Mary Bird – Township Manager, William Brennan, Esq.-Township Solicitor, John Sartor, P.E., Township Engineer
Other Township Representatives Present
Mark Donovan-Schuylkill Township Planning Commission, Curt English-Schuylkill Township Planning Commission, Chief James Fetterman-Schuylkill Township Police Department, Jim Shaughnessy-Schuylkill Township Recycling Coordinator, Evan Taylor-Schuylkill Township Fire Marshal/Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Company Chief.
Call to Order
The monthly public business meeting was called to order at 7:30 p.m. with Supervisor Parry leading the Pledge of Allegiance. The meeting was chaired by Supervisor Parry. Supervisor Parry advised attendees that the meeting was being videotaped by the township and asked that anyone else recording the meeting make it know to the public.
Supervisor Parry advised the audience that meeting attendees not on the agenda who wished to address the Board of Supervisors will wait to be recognized by the Chair, then proceed to the microphone and identify themselves for the record. Supervisor Parry further stated that statements to the Board will be limited to 3 minutes and comments by unrecognized persons will not be acknowledged.
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and accepted the Consent Agenda.
Board Member Reports
Environmental Advisory Council (“EAC”) – Supervisor Majewski advised the Board that the annual Adopt-A-Highway cleanup sponsored by the EAC will be held on Saturday, November 18, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Open Space Commission (“OSC”) – Supervisor Morrisson reported that the OSC is preparing a major marketing effort on the concept of conservation easements aimed towards the open space property owner candidates in the township. Supervisor Cohen asked if any consideration has been given to her request to modify the minimum open space acreage criteria; Supervisor Morrisson reported that no action has been taken. Supervisor Guerette asked the Township Engineer to explain the need for the culvert replacement project proposed at the township-owed Valley Park property. Mr. Sartor explained that the culvert is in a state of disrepair and the stone has collapsed inside the culvert. This presents a safety hazard for vehicular traffic and precludes township maintenance of the area behind or to the south of the stream.
Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee (“PRPC”) – Supervisor Cohen advised the Board that the PRPC continues to review the regional comprehensive plan. The most recent discussions concerned native plants and other environmental aspects. Supervisor Majewski added that the Chair of the PRPC spoke briefly about the regional trail map. Mr. Strauss suggested that a regional trail committee be formed with representatives from each municipality represented on the PRPC to explore potentially connecting trails throughout the region. Supervisor Majewski said the township’s trail committee contact information was sent to Mr. Strauss. She explained that the proposed regional trail committee was mentioned to the OSC; the OSC has stated that while they wish to be kept informed about the trail committee’s efforts, there is no need for the OSC to be represented on the committee.
Supervisor Cohen added that the township’s EAC unnamed streams project is on the agenda for the next PRPC meeting.
Supervisor Guerette asked for an update on the new website. The Township Manager advised the Board that work was continuing with an anticipated target date of January 1.
Treasurer’s Report and Payment of Bills
Supervisor Majewski, Treasurer, advised the Board that as of October 31, 2017, the Township’s general fund shows a balance of $3,442,248.68. Supervisor Majewski reported that the bills for October 2017 have been reviewed and she recommended payment of these bills.
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Parry, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and accepted the Treasurer’s Report for the period ending October 31, 2017 and authorized payment of Township bills for the period ending October 31, 2017.
Supervisor Majewski, Treasurer, presented the Board with the balanced proposed 2018 Budget as reviewed by the Supervisors on October 23, 2017. Supervisor Majewski noted that the proposed budget does not require a township property tax increase. Supervisor Majewski advised the Board that no Tax Anticipation Loan would be needed for the beginning of 2018 and recommended that the proposed 2018 Budget be approved for advertising.
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Parry and unanimously passed. The Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized the Township Manager to advertise and make available to the public the proposed 2018 Budget for consideration of adoption at the December 6,2017 Board of Supervisors meeting.
Supervisor Parry made the following announcements:
Thank you to township residents for their donations to the Police Association’s Food Drive.
Invitation to participate in the Police Association’s Build-A-Bear campaign for children at CHOP
The Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Company’s Pancake Breakfast is Saturday, November 4.
The Schuylkill Township Founder’s Day celebration honoring township resident Galloway Morris is Saturday, November 4.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.
The next conditional use hearing for the Whitehorse-Phoenixville LLC convenience store application will be on Thursday, November 9 in the township hall at 6:00 p.m. with another hearing scheduled for Monday, December 4, 6:00 p.m. in the township hall.
A reminder to residents that Schuylkill Township does not do residential leaf pick-up.
Supervisor Cohen invited residents to a Schuylkill River Heritage Center presentation, “History of the Phoenix Bridge Company” by township resident Jeff Amerine, a Phoenix Bridge Company historian, on November 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Presentation – Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) Permit
Mr. Sartor advised the Board that he was making this presentation tonight because in 2019, Schuylkill Township will be required to submit an application to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection for a new MS4 permit to go into effect in 2019. There is a lot of preparation to be done in 2018 to prepare the application and this presentation will touch on some of the requirements. Mr. Sartor mentioned that Gilmore & Associates, Inc., in its role as Township Engineer, has managed the township’s MS4 permit requirements since 2003 and, at the Board’s discretion, will continue to do so.
Mr. Sartor explained that the regulations in place have evolved from regulations targeting municipal wastewater treatment plants in the 1970s. Since the early 1990s the EPA and DEP have focused more and more on water pollutant reduction with regard to industrial facilities in Pennsylvania. In early 2000s, new regulations were put in place requiring large cities in the Commonwealth to obtain permits to discharge stormwater runoff from their municipal separate storm sewers (MS4); small municipalities were mandated to follow this program in 2003. Mr. Sartor explained that MS4 permit compliance is becoming more, not less, complicated with a stricter environmental focus.
Mr. Sartor discussed the types of permits, application due dates, the application form, pollutant control measures and reduction plans, annual report highlights and resources available. He pointed out that Schuylkill Township has an individual permit as well as its MS4 permit because a portion of the Township’s MS4 system discharges to Valley Creek, designated as “Exceptional Value” per PA Code Chapter 93 Water Quality Standards. Compliance requirements for both the individual and MS4 are stricter; there are additional reporting requirements and pollutant control measures, and permittees must have pollution reduction plans to remove illicit discharges by 10% over the 5 year permit period. Mr. Sartor identified the tasks ahead, including public comment meetings, with a timeline for completion by the permit application submission date which on the applications.
Board Discussion Items
Nothing to report.
Schuylkill Township Traffic Calming Procedure
Supervisor Majewski explained that language was added to the Traffic Calming Procedures to clarify for residents when to utilize the process.
Upon motion by Supervisor Parry, seconded by Supervisor Majewski and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and accepted the revised Schuylkill Township Traffic Calming Procedure.
Valley Forge Fire Company Capital Reserve Fund Expenditure – Lighting Upgrade Main Station
Upon motion by Supervisor Parry, seconded by Supervisor Majewski and passed, with Supervisor Morrisson dissenting, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved the expenditure of ten thousand eight hundred seventy-six dollars and fifty-three cents ($10,876.53) from the Fire Company Capital Reserve Fund to upgrade the lighting at the main fire station located at 630 Valley Park Road, Phoenixville PA conditioned upon adherence to Schuylkill Township’s lighting ordinance.
Petition to Remove 25 Jug Hollow Road from the Schuylkill Township Historic Resources Inventory
Supervisor Cohen voiced her opinion that this structure, circa 1740 and still habitable according to the Historical Commission, was worth preserving and should remain on the township’s Historic Resource Inventory and Map.
Ms. Nancy Funk, executrix and administrator for the estate of Jane McIntyre wherein the property at 25 Jug Hollow Road is contained, addressed the Board with her petition to remove this property from the township’s historic resource inventory and map. Ms. Funk told the Board that no notice had ever been given to the Estate that the property was to be included in the Historic Resource Inventory and no opportunity was given to the Estate to object to that inclusion. Ms. Funk stated her opinion that the historical aspect is questionable; especially when the structural disrepair and deterioration which occurred during her grandparents’ and aunt’s tenure in the building is taken in consideration. Ms. Funk informed the Board that she strongly disagrees with the Historical Commission’s opinion that the structure is still habitable; that in her opinion it is close to collapse. Ms. Funk advised the Board that under the terms of Jane McIntyre’s will, this property is to be sold and she is attempting to do so but the designation as a historic property is presenting additional obstacles to the sale of a property with access easement issues. Ms. Funk also objected to what she perceives as an infringement on the rights of private property owners under the historic designation. Supervisor Cohen asked why Ms. Funk did not have ordinary maintenance work, such as landscaping care, performed on the property. Ms. Funk replied that she was made estate administrator only three months ago. Ms. Funk added there is no money in the estate for repairs or upkeep and she personally has no funds available to expend beyond keeping the taxes paid. Supervisor Guerette questioned whether an attempt to sell the property with the historic designation has been made; Ms. Funk said no.
The Township Solicitor recapped for the Board the purpose and process under the township’s Historic Resource Ordinance and said that Ms. Funk was appearing before the Board under §370-53 E. Revisions by which an applicant can request the removal of a property because 1) it was mistakenly included in the inventory; 2) it is not historic; or 3) special circumstances. A recommendation is to be made to the Board by the Historical Commission for each removal petition. Regarding the revision petition presented by Ms. Funk, the Historical Commission recommended that the 25 Jug Hollow property not be removed from the historic resource inventory. Mr. Brennan advised the Board that the applicant is now before the Board for a legislative decision on the revision petition and a determination should be made on whether the property is accurately designated as historic and if so, are there special circumstances which would permit a revision to the historic resources ordinance.
Ms. Dianne Cram of the Historical Commission reported on the site visit undertaken by the Historical Commission to the 25 Jug Hollow property, first stating that it was not possible to make a full architectural assessment due to the overgrowth. Ms. Cram said the house is historic; half of the main block of the house is mid-18th century construction and half is early 19th century; none of which has been greatly altered. There is a shed addition to the rear which may have been constructed mid-20th century. This addition is in poor condition and appears to have collapsed, but does not reflect on the historic importance of the house. The utilities have been disconnected for a number of years; lack of heat in the house has greatly contributed to the deterioration of the structure. Ms. Cram informed the Board that the main block of the house appears to have an intact roof and while it is in a compromised condition, it does not appear to be in imminent danger of collapse. Suggestion were made by the Historical Commission to Ms. Funk for basic preliminary stabilization of the structure, i.e., restoration of heat, removal of the overgrowth on the structure and installation of a sump pump in the basement. Ms. Cram reported that Ms. Funk has indicated to the Historical Commission that she is not willing to take these steps. Ms. Cram closed by stating that there is historic value which can be salvaged in the main block of the house at 25 Jug Hollow Road; it will take a significant monetary and labor investment but at this point, it is not too far gone to be saved. Ms. Cram added that without an attempt to market the property as historic, the Historical Commission cannot speak to the salability factor. The Historic Commission recommends to the Board that this Class II pre-Revolutionary house stay on the Historic Resource Inventory List and Map.
Supervisor Majewski asked if there was any historical significance to this property other than its age. Ms. Cram responded that its age was the significant historical factor. Supervisor Majewski then asked Ms. Cram to define the prerequisites for Class I and Class II designations under the township’s Historic Resource ordinance. Ms. Cram said Class I designation indicates a significant historical value based on an event or personage, i.e., the Moore Hall property. A Class II property such as 25 Jug Hollow and many others in the township, does not have that historical affiliation or impact but that does not make it any less historically significant. Ms. Cram informed the Board that in order to be eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, a structure has to be relatively intact as it was constructed without a lot of alterations. The 25 Jug Hollow property, while in poor condition, does retain quite a few original features and could potentially be listed on the National Register. Mr. Brennan asked if there were any avenues to be explored in order to provide funds for stabilization of the house; Ms. Cram explained that grant funding for private property projects was almost non-existent but overtures could be made to the Pennsylvania Preservation organization provided Ms. Funk is willing to work with the Historical Commission.
Supervisor Guerette asked Ms. Funk if she was willing to try to market the property as a historic property. Ms. Funk said because of the access issue, she does not believe it to be feasible at this time. Supervisor Guerette suggested Ms. Funk come to an agreement with the neighbor regarding an easement and put the property on the market with the historic designation; if the attempt is unsuccessful, the Board could take that into consideration should Ms. Funk come back before them. Mr. Brennan added that it would be in the best interest of all parties to come to an equitable solution rather than ending up in court.
Supervisor Guerette commented that the Board should approach this petition objectively; that is, consider the intrinsic historic value of any given structure rather than the physical condition of the building. She said the township should not encourage historic property owners to allow their properties to disintegrate and then petition for removal from the historic listing.
The Township Solicitor requested a 5 minute executive session to discuss the legalities of the Board’s decision on Ms. Funk’s petition. An executive session was called to order at 9:30 p.m. upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson and unanimously passed. Present were Supervisor Cohen, Supervisor Guerette, Supervisor Majewski, Supervisor Morrisson and Supervisor Parry. Also present were the Township Solicitor, Mr. Brennan, Township Manager, Ms. Bird and Township Secretary, Mrs. Harbison. The public meeting resumed at 9:45 p.m. Supervisor Parry reported that legal issues were discussed
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Majewski and passed, with Supervisor Parry dissenting, the petition of applicant, Nancy J. Funk, executrix and administrator of the estate of Jane McIntyre of which UPI #27-6-181/26 Jug Hollow Road is part, to remove said property from the Schuylkill Township Historic Resource Inventory and Map is hereby denied by the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township.
Mr. Brennan advised Ms. Funk that she has thirty (30) days to exercise her right to appeal the decision of the Board and recommended she seek legal advice.
Discussion – Priority Historic Properties Recommendation/Keystone Municipal Services 10/26/2017
Supervisor Guerette reported that on September 13, 2017 a meeting was held with Keystone Municipal Services (“KMS”), Bob Wise, historic consultant to the Historical Commission (“HC”) and the administration, the purpose of which was to discuss the enforcement of the Historic Resource ordinance by KMS in their role as township zoning officer. Supervisor Guerette said the end result of the meeting as understood by her and the HC was that the KMS would start enforcement procedures against certain non-compliant properties in the township; a list of these properties was provided to KMS by Mrs. Momyer, Chair of the HC. Supervisor Guerette said that KMS did review the list of properties and made recommendations but took no enforcement action. Supervisor Guerette suggested the reason some of these properties were in an advanced state of deterioration was because the historic resource ordinance was not enforced in a timely and proactive manner and requested that she be appointed as the direct liaison between KMS as Zoning Officer and the Historical Commission to oversee and monitor the historic resource protection enforcement.
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed. the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township does appoint Supervisor Susan Guerette as the direct liaison between the Schuylkill Township Historical Commission and the Township Zoning Officer (KMS) in regards to the enforcement of the Schuylkill Township Historic Resource Protection Standards, Chapter 370, Article IX, §370-56.
Supervisor Guerette said she would keep the Board apprised of the situation. Mr. Brennan reminded the Board that while the Board may direct the Zoning Officer to an issue, legally the Zoning Officer may, at his/her discretion, choose not to issue a citation or issue a zoning code enforcement notice. Supervisor Majewski asked that the Board revisit the topic in three (3) months.
Resolutions / Ordinances
Consideration of Proposed Ordinance No. 2017-13: Amending Chapter 370, amending Section 370-151 by adding a section to permit amateur radio antenna and related support structures as accessory uses in certain residential districts.
Upon motion by Supervisor Majewski, seconded by Supervisor Cohen, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township adopted Ordinance No. 2017-13; Amending Chapter 370, amending Section 370-151 by adding a section to permit amateur radio antenna and related support structures as accessory uses in certain residential districts.
Consideration of Proposed Resolution No. 2017-11: Amending the 2017 Schuylkill Township Fee Schedule
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved Resolution No. 2017-11; Amending the 2017 Schuylkill Township Fee Schedule to increase the Pennsylvania Labor & Industry fee from four dollars ($4.00) to four dollars and fifty cents ($4.50) and to incorporate a fee for Commercial Use & Occupancy.
Consideration of Proposed Resolution No. 2017-12: Green Light – Go Funding Request
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Majewski, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved Resolution No. 2017-12; that the matching fund in the amount of fifty-nine thousand, three hundred thirty-four dollars ($59,344.00) is currently available and committed to connect three (3) traffic signals to the existing closed loop system through the Green Light – Go Funding Program as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Subdivision / Land Development – No Agenda Items
Discussion – nominations for Fire Chief at Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Company (“VFVFCo”).
It was the consensus of the Board that it had no objections to the nominations of Evan Taylor and Rafael Henin to stand for election for VFVFCo Fire Chief.
Discussion – Non Uniform Pension Plan Actuarial Study
Supervisor Parry requested that the Board approve a fifteen hundred dollar ($1,500.00) actuarial study for the Non-Uniform Pension Plan to investigate alternate retirement eligibility scenarios. The township manager explained that the current non-uniform pension plan has an eligibility requirement of age 62 years with 10 years of service; Supervisor Parry is suggesting that a study be done to see if we can change the retirement requirements for non-uniform personnel. Funds for the study would come from the non-uniform pension fund, not the general fund. Supervisor Guerette asked why this should be done. Supervisor Parry responded that as certain changes had been made to the police pension fund, he wanted to explore options for the non-uniform pension fund so as to maintain a certain parity between the two plans.
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and passed with Supervisor Guerette dissenting, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township authorized the expenditure of a not-to-exceed amount of fifteen hundred dollars ($1,500.00) for an actuarial study on alternate retirement eligibility scenarios for the Schuylkill Township Non-Uniform Pension Plan and related costs thereof to the township.
Nothing to report.
There being no further business before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:15 p.m. upon motion of Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously agreed by the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township.
Next Board of Supervisors’ Meeting
Board of Supervisors Regular Business Meeting......... Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 7:30 P.M.