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, Madeline Harbison-Township Secretary, John Sartor, P.E., Township Engineer
Other Township Representatives Present
Nicholas Cinciripino-Schuylkill Township Roadmaster, Robert Cooney-Schuylkill Township Open Space Commission, Mark Donovan-Schuykill Township Planning Commission, Curt English-Schuylkill Township Planning Commission, Chief James Fetterman-Schuylkill Township Police Department, Lt. William Fitzsimmons-Schuylkill Township Police Department, Sandra Momyer-Chair, Schuylkill Township Historical Commission, Evan Taylor – Schuylkill Township Fire Marshall & Fire Chief-Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Company
Appearing Before the Board
Matthew I. Hickson, P.E.-Traffic Planning & Design, Inc., Chester County Structures Project Manager
Martin Abbot-AECOM, Chester County Architectural Historian
Sandra G. Martin, P.E., DBSI-McCormack Taylor, Chester County Bridge Engineer
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 Majewski, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and accepted the August 2, 2017 Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting Minutes, and all departmental, committee, commission and council reports as posted and received by the Board of Supervisors for the month of August 2017.
Supervisor Majewski asked the township manager for an update on the ARLE grant work for the Charlestown Road/Pothouse Road intersection traffic signal. Ms. Bird advised the Board that PennDOT has accepted the plans for approval and the Township Engineer is completing construction documents for the project.
Board Member Reports
Ordinance Committee – Supervisor Morrisson advised the Board that a topic of discussion at the September 5, 2017 committee meeting was the hiring of an ordinance writing consultant. Supervisor Morrisson stated that in his mind, this was necessary because of the number of ordinances which remain to be reviewed and possibly amended; specifically open space aspects of “conservation by design.” Supervisor Morrisson suggested the formation of an interview committee for this consultant comprised of himself, the township manager, and a third member to be determined. Supervisor Morrisson said his thought was to approach the Planning Commission (“PC”) for the third member. Supervisor Guerette said she thought that the Open Space Commission (“OSC”) should be involved in the process and asked if this plan had been discussed with the OSC. Supervisor Guerette went on to say that before interviewing for a consultant, the idea of a “conservation by design” ordinance should be discussed with the OSC to determine whether it would make sense for the township. Discussion ensued regarding the “conservation by design” concept. Supervisor Parry concurred with Supervisor Guerette that this concept should be brought before the OSC for discussion before moving ahead with an ordinance consultant. Township Solicitor Brennan advised the Board to exercise caution in setting up a “conservation by design” ordinance in that the township cannot tell developers to give up a portion of their property for open space in exchange for favorable zoning. Supervisor Morrisson agreed to present the idea to both the OSC and the PC before taking any further action on the development of a “conservation by design” ordinance.
Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee (PRPC) – Supervisor Cohen reported the PRPC reviewed the land use planning portion at the August 30th workshop meeting. Residents may still provide their input to the regional plan by participating in the Community Survey for Regional Planning at www.surveymonkey.com/r/Regional_Community_Survey. The survey will remain open until the end of 2017.
Treasurer’s Report and Payment of Bills
Supervisor Majewski, Treasurer, advised the Board that as of August 31, 2017, the Township’s general fund shows a balance of just over $3.8 million. Supervisor Majewski reported that the bills for August 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 August 31, 2017 and authorized payment of Township bills for the period ending August 31, 2017.
Supervisor Parry expressed to Mr. Evan Taylor, Fire Chief for Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Company (VFVFCo), the appreciation of the township for the use of the VFVFCo’s facility for two township meetings.
Supervisor Guerette reminded township residents that the Schuylkill Township Police Department’s Community Meeting will be held at the Phoenixville County Club on Thursday September 14th at 7:30 p.m.
Supervisor Guerette also informed the Board that the Historical Commission and Environmental Advisory Council is partnering with the Phoenixville Area School District on September 28th to sweep out the interior of the farm house from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and invited residents to bring their brooms and gloves to help out.
Supervisor Cohen invited township residents to the Schuylkill River Heritage Center on Tuesday, September 12 at 7:30 p.m. for a free presentation by Sandy Sorlien, Fairmount Water Works Education Program, on “Tracing the Schuylkill Navigation Canal from Coal Country to Philadelphia.”
Supervisor Parry made the following announcements:
The Zoning Hearing Board will be convening on Monday, September 11, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. in the Schuylkill Township hall.
On September 17th, the Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Company will be holding its annual Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser at the main station.
The next conditional use hearing for the Whitehorse-Phoenixville LLC convenience store application will be on Tuesday, September 19th in the township hall at 6:00 p.m.
The township is hosting a free Cybersecurity seminar at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 19th in the township hall.
Creek Road Bridge Replacement
Supervisor Parry invited Sandra Martin, P.E. of McCormick Taylor to address the Board on the Creek Road bridge replacement project. Ms. Martin explained that McCormick Taylor is the bridge engineer for Chester County and that she has collaborated Schuylkill Township for a number of years. Ms. Martin said tonight’s presentation was on the Creek Road bridge, otherwise known as County bridge no. 175 which was identified several years ago as being in need of replacement. The project is in the very preliminary stages of engineering and is 80% PennDOT funded. Ms. Martin introduced Mr. Matthew Hickson, P.E., of Traffic Planning & Design and Mr. Martin Abbot, Architectural Historian, of AECOM who are part of the project team. Ms. Martin briefly described the bridge, stating it is located near some historic properties and is itself considered historic by the township. It was originally built as a covered bridge. It is currently a one lane bridge which is problematic as a township owned roadway and county bridge because of the traffic volume. It is weight restricted to 13 tons; this restricts access for emergency vehicles, oil delivery trucks, etc.; even school buses are questionable. Ms. Martin stated that in 1999, after Hurricane Floyd, the Creek Road Bridge was severely undermined and had to be closed. A substantial underpinning project was completed at that time but hydraulics have remained an on-going and significant concern. In addition, current safety features such as the wooden structure-mounted guiderails are inadequate and do not meet current standards. There are issues with the stone parapet walls being impacted as well. Ms. Martin invited Mr. Matthew Hickson to further discuss the existing bridge and what is being proposed for the new structure. Mr. Hickson stated that the existing bridge is a single span steel girder bridge with a wooden deck; it is not listed nor is it eligible to be listed on the National Register for Historic Places. It is, however, considered historic by Schuylkill Township and is known as the Thompson-Davis Bridge. The bridge was originally built as a covered bridge in 1879; in the 1920s it lost its cover and has been reconstructed since then. Currently it is considered fracture-critical, functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. The bridge carries about 2,000 vehicles per day. The 80% funding by PennDOT mandates that the County must follow their requirements meaning it cannot be replaced with a one lane bridge, safety features must be current and the weight limit must accommodate all vehicles. The goal of the bridge replacement project is to improve the vertical profile of the bridge without impacting the hydraulics, remove the weight restrictions, increase the sight distance across the bridge, and install current safety standards while attempting to minimize impacts to adjacent properties. Mr. Hickson went on to discuss the current condition of the bridge and the proposed improvements. The bridge will be closed during the 8-10 month construction period with a detour utilizing Route 29, Pothouse Road and Whitehorse Road. Mr. Hickson said the current schedule for the Creek Road Bridge project anticipates completing preliminary designs by spring of 2018; final designs by summer of 2019, advertise and award a contract in the fall/winter of 2019 and commence construction in the spring/summer of 2020. Supervisor Guerette asked if the County is willing to work with the township’s Historical Commission on maintaining some aspect of the historical nature of the bridge. Several supervisors asked if allowances had been made for bike lanes. Ms. Martin advised that the township send a letter to the county outlining its requests and concerns which will then be presented to PennDOT for review and approval.
The Chair recognized Dianne Cram, 1590 State Road. Ms. Cram raised several points of concern; both as a resident with a historic property adjacent to the Creek Road bridge and as a member of the Historical Commission; namely, the impact on the historic and rural aesthetics of Creek Road, traffic issues resulting from a new two-lane bridge and the narrow, winding character of Creek Road, the current problem with egress onto Route 29 from Creek Road and removal of heritage trees at the bridge site. Ms. Cram asked if it the Board would consider the feasibility of making Creek Road a one-way road thereby opening the possibility of a new one-lane bridge being constructed. Chief Fetterman commented that because of Creek Road’s propensity to flooding, it may not be a good idea to restrict traffic to one-way. Supervisor Parry suggested that discussion on this point be tabled to a future meeting.
Ms. Martin closed her presentation with a reminder that any considerations the township would like PennDOT to review must be received by the County within the next couple of months.
Board Discussion Items
Mr. Brennan reported that the Valley Creek Trunk Sewer trunk line agreement has been signed by all parties and the case should be closed shortly. Several routine zoning matters are in progress and an arbitration matter has been scheduled for October 10th.
2018 Financial Requirement and Minimum Municipal Obligation for the Police and Non-Uniform Pension Plans.
Upon motion by Supervisor Parry, seconded by Supervisor Cohen, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized the 2018 Financial Requirement and Minimum Municipal Obligation in the amount of two hundred seventy-eight thousand, seven hundred seventy-two dollars ($278,772.00) for the Police Pension Fund and forty-one thousand, four hundred seventy-two dollars ($41,472.00) for the Non-Uniform Pension Fund.
Advertising for Equipment Rental and Snow Removal Bids for 2017/2018
Upon motion by Supervisor Majewski, seconded by Supervisor Cohen, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized advertising a request for bids for the township’s 2017/2018 equipment rental and snow removal contract.
Approval of Proposal for Construction Evaluation of Municipal Complex Feasibility Study
Supervisor Parry moved to accept the August 14, 2017 Boyle Construction Management proposal in the amount of nine thousand, six hundred dollars ($9,600.00).for the evaluation of the programming and master planning study of the Schuylkill Township Municipal Complex. There was no second to the motion. Supervisor Guerette stated that she felt that since there is no consensus of the Board on a municipal complex expansion project, a public meeting to garner public input should be held prior to hiring a consultant. Supervisor Cohen and Majewski concurred that a public meeting on this topic is in order. Supervisor Parry said that while he agrees that a public meeting may be beneficial but asked that the Board and the public consider the conditions in which township personnel, specifically the police department, currently work; he said his opinion is that we need a renovation of the municipal building. Ms. Bird explained that the proposal from Boyle Construction was not to create an alternate design but rather to take the results of the master planning study created by the architect and translate the programming results into real construction costs. Ms. Bird added that while public input is needed and expected, the input from those who work in the facility should not be overlooked.
The Chair recognized Mr. Robert Cooney, 1750 Rock Hill Lane. Mr. Cooney asked if the proposal being considered was available to the public. Supervisor Parry advised it was not until after the Board’s review and consideration. Ms. Bird advised Mr. Cooney to submit a Right to Know request for materials he wished to see.
Resolutions / Ordinances
Advertisement of Proposed Ordinance No. 2017-10: Amending Chapter 340 Vehicles and Traffic
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Majewski, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized advertising proposed Ordinance No. 2017-10; Amending Chapter 340 Vehicles and Traffic, §340-19 . Certain classes of vehicles prohibited on certain roadways, with the addition of Clothier Springs Road.
Advertisement of Proposed Ordinance No. 2017-11: Amending Chapter 154, Disturbing the Peace
Upon motion by Supervisor Majewski, seconded by Supervisor Guerette, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized advertising proposed Ordinance No. 2017-11; Amending Chapter 154, Disturbing the Peace, §154-1. Prohibited conduct, with the addition of language regarding loitering.
Advertisement of Proposed Ordinance No. 2017-12: Amending Chapter 370. Article II. Terminology: Establishment of Districts
Upon motion by Supervisor Morrisson, seconded by Supervisor Cohen, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized advertising proposed Ordinance No. 2017-12; Amending Chapter 370. Article II. Terminology; Establishment of Districts, §370-7. Definitions and word usage: YARD
Subdivision / Land Development
Phoenixville Area School District Early Learning Center (“ELC”) – Escrow Release #6
Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Majewski, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized Escrow Release No. 6 for the Phoenixville Area School District Early Learning Center located at 1 Phantom Way, Phoenixville, PA (UPI #27-5D-1) in the amount of five hundred twenty-four thousand, two hundred twenty-seven dollars and seventy-one cents ($ 524,227.71) as recommended in the Gilmore & Associates, Inc. letter of August 31, 2017 (File No. 13-12010T1). Supervisor Morrisson asked the Township Engineer what work remains to be done on this project. Mr. Sartor said some landscaping restoration, an emergency access way restoration, additional stormwater basin work, and tree and shrub plantings including replacements for stressed and dead landscaping. Supervisor Morrisson asked that sufficient escrow be retained to ensure all outstanding work is completed; Mr. Sartor informed the Board that about $250,000 of construction work remains but there is over $600,000 in retainage and security monies to deal with issues such as dead trees and bushes.
Mr. John Mraz, 34 Meadowbrook Lane, was recognized by the Chair. Mr. Mraz asked if escrow monies were still being held by the township to deal with the landscaping. Mr. Mraz then asked if he submits a Right to Know request to the township, can he get information about the ELC’s landscaping project, i.e., costs. Mr. Sartor provided landscaping line item dollar amounts from the escrow account to Mr. Mraz. Mr. Mraz recommended that the Supervisors take the time to walk the property to view the condition of the landscaping for themselves.
Nothing to report.
James Keller, 22 Second Street, stated his dissatisfaction with the fees paid to the township solicitor and went on to complain about his perception that the township solicitor was involved in the legal proceedings undertaken by Mr. Andy Fifer against Mr. Keller. Mr. Brennan explained to Mr. Keller the he (Mr. Keller) is in violation of a court order in which he agreed to not make public complaints against Mr. Fifer and Mr. Brennan contacted Mr. Keller’s counsel to advise him of the violations.
Kathleen Mraz, 34 Meadowbrook Lane, requested that Supervisor Morrisson update residents on the progress of the noise ordinance that last year he agreed to draft.
Laurie Griggs, Spruce Grove Lane, asked about putting items on the November ballot. She was advised to contact Voter Services. Ms. Griggs asked a question regarding the continued conditional use hearing on September 19; she was informed that the Board could not discuss the matter while the hearing was in progress. .
Supervisor Parry called for a five minute recess at 10:10 p.m.
An executive session was called to order at 10:15 p.m. 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 10:30 p.m. Supervisor Parry reported that litigation and personnel matters had been discussed.
There being no further business before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m. upon motion of Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Majewski, and unanimously agreed by the Board of Supervisors.
Next Board of Supervisors’ Meeting
Board of Supervisors Regular Business Meeting............ Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 7:30 P.M.